20 Useful Dollar Store Finds Every Parent Should Know
When you’re a parent, spending money is always part of the equation. We all know that having kids requires buying more of the things you needed before, plus a bunch of new stuff that you may never have considered. Whether it’s a last minute class party, a replacement pair of earbuds or a pack of number 2 pencils for a standardized test, there’s always something that needs to be purchased. A few dollars here and there can add up quickly, leaving parents wondering how they can provide kids with everything they need and not go broke.
Finding Great Bargains at the Dollar Store
Dollar stores aren’t a new concept, but many people don’t realize exactly how many useful items they might otherwise pay a lot more for are available for only one dollar. Often, the quality of these items is exactly the same as those you’d find at bigger name stores for prices that are comparatively high. If you’re finding yourself spending 50 or 60 dollars a month on basic needs for you and your children, try the dollar store – you’ll net some great bargains that will help you take your money further and make your little ones happy. Wondering what kind of deals you can net at your local dollar store? Here are some great dollar store finds that will help you make the most of your hard-earned cash.
Do your kids plow through batteries like there’s no tomorrow? You’re not alone. Wireless controllers, hand held game systems and children’s toys often require a plethora of batteries in various sizes. Buying these at the grocery store or big name department stores can cost an arm and a leg, but decently sized packs of batteries are available at your local dollar store. Consider sticking a few in your munchkin’s stocking when they’re going to receive a toy or game for the holidays that needs batteries. Chances are good they’ll use up the first ones quickly, and having them on hand cuts out whining and saves you a trip to the store.
2. Cleaning Supplies
Kids make messes. This is a universal truth, and cleaning up after those messes can get expensive. By the time you’ve picked up antibacterial wipes, window cleaning spray, disinfectant, floor cleaner, spot cleaner and everything else you need to keep your home clean, you’ll have spent 20 to 30 dollars. Most if not all of these products are available at your local dollar store at a significantly cheaper rate. Often, you can find the same name brand products you’d buy normally – overstock often winds up being shipped off to local dollar stores.
3. Holiday Decor
Celebrating the holidays is a wonderful time to make memories with your kids. They love to see the house decked out in lights, garlands and ornaments, but unless you’re shopping for those items during post-holiday sales, the prices can be pretty steep. Local dollar stores often have holiday decorations in many different colors and styles and for different denominations of faith. Cute ornaments in a variety of colors, stockings, menorahs, decorative dreidels and more can be found at these discount stores once November rolls around.
4. Small Toys
Kids are always looking for something new to play with, and since they don’t have a paycheck to go out and buy toys, they turn to you. Fortunately, dollar stores carry a number of small toys and games that are perfect for children in a variety of age groups. Fashion dolls, army men, puzzles, bubbles, hula hoops, coloring and activity books and many more items can be purchased there, keeping kids busy for hours. These toys are perfect for kids who receive rewards for doing chores or good behavior. They can also be a great source of fun when putting together a road trip kit to keep munchkins entertained on the go.
5. Hand Soap
If you’re always telling your kids to wash their hands, you’re not alone. Kids love playing in dirt and mud, and they don’t share the healthy fear of grimy bacteria and germs that adults have. Antibacterial soap can get pricey, but the dollar store carries it in a variety of scents. Having a pump bottle of hand soap in a scent your kids love is a great way to encourage them to wash their hands more often. Like cleaning supplies, hand soaps are often available in brands you already buy but pay more for elsewhere.
6. Outdoor Toys
When the weather is nice, kids often get told to go out and play. Once they get there, they’ll be looking for ways to amuse themselves. Fun Spring and Summer toys like water squirters, pool noodles, water wings, basketballs, soccer balls, and even little inflatable pools can be found at the dollar store. These simple toys, which can cost a lot elsewhere, can keep kids entertained for hours on a beautiful day.
7. Party Supplies
Throwing your child a memorable birthday party is a common goal for parents, but doing so can sometimes cut into your budget significantly. Don’t skimp on the cake and presents – instead, save money by heading to the dollar store for your party supplies. Tablecloths, helium balloons, streamers, birthday banners, plastic flatware and decorative paper and plastic plates can be found there, eliminating the need to spend a mint on supplies to throw your kid a great party.
8. School Supplies
Almost every parent cringes, filled with a sense of dread, when their kids pull out the list of school supplies they’ll need for the year. Pencils, pens, markers, crayons, notebooks, binders, rulers, protractors, compasses and other necessities leave parents clutching their wallet in fear. Heading to the dollar store can be a great way to offset the cost of school supplies, especially for families with multiple children. When you only spend a dollar on a pack of markers, it’s a lot less frustrating when the kids have lost most of them by the end of the first month.
9. Hats, Scarves and Gloves
Unless you love to knit or crochet, when Winter rolls around, it’s time to buy scarves, hats and gloves. These ubiquitous seasonal items often get lost from year to year, whether it’s in the bottom of a snow drift or that pile of junk in the closet you just can’t bring yourself to search through. Instead of spending 12 to 15 dollars on a set of these knits, grab a few at the dollar store. In fact, stocking up on a few sets is a great way to make sure that any little ones who come over to play with your kids can stay warm too, even when they’ve forgotten their mittens at home.
