In these tough economic times, more and more people are hitting dollars stores to stretch a buck. But is everything you see there worth the savings? Personal finance expert Alexa von Tobel from LearnVest.com breaks down the deals and no deals at a dollar store:
• Cleaning Supplies. "You won't get the best brand names, but they absolutely do the trick, and the Good Housekeeping Institute has said that this is one of the best places to get a real savings on cleaning supplies."
• Diningware. Alexa says that she often visits dollar stores to stock up on plates, wine glasses and flatware — inexpensive items that she won't mind losing. "I love to entertain," she explains, "but everyone always breaks all my stuff!"
• Party supplies. Dollar stores are a great place to get your party materials, everything from decorations and gift bag goodies to mylar balloons!
• School supplies. It's hard not to get excited because school supplies are so cheap at dollar stores, but Alexa says you can save more money overall elsewhere. "The truth is that during August and September, the big back-to-school months, that's the best time to stock up on all your pencils and stencils and crayons at your local discount store."
• Batteries. Consumer Reports says that batteries bought at discount retailers can leak, so that's definitely a don't!" Alexa warns.
• Kids toys. "They're one of the most dangerous things you can buy at a dollar store," Alexa says, "because kids playing with these low-quality toys, the last thing you want is a bunch of small pieces in a kid's mouth." However, Alexa adds, unbreakable toys like stuffed animals are a good deal.