Just because it’s called a “dollar store” doesn’t mean you have to pay that much for everything you buy there.
Some of the same money-saving moves that help you avoid paying full price elsewhere also work at major dollar-store chains like Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar. They sometimes also work at other dollar stores.
Following are our top tips for paying less than a buck for dollar-store purchases — and for simply shopping smarter at these bargain havens.
1. Compare unit prices
Dollar stores are full of true bargains, as we detail in “21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store.” But that doesn’t mean everything priced at $1 is a deal.
So, don’t limit your comparison shopping to online purchases or grocery-store items. Compare unit prices even at the dollar store. Determining what an item costs per ounce, for example, is generally the only way to determine whether it’s cheaper at the dollar store or somewhere else.
If you’re allergic to doing math, at least review “The 7 Worst Things You Can Buy at a Dollar Store.”
2. Earn cash back at the store
There are two ways to get cash back on dollar-store purchases. You can take your pick, or take advantage of both during a single transaction:
Ibotta is a free app for Android and Apple devices that enables you to earn cash rebates on purchases — not just online, but also at many brick-and-mortar stores. Those stores include Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.
If you’re new to Ibotta, sign up for an account and download the app. To see what cash rebates Ibotta is currently offering for purchases from those three dollar stores, launch the app and select a chain from the list of retailers.
3. Shop online
Want to save time and gas, too? Shop the dollar store online.
Even better, you can earn cash back on purchases from their websites. Just go through a free cash-back portal like Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates).
To learn more about how cash-back portals work, check out “3 Websites That Pay You for Shopping.”
4. Use manufacturer coupons
Why, yes, you can use coupons at the dollar store. In fact, you can use coupons to get stuff for free there if you know the trick we reported on in “The Secret to Getting Dollar Store Items for Free.”
So, it pays to know the coupon policies of any chains you frequent.
Manufacturer coupons are coupons issued by product manufacturers. You can often find them in newspapers or mail inserts. For more options, check out “6 Free Sources of Manufacturer Coupons You Can Find Online.”
5. Use store coupons
Dollar General requires you to sign up for a free online account to access its coupons online, but I often receive mail inserts with coupons from the chain.
You will also find store coupons on the apps of both Dollar General and Family Dollar, as we explain further in tip No. 7.
6. Stack coupons
To step up your savings, stack up coupons — that is, apply more than one coupon to a single item. We detail this practice in “6 Stores That Allow Coupon Stacking.”
For example, Dollar General allows you to apply one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon to the same item.
7. Get connected
Not into clipping coupons? Not to worry. Savings will always be a click away if you download your favorite chains’ apps to your smartphone.
Your options include the:
- Dollar General app: available for Android and Apple devices
- Family Dollar app: available for Android and Apple devices
Alternatively, you could just sign up to receive a retailer’s offers by email. You’ll find an email sign-up option on the home page of all three chains mentioned in this article.
What’s your best advice for saving money at the dollar store? Share it with us by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.
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