Dollar Store: Deal or No Deal

I last posted about my Dollar Tree shopping trip the other day:

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It was a simple trip, only 9 items: 2 glasses of wine, a bottle of foot powder spray, a plastic soap saver dish, Blistex, Carmex, Vitamin C supplements, a splatter guard, and a two pack of ankle socks.

I left the dollar store feeling happy at the deals I got. It wasn’t until I got home that I felt a plagued by whether or not I was duped into a purchase because “Everything’s a Dollar!” so it must be a great deal, right?

And so I ventured to my local Target to seek out the exact same items and compare prices. The results were pretty surprising to me.

1. Foot powder spray. Yes, let’s start with the good ole’ foot stuff. I paid $1 for 3.5oz with the same 1% active ingredient. At Target:

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Target’s off brand sells it in 4oz bottles for $3.79. Which makes it 28 cents/ounce at Dollar Tree vs. 94 cents/ounce at Target. Savings by buying at Dollar Tree: $2.79.

Dollar Tree: 1          Target: 0

2. Vitamin C supplement drops. I paid $1 for a pack of 30 drops, each at 106mg of Vitamin C. That’s a little over 3 cents/drop. At Target:

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Target’s off brand Vitamin C drops sell for $2.04 for an 80 pack of drops. That ends up being about 2 and a half cents per drop. Savings by purchasing at Target: 62 cents, approximately.

Dollar Tree: 1          Target: 1

3. Soap saver. Make that bar last longer! Of course, it was $1 at Dollar Tree. At Target:

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1 cent cheaper is still cheaper. It’s worth noting that it’s the exact same soap saver in different packaging.

Dollar Tree: 1          Target: 2

4. Blistex lip balm. $1 for one Blistex lip balm stick at Dollar Tree. At Target:

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I didn’t see them for sale individually, but a 3pk is $3.04 which makes each one slightly more than $1.01. And so it goes…

Dollar Tree: 2          Target: 2

5. Splatter guard. In case you’re as unfamiliar with the concept as I was when I first heard about it, a splatter guard is just a convenient little wire mesh flat circle that you can place over a pan when pan frying food to help prevent oil from splashing all over and making a mess. I think it’s a little unnecessary but worth a $1 to give it a try. However, at Target, the only splatter guard for sale is this:

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A fancy schmancy one for $20 more than what I paid for mine. Of course mine is much lesser quality but it will get the job done for my infrequent frying needs. It’s tough to compare, given the huge difference in quality of product, but I say Dollar Tree wins this one for offering a cheap yet effective product at 20x less the price.

Dollar Tree: 3          Target: 2

6. Wine glasses. Having taken my Dollar Tree wine glasses for a test spin the other night, I can review with confidence that they are thick, weighted, and sturdy wine glasses. I’ll even bet that people would be surprised to learn that they’re dollar store material once they’ve handled them. Target had a pretty wide selection of cheap wine glasses:

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The above glasses seemed as close a comparison in quality as possible to the dollar store ones. These end up being $1.49/glass which isn’t bad. Alternatively, Target also offers $1 wine glasses:

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But they just feel so flimsy, lightweight, and cheaper quality that it just doesn’t seem fair to call it a draw. And so I’m giving this one to Dollar Tree for offering a better wine glass at a cheaper price.

Dollar Tree: 4           Target: 2

7. Carmex lip balm. $1 at Dollar Tree for a single 0.25 ounce pot of lip balm. At Target:

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Even ignoring the really great promotion for the gift card, the regular price for a 3 pack of the Carmex lip pots is only $2.79. That makes it 93 cents each at Target compared to $1 each at the dollar store.

Dollar Tree: 4          Target: 3

8. Ankle socks. 50 cents per pair is a pretty good deal at Dollar Tree. At Target:

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$1.50 per pair. A value pack on Black Friday is the only thing that brings the price down to the dollar store prices, otherwise the value pack just brings it down to $1.04 per pair. If the quality of the dollar store ones seemed despicable then I’d consider a draw, but the quality seems quite comparable. And so it goes…

Dollar Tree: 5          Target: 3

 

Dollar Tree for the win for this shopping trip comparison! I do think it’s worth noting that the price differences were so minimal that I’m sure utilizing sales and coupons at Target would beat out Dollar Tree prices by a long shot. I was quite surprised by how close Target prices were to dollar store prices.

I’m definitely going to be more discerning about my dollar store purchases for the remainder of this challenge.

 

 

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Responsible couponing – weekly shopping trip

Couponing. It’s not my favorite word. It implies an activity done by greedy hyped up consumers who somehow get a rush out of getting 6 bags of croutons for free. You know who I’m talking about.

They keep personal stock piles the size of a small grocery store.

Dozens of containers of toothpaste, shampoo, canned goods and boxed meals. They seem to have everything but enough.

Like millions of Americans, I hopped on the speeding coupon train in 2011. Not to create a stockpile, but to tighten my grocery budget by a couple hundred a month.

That first year of clipping coupons had some pretty embarrassing moments. Amateur mistakes such as forgetting expiration dates, buying things I didn’t need because “it’s such a great coupon!” and spending hours crafting the most efficient coupon friendly shopping list only to realize at the store that just buying the generic versions were a way better deal than using my coupons.

I’m much better now. I no longer aspire be one of those extreme coupon people who pay only $2 for $900 worth of groceries. Yes, it would be a nice rush. But in the end, you’re left with more than you need and that’s just silly to me.

Instead, I have fun planning a weekly trip to Target to get the best deals for our household of the things we need or will certainly need in the future.

This week, I had one of my best values yet! Here’s my loot:

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8pk of Bounty paper towels (3); 2liter of soda (5); loaves of bread from the bakery (2); 24ct Ibuprofen (2); 32ct foil muffin liners (2); Degree deodorant; Chocolate-covered almonds.

Total: $20.47

It’s no extreme couponing, but it’s a nice rush to see the total on the register drop from $75.05 all the way down to $20.47.

 

Day 9 of Money Challenge #1: $500 in 31 days – Trouble at Target

After a night hanging out with friends, I slept in ’til noon today and laid awake thinking of how to make some money to keep my cash streak going. Since The Beard and I go to Target most Sundays to peruse the aisles for deals and get frozen meals for the week, I thought of something to make some fast cash: I’d return two clothing items I bought a Target months ago that I have since decided I no longer want. They have the tags on them still so I figured this won’t be a problem.

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A dress and a top that I bought on sale and didn’t like how they fit once I got them home. So I packed them up and we went to Target. That’s when I ran into some trouble with my plan.  Since I bought the items a couple of months ago and didn’t have a receipt, the rep couldn’t give me any cash, so I got this instead: 

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A gift card for $35.51. I was okay with it but because of my money challenge, I couldn’t figure out how to factor in this game changer. Do I put the gift card in the money bag? Does it count at all towards the challenge? Do I exchange the gift card for cash to put in the money bag? Do I try to sell the gift card? Finally after we were done shopping, I applied the gift card toward our purchase and decided that I wouldn’t count it towards the challenge at all. 

After using the gift card, taking advantage of a Buy one Get one sale, a $3 off coupon, a $2 off coupon, and 5% off by using our Target debit card, we paid only $53.25 for a $105.70 purchase. Not bad for a poor girl! 

Unfortunately, none of this counted toward my money challenge. I still have to come up with a way to make some cash.