Save $200 Next Month Without Completely Losing It

by Erin Sullivan

Do y’all have The Dollar Store? Charge your iPod and prepare yourself for the browse of a lifetime.

If you can leave that store in under two hours, God bless you. It’s so cheap in there that you start to seriously consider the birthday aisle, even though it’s not your birthday, or anyone else’s you know. Whoops, you just bought hats, glasses, and buttons, and now you’re in an IHOP saying, “It’s my birthday,” for a free pancake. Here are things you are probably already buying monthly, but should be buying at The Dollar Store instead:

• Pretzels: I realize no one has, like, a monthly pretzel budget, but this is a substitute for all your snacking. Almost 100% of the food at a dollar store is inedible, but there’s not a ton you can do to process pretzels. Pretzels are pretzels — get a couple bags. (Was $8)

• Tampons: There’s eight in a box, ladies. Grab two of those, and $2 covers the ultimate inconvenience for the month. (Was $14)

• Tall, Plain Votive Candles: Oh, you like crafts? These last forever, they make your room look nice, and they can keep you busy for a night. Do a simple graphic in sharpie on the front of them, give them to your friends, crush them up and eat them — do whatever you want with them, they’re a dollar. (Was $10)

• Socks: The Dollar Store is seriously crazy for this one. You’ve been needing some new socks, and they have all kinds in packs of three. Even if you already have too many socks, and socks are ruining your life, they’re still one dollar. (Was $7)

• Sleeping pills: This is the activity equivalent of something my friend does whenever she doesn’t know what to eat and it’s late, which is just brushing her teeth. (Was $6)

• Dog supplies: I read something online recently where a woman cheered herself up by shopping for others, which included her dog’s treats and nice-smelling waste bags. While I loved her for that — poo goes in there. (Was $10)

• Cleaning Supplies: This includes things for your home, and your body. (Ballpark it at $15)

Other things you buy every couple of months: Q-tips, Kleenex, toothpaste, toothpaste+toothbrushes, aluminum foil. (Was $3, $2, $4, $2, $2)

(One night browse= $10 you’re not spending) + ($82-$22) = $70 in savings

• Buy a coffee maker.

Use $20 of what you saved from The Dollar Store, and go to your local store that is just below Target. For me, it’s Fred Meyer, but yours could be Big Lots, or something else — actually please tell me what your stores are called in the comments, and just bite the bullet. Let’s say you spend $2.50 on a coffee a day. Reasonable, but stop. Filters at The Dollar Store are 300 a pack. You’ll have a very serious, panicky moment when you use the last one — something about such a literal marker of time — but that’s years from now, maybe! Buy a decent pack of ground coffee and you’ll be surprised how excited you get to turn a coffee maker in the morning. Who are you, your dad?!

$90-$31-$20= $39 in savings

• Watch Parenthood in its entirety, weekdays, plus one weekend night.

How many times have you heard about this show now, 37? Let this be the last! From the outside, it has a very “Tom Hank’s wife” feel to it, an It’s Complicated- viewing-party-with-your mom-and-her-friends vibe, but just watch the pilot tonight and see where it takes you. Each episode is 45 minutes, so hitting a couple of those a night will really pass the time. Life: Know how to live it!

You already watched Parenthood? Okay, then here’s what you watch now, in its third season: Delocated. This show is so fun, and funny, and did you even know there could be a distinction? You’ve watched both of those? What are you, a genius?

Every night you spend watching Parenthood or Delocated is money you’re not spending on covers/tabs/tips, so commit to it for this month, and seem lame or mysterious to the people in your life.

(Thurs+One weekend night = $30) x 4 = $120 in savings

That comes out to around $219, even with start-up costs. But, yeah, go to The Dollar Store.

Erin Sullivan is a writer living in Portland, Ore. Photo: Flickr/LarryPage

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