With many Americans and homesteaders living from paycheck to paycheck, it’s often hard to find the extra money necessary for stockpiling.
One great help is the local dollar store. While not everything in the dollar store is actually cheaper than it is in big box stores, there are some things that are significantly less expensive. The trick is to do your research and know how much the same or comparable item costs elsewhere.
I recently took a run through a couple of my local dollar stores just to see what I could find. Here’s the smart buys I spotted:
1. Cardboard boxes for the fire
I’ve found the local dollar stores to be the best source of cardboard boxes. Many of their products come in low-quality cartons, which are actually better for my purposes than the rugged ones. Shredded and soaked in water, they can be compressed into bricks in a homemade mold, just like newspapers. This is a cheap way of coming up with fire-starter or fuel for your fireplace or wood-burning stove. The store may even thank you for hauling them off.
2. Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
I’m a big believer in anti-bacterial hand cleaner as a survival supply. In a situation where water may be at a premium, washing your hands before eating may seem like a luxury. But it’s much more than that; it’s a means of helping to halt the spread of disease.
If there’s not enough water around, then anti-bacterial hand cleaner may just be the way to go.Personal hygiene supplies
3. Personal hygiene supplies
Some personal hygiene supplies are much cheaper at the dollar store, especially when you buy their brand. I was shocked to find razor blades for about a third of the price they are in other stores. Granted, they don’t have a brand name on them, but they still work just fine. Another good find was toothbrushes. You can buy packs of cheap toothbrushes and similar personal care supplies cheaper at the dollar store than anywhere else.
4. First-aid supplies
Some dollar stores have a fairly good collection of basic first-aid supplies, especially adhesive bandages and medical tape. I was even able to find knuckle bandages in one local store, much to my surprise. First-aid supplies can be rather expensive, so it’s nice to find them at a low cost. I do suggest you buy a test box so you can try the bandages before stocking up. Some of those bandages don’t stick all that well.
5. OTC medicines
I think the dollar store is the only way to buy antihistamines, decongestants, cough drops and other over-the-counter medicines. These are generic products, which means that they are made of the same ingredients as name brand ones. But they are not made to such exacting standards. In other words, if something is supposed to have 50 mg of the active ingredient, the generic brand might have slightly less of that amount. But that’s close enough that it will still work just the same.
6. Duct tape
You can buy duct tape pretty much anywhere, and I try to buy the best. But there’s one thing I’ve found about dollar store duct tape that’s unique; they sell little rolls of it, rather than the big ones. Those little rolls are much better for survival kits.
7. Plastic dishes and cups
I’ve found some great survival gear in the kitchen section of the dollar store. They have cheap plastic bowls, cups and plates, which are perfect for camping as well as survival.
They also are the cheapest place around to buy Nalgene water bottles, which is what everyone recommends using instead of the cheap water bottles that you buy bottled water in. Nalgene doesn’t release chemicals into the water.
8. Plastic storage containers
I’m a big fan of storing my survival supplies in plastic bins and even plastic food containers. I live near the Gulf of Mexico, so one of the survival scenarios that is central to my planning is hurricanes. Storing things in plastic bins makes it water repellant and can even help it float. That helps protect my food and other supplies in case we have flooding.
Buying food at a dollar store is a bit of an iffy proposition. There are some products which are the same as you buy in the grocery store and others which are off brands. Some of those off brands can really taste kind of off too, in my opinion. But one thing I’ve found is that dollar stores tend to have pre-packaged meals or main courses, which don’t require refrigeration. These are usually very hard to find and make great survival food.
What would you add to the list? Share your advice in the section below: