Top 10 Things You Should ALWAYS Buy at the Dollar Store! (And the Top 3 Things to Avoid)

Jun 10, 2020 | Best Budgeting Tips, How To Save Money

Dollar Tree is a great place to stock up for cheap on some of the essentials in your life. It's also a place that you can easily waste your money. Learn what to buy at the dollar store to get the most bang for your buck, plus what you should steer clear of! 

Tips for what to buy at the dollar store, from Fun Cheap or Free

Occasionally, when I'm in need of supplies, I'll make a quick stop at Dollar Tree. It's one of my favorite go-to's for, well, lots of things. Having 8 kids, 10 and under, I don't get to go shopping as much as I used to. (Downer for me, better for my wallet…) 

Sadly, it's been a while since I've been to my favorite store-o-cheapness. As I was walking around, I kept saying “Wow, this is great!”…”and this!”…”oh, this is a great deal…” (yes, aloud. I'm totally turning into THAT person…) Embarrassing? Maybe. True? Totally!

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

I get asked these questions a lot:

  • “What should I buy from the dollar store?” 
  • “What are the best deals at the dollar store?”
  • “Is everything there junk?”
  • “Is everything there a good deal?”

Since I feel like I'm somewhat of a pro on what to buy at the dollar store, it got me thinking… I might as well SHARE these great finds with all of you!


filling up a popsicle mold, from Fun Cheap or Free

First off, let's go over where they actually get their cheap products from and why they're so cheap.

  • Dollar store products are many times the same products you will find in other stores.
  • Sometimes, products hit the dollar stores because of damage or lack of freshness.
  • BUT, they are often just offered cheaper because they operate on slimmer margins than grocery stores.
  • Many items were surplus or overstock items from a company. That company might even sell their items at a loss to the dollar store, but it's cheaper than paying taxes, paying for warehousing to hold the items, and frees up their warehouse space for items that will make them profit.
  • Many times, the surplus items they buy are surplus because it was last season's color or an old style.
  • Dollar stores will often buy and sell anything that's cheap. They will buy entire containers of goods at auction from China, without knowing what's in them, and will sell whatever ends up in that container. Surprise!
  • Sometimes their products are name-brand products that don't advertise anymore, such as Bon-Ami Cleanser.
  • Sometimes dollar store products are name-brand products, only smaller. Irish Spring soap, for example, is the exact same bar you'd find in the grocery store, only smaller. Same with their ziplock bags. The box will only cost you $1 (rather than $2 or $3), but you might only have 7 or 10 bags, versus 20.
  • Dollar stores can sell the SAME items as grocery stores for cheaper because they have class-B or C locations, so they pay much lower rent than class-A locations.
  • They also have a small, low-wage staff, that's usually only about 10 employees per store.

So, all of that being said, we move on to what to buy from the dollar store, particularly Dollar Tree, in my opinion! 


potato casserole in an aluminum pan, from Fun Cheap or Free

Hands-down, if the only thing you walk away with learning from this mile-long post, it's BUY YOUR DISPOSABLE BAKING PANS AT THE DOLLAR STORE! For the love of pizza, people, you're crazy if you don't! They are sturdy, durable, practical, and oh yeah… A DOLLAR!  

As I mention in pretty much any food post, if you are going to take the time to cook, then double whatever you're making, throw half in a dollar store aluminum baking pan, and freeze it! It takes you no extra time and you'll have a stock of quick meals in your freezer for those days that you're tempted to order takeout because you just don't have time to cook. Every time you go, grab 2, 3, or 4 of these babies in various sizes.

Having a stock on-hand will help you when taking treats/meals to friends, and will save you a butt-load in cooking. (Yes, I just said butt-load. Yes, I might just be 12 years old…)  


They also have great kitchen items, such as popsicle molds, Disney sandwich cases, plates, cups, serving dishes, and bakeware (ceramic, metal, and plastic).

They also have kitchen tools that work fine, such as whisks, oven mitts, ice cream scoops, measuring cups, table runners, strainers, can openers, wooden spoons, and more. These all make great gift ideas that are super cheap!


shopping baskets, from Fun Cheap or Free

For the love of all the luscious organizing tools! The possibilities are endless with these babies. Remember my tub-toy laundry basket trick? Dollar store laundry baskets come in handy! Sure, they aren't sturdy enough to hold a heavy load of jeans day after day, but they are for toys, kids' clothes, dog toys, shoes, sports equipment, etc.

It could even be your closet catch-all basket or what you use to tidy up your house in 5 minutes. Their other tubs and bins are amazing also. Perfect for office supplies, toys, your lost-sock basket, gift baskets/bins, closet organizing, and so on. You can never have too many bins, in my book!

They have some great bins to organize closets, too! I have been organizing kids' closets, and was going to run to Target to get some square bins. Wouldn't you know that the dollar store had them in TONS of different shapes and sizes… and they are CUTE! For $1, their bins and baskets are a KILLER deal. Nearly identical ones are at Target. Seriously, why pay more?


I also buy some cleaning supplies from the dollar store. I don't buy mops or big things though, because you need those to be pretty sturdy and $1 won't cut it.

