People Are Sharing Which Items They Always Get From The Dollar Store, And The Life Hacks Are Real

    From movie theater candy to phone screen protectors, people are recommending all kinds of products that are normally overpriced, but can be bought at the dollar store instead.

    Recently, we asked the thrifty shoppers of the BuzzFeed Community which items they always buy at the dollar store to save money. They responded with SO many things that I had never thought of, and even provided a few warnings about what NOT to buy! Here are some of the best suggestions:

    Shoppers entering a Dollar Tree store

    1. Many parents and teachers recommended buying arts and crafts supplies for kids at the dollar store:

    "Paint for kid's art projects, small canvases, art supply paper, glow necklaces, and gift bags."


    2. Movie theater candy was another popular suggestion, and apparently you can get brand-name stuff, too!

    "Candy for the movies. There's a Dollar Tree across the street from my local movie theater. Right before the movie starts, we'd get a ton of candy and sneak it in our purses, lol. Everyone does it. ;)"


    3. If you need a bunch of extra winter gloves and hats so that you're never uncovered in the cold, you know where to go:

    "Those cheap, non-waterproof gloves. I like to keep a few pairs in the car in case it gets cold unexpectedly. Also, the winter hats. They aren't going to save you in an Arctic tundra, but they're good in a pinch."


    4. Anytime you need a lot of trinkets for kids, like Easter:

    "I always fill my kids' Easter baskets with dollar store stuff! They have really cute trinkets, toys, and plenty of plastic eggs and candy."


    5. This is probably store-dependent, but apparently, the pot pies are great:

    "The pot pies. They are AMAZING. Flaky crust, delicious sauce. It's everything I could want in a pie, honestly."


    6. If your kids tend to lose sunglasses often, guess what? Dollar store:

    "Sunglasses for my kids. If they get lost or busted, I don’t have to get upset because I got them five other pairs."


    7. In fact, people recommended you buy all those items that tend to get "lost" or that you always need but never have on hand:

    "Whatever minor household item you can never seem to find when you need it — nail clippers, scissors, tape, charging cords, hair ties, whatever — if they sell it at the dollar store, just buy 5 or 10 of it. Especially if you've ever yelled at someone else in your household about, 'Where the &$*# are the &*$% scissors?' (Or whatever it is.) If you can spend $10 and eliminate a source of stress and conflict from your life, do it.

    "Also, things you don't need often but might need urgently in any of several places where you spend your time — like spare shoelaces, a sewing kit, those emergency ponchos that will never go back in the packet, a little flashlight, etc. You're better off having several chintzy ones scattered through your world — home, car, workplace, purse/briefcase — than one better-quality version that might not be on the spot when the need arises."


    8. Have you noticed how expensive glassware is? And I've broken probably half of the last set I bought:

    "Wine glasses for a gathering that you won’t care if they break! They have champagne flutes, wine glasses, and normally some fun margarita ones."


    9. I always get anxiety decorating for a party, partly because I know this stuff is ending up in a landfill, and partly because it's EXPENSIVE. So, party supplies at the dollar store sounds pretty good:

    "Party supplies, such as tablecloths, plates, hats, bags, even party favors. Party City ain't happening. Also, random small prizes I would need for the kids."


    "You can probably get away with spending less than $20 on plates, cups, napkins, decorations, and food."


    10. Same goes for seasonal decorations:

    "Seasonal decor! Not all the decor is great, but the hanging signs are basically the same as Hobby Lobby and other stores, but only cost $1 (or $1.25) now. All birthday cards, too. Fifty cents for a card is unbeatable."


    "I work in the front office of a middle school and enjoy decorating for the holidays! So, the Dollar Tree is where I run to get garlands, signs, knickknacks, etc. … The best is how many kids, parents, and staff appreciate it all and how I get to tell them, 'It’s Dollar Tree!'"


    11. If you've ever bought steel wool from the grocery store and thought, "Why is this so expensive?" then here's a tip:

    "Steel wool scrubbies. They are a little softer than the ones from the grocery store, so they don't scratch up the baking sheets as bad. Three woolies for a dollar? Count me in!"


