This is an excerpt from my book, The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living
There’s little that gives me more of a rush than going into the dollar store and finding things that I would normally buy elsewhere for two or three bucks and getting them for only a dollar. And they have a lot of other stuff that I’ve never seen that seems like a great deal.
But the question is this: what at the dollar store is actually a good deal and what should we spend a little bit more on?
In some cases, quality is more important – for example, you don’t want to put something on your skin or ingest something with poor quality – or even harmful – ingredients. But there are many things you can buy in which the purity and quality doesn’t matter quite as much. If you are busy trying to stock up, hit your local Dollar Tree or Dollarama and see what they’ve got.
What to buy at the dollar store
These are items you can get at the dollar store without any significant health risks (of which we know, anyway) and that aren’t so flimsy that they’ll break the first time you use them.
- Bobby pins
- Brooms and dustpans
- Coffee filters
- Coloring books
- Coloring pencils
- Cotton swabs
- Craft supplies
- Fabric shopping bags
- Feather dusters
- Gift bags and tissue paper
- Gift wrap
- Greeting cards
- Hair elastics
- Index cards
- Name-brand food (check the expiration dates carefully)
- Paper cups
- Paper plates
- Party décor
- Pens and pencils
- Picture frames
- Posterboard for those school projects and yard sale signs
- Pregnancy tests
- Reading glasses
- School supplies
- Seasonal decor
- Spray bottles for homemade cleaning supplies
- Storage containers
What NOT to buy at the dollar store
At the same time, there are other things I would NOT buy at the dollar store. A lot of the items there are imported from countries with different safety standards than ours, so my rule of thumb is that I won’t buy things that come into contact with my food – or actual food – unless it is a name brand that I recognize and would buy at the grocery store.
For example, our local dollar store had some Betty Crocker brand whisks and cooking utensils and I was okay with that. I wouldn’t have bought no-name one there, however.
Part of this is my concern about lead, cadmium, and arsenic. If this is a worry for you, check out the YouTube channel Creative Green Living. These ladies run around stores with a handheld device, testing things for toxic metals until they get kicked out.
- Anything you put on your skin unless it’s a brand you recognize
- Baby bottles
- Baby wipes
- Batteries (they may leak)
- Children’s dress-up cosmetics
- Electronics (total junk that will stop working fast)
- Extension cords
- Jewelry (often contains lead)
- Knives (dull knives are dangerous to use)
- Off-brand food
- Pet food
- Plastic cooking utensils
- Tools (dangerously flimsy)
Of course, there are never hard and fast rules. If it is a product you normally use, do your due diligence. If it smells okay, looks okay, and is well-within the best-by or expiration date, you may have found yourself a great bargain!
What about you?
What are your favorite dollar store scores and what do you avoid? Let’s talk about it in the comments.