Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Buying in Bulk

Sometimes in life, values compete.

I grew up going to Sam’s Club. Why would you NOT want a 10 pound bag of the most delicious chocolate chips on the face of the earth? That doesn’t even touch the joys of 56-packs of toilet paper, 5 pound bags of cheese, and 8 pound bags of pecans. My favorite part of bulk stores? I love cart-watching other patrons and wondering why they are buying five 56-packs of TP, six 10 gallon drums of motor oil, or 50 packages of 12-count candy bars.

When my mom was feeding a family of five plus a Japanese exchange student, it made more economical sense to buy in bulk. Plus, it was fun to take our Japanese exchange student and her friends to Sam’s Club to watch their minds be blown at the sheer size and nature of bulk stores. Realistically, for families with plenty of storage space, it makes the best financial sense to buy in bulk especially for non-perishables like toilet paper. Not only is the price per unit cheaper, but trips to the store are reduced which means less gas, less overall chances for impulse buying, and more time spent with family (or cooking something that uses a 1 gallon can of green beans).

This is unfortunately where my values of frugalism and minimalism butt heads. I want to make the best financial decisions I can. I also want to minimize. At this point in my life, me and my worldly possessions exist in about 300 square feet (yes Mom, that’s including my storage in your basement). Unless I want to store 48 of those 56 rolls of toilet paper in said basement, I just don’t have space for buying in bulk. Plus, being a single female, housing 56 rolls of TP kind of brings on feelings of hoarding and suddenly I feel like adopting all the cats at the shelter. Ok, whew, the feeling passed, good thing too.

At this time in my life, I must pick minimalism over the simplicity of buying in bulk. It kills my math mind that I could have saved a dollar or two or three buying pasta sauce by the gallon versus eight 16 oz containers. However, my math mind also has to realize that a gallon of pasta sauce is 32 four ounce servings. 32 servings is no problem for a family of teenage boys plus friends, but I would end up wasting food thus wasting money.

So it goes. But I still enjoy visiting CostCo when I’m visiting relatives in Texas. Hey look!!! You can buy a 10-pack of Venus razor refills for only $20!!! Wait, my legs aren’t that hairy.


  1. Who remembers the delightful children's book "Mrs. Pig's Bulk Buy"? Mrs. Pig got a great deal on ketchup...

  2. Loved that book! Didn't they all ride around on a huge tandem bicycle?

  3. I don't remember anything about the bicycle, but I remember that the piglets all wanted ketchup on everything they ate. Mrs. Pig was a savvy mama and purchased a huge quantity of ketchup, to give the piglets exactly what they THOUGHT they wanted. I remember that they all turned kind of red and wished for the taste of real food instead of the taste of ketchup. Sounds remarkably like the Isralites in the desert...

  4. My family has found the perfect solution to the dilemma between saving money by buying in bulk and being minimalist: splitting. We organized a group of friends and neighbors so we can buy in bulk and split the cost. We save money, time, gas,and storage space. We also reduced our packaging waste. Luckily, there are online tools like SplitStuff ( which make splitting fast and easy.

  5. That's a great idea! Neat site too.