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Work & Money

9 Everyday Essentials I Will Buy Only at the Dollar Store

Drive right past the department and discount stores to save over 80 bucks on a cart full of goodies.

I’m a dollar store diva and proud of it. Like a kid in a candy store, I love to shop for knickknacks and household deals at chains like Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar. Even when I travel, I look for the local dollar store. The payoff? I still have a pair of yellow, glass teardrop earrings I scooped at a dollar store in Italy, and anytime I’m in Los Angeles I make a mad dash into 99 Cents Only, where I’ve found treasures like fashion scarves, tourist T-shirts and toys for my cat.

Want to join in on the frugal fun? Know what to pounce on and what to pass up at these economical emporiums. Consumer experts don’t recommend buying canned foods, which may be cheaper than $1 at your supermarket. Ditto for off-brand health and beauty products because dollar store versions may irritate skin, be more diluted than brand-name buys or expired. But here are nine types of products you’ll be glad you paid $1 for (Holla!). Plus, I’ll show you a savings breakdown of what you’d spend on the same or similar items at Target or Walmart. Of course prices change, but here’s what I found. Let the bargain shopping begin!

1. Reading glasses
Have you ever lost an expensive pair of reading glasses on vacation or during your daily commute? Well, thanks to the dollar store you can keep a few extra pairs on standby. Similar reader styles sell at Walmart for $18 and up!
Savings: $17

2. Office supplies
Stock your office with useful supplies like a mini dry-erase board with marker, eight clasped envelopes, and a four-pack of ballpoint pens. Your Walmart tally for similar items would be $6.68 for the dry-erase board, $3.12 for four ballpoint pens and $2.37 for six clasped envelopes.
Savings: $9.17

3. Hair accessories
For your tiny dancer or you on a bad hair day, save on trendy headbands, head wraps, hair clips and hair ties for less. At Target, similar hair accessories start at $3.79 for headbands, $4.99 for head wraps, $1.99 for hair ties and $2.49 for plastic hair clips.
Savings: $9.26

4. Greeting cards
Need a cute or sappy card for a birthday, Mother’s Day or to say thank you? Your dollar store has got you covered, often nicely pricing two cards for $1. By comparison, at Target greeting cards range from $4.99 each.
Savings: $8.98

5. Puzzle and activity books
Keep your mind sharp with jumbo large-print word search and keep your kids busy with coloring and activity books. Similar items will run you $8 per word search book and $3.99 per kids’ coloring and activity book at Walmart.
Savings: $9.99

6. Home accessories
The dollar store has great tchotchkes and knickknacks, including scented candles (even soy blend), decorative picture frames and stemless wine glasses. At Target, I saw similar soy candles for $5.99, picture frames priced at $2.50 and stemless glasses at $1.99.
Savings: $7.48

7. Party supplies
Dollar stores have everything you need for a fab birthday, holiday, graduation or bridal shower celebration, including festive paper plates, party napkins, paper cups, banners and an assorted pack of 48 plastic forks, spoons and knives for just $1 each. At Walmart, a pack of eight birthday party plates is $1.99, eight paper baby shower cups are $4.42, party napkins are $1.56 and up, a 48 count of plastic forks, spoons and knives costs $4.99, and the same glitter birthday banner is $4.74.
Savings: $12.71

8. Gift bags and wrapping paper
Why pay up to $5 a roll for wrapping paper and $3 for one medium-size gift bag at Target when you can spend $1 for each, or even two small gift bags for $1?
Savings: $6

9. Toilet tissue
One essential dollar store item to grab on the go is toilet tissue. Don’t expect to squeeze the Charmin at this price, but the no-frills four-pack will do! Target’s price for its Up&Up four-roll pack of toilet tissue is $3.49. Savings: $2.49

Total savings for the entire haul: $83.08 — a nice bit of cash to splurge with or save.

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