Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Definitely buy these 15 things at the dollar store

You may be amazed at the variety of tremendous bargains you'll find at the dollar store. Yes, even pregnancy tests.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 27, 2014 12:37PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyDollar stores lure us in with rock-bottom prices. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but often the things they sell are good products at a tremendous discount -- a real bargain.

Here are 15 items that are definitely worth buying at the dollar store. 

1. Greeting cards

There is no reason to spend $4 to $5 or more on a greeting card when dollar stores typically have a wide selection available for a buck or less. You might not get textured paper or fancy extras like ribbon, but the heartfelt message you write will be the same regardless of how expensive the card looks.

2. Party supplies

By some estimates, you can save up to 70 percent by using party supplies from a dollar store. Get plastic tablecloths, paper plates and cups, streamers and favors from the dollar store and save a bundle. Don't forget to look for Mylar/foil balloons too. These are an absolute bargain and can easily sell for five times as much elsewhere.

3. Gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper

While you're getting your party supplies, look for gift bags and wrapping paper too. You could end up paying two or three times more for gift bags and boxes at other stores. In addition, wrapping paper can be a steal. You might not get the same thickness of expensive paper, but for something that's going to end up in the trash, why pay more?

4. Seasonal décor

From extra ornaments for your Christmas tree to a scarecrow to stake in your front yard for the fall, dollar stores can have a surprisingly robust selection of seasonal décor. Pick up some bargain-priced items to decorate your house for less. But stay away from holiday lights, which have a poor track record of safety at discount stores.

A bunch of dollar bills © Tetra Images, Getty Images5. Reading glasses

As we age, we often lose elasticity in our eyes and that makes it more difficult to focus on close objects. In many cases, a simple pair of reading glasses is all you need, and the reading glasses at dollar stores are as good as those found in other stores. However, if you have trouble seeing at a distance, it may be time to schedule an eye exam and see about getting a prescription pair.

6. Hair accessories

From elastic bands to bobby pins to headbands, you can find hair accessories at a fraction of the price at dollar stores. Combs and brushes can be a bargain too.

7. Pregnancy tests

Grocery store pregnancy tests will set you back $10 to $15, but you can find them at some dollar stores for only a buck. You might be wondering whether a $1 pregnancy test is going to be accurate. That's a good question and, according to this news report, the answer is yes.

8. Vases and decorative bowls

Don’t bother with other stores for vases and decorative bowls. The dollar store probably carries a number of styles at a price that can't be beat. You can use vases to skip the florist and make your own, much cheaper arrangements. Or spruce up decorative glass bowls to make inexpensive gifts for family or friends.

9. Mugs and glasses

Like vases and bowls, mugs and glasses are also a good buy at dollar stores. The quality is comparable to what you might get at Wal-Mart or other mass merchandisers. As a bonus, you can typically buy only the items you need rather than being forced to purchase a set.

10. Dishware

Dollar stores also often have a nice selection of open stock dishware. This isn't going to be top-of-the-line quality, but they're perfectly serviceable pieces. For those with little kids, dollar store dishes can be just what you need to get you through that phase of life when something seems to get broken in the kitchen on a weekly basis.

11. Storage containers

Plastic storage containers also get a thumbs up when it comes to great dollar store buys. In the grocery store, you can easily pay up to $5 for disposable containers. Get them for a buck at the dollar store instead. You can also find some great deals on storage bags, but be wary of off-brands that may not seal correctly.

12. Picture frames

If you're crafty, dollar store picture frames are an excellent buy. With a little paint or other decoration, bargain frames can look as nice on your walls as their more expensive counterparts. However, quality can vary widely. Check the joints to make sure they are secure and look for stray glue that may be difficult to remove.

13. Bagged or boxed candy

Checkout lane candy will likely be just as cheap, if not cheaper, at the grocery store, but movie theater-style boxed candy and bagged candy can be a bargain at the dollar store. Next Halloween, head there for your treats rather than paying supermarket prices.

14. Socks

Much of the clothing you find at dollar stores is of an inferior quality and not worth the money. One exception may be socks. Dollar store socks can be as good as department store varieties if you buy the right type. Look for ones made with acrylic or spandex for a comfy fit.

15. Washcloths and dish towels

Finally, the price of washcloths and dish towels at the dollar store can't be beat. You need to be careful with some towels that won’t be absorbent enough to dry dishes. However, even those work great as cleaning rags.

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment below.

More on Money Talks News:

Jan 27, 2014 10:52PM

The biggest advantage of the dollar store isn't the prices.

It's the fact I don't have to get all dressed up like I was going to the walmart!

Jan 27, 2014 2:41PM
Jan 27, 2014 8:50PM

People, Dollar General is NOT a dollar store!!!!!!

