One of the things I hate most to do in the world is shopping. Really. I paid someone to do grocery shopping for me for years, and I will only buy shoes and clothes when I am cajoled into it by a friend who takes my wardrobe as her personal responsibility.
But if you’re going to make your dollar stretch the furthest in this day and age, you’ve got to get in the shopping game. Today I’m going to look at one store I don’t mind so much: the warehouse store. By applying some simple tips you can really make the warehouse store work for you.
How Does This Apply To Productivity And Simplicity?
I realized as I planned this article out that some people may be wondering about my recent divergences away from strict productivity and simplification. Particularly this one. My thought is this: buying in bulk make shopping easier (simpler). Buying in bulk also means you shop less, leaving more time for (productive) other things.
The Simple Principles of Bulk Buying
Know What Your Store Offers
Many warehouse stores offer many things. From produce to automotive supplies, you will need to know what your store offers that you may use. Take a walk around the store, being observant. Look for things you already use. Don’t fall into the trap of marketing, and thinking, “Wow, I could really use…”.
Know Your Prices
Some people recommend keeping a price book. It’s too much for me. But I have a pretty good sense of what constitutes a good price. Our warehouse store offers boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.89 a pound. They can cost over $4.00 at the grocery store. We can also get a delicious take-and-bake pizza for $8.00, instead of paying $20 for delivery.
On the other hand, some things are not going to be a bargain. Organic milk, in half gallons, is actually cheaper at our grocery store, which also offers three brands to the warehouse store’s one.
Know What You Will Use
At some point, the 5 pound bag of tootsie rolls is going to look appealing. Don’t do it. (Trust me, I know about this first hand). The point of bulk buying is to get what you would use anyway in greater quantities to bring down the price.
For us, bulk items include toilet paper, facial tissue, paper towels, butter, organic carrots, most meats, peanut butter, cereal, maple syrup, bread and snacks. Other items are either in too great a quantity for us to use, or we don’t like the brands offered.
At one point in my buying, my favorite warehouse store offered things I used daily: generic diapers, generic wipes, and no-sugar apple juice. My in-laws convinced me to try another store, where these things were not offered. I went back to my original store.
Make Switches Only When It Makes Sense
I am not against generic brands. With a caveat: if you aren’t going to use the generic brand, but will use the name brand, get the name brand. A relative of mine insists on purchasing generic peanut butter, even though no one in the family will eat it (they don’t like the flavor). So the jar of generic peanut butter sits uneaten. A bargain? Not in my book.
We take a taste-and-see approach to
generics . In most cases, we happily switch to the generics . For instance, I buy the store brand of toilet tissue. We switched from Starbucks coffee (at $24 for a month supply) to Maxwell House ($5 for a month). But in other cases we find it won’t work. Generic peanut butter is one.
Know What Works in Bulk For You
Warehouse quantities are only a good deal if you use them up. If you can’t use up something or split it with someone before it goes bad, then you shouldn’t consider buying it.
Spices can be had for a song at warehouse stores. But the amount sold is more than a single family will use before the spices lose their pungency. If you are going to buy something you know you won’t use up, see who can take the extra. A neighbor of mine gladly splits the spices with me.
Deli lunch meats are also much cheaper at the warehouse store. But since they come in four pound packages, and we have trouble getting through a pound before it spoils, this is not a good option for us.
I buy bread at the warehouse store and put it in the freezer. This allows us to use the bread when we need it, without risking spoilage. (I never keep a loaf in there more than a week, and therefore avoid the possible issue of freezer burn).
By applying a few simple strategies, warehouse buying can really simplify your life and leave time for many other things.
Photo by *clairity*