Friday, 12 July 2013

Shopping 101: Buying in bulk is not necessarily the best thing to do

I have posted before about how I moved out of home earlier in the year and doing all those things I had been avoiding doing for years like shopping and my own laundry.  Before you tell me that you moved out when you were 18 and have been doing it for years...that's the exact reason I didn't move out sooner (and I also enjoyed the limited rent I paid my parents compared to what I pay now).

I have been slowly learning the tricks of saving money while shopping.  There are certain days of the week that supermarkets are cheaper than others.  Hint: Monday nights for some reason are terrible for sales and discounts while Wednesdays always seem to have good bargains.  I also recently learned to avoid express convenience stores like the plague.

One thing I learned early on was the benefit of unit pricing.  In Australia shopping centres need to put unit pricing on the price labels so that you as a customer can easily compare which products are cheaper and which are more expensive.  Prior to this law being introduced companies would intentionally make their products odd weights, sizes and shapes so that customers could not compare prices as easily.

However there is a trap with unit pricing

If you are part of a large household that consumes food and other items like there is no tomorrow then you are unlikely to come up against this problem.  As a person living on their own or in a very small family unit:
Unit pricing may encourage you to buy larger quantities than you actually need which can actually COST you money
If you are sensible about your shopping and know what you want to buy and you are reasonably frugal so don't want to spend more than you have will automatically we drawn to bulk type items which sell for significant discounts compared to their handy smaller counterparts.

There is nothing wrong with this approach and with stocking up if the product you are buying is not perishable.  However when it comes to food you may save 20% on the unit price if you buy in bulk...but if you only end up using half the product (which has
happened to me recently twice!) then you would have been significantly better off buying the more expensive smaller item.

Work out how much you actually need

The trick with perishable bulk items is to work out how much you actually need AND will actually use.  Making the assumption that you will eat something every day for 2 weeks for breakfast to justify buying the bulkier item is probably not the best idea (again something I have recently done).

For non perishable items...the sky is the limit

The above rule does not really apply for non perishable items.  Assuming you have the space - if you can get a good deal on non perishables in bulk that you will use over the medium term then buy that and save yourself some money.  There is an added benefit that you will need to go shopping for it less often.

Do you have any other tips when it comes to shopping and saving money?  I would love to hear them!

You May Also Be Interested In:
Express convenience stores...a rip off by any other name
How to buy furniture on a budget
Should I move out of home?
Should I rent or buy?

No comments:

Post a Comment