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The Bad Side of Bulk

This is a crazy post for me to write.  A year ago, this post would have sounded very different so, I guess, this area really shows how my thinking has changed.  I have learned that simple living and simple homemaking often doesn’t including buying in bulk.

I used to love bulk.  I have never been a hoarder of stuff after I have used it (like kids cloths or craft projects) but I was a big hoarder on bulk items.  Before we moved to our apartment this spring I had our house packed with all kinds of things I found in bulk or on sale.  We had a year or more supply of stuff from toiletries, to food, to kids cloths (these purchased several years in advance at garage sales).  My thriftiness had me buying everything in advance when I could find it.  I always shopped through all the clearance sections and found great deals. 

While downsizing this spring I ran into the problem of trying to figure out what to do with our years supply of so many things.  I found myself selling lots of never touched toiletries and boxes of laundry soap, and donating lots of cloths that they kids wouldn’t have grown into for years.  Even now, lots of stuff that we have in our apartment now is left over bulk that I kept that we will hopefully use up in the next year.   

What I am coming to realize is that bulk really isn’t cheaper for two main reasons:

First, I am not sure I will really need it.  Often I have ended up with more cloths purchased ahead of time than my kids even need for a size and season.  I have gotten lots of shampoo that I then decide I don’t like as well as I thought I did.  We get sick of a food and there is still lots left in the cupboard. 

Second, I am paying for temperature controlled storage for my bulk.  It might be cheaper to buy TP for a year at a time on sale, but then I need to have a house big enough to have a place to store it.  Most of my basement and bathroom cupboards were full of different bulk products.   Now I don’t have the space to keep all these products, but I am also paying much less living expenses and utilities.  Having a chest freezer was nice in the house and it was always full, but I am not sure that it saved what we paid for in electricity to run it.  Honestly, the stuff purchased in bulk was cheaper, but was it really cheap enough to make up for the costs.     

Beyond these there is the hassle of having to sort through stuff and keep it organized. 

Probably most people aren’t near as crazy as me.   My excuse was that hoarding for the future was much smarter than hoarding other useless items.  It has just been a revelation, or a change in the way I am thinking, to realize that this really wasn’t saving me money and that living simply, buying only a few things in bulk or ahead is really, surprisingly cheaper…. and way easier.

If we need to have it all, than couponing or shopping all over town might make it cheaper… but maybe we don’t need it all.

Less hassle, more time.  Less stuff, more money.   Simple life, more freedom.

2 Comments

  1. I don’t really like buying in bulk, never really have (maybe because I can never find a good spot for all that stuff?) But with a big family of 6 we use a ton of tp & eat mountains of food! Seriously! So instead of spending all that gas making trip after trip to the grocery store to replenish our supply buying bulk is the way to go. Not to mention the nearest grocery store is an hour and a half away, so buying bulk helps me make the most out of that long drive.

    • My problem was that I was buying way to much. A few months at a time for some things is great… a few years is to much. I know there are people worse than me (which makes me feel better revealing my craziness:). My biggest problem was garage sales and clearance shelves that generated lots of bulk. The store 1 1/2 hours away is crazy…. that is another story.

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