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Frugal Living: Buy in Bulk

Some of my friends like to make fun of me because when they come over to my house, they go into my bathroom and see 20 rolls of toilet paper, a 10-pack of bar soap, a huge jug of bleach, or a giant tub of laundry soap.

In my kitchen, the same kind of thing can sometimes be found and I’ll have 5 or 6 bottles of wine in my cupboard, a vat of dish soap, and 1 or 2 extra bottles of cooking oil. I don’t actually care about the good-natured hassling because buying in bulk is one of the best ways to save money and live frugally, with no extra effort or sacrifice required. Now that I have quite a large apartment, storage space isn’t an issue so I’ve been taking advantage of buying in bulk even more.

Top 5 Household Items to Buy in Bulk

1. Hand Soap. I only use bar hand soap to wash my hands and body. Liquid soaps and body washes are really expensive so I avoid them at all costs. I buy a 10-pack of Dove or Ivory for less than $10 and it’s enough to last me a year.

2. Laundry Detergent. I buy the biggest, cheapest tub of it I can find and it lasts me at least 6 months, if not a year.

3. Dish Soap. I originally bought a normal size bottle of it that sits next to my sink, but when it ran out, I bought the massive 2L jug and now just refill the small bottle. The jug has lasted me a couple years!

4. Bleach. I use bleach for cleaning and doing laundry, and it’s something that never goes bad so it makes sense to just buy the biggest bottle you can. The last one I had lasted me 2 years or so.

5. Toilet Paper. I buy the biggest package of the generic store brand and it usually lasts me about a year. It’s really easy to put the extras in a closet somewhere and just take out a few as needed.

Top 5 Food Items to Bulk Buy

1. Coffee. Small packages of coffee, especially the flavored ones or the ones you buy at Starbucks are really expensive. It is far better to buy a large package of it, whole bean preferably and then keep it in your freezer to stay fresh and grind up as needed.

2. Wine or Beer. At my local store, they have a 3 bottles of wine for $20 special and you can sometimes get 4 bottles of the Tesco house brand wine (it’s drinkable!) for $20. Because of this, I’ll never just buy a single bottle and I’ll always have a few in my cupboard. In North America, it’s always cheaper to buy a flat or case of beer than in smaller quantities.

3. Cooking Oil. Something like canola oil doesn’t go bad for a long time and you can find it at the store on sale quite often. Here in Korea, you can always pick it up on buy 1, get 1 free specials.

4. Basically any Packaged or Canned Item. Even though these things have expiry dates on them, they last basically forever. Wait until you get a sweet deal with coupons or a store sale and then buy a lot.

5. Cat Food. Little Sarah and Lucy are pretty adaptable kitties, thankfully because I wait until there is a sale of some kind on wet or dry food and then buy it in huge quantities. Who likes to eat the same thing all the time anyway?

How to Avoid Waste

When you buy in bulk, it’s possible to have a lot of waste but it’s not so difficult to avoid by following these simple tips:

1. Only buy what you actually use. Sure, there might be a crazy sale on something, but only buy if it’s something you’ve used in the past and plan to use in the future.

2. Don’t bulk buy perishable things. It’s always a bad idea to buy things like fruit, veggies and milk in huge quantities unless you have a very large family. Even though you got a good deal on something, it’s really expensive if it goes down the drain or in the trash.

3. Stay on top of the storage. Make sure you have an organized system so you can avoid buying a large quantity of something you already have. It helps to only have 1 person in your family do all the shopping.

Readers: what do you buy in bulk?

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