Buying Protein Powder and Supplements in Japan

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UPDATE (1/25/2017): Added a new coupon at the bottom of the page.

UPDATE (1/5/2017): Happy New Year! Added a new coupon at the bottom of the page.

UPDATE (8/10/2016): Make sure you take advantage of the weekly deals at iHerb.com. You get 20% off of the selected brands. Sometimes there’s brands that have whey protein, so you can stock up on it. But be sure to buy in the beginning of the week because they’re usually sold out after a few days. To see what brands are part of the weekly deals, click here. I will also occasionally post coupon codes near the bottom of the page, so be sure to check back now and then to take advantage of it.

UPDATE (9/19/2015): So I’ve been lifting and watching what I eat consistently for about 14 months now. I won’t talk about my gains, but I will say that I’m pretty satisfied with the results. If you have any questions or want advice, feel free to comment below. Over the course of 14 months, I still haven’t found a cheaper option for protein and supplements than iHerb. However, I have developed a list of products that I have been ordering consistently: whey protein, creatine, pre-workout, multi-vitamins, fish oil, and protein bars (optional). I’ve ordered the products by level of importance, with whey protein being the most important. Protein bars are optional, but I recommend it for those who are busy and don’t have time to cook a quality protein packed meal. Furthermore, the protein bars that I order are packed with 15-20 grams of fiber! Also, I tried to find products with the most value for each category. In other words, I found the cheapest quality product with good reviews for each category.

If you want to add all the above items to your cart, simply click here.

TIP: What I usually do when ordering protein is I set the filter for price to $10 to $50 via the left menu. This narrows down the whey protein by price. Then I sort the results by “Heaviest” which can be found on the top left area of the results box. What this does is that is shows only whey protein priced from $10 to $50 with the heaviest ones first. The heavier ones are usually the 5LB proteins. When you buy more protein, it usually is cheaper. Then with the price filter I had set above, I know I won’t be spending all my salary on just protein. I also recommend buying more of the same product, rather than buying 4 different products. Some products will give you a discount if you buy a bulk amount starting from 4. Also from time to time, there will be sales where there are massive discounts so be on the lookout for those.

The Return

I apologize for the recent disappearance. I’ve been very busy and finally started to settle down living in Japan. In fact, I’ve even joined a gym. Not no local gym that’s sponsored by the government where you pay about 400 yen to get in each time and you have a time limit of 2 hours. Each ward should have it’s own. Those gyms are meant for the old people in Japan, where there’s an abundance of. I mean no offense to the elderly, but I say this because the gyms are not equipped for bodybuilding, let alone just getting in shape. I’ve been to two different local gyms and none of them even have a bench press, which is probably the most popular workout ever. Anyway, there just happened to be an Anytime Fitness that opened up nearby. For their grand opening, they waived registration fees and the key card fee (this is what lets you in). I pay around 7,000 yen or about $70 a month. Yes, that’s no mistake, I said $70 a month. Welcome to Japan. Actually, $70 per month is considered cheap in Japan. Most gyms here cost over $100 a month. No joke. And on top of that, those gyms are not opened 24 hours. Depending on your membership, you can only go during certain days. Furthermore, you can only go during certain times during those certain days. I’m not joking. Luckily for me, Anytime Fitness is opened 24 hours, hence the “Anytime” and I can go whenever. To add to that, I can go to any Anytime Fitness location, not just in Japan, but worldwide. I’ve actually already taken advantage of that and have been to 3 different locations in Tokyo. All this for only $70 a month. It’s a freaking steal in Japan, right? Okay, I went overboard with the introduction and I haven’t even started the topic yet. If you’re serious about training and want to learn more, check out my post on How to Lose, Gain, or Maintain Weight.

