10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Buy in Bulk


When you think of buying in bulk, you think of the staple items that are often seen in Costco and Sam's Club. Canned food, packages of T-shirts, and laundry detergent are some of the "no-brainers" when it comes to buying bulk. (See also: Bulk Buying Guide)

But what about some of the less obvious bulk items?

Let's take a step back. Buying in bulk can happen one of two ways. First, you can go the traditional route and purchase from a bulk retailer like those mentioned above. Second, you can come across something that's so significantly marked down in price, that buying a lot of it makes more sense than buying a small amount.

In order to come up with a few things that you didn't know you could buy in bulk, we'll consider items that pertain to both possibilities.

1. Gym Memberships

You've got a couple different options here.

First, most gyms will offer a discount if you sign up for a long time, say a two-year contract. This means that if you know you're a committed gym goer and will stick with it, you can get a better monthly rate by signing up for a longer period of time.

Second, some gyms like Bally and Washington Sports Club offer discounts when multiple people sign up at once; so grab your friends and family and see if you can get a referral discount. (See also: Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free)

2. Cell Phone Plans

The cost of a family cell phone plan, once you divide it up among five or six people, is far and away cheaper than single plans.

If you can get a few family members on board, dividing a bill up between five people means everyone pays somewhere around $30 to $50 a month depending on what kind of package you get.

3. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (CSA Subscription)

A lot of local farms and cooperatives will offer what's called a CSA subscription, or community supported agriculture. This is where you pay a monthly fee for a weekly supply of fresh fruits and veggies.

Depending on the CSA, the price often comes out to be cheaper than buying the same amount at the grocery store (and even the farmers market) for comparable produce (usually organic). Plus, CSAs deliver. Not to mention you're supporting local farmers. (See also: The 7-Step Food Budget)

4. Toothbrushes

You can pick up a box of 14 Colgate Premier toothbrushes on Amazon for about $0.93 per brush. The deals can get even better if you want to go with a cheaper brush.

5. Beer

Beer isn't typically thought of as a bulk item, but places like Costco and Sam's Club carry lots of it, with significant savings.

For roughly one dollar per bottle you can take home a 24-pack of your favorite brew. (See also: 10 Reasons to Drink Beer)

6. Diapers on Amazon

If you've got kids, Amazon is a place with which you might want to get cozy. Diapers can be bought in bulk for around $0.28 per unit, while the price of wipes tank to nearly $0.02 if you buy several hundred of them.

7. Building Supplies

If you're a contractor, or if you've got a big home improvement project you're trying to buy for, Lowes sells building supplies in bulk at a discounted price, usually netting you a 10% to 20$ discount depending on what you're buying.

This only works if you need a lot of supplies, but if you're putting an addition on or remodeling a kitchen, it might be something worth considering. (See also: Home Renovations That Pay for Themselves)

8. Meat, Poultry, and Fish

This one is contingent upon you having a little bit of freezer space.

Assuming you do, buying meat in bulk from a local butcher, from a major retailer, or directly from the ranch can save you some money and a few trips to the grocery store.

Wherever you get it, divide the meat up into preferred portion sizes and put it into freezer bags before you freeze it. Label everything with a date so you know when to use it by and stick it in your freezer. If you've bought enough, you'll have meat for months to come, at a significant discount. (See also: 5 Best Freezers)

9. Gift Cards

Costco will actually sell gift cards in bulk at a discounted price. For example, you can buy two $50 gift cards to California Pizza for $79.

I'm not totally sure how that works out for California Pizza, but it means you get $100 worth of food for around $80.

10. Paint

If you've got major painting project on your hands, it's a good idea to go with the five-gallon tubs instead of the gallon options.

You'll save some money here, and it never hurts to ask for mistints or returns of the five-gallon tubs. If you're looking for a basic off-white, you might be able to find something discounted beyond the bulk price, which is already going to be cheaper than buying single gallons.

Additionally, if you don't plan to use it all, this can be a good item to go halfway with someone else and share the container.

Creative Bulk Purchases

In general, if you get creative and work up the guts to ask, a lot of the things you buy on a regular basis can be purchased in bulk. If you know you'll use the extra amount, it's a good idea to consider a bulk purchase, even if the item doesn't fit the profile of your "typical" Costco or Sam's Club showcase.

Figure out what you use a lot of, and see if buying in bulk can save you a little money. If you find it cheap, load up for a makeshift bulk purchase.

You can even go in with people for cooperative buys and share the item, like when people buy meat in bulk from a butcher. Having more people involved guarantees the extra goods will get used, and lets you save a few bucks on something that you would be buying anyway.

Have you scored great deals on bulk purchases we don't normally think about? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

As for #3, a better price per pound for TOO MANY VEGETABLES is not necessarily a good deal. I split a CSA share with four friends for a summer and our fridge overflowed with rotting kale and beets because we could not keep up with it. And we didn't even save money compared to paying non-bulk prices for the vegetables we actually ate. Make sure you have a plan to deal with surplus if you try this.