The Real Dollar Store Diva

My daughter scours YouTube for videos that have something to do with whatever boy bands she is following at the time, Justin Bieber and Big Time Rush yesterday, and One Direction today, but occasionally something else pops up that tickles her fancy, and the other day she ran across a video put together by some punk kid who refers to himself in the video as the “dollar store diva.”  The video is a terrible compilation of bad accents and dumb jabs at dollar stores, but that only made it all the worse that my daughter thought the video reminded her of me.

A scene in the video shows the kid bragging about a stack of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners that he got for a great price at a dollar store.  What reminds my daughter of me is that the day before I had brought home a stack of Smart Ones frozen meals from the store that I got for a great price.  The store had a good sale, combined with a coupon I had.  But then again, I’m a great shopper.

In fact I do all the grocery shopping for the household.  My wife refuses to either prepare a grocery list or to follow it if one is provided for her.  The breaking point was a few years ago when she came back from the grocery store with a grocery bill double what we usually spend but without some of the essentials that were on the grocery list.

“Where’s the bread?”

That necessitated another trip to the grocery store.  So thereafter I picked up the mantle as family shopper.  And frankly, I’m pretty good at it.  The key is organization. I scour the sales circulars in the days prior to the grocery trip, and begin assembling a list based on sales items in the circulars and items that we are running low or are out of.

And of course, I coupon.  Long before there was an extreme couponing TV show I was extreme couponing.  Again, the key is organization.  I keep my coupons in a folder organized by type of item, and each month I pull out the ones that will expire in the upcoming month to prioritize for use.  Coupons do work, as long as you don’t let yourself be lead down the primrose path of purchasing an item just because you have a coupon for it.  That’s what they want you to do.  I make coupons work for me.

As you can see, it’s a bit of a science.

Ironically, more upper income people use coupons than the poor and lower middle class.  Households with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to coupon as those who earn less than $35,000.  I admit that in a way, I used to resent that.  “Hey, Richie Rich, this is our store!  Go to Whole Foods.”  The dollar stores are not all filled with people making their EBT purchases.  I’ve seen quite a few well do to soccer moms in high end SUV’s pull up in the dollar store parking lots to pick up their carefully crafted list of items.  But hey, they’re smart enough not to waste the money they have and I sure cannot blame them for that.

My shopping trips do begin at the dollar store.  Although they do have a few refrigerated or frozen items, I primarily go there for dry goods.  As a general rule, they are cheaper there than a regular grocery store, although there are exceptions.  There are a few items that consistently are cheaper at the regular grocery store and sale items can often be much cheaper.  I make sure to notate on my grocery list items that should be purchased at the grocery store instead of the dollar store because of the weekly sales.  Then off to the regular grocery store I go, to finish up whatever is still on my list.  While waiting in line to check out is when I’ll usually get a call from either my wife or kids to remind me to get that very important item that they want but neglected to put on the list all week!

A successful shopping trip  should always include a raised eyebrow and nod of appreciation from the grocery store checkout clerk who, when totaling my bill, can’t help but be impressed by my shopping savvy.  My last grocery trip saw a 34% reduction of my grocery bill.

So suck it punk kid, I’m the real dollar store diva.

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3 thoughts on “The Real Dollar Store Diva

  1. I gotta admit that when I first saw the title, I thought the “Dollar Store Diva” was an autobiographical piece.

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  2. Dollar Tree is one of my favorite stores. It takes some trial-and-error to figure out which items are best bought there, but it’s worth it in the long run. I’m not much of a couponer, though. Too much effort, I guess. Plus, I don’t subscribe to any newspapers, so we don’t get too many sent to the house anymore. I have discovered that so-called private label merchandise is often cheaper than the name brand, even with a coupon.

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  3. Yep, story of my life.

    Dollar Tree is more the Bed Bath & Beyond for migrant workers. It doesn’t have a lot of things I would buy as part of grocery shopping on a weekly basis. I’m for of a Family Dollar store guy myself. They seem to stock more regular grocery store-type items.

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