Anytime Fitness - Tokyo, Japan

Anytime Fitness – Tokyo, Japan

Bodybuilding

So after joining a gym, I wanted to buy whey protein powder and supplements. Apparently, buying protein powder and supplements in Japan is super expensive. I know stores like Don Quijote have whey protein and supplements, but super expensive and their brands that I’ve never heard of (Japanese generic brands). I’m not hating on the Japanese brands, but if I’m buying expensive whey protein and supplements, I’m gonna buy it from brands that are at least known in the bodybuilding industry. And so I did some research. I remember back in the states, I would order from Bodybuilding.com. Turns out you can change the country of the store, meaning they can ship to Japan! I was stoked. Prices were decent and there’s always deals and coupons to get a steal. Prices were even in yen and it was all in English. I thought it was too good to be true. And it was. When I got to the checkout page, the shipping fee was a lot. Although there were 3 options to choose from, the Super Saver option was still super expensive. The shipping fee pretty much killed the deal.

iHerb

And back to researching I went when I came upon a website called iHerb.com. Despite the name, there were also a whole bunch of other types of products such as beauty products, herbs, some other stuff, and most importantly, “supplements and sports”. Although iHerb’s prices of whey protein weren’t that great, the prices of their supplements were. However, keep in mind that the shipping fee makes up for the higher cost of protein powder which I’ll talk about more in a bit. There was even a coupon that took $10 off if you’re a new customer. I’ll talk more about the coupon later. And lastly, most importantly, the shipping was “cheap”. Shipping was only $4.00. Yes, ONLY $4, well as long as your order was under 30 pounds. But that’s a steal! I could order 30lbs of whey protein and shipping would only be $4. And on top of that, delivery time is 3-5 days. That’s crazy. Furthermore, if your order totals $40 or more, you get FREE SHIPPING. Wait, there’s still more. If your order is over $60, you can an extra 5% off on top of that. Tell me not, that’s a steal. I should stop here. I feel like if I continue, this article will never end. Ugh, here we go… I just remembered that iHerb has a trials or samples page. What that means is that there’s a bunch of samples that you can try for as low as $0.25. On top of my protein powder order, I added a whole bunch of $0.25 and $0.50 items to my cart. Even if I didn’t need it, I still added it anyway. But yeah, be sure to check out the trials page too.

Beware of Customs Fees

iHerb has it written on the website, but I had to learn this the hard way. For those that are ordering from Japan, make sure your total order doesn’t exceed 16000 yen. When I shop on iHerb, I have the currency set as US dollars. Use a currency exchange calculator and make sure the value in yen is under 16000 yen. Just to be safe, make sure the value is at least 1000 to 2000 yen under 16000 yen. You will be charged an extra 3000 yen for custom fees if your total price is above 16000 yen. You will have to give the 3000 yen to the delivery person in order to receive your products. If you cancel, you won’t get a 100% refund. So the best thing you can do is make sure you don’t order anything that exceeds 16000 yen.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article will point you in the right direction in getting quality well-known protein and supplements for an affordable price and quick delivery time. I know things in Japan are expensive, but I feel there has to be a better option sometimes. I wish you the best of luck in achieving your fitness goals.

iHerb Coupon Details

Enter the code DPJ857 to get 10% off your first order. First-time customers only.

Enter promo code PROMOJAN at checkout or click on the following link to get $5.00 USD off your next iHerb order:

http://www.iherb.com/?pcode=PROMOJAN&rcode=SMV494

*This code is limited to one order, and will expire on Tuesday, January 31st, at 10.00 am. PST.

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Transferring Money From US to Japan

Recently, I had to transfer a large amount of money from the US to Japan. I needed the money quick and I wanted a good rate. I searched all over the internet and found results such as Japan Post Bank, Western Union, and Seven Bank. I even had a friend, who just happened to be visiting, help bring some cash over and exchanged it at Japan Post Bank and Sakura Exchange in person. If you’re transferring money from US to Japan, I found Transferwise to be the best option for exchanging a large amount of money quickly and at a good rate. Before I start talking about Transferwise, I want to go over the other options first and why I found Transferwise to be best for my situation.

Exchanging in Japan

Japan Post Bank

Do not ever exchange cash at Japan Post Bank. The rates here are very low if you exchange in person. On the day that I went, the real exchange rate was about 114.3. Japan Post Bank gave me a rate of about 111.23. Furthermore, they charged me a fee.

Sakura Exchange

Sakura Exchange is a chain of small kiosks that that exchanges money. You can find several locations in Tokyo. Although the rates here are quite low as well, they gave me a higher rate than Japan Post Bank and they did not charge me a fee. I went to Sakura Exchange about half an hour after I went to Japan Post Bank and the rate was about 111.7 (Japan Post Bank was 111.23). Go here only if you need to exchange in a hurry or if you need to exchange a small amount of cash.

