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The Coupon Lady: Deals at the dollar store

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A very good friend of mine once told me: “I love shopping at the Dollar Tree. I always feel so rich there. You want five toys? No problem!”

I completely understood what she was saying. As a thrifty person, I love saving money on things we need. That’s why shopping at the Dollar Tree is my secret to keeping expenditures down for gift giving, party planning, school events and much more.

But did you know that Dollar Tree takes coupons? It takes manufacturer coupons but with limitations. According to its Web site, the coupons must be original and used before their expiration date.

Only one coupon may be used per single item purchased. Items purchased must match any coupon description regarding size, brand, quantity or color. If the coupon’s value is more than $1, the item will be free, but no overage will be allowed, meaning the customer will not receive the difference in cash. Any applicable sales tax must be paid for by consumer. Only four identical coupons per household will be accepted per day. Coupons for free items are accepted only if purchase is required, such as a buy one, get one free offer. Internet printable coupons are limited to two coupons per household per day. Each Internet coupon must have a different serial number.

Now that you know how to save money at Dollar Tree, what are some of the best products to purchase there? This is my list of things to look for:

1. Party supplies: Paper napkins, plates, plastic utensils, cups, plastic table covers, cards, birthday candles, streamers, Mylar balloons with helium, tissue paper, piñata fillers, goodie bags and birthday décor. Even though stores such as Wal-Mart now carry basic bags for97 cents, the sizes are very limited. A trip to Dollar Tree will show you a varied supply of gift bags for birthday parties, anniversaries, baby showers and weddings. Tissue paper is available in a basic white (with or without multicolored glitter) or a variety of prints. The same basic white paper will cost you $1.47 at Wal-Mart and more for prints. Helium-filled balloons cost from $2.99 and up at grocery stores, but at Dollar Tree you can find balloons for special occasions, get-well-soon wishes, sympathy and any other occasion.

2. Cleaning supplies: The Oxygen Power All Purpose Spot Remover, Orange Cleaner and Oxygen Cleaner work as well as the more expensive counterparts. You can also find many name brand cleaners there. I recently found 2.75-ounce bottles of Cerama Bryte Cooktop Cleaner for my glass-top stove. You can also find coupons on Palmolive dish soap, Spic and Span, Sun detergent and dishwashing soap and Fabuloso floor cleaner.

3. Health and beauty items: Pregnancy tests, hair bows, headbands, combs and brushes, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, cotton pads, name-brand makeup and brushes and over-the-counter medicines can be found at Dollar Tree. As strange as it seems, these items all have good reviews.

4. Food: Movie candy, sodas, chips, Popsicles, spices, drink mixes, canned vegetables and individually wrapped candy. As long as you make sure the item is within its expiration dates, these items will prove to be great money savers.

5. Kitchen: Plastic storage containers, foil baking tins for parties, glassware, kitchen towels, placemats and utensils.

6. Bath: Shower curtain liners, washrags, shower caps, bubble bath, toothbrushes, shaving cream, mouthwash and soap dishes.

7. Teacher’s supplies: Although I recommend skipping the glue sticks, play dough and crayons, teachers can find some great school supplies, such as billboard decorations, letters and hall passes.

8. Craft supplies: Vases, glass marbles, stones, felt board, poster board, foam board, tri-fold board for science projects, vinyl decals and scrapbooking supplies.

9. Toys: Puzzles, bubbles, coloring books, Disney figures, dinosaur and animal figures, dress-up jewelry and gag toys.

10. Miscellaneous: Flip Flops, socks, disposal baggies for pets, and seeds for flowers, fruits and vegetables.

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