Dollar Stores: The Best And The Worst Bargains!

Don't be fooled by these fake deals! Learn how to save more money at dollar stores!

1 Buy: Over-The-Counter Medications

Merchant View 360

One item that would be smart to buy from dollar stores is over-the-counter medications. This has been a controversial topic, but there are great deals available if you stay informed and take precautions before making your purchase. 

Consumer expert Clark Howard offered a few tips for making sure that you stay safe when buying over-the-counter meds from dollar stores. Be sure to check expiration dates to make sure the medicine hasn’t expired. Also, take a moment to look for signs of tampering. If you take these measured steps, then you can take advantage of savings on many of your meds. 

2 Skip: Beverages

soft drinks

It may be tempting to buy your beverages at the nearest dollar store, but they don’t have impressive savings on these products. When it comes to everything from juice to bottled water, they tend to have steeper prices than most of the grocery stores. You’d be better off buying your drinks in bulk at the warehouse stores.  

According to Business Insider, dollar stores often trick the consumer by selling drinks for very low prices, but the packaging is smaller. For example, they might offer a one-liter bottle of soda for cheaper, but the two-liter bottle at the grocers is the better deal.

3 Buy: Greeting Cards

Greeting Cards
The Krazy Koupon Lady

There is one item that most experts agree you should always buy at dollar stores. Greeting cards can be expensive at grocery stores, but you can find plenty of bargains at dollar stores. These cards can cost up to $7 at other establishments, but you can find a wide selection for $1 there. 

Of course, the cards may not be decorated with fancy ribbons or embossed on expensive paper, but if you’re looking for a basic card for a good price, then you’ll be happy with the selection available at dollar stores and other discount stores. 

4 Skip: Cosmetics


The Dollar General, for example, premiered its own makeup line called Believe Beauty, and the price seems right. All the products are under $5, so it may seem like a good idea to buy these skin products, but think twice before you do. Many of them contain harsh chemicals that could damage your skin. 

Dollar stores also carry other makeup lines and beauty products, but often, the items have expired beyond their expiration date. Be sure to check all makeup for tampered packaging before you buy it as well. Don’t be fooled by the price, you’ll find better quality at a grocery store.

5 Buy: Party Supplies

Pary supplies

If you’re looking for inexpensive party supplies, then you’ll love the deals that can be found at dollar stores. From streamers to festive paper plates, they have everything that you might need to throw a fun party.

You can even find various themed napkins and other decorations. Another great tip: if you shop at The Dollar Tree, this dollar store carries a large selection of mylar balloons for all occasions. They’ll even fill them with helium at the store so you can purchase all of your celebration decorations in one place. It’s both cheap and convenient. 

6 Skip: School Supplies

School supplies

Paying only $1 for school supplies may sound like a dream come true, but take pause before buying all the items on your kid’s supply list at the dollar store. According to Reader’s Digest, you can find better deals at the bigger chain stores like Walmart

Brent Shelton, an online shopping expert for, had this to say, “You can usually get things you’d get for a dollar for a penny or five cents,” he said. Despite spending more money at a time for buying in bulk, you’re getting a better value overall for each item at other stores. 

7 Buy: Bread


It pays to buy your bread products at the dollar store. You can often find name-brand loaves of bread for just $1, which is a total steal! From bagels to hamburger buns, there are several varieties at amazing prices. This is one item you should never pass up at dollar stores. 

Here’s a pro tip from the folks at Hip2Save: if the bread is close to its expiration date, buy it and toss it in the freezer to use at a later time. They often have a large selection, so you can stock up your kitchen in one trip. 

8 Skip: Tools


Some items are too good to be true at dollar stores. Many experts agree that you should skip buying tools from any of the dollar stores because the quality just doesn’t compare to the tools available at the big box stores. The price may seem right, but you won’t get the best bang for your buck. 

Brent Shelton from agrees. “I’ve always said tools should be bought at a tool store,” Shelton said, “If not for quality, safety is a good reason, too.”  You’d be better off waiting for tools to go on sale at a reputable retailer. 

9 Buy: Toothbrushes And Tooth Products

Suzy Saver WNY

You might be surprised to know that you can find great deals on toothbrushes and other teeth-cleaning products at dollar stores. From dental floss to mouth wash, they have all of your dental hygiene needs at great prices. 

Many of the dollar stores carry name-brand toothbrushes, so be sure to grab any of those that you might find. It would be smart for you to check the expiration date on toothpaste just to make sure it hasn’t expired as that is a common occurrence in some dollar stores.

10 Skip: Batteries


Consumers would be better off buying their batteries at a place other than a dollar store. Many experts agree that you may get a good deal on the price, but you might lose money when it comes to quality. They just don’t compare to the competitor’s prices and selection. 

Kiplinger reported that the “carbon-zinc batteries” that dollar stores typically sell “don’t last as long as” the alkaline name brands. So while it may seem like a good idea to buy up a huge pack of batteries for $1, you’d be better off paying more at a chain store. You really do get what you pay for.

