Think Twice Before Buying Soda At The Dollar Store

Dollar stores are a godsend for people lucky enough to live close to one — and most of us do. According to Statista, there are currently more than 34,000 dollar stores in the U.S., including such chain retailers as Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Five Below. They're a one-stop shopping destination for just about anything you need: cleaning products, toiletries, paper goods, party supplies, seasonal goods and decorations, and even clothing items like sandals and T-shirts. Most dollar stores also have an aisle or two of food items such as baking needs, canned goods, condiments, and spices, along with a freezer section with popular items like frozen vegetables, convenience meals, and ice pops.

It's smart to buy certain items at a dollar store. Why pay $6 — or more — for a roll of fancy wrapping paper when you can get the same thing for a buck or two? After all, it's just going to be ripped apart and tossed out two minutes after you give the gift. Same goes for certain foods. Staples like salt, sugar, and jarred salsa are pretty much the same, whether you get a fancy name brand at the supermarket or a generic brand at a discount. But if your priority is saving money, there are times when it may actually be smarter not to hit the dollar store. You might be surprised by one of them.

Dollar stores are no bargain when it comes to soda

If you regularly keep cola, ginger ale, and other sodas in your fridge for daily use or for entertaining, you naturally want to pay as little as possible for it. Surprisingly, though, you may not be getting the best bargain if you buy your sodas at a dollar store. Consumer savings expert Jeff Yeager, author of "The Cheapskate Next Door," told the Today show that soda is one item to skip when you're shopping at Dollar Tree or a similar store. Why? Your local supermarket may offer a better deal.

Thanks to coupons and store memberships, you can often find two-for-a-dollar deals on soda at a chain grocery store. Size is another factor; the $1 sodas at the dollar store may only be available in the 1-liter size, as opposed to the 2-liter sizes being sold elsewhere for the same price. You can also look for great deals on bulk soda buys at warehouse stores such as BJ's and Costco

Another iffy dollar-store beverage buy is milk, or any fresh food, for that matter. According to Reader's Digest, since most people go to traditional supermarkets for these products, there's more of a chance that the milk, eggs, etc., you get at the dollar store will be expired or close to it.

Of course, for true savings, you can't beat fresh water, with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice for flavor. It's far healthier than soda and doesn't require a special trip to the store.