10. Art Supplies
Drawing, painting and coloring aren’t just activities kids love, they’re also a great way to encourage a love of the arts, a sense of pride in their work and a hobby that requires focus. Going to an art supply store to get paint and paper for your kids isn’t exactly cheap, so it’s a good thing that many of these supplies are readily available at your local dollar store. Tempura and watercolor paint, markers, colored pencils, regular pencils, paper, poster board, glue and other art essentials are available for prices that make keeping your kids stocked up an easy task.
11. Valentine’s Day Supplies
When Valentine’s Day rolls around, kids get excited to receive treats and cards and have a classroom celebration. However, buying big bags of name brand candy can run upwards of 8 dollars. If you’re sick of spending so much on peanut butter cups and jawbreakers, the dollar store offers plenty of name brand candy at low prices. Additionally, for crafty kids who love to make their own valentines, lacy doilies, construction paper, glue, stickers, glitter and more are all available at a steep discount.
12. Dry Goods
Cooking for a big family costs a lot of money. Many parents struggle to keep as much food in the house as they’d like. Although the dollar store isn’t traditionally thought of as a place to buy groceries, there are a number of every day products that can be bought there cheaply. Flour, pasta, rice, sugar, beans and other dry goods can be bought at savings of anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars, stretching the food budget further and bringing relief to worried parents.
13. Frozen Food
While not all dollar stores provide this option, many nationwide chains have added a frozen food section to their repertoire. There, parents may purchase things like frozen juice concentrates, heat and eat meals and pie crusts that make whipping up a delicious dessert an easy task. Frozen foods can often be expensive at the grocery store, and the savings can add up quickly when you pick these items up at the dollar store instead.
Expanding on the candy availability mentioned when discussing Valentine’s Day treats, the dollar store has a number of candy varieties for even the sweetest sweet tooth. Every kid loves candy, and there’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat. Often, dollar stores carry movie theater style boxes of childhood favorites, perfect for a movie night, road trip, stocking stuffer, Easter basket or special treat. Don’t forget to grab some candy for yourself, too!
15. Accessories for Small Electronics
If your kids are notorious for losing or breaking things like remotes, earbuds, USB cords and other accessories for small electronics, you’re in luck. Replacements are available at the dollar store for a fraction of what you’d pay at a big box electronics store. Some of the replacements aren’t as fancy, but let’s face it – if you’re going to have to replace it again within the year, do you really want to spend 10 dollars on the item when you can spend one? Outlet converters, extension cords and power strips can also sometimes be found, which can make setting up electronics more convenient.
16. Household Repair Items
Kids break stuff. It’s what they do. If you’ve got little dents in the wall, spots where the paint needs to be touched up and torn patio furniture that needs mending, you may have just experienced Summer break – and it may be time to head to the dollar store. Paintbrushes, patching kits, masking tape and other essential repair items are available. These items can be pretty expensive at a hardware store, and spending a ton of money to take care of those repairs can axe your fun budget. Stick with discount items and perform small home repairs without breaking the bank.
17. Plates and Cups
Speaking of stuff kids break, plates and cups rank pretty high on that list. Accidental spills, drops and crashes lead to smashed plates and cups that leave you feeling frustrated. Place settings can be expensive! If you want some replacements that won’t break the bank, check the dollar store. You might be surprised at the number of sizes and styles of individual plates, glasses, mugs and flatware that are available. Designs and colors are often cute and trendy, and might leave you wanting to replace your whole set with these cheaper alternatives.
18. Personal Hygiene
Bath time can be a fun experience for a lot of kids. However, it’s more than just splashing around in the tub – your munchkins need shampoo, soap, sponges and other personal hygiene items to be squeaky clean. It’s no surprise that buying kid friendly products at the grocery store can be expensive. At 3 to 4 dollars a product, parents cringe when they see their kid squeeze an extra big glob of that fancy kid-brand body wash into the water. The dollar store offers many personal hygiene products, including many of the name brands you’d buy at other stores, at a major discount.
19. Gardening Supplies
If your kids love to dig in the dirt, collect seeds and watch plants grow, they’ll love the wide variety of seeds, spades and garden decor that the dollar store offers. Getting kids into horticulture early provides them with a fun and productive hobby you can share together. Starting a vegetable garden at the beginning of the season and watching it grow is a teachable experience that fascinates most kids, and buying the supplies at the dollar store makes it inexpensive. Bonus: by mid-summer, you’ll be saving money on fresh produce by enjoying what you and your kids have grown together!
20. Pet Supplies
Not only does the dollar store have great items for children, they have great items for your fur babies as well. The dollar store offers variety of pet supplies for dogs such as toys, waste bags, collars, leashes, harnesses, treats, canned dog food, dry dog food, and even food and water bowls. Buying your pet toys at the dollar store that will just end up getting chewed up is a great way to save money, and to keep your pet happy. Taking them on walks doesn’t have to make you worry because they have great priced leases, collars and harnesses that can cost upward of 30 dollars at normal pet stores. They also offer a good variety of things for cats as well such as kitty litter, dry cat food, cat toys, cat treats and canned cat food. Your cat will be so happy when you come home with a bag of goodies for them, and you will be happy knowing that you bought that all for under 10 dollars.