How Dollar Stores Drain You Dry

Donna Freedman

Sometimes I go to the dollar store. After all, sometimes you need a mop bucket. But suddenly things start jumping into my cart. Books, an apple corer, a bag of gingersnaps.

Yes, there are some deals. I’ve even bought underwear: Hanes “slightly irregular,” three briefs for a buck.

But overall? The dollar store is a budget destroyer because things are so cheap it’s easy to overbuy. You go in for baby-shower balloons and come out with 13 other items. Why not? They’re only a dollar.

Why not? Because:

    • A dollar here and a dollar there become a lot of dollars, fast. (Track your spending for a month and see how much you spend on gum and Diet Snapple.)


    • Do you need more clutter?


  • Do you need more calories? (Curse you, one-buck Maui onion chips!)

Recently I read about a woman who hits the dollar store when she can no longer control her urge to buy. For $30 or so she can shop till she drops.

Sorry: Frugal compulsive buying is still compulsive buying. That picture frame or frying pan may be deeply discounted, but unnecessary shopping is never a bargain. You’re still spending money you don’t need to spend in order to buy things you don’t need to buy.

So you’ve got half a cart full for only $19? Good for you. Go put it back.

Well, you can keep the underpants.

‘Fess up. Are you a bargain-hunting junkie?


Donna Freedman is now writing the new Frugal Cool blog on MSN Money. She’s also a staff writer for Get Rich Slowly.