My Favorite Dollar Store Buys

posted by Andrea | 07/26/2019

Although I do the vast majority of my shopping at Aldi these days (with a couple trips to Meijer each month) the kids and I love frequenting our local dollar store as well — especially since it’s just a short bike ride (or walk) down the road! 

Our dollar store is a TRUE dollar store where every single thing in the store is $1 or less. While this doesn’t necessarily mean everything in the dollar store is a great deal (for example, most of their single-packs of gum and candy are actually more expensive than our grocery store), we do have a handful of items we regularly buy from our local dollar store in an effort to save more!

Since we love our dollar store so much, I thought it might be fun to share some of OUR favorite items to buy at our local dollar store.

Disposable Foil Pans

I can often get 10 disposable foil pans for $1 at our dollar store — which is so much cheaper than any place else I’ve ever seen them. They have many different sizes available, so I can always find one that fits my needs.

I often use these pans when I bring meals to friends, and even for my own freezer cooking needs.

Pregnancy Tests

I haven’t purchased many pregnancy tests in my lifetime, but the 4 I have purchased were all from the dollar store — YES, for ONE DOLLAR. I don’t know of anywhere else that sells pregnancy tests for even close to a buck!

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Helium Balloons

For Nora’s first birthday party, I went to Meijer to buy balloons — and I left without any balloons, after realizing it would cost me over $20 for a simple balloon bouquet!

I drove to the dollar store and waltzed out with a pile of balloons for $7.00.

It has now become a “thing” that the kids get to pick 1 of the mylar helium balloons for each birthday. 

Paper Products

The plastic “solo cup knock-offs” at our dollar store are very chintzy — but the plates, bowls, napkins, and cutlery are very good quality for $1. Plus, they have so many color options, and even some character plates and fun designs (like camo, princesses, or animals) which are fun for birthday parties.

I also buy most of my freezer bags, zip-top bags, and plastic wrap and aluminum foil from the dollar store. Our dollar store doesn’t sell the Glad Press ‘n Seal wrap — otherwise I’d definitely stock up on that too!

First Aid Supplies

We can get full-size packages of bandages (with fun designs), gauze, wrap, tape, and antiseptic cream for $1 each.

Our dollar store even offers LOTS of different full-size over-the-counter meds like off-brand Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Advil, etc. for $1 (insanely cheap compared to any other store!)

I still buy the kids’ liquid medicine from our grocery store as White Grape is the only flavor they will take.

Socks

Socks are SO expensive — especially kid’s socks that they outgrow, wreck, or lose so quickly.

Thankfully, when Nora was a baby, I discovered that our dollar store sells ALLLLLLL sorts of socks in different styles, sizes, colors, fabrics, etc. Now I buy almost all our socks from the dollar store and have been very happy with the quality.

I still buy Dave’s dress socks online, but the kid’s stockings are always stuffed full of dollar store socks and slipper socks every Christmas (and they still think it’s fun!)

Paint Supplies

I have a few disclaimers for this — our dollar store painting supplies are not as high-quality as a hardware store.

HOWEVER, they have a huge selection of paint brushes, rollers, paint trays, and other painting supplies (like drop cloths and painter’s tape) that are significantly less expensive than buying the supplies anywhere else.

Also, they often have a few colors of spray paint — which I don’t usually use for any painting projects, but they are great for when we do yard work and want to mark off specific areas with cheapy spray paint.

I buy all our paint trays, liners, and drop cloths from the dollar store. I also keep a handful of cheapy rollers and brushes around for smaller projects when I don’t want to pay $10 for one brush. If they get nasty (like with oil based paint or stain) I just toss them out.

These $1 brushes are also great for kid’s craft projects (like the DIY Chalk paint I make) because I don’t care if they get ruined.

Coloring and Activity Books

Our dollar store has a huge variety of coloring and activity books for kids — which is a great price at $1 each.

We also buy lots of craft supplies, stickers, markers, crayons, and little craft kits from our dollar store — they are great for road trips, stocking stuffers, friend’s birthday parties, or “just because” surprises for the kids.

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Thin Gloves and Mittens

My kids love wearing thin gloves throughout late fall and early spring when the weather is cold but not snowy.

Thankfully, our dollar store has a full wall display of various sizes and colors of thin gloves and mittens — usually TWO pairs for $1! I stock up every fall, and we’re set for the long Michigan winters.

Greeting Cards

I’m not a huge card giver — mainly because I feel like cards are a waste of money. However, I send lots of birthday and anniversary cards to people at church, so I stock up on boxed cards at the dollar store — 10 cards for $1!!!!