    12. Several people recommended spices, which never even occurred to me:

    "There are many common spices and seasonings that come in larger quantities at dollar stores. A bay leaf is a bay leaf; it will do the same job if you buy a bunch at a dollar store for pennies vs. almost a dollar a leaf at a chain grocery store. If you need 'stronger' spices, just add more. It's still way less expensive, but unless you're a spice enthusiast, you probably won't notice the difference."


    "Spices. I know I’m gonna get hate from the spice snobs about this one, but as a 20-something-year-old moving into your first apartment or home, you quickly learn that spices are expensive and add up really fast. Yes, they may not be as good in quality as name brands, but they get the job done."


    13. Parchment paper and other kitchen supplies can be pricey at other stores:

    "Before I switched to silicone baking sheets, Dollar Tree was my go to for parchment paper. It came in rolls rather than sheets so I can use the amount I actually need."


    14. If you're buying your medicine and first aid supplies generic anyway, check the dollar store first. Just watch out for expiration dates and the price per pill:

    "Dollar Tree was perfect for making my everything first aid kit. Bandages, gauze, allergy meds, pain meds, etc. It provided the right size and packaging for these items."


    "The dollar store has allergy pills, basically generic Zyrtec, and they’re the best. You get 14 for a dollar, and it’s the same active ingredient. Best dollar store find my mom taught me."


    "I always buy generic medication at the Dollar Tree. Especially those things that you don't use often, but want to have on hand (e.g. anti-diarrheal medication, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for allergic reactions). They sometimes have shorter expiration times and a smaller number of pills in the bottle, but I would rather throw away 10 anti-diarrhea pills than not have one when I need it!"


    15. Have you ever bought a shower liner and thought, "Why the #&$% is this so expensive? It's just a sheet of plastic," you're not alone:

    "Buy their shower liners! There’s no need to buy the $10 Target one because the clear Dollar Tree ones work just as well!"

    16. If you're wondering about snacks, Zapp's Voodoo Chips come highly recommended:

    "I don’t know if they have these at all Dollar Tree locations, but the one by my house always has Zapp’s Voodoo Chips, which are THE BEST, and generally, a small bag usually costs about $3 at other stores!! If you’ve never had them, you’re missing out!"


    17. Everybody who's ever had to buy one knows that pregnancy tests are, like, painfully pricey:

    "Pregnancy tests. I am a nurse in an emergency room, and I can’t tell you how many pregnancy tests I have done for patients when they could have saved hundreds of dollars and gone to the dollar store. My wife and I buy them there, and I trust them just as much as a test from the hospital I work at. I think the pregnancy tests that are 10+ dollars are an absolute rip off, especially when you could buy 10 of the dollar store ones for the same price and pretty much the same accuracy."


    18. Trash bags, because you know that when you find the perfect drawstring kind at the grocery store, it's in, like, a 100-bag pack that costs $30:

    "I always buy my trash bags from the dollar store, like, I will make a specific trip for them and usually won't get anything else. I can't find the ones I like anywhere else! I get the 13-gallon ones with the handles, and they are vanilla scented. I can never find similar ones; either they don't have handles, or they aren't scented. So, after my big grocery trip or Walmart trip, I will hit the dollar store just for trash bags. *shrug*" 

    —Kirstin, NC

    19. Apparently, you can buy generic Lego pieces to build on:

    "I always buy the generic Lego base plates for my class of kindergarteners."


    20. Mailing supplies! Of course! This would be great for anyone who sells on eBay occasionally but not, like, professionally:

    "I always get mailing supplies there. They have poly mailers and boxes for way cheaper than it would cost at the post office."


    21. Lots of commenters said the frozen food tastes good, like this gnocchi:

    "There is amazing gnocchi sold here that tastes just as good as the ones you would get for $20 at a high-end restaurant. Add some pesto on top, and have an amazing meal while saving money!!"


    22. If you're a family that uses prayer candles, here's a money-saver (and waste-reducer!):

    "Worth buying: blank prayer candles in different colors and wax melts! The wax melts are actually amazing, and you can melt down the prayer candles to make your own (with addition to the melts). The super glue is astonishingly good there, too!"


    23. More than one person recommended the Totally Awesome cleaning products:

    Totally Awesome cleaning products

    24. Last time I bought a greeting card, it was literally $10. It's what you write inside that counts anyway:

    "Always buy gift bags and greeting cards at the dollar store! Why pay more than a dollar for something that you're literally giving away?"


