Smart shopping means knowing not only how to find the best bargains, but also knowing when it pays to spend a little more. This is especially true of dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General. These markets are a penny-pincher’s paradise: You can fill your cart with everything from frozen food to reading glasses, kids’ puzzles to coffee mugs, and yet you won’t wince with regret when you see the register total.
It may seem like a no-brainer to buy all of your disposable products from a dollar store. Why pay more for items you’re going to use once and then toss into the trash? If you’re throwing a graduation bash or a backyard summer get-together, you could pick up paper plates, napkins, plastic cups and cutlery and a few balloons and decorations, and boom — instant party atmosphere without busting the budget. But when the festivities are over and it’s time to put away the leftovers, you might regret buying your storage supplies from the dollar store along with the party goods. This is one of the cases where a “bargain” is anything but.
Dollar-store storage wrap isn't worth the money
Not all plastic cling wrap is created equal. According to a report from the “Today” show, the off-brand wrap often sold at dollar stores is a poor imitation of the good stuff. It won’t stick to your container lids or food plates, which will leave you struggling to get your leftovers securely stored before your guests leave (or before you throw the whole roll out the window in frustration). Your best bet is to look for a name-brand wrap like Saran Wrap; if your dollar store only sells the generic variety, skip it.
Another surprising not-worth-it bargain: Aluminum foil. Jeff Yeager, author of “The Cheapskate Next Door,” told “Today” that dollar stores commonly stock off-brand foil in 25-foot rolls, which don’t last very long if you use foil often. To get more wrap for your buck, you’re better off going to a warehouse store and getting a bulk pack of 100-foot rolls, which cost only slightly more than buying an armful of smaller $1 rolls. Another option, via money-saving blogger Rachel Teodoro: Pick up some foil pans and lids at the dollar store. They’re sold in packs of two for a dollar, and they’re great for storing leftovers or for packaging batches of pasta or cookies to give to friends.
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