Bulk Buying with No Extra Money

I remember, once upon a time, when I first heard of the concept of bulk buying. It was touted as being the cure all to people's grocery shopping woes, the way to be able to cut your food bills significantly. "Very nice", I'd say to myself, "but totally unrealistic. I am not making it through the month now, I haven't a penny to spare. How on earth am I supposed to be able to actually put this "amazing tip" to use? Bulk buying is obviously a frugal tip only for privileged people who aren't actually as tight on cash as I am."
For a while, I lay the thought of bulk buying to rest, figuring it wasn't something that was applicable to my life, but jealous of those that were able to do so...
Eventually, I did figure out how to start bulk buying, and being able to actually afford it, so that now our grocery bills are much less than they used to be, even though we're on a strict, more expensive, gluten free diet.

Have you wanted to start bulk buying but don't have the spare cash to actually be able to afford to do this money saving tip?
Here's some tips to get you started on bulk buying if you don't have extra cash floating around.

If you'd like to buy bulk, before anything, you have to make sure that you're actually following a strict grocery budget. Each month, at the beginning of the month, set aside a certain amount of money that you can afford to spend on groceries, and use only that amount of money each month. If you can't do that, look for some creative ways to scale back, even if they're not necessarily what you want to be doing, because if you're spending more than you're making, you're just going to be getting yourself into big financial trouble. Only once you're actually living within a strict budget can you actually have hopes of improving your finances by buying in bulk.

Once you're following your strict budget, try to go under budget one month. It doesn't have to be tremendously under the budget- even if you just spend 5 dollars less on groceries than you'd designated for the monthly budget, you've already gotten somewhere. Take those 5 dollars and put them aside, ideally in cash, in a safe spot. This is the start of your “Bulk Buying Fund”.

Each month, try to add to your bulk buying fund by taking whatever is leftover in your grocery budget at the end of each month. Additionally, try to add whatever other spare money you can to the fund. This can mean any loose change that you have after going to the store or taking your “fun money”, like those 5 dollars you would have have used for going out for coffee with friends, and putting it aside into your bulk fund, or skipping that treat you were eying in the bakery and putting that money instead into your fund. It certainly isn't the most enjoyable thing to be depriving yourself of the little enjoyments in life, but this is very temporary, because the sooner you have a fully funded beginner's “Bulk Buying Fund”, the sooner you can start saving and have extra cash available for all those fun things you want to do buy can't afford right now because of tight finances.

When you have enough money set aside, buy one thing in bulk, a staple that you regularly purchase anyhow, that is significantly cheaper to buy in bulk than to buy retail. Try to pick one thing that you use most often that you're able to buy without spending too much cash in one go. My first bulk purchase ever was whole wheat flour that was half the price in bulk than it was in the grocery store. Other examples of good foods to buy are rice, oatmeal, or other grains.

After making your first bulk purchase, this next month, instead of buying that food for the higher grocery store price, you'll be using the cheaper stuff you bought in bulk. Whatever money is left over in your grocery budget, which should be more significant than the month before now that you're not buying that staple at the grocery store, should be set aside for the next bulk purchase.

Your second round of funding your bulk buying fund should go much quicker than the first time around now that you've made your first bulk purchase. Once you have enough money set aside in your bulk buying fund, choose one more staple to buy in bulk, and buy that.

This month, you should come in even more under budget than before, because now there are two staples you aren't buying anymore at the store. Yet again, set aside any leftover money into your bulk fund.

Repeat again and again and again, buying bulk foods that are staples when you've set aside enough money, until you're buying many, if not most of your staples in bulk. If you've already bought most of the cheaper staples, you can start buying more expensive things that you use, like chicken, olive oil, nuts, etc...

Once you've started purchasing most of your non perishables in bulk, you'll be able to lower your food bills significantly because you'll be paying wholesale for most of the foods you're buying instead of the jacked up retail prices found in regular supermarkets. It should free up enough cash to give you a little wiggle room financially, and you can use this money as needed. Keep stocking your bulk buying fund, and eventually your bulk food funds should be a subset within your now significantly lower grocery budget.

Do you buy bulk foods? How are you able to fund it? 
Do you want to bulk buy to save money but feel that you don't have the extra cash necessary to bulk buy? Do you think these tips will help you making bulk purchases a reality?
What foods do you buy in bulk, and where do you buy them? Costco? A warehouse somewhere? Someplace else?

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Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Hi there, I came here via Frugally Sustainable's 23 Day Challenge. I love your article - it makes so much sense to start a Bulk Buy Fund. I am going to start as soon as I can get my grocery budget under control! Thanks!

  2. okay. read it. usually put my nonused grocery money (if there is any), into an emergency fund, but i will put it here instead to get my grocery bill down and have a stockpile. thanks for the tips

  3. this is such a blessing. I read this years ago but have gotten away from it and find myself back reading it :) thank you

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