    "I always buy greeting cards there. My older family members love getting birthday, Mother's/Father’s Day, and Christmas cards from my family. Instead of buying the $5-$9 cards from other stores, we buy them from the dollar store to save money."


    25. Screen protectors never occurred to me, but multiple commenters suggested them:

    "Screen protectors!!! I can’t emphasize this one enough. I always buy my screen protectors from my local Dollar Tree instead of the Apple store or my cellular provider. The Dollar Tree ones will last you so much longer, while shopping for them anywhere else isn’t worth the price."


    26. By comparison here, portable electric pencil sharpeners run about $10 to $20 on Amazon:

    "When school supplies come out for back-to-school shopping, they usually have portable electric pencil sharpeners. Only use three batteries, which you can get there also. That pencil sharpener lasts forever, and I love using it for my art supplies!"


    27. I always buy store-brand zipper bags anyway, so this is great (but the best way to save money is to buy reusable ones, just FYI):

    "I’m not exactly sure what the name of the brand they carry is, but their gallon Ziploc style bags are great! They are so sturdy and durable which I didn’t expect! The zipper/slide didn’t break in a single one of the bags in the box I got."


    28. Here's a whole long list of various household items that came recommended from several commenters:

    "Toothpaste, toothbrush, cards, dishwashing liquid, hand soap, hair clips, sponges for cleaning, cleaning liquids, seasonal items/decorations/fun gift items, like, for stocking stuffers, cookies, small plastic garbage bags, sun glasses, reading glasses, pens, stickies, gift bags, and other things I cannot remember including some brand named items. Great stores!"


    29. And here are some tips from an actual dollar store employee:

    I worked at a Dollarama for a couple years. About once a week, we would get surplus from superstores and put it on sale for a slightly higher price ($3-$4). I got some decent throw blankets, pillows, headphones, dish ware, etc., for a fraction of what I'd pay elsewhere. So, definitely keep an eye out for stuff like that! Also: It's not a bad idea to check out the food aisles, especially with the outrageously rising prices in grocery stores. A loaf of bread, bag of chips, and even some healthier options (like nuts, dried fruit, protein shakes) are usually way cheaper for the same size, and often brand name (or close enough) as well.

    30. But there are plenty of things people recommend avoiding at the dollar store! Like some of the cleaners (maybe these are a different brand from the Totally Awesome ones?):

    "I do NOT recommend buying cleaners or laundry detergent from there. When I had a bout of unemployment, I bought those there because it’s all I could afford, and the cleaners didn’t do much except make surfaces sticky, and the laundry detergent ruined my clothes. But the cleaning utensils like scrubbers and brushes are all fine."


    31. And this commenter wants you to know that your hair deserves the best bobby pins and clips:

    "Something I do not recommend buying at the dollar store are bobby pins. They are sometimes sharp at the ends, scratching your scalp, and are flimsy, easily falling out of your hair. Get Goody or Scunci clips whose grip won't quit."


    32. Batteries were a common warning, as apparently, they don't last long:

    "You will NEVER catch me buying any food, batteries, phone cases, or glasses from the dollar store."


    33. Same with lightbulbs:

    "Stay away from batteries and lightbulbs…not worth it."


    34. Watch out for the American cheese, too:

    "American cheese is a NO GO. The stuff doesn't melt. My cousin and I did an experiment with mac and cheese, and it just refused to melt. It stayed in solid chunks no matter how high we turned the heat up and refused to mix with the milk."


    35. Hygiene products are almost always worth a bit of a splurge...especially razors 😬:

    "I don’t buy soap or any personal hygiene products there. I tried a dollar store razor once, and it looked like a raccoon attacked my face. Never again."


    36. Be sure to check expiration dates if you're looking to buy any fresh (non-canned, non-frozen) foods:

    "My store is in Astoria, New York, and it’s always busy, so I’m sure there’s a lot of turnover with items, but I still won’t trust any fresh meat or dairy products from Dollar Tree. Also, always check the date on the candies; sometimes, things are expired 🤢🤷🏻‍♀️."


    37. And finally... there's this ominous warning:

    "Worth avoiding: the Caesar dressing. Trust me, not worth it."


    Did they miss anything? Let us know in the comments!