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7 Dollar Store Secrets to Fight Inflation

You can still pinch pennies at Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, 99 Cents Only

A shopper walks by a sign displaying $1.25 price, posted on the shelves of a Dollar Tree store in Alhambra, California.
AFP / Getty Images

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A dollar just doesn’t go as far as it used to — even at the dollar store.

Inflation is hitting all retailers, and the discount stores that have historically kept their prices under a buck are struggling to hold the line. Dollar Tree, one of the country’s largest dollar store chains, announced in November that it would hike its minimum price for items to $1.25.

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While competitors Dollar General and 99 Cents Only Stores still have items priced at a dollar, they also sell products priced higher, as does Family Dollar, which is owned by Dollar Tree. Even so, shopping experts say it’s possible to find deals at dollar stores during these inflationary times, although they may not be as plentiful as in the past.

“They still have items that are good buys. You just have to know which things to look for,” says Marilyn Anderson, author of How to Live Like a Millionaire When You’re a Million Short.

Here are some tips to stretch your dollars further.

1. Stick with disposable items

Dollar stores are often a reliable source for inexpensive disposable goods that you can stock up on and have around when needed. Think: paper plates, napkins, cups and utensils. Single-use holiday items such as gift wrap, gift bags, greetings cards and party invitations are also good seasonal buys.

“Many of the things that you buy at the dollar store are still going to be cheaper than they would be elsewhere,” says Lisa Thompson, savings expert for Coupons.com.

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6. Use coupons

When it comes to coupons, most dollar store chains either offer their own coupons or accept manufacturer coupons — or likely both. Check the discount retailer’s website for digital coupons or download their app, if available, to your smartphone. Get additional savings by using cash-back apps like Coupons.com or Ibotta, which credit coupons to your account when you upload your receipts.

Note that dollar stores have rules that limit “stacking,” or combining, multiple coupons. Dollar Tree, for example, will accept only one manufacturer coupon per item, and it won’t give cash back if the face value of the coupon is higher than the item’s price.

7. Make a list

As inflation continues to drive up prices on goods at traditional retailers, just about everything can feel like a bargain at dollar stores. The lower price points can, in turn, make it tempting to add a few extra things to your cart.

“It’s easy to go overboard and buy a lot more than you intended,” says Kimberly Palmer, a spokesperson with the personal finance website NerdWallet.

By going into the dollar store with a game plan, you’ll prevent the impulse buys that can add up and cancel out other savings.

Beth Braverman is a contributing writer who has covered shopping and personal finance for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in Consumer Reports, CNNMoney.com, CNBC.com and dozens of other publications.

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