Before this year, I could count on two hands how many times I’d been to a dollar store. But with the prodding of my wife and the introduction of the 99 Cent Only store, I continue to stand amazed at the quality for price ratio. Saving money at the dollar store is one of the easiest hacks to living a more frugal life. Many times, you can buy the same exact brands as you would at Target or Albertsons for a fraction of the cost.
Saving Money At The Dollar Store
This is another examples of one of those slight changes in behavior that puts more money in your pocket at the end of the month without you even knowing it. You’re still getting to get things. You’re still getting to swipe that credit card. But the subtotals are just much much less. And as we all know, it’s much easier to modify behavior than it is to go cold turkey.
Alright, so enough chit chat. Let’s git down and dirty and talk strategy for using this precious resource to put more money in your pocket at the end of the month.
What Can I Buy At The Dollar Store?
I continue to be shocked at all the different things I find at my local 99 Cent Only store. While not everyone will have this particular chain of dollar store, I’m sure most still will have a dollar tree, family dollar, or dollar general.
For me, I tend to go for the following which are of no worse quality than that found at Target, CVS, or Walgreens:
- Office Supplies
- Pens, pencils, sticky notes, envelopes, thank you cards, notebooks
- Health & Wellness Supplies
- Toothpaste, toothbrushes, band aids, rubbing alcohol
- Home Improvement Supplies
- LED light bulbs, box cutters, Terracotta pots, gardening supplies, batteries
- Cleaning Supplies
- Soap, scrub brushes, dryer sheets, trash bags
- Food & Beverage
- Organic produce, beer & wine, name brand snacks
- Disposable Paper Supplies
- Toilet paper, paper towels
- Car & Auto Maintenance
- Microfiber cloths, interior cleaning supplies, sun visors
This is just a list of the things that my wife and I go for when we have the need. I will also say that they have a massive pet care, seasonal, beauty, and home decor aisle.
A Quick Note About Quality
And I think it’s worth pointing out here that you will not meet a person who cares more about quality than me. And I know a common argument here is, “There’s just no chance that a pen at 99 Cent Only is the same quality at CVS.”
I will admit, I am sure they are different quality on some level. But my question is, how often do we actually exhaust the useful life of the things we buy? I think most times we either lose them or replace them before there completely used up. The quality might not be exactly the same, but I’d argue that the discrepancy is not justified in the 3x-4x price for the ‘better quality’ item.
How Much Will I Save Shopping At the Dollar Store?
It’s hard to say how much money you stand to save here. But the vast majority of things in there are quite literally $0.99. And I can’t help but believe that I’m benefiting from something called price discrimination.
What I can do is point to my own savings just last night.
We purchased a ZZ plant for our guest bathroom and wanted to re-pot it into a terra cotta pot. So, instead of heading to Lowes which I would have done in the past, I went to my local 99 Cent Only store and got an 8″ Terra Cotta Pot for… Yep, you guessed it, $0.99.
Had I gone to one of the more common home improvement stores, I would have paid $3.99 at Lowes or $3.47 at Home Depot. Mind you, this was essentially getting a 75% off deal. And while $3 saved on a purchase might not seem like much, if this becomes a habit, the savings add up.
For another example, we get Colgate Optic White toothpaste in a 3-pack from our 99 Cent Only store and pay $4.99 for it. I know right, not exactly $0.99 but you can find this exact same 3 pack on amazon for $21! *As of the time of this writing.
This is all to say that as with most things, exact mileage will vary but savings are guaranteed. But these are two simple and honest examples of how I’ve been saving money at the dollar store this week. And don’t even get me started on how much money we waste by getting our greeting cards and gift bags at our local drug store instead of our local dollar store. That change in behavior right there will probably save you $10 per gift.
How To Maximize Savings At the Dollar Store
Personally, anytime I need something, I first ask myself if it can be found on the shelves of the 99 Cent Only store near me. While I do purchase most of my food and drinks from Costco, there inevitably comes times when you need this and that around the house and it’s sure as heck not worth a trip to Costco. It’s in these situations where I jump on my bicycle and ride over to my 99 Cent Only store.
That’s my advice. Anytime you think you need something (toothpaste, cotton pads, pens), first ask yourself if it can probably be found at your local dollar store. If so, you’d be hard pressed to find some examples where you wouldn’t save money by getting your consumer goods there. I get it if you’re feeling kinda weird about buying all your groceries going forward from the dollar store. Personally, I’m still buying most of my food and alcohol from Costco. And I think many times you wouldn’t even be able to completely replace your groceries at a dollar store. But that’s not reason enough to not go check out your local dollar store scene.
I honestly shop at my local dollar store with pride because every time I walk out of there spending only a few bucks I feel like the smartest person in the city. Stop wasting your money by shopping at drug stores or Target for things mentioned above. Freaked out about eating what you buy from a dollar store? Fine, I understand that. But remember, you can find a lot of the same names on dollar store shelves as you would on Target or drug store shelves. Chips, Pop, Candy, Snacks, and Cereals tend to be name brand at the dollar store.
For me, if I’m ingesting it, I first try to find it at Costco and buy it in bulk. Next, I’ll get it at Sprouts (Not cheap, but convenient for me). For ANYTHING else, I first try to find it at the dollar store. Then a home improvement or traditional grocery store.
Saving Money At the Dollar Store
You can and will save money at the dollar store. Just go check it out and see what kind of items you can start buying there and stop buying on Amazon, CVS, Walgreens, or Target. You may not want to get food there. But there are so many household disposable items you can find there for amazing deals. This is just another way that you will be able to squeeze out an extra $100 of savings a month. This is without question the case for me.
Now, go spend, but go save. Spend smart. Save a lot. And do something with your savings. Don’t stash it underneath a mattress.
I hope this helps you find more savings in your every day expense.
Signing off for now,
The Frugal Feline.