Kip Tip: What not to buy at dollar stores
However, Yeager and other money-saving experts say that there are some items that you should avoid buying because either you can find them for less elsewhere or the quality is inferior to competitors' merchandise. Here are eight common purchases to skip at dollar stores:
-- Batteries. Cheap batteries may be prone to leakage, says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, and they may not run your gadgets as long as pricier brands. Many dollar stores sell carbon-zinc batteries, which are less efficient and have a shorter shelf life than the alkaline variety.
-- Electronics. Consumer Reports found in 2012 that some dollar-store electronics and extension cords may lack labels from the UL that vouch for their safety. Others may have fake labels, which are difficult to detect.
-- Foil and plastic wrap. There's a reason these items are so inexpensive at dollar stores: The quality is inferior, says Yeager, who shops frequently at dollar stores but avoids foil and plastic wrap products.
-- Knives. Knives sold at dollar stores tend to be of poor quality, Woroch says. And these aren't items you want to fall apart while you're using them.
-- Paper goods. Napkins, paper towels and toilet paper at dollar stores don't do the job as well as the products sold at grocery stores and big-box retailers. If you buy napkins or paper towels that are so flimsy that you have to use five to do the job of one, Yeager says, that's not a good value.
-- Tools. Yeager says that hammers, screwdrivers and other tools he has bought at dollar stores have broken easily. As an avid do-it-yourselfer, he recommends buying the best tools you can afford because they'll last longer and make the job you're tackling easier.
-- Toys. Most toys from the dollar store break easily, says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of the personal finance blog Money Crashers. Even if you're spending only a dollar, it's just not money well spent, he says.
-- Vitamins. Consumer Reports research in 2012 found that off-brand multi-vitamins at dollar stores didn't always have the amount of nutrients claimed on the label. You may be better off buying store-brand vitamins at Rite Aid, Walgreens or CVS.
(Cameron Huddleston is an online editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and the author of Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, $18.95). Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit http://www.Kiplinger.com.)
(c) 2013 Kiplinger's Personal Finance