Jan 27, 2014 3:13PM
Laundry/cleaning products are also less expensive than at the grocery store.
Jan 27, 2014 4:23PM
Bring back Woolworth's or G.C. Murphy stores.
Jan 27, 2014 4:59PM
Some of the stuff is good, like trash bags and wax paper etc. but I have bought grape jelly...get this...made in even had a picture of Statue of Liberty on the check out the country of origen before you buy.  Same thing with some of the frozen fish...imported from Vietnam and other places where fish are fed human waste and dead animal products.
Jan 27, 2014 7:37PM
All of their cleaning products! I have been a private housekeeper for years and have used numerous products. Dollar Tree's Awesome line is truly AWESOME! Sun dishwasher soap is better than  Cascade and you use half as much. I buy all my cleaning products there. Their frozen shrimp is also very good as is their small pizzas. I just add a little extra pepperoni. Why spend more at the big stores!?
Jan 27, 2014 10:00PM
Batteries, especially AAA, AA, C, D and 9V sizes.
Jan 27, 2014 4:12PM

I love the dollar store and have bought all of these items there except for socks.  I buy all our toothbrushes, stocking stuffers, easter candy there.  I also always buy a box of dots and a box of sour patch kids there before we go to see a movie and I sneak them inside in my purse. 

Jan 27, 2014 11:41PM
Pantiliners, spices, baggies, aluminum foil, name brand none HFC catsup and mustard, pickles, olives, cotton balls, alchohol, name brand lipstick & nail polish, nail polish, journals, white out, envelopes, etc. Lots of other things.
Jan 27, 2014 8:55PM
Sunglasses. At first, I didn't believe they would be $1, but sure enough, not only were they a buck, but they had UV protection and polarized lenses!
Jan 27, 2014 10:07PM
lint removers.  regular stores want $3 up for them
Jan 27, 2014 5:51PM
Just be careful with dollar store dishes, especially with any "metallic" trim.....they may be unsafe for food or for use in microwave or dishwasher..Some are labeled on the bottom "not for use with food".  They may contain lead.......
Jan 27, 2014 8:01PM
Check the grocery section, if it has one, of a dollar store and compare the prices of name brands and even the store brands with grocery stores and Walmart.  You'll be surprised at the savings.  Heck, I can get my chicken and beef broth at Dollar General for about 20 to 30 percent less than other stores, and it has no MSG, which is tough to find in supers and wallyworld. 
And try the store brands at a good dollar store.  Some stink, but some are excellent!  I can get 2 cans of "Rotel-style" tomatoes, mild or habanero, for the price of one can in supers or wally.  They have knockoffs of Girl Scout Cookies (not bad ones, either) so that when I've munched out on my yearly allotment of GSC's, I can still have something comparable to tide me over.
And remember to factor in travel time/expense.  My Dollar General in a small Ohio town is 1 block away, versus driving 10 miles each way to the "big city," where I do the bulk of my grocery shopping.  Our Dollar General even has a larger grocery section that the local market in town.  But, to be fair, the local market has a killer meat counter and deli.

Dermasil lotion....fabulous for your feet and at $1 a great bargain...much better than name brands and better results!
Jan 27, 2014 7:03PM

Have gotten some insane values on spices, especially chicken and steak seasonings; real good values on garlic salt, too.  Won't buy my microfiber hand towels and wash cloths anywhere else; can't beat the prices for soft microfiber towels. 

My new favorite is DIY basic first aid and emergency fire starting kits.  The travel packs of medicines actually have a longer code than the stuff you find at chain drug stores; having Imodium to go with the Tylenols and Aleve would be an improvement.  Two bottles of hand sanitizer for a buck is a can't miss; kill germs and be able to start a fire, in my opinion, is a score.  Sleeve of cosmetic pads for a buck is another score; you've got tinder, along with something to cover cuts and blisters.  The jars of Vaseline need to be smaller so they're more kit-compatible.  The boxes from the personal first aid kits, by themselves, are worth the buck you pay for them; just remove the contents and repack with contents more suitable to your needs.

Jan 28, 2014 2:04PM

We have a great 99 cent store in my area that has name brand food, fresh produce and sometimes organic. Cleaning supplies (including mop/brooms), office supplies, name brand soap/shampoo.  I have bought glassware/plates from the dollar store that I love and have had for years. Whatever i can't find there I get somewhere else but it is worth sorting thru some crap to get good stuff  4 cheap and I've saved a LOT of $$ shopping at the dollar store. The End.

Jan 27, 2014 10:47PM

I don't buy food at the Dollar stoers because I don't know where it comes from like (CHINA)!

I do get all my gift bags, some candies, and odds and inns there.

So go shopping lady's shop until you drop//

Jan 27, 2014 5:19PM
I have to disagree with wrapping paper. The stuff I've gotten from dollar stores has invariably been enough to wrap maybe two large gifts from a single roll. If you're wrapping a lot of gifts (such as for a large family), get the paper at a drugstore on clearance a week before Christmas, spend $3.50, and get like ten times as much wrapping paper.
Jan 27, 2014 5:45PM
Have you ever used their washcloth or towels? It's like using a fine grit sandpaper. Some articles are ok but you pay for what you get. smaller sizes for less but bigger and name brand more.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.