Here a few of my favorite cleaning supplies to buy:

  • Gloves
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • Buckets
  • Squeegees
  • Cleaning supplies

Only some cleaning supplies are a good deal (I love the dollar store “windex”). Keep a price notebook so you can learn your prices and know where you'll get the best bang for your buck. Usually, I stock up on most of the cleaning supplies that I use at Costco.


beach ball in a pool, from Fun Cheap or Free

Now, it's no surprise to anyone that dollar store quality isn't the best money can buy. So I will say, that is the case with pool toys. “So then, Jordan, why the heck do you recommend we buy them?” Great question! Let me enlighten you with my crazy logic. Think about it…whether you pay a lot or a little for your pool toys, they tend to get TRASHED by the end of the season.

Trust me, I've tried deflating or drying them, putting them in a bin in the garage, and holding onto them year after year. It just doesn't work (for me, anyway)! When I go to blow them up the next year, they are wilted, misshapen, stinky, and don't ever seem to hold their air well any more.

Now, here's my disclaimer… for FLOTATION devices in the pool, you really get what you pay for and I totally recommend getting the nicer stuff. But when it comes to having cheap, simple, “give my kids something to play within the pool and I don't care if they trash them” toys, the dollar store is your place.

They even have Disney goggles! I'm guessing the quality of the goggles isn't great, but for $1, can you really complain? P.S…online I found most of the same goggles for $15!!! WHAAAT?!

And of course, you can't go wrong with the $1 pool noodles. Once again, not the biggest or best around, but for the use that my kids put them to (hitting each other with them in the pool), they serve their purpose at 100%. Plus… Rather than taking up valuable room in your garage holding on to those pesky buggers for an entire year, cut them up and use them in your boots like I do!  

And heck, I even found baby girl swimsuits there. Once again, it's no Nike suit, but for a baby girl who hardly moves when in the water and will outgrow it in 5.3 seconds anyway, $1 is a KILLER deal and it will serve its purpose just fine.


hair products at a dollar store, from Fun Cheap or Free

One day in high school, I dropped yet ANOTHER hand mirror (for the 3rd time in 2 days, it felt like…). I got SO MAD when I ran to the store and paid over $5 for another crappy mirror, that I was bound to break – yet again – in a matter of time.  

I wised up and started buying my mirrors from the dollar store, and I've never looked back since! It's a mirror for dang sake! If you can look in it and see yourself, it works. Whether it's $1 or $5, it won't change how your face looks. Darn it all… 😉

I used to be okay with their brushes and combs, BUT I'm now a HUGE fan of Bathpack! They're only $5, but they brush through tangled hair so well. No more tears for my girls! Use code JORDAN for 10% off.

My daughter LOVES accessories. The last time I was at Walmart, I paid $3.50 for a small pack of cheap headbands. Then I went to the dollar store, and saw a nearly identical pack, for $1. Doh! You better believe Walmart will be getting a pack of cheap headbands returned to them in the next few days! The dollar store's hair accessories, clips, claws, and headbands work perfectly fine, especially for young girls.  


organized bathroom drawer, from Fun Cheap or Free

This one may shock many of you, but I LOVE dollar store makeup! Not all of it, of course, but many of it works great. If you watched how I do my makeup, you'll see that I'm an advocate for buying a good primer, then using cheap eyeshadow. The primer makes it so that even the cheapest of cheap-o eyeshadow stays on all day and looks vibrant.  

As I explained above, many times their products are surplus, or out-of-date colors. I have bought many a lip gloss, lipstick, eyeliner, lip liner, makeup pencil sharpeners, and eyeshadow from the dollar store. And guess what? I get complimented on my makeup all the time. Same goes with cotton face pads, swabs, sponge applicators, and cotton balls. They seem to work just fine. However, I am picky about my Q-tips and hate flimsy Q-tips, so I don't buy any Q-tips from there.

Nail items are also great! I've gotten Maybelline nail polish from there before. It's probably an old or overstock product, or is an outdated color. But for $1? Not bad! Nail polish remover is also great here. I haven't tried their tweezers, so I'll have to try them sometime…  

My advice? Try it! If you don't like it, you're only out $1. If you do like it, you've saved yourself many dollars. *Just remember that you can't return or exchange things to dollar stores, so don't go too crazy.  


Oh, and I'm not sure what category to put this in, but, PREGNANCY TESTS! They are a great deal here, and yes, they work. Don't trust it? Buy two, take two tests, and you'll STILL save yourself tons.  


pipe cleaners and pom poms, from Fun Cheap or Free

I could go on and on about what to buy at the dollar store in terms of art and crafting. They have great wreath forms, poster board, pony beads, and paints for the kids for a fair deal. They also have stickers and foam stickers, popsicle sticks, and wiggly eyes – all great for crafts with the kids, all for a good deal – especially the wiggly eyes!

Many dollar store items – anything from plastic shot glasses to puff balls, coloring books, beads, and charms – SAVE ME on long road trips. While you can get big boxes of crayons for a better deal at stores like Walmart, I have to say that I love their simple, small packs, which are great for road trips. They even have Disney ones, and I love their double-sided jumbo crayons.

