Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Money Talk: Saving at Target

Finishing up this loose series on money talk by talking about my favorite store: Target.  You may have figured that out already.   Besides being my (affordable) go-to for most of mine and Luke's wardrobes, it's also where I buy the vast majority of our household and personal care items (toothpaste, toilet cleaner, bandaids, make-up, body wash, etc.).  I've shopped there enough over the years to have figured out pretty well how to get the most bang for my buck, buying very few items without some sort of discount.  I hope you are doing all of these already but just in case (I never want you to spend more money than needed!), here are my methods to saving money at Target.

1) Know the policies
Target will accept up to one Target coupon, one manufacturer coupon, an Cartwheel for each item.  You really luck out if you can hit all three.  Even better if it's on sale AND there is an iBotta.  That's 5 ways to save per item!   I've never hit all 5 but have done 4! 

If you buy an item and it goes on sale within 14 days, you can request a price adjustment by taking your receipt to guest services.  I have done this.  They will also price match to their website with in-store items although I've often found if it's on sale online, there is a Cartwheel deal for in-store if it's not also on sale.  You cannot price match to online and then also use a Cartwheel on top of this (although we did this successfully once, not knowing it went against policy, a second try did not work). 

They will price match select items with certain competing stores (see more here).

2) Cartwheel
Cartwheel is the Target specific app that gives you discounts on certain items.  From 5% (which you can find on most grocery/household/personal care Target brand items) up to 50%-60% (those are rare).  You get so many slots to start that you can fill with their available deals.  For instance, on my most recent trip I had 5% off Simply Balanced (their mid-tier grocery brand) frozen vegetables (to go with an iBotta deal) and 5% off Market Pantry PB & Jam (MP is their low-level grocery brand) which went with a clearance item (I wasn't buying much).  I've gotten deals on almost type of thing we buy there, although not all at the same time. 

As you hit higher levels of money saved with Cartwheel you open up more available slots; I currently have 40.
And that has happened after about 2.5 years of using it.  In my (slight) defense, I've noticed that when you buy something with Cartwheel and later return it (and you get back what you actually paid, after the Cartwheel discount), it doesn't lower your "total saved" in Cartwheel amount.  I figured this out after returning some rather largely discounted items (a $20 toy with a 50% discount).  So really, I'm maybe $100 less than that...although I've also hit $600+ saved since...  (We also got a 40% off deal on Luke's $80 bike which is a pretty nice chunk, and the day I hit $500.  We also got a pretty nice discount on his Cozy Coupe.  Those two deals alone could be 10% of my total savings.)

Target usually releases most of their new Cartwheel deals on Sundays and I usually check the app then.  Otherwise I check it when planning my shopping trips and the morning before I go (they often release a handful of new discounts each day).  I also scan every item (or at least every different item, not each if I'm buying multiples of the same thing) before putting it in my cart.  Even with being pretty familiar with the available deals, I'm still sometimes surprised by a discount I wasn't expecting so it's definitely worth checking everything. 

Hint: Matt doesn't have Cartwheel on his phone but when he does make the very occasional stop without me, I add the deals he thinks he's going to use, screen capture my barcode and text it to him.  He's never had a problem using that.   (The barcode doesn't change so he could just keep the same picture on his phone forever...which would be fine because he never deletes his pictures but also, since he never deletes his pictures he has a lot.  And it's a good reminder for him if I text it to him each time.)

3) Sales
Obvious, right?  I check the new weekly ad every Sunday and eagerly await their Black Friday ad in November.  A few sales I particularly watch out for:

Buy one, get one 50% off
They seem to run this sale about once a month on some sort of apparel items.  Either women's or kids' or shoes or purses or swimwear or certain t-shirts or something.  Because of this, I will very very rarely buy clothing for Luke or myself (Matt's usually on his own) without it being at least 25% off.  I figured out (accidentally, I promise) that if you buy two items with this promotion and return one of them, you get to keep one for 25% off; they split the discount between the items.  That mean when they run this sale I'll usually have scooped out what I want to buy and then order two pairs of the same shoe in different sizes (a legit thing to do!) and then return one, keeping the other for 25% off.  I use this sale A LOT. 

