Your kid’s classroom teacher has sent home a list of supplies required for the new school year and you’re experiencing sticker shock. (Why are calculators more expensive than a new cell phone!?) Have no fear; dollar stores such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Dollar Store and Five Below to the rescue! These bargain-laden shops are particularly useful for stocking up on items that don’t need to be of the highest quality, unlike, say, backpacks and new back-to-school sneakers which require more of a financial outlay to last past Halloween.
Here are eight suggestions for what to buy at dollar stores this back-to-school season to shave a little bit off your spending. Just be aware that you’ll typically have to shop in person for many dollar store items, unless you want to order in bulk.
1. Snacks for Lunch Boxes
Why to get it at the dollar store: With food prices so high, it’s no surprise an increasing number of American households are buying food from dollar stores. Snacks, which kids need for lunchtime, after school and snacktime, can get pricey fast at the supermarket. Instead, pick up trail mix, chips and cookies, granola bars and the like for a fraction of the price.
Keep in mind: Some snacks don’t come in small, individual-sized bags at dollar stores. Pick up reusable snack bags for kid-sized portions to further reduce waste.
2. School Supply Extras
Why to get it at the dollar store: To be fair, you can find bargain-friendly back-to-school deals on the essentials like crayons, pencils, paper and glue at the big-box stores, but it’s still fun to browse the dollar store aisles for school supply extras that start to add up fast.
Keep in mind: The selections in this section are limited compared to a Target, Walmart or Amazon.
3. Room Decor
Why to get it at the dollar store: Plenty of kids enjoy an HGTV-style room refresh each fall, which is adorable but yep, also expensive. Let them give their space a makeover on the cheap with affordable accessories instead.
Keep in mind: You won’t have the same huge selection as if you hit up your regular superstore, so if they must have a certain color or pattern, the dollar store might not have what you’re looking for.
4. Birthday Cards, Gift Bag and Wrapping Paper
Why to get it at the dollar store: RetailMeNot writer Maria Lalonde is a big fan of stocking up on gift wrap and cards at the dollar store. A wise move for parents of preschoolers and early grade schoolers, as they’re often invited to plenty of all-class parties. In fact, it’s not unusual to wind up with a party every weekend, especially if you have multiple kids.
Stock up on gift wrapping, gift bags and birthday cards now so you’ll always have them on hand.
Keep in mind: Quality may not be as high as, say, the gorgeous paper goods you’ll get at your local stationary shop, but they’ll still be cute and colorful and perfect for wrapping those LEGO sets and art supplies.
Where to buy: Dollar Store has a bunch of generic birthday cards for $1/each. Get a set of two all-occasion gift bags for $1 at Family Dollar and rainbow-hued tissue paper, also $1, at Dollar General.
5. Presents for Classmates’ Birthdays
Why to get it at the dollar store: Speaking of parties, buying gifts adds up fast. There are plenty of wallet-friendly gifts to be found at the dollar stores that kids will enjoy.
Keep in mind: Sure, “THE” hot toy of the season won’t be available, but there’s a surprisingly decent selection of buys sure to please kids of all ages.
Where to buy: For the Squishmallows collector, Five Below is the place to go ($5.95). The store also has a Starbucks-dupe tumbler for only $5, a fraction of the price of the other retailer. And you can’t go wrong with an 89-piece LEGO City Street Sweeper ($10.50) set at Dollar General.
6. Party Supplies & Paper Goods
Why to get it at the dollar store: Paper goods, whether themed for parties, or basic for regular day-to-day use, are dirt cheap at dollar stores. For the next party you host — or classroom party you volunteer to send supplies to — head to the dollar store first.
Keep in mind: Counts can be weird, so read the fine print to make sure you’re not short on anything.
7. Poster Supplies for School Projects
Why to get it at the dollar store: It’s almost a certainty that they will be assigned a school project that involves making a massive poster, and that they will let you know it the night before it’s due.
Keep in mind: Find a spot for these where you won’t forget to avoid an 11th hour freakout (yours).
Where to buy: A neon yellow poster board ($1 at Dollar Tree) certainly pops. Grab washable poster paint ($2) at Family Dollar and peel and stick poster stickers ($1.25) at Dollar Tree and they’re all set to crush the science fair.
8. Clothing Basics
Why to get it at the dollar store: The selection isn’t huge, but you can find undershirts, socks, and underwear at the dollar store for not too much $$.
Keep in mind: Stick to name brands here, as quality is iffy otherwise.
The post 8 Things It’s Smart to Buy From the Dollar Store for Back to School appeared first on The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.