Avoid the big box blues

Even Gail is not immune to the big box blues. But she sure does know how to keep bulk from getting the better of you.

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I like to buy in bulk. Things like toilet paper, laundry soap, garbage bags…it makes sense to pick ‘em up in big containers so I don’t have to buy them more than once or twice a year. Saves me time. Saves me money too. The sense that I’m getting “a good deal” makes me feel smart.

But can the need for the deal be so overwhelming that it actually makes you overspend? It sure can.

Bigger isn’t always cheaper. While you might suppose that buying in a large quantity automatically guarantees you a better unit cost, it’s not always the case. Just because you’re buying big doesn’t mean you can be any less vigilant about the cost per unit comparison. Big-box retailers often don’t put the cost-per-unit info on their shelves so you need to know what you usually pay for the smaller version in a regular store, and then do some math to figure out if you’re getting a good deal.

More isn’t always better. You know that extra-large bag of tortilla chips? If you don’t want to consume that much food, you shouldn’t buy that big bag. Ditto for anything else that may spoil if you don’t eat it quickly enough. Sure, the per unit cost may be lower, but that does you no good if it forces you to eat more than you normally would or if you have to scrape the last 25% into the garbage. Have you ever noticed that as soon as you stock up on something the kids love, they suddenly go off it?

The extras can gobble your savings. Ever wandered through a store filling your cart with all the things you planned and many things you didn’t. The lure of a great offer can make you put things into your cart that will negate all the savings you’d have gotten if you’d stuck to your list. You have to be pretty determined to not buy all the great deals with which you’re faced as your roam the aisles. The best thing to do to avoid falling into the trap of overspending is to only take as much money, in cash, as you plan to drop at the shop. That’ll help you prioritize the needs on your list over the wants waved at you from sales signs and huge displays.

Those huge fluffy towels always whisper to me as I walk past them. I have to remind myself that I have no space in my cupboard for them as I rush past so they can’t jump into my cart.

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