SAVINGS BY THE BELL: DOLLAR STORES DO'S AND DON'TS
If you know me, you know how much I love a good deal. That's why I love shopping at dollar stores. I'm in good company! The number of dollar stores has been growing - as consumers look for ways to make the most of their hard-earned dollars. Who doesn't like to save money? In this edition of SAVINGS BY THE BELL, THE SCHOOL BELL with Linda Bell takes a look at some do's and don'ts when shopping at the dollar store.
DOLLAR STORE DIVA: Think only low income individuals shop at dollar stores? Think again. In 2016, the NPD Group said 19 percent of spending at Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Family Dollar came from households with an income in excess of $100,000 a year. Don't be a dollar store diva! No matter how much money you make, get over the stigma of shopping at dollar stores and head to your local one!
WOMAN WITH A PLAN: A newbie might be temped to pile many items into his/her cart as soon as he/she steps into the store. After all, everything is only a dollar for goodness sake! Be an organized shopper. Create a list of the items you want to buy beforehand. Allow yourself a little bit of leeway in case you want to buy unexpected items.
COMPARE APPLES TO APPLES: Every item is not a deal at the dollar store. At times, dollar store products are smaller than the ones you would find at the local store (which accounts for the lower price.) What's the best way to check if you're getting a deal? Compare the cost of the same exact product (brand and size) with the brand/size/price at your local store to determine the savings.
Compare items at the dollar store with deals you can get elsewhere. For example: It doesn't make sense to buy a one liter bottle of Coke for 99 cents at the dollar store, when you can often get it on sale for 99 cents at your local supermarket. If Coke is your drink of choice, skip the dollar store and stock up on favorite soda at the supermarket next time it goes on sale. In this instance, the dollar store is not the smarter choice.
CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE: Whether you're shopping at the dollar store or your local supermarket, it's important to check the expiration date on all products. In the past, I've found expired food on dollar store shelves. Also be cautious when buying foreign made products at dollar stores. Certain stores carry a large amount of these items. While it may look like sunscreen or toothpaste, I stay away from any merchandise where I can't decipher expiration dates or ingredients.
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS: Many dollar stores sell a healthy mix of name-brand and lesser known products. Consider buying lesser known brands. Compare the size and price of identical items with different brand names at the dollar store. Lesser known brands typically give you more value for your money. Not sure of the taste or effectiveness of the lesser known brand? Buy one item to try it out. After testing the product, decide if you want to purchase the item again. If not, it was only a dollar.
DOLLAR STORES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL: Whether it's Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General or the random dollar store on the corner - the quality of products can depend on which store you choose. Some stores carry better quality products and replenish their shelves more often. The dollar store chains tend to carry better products.
READ THE FINE PRINT: Beware of "99 Cents and Up" stores. All of their items are NOT 99 cents. Their prices start at 99 cents and go higher. Some stores do a good job of placing the price on all products. But not all merchants do. If you make the mistake of purchasing more expensive products, those extra pennies can add up. Ready to put THE SCHOOL BELL with Linda Bell's advice into action? Jump to it! From toothpaste to storage containers - in future articles we'll break down the specific items you should and shouldn't buy at the dollar store. Stay tuned!
The SCHOOL BELL has rung! Class dismissed!