Gem rocks are the cheapest I've seen anywhere else. They are fun for projects with the kids, to put in centerpieces and candle vase thingies (technical term, yes), and even a project like THIS wreath.  


I think one of the most overlooked aisles is the CLASSROOM aisle! Many dollar stores have an area dedicated to charts, bulletin board borders and signs, calendars, charts, and other helpful tools to use. They're great whether you are a teacher or NOT! I use these types of calendars and charts all the time for when organizing, teaching my kids, decorating their playroom, or working on behavior.

Their dry erase boards and markers are a GREAT deal at just $1. I picked myself up a cute calendar dry-erase board. It even has magnets on the back, perfect for meal planning and grocery shopping.

Now, with the office supplies, you just have to know your prices. A small box of pencils at the dollar store, while only $1 obviously, might not be the best deal around because it probably has LESS pencils than a box of pencils on sale at Walmart near back-to-school time. BUT – in general, many of their office items are a good deal. What caught my eye here were the calculators and sticky notes. $1 for a pack of 6 mini sticky pads is a great deal. And really, who doesn't need more sticky notes??  

I will advise you to avoid their spiral notebooks and packets of loose-leaf paper. You can get much BIGGER packets/notebooks for $1 or less at your local store, especially during back-to-school time. Just watch the sales.  


birthday party decorations, from Fun Cheap or Free

Mylar balloons, streamers (2 for $1!), vinyl table cloths, gift bags, tissue paper, bows, greeting cards, basket fillers, party signs (especially around holidays), favor bags/boxes, party favors, and decorations. You name it, they've got it – all for a great price. They even have wedding and baby stuff! This is my go-to place for party favors, like for my son's birthday party and my friends' bridal shower.  


When I say “toys,” I'm not talking about a “here's your one and only, super amazing birthday present this year, Johnny! I hope you treasure and use it for always!” toy. I'm talking about your SMALL toy; the one that's perfect for stocking stuffers, road trips, behavior rewards, goodie bags for birthday parties, festivals, etc.  

For $1, you can make a kid's whole universe by introducing them to random knock-off barbie, poorly-painted pony, or the baby bottle with the disappearing milk (my daughter STILL gets a kick out of that thing months later). I have been able to stock and restock my son's green army guy supply, Priya's play kitchen with small dollar store packs of plastic kitchen food, and even some small dollhouse furniture. No, they aren't going to be toys to pass down to your grandkids, but yes, they will do the trick in entertaining your kids for a while.  

I love stocking up on travel games and anything magnetic for road trips and keeping them quiet in church.  

Oh, and I will say that if you have a small dog, the pet toys are a good deal too. A 100lb dog would eat them in 2.3 seconds, but for the little guys, great bargain.  

So there you have it! Those are only SOME of the things that I regularly buy from the dollar store. Now on to…


Here is the big question… What should you avoid at the dollar store?


Mainly the canned food, but you have to be careful with bagged food, baking goods, seasonings, and frozen food. Much of it ends up being a higher price per ounce than it would be at the grocery store. So just grocery shop like I do and you'll get things MUCH cheaper… and probably better quality.

However, I will say the dollar stores often times carry brands or items that grocery stores no longer carry, which is helpful. But in terms of everyday groceries, I say avoid the dollar store!


I'm sorry, I just don't trust them. But ultimately, the price-per-pill isn't that great. Buy that kind of stuff at Costco and you'll get a better value.


Do I really need to explain why a $1 electronic is not a good investment? Just stay away from any of their electronics because you're basically throwing your money down the toilet!

WHEEW! So next time you go to one of my favorite hangouts (aka the dollar store), be aware of what you're tossing into that little green cart so you don't walk away carelessly spending your hard earned dollars. What do YOU love buying from the dollar store? Leave a comment and share!

image that reads "what you need to know to shop at the dollar store", from Fun Cheap or Free

If you want some more great ideas to stick to your budget and live frugally, then you've got to check out Budget Boot Camp! It's a super fun online video program that makes tackling your finances fun again. Seriously!

Sounds great, right?! I'm so sure you'll love it that I even offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you don't save at least what you paid for it. What have you got to lose? Use the code FCFBLOG for 10% off at checkout, just because!

Want some more great ideas?

  • Learn about one of my most vital budgeting principles that I teach – the 70% rule.
  • Keep track of your food by inventorying your pantry, fridge and freezer using our free printable!
  • Tired of searching for “fun things to do near me” and coming up short? Use these tips and hacks to get the best results!

Happy bargain shopping!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free


  1. Tara

    You forgot the absolute best thing… Pregnancy tests! Those things are so accurate, and so easy to buy a big handful of for those times you are really trying and not wanting to pay $9 a stick! Or when you find out you are pregnant and want to keep testing over and over cause you can't believe it's real! Love me some $Store HPTs!