International Wire Transferring

Japan Post Bank

Wire transferring money from US to Japan Post Bank usually has a better rate than exchanging in person. However, wiring money can take up to a week if not more (depending on the US bank you are sending from). Even after Japan Post Bank receives the wire transfer, they will need to find out the reason for the transfer from you. That means they hold onto the money and you will receive the money on your account only after they contact you. You will need to let them know the reason for your transfer and say that this money has no relation to terrorists.

Furthermore, if you make a mistake on the wire transfer details such as accidentally forgetting to input the branch code, Japan Post Bank will hold onto the money and require you to contact them. They will only contact you once. You will have to contact them if you miss their call. I waited about 10 days before finally calling them. I had no idea where my money was. When I tried calling, they said I had to go to a physical location in person. When I did go in person to ask, the bank said they couldn’t do anything to help. I just wanted to find out what happened to the money! So then I call them again and they finally said they will investigate the situation and let my local bank know. So then that means I had to go back to the bank again in person and find out what had happened. Ridiculous. After they finally investigated what had happen, it turned out that the branch code number was missing.

Western Union

I have never used Western Union before so there is not much I can say about its services. You can use Western Union at most ATMs in Japan such as Seven Eleven. Unfortunately, they have a international transfer limit of 1 million yen which was not suitable for my situation.

Seven Bank

I have an account with Seven Bank and I am quite happy with its services. It is very convenient to use, especially with their ATMs all over Tokyo. Since Seven Bank uses Western Union for their international money transfer, the transfer limit is the same. So unfortunately, their international money transfer limit was not high enough for my situation.

Transferwise

Unlike banks where they have hidden fees and make money by giving a lower exchange rate, Transferwise gives you the exchange rate and fee upfront. On top of that, the exchange rate is extremely high. The rate they give is just slightly below the actual real exchange rate. Transferwise makes their money from the fee they charge. Although the fee they charge is slightly higher than banks, the high exchange rate Transferwise gives makes up for it and helps you save a lot more. When making a transfer, the rate is saved for 24 hours. So you have 24 hours to send the money, while keeping the rate you have when you create the transfer. You can create several transfers and have it saved for 24 hours so that you can keep the best rate. Rates change throughout the day. However, after you send money to the bank make sure you cancel the other transfers with the lower exchange rate so that the money will be exchanged with the higher rate saved.

Transferring money from US to Japan

Screenshot taken at 11:15PM on 3/15/2017 Japan time.

How Transferwise differs from the typical bank wire transferring is that no money is wired internationally. They have banks all over the world. For example, they have a bank in the US and a bank in Japan. When you make a transfer on the Transferwise website, you are asked to send money to their bank in the US. After they receive your money in USD in their US bank, their bank in Japan will send you money in JPY. There actually is no money exchange that occurs. The money you send stays in the US and they just send you money from their bank in Japan. This allows them to give a high exchange rate and quicken the money transfer time.

I made multiple transfers on Transferwise and I received the money in my bank with 3 to 5 days (although they give a later estimated date of arrival). I understand that Transferwise is new and it is kind of suspicious in the sense that money is sent to a bank in the US, not Japan, and that the street address of the wiring details is Jamaica Street. In fact, I did a test transfer of $100 just to be safe. I received the money with no problems, so I moved on with doing a bigger transfer and received it safely and swiftly.

The only downside of doing a money transfer with Transferwise is that the money has to be sent from an account with the same name as the receiving account. That means if you want money sent to an account in Japan with your name on it, it has to be sent from an account in the US with your name on it as well. So it can’t be sent from a different name such as from your parents or siblings. The only exception is that if it is a joint account with your name on it as well. Just make sure your name is listed as well when sending the transfer.

Once you get the bank account information prepared on the Transferwise account, making transfers will be easy and quick. I strongly recommend this service if you are transferring money from US to Japan.

