For most people, the world financial crisis has been a wake-up call. In today’s financial landscape, people need to be more frugal, more goal conscious and more financially literate.
There is no doubt that Americans have changed the way we shop and plan our household budgets. In fact, who would have ever imagined that retail outlets which feature dollar items would be among the fastest growing industries in the country? Forbes wrote about dollar stores: “In retail, cheap is the way to go. Stores that sell stuff for less than a buck are tearing it up.”
Dollar item stores are popping up all over the nation, and are now offering more and more products at dramatically reduced prices. How can you be sure if it is a value or whether such products should be avoided like the plague?
If you are trying to Win The Money Game, here is my take on separating the myths from the truth when it comes to dollar store items.
What You SHOULD Buy from a Dollar Store:
Household cleaners - Generally, household cleaners all include like ingredients. Just be sure that the package is not damaged or otherwise a hazard to have around the home. These items can add up to dramatic savings in the long run.
School Supplies - A pencil is a pencil and crayons are crayons. With the rising cost of after-school programs, lunches and field trips, why not get everything you can for homework from the dollar store. The teacher may require brand name items for the in-classroom pencil box, but crayons, paper, glue and markers purchased from the dollar store and used for homework and special assignments will hardly be noticed and can save you a bundle.
Office Supplies - Like school supplies, who is going to know the difference between a black Bic and a pen made in an undeveloped country for a fraction of the cost? You may not have many office supply options from the dollar store, but getting whatever you can there will only lead to overhead reductions.
Home and Office Accessories - Oftentimes, dollar stores have a nice selection of plastic flowers, nick-knacks, decorative candles and other items. You may not achieve the designer look of a celebrity’s home or a Wall Street office, but you may be pleasantly surprised regarding the items that you find, which can be a great accent to your home or office. Just insure that there are no hazardous edges or weak hanging mechanisms that could be dangerous to guests or employees.
What NOT to Buy from a Dollar Store:
Off-Brand Food – Especially if you don’t recognize the brand, don’t buy generic food at the dollar store. Off-brand foods sold in dollar stores could come from unregulated nations which don’t adhere to the same manufacturing standards as the United States. Brand name items may be beyond their expiration date or be discontinued items. It just may not be worth the gamble. Always check the dates on food and candy from the dollar store.
Power Cords - Chances are you will not recognize the brand name of extension cords that sell for a dollar. That is because in order to sell a 6 foot extension cord for a dollar, the seller must seek the most inexpensive manufacturer available. These cords do not always meet the UL rating and can be made with inferior wiring and insulation, which could lead to a fire risk.
Electronics and Batteries – It is very easy to be tempted to buy a 6 pack of AA batteries for a dollar. Just be sure you are careful where you use them. Cheaply manufactured batteries can lead to gadget malfunctions. They may be very old or made with inferior products, which could lead to leakage and potentially harm your electronic devices or expose you to toxic substances.
Children’s Toys – It may seem like a bargain to get a small toy for just a buck. However, do so with caution. Toys manufactured for these price points are often made in unregulated and sometimes dangerous conditions with little supervision or care to quality. They may contain lead and other harmful compounds as well as loose and malfunctioning parts that may not be healthy for your children.
In my book Winning the Money Game: Separating The Myths From The Truth, I examine 9 myths about achieving financial independence, from your biggest investments to taxes, and everything in between. I hope in some small way this blog has also dispelled some myths and helped you along in your quest to Win The Money Game.