Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Shopper's Food Warehouse
Image by wharman via Flickr

A lot of people believe that buying bulk groceries will save you money. If you are a coupon shopper, that just isn’t always the case. This is because coupons are not percentage based so it deducts the full value whether you buy the larger or smaller size. That means your coupon will have a bigger impact on the smaller version, often making the unit price lower than the largest size.

Most bulk stores won’t even accept manufacturer’s coupons, which leaves money expiring in your purse. Keep in mind that some coupons have size restrictions so read the details. Warehouse stores also don’t typically reduce their prices, while grocery stores run specials each week. A smart shopper will save their coupons for sales, multiplying your savings each week.

Here are a few examples that show the value of using coupons with sales over buying bulk:

Jif Peanut Butter

Size Price Price w/coupon Unit Price
Warehouse $8.39 $8.39 $0.11
40-oz $5.28 $4.73 $0.12
28-oz $3.64 $3.09 $0.11
18-oz $2.19 $1.64 $0.09
18-oz on sale $1.67 $1.12 $0.06

Garnier Frucits shampoo:

Size Price Price w/coupon Unit Price
Warehouse $6.20 $6.20 $0.16
25.4-oz $5.49 $4.49 $0.18
13-oz $2.99 $1.99 $0.15
13-oz on sale $2.50 $1.50 $0.12

There are a few exceptions to the rule, of course. Warehouse purchases make the most sense when you truly need bulk quantities such as for parties or barbecues. Bulk purchases may also save money on specialty foods that either don’t typically go on sale or do not provide coupons.

Amazon Grocery is a good place to purchase bulk quantities of organic products. Grocery items, like most Amazon products, ship free when you spend at least $25. Their subscription service can save even more on items that you use frequently.

While bulk purchases are a part of my overall shopping strategy, it usually pays to save my coupons for the smaller sizes. It’s all about math—didn’t your teacher tell you that?