As the cost of goods continues soaring in price, figuring out how to bulk buy on a tight budget is becoming a challenge. In my IG stories, I often share restocking my annual bulk buy. Where I buy almost all of my household toiletry items for the year like cleaning supplies, personal care products, and even some food items. I always end up getting a lot of questions about my bulk buying like how I do it, what I buy, and how I store it. But the question that stood out the most was “how does someone start bulk buying when money is already so tight?”
The Pros and Cons of Bulk Buying on a Tight Budget
As someone who’s seen the benefits of bulk buying in the past 7 years, this strategy isn’t just about saving money. It’s helped me save time by allowing me to take fewer trips to the store, it’s helped me manage my shopping triggers, and allowed me to get better organized. Nowadays, it also helps minimize the effect of inflation to a certain point, of course. The benefits have been phenomenal!
But I also know that managing finances right now can be challenging, especially with everything that’s still going on like inflation, rising interest rates, and companies’ layoffs. And have you seen the price of eggs lately? It’s absolutely crazy. Unfortunately, it’s about to get even crazier. Even the CEOs of P&G and Unilever, recently shared that these price increases aren’t going anywhere and they’re actually going to go up. It’s concerning because these types of companies own a vast majority of the everyday products that we use. This is going to affect a lot of people’s budgets!
I want to focus this blog on sharing my tips on how to create a realistic bulk-buying strategy based on a tight budget. As a beginner, when money is tight, and prices are high!
So, here are some strategic ways to bulk buy without having to go into credit card debt:
1: Assess Your Needs: Evaluate the Products You Use
An effective strategy here is to make a list of the top products that you use daily. Then evaluate how quickly you go through them in a week or a month. In my opinion, personal care items, are a good place to start as you use them every day. This information will be vital in helping you estimate how much of the product you would need to purchase. From there you can decide if you want it to last for 3 months, 6 months, or even 12 months.
A great way to track how much product you’re using is to use a note-taking app, Google Sheets, or Excel. You can list the product type, the date you bought it, and the date it ran out. Then, you can calculate how many weeks it took to use that specific product. This will be very helpful moving forward.
What you’ll notice is that every product is going to be different. You might find that you don’t need to bulk up on certain items, like deodorant, if you often switch brands or scents. On the other hand, you might find that bulking up on toothpaste works if you don’t change brands as often. It’s important to take the time to test out products before making a large investment in buying them in bulk. Additionally, it’s important to also consider your family size and any preferences that your kids may have.
2: Test the Waters: Start Small Before Going Large
Once you’ve evaluated which products you use daily. The second tip is to start small and see which products you can buy a little extra without breaking the bank. This step focuses on building the routine on a smaller scale first.
You can implement this strategy by getting one extra toothpaste or a larger packet of body soap. This strategy doesn’t have to be a big or expensive experience. It might just cost you an additional $2-6 on a few products. Which won’t make a big dent in your budget compared to doing a big bulk buy.
The point here is that you want to expose yourself to see the benefits of buying in bulk. This is where you figure out if you like knowing that you have an extra tube of toothpaste already. Are you taking fewer trips to the store? Are you using more or less toothpaste now that you know you have more of it? These are the things that you need to gain some experience in before going all in.
3: Get the Best Deals: Price Match Before Budgeting
When planning your bulk buy, it’s important to determine the total cost. One way to do this is to price-match your essentials online. Compare prices on different websites, such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Costco. The best part is you can do all of this right from your couch. All you have to do is “add to cart” to get the total cost including taxes and shipping.
I like to open up a google sheet to keep track of the items, and stores that had the best price. Once you add that up. Based on the total cost, you can then decide which products to purchase for a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month haul. For example, if the total cost of a 6-month haul adds up to $600, which might exceed your budget. At this point, you may consider reducing the quantity to align with your desired budget of let’s say $300. The goal is to find a balance that works for you.
A crucial tip to keep in mind is to check the expiration dates of the products. Be mindful of how long the products will last on the shelf. You don’t want to waste money on products that will expire before you can use them. This is an important factor to consider when deciding which products to purchase and for how long.
4: Save Strategically: Use a Sinking Fund
One way to purchase everything you need without going into debt is to use a sinking fund. This a savings strategy where you break up a large savings goal into smaller bite-sized pieces. Making saving money more realistic. For example, if your goal is to save $300 for a bulk buy. You could save $50 per paycheck or $100 per month until you reach your goal.
To implement this strategy, you should consider designating a savings account as your sinking fund. With the High-5 Banking Method, this would be in your short-term goals savings account. If this is a new system for you, check out my previous content on the High-5 Banking Method.
With this approach, you can set a goal of a 3-month window of time. You can then take that time to better plan out and budget for these expenses. You can also practice the first three tips I shared, such as evaluating your bulk buy needs, starting small before going large, and price matching to create a budget for your haul. Utilizing these tips will give you a more enjoyable bulk-buying experience as a whole.
When it comes down to pulling the trigger and purchasing your items. I don’t want anyone to feel financially overwhelmed or stressed out trying to do an annual bulk buy right now. This is something that took me years to build up to. When I first started, I only did a 3-month haul, and then a 6-month haul. But once I became a parent, I found it more convenient to do a 12-month haul. So, there are baby steps that I want everyone to be very aware of.
With the price of everything going up and money being tight for many people. I think it’s a strategic move to pull back on large hauls right now. Instead, you can start setting mini bulk buying sessions every 3 months throughout the year. This is something that I am even doing for the food portion of my bulk purchase. Let’s not kid ourselves, prices are high, so this is something you shouldn’t ignore. It’s in all of our best interests to make sure we modify our strategies for the current economic climate.