When is a Deal not a Deal at the dollar store or pound shop?

Dollar Store: Deal or No Deal?

Is the Pound Shop a bargain every time?

Everyone loves to get something at a discount.

I totally love a bargain, to the point where sometimes it’s difficult to walk away from all the bargains.

I mean, who doesn’t seriously L-O-V-E a good deal?

However, one thing we all need to learn is how to discern if a deal really is the good bargain it seems to be.

It might only be one pound or one dollar, but it’s still your hard earned money so you want to be spending it wisely every time.

A good deal has to actually be a good deal.

If you like to shop at a dollar store or pound shop you might be making the mistake of assuming any item for a dollar/pound is a good deal.

The problem is this might not be true.

Here are a few tips to review before your next trip to the dollar store to make sure you are getting the real deals that are offered.

Make a List

How many times have you run into a dollar store to pick up a couple of items and $29 later, you come out, hands full, with stuff you never intended to buy?

You need a list of items to buy so you can avoid mindless shopping and blowing your budget on items you just don’t need!

It’s worthwhile keeping a running list of the items you need and know you can get cheapest in these stores.

Because often these stores are in locations you don’t necessarily walk or drive past.

Save fuel when you do a big shop less often than many little visits.

You’re less likely to overspend if you go armed with a longer list – less browsing, more time completing your list.

woman holding a notebook and pen in a grocery store

Items to include on your list

• Office supplies
• Art/School project supplies
• Books
• Cleaning supplies
• Home Décor
• Party Décor
• Small Door Prizes
• Stocking Stuffers

The dollar store and pound shop can be brilliant places to find arts and craft stuff for young kids at a very cheap price.

This is one thing I will always go to these stores for because they have a range of cheap bits that I can grab a few items for when my grandbabies visit.

Party décor is another great buy.

Kids parties cost enough when you factor in activities, cakes and food so saving a few pounds on décor means you can afford to decorate a little.

Items that you need to price check first

• Girly gifts (bath & body lotion, wash, pretty scented items)
• Beauty Products (shampoo, soap, hair accessories, hair spray, cotton swabs, toothpaste)
• Batteries

If you are after a particular branded product than the dollar store or pound shop might have it cheaper than elsewhere.

But branded products are very often on a deal in your grocery store for less than £1/$1.

Or the size is so small that pound for pound you get more for your money buying a bigger size elsewhere.

Batteries are something you need to test out and find which ones work for the electronic items you need.

All batteries are not the same.

I’m not saying go branded (I’m a generic girl at heart) but you do want your batteries to do what you want them to do and last longer than a few days.

woman packing toys into a box

What should Not be on your list

• Medicine
• Toys
• Plastic Wrap
• Paper products like paper plates, cups, toilet paper

The main reason not to buy certain items from the dollar store or pound shop is down to quantity and quality issues.

Paper products are wafer thin, as is the toilet paper!

And I find I can get generic branded medicines cheaper in my grocery store.

More in the packet for less cash – it’s a no-brainer really.

No Food

Something else you should not have on your list is any food item you have not priced out beforehand. (A price book is extremely handy here).

A can of vegetables seems like a great buy- it’s just a $1, right?

But had you shopped at your grocery store, you could have gotten them for .50 cents or less, sale or no sale.

Especially when you focus on buying the generic or value brands.

You are buying generic brands aren’t you??

Another great example of this is meat.

My local pound shop sells bacon, ham, turkey, etc. for £1.

But check the unit price (price per kg) and it works out more expensive than Aldi, Lidl or ASDA Walmart.


Being the bargain hunter that I am, I’ve price matched my local pound shop to Aldi and Lidl for almost every single food item the pound shop sells.

Both Aldi and Lidl beat them for the overall price (less than £1) AND the price per kg (unit price).

So no, do not buy food there. It’s not a bargain.

These posts will help you to reduce your grocery bill:

My 5 Minute Grocery Store Hack That Will Save You Money

How To Reduce Your Grocery Bill: 10 Steps To Cut Right Back

When Money Is Tight, How to Enjoy A $35/£30 Grocery Budget For 2

woman using calculator while holding money notes

Making Sure its a deal

Again, any item that you have not calculated at a comparable price at another store should not be bought at the dollar store.

Chances are you will be overpaying.

The other thing to think about is the quality of the item you are buying.

Sometimes there is a reason something is really cheap. And this makes it a reason not to buy.

I am sure you hate buying ‘cheap’ things that feel cheap, look cheap and just are cheap.

When you are looking for dollar store or pound shop bargains, you want a bargain, not something just because it’s cheap.

There are plenty of bargains to be had and you can still spend too much on the bargains you do buy.

Just make sure they are true bargains eh?

Related post: How To Be Frugal Without Being Cheap

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Last Updated on 27th October 2020 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

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