A Broke Girl's Guide to the 99 Cent Store

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Life is hard when you are a recent college graduate. You have so many bills to pay, and if you are lucky you get a full-time position right out of college. If you aren’t lucky, like me, you only have a part-time position to cover all your expenses. With all my bills, I only have a small amount of money left over in the month to afford nice things like home decor, or even simple hygiene products. So I have to spend my money wisely. 

After several months of overspending for products at Target, I decided to try the 99 Cent Store out. I had previously used it in college but back then they didn't have as many amazing items as they do now. Let me tell you, this store has tons of items that are just as good as Target or Walmart.

In this post, I will be giving you a few tips for shopping at the 99 Cent Store, what products you should be buying there, and what you shouldn’t.  Some of the items from this simple guide can also be applied to The Dollar Store, or The Dollar General, or any dollar store in your area.

What Products to Buy

The easiest products to get at the 99 Cent Store are home decor. They have a large selection of picture frames, different sized mirrors (some are embellished, some are plain), and inspirational decor. I have gotten a few 8x10 and 11x14 frames there.

Last week, I came across this amazing LED letter sign that was customizable. It was such a rare find, I am not even sure they sell that in the Target store. On Amazon a sign that can cost anywhere from $20-$50. At the 99 Cent Store, this sign cost $3.99! There were also light boxes as well with cute sayings like "dream big". You can also find some cute LED candles, which are great to use if you are allergic to scented ones.  

 *Photo is taken of product purchased from 99 Cent Store

*Photo is taken of product purchased from 99 Cent Store

The only thing missing was cute throw pillows, but I am sure it will only be a matter of time before they start selling those too. 

Another great product to buy here is kitchen supplies. They have literally everything ranging from spatulas to rolling pins, to copper grill pans. They also carry a ton of BPA free Tupperware. If you are lucky, you can find some cute BPA free water bottles as well.

Ever since my husband and I moved in together, we have gotten most of our kitchen items (silverware, utensils, and kitchen towels) from the 99 Cent Store. While they won't last as long as some of the quality products from Home Goods, they are perfect for just starting out in a new apartment if you have a strict budget. 

If you need to get toiletries like cotton pads, q-tips, and hair bands you should get them here. They have a large selection of bathroom products. They have dry brushes, and body scrubbers too. I also go to the 99 Cent Store to replace my body scrubbers. They can cost up to $3 at Target depending on what kind you get. Don't forget to check out the cheap cleaning supplies, and laundry detergent. The low price is irresistable, especially when you can't afford to spend $5 on a bottle of pinesol. While they do not have very many name brand products, the off-brand ones are just as good. 

Another great buy is snacks. They are cheaper here than most stores and are great to stock up on as study snacks or for a road trip. They have the traditional chips, and cookies, and other carb crunchies. But they have recently started to bring in more healthy options like coconut bites and dried fruits. 


What Not to Buy

The 99 Cent Store does home decor, kitchen, and snack products well. But one thing they do not do well in putting on their shelves is hair products. Do not get hair products from here. They will dry out your hair and contain harsh chemicals that will damage your hair badly. The same goes for any shower gels. I used to get shower gel from the 99 Cent Store or The Dollar Tree in college, and I was constantly dry and itchy. They do have some name brand soaps like Dial, Irish Spring, and Dove. Those are great to buy from here, and cost a fraction of the price as the ones at Target.

Another item to never get from the 99 Cent Store is frozen dinner. The frozen dinners they sell are the most unhealthy meals that you could find. They have bad additives and taste disgusting. Also do not get bread from here. The bread goes bad quickly and most of the time they sell already expired bread. The best place to get bread from is a fresh bakery, but if that isn't an option then go to Target. Target has a huge selection of fresher bread than the 99 Cent Store. 

Be cautious to buy toys from here as well, sometimes they will have name brand toy products. When that happens, don't hesitate to get it, they normally go for $4-$7, which can be over half the price of the same toy in Target! For baby products, they only carry a few BPA products, and I am not sure which of their other products are entirely safe for babies, so I would avoid the ones that do not say BPA free.

There are tons of hidden gems in the 99 Cent Store. Just be sure to take your time shopping because you can find some pretty incredible things there.

What stores do you like to shop at? Leave a comment below!

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