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It’s that time of year and you are probably already thinking about how much you’ll need to spend at Christmas or Hanukkah or Eid.  Whichever religious celebration you take part in, there is dreaded and inevitable gift giving.  So, you want to start saving now, but you thought that you were already being frugal.  One of the most fantastic stores that many of us ignore for a multitude of reasons is your local Dollar Store.

While I was in college in Miami, I was blessed to have a dollar store right next to the Wal-Mart that was a tiny grocery store.  Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Butter, Produce- EVERYTHING!  I realize that these are by no means the norm, but many of the larger chains do have a frozen food section with vegetables, fruits, and other staples that are in no way better or worse than the stuff you would buy at the grocery store.  If you have an opinion about organic food and MSG content, then this route is not for you, but I would stress that everything in moderation is OK.

My favorite buys at the Dollar Store are basic spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder), plastic containers, seasonal serving and table decorating items, gift wrapping bags, just to name a few and every dollar store is different.  Until I had a much smaller budget to work with, there was a lingering hesitation about the quality of items I would get or whether some other store stuff is just better.  I say this a lot, but I’ll repeat it because it’s important, be an informed consumer.  If you see aluminum foil for a dollar, check how many feet are in the role.  If you are buying packaged food items such as mac and cheese or spaghetti- read the ingredients and check the expiration dates, many of the products are either generic versions of your name brand items or they are simply getting close to their expiration dates so shop wisely and save yourself a lot of money!

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