Feel free to use my exclusive invite link to make a free transfer of up to £500 (roughly $530): https://transferwise.com/u/42bfa06

 

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Buying Nail Art Supplies from Japan

Japan is famous for their over the top nail art. Unfortunately, buying nail art supplies from Japan does not come cheap. If you’re interested in buying nail art supplies from Japan but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then look no further. NailStyle is a nail product brand based in Tokyo, Japan that sells affordable, trending nail art supplies online and ships worldwide. They sell a variety of nail art supplies such as gel nail, nail parts, nail seals, rhinestones, nail foils, nail power, and much more. Check out some of the supplies sold by NailStyle below.

 

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How to Lose, Gain, or Maintain Weight

Here’s a short and simple write-up of how to lose, gain, or maintain weight.

Calorie Intake

First off, you have to figure out how many calories your body needs to maintain your weight. You can use this calorie intake calculator from bodybuilding.com: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutcal.htm

Let’s call your calorie intake the base rate. For example, mines is about 2,250 calories. So in other words, I have to eat about 2,250 calories everyday in order keep my body weight the same. After figuring out your base rate, you can decide to lose weight, gain weight, or stay the same weight.

If you want to lose weight, obviously you have to eat less. However, note that if you eat too little all of  a sudden, your body may think that you’re starving and will go into starvation mode. This is bad because in starvation mode, your body’s metabolism will slow down which is the opposite of what we want. Your body will also try to conserve energy and store fat. A good amount to eat less is probably around 250-500 less calories. So if my base rate is about 2,250 calories and I want to lose weight, a good amount to drop it too is: 1,750 calories. Do this for about a week or two, then drop another 250-500 calories for the next week or two. Keep doing this until you’re at your desired weight.

For example, if I want to lose weight and I have a base rate of 2,250 calories. I’d have to eat about 1,750 calories per day. I’d continue doing this for about 1-2 weeks. If I’m happy with my weight, then I’ll just stay at this amount. However, if I want to keep losing weight, then I’d have to drop my calories even lower because by then my body has already adjusted to 1,750 calories. In other words, my base rate has now become 1,750 calories. Everyone’s body and lifestyle is different, so you might even have to do it for 2-3 weeks before making a change in your calorie count.

On the other hand, if you want to gain weight then eat more. If my base rate is about 2,250 calories, then I should eat about 250-500 calories more. So about 2,750 calories per day.

Obviously if you want to stay the same weight, then just eat the same amount of calories as your base rate.

Keep in mind that not all calories are created equal. Eating fat foods and healthy foods that have the same amount of calories will not give you the same results. What this means is that eating 1,750 calories of McDonald’s is not the same as eating 1,750 calories of clean eating. Obviously, we want to eat clean. So whether you’re losing weight, gaining weight, or trying to stay the same weight, do try to eat healthy.

There’s a lot more I can talk about but this is probably enough to get you started. Hopefully now you have a better idea on how to lose, gain, or maintain weight. To start, I recommend you actually count the calories you’re eating tomorrow. You don’t have to be 100% accurate (pro bodybuilders do because it’s their profession), just estimate using a calorie counter app or something. For example, if I estimated that I actually ate about 3,000 calories today. However, I calculated that my base rate is actually 2,000 calories so I’m eating an extra 1,000 calories. Which means I’m gaining weight! So I should make a change in my calorie intake But that doesn’t mean I should be eating 2,000 calories tomorrow. That’s a 1,000 calorie difference from yesterday. Again, this will make your body think you’re starving which is not good since your body will start storing food as fat. Instead we have to gradually decrease our calorie intake. So maybe tomorrow I will eat about 2,750 calories. Then slowly and gradually work my way down towards my base rate.

Types of Food

For protein, you should eat fish, skinless chicken, turkey, tuna, lean beef, eggs, whey protein, milk, yogurt, etc. For good fats, you should eat avocados, olive oil, nuts, etc. Good fats actually help you burn fat. And for carbohydrates, you should eat vegetables and complex carbs or slow digesting carbs such as brown rice, oats, whole wheat bread, etc. However, you can also eat fast digesting carbs such as white rice, noodles, potatoes, etc. but only immediately after you wake up or after your workout. Why? Because when you’re sleeping (you can’t eat while you’re sleeping so you need food as soon as possible upon waking) and after you’ve worked out (used up energy from an intense workout), you need to replenish your energy. If you don’t, the body will go into starvation mode and first target your muscles for energy which is not good. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t target our fat first.

