Bulk Buying For Beginners
I’m willing to bet my perfume collection that one of the resolutions you made this year was to be better about money. Okay, that isn’t specific enough so I sound like a quack fortune teller. How about, your resolution was to be better about spending money and working at making your shilling go further as far as running the household is concerned.
Getting warmer? I’m pretty sure I am. 2017 opened up with “your power bill is going to go up”, “there’s going to be a drought”, and “food is going to cost you a pretty penny”. Not a great opening line to the new year after the havoc that was 2016!
I promise you I am doing rain dances to help with our drought situation but for now, what I can absolutely help with is the way you shop for your house. Enter the world of bulk buying. This world can be pretty daunting at first. I was totally clueless when I started and made a lot of rookie mistakes. Right now, I’m still no expert but I’ve got a few tips if you’re getting started.
1. Lists are your new best friend
I have a notebook that is full of lists. Lists about what I buy at the butchers. Lists of what I bought from the supermarket. Lists of my wholesale goods order. Lists of other lists! The list is endless (okay, I’ll apologise for this bad pun).
When you’re shopping in bulk, you need to be very deliberate about what you’re buying; because you’re getting a whole lot of it. Most wholesale stores have a minimum number of items that you can purchase e.g. no less than three of an item. This means you need to know exactly what you need three of.
The one shop I sometimes go to is in Nairobi West (feel free to email me about the exact location- address’s on the footer). The way it works is you first have your order rung up by the lovely lady behind the cage. It’s not like a supermarket where you walk through aisles picking what you want. There’s usually a long line so best get there early and know exactly what you’re going to ask for. By that I mean, know how much of what you want to get and in what size it comes in.
So your list should read something like: Clorox - 5 litres or Drinking Chocolate - 500 grams etc. The more info you have, the easier a time you will have. Feel free to ask what brands they have and prices as well.
2. Go big on the non-perishables
My biggest expenses during my shopping trips are items that tend to run low pretty quickly in the house; toilet paper, detergents and other cleaning agents, as well as food stuff. These are what I buy in bulk. If you’re feeling shy about buying so much in bulk, then buy essentials. I would buy stuff you know you will definitely use (family or not) like toilet paper, dish washing soap and detergent. Try it and see how you fair with that.
With kitchen items, you might want to take some time out to think it through. Personally, I bulk buy rice, flour, tea leaves, sugar, milk (long life), sauces and margarine.
3. Make a plan for storage
Before you go crazy at the wholesale store, make sure you’ve figured out where you will stockpile your shopping. A pantry or utility room would be perfect. But since this was my trial run, I only needed a little room inside the wardrobe. I also kept the items stored inside the box that they were packed in.
4. Make a plan for usage
The problem with big bottles of stuff is you tend to use more than you actually need. So dividing up into smaller bottles means you get more use out of your bulk stuff. I have an old Heinz Ketchup bottle that I pour cooking oil into. It’s great because it squirts rather than pours and it saves counter space. If you don’t have one lying around, buy a squirt bottle from any supermarket. Your oil (or anything else) will go a lot slower than it usually does. As for stuff like bleach, just keep an old smaller bleach bottle and pour it out into that.
Like with all things, bulk buying is something you will eventually get the hang of. You’ll immediately notice the savings but even more is you’ll get a better sense of how much stuff you go through and become deliberate about it. Happy shopping!
All images courtesy of The Value Mama (unless indicated otherwise)
The Value Mama is all about living rich on a Kenyan woman's budget. The site owner, Gathoni Kimaru is dedicated to finding the best value for money, life hacks and a little soul food every now and again. She is always available for tip trading, conversations about books and anonymous listening at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out her blog at www.thevaluemama.com.