Savvy Saving: how to save big at Target

When you first start seeing the “you saved…” numbers at the bottom of your receipt creep up and up, you get a tingle of excitement and pride. The more they go up, the happier you are with your saving habits. You’re encouraged to clip more coupons, scour ads for sales, and hit the web in search of the ever-elusive double coupon. But you don’t want to compromise quality too much, or you may end up spending more to replace the items. For instance, if you buy the cheapest paper towels but have to use twice as many, you’ll end up spending more to buy twice as much.
Target is known for having quality products at an affordable price. Once you add in coupons, Red Card savings and sales, you can save, save, save. There are three main components to shopping at Target successfully: have the weekly ad, use coupons wisely, and put your smart phone to use. With these combined tactics, you’ll shave ten to twenty percent off of your total off each time.
Target releases their weekly ad on Sundays, like most major retailers. It can be found in your Sunday paper or for free on their website, Target.com, and in their mobile app. Each week, they have a variety of items on sale. Be wise about what time of year you shop for certain products. No one should wait until the first week in January to buy exercise equipment; the horde of New Year’s resolution makers will hit stores like a wave, spending hundreds of dollars to buy clothing and equipment. If you hold off for a few weeks, all the unsold fitness merchandise will go on clearance. The glory of clearance at Target is that the clearance tag itself can tell you so much: the upper right corner has the amount of the discount. Depending on the popularity of the item, you may be able to wait out the price drops as the clearance goes from 15%, to 30%, to 50%, to 70% and the rarely seen, elusive 90%.


The ad doesn’t just show you what will be on clearance soon; you can use seasonal cycles to buy what you need. Back to school means sheets, towels and housewares are on sale for all those college freshmen heading off to school– and the savvy saver who waited to buy until the sale rolled around. But my favorite part of the ad is the grocery section.
Yes! