More Bang for Your Buck
Buying in bulk allows savvy shoppers to buy more and spend less. But while items like toilet paper and pet food are traditional bulk buys, the discounts you get on them are a drop in the bucket compared with what you could be saving by purchasing bigger-ticket items in bulk. Click through to learn about 11 items that no one, perhaps not even your most frugal friend, thinks about buying in bulk, but that can score you some serious savings during your next bulk-buying spree.
It can cost a pretty penny to have someone else look after one child, let alone multiple children. Average weekly childcare costs come in at around $199 per week per infant at a family care center, or $299 per child at a day care center. Fortunately for budget-conscious parents with a brood of two or more, many day care facilities offer a sibling discount of 10 to 25 percent off the cost of tuition for additional children. Before signing up, find out which child the discounted rate applies to; fees are highest for tots under 2, so you’ll save more if your littlest one gets the discount.
Related: 14 Things Never to Buy in Bulk
Financial perks for parents don’t end when their kids turn 18. Some universities, including Corban University in Oregon and Clark Atlanta University, offer family grants or sibling discounts that enable the sibling of a student already attending the school to qualify for a flat-dollar or percentage reduction in tuition. Families who qualify could potentially save a thousand dollars or more per enrolled student per year.
Most people have neither the budget nor the need to buy more than one car at a time, but even if you're buying just one car, you can still snag a volume discount on a new set of wheels. Bulk car-buying services like CarBuckets allow you to pick the car of your choice, join a group of car buyers in your area who want the same brand of car, and have competing dealers make one offer on all the cars in your group. Because dealers will be benefiting from a higher sales volume, they’re more likely to make competitive bids that can save you up to 40 percent or more on an individual car.
Why hunt for airfare bargains for months to buy a single plane ticket when you can lock in a good deal instantly with a plane-ticket package? Cape Air, for instance, sells 10-packs of tickets that you and up to four others have up to one year to use. The savings can be considerable: If you buy a pack of flights from Portland, Maine, to Boston, for example, each one-way flight will cost you only $69 compared with the going market rate of $94 per ticket. That’s a savings of more than 26 percent per flight, allowing regular sky commuters to fly far more frugally.
If you’ve got a deck or another large-scale DIY home improvement project in the works, consider buying the construction supplies in bulk. Retailers like Lowe’s provide a volume discount on building, maintenance, and plumbing supplies, such as packs of lumber, fencing, and pipes. You can score savings of anywhere from 5 to 50 percent, and as a bonus, you can have your order shipped straight to your door—no need to borrow a friend’s truck or make multiple trips to the store.
The easiest and cheapest way to bulk up or slim down at the gym is to sign up for gym membership with a group of fitness-loving family members or friends. Many gyms, including 24 Hour Fitness, offer lower monthly rates when you add another person to your membership or sign up for several individual memberships at the same time. You can often save 15 percent or more on monthly membership fees when you get fit as a group, and you might even be able to nab additional discounts on special gym services for your group, such as personal training.
That two-dollars-per-gallon deal at the local pump won’t last forever given how volatile the price of crude oil—and consequently, gasoline—can be. That’s why First Fuel Bank, a first-of-its-kind gasoline bank in St. Cloud, Minnesota, lets its customers make advance purchases of gasoline in bulk. This allows consumers to lock in a low gasoline price the same way they would lock in a favorable interest rate on a loan, and use the fuel as needed with no expiration date. The little-known strategy allows road warriors to hedge against future gas price increases, potentially saving them hundreds of dollars over time.
With a pharmacy on every street corner and an increasing number of licensed online pharmacies, it’s easy to overlook the deep discounts available for bulk mail-order drugs. If you have a chronic condition and take a maintenance drug, consider purchasing a 90-day supply of your prescription from companies like CVS Caremark Mail Service Pharmacy instead of three 30-day orders from your local retail pharmacy. You’ll reap up to 50 percent savings on many generic and brand-name drugs, and you'll cut down on trips to the pharmacy because you’ll need a refill only every three months. Keep in mind: Home deliveries can take up to two weeks, so this deal is better suited to those who don’t need a refill immediately.
Life changes often necessitate buying more than one mattress at the same time. For example, you might move to a new home and need to furnish a guest room and purchase a larger mattress for the master bedroom. Or, you might decide to move a younger child into an older child’s room and set up bunk beds. Many companies cater to this need by offering package deals on mattresses that can save you money. US-Mattress, for instance, sells mattress two-packs that can save you 15 percent or more over the cost of buying two individual mattresses.
If you’re still making weekly trips to the grocery store to stock up on fruits and veggies, you could be wasting time and a hundred dollars or more annually. Community-supported agriculture programs, which you can find through LocalHarvest.org, offer subscriptions, typically paid seasonally, that entitle you to weekly deliveries of fresh produce. You can save up to 50 percent over what you would pay at the grocery store, you'll enjoy fresher produce, and you'll be supporting your local farmers so they can continue to share the bounty of their harvests.
Paint pros and home-decorating enthusiasts alike tend to estimate how much paint to buy by figuring out how much area one gallon of paint will cover. Yet, while quart- and gallon-size paint containers suffice for smaller jobs and take up less space in the garage, less common five-gallon containers are a more penny-wise purchase, especially for larger projects. For example, buying a five-gallon can of Behr White Semi-Gloss interior paint from The Home Depot instead of multiple one-gallon containers can save you $0.33 for every 10 ounces.
You work hard for your money, so keep more of it in your pocket! Sign up for the Two Cents newsletter to receive money-saving advice delivered right to your inbox.