I Have to Be Careful Not to Make This Mistake at the Dollar Tree

Financial Planners


Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places to shop. It has a ton of great kid items ranging from squirt guns to building block sets. I also love the store’s dishes, candles, and vases. 

Because there are so many great deals, I take my kids to Dollar Tree often. The problem, though, is that there’s a big mistake I have to be careful to avoid so I don’t end up doing unnecessary damage to my bank account.

Cheap goods can still add up to a big expense

The big mistake that I have repeatedly found myself making at Dollar Tree stems from the fact that the prices are just too good there. 

When everything costs only $1.25, I often don’t find myself stopping to think about whether we really need the item. After all, the price I’m paying is so tiny that it hardly seems worth taking the time to think about whether the purchase makes sense.

Unfortunately, this can cause problems — especially when shopping with kids — because I’d find myself throwing a ton of unnecessary purchases into my cart. Nerf football? For just $1.25! Sure, why not? Elmo sippy cup even though we have 100 better cups at home that won’t spill? Toss it in. Yet another packet of glow sticks, a craft kit, a sticker book, sunglasses, and an adorable picture frame? Throw them all in the cart!

Wasted money is still wasted money. And since I was charging things on my credit cards I didn’t need just about every time I went into the store, this started to really add up. 

Buying just five unnecessary items at Dollar Tree a week would end up costing me $6.25 a week, or $325 a year (and I was often spending more than that). I wouldn’t just drop that much money on a single impulse purchase without thinking about whether I needed it — but when it was just $1 or $2 here or there, it didn’t seem like an issue. 

Always look at the big picture

My Dollar Tree problem is a good example of how I — and many people — can get into trouble if we don’t spend consciously. 

See, a lot of decisions seem like small ones, whether it’s spending that extra couple of bucks for coffee or splurging on an Uber instead of taking public transportation. It’s easy to justify that it’s only a few dollars but that adds up when you do it often enough.

That’s not to say that it’s never OK to spend on small pleasures that make your life better. But, you’ll want to make these splurges while thinking about how to use your money in a way that most improves your life. Frittering away hundreds or even thousands of dollars on meaningless purchases that each don’t matter in their own right but add up to a lot over time is not the best way to use your hard-earned money. 

To stop this, I’ve gone back to basics and limited what I spend at Dollar Tree. I’m OK with a certain amount of spending each month and once that’s gone, I simply don’t go back. And you can do this with whatever your weaknesses are. 

Whether it’s Dollar Tree, your Starbucks habit, or anything else you tend to spend too much on without thinking about it, you can take back control and stop the waste. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your habit. Just put a value on how much you actually want to devote to that hobby each month and once it’s gone, you’re done.

This has made a surprisingly big difference in my Dollar Tree shopping. Now I think about what I’m putting in my cart so I don’t find myself wasting money for fear I’ll hit my limit and a great new product will come out and I won’t be able to get it. It could make a difference for you too, so give it a try. 

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