Stretch Your Dollar: 10 Items to Buy at the Dollar Store

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When it comes to shopping for bargains, a dollar store should be the first stop on the tour. No, not every item on the shelf will be high quality or even worth your single dollar. However, there are plenty of things that are perfectly fine – even better – to buy there. In fact, you don’t even need to sacrifice the brand name to get the deal in some cases. So when you’re looking for any of the products below, take the affordable route.

Here’s a list of what to buy from the dollar store to make every cent count:

  1. Cards and Gift-Wrapping Materials

Greeting cards in bookstores can cost as much as $7! If you’re looking for something extraordinary, like a singing card or something incredibly specific, a specialty store may be your best bet. For most occasions, however, dollar stores have many quality cards available for just $1 – even for bridal showers, weddings, anniversaries or specific birthdays. They’re not stupid or cheesy, either; you can honestly find decent ones.

As far as gift-wrapping goes, dollar stores carry a variety of bags in different sizes, colors and patterns. There are paper products like wrapping paper, tissue paper, etc.; and cute boxes – in paper or plastic – available as well. Dollar stores have everything you need for birthday parties, holiday get-togethers or any other gift-giving occasion.

  1. Party Decor

Looking for Mylar balloons, tablecloths and disposable eating supplies? Avoid the high cost of throwing a party and purchase these supplies at the dollar store. For my friend’s birthday, I bought a set of $1 balloons that lasted for weeks. There are also decent disposable tablecloths in popular colors, and the paper plates and napkins can be used for most occasions. Now that the warmer season is upon us, you can even plan these events for the outdoors.

  1. Mouth Care Products

Cleaning your mouth is essential, but can get expensive when shopping at the grocery. Dollar stores carry most of your favorite name brands – or products just like your favorites – for less than other places. Who needs $7 mouthwash when you can get essentially the same product for $1? I even buy name-brand Crest Whitening there. You can also pick up name-brand mouthwash, toothbrushes and floss to affordably complete your mouth-cleaning regime.

  1. Hair Accessories

Who couldn’t use more hairbrushes and ponytail ties? The dollar store is a great place to stock up; you can find travel- or regular-sized brushes, a wide variety of hair clips and even zesty scrunchies. When it comes to shampoos, conditioners and other washing/styling products, however, you can find better deals with sales and coupons at the grocery store.

  1. Batteries

I had a battery-powered air mattress that required D batteries. Rather than heading to the grocery store and paying $10 for four, I bought three for $1 at the dollar store. If the batteries are for an item that is used infrequently, dollar store batteries are a particularly good deal.

  1. Cleaning Supplies

If you’re particular about the products used to clean your home, you could still be in luck; dollar stores carry numerous name-brand cleaning products. Even if your go-to cleaner isn’t on the shelf, check the label, because it could be the same product with a different name. For the most part, however, an alcohol-based cleaning agent is, well, an alcohol-based cleaning agent. The same goes for bleach and ammonia – why pay more for a product that is essentially the same? Looking for a broom or a toilet brush? You can find those at dollar stores, as well.

  1. Picture Frames

Frames at craft or department stores can cost an arm and a leg. Dollar store varieties are oftentimes pretty basic – black or silver, mostly – and some even have cute messages. I’ve even seen one that was specifically for diplomas. There are also ranging sizes available – even the bigger multiple-pictures-in-one frames. If you’re looking to get crafty and dress the frame up, the dollar store is the place to go.

  1. Glassware

Dollar stores actually sell decent and attractive dishes, cups and other in-the-kitchen items – including cute mugs. While they might not match the quality of your best china, the dollar store dishware is perfect for kids and everyday use.

  1. Generic Foods

When it comes to consumables, dollar stores typically don’t offer the healthiest options. The shelves are lined with sugary drinks and fat/sugar-rich snacks that are very likely stale. However, if in search of some basics like brown rice, oatmeal, condiments or spices, the dollar store is a fine bet. Another good deal: Candies and chocolates, when purchased in king or jumbo sizes, are cheaper at the dollar store.

  1. Holiday/Seasonal Decor

If you’re looking to spice up your home around a certain holiday, head to the dollar store. The place is flooded with stuff for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter – every major holiday. The decorations are cute, too.

When the average weekly grocery bill for a family of four is reported to be around $152, it feels so good whenever you’re able to spend under your budget. You can’t go wrong with these dollar store items, so go ahead – knock yourself out.

Anum Yoon is a personal finance writer who is dedicated to sharing her insights on money management with others. She believes that a greener, energy-efficient lifestyle is the key to living a more fulfilling life. When she's not typing away on her keyboard, you can find her poring over a new recipe she found on Pinterest or at the power rack in her gym.

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