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Editor’s note: An old version of the newsletter was sent in error last night. This is the newest version. Enjoy!

Shopping at a dollar store is the ultimate test of your consumer savvy. Can you find the true bargains and avoid the junk?

I find dollar stores are a good place to buy travel-size toothpaste, shaving cream and such at much lower prices than drug stores. My wife has also bought some baskets for organizing cupboards, and I have picked up a USB cable or two for next to nothing. Are we missing out on other dollar store bargains?

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According to a blog post on items you should buy and not buy in dollars stores, the answer is a definite yes. School supplies, greeting cards, mittens, party supplies and more make the list. The products to skip included toys and children’s jewellery (possible safety risks) and household batteries (might be substandard quality).

Do not assume the dollar store price is the best price. The Guardian reports that dollar stores may stock items in smaller sizes, which means the cost per gram or litre might actually be higher than in a supermarket.

A recent Fast Company article summed up dollar stores by declaring, "They’re affordable, but often lack fresh and healthy food – and gut local and independently owned businesses.” Here’s a New York Times Magazine piece on dollar stores that was written in 2011, but still resonates with its recognition that dollar stores do not say complementary things about the world we live in.

Subscribe to Carrick on Money

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Beware fake financial experts

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CBC reports on how some people in Ontario were conned out of millions of dollars by fraudsters who were featured on radio stations as “experts” on investing. If you see an investment opportunity being hyped, don’t hand any money over until you have checked it out thoroughly. I’m happy to take a look for you, but I can tell you right now what I’ll say in 99.9 per cent of cases: Pass.

Are you worrying too much about your credit score?

A veteran personal-finance blogger offers a short and sweet corrective to all the obsessing these days about credit scores.

And you thought you needed a new kitchen

How to add storage space to your kitchen using organizers meant for other rooms – magazine racks, cosmetic and jewellery storage boxes and more.

Mistakes people making buying term life insurance

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Term life is a basic type of insurance that works well for people who want to ensure their families are financially protected in case they die suddenly.

Today’s financial tool

For your retirement planning: A collection of calculators to help you assess your risk of heart attack and stroke, and see how long you might live.

Ask Rob

Q: My wife and I have been paying into a registered education savings plan for our grandchildren for some years now, as the parents, with daycare costs and other expenses, cannot afford to. One issue that has come to our attention is how the RESP might conflict with our wills.

A: The answer to this question comes from Wilmot George, vice-president of tax, retirement and estate-planning at CI Investments.

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“Indeed, grandparents can be subscribers of an RESP for grandchildren. The grandparent can be a sole subscriber, or married or common-law grandparents can be joint subscribers. On death of the subscriber (or last subscriber in the case of joint subscribers), the estate of the deceased subscriber normally becomes the owner of the asset. For this reason, we suggest that subscribers name a subsequent subscriber to continue the role of subscriber after the original subscriber’s death. The subsequent subscriber can be named via the original subscriber’s will. If a subsequent subscriber is not named, technically, the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate become owners of the RESP and can collapse the plan for their benefit if they wish. Naming a subsequent subscriber via will can help to ensure that the plan remains intact and available for the benefit of the RESP beneficiaries (eg. grandchildren). More complex trust structures can also be used to achieve this.”

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up. up.

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