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Saving Money with Dollar Store Shopping

Updated on June 22, 2011

Dollar Stores...

They are both wonderful and awful evil places. At some of these tricky establishments you may find things you need at low and incomparable prices. On the other hand you can easily walk out of those places spending hundreds of dollars on piles of junk. I mean you probably don't really need the six years worth of wrapping paper you picked up in your moment of insanity at the dollar store.

I recently moved to an area with a really impressive dollar store less than a mile from my house. It is private owned and has everything from tools, fishing gear, groceries, clothes, etc.. Everything only costs a dollar. Even being a typical guy that hates shopping, it didn't take me long to come strolling out of there with arm loads of worthless junk and an empty wallet.

Over the past few months I have managed to get myself an organized system to allow the dollar store to help me save money rather than be a cash cesspit.

Name brand toothpaste I bought at the dollar store for $1
Name brand toothpaste I bought at the dollar store for $1

My System

The first part is paramount. Only go to the dollar store before you go to do the brunt of your normal shopping. I don't care if you do your grocery and retail shopping weekly or monthly, for the system to work hit the dollar store first. If you make a list for your regular grocery and retail shopping take it with you. If you don't make a list... well, start making one.

When you are at the dollar store only purchase items that are on your shopping list. You are guaranteed to see other things that look useful and/or interesting, so allow yourself a $5 stray limit. This will allow you to grab five things you didn't already have on the list, and won't allow you to seriously dent your wallet.

This dish washing works as well for me as the name brand stuff.
This dish washing works as well for me as the name brand stuff.

Quality

As you shop the dollar store try to find decent quality items to replace the items on your list that you would normally pay more than a dollar for. Obviously, mark them off your list as you go. Another obvious point is that the items you pick up will not always be as high quality as the items you pay more for at the grocery or retail store. The answer to this problem is simply to try them.

Every time you buy a product you've never purchased from the dollar store before, keep track of how the product works out for you. Did it work just as good as what you normally pay more for? Does it last as long?

Keep a list of which products are good buys from the dollar stores, and another list of which products aren't worth the buck you spent on them so you know not to buy them anymore.

For example, my local dollar store has lots of cleaning supplies. I weeded out a few lousy dish washing soaps, until I stumbled across the Power-X brand dish soap that works just as well as the more expensive smaller bottles of name brand stuff I used too buy.

I also know through trial and smelly error that the deodorants they offer aren't as strong as the name brand stuff I use, however the giant bottle of shampoo works well and lasts for a long time.


I think these are just as tasty as the name brand
I think these are just as tasty as the name brand

Food

The same system works for the food items. You simply have to try them. I tried the spaghetti sauce my dollar store had and found that it was hideous. I will never buy it again. On the other hand the whole wheat pasta they offered in huge quantities I found that I like more than the name brand stuff. So every time I add spaghetti to my grocery shopping list, I pick up the pasta while I'm at the dollar store before hand. I'll pick up the sauce and meat when I hit the grocery store afterward,

System Success

Using these simple methods maybe you too can cut your shopping expenses in half as I have. This system has worked wonders for my wallet, but part of the reason that it has worked these wonders is because the dollar store is so close to my house. If you don't have a dollar store nearby or on your way to the store, be careful no to burn more money in gas than what you would save shopping at the dollar store. That would completely defeat your purpose.

With a little careful planning the dollar store could become a way to cut your shopping bill in half as it has done for me, provided you and your family with a little extra money for other things.

Another product that works just as well as the name brand for $1
Another product that works just as well as the name brand for $1

Things I Normally Buy at the Dollar Store Now

  • Dish washing liquid
  • sponges
  • swiffer sheets
  • bug spray
  • air freshener
  • dryer sheets
  • fabric sotener
  • windex
  • farbreeze
  • disinfectant wipes
  • shampoo
  • soap

Comments

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    • profile image

      rorshak sobchak 

      7 years ago

      Great right up. Dollar stores were the greatest invention of all time. Keep up the excellent writing. Voted up. :O

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thank you for the comments Simone and Bud! I greatly appreciate it! I don't guess I've ever been to a Japanese dollar store Simone, but it sounds interesting! Bud I noticed on the box those "pop ups" claim to be the original toaster pastry; i don't know but they are pretty tasty.

    • Bud Gallant profile image

      Bud Gallant 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      This is a great hub. I'm always looking for ways to save money, and I do shop at the dollar store myself. I haven't tried a lot of food from there, yet, but those "pop ups" look pretty tasty. I'll have to use these tips for my future trips. Thanks so much!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh man, I love dollar stores so much! Japanese dollar stores are my favorites, by far. Great tips, Phillbert!

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks for the comment truthfornow! I hate stores that try to lure you in with a dollar store name but then it turns out they're not. I am lucky to have one close by that I have. They have one section that's kind of a differebt store almost with electronics and such that are more than a dollar but have really good prices. The rest of the store everything is a dollar or less and they have everything. I mean a person could literally live fairly comfortable without ever shopping anywhere else

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 

      7 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      I love the dollar stores where everything is a dollar. Most dollar stores in New Orleans have nothing in them for a dollar. I always go to the cheaper stores to get my basic items.

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks for the comment caseworker that's very interesting!

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 

      7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      In the UK we have £ stores- you really have to watch it though because sometimes they have items that you could buy cheaper elsewhere but you get lulled into thinking that as it is a cheap shop it must be cheap

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks for the comment internet banking!

    • profile image

      Internet Banking 

      7 years ago

      I do something similar with my groceries where I hit the cheaper stores first, then the more expensive ones to get what I can't find in the first.

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thank you for the comment danielleantosz!

    • danielleantosz profile image

      danielleantosz 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Very true! I find lots of great gardening items at the dollar store that cost way more every where else!

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks for the comment bucket list! Your absolutely right I should of thought to add that warning in. some dollar stores are sneaky like that.

    • The Bucket Lister profile image

      The Bucket Lister 

      7 years ago

      Great advice! I do something similar with my groceries where I hit the cheaper stores first, then the more expensive ones to get what I can't find in the first. With dollar stores you also have to be careful not to buy things that might actually cost less than a dollar elsewhere (pencils, pasta, etc.)

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