By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In this tough economy it seems that everyone is looking for ways to save. So it’s no surprise that the popularity of dollar stores are the rise.

But just because something is inexpensive doesn’t always means it’s a good buy.

As you try to get the most bang for your buck, 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan shares some dollar store do’s and don’ts.

Many dollar stores today are bigger and better than ever.

“They’ve really upped the quality of the products that they’re carrying so you get a lot of good products there,” said Caroyln Forte, director at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.

“We certainly advocate going there but just know what it is that you’re buying,” said Forte.

When it comes to paper products like paper towels?

“I think the dollar stores and the discount stores are a very viable place to buy paper goods // many get many name brands,” said Forte.

The same goes for wrapping paper.

“As long as you like the styles and designs and the colors we say definitely go for gift wrapping,” said Forte.

Take greeting cards for example. You can get two cards for a buck at the Franklin Mills Dollar Tree. You save money and remember, it’s the thought that counts.

It might be worth trying cleaning products too.

“What you see at the dollar store very much mirrors what you see in the super market.

I mean there are brands in the supermarket, some are better, some are not. It’s going to be trial and error if it’s a brand your not familiar with,” said Forte.

But there are some things you need to look out for before you throw the items in the cart particularly when it comes to food for example.

“If you don’t see an expiration date we say don’t buy it because you want to make sure the foods you’re buying are fresh,” said Forte.

Pay close attention to makeup too.

“You should be buying makeup that’s fresh so if for any reason it doesn’t look fresh, if packaging looks a little mangled or whatever, dusty or old we say stay away from it,” said Forte.

Extension cords and power outlets could also pose a risk.

“We say be careful with this. Make sure that they are safety tested,” said Forte.

Look for a UL label or tag on the packaging.


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