It’s commonly said that a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. Even some of the businesses dubbed “dollar stores” now sell pricier items. And now McDonald’s Dollar Menu is called the “$1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu.”
And have you priced “penny candy” lately? You’re going to need more than one copper-colored Abraham Lincoln coin to satiate your sweet tooth.
And yet, it’s surprising and somewhat comforting that there are still plenty of things 100 pennies can buy. From greeting cards to music, it’s satisfying to do a little shopping without breaking the bank.
Here’s a look at just a few things you can purchase for just one George Washington. Some cost even less.
1. Holiday decor and party favors
As the new name suggests, not everything costs $1, but you can find plenty. The One Spot especially good for finding seasonal decorative items and small toys that make perfect kids’ party favors.
Check out “21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store.”
2. Greeting cards
You can surely find dollar-priced greeting cards at dollar stores, but you might be surprised to learn that there’s another good place to find them.
Trader Joe’s, the trendy grocery store chain, offers artist-designed greeting cards for just $0.99.
3. E-books for Amazon Kindle
You don’t need a Kindle e-reader to read Kindle e-books from Amazon. Just download the free Kindle app and read Kindle e-books on your smartphone or computer. We explain further in “This Trick Lets You Read E-Books Without an E-Reader.”
Once you’ve done that, you can buy all kinds of Kindle books. But if you want to stick to our one-dollar challenge, check out Amazon's ever-changing selection of 99-cent Kindle books. Many are free, and you’ll find plenty to read, from thrillers to romances to science fiction.
4. Scratch-off lottery ticket
What’s the price to dream? Some lottery tickets have gotten complicated and pricey: You may be required to scratch off spaces in a crossword-puzzle format or try to match numbers while following a maze. And scratch-offs can cost as much as $10.
But if you look — options vary by state — you can still find the $1 scratchers. Here’s hoping you’ll win big.
5. Makeup brushes
The Wet n Wild brand offers some of the most inexpensive makeup products around. They’re found at various chains, including Walgreens and Target. Some of the items cost a few bucks or more, but at some stores, you can always find a couple of Wet n Wild products that sell for $0.99.
Walgreens.com has several Wet n Wild items at that price, including lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow and a pencil sharpener.
6. McDonald’s food
Popular fast-food chain McDonald’s has expanded its dollar menu, making it a “$1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu,” but there are plenty of products for just a buck.
Exact offerings vary by location, but they may include coffee and soft drinks, small sandwiches and sausage burritos.
7. Taco Bell food
Mexican fast-food chain Taco Bell has long been known for low prices and late-night hours.
Order from the restaurant’s Value Menu if you want to stick to the $1 offerings, which may include simple nachos, a chicken chipotle melt, cheesy bean-and-rice burritos, beef burritos and cinnamon twists.
8. Four movies from Disney Movie Club
Yes, you’ve seen a lot of headlines lately about Disney Plus, the new streaming service from the House of the Mouse. But for those who prefer physical movies, you can join the Disney Movie Club to receive four Disney films (DVD or Blu-ray) for $1 total.
(The fine print: You’ll have to agree to buy a minimum number of additional movies at the regular price, plus shipping and processing charges.)
9. Dorm or first-apartment essentials
Next time you’re helping a friend or relative move into their first place, take a detour to a dollar store to load up on necessities.
On a recent trip there, we found everything from cleaning supplies (cleanser, rubber gloves) and light bulbs to shower caddies and food-storage containers. Perfect for setting up a new home.
10. Sample stickers
You can scoop up a sample pack of sticky goodies for just a dollar at Sticker Mule, a custom sticker company.
The pack doesn’t just include stickers. It also has magnets and labels. Shipping is free.
11. Baking bargains
Have some baking to do? Dollar stores are great places to stock up on pantry staples you can use to bake cookies, cakes and pies for party guests.
We spotted a variety of baking goods for $1, including flour, frosting, baking mixes and seasonings (including vanilla).
12. Coin purses
Need a small coin purse to carry change, emergency Band-Aids or any number of small items? A search for “women's purses and pouches” on Amazon turns up a fun selection of little coin purses for fun gifts or birthday party favors. Use the “sort” menu in the upper right of the page to arrange results from lowest-to-highest-priced.
Remember, though: Shipping adds a couple of bucks.
These are a neat reminder of the purse Grandma used to take her coins to the neighborhood garage sale.
13. Baby paraphernalia
Is a new baby coming into your life? Sure, you probably want to spend more than $1 on your main baby-shower gift, but you can add in some inexpensive extras to help get the new parents off to a pampered start.
Dollar store offerings will vary, but look for such goodies as rattles, gel teething toys, bibs and booties for $1.
14. Wedding supplies
You can easily spend thousands on a luxe wedding, but the knot will be tied just as solidly if you keep the cash for your honeymoon or a home down payment.
Oriental Trading, a party and crafts supplier, has a selection of wedding supplies for $1 or even less. Some of the clearance items we spotted: elegant cellophane bags for favors, colorful chair decorations and luggage tags, for the honeymoon.
With so many online publications trying to lure readers, print magazines are willing to cut some amazing deals.
For more options, check out “4 Ways to Read Magazines for Free or Cheap.”
16. Custom bookmarks
For a personalized and meaningful gift, put your favorite photo or your child’s artwork on a custom bookmark from NextDayFlyers.
You can’t buy just one, but if you’re willing to splurge on the minimum order of 25 for $12.95, these coated, colorful, 2-inch-by-6-inch bookmarks cost as little as $0.52 each. That includes shipping.
17. Dollhouse miniatures
If someone in your life has a dollhouse that they keep better stocked than a real home, do some online shopping for miniatures at Factory Direct Craft. Plenty of tiny creations there sell for $1 or less.
Once you stumble down the rabbit hole of jewelry-making, you’ll learn what an addictive hobby it can be.
You can pay a lot to keep your materials stocked, or you can check out DollarBead, which offers a dazzling array of colorful beads for $1 or less. Glass beads, gemstone-style beads and many others were among the rainbow of offerings when we checked.
19. First-day covers
A “first-day cover” is a collectible from the U.S. Postal Service. These covers feature a commemorative postage stamp that has been canceled on the first date the stamp was issued.
If you or someone you care for would appreciate the sentiment featured on a certain stamp, a first-day cover makes a historic keepsake or frame-worthy work of art.
The USPS sells several for $0.99. Go to First-Day Covers at store.USPS.com and sort by low-to-high price.
20. Wrapping ribbon
Check your local dollar store for rolls of wrapping ribbon.
Colorful ribbon can put the finishing touch on a wrapped present, or it can just hang out in your craft bin until you need to decorate a picture frame, jazz up a school project or create a ponytail accessory.
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