Dollar stores are a common strip-mall sight these days, and even though they may not still sell all of their products for a buck any more, they still present some incredible opportunities to save money on countless everyday items.
Walking through a dollar store can be like running a gauntlet of temptation. A new set of bowls? Sure, why not. A plastic houseplant? I’m sure there’s a place for it. Home décor of questionable utility? Sure, might come in handy. (Here are 30 everyday items that are cheaper at Dollar Tree than at Walmart.)
Shopping at dollar stores can be a great way to save money, but at the same time they can also make it easy to buy a lot of unnecessary stuff that you may not need. Just like at the supermarket, making a list of only the things you need – and sticking to it – is vitally important if you’re not planning on spending money on unnecessary stuff.
At the same time, you need to make sure that what you’re buying is actually worth it. Inexpensive items are inexpensive for a reason: they’re made using cheap materials and simply aren’t intended to hold up to repeated use. If you’re looking for a new family heirloom, don’t buy it at the dollar store. And make sure what you’re buying is safe for the family – avoiding, for instance, these toxic products sold at dollar stores.
To determine the best things to buy at America’s dollar stores, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous financial websites including Kiplinger and MoneyTalksNews and found the items that are a great deal at stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General.
Even the cheapest sunglasses can do a good job of blocking your eyes from direct sunlight. Unless you’re buying prescription sunglasses, dollar stores are great options for finding them. As long as they look good on you, they’re a smart buy, especially if you’re prone to losing or breaking them.
Tape is something that’s always needed around the house, and it helps to have plenty around whenever you need some in a pinch. Just be careful, because sometimes dollar store tape will have less actual tape on the rolls than its more expensive counterparts.
Beach and pool gear
Beach balls, plastic sand buckets and shovels, beach towels, and the like are always good dollar store options, especially because they’re primarily for kids and usually only used a handful of times every year.
Professional chefs and die-hard home cooks will probably want to shop elsewhere, but unless you’re planning on giving your whisks, tongs, wooden spoons, spatulas, and measuring cups some major wear and tear, what you’ll find at the dollar store will do just fine.
Gift wrapping supplies
Gift wrapping supplies, like wrapping paper, ribbon, tissue paper, and decorative bags, are meant to be discarded after the gift has been opened, so there’s no need to spend more than the bare minimum on them.
Coffee filters are cheap and disposable by definition, and you can find some perfectly good options at the dollar store for less money than at the supermarket.
Food storage containers
Dollar stores sell a wide variety of plastic containers that are perfect for food storage, in lots of shapes, sizes, and colors.
It may seem counterintuitive to trust a dollar store pregnancy test with something as important as, well, pregnancy, but tests have proven that they’re just as effective as the ones that are found at pharmacies and supermarkets, and they’re a lot less expensive.
Fancy vases can cost hundreds of dollars, but if the goal is to showcase the flowers in them and not the vase itself, then why shell out? Plus, if they break, you’ll only be out a few bucks.
Perfect for the purse or around the house (especially if you have a pet that likes to camp out on the couch), lint rollers are always good to have handy.
Dollar stores stock a huge assortment of plates, bowls, silverware, napkins, and the like, in enough styles to satisfy even the pickiest shopper and at much lower prices than at housewares stores.
Reusable shopping bags
Whether canvas tote bags or plastic shopping bags, reusable bags are a must-buy at dollar stores. And because many supermarkets now charge for bags, they’ll pay for themselves.
Greeting cards at the pharmacy can cost upwards of five bucks nowadays, but if you’re not looking for anything fancy and just want to express a sentiment, a 99-cent card from the dollar store will do just fine.
Combs, brushes, and accessories intended to keep hair in place are dollar store staples, and these inexpensive versions will certainly get the job done. And if you’re the type of person who’s constantly losing hair clips, it’s best to stock up on the cheap.
Many dollar stores carry cheap off-brand candy that’s perfectly edible, but they also sell name-brand candy for less than the supermarket. If you really want to save some cash, stock up there on the way to the movies.
If you have houseplants that need tending to, check out the dollar store before heading to the garden supply center. You’ll find everything from flower pots to marbles to hanging baskets and watering cans, all deeply discounted.
Teachers wind up spending a lot of cash out of their own pockets on classroom supplies, and a trip to the dollar store can save them a lot of money on everything from classroom decor to pencils, art supplies, and learning tools.
Clothing storage bags
Laundry bags, hanging garment bags, under-bed storage bags, and more easy ways to store clothes can be purchased cheaply at dollar stores.
It’s always fun to decorate the house when the Holidays come around, but nobody wants to shell out on decorations that will only be up for less than a month. Come December, many dollar stores start to look like downright winter wonderlands selling inexpensive decorations.
First aid supplies
Every household should have first aid supplies like bandages, gauze, medical tape, and disinfectants on hand, and dollar stores sell medical supplies that are just as effective as what’s for sale at the pharmacy, for less money.
Many best-selling books, especially mass-market novels like romance novels and mysteries, can be found at dollar stores, usually at a lower price than what they sell for online.
Most dollar stores have a whole aisle of inexpensive pet supplies, like collars, leashes, grooming tools, and toys. It’s a great place to stock up, but we recommend you buy your pet’s food elsewhere.
Cookout and picnic supplies
If you’re planning on having a cookout or picnic and need to stock up on disposable supplies like tablecloths and plastic plates, cups, and cutlery, look no further than your local dollar store.
The personal care supplies that you’ll find at the dollar store (including shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, and toothpaste) may not be of exactly the same quality as the name brands at the pharmacy, but they’re much less expensive and certainly get the job done.
Paper is supposed to be cheap, so unless you’re looking for high-end stationery, look no further than the dollar store for school notebooks, diaries, and household notepads.
Mugs and glasses
Coffee mugs and glassware, even ones that are manufactured and sold cheaply, can last forever if they’re properly cared for, and if they break, it’s no big deal.
Just as with houseplant supplies, dollar stores are great places to purchase trowels, planters, and in some instances – even soil – at much lower prices than hardware stores and gardening supply shops.
Children’s art supplies
No home with children is complete without a good variety of art supplies, and dollar stores sell many kids’ art kits as well as standalone crayons, markers, glue, art scissors, and other tools they’ll need to make art that’s destined for the fridge.
Candles and candle holders
Every dollar store seems to be stocked to the brim with every known type of candle and candle accessory.
The laundry detergent you’ll find at the dollar store may be off-brand, but in many instances it’ll clean your clothes just as well as the more expensive options at the supermarket.
If you’re in need of reading glasses, most dollar stores have a nice variety of them in many strengths and designs, at an even lower price than at the pharmacy.
Dollar stores are party supply central. Because most supplies are single-use, like plastic tablecloths, decorations, plates, candles, and goodie bags, there’s good reason to purchase them as inexpensively as possible.
Picture frames are meant to draw attention to the photo inside them, not the frame itself. Even the least expensive dollar store picture frames are nice enough to display in your home.
Sponges and scouring pads
If you need it for your kitchen, then you can feel comfortable buying it at the dollar store. Dollar store sponges, scouring pads, and other dishwashing essentials may not last as long as the name brands, but they’ll definitely clean your plates.
Travel size toiletries
Travel-size toiletries are dollar-store must-buys. If you’re stocking up for a trip and need mini-size shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and more, the dollar store is the place to go.