3 Dollar Store Mistakes You Probably Don’t Realize You’re Making

Shopping at your local dollar store could result in savings. But it's important to steer clear of these common pitfalls. Read More...

People tend to have a lot of mixed feelings about dollar stores. On the one hand, it’s kind of hard to argue with the price point. But some people will tell you that dollar stores offer low-quality items that aren’t worth the money, and that they commonly drive local companies out of business.

Personally, I have no problem with dollar stores. I find that running in for last-minute school supplies or party favors is convenient and cheap. And while I don’t shop at dollar stores as often as some of my friends, when I do stop in, I find that I generally get decent value.

But if you’re going to shop at dollar stores, you’re going to want to reap savings in the process. So to that end, make sure you’re not making these common mistakes.

1. Assuming you’re getting the lowest price

These days, not every dollar store upholds the $1 price point. At my local store, the going rate is $1.25. We can thank inflation for that. 

But even so, since dollar store products are inexpensively priced, you may be wired to assume that you’ll always be getting the best deal. That’s not automatically the case, though. Sometimes, you’ll spend a lot less buying items in bulk at Costco or on Amazon.

Now, if you need something like a 12-pack of markers in a pinch for your child’s school project that’s due tomorrow, then fine, spend the $1 or $1.25. But before you load up on dollar store buys, take a little time to compare prices and make sure you’re really getting the good deal you think you are.

2. Not looking at quantities when buying food or personal care items

You may find everything from hand soap to macaroni and cheese to canned vegetables at your local dollar store. And at first, the prices there might seem more competitive than your local grocery store.

But remember, while your dollar store may be charging a lower price per item, it’s not necessarily charging a lower price per ounce. If a 30-ounce bottle of body wash costs $2.99 at your local supermarket, you’re paying about $0.10 per ounce. If an 11-ounce bottle costs $1.25 at the dollar store, you’re paying $0.11 per ounce.

If money isn’t tight in your household, then you may, frankly, not have to worry so much about paying $0.01 more per ounce of a product you want. But if you’re on a tight budget, these are things to pay attention to.

3. Not using your credit card

Because dollar store purchases tend to be inexpensive on an individual basis, you may be inclined to pay for them in cash. But in doing so, you could be forgoing credit card rewards that put cash back in your pocket.

Remember, the $3 here and the $6 there you spend at the dollar store can add up over time. So don’t hesitate to swipe your credit card, even if it’s for a smaller purchase. If money has been scarce, every extra dollar you get back counts.

Whether you’re a fan of dollar stores or not, chances are, you’re going to end up shopping at one for some reason or another. So you might as well do what you can to reap the most savings — namely, by avoiding these blunders.

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