11 Buy: Reading Glasses

reading glasses

Reading glasses can be expensive at retailers, so be sure to buy yours at one of the dollar stores. It’s a total steal to buy quality readers for just $1! They even have prescription-strength reading glasses and fashion frames at a fraction of the cost you might find them at chain stores. 

You can often find the display near the checkout area, so they make a great last-minute buy. It’s easy to misplace reading glasses, so the price is right at dollar stores. You’ll be thrilled with the selection and quality available to you.  

12 Skip: Hair Products


Dollar stores may offer a large selection of hair care products, but you should think twice before purchasing them. Many of their shampoos and conditioners are off brands that contain harsh chemicals that may be damaging to your hair. Once again, you should also be aware of expiration dates before you buy. 

While it isn’t smart to buy styling products at a dollar store, you can find good deals on hairbrushes and other styling tools. From rubber bands to barrettes, they have a nice variety of accessories as well. 

13 Skip: Toys


Let’s face it, the toys at dollar stores just aren’t worth buying. The quality is usually subpar, even for a toy that costs $1. According to Reader’s Digest, Brent Shelton from advises against purchasing trinkets at dollar stores.

“These toys break. They’re very cheap, not well made, and you get what you pay for,” Shelton added, “If your kids tend to get bored of toys fast, it might make sense to go for quantity over quality with easily replaceable playthings.” Your money would be better spent buying toys at one of the big box stores. 

14 Buy: Holiday Decorations

Xmas decorations

There are awesome deals to be found on seasonal and holiday items at dollar stores. They often dedicate a large section of the floor for decorations and gifts for every holiday of the year. From Easter baskets to Christmas stockings, you can find just about anything you need to celebrate the season. 

Here’s another tip: you can find even deeper discounts after the holiday has passed, so be sure to check your favorite dollar store to find amazing deals on holiday candy, stocking stuffers, and other items the day after your favorite holiday. You can stock up for next year!

15 Skip: Electronics


Quality can take a hit when it comes to the electronics sold at dollar stores. Cheap prices mean poor value, so don’t buy anything that requires a plug for $1. It’s just not worth the risk of being electrocuted or starting a fire. The danger is higher at these stores, so skip buying extension cords or power strips. 

This is one area where it would be better to spend a bit more money to ensure that you’re buying a safe product. Avoid the hazard and buy your electronics from a chain or big box store. 

16 Buy: Organic Foods

organic produce

It may seem sketchy to buy produce and other staples at the 99 Cent Only Store. Many of the food items available contain chemicals or have gone beyond their expiration date. However, now and then you can find organic items on their shelves. Many shoppers have reported buying organic crackers and granola. 

The selection varies by location, but you might find fresh organic fruits and veggies in their produce department. Ask your local store about their delivery schedule for your favorite organic items. It never hurts to ask and you may get lucky. 

17 Savings Tips: The Dollar General

Dolar General
The Krazy Coupon Lady

Looking for a few tips to score extra savings at The Dollar General? Check the bottom of your receipt for coupons. Not only can you find great deals on future purchases, but you can also get discounts for participating restaurants. 

Another tip is to take advantage of getting paid to shop. Overage is when the coupon value you are using to pay for an item exceeds the price of that item. So, if you buy a product that costs 99 cents and pay with a $1 coupon, that extra penny could go towards purchasing another item. Just be sure to check with your local store to see if they allow overage savings. 

18 Savings Tip: Family Dollar

Family dollar
Family Dollar

Family Dollar is another favorite store of bargain shoppers, so read on if you want an insider tip that can give you deeper savings. You can save cash with Family Dollar’s SmartSpins, a rewards game in the Family Dollar App. 

According to their website, “Every time you shop at Family Dollar, you get a spin to reward you for shopping at Family Dollar!” Here’s how it works: when paying for your purchase, have the cashier scan the barcode in your app or enter your Smart Coupons ID on the pin pad. You will earn a spin in the app game to get coupons and discounts.

19 Savings Tip: Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree
Food Business Network

If you’re looking to save cash at The Dollar Tree, then you’ll appreciate this money-saving tip. You can use manufacturer’s coupons to get some items at a low cost, and even for free in some cases. 

It would be wise for you to brush up on the coupon policies of your favorite stores because The Dollar Tree and other dollar stores honor competitors coupons. Be on the lookout for coupons in newspaper inserts and other mailers from any of the chain stores that you tend to shop at. You can find the same products cheaper at The Dollar Tree.

20 Savings Tip: 99 Cent Only Store

99 Cents Store

Here’s a tip for making sure that you get the most out of your visit to 99 Cent Only Stores: ask when fresh deliveries are made for the best selection. Don’t be afraid to do a little research so that you have plenty of items to choose from. 

The selection of products constantly changes at this store, so it pays to know when your favorite things will be in stock so you can be the first to snatch them up. Each location has a different delivery schedule, so get to know their delivery days. With a bit of planning, you can find amazing deals.