Many bargain hunters look for sales or clearance deals at the stores they normally visit, such as Target or Wal-Mart. But have you ever considered buying items from the dollar store?
Sure, dollar stores might tempt you into making impulse purchases -- which isn't a frugal activity. But if you can choose purchases wisely and stick to the items on your shopping list, dollar stores can be a mecca of savings. You can find bargains on these eight items at the dollar store.
1. Gift wrap and greeting cards
Why pay $4 for a single roll of wrapping paper when you can buy four times as many rolls for the same price? Stock up on gift wrap, ribbons, bows and labels at the dollar store, and keep these in a box or container at home so you'll always have a supply on hand when you need it. Dollar stores are also great places to purchase greeting cards, which often are two for $1 or even 3 for $1, depending on the store.
2. Holiday decorations and craft supplies
Not only will you find a variety of decorations for all occasions ranging from Valentine's Day to Christmas, you'll also find plenty of elements you can DIY into your own one-of-a-kind decorations, like centerpieces and wreaths. Shop at dollar stores for cotton balls, glue, glitter, felt, stickers and all types of fun crafts that you and your kids can enjoy.
If you're a serious crafter, go ahead and pay full price for professional supplies from a craft store. But for kids' crafts, you'll find plenty of glitter, glue, beads and more at a price that won't make you cringe when half of them wind up on the floor or stuck in someone's hair.
3. Party supplies
Cups, plates, napkins, utensils? Check. Balloons, streamers, favors and more? Check. You can get a whole lot more for your decorating budget at dollar stores, so drop by before you throw your child's next birthday party.
Supersaver secret: You don't need to pay the inflated prices at the candy bar stands near the checkout counter. At the dollar store, you'll find plenty of name-brand and generic candy to satisfy your sweet tooth.
5. Office supplies
You can find paper clips, Scotch tape, mailing labels, pens and pencils and even boxes of envelopes at many dollar stores -- giving you the ability to supply your home office at a low cost.
Want a matching set of plates, bowls and mugs? You don't need to spent a fortune on designer kitchenware -- dollar stores often sell these for $1 apiece, and many carry all the items in matching colors so you can purchase a matching set. (No, we're not talking about party supplies; we're referring to everyday kitchenware that you can use on a daily basis.) While you're there, pick up matching potholders, dish towels and an apron.
7. Picture frames
Here's a great gift idea for only $1: Purchase a picture frame at the dollar store, and fill it with momentos such as ticket stubs, notes, postcards, pages from playbills and other fun memories. Give this to someone as a treasured memory of the past year you've shared together.
You could also buy photo frames for your home. Multiple frames (like three in a row) can create a great art piece for the living room, bedroom or stairwell. Fill these with pictures or postcards and other art.
Your dollar store might not carry exotic spices such as turmeric, but there's a good chance that it has kitchen basics like salt, pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, parsley, basil and chili powder. At $1 each for a large container, it's hard to beat this deal.
Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 32 countries, runs a popular finance blog and is a successful real estate investor. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the groundswell of a rebellion against stodgy, uninspired financial advice. Afford Anything shows you how to create wealth and maximize life. Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.