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A Trip to the Dollar Store

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This past weekend, my wife and I did something for the first time that millions and millions of Americans do every day. Having been together for 8 years, we took our first trip into a dollar store together. It's not that either one of us are against dollar stores, there just hasn't been any near where we lived. My guess is that in Silicon Valley, the cost of living is so high that they can't be as profitable. Yes, Even the $1.25 store went out of business.

Before I knew my wife, she lived in a place where there were a couple of convenient dollar stores. She noted that you could always get yourself some cheap dish-washing liquid. She is quick to point out that at $2.89 a bottle here, it's highway robbery. (Side Note: I contend that Costco has some savings, but you still have to pay a little extra for the brand name. In my opinion dish-washing liquid is dish-washing liquid, I don't care about the brand.)

As luck would have it, we were running an errand this weekend, when we drove right by a Dollar Tree. So we put her theory on dish-washing liquid to the test. They not only had dish-washing liquid, but they had plenty of brands available. That was the interesting thing to me. If you want Palmolive, you can get it. It will still only cost you a dollar. The difference is that you'll get a 8 ounce bottle. The same dollar will buy you a 24 ounce bottle of Sun Bright (or some other generic clean sounding brand). I think we picked up something in between at 20 ounces.

The big thing that I noted is that there were some things that were considered good deals and others that were the opposite end of the spectrum. Something that comes to mind was a frozen burrito. You could probably get them for 70 cents at the supermarket. My biggest takeaway is that if you are looking to save money at a dollar store, you need to know what you typically pay for something and be aware of the sizes and quantities.

With that out of the way, we certainly could save some money by using a dollar store more often as long as we don't go too far out of our way. Recently our manual can opener broke and we needed a replacement sooner rather than later so our dog could eat. That meant going to our grocery store and buying one for around $5. We could have driven a little further to Target, but that might not saved much. Yet the dollar store had can openers. When my dog was a puppy he'd love to eat my hairbrushes. I think I went through three that I got at CVS, costing around $15. He's outgrown that phase, but dollar store has hairbrushes cheap. You obviously aren't going to get great quality, but sometimes you just need something and cheap will do.

I'll leave you with one final money savings that I overheard from someone at the dog park. They pick up reading glasses there and stash them around the around the house. (My mother does this with reading glasses too, must be a reading glasses thing.) For the $5 dollars or so that she spent, she felt she had to pass on this great savings strategy. I've never been in the market for reading glasses, so I don't know how great of a savings this is, but I know that if I am, the dollar store will be one of the first places I look.

Posted on August 16, 2012.

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Smart Purchases, Spending

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6 Responses to “A Trip to the Dollar Store”

  1. ADD says:

    I bought a can opener at a dollar store recently. It didn’t work, not even once. It wasn’t sharp enough to get the job done. So be aware that almost anything you buy in a dollar store can be of dubious quality, other than name brands that are featured as special buys or discontinued flavors, models, etc.

  2. ADD says:

    It IS disappointing, but on the other hand, I only lost a dollar finding out it didn’t work, so it’s hard to get too angry about it. This particular store has a food section (including frozen foods) that has saved me a lot of money, so I think in the end I’m still way ahead. But I’m always cautious when shopping in any dollar store.

  3. RichUncle EL says:

    I found a good deal at my local dollar store, it was chocolate covered almonds 2.5oz for 1 dollar and they had a massive amount but slowly it started to disappear. I got about 20 of the packages before they were all gone. I agree with looking at the brands and sizes of the products you are purchasing to decide how good of a deal it is.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I was reminded of something that I forgot in the article. Pregnancy tests. At CVS, we paid something like $5-7 for a pregnancy test and we could have paid $1. Some will say that isn’t the kind of thing to skimp on, but I imagine that they are all pretty accurate?

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