Saturday, July 2, 2011

Size Does Matter

People often either underestimate or overestimate the power of bulk purchases.  On one hand, people buy things from vending machines individually, such as soda and chips, which often comes at a 100+% premium (they say it's for the convenience of not going to the store, but buying in bulk is even more convenient when you only have to walk to your pantry or closet instead of downstairs to your dorm vending machine).  On the other hand, some people buy more or cook more food than they can eat and sometimes the food they do have expires or goes bad, resulting in money in the trash.  It is important to know when to buy in bulk when you plan out your spending.

I believe most people don't consider bulk spending since the majority of people I meet seem to make purchases in the spur of the moment, or they don't notice that they could save money since they are already within their own budget.  Buying in bulk often takes careful planning since you don't want to buy more than what you will use.  This makes bulk buying dangerous for perishables.  For example, I almost always default to buying the gallon size of milk but if I can't finish the milk before expiration, then it is wasted and I might have saved more by going with a smaller size.  Therefore, if you are planning for long-term consumption, buy in bulk on non-perishables since the expiration won't be for a long time or it is a product that doesn't expire.

But consider your everyday soda or vending machine in your dorm room.  Instead of spending $1 for a can of coke several times a year, why not just buy one of those 24 or 12 packs for $5 and keep them in your fridge?  You might say that it is a measly $10 you save, but if you apply it to all your snacks and food, it adds up year after year.  For food, cooking at home instead of eating out already saves you quite a bit of money (although you pay for it in time and work to cook your own food).  Buying in bulk when grocery shopping can help increase that value and cooking in bulk can also help save you time.  If you get the family packs and cook them all at once, saving some in tupperware for the next meal, you can cut a few dollars here and there as well.

It might seem like I'm recommending a lifestyle so focused on saving every penny, but these are really just a few tips you can take with a grain of salt if you are looking for ways to cut back on your expenses.  I enjoy cooking every once in a while and it is a useful skill to have (I find that people generally love other people who can cook).  In college, it is great to take advantage of bulk buying if you have a lot of friends who use the same products you use.  Buy in bulk, share, and take turns.  There are problems that can arise by doing so (if you all don't use the same brand or people use different quantities), but generally there are a lot of benefits that can be reaped.

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