For someone on a budget, dollar stores can be a heaven sent, but there are some items that are not worth the four quarters. I recently read a story from Time Moneyland that delves into what to buy and what to avoid at dollar stores. (Julia is quoted!) Below I share items I’ve scored deals on and what I keep away from to avoid danger.
Deals to be had…
- Party supplies and gift wrap – I also like to buy clear treat baggies because you can’t beat the price. As for gift wrap, Consumer Reports found that dollar stores had the cheapest price at 2 cents per square foot versus 17 cents at one grocery store.
- Greeting Cards – I’ve never found another place where you can get inexpensive greeting cards. Make sure to check these cards for tears and stains before paying.
- Holiday Decorations – There really isn’t another place where you will find holiday decorations for a dollar before the holiday. So if you’re in a pinch check out there selection.
- Cleaning supplies – According to the Good Housekeeping Institute, the cleaners you buy at the dollar store have similar ingredients to those of name brands. Though, they may be more diluted. You’ll can also find good deals on rubber gloves, sponges and scrub brushes. I make sure to look for brands I recognize especially with sponges. I hate it when they fall apart.
- Aluminum foil – Consumer Reports found that a square foot of foil costs 3 cents. You can’t beat that!
Hit or miss…
- School, office, and craft supplies – I’ve bought pens, glue, and markers that are dried out. Stick to buying lined paper, paper clips, or staples. Make sure to check your local office store circulars before heading to the dollar store. Many office supply stores have awesome sales and you can find all these items for less than a buck!
- Candles – I’ve bought candles only to have them not light up. It’s been a waste of money.
- Plastic Wrap and sandwich bags – These tend to flimsy and don’t hold a seal. If I find a brand I can trust I’ll make the purchase, otherwise I stay away.
- Cookware and utensils – I avoid buying any cookware or utensil that will be used on heat. That means spatulas, stirring spoons, or pots. They can melt! I have bought serving spoons and salad thongs. These are especially useful and less painful to lose at potlucks since they were only a buck.
- Anything with an electric cord – This can be very dangerous! Consumer Reports warns that dollar store electronics and extension cords may have fake UL labels and could be unsafe.
- Batteries – Dollar store batteries are often carbon zinc, as opposed to alkaline. Carbon zinc is not as efficient and may end up leaking. I rather use rechargeable batteries from a brand I trust.
- Tissue Paper – I read in Consumer Reports that it’s more expensive at the dollar store.
- Vitamins – Consumer Reports found that dollar-store multi-vitamins don’t always have the amount of nutrients claimed on the label. Others didn’t dissolve fast enough to be absorbed by the body.
- Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other meds – These can be left on the shelf past their expiration date. Consumer Reports also points out that some labels may not say where the medicine was manufactured. What if there’s a recall?
- Toys – To me it seems like a trade-off in quality. Many of these toys are cheaply made and it’s better to be safe than sorry! They can fall apart and become dangerous.
What do you buy or skip at dollar stores?