How to save money without couponing

Just because you don't have the time or patience to become an "extreme couponer" doesn't mean you can't save when it comes to shopping. Don't waste money shopping at expensive stores. Here's an alternative that will change how you shop forever!

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  • One day, as I aimlessly wandered around the dollar store with my kids, the way I looked at the world changed for me. Alright, not really; but I sure had an epiphany when it came to spending money. I am spending way too much on things I could be buying at the dollar store. I might not have the time, patience, or know-how to start couponing, but I am smart enough to start shopping at the dollar store. So, if you are like me and you like a good deal, here are a few items you should start picking up at your local dollar store.

  • Party supplies

  • This is No. 1, because party supplies are expensive to buy, and then thrown away, often after just one use. The dollar store's quality is exactly the same as if you bought them from a major retailer. Here are some that are great to grab from the dollar store:

    • Tissue paper

    • Banners

    • Wrapping paper or gift bags

    • Party favors

    • Candy

    • Balloons

    • Table covers

    • Napkins

    • Cups

  • A few party supplies to avoid from the dollar store:

    • Paper plates

    • Plastic silverware

  • These items tend to be flimsy and break easily. If you are wanting sturdy plates, for example, the dollar store isn't the place for them.

  • Craft supplies

  • My kids love being creative. I go through crafts like crazy. Here are some I can grab for a buck:

    • Stickers

    • Glue

    • Glitter

    • Paper

    • Crayons

    • Markers

    • Foam

    • Cotton balls

    • Popsicle sticks

    • Poster board and cardboard presentation boards

    • Coloring books

    • Paper bags

  • There are plenty of craft options. Just walk down the aisle and you will be amazed at what you can find.

  • Personal items

  • This is a tricky category. Some items just need to be bought elsewhere; but here are a few items you can save on by buying from the dollar store:

    • Kids' toothpaste and brushes

    • Kids' shampoo

    • Shampoo (If you aren't picky; they do have some name brands available.)

    • Bubble bath

    • Floss

    • Bobby pins or hair ties

    • Combs

    • Lip balm

  • Household items

    • Plastic sandwich bags

    • Cling wrap

    • Wax paper

    • Tin foil

    • Garbage sacks

    • Buckets

    • Baskets

    • Hot pads

    • Utensils (spatulas, spoons, etc.)

    • Glassware

    • Paper towels

    • Tissues

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  • Household items to avoid:

    • Kitchen towels or cloths
  • The ones available aren't very absorbent.

  • Office supplies

    • Pens

    • Sticky notes

    • Notepads

    • Staples

    • Paper clips

    • Highlighters

    • Wite-out

    • Tape

  • Random finds

    • Greeting cards

    • Thank you notes

    • Picture frames

    • Nails

    • Small tools

    • Batteries

    • Floral pieces

    • Seasonal decorations

    • Candy

    • Toys

    • Car-cleaning supplies

  • The dollar store is a great alternative to busy, crowded and expensive stores. It might take some time to train your brain to think "dollar store first," but once you do, the savings are worth it!

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Cristel Romero is a wife and mother to three sons. She works part-time in marketing at a home health company.

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