    • Debbie Fremming

      I I do love some grocery buys like dried beans, canned or jarred spaghetti sauce (check the date), canned fruit (check the date). I agree that they’re the best for any kind of party supplies, cards, paper goods and plasticware and mailing supplies. Heavy-duty water glasses. I don’t care for the plastic bins….too cheap for me. Make-up….it depends. I don’t buy beauty products from China usually so I’m careful here but there are some bargains to be found. Same with otc medicines. Check the dates and not from China.

    • Nichole

      Pregnancy tests are in the article 🙃

  2. Katie

    This post was awesome! Thank you thank you!

  3. funcheaporfree

    Yes I snuck it in by the beauty section, but I'll highlight it more. Thanks for the suggestion!!

  4. Tara

    oh woops! totally didn't see it, i love the dollar store!

    • Delane

      I love that I can get nailpolish remover for only $1! Since I took up teaching myself to do nail art, I go thru a LOT more remover than I used to because doing nail art on your own natural nails isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially with your non-dominant hand! I love their cheap but good enough greeting cards, their mini candy bar packs, bleach for only a dollar, parchment, festive holiday items, dry erase boards (not really long lasting but cheap!), vases, candles and holders, makeup, scrubber things, pens, and more than I can list. The things I’ve found to be not so great are: batteries, you may be able to use them awhile or a long time or not at all, gift wrap is really pretty if you are going to wrap one or two gifts. You get so little on a roll it’s often better to buy somewhere else, water beads – what a mess I had with those! But that’s about it for things I bought and wasn’t all that happy about. I don’t know what I would do without the Dollar Tree!

    • Christy

      The Dollar Tree and 99 Cents stores near me accept exchanges.

      I agree with everything you said, except I think some food items are a great deal, such as chocolate chips, but they don’t always have them. Also, I think their microwave popcorn and cookies are also good values. Many times they have fabulous deals in the frozen section.

      And some of their technology is acceptable, such as calculators, and I just bought a fabulous pair of wireless earbuds at Dollar Tree (for $5) that work amazingly well! Score! (Yes, I also have an inner adolescent.)

      I also love their $1 reading glasses! I mean seriously! You can’t beat that! 😊

  5. Michol

    what about Cleaners? I think they are all made of the same ingredients

  6. sal4gal

    Your timing is perfect! This is our weekend for the grandkids and a visit to the Dollar Store saves our sanity. They are always so excited to see what treasures we have for them. I have already been outside with them 3 times today. 7 y.o. Josh calls them G'ma activities. Hmmm . . . I think that I have as much fun as the kids do. Pinterest and the $1 store make the perfect team.

  7. dawn

    Love your blog!! I make a holiday dip that is awesome with Bugles…I can't find them anywhere but the dollar store or Big Lots…so there is ONE food item not to avoid! =)

    • Joy Purdy

      Love Dollar Tree! I’ve gotten so many things since we started the gut and total gut and remodel of a house for Mom. Spray cleaner with bleach, foam paintbrushes, plastic dropcloths, cheap broom & dustpan (I don’t care if it dies), painters tape, small packages of baby wipes, ready-made tea and a few snacks, bandaids and antibiotic ointment, and hairties. We live in “Tiny Town USA” so I was so excited when we got a DT. I know most of the employees by name, as you do in a small town.

      • Annie Murray

        I love their towels, pot holders and at a Christmas time the matching glass cutting boards. Some of the gardening things are great like chimes, outdoor thermometer and seeds. I love the seasonal solar lights, they don’t last long but for the price of I get 2 -3 years, I’m happy

  8. Carly

    Baby girl bathing suits killer deal! I bought 2 for my 8 mo. Old and they're perfect for what she'll use them for! Great post!
    Happy weekend !
    xoxo Carly

    • Annie Murray

      I love their towels, pot holders and at a Christmas time the matching glass cutting boards. Some of the gardening things are great like chimes, outdoor thermometer and seeds. I love the seasonal solar lights, they don’t last long but for the price of I get 2 -3 years, I’m happy.

      • Kenzie Baney

        Yes, so many treasures to be found!

  9. Kellee

    Fantastic post! I didn't know they're now carrying those bins. Guess who will be in the Dollar Tree Tomorrow? Another great use for the gem rocks is in the bottom of any container or vase. I then stick my makeup brushes in there. It holds them up and keeps them organized.

  10. KDonaldson

    Be careful with the pot holders and over mitts!! I've had one catch on fire in my hand just when I reached into the oven. It didn't even hit the burner or anything.

    And thank you for the article! Lots of good info!! I totally agree about the pregnancy tests. They are actually what most hospitals as and doctor's offices use.

  11. jenniferdschrauth

    I totally agree with all of your do's and I'm so glad to see other people saying hey, it's OK to buy a lot of your stuff there. However, I would disagree with saying no to all of the food. Yeah, a lot of their stuff there is gross off brands and not a great deal, but a couple of things there I've found for a good price including condiments (which can be bought on sale for a good price but usually not for a dollar) but most importantly bread. Yes, you can buy cheap-o store brand white bread for a dollar or less at any given time at most stores, but I've been able to find wheat Nature's Own at my Dollar Tree which is usually 2-5 dollars in my area, 2 being the best sale I've seen. Usually the bread is a couple of days away from its use by date, but I've never had any go bad on me, and slightly stale bread can be used for French toast and other breakfasty things. For me it's worth it to be able to get wheat instead of white and avoid high fructose corn syrup.

