Extreme Couponers: Dollar Stores Are For Suckers

With many people still looking for ways to save in this tough economy, you might expect bargain-hunters lined up to buy things at dollar stores. But some practitioners of the dark art of extreme couponing (soon to be an X Games event, we hope), say that you can often do a lot better by going to your regular grocery or big box store so long as you come armed with coupons.

“Sales with coupons will almost always beat prices at dollar stores,” Teri Gault, founder of The Grocery Game, tells SmartMoney.com. For example, the right coupon/sale combination will get you a 12-count box of Nature’s Valley granola bars for $0.79 at the grocery store. That’s $.21 cents less than you’d pay for only four of the same bars at a dollar store. Per granola bar, you’re only paying around $.065 at the grocery store, compared to $.25 at the dollar store.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com tells SmartMoney, “I would never pay $1 for toothpaste… You can get it for free at the drugstore with coupons.” She also says that everything from vitamins to razors and shampoo can be gotten for $0 if you know how to coupon correctly.

She says that another thing to consider when buying health and beauty products from dollar stores is the questionable origin and quality of some of those items, which may have been purchased from overstock lots that were stored improperly.

That being said, Mary Hunt of DebtProofLiving.com says party supplies — paper plates, tablecloths, disposable utensils, cards, balloons, etc. — are typically cheaper at the dollar stores.

Are any of you dollar store devotees? What deals do you find there that you wouldn’t get elsewhere, even with a coupon?

Why You’re Overpaying at the Dollar Store [SmartMoney.com]