My blogging friend Kraig at Create My Independence posted something the other day that really got me thinking.  

 

He talks about going shopping with a friend who wanted to "get a good deal" on some household items, and the friend did so by stocking up on a ridiculous amount so that he could take advantage of a lower unit price.

 

Usually, I consider myself to be that kind of person, too. Stock up on as much stuff as I can so that I pay $1.45 per unit rather than $1.50. It's a savings, right?

 

But as Kraig went on in the article, I thought about the fact that I might not be saving money by doing this. Yeah, maybe I'm saving money per unit, but am I then using the items more wastefully and thus wasting money?

 

Now, don't get me wrong, I do believe that buying in bulk is a good idea in some cases. But here are a few situations where it did NOT help me to stock up!

 

 

Example #1: Moisturizer

A few weeks ago, I realized that my face lotion was running low. We happened to swing by a Trader Joe's in our travels that weekend, so I picked up a new lotion, figuring that I'd need it really soon.

 

Well surprise, surprise, there was WAY more lotion left in the bottle than I expected- I've been using it for 4 weeks and I just now think that it's finally running low.

 

By picking up the new lotion before the old was completely done, I almost wasted a bunch of money! I almost just tossed that first lotion in the trash once I got the new one, but thankfully I didn't.

 

Lesson: If you stock up on something, be sure you use every little bit of the old item before you toss it out!

 

 

Example #2: Floss

Another reason I probably shouldn't buy in bulk is because I often forget that I've stocked up.

 

Last week, I ran out of floss* and couldn't find any more in the cabinet, so I trekked to our local CVS to pick up another bag. About three days later, I was digging around in the cabinet and found an almost unused bag! {I have no idea how I didn't spot it when I was searching initially?}

 

Lesson: Be careful when you stock up on things, because you might forget about them and it could cost you more money in the end! (especially if it's a perishable item- thank goodness floss isn't!)

 

*yeah i know they're much more expensive than normal floss.. but I know myself, and I know I will not use real floss! I'd rather suck it up and pay a little extra for these fancy things and hopefully avoid some dental costs :)

 

 

Example #3: Q-tips

About a year and a half ago, my parents bought me a Costco membership for my birthday. (best birthday present EVER for a frugal person, haha) I loved to go peruse the store- eating all the samples- as a form of weekend entertainment. I'm lame, I know ;)

 

Anyway, one of these times I was browsing the store, I saw a 3 pack of q-tips for a pretty cheap (I think? I hadn't really even priced them out, I just assumed) price.

 

"Oh, I use q-tips, I might as well stock up on them here!" I thought.  So I bought the 3 pack... annnnnd in a year and a half, I am still not through the first box. (BTW how weird is this, Mike doesn't produce ear wax, so he's not even helping me...)

 

The problem with this situation is that I find myself being more wasteful with the q-tips because I know I have a massive stockpile! I have moved twice in the time period that I owned the q-tip stash, and I've honestly debated throwing out at least one of the boxes just because I didn't want to pack them. So silly.

 

Lesson: Don't let yourself become wasteful with an item when you know there's a stockpile!

 

 

What type of user are you?

I truly believe everyone has different spending/using habits. For me, I've found that stocking up might not be such a good idea. I think I'm a more frugal person when I'm facing "scarcity" with household items.

 

(BTW this doesn't apply to toilet paper, I don't really want to run out of that, ever)

 

One last clarification: (thanks, Amanda!) I don't mean that everyone should STOP buying in bulk. Stocking up (and using everything up!) can certainly save you money in the long run. BUT- if you think about your usage habits and realize that you are wasteful with items, you might want to reconsider whether stocking up makes financial sense for YOU! And then you can either change your usage habits or change your bulk buying habits :)

 

 

Are you good at conserving resources or are you more wasteful when you know you have extras of an item?