Tips

Here are some simple tips:

  • Drink a lot of water (this also helps you feel full)
  • Eat a lot of meals, every 3 hours (what I do is eat 3 main meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but in between those meals I’ll have a snack such as yogurt, nuts, protein bar, protein shake, etc.)
  • Eat a lot of fiber to help digest food (fiber bars, cereal, etc)
  • Never give up. If you’re feeling lazy to go to the gym, go watch a motivation video on YouTube.

Supplements

If you’re in Japan, I recommend buying supplements online from iHerb.com. The prices are much cheaper than supplement products in Japan (honestly, I don’t think they’re that good either) and there’s free shipping (arrives within a week). Below are some links for your convenience. I’ve also attached a referral code so you can get a discount if you’re a first-time user. I buy all my pre-workout, creatine, whey protein, and other supplements from here and I’m definitely spending a lot less money if I were to buy Japanese supplements.

Please see this post and scroll down to the bottom for my tips on how to get a steal on buying whey protein. You can also use it for buying other supplements as well.

Supplements

Supplements

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Gold’s Gym Japan

A little over a month ago, I decided to make the big jump from Joyfit 24 to the famous Gold’s Gym Japan. Known throughout the world, Gold’s Gym is known for the place where hardcore lifters go and oh boy did it not disappoint. The change from Joyfit 24 to Gold’s Gym was like middle school to a university. The gym was bigger, better, and badder (in a good way). The selection in equipment was mind-blowing. More than half the equipment there were equipment I’d only see on TV or on the computer. With the wide variety of equipment, it’s almost impossible to hit a plateau! On the walls were pictures of actual bodybuilders and athletes. There were even TV screens with videos of professional bodybuilders. Not only was the atmosphere intense, but so were the people. The crowd was much noticeably bigger and serious, both male and females. Almost everyone would take a protein shake and/or pre-workout shakeout. Not to mention, there is also a protein shake bar which you can purchase a shake from the vending machine. If you’ve been seriously lifting for at least 2 years, then I think you’re ready to move onto signing up for Gold’s Gym. Another interesting thing is that there’s a women’s training zone, where only women are allowed to enter. No idea why they have this. Maybe girls don’t like to use machines that were used by sweaty men? Also, they have studios where there are classes almost everyday. There are other things like saunas, jacuzzi, and stuff, but it varies location by location. Like most other gyms in Japan, you’re required to bring your gym shoes and change when you get there. There are also showers there, but it’s not as private. You get your own stall, but it’s not really that private. I think you’re supposed to go in butt naked, but I just go in with my boxers on and bring a towel and my new pair inside with me.

The main reason that took me so long to switch over to Gold’s Gym Japan was definitely the price factor. When signing up, I had to pay around 24,000 JPY upfront (includes the 1st month’s pay). Then every month after that, I have to pay 12,000 JPY (excluding tax). This is roughly $120 USD per month! The average back in the states is about $30 USD per month! Japan is expensive, but this is super expensive! It was a plus that I can go to any Gold’s Gym with this membership, but this is a standard already. Almost all gyms allow that! But this change was definitely needed for me. Going to my previous gym, I felt my motivation dropping day by day. Not only was the equipment limited, which limited the variation of my workouts, but the atmosphere was boring there. There was no competition and motivation. It’s like I was riding my bicycle I had when I was a child, I’ve outgrown it.

Golds Gym Japan

Golds Gym Japan

Gold’s Gym Japan is definitely on another level when compared to other gyms. If you’re a seriously lifter, the location is convenient, and membership price isn’t a problem, then definitely make the change. If not, I recommend just sticking with the regular 24 hour fitness gyms like Anytime Fitness and Joyfit 24. Although Gold’s Gym is pretty good, it’s not 24 hours and some of the interior and equipment can be old. I’ve been to the Otsuka, Omotesando, Harajuku, and Shibuya location so far and hands down, Harajuku’s one is the best. The Harajuku location is open 24 hours, but the others aren’t. Also, I think they were recently renovated so the interior is new and the equipment is new (most of it). Also, they have a jacuzzi in the shower room which also was new! Almost forgot, Gold’s Gym is not open everyday. Depending on the location, the gym closes every 2nd or 3rd Monday of the month for maintenance purpsoes. Of all days, why do they choose Monday? Does Japan not know that Mondays is International Chest Day?

