NEW YORK (MainStreet)—The bottom line is more important than ever with personal budgets, and instead of paying full price at expensive grocery stores or big-box retailers, build the foundation of your domestic spending budget by shopping at your local dollar store.

99 Cent Only Stores, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar are the popular chains throughout the country, and at least one chain can be found in every major metropolitan area. Many big cities have at least two of the chains.

Americans the country over are following suit in the pursuit of thrift. Dollar General, for example, reported a 15% increase in second-quarter earnings with a 5.1% boost in same-store sales. That's as the Wal-Marts and Targets of the world have dwindling numbers of shoppers.

So going the el-cheapo route may be a great bet, but before you make your initial excursion to a dollar store, know what to buy:

Keep it Clean

Cleaning supplies are one of the best values you can find at the dollar store. Cleaning products that usually range from $3 to $7 can be routinely found at the $1 price point. This includes bathroom cleaner, various bleached-based products, and window cleaner. "Supersized" cleaning products are also often available for a dollar.

Kitchen Keepsakes

Almost every kitchen accessory can be found at a dollar store, from cheese graters to measuring cups to egg slicers and everything in between. It's the perfect place to stock up before hosting a party or for holiday dinners. With the dollar store there is no reason ever go to a grocery store for any kitchen tool again.

Beauty in the Bath

Make every bathing experience the ultimate experience by enjoying a wide selection of items at the dollar store. Bath gels, foot and face scrubs, bubble baths and scented lotions can make every bathing experience feel like you are at a professional spa.

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Keep a Lid on It

Whether you need containers to store food, collectibles or other items, it likely can be found at the dollar store. Often a set of multiple plastic containers are available for one dollar. The volume of different sizes you can buy make it easy to completely replace that old worn out Tupperware collection.

Vitality in Vitamins

Before buying vitamins in any dollar store, check the expiration date. After doing so, enjoy great values as most stores offer fish oil, glucosamine, Vitamin B complex and dozens of other vitamins. The savings from these options can literally run into the hundreds of dollars per month.

Feed Your Sweet Tooth

Everyday can be Halloween with the amount of candy inside most dollar stores. Whether it be chocolates, lollipops, or hard candy, the dollar store has it. Always check and make sure the candy is fresh and not sale, and remember the dollar store can't cover dental bills, so you may want to pick up some toothpaste and floss while you are at the store...

Be a Bookworm

The popular saying is "reading is fundamental," and you can live that motto to the fullest at the dollar store. Coloring books, biographies, novels, self-help books and cookbooks fill the book racks at the dollar store. It is the perfect resource for those with children who need to occupy their time to adult leisure reading.

It's in the Cards

Greeting cards can be quite pricy, and with the standard one dollar price, look no further and celebrate every holiday and birthday at the dollar store. With a wide range of cultural holiday cards, you can stock up months in advance to save time and money.

Rodric J. Hurdle-Bradford, APR is a freelance writer based out of Scottsdale, Ariz. He covers casino gaming, personal finance and real estate topics for several publications. He can be reached at