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PJ T-shirts

For some reason, there are always several racks of random kids and adults t-shirts for $1 — some with pictures or words, others are totally plain solid color t-shirts.

Often times, the words and pictures aren’t things I’d necessarily buy my kids (like college names we’ve never heard of) but they are fabulous pj T-shirts because they are all 100% cotton and really comfy.

Simon especially LOVES his dollar store pj’s 🙂

Shaving Cream

We actually don’t use much shaving cream in our house, but I buy it for kid’s craft projects (like fluffy slime) and for their school (sensory activities).

Shaving cream is crazy expensive at the grocery store, so finding full-size cans at our dollar store is a great deal!

Flashlights

Our kids LOVE flashlights. They sleep with them at night and carry them around throughout the day, using them to find bad guys, look for hidden objects, or just have dance parties in their rooms with the lights turned off.

Their love of flashlights was getting expensive when they kept breaking or losing flashlights month after month — and then I discovered small LED flashlights at the dollar store… for $1!! We are now well stocked and they can use their flashlights whenever they want!

I’m sure there are lots more things I could mention, but these are the items we regularly save big on by shopping at our local dollar store.

I’d love to know…

What are YOUR favorite dollar store buys?

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48 comments

  1. Candace

    08/22/2019

    I love purchasing plastic organizing bins from dollar stores….to organize drawers, shelves and cupboards.

    But based on your list, I’m convinced American dollar stores are SO much better than our Canadian ones. Andrea, what chain of dollar stores do you like best? I’m close to the border and make trips across fairly regularly to pick up packages so I’d love to hear what your favourite dollar stores are! 🙂

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  2. Jenny

    08/22/2019

    I wanted to comment that I see you call the store “Aldi’s”, but you call Mejier just Mejier! And I bet you say “Walmart” and “Target” rather than the possessive form. I just think it’s funny somehow. Around here, the senior citizens call stores “Jewel’s”, “Mejiers'” “Walmart’s” ‘Osco’s” “Targets'”, etc.

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  3. Natalia

    07/26/2019

    10 foil pans for $1? That’s awesome!!! I think the best I found was 4 pans for $1 and that’s still better than most stores.
    I just placed a humongous order online and picked up in-store at the Dollar Tree – stuff to put in boxes for children going into Foster Care. The best deals I think were on socks, storybooks, stickers and night lights!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s cool that you can place an order online! We definiteliy can’t do that at our dollar store 🙂

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  4. Carol Lorette

    07/26/2019

    I enjoy our Dollar Tree in Ontario, Canada. Everything is $1.25 and I have no complaint on that.

    I was looking for a ball for chair exercises for a friend of mine and I went into Dollar Tree for something else and just inside the front door was the size I was looking for. That made me happy.

    I also like to buy paper products and craft supplies for my great grand-kids. Gift bags and tissue. Way to many things to mention.

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  5. Chris

    07/26/2019

    I think most $$ Trees now sell Hallmark greeting cards. Some are even 2/$1. The quality of their gift bags, tissue, etc. is wonderful for $1. One really needs to take time to wander through their aisles and can find some great buys. Although, as some say, esp for B2 School time, check out other stores which tend to have incredible deals at this time of the year and out-price $$ Tree with those bargains. Fun to go there the days AFTER Christmas when all of the decorations, gift bags are 1/2 price. I always stock up for the following year. Sadly, the $$ Tree now is adding some items at more than $1 due to trade and tarriff “issues”, along with some bigger items. They have been “everything for $1” for over a decade that I know of.

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    Andrea Reply:

    that’s a great price for Hallmark cards!
    And yes, the after holiday sales are a great time to stock up!

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  6. Jen

    07/26/2019

    I LOVE the foil pans at our Dollar Store and use them all the time! I think the Ziploc bags at Sam’s/Costco are a much better quality and a good deal. I buy my Glad Press-n-Seal at Sam’s too! If you’re going to Aldi frequently, their plastic bags are good also.

    I also stock up on mailing supplies at the Dollar Store–padded envelopes, bubble wrap, etc. I try to save anything I can from things I’ve ordered, but if I need to buy something for mailing, I always hit the Dollar Store.

    Unlike you (surprisingly lol!), I LOVE to send cards for all occasions and keep a stash on hand at all times. While Dollar Store cards are cheap, I don’t love the quality/sentiment most of the time. My favorite place for cards, hands down, is TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods. Typically, the cards are 1.99 and they are BEAUTIFUL, high quality cards. They usually aren’t organized very well and you have to be patient enough to dig through the piles, but it’s worth it!

