Save your budget by "shop-pooling"

When it comes to the bulk-buying ball, I'm a wallflower. I've been to Costco and Sam's Club, of course, but mostly in the way that most people visit the zoo. I walk the aisles, platter-eyed, in admiration of what's on view, but I know that it would be suicide to take anything home with me.

That's because I live in Manhattan. Not only do I lack a car to haul the booty home with me, but I also just don't have the storage space. So even though Costco dropped hints last summer that it again wanted to open a store in Manhattan, I had to wonder how many locals in this tight town could really avail themselves of the bulk deals. Some of my neighbors don't even have stoves, let alone chest freezers.

Enter "shop-pooling," a simple savings solution that can rack up serious savings. If I go to Costco with friends and we pool our resources, we can take advantage of the deep discounts together and divvy up the spoils. I may not be able to eat eight pepper bacon-wrapped filet mignons, but I have a few friends who can use two each. I can't fit 30 rolls of paper towels in the sink cabinet, but five of us can take six each, and use the economy to mop up the savings. After all, there's no law that family packs have to be split among blood relations.