While we’re big fans of Dollar General’s wide selection of affordable goodies and the Dollar General Penny List, we need to have a heart-to-heart about the Dollar General deals that you should skip right over.
That’s right — not everything at Dollar General is a good buy when you consider the size, quality, and overall value of what you’re buying. Even though you can get some items like spices, tools, and cooking pans for rock-bottom prices, we compared their prices to other retailers and discovered a handful of items that are examples of what not to buy at Dollar General.
So, to make sure you get the most bang for your buck (or more) at Dollar General, take a look at these things we suggest you never buy at DG. For many of the items below, you’ll find them even cheaper if you shop at other stores (and we’ll tell you where to go instead!).
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1. Don’t buy tools at Dollar General — they might not last.
Don’t want to shell out a ton of money on a tool kit? I get it. However, it’s not the best idea to buy tools from Dollar General.
While getting this DG Hardware Screwdriver Set of two screwdrivers for $4 might seem like a steal, this decision actually might end up costing you. That’s because these tools aren’t the best quality, which means there’s a good chance they won’t hold up to regular use. But, if you just need them for quick fixes (like fixing a few loose screws on your cabinets), these might do the trick. Just don’t rely on them for the long term.
Also, aside from bad quality, tools at Dollar General are more expensive than tools at Walmart. For example, you can get a set of six Hyper Tough screwdrivers (with great reviews) at Walmart for $8.97, which means each screwdriver is only $1.49 at Walmart instead of $2 at Dollar General. And, you get four more screwdrivers in the pack!
Related: Let me teach you exactly what not to buy at Dollar Tree.
2. Don’t buy batteries at Dollar General — name brands are overpriced, and store brands are sketchy.
Did you know that brand-name batteries like Energizer are actually more expensive at Dollar General? These Energizer Max 9v Batteries (2 Pack), 9 Volt Alkaline Batteries are $9.35 at Dollar General, but they’re only $8.87 at Home Depot. So you’re paying $4.68 per battery at Dollar General vs. $4.43 per battery at Home Depot (5.6% savings).
And if you see cheaper off-brand batteries at Dollar General, I would advise against getting them. There’s a good chance they’re not made very well, and they’ll likely have less power than pricier batteries. Even if you’re saving a little up-front, you’ll end up spending more down the line to replace them.
TIP: If you’re in a pinch and really need batteries from Dollar General, be sure to double-check their expiration date. Old battery inventory is mixed in alongside newer inventory, and the older batteries won’t perform as well.
3. Don’t buy cheap knives at Dollar General — get ’em at Walmart for 35% cheaper.
I hate to break it to you, but buying knives at Dollar General is more expensive than buying knives at Walmart.
This paring knife at Dollar General is $1.50, while this pairing knife from Walmart is only $0.97 — 35% cheaper. Plus, the one from Walmart comes with a protective casing. Basically, you’re getting a better product for a cheaper price if you go with Walmart for cheap knives.
Related: Want to cut through the clutter and jump to only the hottest deals? Check out these Walmart deals handpicked for you.
4. Don’t buy school supplies like composition notebooks at Dollar General — Walmart’s are cheaper (especially during back-to-school).
Dollar General and Walmart sell the exact same composition notebook. However, Dollar General charges $0.03 more for it.
This composition notebook from Walmart is only $0.97, while Dollar General charges $1 for it. Three cents might not seem like a lot, but it can add up when you’re stocking up! Plus, it really chips away at the reputation that Dollar General will beat big-box store prices on things like this. Back-to-School at Walmart will always beat Dollar General school supplies prices.
5. Don’t buy name brand dog food like Rachael Ray Nutrish at Dollar General — it’s 15% more expensive.
It’s sad but true: Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Dog Food is more expensive at Dollar General than at other stores. For example, you’ll pay $21.50 for the 12-pound bag of Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food at Dollar General, which comes out to $1.79 per pound. However, it’s $21.67 for a 14-pound bag of Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food at Walmart — only $1.55 per pound. So yeah, Dollar General is 15% more expensive.
So you’re getting two more pounds of dog food essentially for free when you buy it at Walmart.