    • Paula

      My mom and I always get the small frozen pizzas from there and since they’re frozen, they haven’t gone bad on us either so it’s great. I haven’t looked around for bread there before, but I’ll make sure I do next time we go grocery shopping because I love Nature’s Own and it’s so expensive at Von’s.

      • FunCheapOrFree

        Awesome tips, thanks for sharing!

        • Lilli

          Thanks for writing all the useful articles

    • Natalie

      Yes!! THE BREAD!!! My best ever discovery at DT!! I was spending $3-4 on the low cal Nature’s Own, or Sarah Lee at our grocery store…and then one day discovered THE SAME BREAD at DT. Somerimes it is close to use by date than the grocery store…but we go through it so fast it never bothers us! My DT gal even told me the days the bread truck comes, so I just grab it fresh of the bread guys cart!!

  12. Janice

    I love this post! We LOVE Dollar Tree or as my daughter calls it "Da Tree!" We make regular trips and she loves it because it typically means she'll get something special if she's good! I don't suggest bribing your kids but it just happens that's the store I like to buy crafting stuff, flash cards and other little keep her busy toys so she thinks it's some fun exciting face! Also, I use the baskets for organizing my chest freezer and it makes my life WAY easier! Another thing at our store at least they have those little folding stackable shelves and I found while they aren't the most sturdy they do what I need them to underneath our sink in the bathroom!

  13. funcheaporfree

    That's great to know; I will have to keep an eye out for bread at my store! Thanks for sharing!

  14. lemniskate

    I'm with Jennifer above – most of this I agree with, but not the food. You can often find recognizable brand names (campbells soups, for one thing) that are a really good deal in the food aisle; I also usually get my worcestshire sauce and condiments there that I'm not going to use very often. And while we don't go nuts buying it, their candy is usually a good deal. i stay away from cookies and chips and crackers because the off brands just don't seem to measure up, but at the same time, I've seen national brands offered, too. We get their generic fig newtons though, and the blueberry and apple versions as well, and they're very good. And Dollar Tree sells big three liter bottles of soda, too – which, of course, I'm recommending in moderation, getting it cheap isn't an excuse to drink it like water. Which is another thing you can get there cheap -bottled water, in big containers.

    Another thing I like to do is get a BUNCH of those stretchy little gloves when winter rolls around. My son loses them all the time, and this way i just grab another pair for him (or another single glove; I try to get the plainest, black or navy so we can both use them 🙂 ).

    Oh, and dishes! No, they're not going to be great quality, but especially for crafts – I found these really nice stemless wine glasses at the dollar tree and they're great. Over the door hooks too, and mesh laundry bags, all mine came from the dollar store. And the "home improvement" aisle is a great source for sponge paint brushes, since even the good ones don't last more than a couple of projects.

  15. KimH

    I love the Dollar Tree especially of all the Dollar Stores.. I buy most of my cleaners there.. For the most part, I use all natural homemade cleaners but there are sometimes I just cant. I buy bleach a couple times a year, I buy a lot of ammonia there, and I buy their LAs Totally AWESOME! And it IS AWESOME!
    I use it as a grease & strain remover because regular name brand wont work on my stains.. I had 2 laundry baskets full of tee shirts & blouses that had been washed & dried multiple times when I had used name brand stain removers to no avail. I finally decided to try the AWeSOME, which works on all sorts of things.. I sprayed, let sit for 30 minutes, then washed in hot water.. Almost every one came clean.. those that didnt, I reapplied & washed & it came clean the second time. Im sure this stuff is fairly toxic and Im normally an organic kinda gal, but I'll make an exception for this stuff.
    I use it in my carpet cleaner too.. Its amazing how well it works.. better than having Sears Proff Cleaners out. True story.

    I also get some foods there but not many. I especially buy their boxed chicken & beef broth. but I always check where they're made. Last time I looked, they were made in Canada. I'll take it. I dont buy anything food-wise that was made in China.. or if something only says "packaged in USA or Canada" but doesnt say where it originated, I wont buy it either.
    I get pretzel sticks there for M'honey.. They're cheaper there than anywhere else.

    My recent post Week 5 CSA

  16. Alex

    I absolutely love the dollar store! When my husband and I were first engaged and living in our new apartment I couldn't afford to decorate it. So every holiday our decorations came from there. I still have figurines from there I use in sets ups today! I do have to disagree with you about the food. Although some of the stuff may be smaller (name brand wise) If you check the expiration, the food is fine. Also, dollar tree and places like deals now accept manf. coupons, so you are getting that product for free. I love your post, glad you shared your ideas, I am going on a road trip in a week and using some of your ideas, Thanks!

  17. Megan

    The BEST deal on pregnancy tests are the Wondfo Pregnancy Test Strips from Amazon. Way less than a dollar each and amazingly accurate. So yes, if you're desperate to check THIS MINUTE absolutely head to the dollar store, but if you're in the process of trying to get pregnant stock up on the strips instead.