After working out, you could just get a protein shake from the protein shake bar but it does get pricey if you go 5 days per week. A shake costs roughly 400 JPY depending on how much protein you get, so you’ll roughly spend about 14,000 JPY on just post-workout protein shakes per month. If you’re on a budget, I recommend buying online from iHerb.com. I’ve listed some links for your convenience. I’ve also attached a referral code so you can get a discount. I buy all my pre-workout, creatine, whey protein, and other supplements from there and I definitely spend way less than 14,000 JPY per month (and that’s for everything, not just whey protein).

Please see this post and scroll down to the bottom for my tips on how to get a steal on buying whey protein. You can also use it for buying other supplements as well.

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Anytime Fitness VS Joyfit 24 Gym

Before I get on with Anytime Fitness VS Joyfit 24 Gym, I would like to first apologize for the super long time it took to update the site. A lot of things happened and I just kind of got away from blogging.

I’ve actually moved away from Ikebukuro. I’m currently living in between Otsuka and Sugamo (although closer to Otsuka), which is just one stop away. Ikebukuro is a good place to live to have fun and go out and drink, but sleeping well at night is an entirely different issue. Although there’s not much to do in Otsuka, it is a much more quiet neighborhood. Since Anytime Fitness wasn’t convenient for me anymore, I decided to switch to a closer gym: Joyfit 24. Joyfit 24 is another fitness chain and is also opened 24 hours a day. I think only the ones with 24 in the name are opened 24 hours.

Anytime Fitness VS Joyfit 24 Gym

Anytime Fitness VS Joyfit 24 Gym

There wasn’t much difference between Joyfit 24 and Anytime Fitness, but I do feel that Anytime Fitness has better equipment. The price between the two gyms was around the same, roughly 8000 JPY (including tax). Both gyms are opened 24 hours, 7 days a week. Both gyms also have free lockers and private changing and shower rooms. Equipment for both gyms were fairly taken care of, if not new. The gyms don’t get too busy even during peak hours, but it may vary based on the locations. Obviously, the crowd for these gyms aren’t the hardcore gym rats. Not to be conceited, but I’m usually the most muscular (not strongest) person there. But then again, this is Japan and they’re not particular too concerned about muscles.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Joyfit 24 requires customers to bring separate shoes for the gym. So you’re supposed to bring shoes specifically for the gym and you change into them once you get there. This is very common in Japan, so I wasn’t surprised. Anytime Fitness, didn’t have this policy which was great. Another difference was that Joyfit 24 actually had a free water fountain! Anytime Fitness didn’t. I don’t know if this was just the one location that I went to though.

Hopefully my post about Anytime Fitness VS Joyfit 24 Gym was helpful to you. The differences between the two weren’t big enough to have an affect in the deciding factor of which gym I’d choose. In the end, I was just happy with the more convenient location. Again, I recommend these gyms for the beginner to mid-intermediate level gym goers. Immediately after my workout, I would take my protein shake. I was one of the very few who ever did that at Joyfit 24 and Anytime Fitness in Japan. My point is that I felt I was like a college student attending a middle school in terms of the gym.

Speaking of protein, I recommend buying your protein (other any other supplement) from the following site: www.iHerb.com. I provided a referral code (DPJ857) in the link which will give you a discount of $5 (last time I checked it was).

TIP: What I usually do when ordering protein is I set the filter for price to $10 to $50 via the left menu. This narrows down the whey protein by price. Then I sort the results by “Heaviest” which can be found on the top left area of the results box. What this does is that is shows only whey protein priced from $10 to $50 with the heaviest ones first. The heavier ones are usually the 5LB proteins. When you buy more protein, it usually is cheaper. Then with the price filter I had set above, I know I won’t be spending all my salary on just protein. I also recommend buying more of the same product, rather than buying 4 different products. Some products will give you a discount if you buy a bulk amount starting from 4. Also from time to time, there will be sales where there are massive discounts so be on the lookout for those.

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