Splurge v. Steal: Deal$ v. The Dollar Tree

I cannot convey my excitement over this post! The battle of the super-discount stores!!! Oh, how I love to shop them!

Have you ever had the satisfaction of buying a twelve pack of razors....for a dollar? Or Splenda....for a dollar? Have you ever bought tortillas, pasta sauce, steak sauce, salt, pepper, cereal, a best selling book, all of your Halloween candy, a birthday card for your grandma, a pregnancy test (I have never needed the pregnancy test, but the Dollar Tree does sell them), batteries, Tupperware, a trash can, bleach, dishwasher detergent, a two-liter of soda, dishes, towels, toys, BPA-free baby bottles, flip-flops, acetone, printer paper, dog food, and cat litter....for a dollar? A DOLLAR!

Slowly, over the past two years, I have replaced almost all of my discount store shopping with the Dollar Tree. I hate nothing more than walking out of Walmart (Target is beyond my resources right now), $50 lighter with little more than toilet paper, a tooth brush, paper towels, deodorant, shampoo, and a quart of milk. Yes, I went to Walmart for a client last week, and that's what it cost me for those items! Those items would have cost me $6 at the Dollar Tree, my dollar discounter of choice. How often do you head out to Walmart (or heaven forbid, Target, stop that right now, I'm in debt, so you can't afford it ;))? What could you do with $44 extra per week?

Today, I'm comparing my least and most favorite super-discounters to show you how much you can save when you work keep every penny in your pocket. It's rough out there, people, and you are probably reading this because you are in debt (It might also be because you know me. In that case: thanks, loves you, too!) or cheap as hell (ah-hem, I mean "thrifty"). Whatever the reason, there are two pitfalls to avoid when shopping at a super-discount store: 1.) outrageous price mark-up, 2.) poor quality.

Deal$ v. The Dollar Tree: Outrageous Price Mark-up

Deal$ is NOT a dollar store, and it is not a deal. Everything at Deals costs about three times what it costs at Dollar Tree. Deals prices range from $1-$10, with most products costing about $3.50. Outrageous! According to this week's circular, a person may buy a two pack of Noxzema brand razors with three blades for $3.50 each, but I purchased the same two pack at the Dollar Tree this week for $1. That's a price increase of 350%; like I said, not a deal.

Second example: Deal$ is selling 60oz (about 38 loads) of All detergent for $5 this week. Dollar Tree is selling 42oz (about 21 loads) of of laundry detergent for $1. Per load price: Deal$=$0.13; Dollar Tree=$0.04.

Final Argument: Most items that cost $1 at Deal$ (i.e. VO5 Shampoo and Conditioner and Kleenex 110-ct boxes) are always $1 at Dollar Tree. Why waste time and gas going to Deal$ when you have so many more $1 items to choose from at the Dollar Tree?

Deal$ v. The Dollar Tree: Poor Quality The only negative aspect to the Dollar Tree can be questionable taste and texture quality of the spreadable food products and cosmetics. The peanut butter and spray cheese are...gelatinous, probably in an effort to extend shelf life. I wouldn't purchase any eye makeup or nail polish there, either. The mascara was so old, it had a dry consistency and smelled chemically, and the nail polish didn't harden...ever.

If I still haven't sold you on the Dollar Tree, or even on Deal$, just try it for a month. Or even a week or two. Just try replacing one trip to Walmart or Target with one trip to the dollar store. You will be amazed at the difference in your monthly budget.

Here's how you do it: go in with a list, get what you need, and get out...fast. Don't spend more than $20, that's twenty items, you don't need more than twenty items. You don't need to stock-up, either, because the product is going to be the same price next week as it was this week.

Sales and stocking-up don't save you money if you spend more than you intended.STOCKING-UP WHILE ITEMS ARE ON SALE NEVER SAVES YOU MONEY IN THE LONG RUN. While you are "stocking-up" on things you "need" you are actually spending more than you budgeted. If you were getting the better deal, retailers would NEVER put ANYTHING on SALE...ever. I worked in retail for ten years, I know. Retailers do not start losing money until a price is marked below 50%, that's on average, the real cost to them could be much lower.

If you are consistently walking out of Target $150 or more lighter (and I'm not talking about people with eight newborns or other extreme situations), there is something wrong with your impulse control when you get inside that store, and a change of scenery might just be what the doctor ordered. So try the Dollar Tree, and happy shopping! Here's to a great Steal!

Claire F. came from intergenerational debt and is transitioning into wealth. She lives by the motto: Life is easy when there is buck in the bank and a boy in the bed! Follow her at Buck in the Bank.

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