  18. funcheaporfree

    Great tip, thanks for sharing!

  19. Kelsey

    I know this is from a month ago, but I used to buy tons of those prego tests & the same exact ones are at walmart for $0.86 (ish)! When you're buying a ton, even 14 cents is a big deal, not even mentioning tax on them all! =]
    My recent post The Struggles It Takes..

  20. lovetruthpeace

    Great Tips…but I found your site to be slow to load and actually made my comp run high! Maybe due to all the ads or the heavy picture usage, not sure. Just wanted to pass it along. I'll stay to read some but probably not as often as I'd like 😉

  21. funcheaporfree

    I haven't had that feedback before, so thank you for passing it along!! I'll look into it.

  22. lISA

    Great post!!! I LOVE the Dollar Tree! I have to say, in regards to your comment about no returns or exchanges, I have never ever had a problem with exchanging items. They won’t give you your money back but even though it’s a dollar i hang onto all my receipts and wait til i have a bag full of things i didn’t need (exchanges) and do it all in one shot. Go back and get more things and the end price tag of course exceeds the amount of items i’ve brought back. But, OF COURSE!!

  23. Samantha

    Your right Jordan, I wouldn’t and don’t even tempt to buy the food there. But all that other stuff you talked about is right on! Thank you for this post! And ALL your wonderful tips in life

    • Joan Wood

      I will pick up a bag of truffles and they are delicious! For a dollar! There are about 9 or 10 in the bag. I especially like the white chocolate ones. What a bargain. They cost up to $6. at the grocery.

  24. Amy

    In the beauty supplies you can find everything from facemasks, pore strips and antiwrinkle gel patches. Even Acne meds, that are National Brand Equivilant. Buying this stuff at a store or even a boutique is not in the budget for most, but getting it at the dollar store, well… Beauty can be affordable for everyone.

  25. Marisa

    Our dollar tree has essie nail polish strips! I love those, they are awesome! The other makeup items I dont use because I have really sensitive skin, but wanted to mention you can use coupons at the dollar tree. Rubbermaid boxes are almost always free, and we almost always have coupons for them! We also buy our cokes there and candy before going to theaters and gum! Colgate wisps have gone up in price around me and I use them a lot so I buy them there but im sure it isnt something most people use! I love buying my son books and coloring books and toy cars, the puzzles we tried but the pieces dont fit together flat! We also buy paper plates(the colorful birthday ones in the 20pk) every week and the huge pack of disposable spoons every time we go, they have the cheapest plates of everyone and I think they are as good as chinet. Also their normal dishes arent bad either, just dont microwave them!! We buy our bleach and oven cleaner, holiday supplies, flashlights for the kids to playwith, and anything we want there, lol we go to the dollar tree at least twice a week because it is right next door anytimr we need anything

    • FunCheapOrFree

      All great suggestions! thanks for sharing XOXO

  26. Linda

    I love the Dollar Tree store and one is opening right next door to my other favorite store Goodwill. The one thing to not buy at the dollar stores is chalk. We had an old house and had to have it checked for lead and the inspector said to only buy Crayola brand chalk because most others have or might have lead in it. I always read the labels on the food products that I buy at Dollar Tree. I always check the sold on TV items too.

  27. Fancy's Momma

    Also… Pet Accessories! They’ve got harnesses, leashes, collars, food dishes, toys, treats, doggy bags, wipes, kitty litter and yes even food if you aren’t picky. My dog actually loves Cesar Soft Dog food, so we mix it with her name brand kibble to get her to eat more otherwise she’d be seriously underweight.

    Oh and Holiday decorations! You can make an awesome valentines or Easter basket with a bunch of stuff in it for super cheap. I do this for prizes at my work.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      AMEN!!! My dog (120 lb) is way too big for dollar store stuff, but for smaller dogs it’s perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  28. Ney

    I recently created a meal plan for $10 for one week of meals for one person from dollar tree. I would love to hear what everyone thinks of it. I posted it here –

  29. Klaw

    I usually find myself purchasing the dish scrub brushes on handles at my dollar tree..I dont know if its the best deal? However, it’s convenient to replace an old icky brush every once and a while 🙂

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Totally approve! The dollar store is a great place for scrub brushes.

  30. TJ

    I always shop at the dollar store. I buy my toothpaste and tooth brushes there. There is six of us and I can usually get a pack of toothbrushes for all of us for a $1. I buy all my kitchen utensils there. I just bought a potato pealer cause the one that I had broke. The one I got from the dollar store is Betty Crocker brand and it works great. Ialso did buy a bottle of Ibuprofen there because it was an emergency even though I usually get it at Rite Aid but I checked the expiration date and it was good. I have to say they actually work and we had no problems with it. Another thing that is good to get is stuff for your car like those trees you hang on your mirror.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Love all the tips, thanks for sharing! XO

  31. Portia Tebandeke

    This post was so helpful! We are expecting our first child this January, and I am planning to make up some freezer meals (in $1 store pans of course) so we won’t need to worry about dinner for awhile.


