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7 Bulk Buys That Are Actually a Waste of Money

PeopleImages / iStock.com
PeopleImages / iStock.com

A trip to Costco or another big-box retailer can make it tempting to go big or go home. Unfortunately, going big may not always be the safest bet and may actually be a colossal waste of money. When buying in bulk, you want to think long term. What do you use regularly, and how much do you go through in a week? A month? A year?

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The problem with buying a massive amount of something is that it may go bad before you get a chance to use it. Plus, despite what most people think, larger packages do not always mean you get the lowest price per unit. In some cases, you are paying significantly more for something that you may just end up tossing.

Before going big, think about how much storage you have, whether you can afford it and if it is something you will use before it expires.

Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Baking Essentials

Even if you are an avid baker, many of your supplies should never be bought in bulk. Spices are a great example of something that, even if you use them every day, are best purchased in small quantities.

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Spices, especially when stored incorrectly, have a relatively short shelf life. Many start losing flavor within a year. It's unlikely that you'll even put a dent in a 1-pound container of ground cinnamon before it loses its luster.

Buying large quantities of flour is another common mistake that people make. Flour, particularly whole-wheat flour, is prone to spoilage. The baking essential can also attract weevils, pesky little insects frequently found in grains and starches.


Cooking Supplies

Other cooking supplies not worth the bulk buy for shelf life and spoilage reasons include coffee, oils, canned foods and rice.

Buying oils and other cooking ingredients in smaller sizes can help ensure that you use them before they go rancid and that you get a higher quality product. Some bulk supplies are cheaper because they are not as high quality. Depending on the type of cooking you are doing, you'll want quality over quantity.

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Pantry Staples

Undoubtedly the jumbo-sized chips may seem like a good idea when you are wandering the aisles, but it may actually be cheaper to go smaller. Remember, not only is bigger not always better, it may be more expensive.

Things like cereal, chips and soda may be less expensive to buy in smaller quantities at your local grocery store. These are items that are routinely put on discount in an effort to draw in customers.

Look for promotions and sales to get the best price, and you'll likely find that you are paying less per unit compared to buying in bulk. Plus, you won't risk the disappointment of a stale chip because you opened a never-ending bag.

Sven Scheuermeier / Unsplash
Sven Scheuermeier / Unsplash


It may seem like a no-brainer, but some people simply can't fight the temptation. Produce should not be purchased in bulk. Unless you are buying for a large gathering where you know the food will be consumed, anything perishable should be bought in a quantity you can eat within a reasonable amount of time.

Buying produce in accordance with what you and your family eat each week will help you be less wasteful, saving you money over time.


Skin Care Products and Makeup

It isn't only food that can go bad. Skin care products also have an expiration date. So before you buy the extra-large size, make sure that you like the brand and use it on a regular basis. Products that are not stored correctly or have gone bad may develop bacteria.

Lotions, makeup and other beauty products are made up of chemicals that can break down over time. Using expired products can cause infection or skin irritation. Before applying, check the expiration date. Also, look at the consistency. If it looks or smells weird, don't risk putting it on. When in doubt, throw it out.

Read: 8 Companies Behind Costco's Kirkland Brand Products

boophotography / iStock.com
boophotography / iStock.com


Sunscreen is another culprit that can cause rashes or other skin problems if it is used beyond its expiration date. Sunblock can have an even shorter shelf life than its beauty product counterparts because it is exposed to heat and light more often.

Before spraying or slathering the skin care essential, check the expiration date. Also, chemical-based sunscreen can break down over time, making it less effective. The change in chemical composition may also be toxic, resulting in harm when applied to your skin. Stick with smaller bottles and throw out any that are from last season.

Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock.com
Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock.com

Some Cleaning Supplies

While some cleaning supplies are a good bulk buy, others simply aren't worth the money. Things like chlorine bleach are only effective for around six to nine months after opening. In most cases, you only need a small amount of bleach to clean, meaning a fair amount will likely go to waste or be largely ineffective by the time you get around to using it.

Plus, as with other chemicals, exposure to heat may speed up the problem. If you store your bleach above the dryer, it may be causing it to break down more rapidly. Unless you have ample storage space, cleaning supplies are best bought in smaller amounts.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 7 Bulk Buys That Are Actually a Waste of Money