There’s something kind of daunting about buying in bulk. Does anyone actually finish 20 jars of pasta sauce?
But buying in bulk really is a smart way to save—if you stock up on the right items. In addition to classics like paper towels, soap and detergent, these 10 items are perfect for purchasing en masse and scoring big savings.
Given their long shelf life, purchasing batteries in bulk is a no-brainer, says consumer savings pro Andrea Woroch. Big packs sold at warehouses like BJ’s and Costco often have double the quantity for the same price as those sold at grocery and drug stores.
You can score 20 percent off bulk packages of gift cards to movie theatres, restaurants, spas and more from warehouse clubs, says Woroch. Before you buy, just be sure you’ll actually use the cards. (Giftcardgranny.com also offers discount deals on gift cards.)
Since vitamins are typically consumed daily, you won’t run the risk of them expiring before you’ve finished a large container. Woroch recommends looking for savings online at Vitamin World (using retailer coupon codes or Groupon) and comparing prices at Amazon, Target and Walmart. Typically, she says, you can find 30 percent off.
Buying bottled water one at a time (like at a convenience store) can set you back $1 or more. Purchase a package at a warehouse club like Sam’s or even drugstores like Rite Aid and you can get closer to 40 for $4 (or 10 cents a bottle).
Buying perishables in bulk usually isn’t a good idea—except for meat, which is easily frozen. The price per pound at a warehouse store is often significantly lower than at the grocery store—around $.99 versus $1.99 and up. “Suddenly Frugal” author Leah Ingram notes many box-store butchers will also cut the meat into 1-pound pieces and package it for you for free.
For parents with little ones, being strategic about diaper purchases—instead of running to the local store when your stash gets low—pays off. Ingram recommends subscription services like Amazon Family, which can save money (20 percent in this case) and time.
Buying cards individually can set you back $3 to $6, but a 48-pack card selection of celebrations and sentiments can cost under $20 on Amazon. “Buy a box at the beginning of the year. Not only do you save money, but you don’t have to make that last-minute trip to the store when you forget someone’s birthday,” says Michael Banks, founder of money site Fortunate Investor.
After big holidays like Easter, Valentine’s Day and Christmas, stock up on wrapping paper, decorations and candy, which end up heavily discounted at drug stores in the days after the holiday.
Instead of buying individual bottles, save 20 percent or more by stocking up on half or full cases of wine and liquor at your local liquor store, chain or online via Wine.com. Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs pro at TopCashback.com, recommends stocking up the day after a major holiday (like Memorial Day), which is quiet for liquor stores. They’ll often offer discounts to attract customers.
As long as you don’t expect your prescription to change in the near future, you can buy contact lenses in three- or six-month packs, Smith says. Many retailers offer cash back for bulk lens orders: 1-800 Contacts offers up to 14 percent back for new customers while Walmart offers 4 percent.