Guys. Vegas has an AMAZING selection of discount stores. I have long been a patron of stores like Ross, Big Lots, and 99 Cents Only, but I have never seen the variety and quantity that is found in the Las Vegas Valley. I’m in savings heaven.

If you are not familiar with discount stores, here’s the lowdown:  You can buy lesser quality, used, out-of-season, damaged, or less popular items for a fraction of the cost you would spend for their full retail price counterparts.

That doesn’t make them sound super appealing, but that is generally what you will find in a discount store.  There is usually a reason the item is discounted.

The beauty is, if you are not a design forecaster or a gourmet chef, the popularity or quality may not be as important to you. It probably doesn’t matter to you if you are buying a shirt in February that was from a fall line, or that your spatula can’t take temperatures up to 1000 degrees.

Those things aren’t the highest on my priority list, so I love the deals that I can find at discount stores.  Besides my weekly grocery store visits and an occasional trip to IKEA, Target, or Walmart, we have been shopping almost exclusively at these stores.

think know that this has saved us a ton of money.

When we moved back to the States, we had to buy EVERYTHING again for our apartment. We easily could have spent hundreds of dollars stocking our kitchen, bath, tool chest, etc.

But we have purchased pretty much everything at a discount, saving us hundreds of dollars.

I can’t deny that discount stores are terrific places to shop.  And I’m definitely not going to tell anyone not to shop at these places, least of all myself.

However…I do want to outline some of the ways in which shopping “discount” may actually be hurting your finances.

Here are some things to consider before you walk into a discount store:

You often get what you pay for

A lot of the stuff at discount stores is subpar quality. Obviously, a spatula from the dollar store will be more apt to melt or destroy your pan than a pricey $10 OXO spatula.  I personally like to run the risk to save $9.  And sure, Dollar Trees Whales don’t taste as good as real Goldfish, but they are close enough to satisfy my craving and save me $3-4 to boot.

Items are made to be disposable

I’m not an ultra environmentalist, but I do think it’s important that our society calms down with all the disposable crap. I don’t like to buy things with the thought that I’ll just throw it away next year when it stops working for me and buy a new one. But most things at the dollar store are made to be disposable.

I combat this by wearing something out (usually after many, many years), then selling it, donating it, or recycling it.

Things are not always cheaper

These stores often trick us with their discount reputation. You may think that $1 for a can of diced tomatoes is great, until you realize that your grocery store has them on sale every other week for 2/$1.  Just because something is at a discount store, doesn’t mean it won’t be cheaper at a regular store.

Just because it’s cheaper, doesn’t mean you need it

I usually don’t have a problem with impulse buying…until I walk into a dollar store, Ross, or the Target dollar section (hey, we’ve all been there). It’s hard to pass up something you’re “pretty sure” you’ll use, if it only costs a dollar.  Next thing you know, you’ve got 20 items, when you only went in for 3.  I went over my grocery and home supplies budgets last month largely for this reason.

So while I’m a huge advocate for saving any money you can, I will admit that there are times when you should probably avoid the discount stores.  But let’s end on a positive note, since these are my favorite stores, after all.

Here’s a list of things that you should skip over at the grocery or big box stores, and buy at the dollar store:

Spices – If you are paying $3+ for each spice you bring home, you need to change your ways and get to a dollar store.
Frosting and cake mixes – They even often have name-brands!  Unless these items still go on sale for less than a dollar in your area, you’re better off getting them from the dollar store.
Cheap food storage or organizing bins – I store all of my pantry dry goods in cheap plasticware I got from the dollar store.
Cheap hardware, tools, and supplies for small or one time projects – Using a $1 hammer to hang a few pictures will work just fine.
Frozen pizzas – I love those crappy Celeste brand frozen personal pizzas.  Since they now only go on sale for 4/$5.00 at the grocery store, I will gladly get them from the dollar store instead.
Crackers and other snacks – Grocery store snacks are expensive!  Try the dollar store brand instead and feel less guilty when you snack.
Toothbrushes and toothpaste – We are not overly picky about the brand of toothbrushes and toothpaste.  As long as they get the job done, which they do, I’ll happily get them from the dollar store. *Note – sometimes these do go on sale at the grocery store for $1 or less*
Hand soap and bar soap – Again, I’m not picky, so I always get my soap from the dollar store.
Gift wrap, party supplies, and greeting cards – You can easily spend quadruple the price on these items at other stores.  Why not keep party expenses low by using dollar store items?
Cleaners – I primarily clean with vinegar, baking soda, and bleach, and the dollar store has large quantities of those items for just $1.  However, other cleaners at the dollar store are hit or miss.  Sometimes you may get a Comet brand toilet cleaner and think you hit the jackpot, only to find that it is basically water (guilty) and other times you find a fabric freshener that you like better than pricey Febreze (happily guilty).

Be a smart shopper when shopping discount.  As long as you know what you’re in for and don’t get carried away, these stores can save you a lot of money over the years.

What are your experiences with discount stores?

Do you love the value or hate the quality?

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