What To Buy And Not To Buy at The Dollar Store

If you've read more than one of my previous blog posts, I'm sure you quickly realized that I'm frugal. I look for deals and save money any way I can. If something retails for $20, but you can get it for $10 somewhere else or with a coupon, why wouldn't you?! It's just good business sense. It is this mentality that prompts me to DIY and shop for thrifted items instead of always buying new.

It is also because of my frugality that I've been able to pay off my car in less than a year, never carry a balance on my credit card and maintain a decent amount in savings. I say this not to brag  or preach but to explain a) why I think it is important to be frugal and b) demonstrate that everyone can save money easily with a little planning and thought.

I should also explain that being frugal is FAR off from being cheap. Frugal is seeking the best deal and spending money wisely. Cheap is looking for the cheapest thing, not necessarily the best value. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now:)

With this in mind, I hit 'the dollar store' for several items I consider good buys.

Here's my guide to What to Buy and Not To Buy: Dollar Store edition
*please note I use the term dollar store to describe any store selling goods for just a buck or two, some examples: Dollar Tree, Deals, etc

Buy This: Cleaning Supplies
If it's the Swiffer Duster-knockoffs or generic Magic Erasers, these perform the same or similarly to the name brand versions but cost way less.

Don't Buy This: Extra-cheap Brooms and Mops
Although Just $1, these mops don't look like they would do much on any floor. It's worth it to spend a bit more and get a better mop that holds up to frequent use. 

Buy This: Storage Containers/Plastic Bins
This items can cost upwards of $5-10 a piece at Target or The Container Store. These help organize your stuff for just a few bucks.

Don't Buy This: Suction Cup Hooks
I took a chance on these to hang some necklaces and earrings with and they did not stick. at all.

Buy This: Glass Vases/Candle holders
These are hands down my favorite dollar store buy and I buy these by the case. They are cheaper than most thrift store prices and very versatile.

These are the same vases that I turned into DIY mercury glass for my DIFFA table.
 After DIY mercury glass treatment-

Don't Buy This: Plastic Flowers
I strongly detest faux flowers in general. However, there are some nice silk flowers that do look pretty real. These are not those kind.

Buy This: Clear Glass Dinner Plates
Don't forget wine glasses! I realize these don't compare to your Waterford toasting flutes, but these are great to stock up for dinner parties because if one breaks, it's easily replaceable.

The clear glass plates can be dressed up or down and go with any decor. I purchased these exact clear plates for my DIFFA table as well, seen here:

Dont' Buy: Floral Painted Dinner Plates
Although I'm sure these plates function just fine, the painted motif looks dated.

Here are other items generally available at dollar stores that are great deals:

1. Wax Melts/Cubes
If you follow me on Instagram, you may recall me sharing a pic of my favorite summer scent:
 This hails from Dollar Tree and is the absolute, most amazing summer scent I have ever used. I find myself reaching for the dollar stores' Ocean Breeze scent over similarly named Yankee candle scents. Plus, a four pack of these wax cubes are just a buck. Scentsy packs are $5 and Walmart sells some for $2.50. The variety of scents are limited however.

2. Gift Wrap
Why spend a couple of dollars on a gift bag or wrapping paper that is sure to get tossed after the gift is open when you can get the same thing for just $1?! I especially love this turquoise color and the floral print craft paper.

3. Holiday Decor
Say what? You are probably imagining tacky plastic penguins and reindeer, right? Nope. Although there is plenty of that crap available, you can find some great 'filler' ornaments and decor. I usually pick up pretty glittered ornaments that I use on Christmas packages at the dollar store. 

This weekend, I noticed that Fall/Halloween decor was already out.
Which could be used to make a Halloween wreath like THIS
Keep you eyes open for seasonal items like these that can be used to make Martha Stewart-esque decor.

4. Contact Paper
I know this looks like more wrapping paper in this photo, but it is actually contact paper/shelf liner. This is SO much cheaper than any other I have found, perfect for lining the drawers of thrifted dressers or old kitchen drawers.
5. General Craft Supplies such as:

Smooth River Rock
To make DIY boot trays like these (among other things)-
 via Dollar Store Crafts

Spanish/Faux Moss
which I used to make this-

Fun containers for DIY gift-giving. This filled with candy, popcorn and a DVD or movie tickets would be a fun, easy gift for anyone.
There you have it! The best deals at your local dollar store. Do you have any other items you purchase there to save money? Share them with me!

Have a lovely week everyone! -Suzanne


  1. Anonymous8/03/2012

    Great finds! I don't go too often to dollar stores but I need those glass plates!

    1. Thanks Anon. Glass plates are a great thing to have on hand. We've used them while eating on our patio because they are much studier than paper plates, plus if one breaks it's not a big deal. They go with any decor too!

  2. What a great post! I always buy shower curtain liners at the store (not the curtains, just the liners) they are obviously only a dollar and even at walmart they are $2, and they hold up really well! I know you said to not buy faux flowers, and for my house I definitely wouldn't, but they are great for little girls hair flowers :)

    1. Hi Annastacia! Thank you so much for commenting. I did not see shower liners on my latest trip, but I will search for them. I'd rather replace those every year or so than try to clean them. Great tip about the flowers for little girls' hair. I hadn't thought of that; I'm not a mom yet, so I have lots to learn:)

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