Spend $20 in some department, get a $5 giftcard
It seems like they've been running this one a lot lately but the departments I watch for are personal and/or healthcare.  It's a good time to stock up on things like bandaids, neosporin, toothpaste, deodorant,  body wash, make-up, Q-tips, etc.   If you get your total (over but) close to $20 then you are essentially getting these items for 25% off.  In the last few months I've used it to stock up on toothpaste and deodorant during one sale and then some make-up items (this face primer among other things) during another.  I don't like stocking up too much but on items we'll go through rather quickly (toothpaste, body wash) or things that don't often go on sale (make-up, nail polish), I don't mind having a few extras in the drawer.

4) Paper Coupons
Target has printable coupons on their website and I try to check those before my shopping trips.  These are usually for name brand items though and since we don't buy many of those, I don't have much luck.  BUT if I can print a coupon and combine with iBotta or a Cartwheel deal or a sale, then sometimes it's worth it.

5) RedCard
I have a Target store credit card, they also offer debit cards.  I don't like having a lot of credit cards BUT Target offers an extra 5% off every single purchase (pharmacy is the only exception I've run into) and free shipping on any dollar amount with their credit card.  I take full advantage of both of these.  5% might not seem like much, it's less than Indiana sales tax, but if you shop there as much as I do, that adds up over the course of a year!

6) Clearance
This is one of my favorite ways to shop for Luke.  I'd estimate I've been able to buy about 75% of his wardrobe on clearance the year before.  This was easier once he hit the 24 month/2T size because I could buy something knowing he'd fit into it, during the appropriate season, at some point.  I think every single 3T shirt currently in his drawer I bought at least 9 months ago on clearance.  I am currently buying 4T clearance shirts for next summer (have two on the way to me right now!).  I've bought his swimsuits, PJ sets, pants, sweatshirts and shorts this way too.  I have a 3T and 4T winter coat for him in his closet, been there for 4 months.  I had so much for him this summer that the only things I needed to buy were a polo and plaid shorts for him to wear to his cousin's wedding next month (wasn't thinking that far ahead last year!). 

I don't buy as much for myself on clearance because I'm picky about my clothes and finding the right item in the right size can be tricky.  (Little boy clothes seems to be much more straight forward!  T-shirts, shorts, pants.  Not a lot of variation, which is wonderful for me!)   Matt does check the clearance racks for himself on his rare Target trip and occasionally I luck out in the grocery or home departments with clearance finds too.

7) Avoiding Known Problem Areas
I think every female over a certain age (i.e. teens) has heard some sort of joke about walking into Target for one thing and walking out $100 later.  It could be a problem.  I partially avoid this by not even going to areas I know will be tempting for me.  I try to steer clear of the Dollar Spot (it has a new name but I forget what it is) because I can too easily find something for $1-$5 that's calling to me.  Usually in the home decor/seasonal stuff (they already have back to school stuff out and have since before the 4th!  I asked the service desk ladies about it, since I was obviously returning something, and they said people were split.  Half had been asking for it.  The others were like me and wondering why the heck it was out June 30th!). 

I am usually too cheap to buy home decor items and rarely go through there unless I am getting something specific like picture frames or command strips.  We don't always hit the toy section or the entertainment section or the seasonal section.  I'm very conscious of it not only being a potential wallet drainer but also time waster so we try to get in and out quick, before something calls my name!  (This is not always possible when I'm balancing three apps: Cartwheel, iBotta, and Shopkick, as well as a 3 year old and a list.  But we try.)

I can be very patient when I need to be.  Like I said, I rarely buy things without some sort of discount (beyond the 5% credit card one).  I'm currently waiting for picture frames and baskets to go on sale because I refuse to pay full price.  I will wait weeks-months for my clothing items to go on sale.  If it's not a necessity (food, completely out of bandaids), I wait.  I hate paying full price.  My sunglasses of 6 YEARS recently broke for good and I needed/wanted new ones ASAP (I think my eyes are very light sensitive, I get headaches in bright sunlight easily without sunglasses) and there wasn't a deal so I paid full price.  $15.  I was glad they didn't have a Cartwheel deal the next week for them, I wouldn't have been happy if I was just a few days to soon!  But for most things, I can, and do, wait for a sale! 

9) Five cent bag credit
If you bring your own shopping bag, something I do at almost every store anyways, they will take 5 cents off your order for each bag used.  They've also given it to me when I've requested no bag or had them pack everything into a storage crate or basket I was buying.  This is not a lot but it does add up to a couple bucks for me over the course of the year.  That's a few frozen cokes!  Also, better for the environment so you should be doing this anyways!

What am I missing??  I'd love to hear more ways to save!!

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