First Person: 10 Things I Always Buy From the Dollar Store

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Five years ago, I barely stepped foot in the local dollar store, today I know all the cashiers by their first name. Like every other responsible mother, I am working night and day to make our limited household dollars stretch. I do admit that I miss making just the one stop at the grocery store, but now I make two. My shopping begins at the dollar store (or the "cheap store" as my youngest calls it) then on to the power, coupon shopping at the Winn Dixie. When I go the "cheap store" I don't buy everything, I buy these 10 things and save big money.

Paper goods: I don't know when toilet paper became so expensive but it has! When I shop at my favorite dollar mart, I save $4 on a giant pack of toilet paper and $3 on a supply of paper towels. That's an easy savings of $7 each time I go which is usually twice a month. Total savings on paper goods: $14

Shampoo and conditioner: I gave up salon products a long time ago. I stock up on shampoos and conditioners once every two months. At the beauty salon, I'd pay $14 for a bottle of shampoo. Dollar store price? $4! No, it's not Paul Mitchell but it works wonderfully for all of us. Total soapy savings for conditioner and shampoo? $20

Cleaning supplies: You can't run a house without cleaning supplies. I buy the store brand bathroom and kitchen cleansers as well as detergent and fabric softener right from the dollar store. I usually save around $20 each month on these goodies.

Party supplies: Twice a year, I have to buy birthday party supplies for my kids. There's no place cheaper to find a helium tank, balloons, treat bag goodies and tableware than the dollar store. I estimate my party savings at $50 twice a year.

Spices and herbs: I love cooking with spices. Different flavors help me spruce up plain pasta (another cheap savings) and hamburger meat. I buy my favorites like garlic powder, dried parsley and paprika from the "cheap store" once every three months. I'd say I save about $10 a month on discount spices.

Gift supplies: I hate giving gifts that cost less than the wrapping paper. I buy cheap gift bags, tissue and cards right at my corner store. If you wait for seasonal clearances, you can also get holiday gift supplies at greatly discounted prices. I'd say that I save $5 a month on a few inexpensive gift bags and tissue paper.

After school snacks: Cheese crackers, packs of Jello and string cheese are all cheaper at the dollar shop. I stock up and save $10 a week.

Art supplies: My youngest child considers himself an artist, a hobby that gets expensive. I buy posterboard, markers and other neat art supplies from the dollar store every three months. I can save up to $20 on those goodies.

Work t-shirts: My husband works construction and boy, is he hard on his t-shirts. I buy new ones every three months. I buy five shirts at a time, one for every day of the work week. I can save up to $30 when I make this purchase.

Picture frames: Pictures hanging on a wall make a home feel like--well, homey. Once a year, sometimes twice, I buy new picture frames for photos I want to display. I usually spend $50 on frames but considered how cheap they are, I save that much too.

Don't rule out shopping at the dollar store to save yourself some money. Shop for these ten items and save!

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