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  7. Ann

    07/26/2019

    Know your prices before going! I recently bought (because I Was there and it was convenient) 24 packs of Crayola crayons and then realized they were 50 cents in other stores!

    The birthday party favor section is a favorite. Mini kaleidoscopes, instruments that work, etc. Also the off brand lego works for travel lego sets when you don’t want to risk losing a piece of Lego brand.

    Greeting cards for 50 cents.

    20 freeze pops for $1.

    On a rainy day I have each child take $1.06 out of their piggy bank and they can spend half a day trying to decide what to buy at the dollar store! (And if they choose food, they are DELIGHTED that they still come home with 6 cents!)

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    Ann Reply:

    Also, playdough, gift bags and tissue, sand toys, small balls, etc.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes definitely know your prices! Some stuff is an awesome deal, other stuff is not!

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  8. Trina

    07/26/2019

    Wrapping paper, gift bags and shrink wrap for baskets are what pull me in. I also love their plastic baskets or organizers for my fridge, pantry and closets. My store is also great for small “filler” gifts to round out a present, like candy, coloring/activity/sudoku books, nail supplies (toe separators, polish, polish remover), and a super cheap source for car cleaning supplies. I’ve often bought a bucket, microfiber cloths, wipes, etc to clean a car with, put it all in a bucket with my dollar store shrink wrap and pair with a gas card and you’ve got a really nice, practical gift.

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  9. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    09/01/2017

    Yes! I love buying hair brushes at the Dollar store, as well as balloons and cards. Unfortunately, our pans are 3 for $1 which isn’t bad but I’d love it if they were 10 for $1! I’ll have to check out kids socks next time I am there.

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  10. Laura

    08/30/2017

    Chicken broth. Our local $$ store has the best tasting chicken broth I’ve gotten anywhere and its $1. Even Aldi’s is more expensive. I usually buy multiples when I’m there and we use it in tons of recipies. I love that even though it isn’t marked “low sodium” it is mildly salty. Some of the name brand ones are super salty.

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    Trudy Reply:

    I do the same……especially when the colder weather is approaching, I make sure I have at least 10 on hand….best price and tastes wonderful

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  11. Debbie

    08/29/2017

    Perfect timing! I was planning on going to the Dollar Store after work to look for organza gift bags or some kind of bags, hoping I’ll find them. I don’t go there that much but now I know where the cheapest tin foil pans, and greeting cards are when I need them.

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  12. Debra Martin

    08/29/2017

    I am finding this post, and the comments, so helpful. I shop at our Dollar Tree a lot, but for some reason, I tend to buy the same things over and over. I need to go up and down every isle. I could be saving a lot more money! Our Dollar Tree doesn’t have anything over $1.00…
    ever. I have found Dollar Trees to have fairly high quality items, overall.

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    Barb Reply:

    Yes, I think dollar tree is the best dollar store overall

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  13. Erin M

    08/28/2017

    I’m inspired to go check out our local dollar stores. I don’t know if we have any mom and pop dollar stores around where I live in CA Thanks!

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  14. Melinda

    08/28/2017

    Our town has a Dollar Tree where everything is $1.00. I buy a lot of things you mentioned so I listed things you may not have mentioned.

    Sympathy, Get Well, Thinking of You, Baby Shower and Birthday cards for 2 for $1.00.

    Gift bags for all occasions, tissue paper and ribbons. I also buy the brown mailing paper on a tube and use this as gift wrap and decorate with ribbon.

    Just about any Holiday themed candies in season, along with Holiday treat bags (several in a package).

    For my daughter’s wedding we bought the tall candle pillars along with the candles, silver serving trays, white paper doilies and champagne glasses.

    I have bought misc. baby items for baby shower gifts like rubber ducks, baby washcloths, disposable diaper baggies, baby books, socks, toys.

    Notebooks, sticky notes, index cards and labels.

    Toilet bowl brushes, oven cleaner, disposable gloves, flower seeds, children toothbrushes and Cotton Rounds (for eye makeup removing).

    I love the Dollar Tree! It saves so much money! 🙂

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  15. Carrie Vandlen

    08/28/2017

    Have you been to Two Dutch Hens dollar store in Byron Center? I live out in California now but went in there when I was visiting my parents earlier this summer. It is SO tidy and organized and they carry lots of unique and quality items. A handful of products are over a dollar, but they are very clearly marked. Check it out if you haven’t already. Your kids will get a kick out of it too!

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    Andrea Reply:

    no, I’ve never even heard of it — which is crazy, because half my relatives live in Byron Center! I’ll have to check it out!

