People love the dollar store, or now the $1.25 store. People go there for one thing and leave with bags of items. But you really shouldn’t shop there. For the vast majority of products, the dollar store is not a bargain.
Dollar store savings are an illusion
As you stroll the aisles of your local dollar store, you will see food items, health and beauty items and household cleaning and repair products, all priced at $1. A steal, right? Nah. Probably not.
Check the size and package quantity. Those name brand food and household cleaning items look smaller than they should. That’s because the container is smaller or has less per pack. You pay less; you get less. Save more and get more by buying full or jumbo sized detergent, cleaning sprays and cereal in regular stores on sale with a coupon. That tiny 4 pack of dollar store toilet paper is not a deal. Go to the grocery store and get the big package of the featured sale toilet paper and save. The roll will be of better quality, have more sheets per roll, and have more rolls in the pack than the dollar store product – for overall better savings.
Check the expiration dates. Dollar stores often get overstock of name brand products. Sometimes that can be a good deal. But often it’s not as the items may be on the brink of expiration. Products that are stale or expire before you can use it all are not money savers.
Questionable quality. Who is Craig and since when does he make dish detergent? The dollar store is filled with products from their own house brand, products from brands you never heard of, and a sprinkling of name brands. A lot of those off brand products are of inferior quality and not worth $1. Laundry and dish detergent with the consistency of colored water. Cooking utensils that won’t last a month. Paper plates so thin a handful of potato chips makes then bend. It’s much easier and budget savvy to save money by buying name brands on sale or house brands from major retailers and grocers.
Never buy these products at the dollar store
Clothing. Dollar store clothing is never a good deal. Not the cheap socks. Or the headbands. Or the underwear. Every dollar store clothing item can be purchased at a better price and/or better quality in a regular store.
Example, the dollar store sells thin socks in packs of two or single pairs for $1 that won’t survive too many washes. Any day of the week, you can drop by a Ross, TJ Maxx or Marshalls and find quality and fashionable socks in packs of 4 or 6 on clearance for $4 or less. Or for a bit more per pair, you can pay for quality and convenience and just order from Amazon, with the average price for a pack of 6 is $13.99.
Food. Never buy food at the dollar store, especially refrigerated items. Are you certain that the dollar store cleans and maintains the proper temperatures of its refrigerated cases? Don’t risk getting almost expired, stale or freezer burned food. Instead, become a grocery super shopper. Join your local grocery stores’ membership programs and take advantage of the card benefits, coupons and plan your shopping around sales – and stock up. You will save more and get better quality food.
Cleaning products. Dollar store brand cleaning products are just not very good. You need to use more to clean, and that’s not budget savvy. And the name brand cleaning products they have in stock are usually “shrunken” for the dollar store. With coupons and sales, you can buy better quality store or name brand cleaning products in regular stores. You can also share a Costco or other warehouse store membership and buy your cleaning products in bulk with a coupon and save more.
Electronics. The dollar store is full of cheap phone chargers, power strips and headphones. Don’t be tempted. At best, you will just be disappointed with the performance of those $1 pink earbuds. At worst, that $1 charger will fry your phone. Browsing the clearance area at Target, it’s easy to find cheap earbuds, chargers, etc. The quality will be better, and you can easily return it. Also, for these types of items, always check online for deals.
Medicine and vitamins. No. Just no. First, those off brand bottles of vitamins and painkillers in the dollar store are usually smaller than regular store brands or name brands – erasing their bargain value on size alone. Second, do you really want to take some strange brand name painkillers of questionable origin?
Dollar store medicine and vitamins may be of poor quality, counterfeit or close to expiration. It’s really not worth the risk. Wait for a sale at a regular store like Target, CVS or the grocery store and then buy two bottles. Don’t cheap out on your health, your doctor bill will be way more than the dollar or two you save buying dollar store meds and vitamins.
If you plan ahead, and keep your household stocked like savvy frugalista, you should never have to set foot in a dollar store. Save more and still live well.