Items you should be buying at dollar stores

Dollar stores, admittedly, can seem a bit "sketchy." They are notorious for selling cheaply made items and for scamming the customer by making them think they are getting a deal, when they really could have gotten a better one at a grocery or department store. Some reports even say that they are deliberately pushing out other businesses and are actively trying to keep residents of impoverished neighborhoods from coming up in the world. 

That being said, you shouldn't write off dollar stores completely. They are ultra-convenient places to shop in a pinch, and as mentioned, everything is super cheap and affordable. While not all the products at the dollar store are worth buying (in fact there are some things you should definitely not buy from the dollar store), there are a few things that could actually save you a ton of money — and are actually of decent quality. 

As long as you aren't expecting the world for a handful of loose change, the dollar store has a lot to offer. Here are some deals you should definitely take advantage of — make sure to grab these items the next time you pass by a dollar store.

Buy your books at the dollar store to save a ton

If you are an avid reader, you should consider stopping by the dollar store to pick up your next book (or ten). According to Book Riot, not only do dollar stores have full-fledged novels for just a buck, but they also carry a lot of best sellers, many of them even recent. You can buy all the books you want online, but chances are you can't get any from famous authors for just a dollar — and certainly not in paperback or hardback form.  

While stores like Barnes and Noble have these same best sellers on the shelves for full price — or maybe even half price if you're lucky — they can be bought for a dollar at Dollar Tree and other dollar stores because the store is able to stock "remainders." These remainders are copies of books that are either not sold as expected by other stores, or are leftover as a result of overstock. Dollar stores can pick up these leftovers at wholesale prices, which means they can put them on their shelves at a price point that even the most financially strapped bookworm can afford. 

Greeting cards are just as nice (and much cheaper) at the dollar store

Everyone loves getting a card on their birthday or Christmas, but not everyone loves buying them. Sure, it's fun to look through the long lines of colorful cards and read the ones that make you laugh or the ones that touch your heart, but sometimes the tears that spring to your eyes aren't from laughter or from sentimental reasons. They are from looking at the price printed on the back of the card — especially when you know there's a good chance it's just going to end up in a trash can by next week.

People regularly pay between $4 and $7 per greeting card at other stores, but at the dollar store, these cards are often available for as low as 50 cents a piece. At one time, these cards were of more generic brands (but still pretty much exactly the same as the ones you buy other places, just without the literal frills), but now Dollar Tree sometimes sells Hallmark cards at their stores. 

Unless you absolutely need a card that plays music, or talks, or is covered in actual, genuine lace, you can find cards for every occasion at your local dollar store. They are just as beautiful and the poems inside are just as meaningful, but you don't have to break the bank to show how much you love someone. 

You can find super cheap storage containers at the dollar store

If there is one thing that is true of everyone, for richer or for poorer, it's that we all have too much stuff. Even if you can't afford lots of fancy things, chances are, you still have a ton of little odds and ends lying around your house that you have to keep organized. Storage containers are an awesome way to get things up off the floor and out of the way, and many times they even look really nice all neat and stacked up in a corner or in the closet or attic. 

The only trouble is, sometimes storage containers can be expensive. Name brands charge you more for the brand, when really they are still basically just a box. If you want a storage solution that can potentially save you hundred of dollars per year, head to the dollar store. There, you can buy containers in nearly every shape and size, making it easier to organize every room in your house, according to Money Talks News. While they probably don't have the huge boxes you can get at some other places, they have plenty of containers that can fit clothes, arts and crafts supplies, toys, and other things that clutter your house, all for just a dollar per box — or even per set. 

Decorations and party supplies from the dollar store will really help your party budget

Love throwing Halloween parties or decorating your house for Christmas but hate spending lots of money to do it? Think Birthday parties are fun, but hate what they do to your wallet? Take your party planning money and head to the dollar store. According to Money Crashers, if you haven't been in a dollar store for a few years, you'll be pleasantly surprised at their selection of seasonal and birthday party decor. 

Dollar stores have things like boxes of ornaments (both big and small), knick-knacks, picture frames, Christmas stockings, garlands for many seasonal occassions, wall hangings, birthday streamers, and more — and they all look just as pretty and sparkly as the more expensive versions you can buy at Walmart or other similar stores at a much higher price. While you might get a few fewer feet of garland if you buy it at the dollar store, this isn't really a problem, because you can still buy two or three packages of it for less than you would have paid for one somewhere else. 

Balloons from the dollar store fly just as high

Speaking of party favors, dollar stores are also a great place to buy another party essential: balloons. Balloons don't typically last long anyway, so why spend top dollar on something that will be gone in 48 hours or less? Dollar store balloons are the same as the balloons you could get anywhere else, and according to Good Housekeeping, you can get twice as many of these helium-filled delights for half the price you would pay elsewhere. 

You're probably wondering what the catch is right now. Maybe you think that sure, they will sell you a balloon for a dollar, but you have to fill it with helium yourself, right? Wrong! Dollar stores have a special section where you can go to pick out a balloon (from a surprisingly decent selection), and then an employee will inflate it for you. All for a dollar or less. 

And even in the dollar stores that offer pre-filled Mylar balloons, you can ask an associate to give your balloons a fresh pump of helium to make sure it outlasts your occasion. There might be a lot of sneaky tricks going on at dollar stores, this is not one of them. 

Believe it or not, over-the-counter medicines from the dollar store are a good buy

Believe it or not, you can buy over-the-counter medications at dollar stores — and actually use them with no ill effects. Most of the medicines are a generic brand, but in the words of an alleged pharmacy tech on Reddit: "the differences between generic and name brand are highly debated and from my experience are non existent." Some grocery stores even carry the name brands, just in smaller sizes.