  32. Antonia

    I love the Dollar Tree, it does make shopping easy since you know how much you’re spending without a calculator. Some of the items are really great buys. However, I like to price check while I’m shopping at Walmart when I come across items I know I could get at the dollar store.
    A few things (ok maybe more than a few) I have found to be better price per unit at Walmart (at least in the Super Walmart in my area) or Sam’s Club, and never underestimate the power of clearance ☺.

    *certain cleaning supplies = these stores often have the same name brand or similar store brand things, so do the math
    **pregnancy tests = 88 cents at Walmart
    **round laundry baskets = 97 cents at Walmart, the others you mentioned I would go to Dollar Tree
    *wood clothespins = 50pk for 97cents at Walmart vs 36/$1 at Dollar Tree
    *clotheslines = wayyy better quality at Walmart for only a few dollars, my Dollar one snapped while hanging sheets because it got wet previously and then dried out in the sun, save yourself the hassle
    *spray bottles = 94-97cents AND better spray action at Walmart, The Bottle Crew brand or check the gardening section for “misters”
    **foil pans = Sams Club – 30pk half size steam table trays (just the bottom) comes to 21 cents each tray!!
    *food storage = I’m talking plastic bags, foil, parchment, plastic wrap, etc. – Sams Club, it lasts forever AND is a better price value
    *wide neck plastic water bottles = I got mine last year for 88cents, Walmart and it’s BPA free #2 recyclable hand wash only
    *SOME NOT ALL small toys like animal figures or party favors = Walmart party favor section, they’re often physically smaller (animals) but you can get more items per bag without a major price increase – definitely do the math on this one.
    *cooking utensils = depending what you need, Walmart often has bare-bones-basic items for 88cents (4pk wooden spoons, 2pk whisks, potato masher, measuring cups, etc)

    It took me MANY Walmart trips to figure this out, and I ALWAYS bust out my calculator to price compare in store. Just in case anyone does not know “the math”, first compare same or similar things, (i.e.- wood vs wood clothespins, not wood vs plastic). Figure out the price per unit (ounces, square feet, per piece, etc.) by calculating selling price divided by unit number.

    ex: wood clothespins
    Dollar Tree: $1 ÷ 36 pins = .02777…
    Walmart: 97 cent ÷ 50 pins = .0194
    so if you round it up like the store would: 3 cents vs 2 cents

    Not an ENORMOUS difference, but the saying is “a penny save is a penny earned”
    The only time that this gets complicated is if you look at two things but they are different units, like oz to lb ( -_- *sigh* usually happens with food or detergents) so you have to convert into the same unit FIRST, then you can do the above math.

    Sorry for the long comment or if someone already covered this, I couldn’t read all the comments since the page was lagging.

  33. Ebert

    Actually, sometimes they have great electronic and electronics accessories. Sometimes even the exact same ones expensive stores have. From cellphone chargers, cellphone covers, to led flash lights and usb cables etc.

  34. Liz

    Tuna. I used to get it here (after checking expiration date) until I saw it at grocery store for .89.

    Clorox. Buy it all the time. Doesn’t seem diluted

    Dog harness. Love them as the design goes around legs and not neck.

    Kitchen scissors. (Not craft scissors) are strong. Use them for deadheading in the garden. Love them.

    School supplies. Some comments are negative about these but I buy them all the time.

  35. Frances

    Dog Poop bags!!!! 80 for $1 best deal I’ve found for those of us who actually pick up after our pets….

  36. Jessica

    I used to work at dollar tree and they paid us minimum wage. We had to get out as much stock as possible. That may be how they make profit.

    I agree with you.
    You can buy a bottle of code red Mountain Dew for cheap. I love that.
    I buy my toothbrush there but not toothpaste because toothpaste from dollar stores had a harmful ingredient in it apparently (that’s what my dad told me).
    The candy is very well priced and delicious depending on what you buy.
    Pens/pencils are excellent deals. I use them for college.
    Batteries are good to buy there for kids toys. Nobody mentioned batteries but that’s a very big seller. Especially when we had power outages. Same with candles.

    Not recommended
    -toothpaste or mouthwash because of harmful ingredients.
    – certain makeup: talc just don’t agree with my skin or cheaper foundations. The eyeliner smears too easily

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Love your feedback!

  37. Jenny

    My dad buys his reading glasses there since he is always losing or breaking them. I buy sunglasses there for the same reason.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      So smart!

  38. Michael Mitchell

    I can say if it wasn’t for the Dallortree i would not be able to survive i live to pay my mortage first and then my utils then i have $30 to buy groceries and i go to the Dallortree to buy my food I’m on SSI thank you for the food and drink mix that you offer your store is the best THANY YOU..

    • FunCheapOrFree

      So glad this helped you!

  39. Enrique Johnsonbaughsonsir

    Glassware at Dollar Tree is amazing!!! I get all of my wine, beer, etc glasses from their and they are great!

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Yes! They don’t disappoint with it comes to glassware.

  40. Debbie

    Milk. I buy those red cartons of milk. Keep them in the pantry until you need them. Lasts close to 3 weeks in the refrigerator after opening. Great for cereal or baking.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      That’s such a great idea!

