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Bulk buying when you're single
Also, hello new followers. Want to go in on a side of beef?
But first, an introduction
Usually, I dive straight into the newsletter topic but there have been quite a few new followers. I’m assuming it’s from my comments in Brandie Weikle’s piece for CBC’s The Cost of Living on being single.
Hi, how are you all? Nice to have you here. I know you’ve received the welcome newsletter but I want to tell you what you can expect.
I publish twice a month. That’s because I prefer to write when I have something to say versus writing because I have to. It gives me time to speak to financial, legal and other experts and write an article that provides something useful to you.
You don’t have to be a paid subscriber, but if you feel like this is useful info, more paid subscribers = more time and resources I can devote to doing more of it. However, as we’re all watching our money, don’t feel obligated.
Buying in bulk is a tried-and-true recommendation for saving money. Done right, you can get and store what you need, providing you actually use it. Part of that is having the space to store your bulk items whether it’s toilet paper (very 2020 pandemic) or a massive tray of minced meat.
If you’re lucky, you have the storage space to put a deep freezer. If you live in a small space, you may not have that space.
Plus, when you’re single, who are you going to bulk buy with?
The short answer is anyone. The longer answer is ‘with some careful planning.’
Several weeks ago I asked on Instagram if my single friends bought in bulk and the answer was a resounding yes.
One friend said she does it with her family. Several do it with their friends. Personally, I do both. My parents have a Costco membership so when I visit them and we go, I add my items and we divide up the costs.
When I go to Costco with my friend, A, I do the same. I add stuff to the cart and then pay her for my items.
Great! Super easy, end of the newsletter, see you in the next one.
Except, how do you arrange it with friends and the next question, where do you put it when you live in a small space?
Another friend, L, mentioned that she and several friends are researching group purchasing of beef and pork from local farmers. The plan, she explains, is to decide on the cuts of meat, the budget, and then make the purchase. The costs, theoretically, should be lower as they’re buying directly from the farmer. She invited me into the group, so I’ll let you know how it goes.
She does admit that if she had the room for a deep freezer, she’d buy more. That’s a concern for anyone, single or not, who lives in a small space, so some smart buying is needed.
One is buying non-perishables with long expiration dates. Yes, like toilet paper or large laundry and shampoo bottles.
While they are bulky, they don’t need to be frozen so you can get creative with storage. Apart from under the bathroom sink, I put these items under my bed and on the floor of my closet. I’m pretty sure I have a shoebox of soap and toothpaste in there.
We all know this but here’s the catch, don’t forget you’ve bought these items. Out of sight can mean out of mind and more money spent buying items. Finally, do the math as not everything sold in bulk is cheaper. Check the unit price for the item in bulk versus the unit price for individual packages.
As for perishables, they can be harder to store so you may have to be more stringent with what you actually need and use. Before buying something, I calculate how often I’ll eat it. For me, if it’s a minimum of once a week, then I’ll buy, divide and freeze it. It does mean less variety in the items I consume but I know I’m using all of it.
If the deal is good but I don’t eat/use it, back it goes. That’s hard for anyone who has been to Costco. Finally, don’t fall into the trap of blowing through your product because you have a ton of it. Think paper towels. You bought it in bulk, so you use it all the time. You spent a lot of money on it and you don’t want to have to buy another box in the next month or two.
(Also, cloth scraps work just as well and are washable.)
I will say that cutting back on perishables like meat that needs to be frozen has helped my bulk buying. That frees up my freezer and budget for other items like frozen fruits ad vegetables. My pantry gets filled with dried beans while my fridge is used for seasonal fresh vegetables.
The shampoo goes under the bed, with the dust bunnies.
This week’s readings
This is from the Wall Street Journal but Canadian libraries offer similar opportunities. The Money-Saving Power of Your Library Card (wsj.com)
Majority of Canadians who don’t own a home have ‘given up’: poll (Globalnews.ca)
Sometimes I think being single and dealing with money is just a series of “test me when you get home” messages. Managing your finances solo (Get Smarter About Money)
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