There are two caveats, however. While all generic drugs are thoroughly vetted by the FDA before they are approved for sale, making the ones at the dollar store perfectly safe in general, you have to check the expiration date on the box or bottle. Dollar store medications may have been around for a while, or may have been stocked when they were already close to their expiration dates, meaning that they may not be as effective.

Another thing to check is that you aren't getting ripped off. Compare the per-pill price at the dollar store to the per-pill price for a generic at other stores to make sure that a dollar (or three at a store like Dollar General) really is a better deal. Even taking those two things into consideration, you could really save a lot of cash buying things like antacids and allergy meds at the dollar store!

There's no shame in buying dollar store bread

Yes, you read that right: bread.

Surely baked goods aren't the first things that come to mind when you think of things you might buy at the dollar store, but when it comes to this sandwich-making essential, it should be your first stop. According to Business Insider, the dollar store is definitely not the best place to buy a lot of your perishable foods, but it is a great place to buy bread. You can get the same amount of bread you would get at a grocery store for much less.

Users on Reddit who have bought both dollar store bread and bread from the grocery store say that it is completely equal. One points out, though, that the bread is closer to the expiration date than it would be at a grocery store, but other than that, it is still good. You can even find the same brands of bread you can find in other stores, for less than half the price. With a bargain like that, it is certainly worth a shot! 

Flower pots from the dollar store grow pretty flowers, too

Do you love to garden but have a hard time finding nice planters that don't cost an arm and a leg? If so, head to a dollar store. Business Insider compared the prices between Home Depot and Dollar General and found that, not only were the flower pots at the latter less expensive, they were bigger. At Home Depot, a 9.5-inch terra cotta pot cost more than $5, but a comparable 10-inch planter cost only $2 at Dollar General.

Depending on your needs, you could surely find pots that are even cheaper (but perhaps smaller) for even less than that at the Dollar Tree, where every item is one dollar or below. This can be great for both beginner and expert gardeners, because it gives you more space to plant your seeds or grow your flowers without having to spend much money to do it. You can usually even find flower pots there year-round, so you don't have to wait until spring to start cultivating your green thumb.

Stock up on dollar store disposable razors

Shaving can be a pain, regardless of what gender you are. You have to shave often if you want to stay stubble-free, and that smooth, silky skin doesn't come cheap. Some people opt for refillable razors, whose costs can really add up over the years, thanks to those expensive refills, while others choose instead to buy packages of disposable razors at places like Costco or Walmart. While the disposable route may lead you to cheaper razors in the short-term, even that cost adds up.

But what if we told you that you could get the same brand-name disposable razors you could get at those other stores for less than $6 per four-pack? If you want to save even more, Business Insider goes on to say that you could get off-brand razors for even less than that, at just "mere quarters each,.". At the end of the day, one disposable razor is just about as good as the next, so why not save some money where you can? 

Buy some tape the next time you're at the dollar store

Every household needs tape. Whether your kid is really into arts and crafts, you're into scrapbooking, or you just have a lot of gifts that need to be wrapped, we all use a lot of tape. Whether the clear, everyday tape is what you need, or you're more into packing tape, dollar stores have a lot of selection when it comes to our favorite adhesive ally. 

According to Bargain Babe (who sounds like she would know), there are at least three different types of tape you can get at the dollar store: Scotch tape, packing tape, and double-sided tape. She goes on to explain that the double-sided tape comes in a shorter roll than you would find at Staples, but it is actually cheaper per inch. She also cautions that when it comes to Scotch tape, you should only buy that: "Scotch" tape. As in, the brand name kind, which is available at many dollar stores. Otherwise the tape may not be as high-quality as you're used to, but it will still get the job done. 

Puzzles and games are a great dollar store find

Kids (and adults) love a good board game, but their parents don't always want to pay premium prices for them. Luckily the dollar store has plenty of games to offer, along with lots of jigsaw puzzles. According to Bargain Babe, these puzzles (and coloring books and picture books, etc.) even have licensed characters from Disney and other famous companies on them, meaning that you truly get a major deal here. 

If you're worried about quality, don't. When you really think about it, puzzles and board games are both basically just cardboard and maybe a bit of plastic, so why pay more for that than you have to? Even the coloring books carry the "can't go wrong here" promise, because they are just paper decorated with images of the exact same characters your children see on their favorite TV shows every day. You can buy the same products and make your kids just as happy for much less money, so there is really nothing to lose.

Yep, you can even buy pregnancy tests from the dollar store

Hold the phone. Pregnancy tests? At the dollar store? There's no way those would work!

While we initially shared your startled disbelief, it turns out that all pregnancy tests are pretty much created equal. According to USA Today, all pregnancy tests have to be approved by the FDA, including the ones that only cost you a dollar. If you don't believe it, you can go to the FDA's approved home and lab tests site to check the brand name for yourself so you can be 100 percent sure.

The tests at the dollar store might only cost a dollar, but they are every bit as accurate as the ones you could buy for close to $20 or more in other stores. The only drawback is that it may take some more time to get the results because the dollar store brands tend to work slower, but in the end, you can rely on the answer. 

Some women even prefer these dollar store tests. One woman in particular told USA Today that after suffering a miscarriage, she used the dollar store pregnancy tests during her next pregnancy to reassure herself that the amount of pregnancy hormone in her body was increasing (which she could tell by the darkening of the pink line that indicates a positive). Since she did this every day, she really saved a lot on tests in the long run, and knew she didn't have to worry.