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    Gramma CC Reply:

    Yes, you must check out Two Dutch Hens. Such a cute store & except for a few things; jewelry, flowers, aprons, cards, everything is just $1. But higher quality. And the flowers are 3-4″ diameter or larger & jewelry is high end. Just bought a scarf & an ostrich cosmetic bag and billfold. Score!

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    Shelly Reply:

    Nope! They raised their prices. Things are now $2 or 2 for $3. I don’t go there for dollar store items anymore. Great little gift items in the front where stuff isn’t part of the “dollar” store.

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  16. Jo

    08/28/2017

    I’m over in UK but we have Poundland or poundstore and it is the same idea. We buy all our craft items there plus all the bits of party bags. They have great playdough as well. They have amazing punch balloons – 5 for £1 and all the kids we know just love them and they last a long time. We also get footballs/beach balls for the garden and it doesn’t matter if we lose one or it gets a hole. We have even bought seeds, fertiliser, plant tags etc there. I find the food stuff they sell isn’t a bargin – they tend to be smaller packets or less in a packet so it looks good until you get it home.

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  17. JJ

    08/28/2017

    Awe, I love Simon’s hair in that pic!!! And that’s amazing that you find clothes. I will have to double check mine. The best things we get at ours are organizing bins(they have wonderful trays with grips on the bottom that work great in our bathroom drawers), graham crackers, contact paper(we use the clear to lamimate stuff and for crafts to make suncatchers), and my cell phone cover!! They have the cell phone covers labeled by brand and make(iPhone7, Samsung Galaxy 7, etc.). They even had screen protectors, but I didn’t need a new one.

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  18. Jenni

    08/28/2017

    If you’re talking about the Dollar Tree . . .

    * frozen fruit in 12 oz bags (they have blueberries, strawberries, etc.) – great for smoothies
    * vegetarian samosas (a savory Indian pastry that has all-natural ingredients and is made in India) and spring rolls for a super frugal date night at home
    * Dermasil lotion – so good, and unscented too!
    * heavy-duty dish gloves – I use them more for staining projects but they are really nice
    * lightweight small trash can liners
    * garden seeds in the spring
    * play dough – 8 nice colors for $1
    * shelf liner or contact paper

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    Andrea Reply:

    no, not the Dollar Tree — just our local mom and pop dollar store. I’ve actually never been to a Dollar Tree — but don’t they sell lots of things that are more than $1?

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    Sarah Reply:

    We have Dollar Tree here and everything is just $1. Dollar General sells stuff more than $1, but Dollar Tree is awesome. I buy a ton of home decor stuff, some of their fall stuff is so cute, and their cheap flowers for wreaths. I also buy toothbrushes there and a bunch of other stuff, as I’m there just about every week, sometimes more!

    Also Wal-mart sells pregnancy tests for $0.88 but I have used my share of Dollar store tests too!

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    Brandette W Reply:

    We have Dollar Tree’s here too in the midwest. I love our local one. Each location differs somewhat. Everything in the store is $1, some things are even multiples for $1 or less than $1 like greeting cards for .50.

    You can store some really great deals. My recent find is rather large bags of the scented air freshener bead refills for $1. I can refill 2 bead containers with 1 bag. A great deal considering a new bead air freshener at Walmart is almost 4.. for one. I get 2 out of the bag for only $1.

    It’s also a great place for stocking stuffers, party supplies, greeting cards, household cleaners, tupperware type containers, holiday classroom supplies.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Ahhh — good to know. I think we have a Family Dollar and a Dollar General fairly close to our home, so that must be what I’m thinking of. The mom and pop dollar store that’s walking distance from us is a true “dollar store” where everything is $1 or less. Guess I’ll have to check out a Dollar Tree sometime!

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    Ann Reply:

    I just assumed you meant Dollar Tree. I don’t know of any Mom and Pop Just a $1 stores around here..

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  19. Mandy

    08/28/2017

    Love the greeting cards and paper products! I also found out I was pregnant (both times) from $ store pregnancy tests. They work – I have a toddler and baby belly to prove it!

    I’ve purchased cotton balls, toothbrushes, nail polish remover and brand name tootpaste and floss there, too. Their dish/glass section is great….I have mason jar type glasses we use as our everyday drinking glasses.