  41. Gigi

    At my Dollar Tree they DO exchange but no refunds— I don’t need receipt

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Oh, that’s great!

  42. Phyllis Monroe

    I buy note cards in the dollar store. They are often from big name companies and just as pretty as the ones sold in stationery stores. I used to make them but found the dollar store packs were much cheaper and come with envelopes, too.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      That’s such a good idea, thanks for sharing!!!

  43. Dave

    Small tools, screwdrivers etc. Also cheap detergent to wash my clothes that I use in the yard.

  44. Pharmacist

    Medications (NOT the vitamins/herbs) are regulated by the FDA and have the same standards as those sold elsewhere in the U.S. (Same with the diagnostic tests (ex: pregnancy tests- but they sometimes cannot detect an *extremely* early pregnancy because not sensitive enough). Get the generic ones, especially when they have “bonus” packs (60 pills/bottle instead of 50) and they’re only 1.67 cents per tablet (acetaminophen, ibuprofen). Skip brand name and some of the antihistamines (unless you’re like me and don’t use them often), because they aren’t as good a deal as Costco (loratadine is so cheap, esp on sale). The hydrocortisone, diphenhydramine creams are an incredible value, too.

  45. Ashley Harris

    I enjoyed the article but I disagree about the medications. I have and currently do purchase the advil 6 pack and the allegry pills (pink) and they work perfectly. I have really bad allergy sinuses and I pop 2 allergy pills and within 30 minutes I can feel the itching and burning stop. The active ingredient is most important if it has the same one as the name brand then Im all in. The bandages are great too and in all sizes. If you havent tried the hydrocortizone cream you have too, it’s a must!

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Oh, that’s good to know! Thanks for those suggestions! 🙂

  46. E D

    Two of the most items I purchase are batteries & all my birthday, sympathy & holiday cards. The cards are 2 for $1 so you can’t beat that price anywhere!!! The batteries last just as long as expensive batteries.

    • Jessica

      Those are great ones to get from there!

  47. Diana

    I’ve bought the tweezers on a couple of different times. Don’t waste your money. They are not any good.

  48. Joan Polo

    I LOVE the Dollar Tree.. I go at least 2 or 3 times a month. I have so many nieces,nephews, grandchilden & great grandchildren it’s so much easier if I can get More Items with multi things in them. Like 4 decks of playing cards, or 4 boxes of crayons, then I buy the coloring books too, nail polish is great, soaps,tissues,papertowels, dishes, cups, love the aluminum cooking pans, they normally cost about $2.95 in the bigger stores. the wrapping paper & Gift bags, Hallmark cards $.50 each , they also have $1.00 ones. I LOVE THIS STORE.. all cleaning supplies worth it. I have a list I carry all the time. Love the coffee,oil,olives,canned goods. ramin noodles (4 in a pack) instead of 1 for $2.00 in the other stores. love,love,love. Great place to shop. Kids love to shop here. I always brought my 5 grandchildren when they were little to do their Christmas shopping,gave them $6.00 each, the gifts they bought will stay in my Memories forever.. So Precious… they are all now ages 27 to 31… still talking about Shopping with Grandma for Christmas, then wrapping their gifts by themselves, then making pizzas, milk shakes. popcorn & movies… all from the Dollar tree.. My favoret store for Multi less expensive Items..

  49. Kelly Dowdy

    Hey Jordan, love reading your blog so I wanted to jump on and clarify one thing about the return policy for Dollar Tree, WE DO TAKE ITEMS BACK FOR EXCHANGE! Anything you purchase in store or online can be exchanged in store for another item.
    Hope that helps you out when you find that next item your not sure about, because you can exchange it if you are not happy with it. 😃 😉

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Oh that’s so awesome, thanks for sharing! There’s nothing more annoying than not being able to take something back to a store, so I’m pumped to hear this! 🙂

  50. Emily

    Love the $ store! I love there more card. I’m a sucker for the blank ones, thank you cards. They always have fun designs to choose from. I like the ziplock too.

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      It’s the best, right?!

  51. Jenni Gill

    This is a great idea to share your blogs with us because your Article helps us to learn so many things through your blogs. Thank you so much admin for uploading such amazing content with us your blog is really helpful for me. wish you all the best for upcoming comments.

  52. the sleepy sloth type of person

    Thanks for the info and because of your cool style I was actually interested and didn’t fall asleep in the first 7 sentences

    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Thank you for sharing your feedback. That is very kind of you to say!

  53. ArkieMomof2Girls

    Found out about baby #2 with a Dollar Tree pregnancy test…right here! I will say this. I did buy some of their sinus medication b/c well at the time all I had was $1 lol. I rarely take it so it will last me quite a while and it worked incredibly well. I homeschool so I buy TONS of school stuff there and it’s just as good if not better than things at wal-mart or Target.

  54. Mellox

    Looks like the comments are still going on 10 years later.
    Only major difference is now the dollar stores are more $1.25 adjusting for inflation.
    I work for an amusement park as the head custodian.
    During the off season, I usually use dollar tree products because I don’t have much to clean once it’s winterized but also I can get the SDS sheets for them too.


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