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5 Tips for Buying Smart at the Dollar Store

dollar storeIf you’re trying to live on a tight budget, whether by necessity or by choice, the dollar store can be a shining beacon of light in a storm of overpriced retail options. When you walk through those doors, you know exactly what everything costs, and you’re excited to see what new items you can find. But even a store where everything is a dollar can quickly become a retail trap if you’re not smart about your shopping. Here are five tips for making the most of your dollar store trips:

#1: Say No To Food Products

When it comes to food, chances are you can find the same things at the grocery store for the same price (or cheaper with coupons.) Another issue with dollar store food is that you’re often getting inferior quality products, or what appears to be a normal product, but is actually a smaller amount than you’d get at a regular grocery store.

#2: Steer Clear of Certain Consumables

When you’re looking for dollar store deals, avoid things like paper towels, toilet paper, and light bulbs. The reason for this is that these products are usually either worse quality than their regular-store counterparts, or are sold in less-than-ideal quantities. For example, the paper towels you buy may have larger sheets than normal, causing you to go through rolls faster. Light bulbs may be dirt cheap, but since they’re not energy efficient and probably low quality, you’ll be paying more for electricity and replacing them far more often than a high quality alternative.

#3: Consider Quantity

Dollar stores often separate things that normally come bundled into individual items. If you’re not careful, you could wind up paying a lot more for the same items. If you skip a bundle of ten pairs of socks for $6 at a department store and then buy socks for $1 a pair at the dollar store, you’re spending almost twice the money for the same item.

#4: Don’t Sacrifice Quality

When you’re looking for a deal, make sure to consider whether the cheaper alternative will stand the test of time. If you wind up buying the same dollar store item five or six times because it breaks easily, dropping $5 on a better-constructed alternative would have been the smart move.

#5: Set A Budget And Stick To It

Even at a dollar an item, the cost of your trip can easily spiral out of control. In fact, the “cheap” mentality may cause you to overspend far easier than you would at a regular store. If you find that you’re having trouble sticking to your budget, consider only bringing the cash you’re willing to spend and nothing else.

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