Does Buying Toilet Paper In Bulk Actually Save You Money?

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There are two types of toilet paper buyers — those who buy in bulk and those who only purchase as much as they need in the moment. The former argue that they save money by buying a lot at once. But does buying months' worth of toilet paper at a time really benefit anyone's budget? Or is this practice best saved for big families or folks with the home space to spare?

There are exceptions to the rule, of course; but in general, buying toilet paper in bulk will save you a few bucks, which is why warehouse stores like Sam's Club and Costco practically have forts of bulk toilet paper. Shoppers fill their oversized carts with gallon jugs of pickles protected by a cushiony wall of TP, and spatial limitations may demand that they figure out how to store toilet paper in plain sight when they get home. It seems odd to question whether this practice saves money since so many people do it. It's especially important if you aren't a warehouse club member and you buy in bulk at non-warehouse prices. Even at a regular retailer or online, you can buy economically in bulk.

"If you're only going shopping once every month, ... it may not be a good deal for you to shop at [warehouse] stores," Nicole Dow at The Penny Hoarder told Marketplace, explaining that warehouse membership fees aren't worth it for everyone. "But you still can buy in bulk at your everyday grocery stores."

Is buying toilet paper in bulk worth it?

How easy it is to save money on bulk toilet paper partly depends on where you buy it, but usually it is cheaper to buy a lot than a little at a time. A paper on low-income purchasing at the University of Michigan, via Marketplace, indicated that folks who buy toilet paper in bulk or strategically during sales spend 5.5% less on TP than those who don't. Plus, warehouse shoppers tend to have an easier time stocking up on TP since it's often cheaper than at a non-warehouse retailer. Although the sticker shock of a huge TP package at a warehouse may startle a shopper, it's probably less expensive in the long run. 

"If you were to purchase from a wholesale supplier in bulk, nine times out of 10, the unit price is going to be much lower than if you were to purchase just one of the things you need from the grocery store or a big box store," Julie Ramhold of DealNews.com told Today. "It comes down to basically getting a quantity discount, you're buying enough of the things that [the company] can afford to give you a cheaper price overall."

In additional to buying in bulk, you can spend less on toilet paper by following some helpful tips, such as utilizing subscription services.

Calculating a real cost difference

Ultimately, the answer may depend on what toilet paper you buy. Let's take Scott ComfortPlus, for example. At the time of publication, a 12-double roll pack (24 rolls total at 231 sheets each) on Amazon costs $5.69. Meanwhile, the same toilet paper in two packs of 18 mega-rolls (36 rolls at 425 sheets each) on the same site is $29.44. According to Amazon, that's $.19/100 sheets for the mega versus $.22/100 sheets for the double. At first glance, that small difference doesn't seem big.

However, with 425 sheets per roll, that's $.81 per roll for the larger pack and $.51 for a 231-sheet roll in the smaller one. But if the mega-rolls are just over twice the size of the double rolls, that savings is more like $.20 per roll. That's why the per-sheet calculation isn't the whole story. To get your roll cost, multiply the per 100 sheet cost by the number from your total sheets per roll divided by 100. So, for 425 sheets, you would take the $.19 and multiply it by 4.25. 

Considering the average American uses 141 rolls per year, that's a difference between spending a yearly total of $47.52 or $40.19 for the small or large pack, respectively, based on their per-100-sheets costs. With careful calculating and strategic planning, a savvy shopper can save money buying in bulk.