    I’ll look for the socks next time I go. Thanks for the great post!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I also get all our kid’s toothbrushes there. I can get a 4-pack for $1, which will be even more fabulous in another year or so as the packs always have pink, purple, blue, and green — perfect for 2 boys and 2 girls 🙂

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    Crystal Reply:

    Hey Andrea,
    The Dollar Tree stores are all only $1 items. (& sometimes 2 or 3 for $1…etc. depending on what it is) I find that I buy moat of the same “Top 10” Things at the Dollar Tree that you get at your local store.
    For our area, stores like Dollar General & some others are not true dollar stores- much like you’rẻ thinking of. Actually, I don’t ever shop at those ones bc I get better deals elsewhere pretty much all the time-

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  20. Karen

    08/28/2017

    you find some great deals at your dollar store. Our foil pans are 2 in a pack and zip top bags and such have maybe 10 bags in a box ~ definitely not a bargain . I occasionally find a great book and I love their little colored organizing baskets. One of my best finds recently is the all purpose Totally Awesome cleaner. Wow is this stuff amazing!!!! I saw a cleaning lady on You Tube that uses it in her business and I thought for $1 I would give it a try. Our dollar store is Dollar Tree.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, we buy the Awesome cleaner too — it really is Awesome!

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  21. Susie

    08/28/2017

    I actually buy many items at my local dollar store. Cards, gift bags, plastic table clothes for parties to toss after, balloons, Q-tips, makeup sponges, blush, hair bands, candy before going to the movies which is in the same plaza as the dollar store, toothbrushes, storage/organizing bins, coloring books, search a word books, envelopes, notepads, file folders, highlighters, tissue paper, I can go on, but you get the idea. There are many useful items at the dollar store. I love it.

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  22. Heidi

    08/28/2017

    Our kids are older than your little ones (8, 9, 12, 12 and 14) and they each have their own Kindle for reading and games. I purchase charging cords and ear buds at the dollar store because my kids loose them all the time. Regardless if those cords or earbuds are $10.00 or $1.00 they will lose them. I would rather they lose the dollar cords!

    I also like to buy certain cleaning supplies. The the quart size refill bottle of window cleaner works just as well as name brand Windex and their oven cleaner works just as well as name brand Easy Off. They have some other cleaning supplies that are good too but some are not so good or just not a good value (trial size Tide or Gain for example…cost per load is not a bargain).

    I too buy foil pans, foil and plastic wrap and trash bags at the dollar store.

    I also purchase holiday gift wrap and cookie/candy tins AFTER Christmas to use the next year as our store puts them at 50¢ each.

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  23. DeeDee

    08/28/2017

    We have a Dollar Tree in our area that has frozen foods for $1. While we haven’t tried a lot of it, we usually buy the frozen pretzels that come 6 to a pack that taste the SAME as the frozen “Superpretzel” brand. Can’t beat that price and they are delicious. The frozen fruit is great as well for a $1/bag.

    http://deedeedoes.com/

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s an amazing deal — we don’t have any frozen or refrigerated foods at our dollar store

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  24. Jaime

    08/28/2017

    I started buying dollar store kid’s socks after you mentioned it in a post a few years ago. What a lifesaver! I also love puzzles from there for the same reason– if a piece gets lost or spilled on, no big deal. I use a few of their cleaning products. For the few dishes I wIsh by hand, the dish soap from there does the trick, likewise rubber gloves and toilet brushes. For a dollar, I replace our toilet brush more frequently. Kid’s toothbrushes and straws are other things we get from there.

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  25. Virginia

    08/28/2017

    I don’t use the SOS steel wool soap filled pads very often and even though they were reusable, I would always throw them away because they were so “yucky”, but always felt guilty because they were labeled “reusable”. A few years ago I discovered the SOS steel wool soap filled pads in a mini size called “Clean and Toss”…I was paying between $ 3.00 and $ 4.00 for a box of 15 pads, but no longer felt guilty throwing them away after every use because it was like they were giving me permission since the brand label now said “Clean and Toss”. A couple of years ago I discovered at our local dollar store that I can buy a box of 10 full size steel wool soap pads for……a dollar! Now no more guilt throwing away the full size pads because I am saving SO much money over buying those little mini “clean and toss”.

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    Donna G Reply:

    Virginia, just FYI, you can cut those full sized ones in half. It’s sort of a pain, but it makes it easier to use and you get twice the bang for your buck!

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    Virginia Reply:

    Thank you so much for the hint..I’m going to try doing that….you just brought the price down to 50 cents per box!!

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    Joe Gece Reply:

    Do you have any other stoes that you can recommended for us

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    Jenny Reply:

    I’m so frugal that I cut the soap pads in quarters and that the perfect size for me!
    The foil and plastic baggies and garbage bags were so flimsy that that wasn’t a good deal. Please rinse and recycle those aluminum pans!!
    Baby wash and lotion are great, though no babies here!

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    Andrea Reply:

    good tip!

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