Saturday, August 3, 2013


So for my first real post, I'm going to reveal my biggest secret . . . . the Dollar Store!  Now I'm not just talking about stores only called The Dollar Store -- it could be the Dollar Tree, $.99 Store, $.98 Store, Family Dollar, Dollar General, you get the picture.  Any store where all of the items are priced at a dollar or less.

dollar store
dollar store

Now you may be thinking, "Carmen, I am not going to step foot inside a store like that.  I'm a well-respected middle class citizen."  Before you leave this blog though, hear me out.  This is not a store you should be ashamed of going to, it's merely a place to save money on essential items . . . and you can save a lot of it!

Here are some common misconceptions about dollar stores:
  • They are dirty and only poor people go there -- Not true
  • The items they sell are bad quality -- Not totally true
  • They only carry generic brands -- Not true
  •  It's not worth my time, I wouldn't find enough things for myself there -- NOT TRUE

Once you've removed these thoughts from your head, I can give you a list of things that you should get at a dollar store, and the list is long!  Keep in mind that not all stores carry the same items, some have better selection than others, but also that the items carried in one store varies per shipment.  So if a store doesn't have the item you are looking for once, that may not be the case other times and vice versa.

*An important note about the generic vs name brand argument.  Some people really value name brands, I get that.  Dollar stores do carry a lot of name brand items.  But there are certain things that the generic brand really is no different.  Don't believe me?  Compare the ingredients of a generic and name brand similar item.  If they are the same, then there is no difference in the quality except in your mind.

Things You Should Buy at a Dollar Store:
  -- Frozen
  • frozen veggies
  • frozen meals
  • popsicles & ice cream
  -- Refrigerated
  • margarine
  • eggs
  • milk
  • sour cream
  -- Snacks
  • chips
  • pretzels
  • candy
  • popcorn
  • nuts
  -- Baking Supplies
  • sugar
  • flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • vanilla
  • mixes
  • icing
  • sprinkles
  -- Canned Goods
  • soup
  • beans
  • tuna
  • canned vegetables
  • olives
  • chili 
  -- Sauces
  • pasta sauce
  • salad dressing
  • condiments
  • soy sauce
  • hot sauce
  -- Grains
  • rice
  • pasta
  • bread
  -- Misc
  • spices
  • tea bags
  • boxed meals
  • instant mashed potatoes

  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • mouthwash
  • deodorant
  • soap
  • shampoo
  • cough drops
  • tissues
  • various pills/vitamins
  • bandages
  • rubbing alcohol
Cleaning Supplies
  • dish soap
  • sponges
  • laundry detergent
  • dryer sheets
  • glass cleaner/surface cleaner
  • trash bags
  • mops
  • brooms
 Office Supplies
  • pens/pencils
  • permanent markers
  • highlighters
  • white out
  • staples/paper clips
  • tape
  • envelopes
  • notebooks/binders
Around the House
  • batteries
  • glue
  • duct tape/masking tape/packaging tape
  • basic light bulbs
  • simple electrical items (extension cord, 2 to 3 prong converter, etc)
  • cards/gift wrap
  • party decorations
  • some car items (mostly for cleaning, some fluids)

There are some things I do not recommend getting.  Generally toilet paper and paper towels are of very poor quality, of the stores I've seen.  Also, some stores have fresh fruit and vegetables but the quality I've seen also hasn't been so great.  And be careful about cheese, most of the cheese they sell is imitation.  But let me know if it's different in a store near you.

The items where you really save are in medicine and cleaning supplies.  Quite often you can get name brand items at the dollar store in these categories and those are the items who's normal prices are generally five, ten, or even twenty times the amount.

Are there items you feel I've left out?  There could be lots more, depending on your store.  But as you can see, there's definitely a lot you can save by going to a dollar store.

Now I know there will be still items left on your grocery list.  That's the unfortunate thing, that you can't get everything you need there every time.  So usually when I go grocery shopping, I have to go to two stores.  Hopefully there is a grocery store nearby your dollar store.

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  1. There's Dollar Tree near my house and I love the party section. I've found if you buy solid colored gift bags or wrapping paper and pair it with some pretty ribbon it looks just as nice as an expensive wrapping job.

  2. Hey the .99 Cent store in the Bay Area tends to have some really great produce. I wouldn't buy the majority of the other food items but dry food (beans, rice, pasta), canned (fish, pasta sauce), and produce is great here. If I were to purchase anything outside of food, I would stick to notebooks, air fresheners, soap, razors, and shaving cream.