6. Don’t buy frozen food like Hot Pockets at Dollar General — you’ll save more than 17% at Walmart.
Depending on what frozen food you buy from Dollar General, you might be overpaying. Hot Pockets are a good example of what not to buy at Dollar General.
This two-pack of Hot Pockets Frozen Snack Philly Steak And Cheese Seasoned Crust Frozen Sandwiches costs $3.50 at Dollar General. This means you’re paying $1.75 per frozen sandwich. But the same sandwiches at Walmart come in a five-pack for $7.24. This makes each sandwich only $1.45. So, by buying them at Walmart, you’re getting more and saving money (more than 17% over Dollar General).
7. Don’t buy spices at Dollar General — they’re 12% more expensive than at Walmart.
After some digging, I learned that Dollar General’s spice selection is actually more expensive than Walmart’s, especially when you calculate the cost per ounce. Sure, Dollar General sells popular spices like McCormick Garlic Powder (3.12 ounces) for $4.75, but Walmart sells the same exact product for $4.23 (11.8% cheaper). If you need to stock up on spices, I suggest going to Walmart instead.
Related: Another good place to stock up on spices at a good price? The Sam’s Club seasoning aisle.
8. Don’t buy the cheap electronics at Dollar General — they’re not worth it.
Yes, it might seem like a good deal to buy a new charging cable or security camera for less than $20 at DG, but let’s think about the drawbacks for a second.
After researching electronic products, I found that a handful of them at Dollar General — including this Wireless Gear Sync & Charge Cable With Lightning Connector ($12.50) and this Hype Mini Security Cam With Adjustable Mount ($15) — have really bad reviews. One customer said this about the security cam: “Terrible products. I would not recommend it to anyone. Just a waste of my money.” Because of that, I suggest checking Amazon for similar products with better ratings and reviews. A little up-front research will be worth it in the long run.
Related: Check out the latest Amazon deals before they’re gone.
9. Don’t buy brand-name medications like Benadryl or Tylenol at Dollar General — they’re at least 15% more expensive.
Unfortunately, brand-name medications like Tylenol and Benadryl are more expensive at Dollar General. The 24-count pack of Benadryl Allergy Relief Ultratabs is $5.54 at Walmart, and the same exact 24-pack of Benadryl Allergy Relief Ultratabs is $6.50 at Dollar General. So you’re paying $0.23 per tablet with the Walmart pack vs. $0.27 per tablet with the Dollar General pack. Why not just go to Walmart and save the 15.5%.
Another example of what not to buy at Dollar General in the medicine aisle? This 24-pack of Tylenol Cold + Flu Severe Medicine Caplets is $9 at Dollar General. Compare that to Amazon, where you can get the same 24-pack for $7.46 (17% cheaper!).
10. Don’t buy cooking pans at Dollar General — they’re not good quality.
Unfortunately, Dollar General doesn’t have the most reliable pans. This True Living 2-Piece Nonstick Sauce Pan Set ($15 at Dollar General) has really bad online reviews, with one customer saying that the pan started smoking — and some of the nonstick coating peeled off and ended up in their food. Yikes.
Related: If you’re in need of a cookware upgrade, we can point you to the latest cookware deals.
11. Don’t buy soda at Dollar General — it’s 10% more expensive than at Walmart.
Don’t buy soda at Dollar General because you’ll find cheaper prices at other stores. This two-liter Coke Zero Sugar Diet Soda Soft Drink is $2.95 at Dollar General. However, the same exact bottle is only $2.68 at Walmart. Don’t pay more for the same product; save the 10% price difference. Find soda deals and skip Dollar General.
12. Don’t buy canned food at Dollar General — it’s almost half-off elsewhere.
When it comes to canned food, Dollar General sells items such as these Clover Valley Pinto Beans for around $1.35. A good price, right? Actually no, it’s not. If you go to a normal grocery store, you might see pieces as low as $0.68 for canned goods. That’s nearly 50% off! Keep this in mind the next time you’re stocking up on canned food.
TIP: If you’re really looking to save money at Dollar General, scout out the penny items on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, Dollar General marks down a bunch of new penny items. These are clearance items that the store really wants to get rid of. Get ready to dig, and you might just find some super discounted items.
Wondering how Dollar General prices compare to Dollar Tree? We did a full comparison of Dollar Tree vs. Dollar General.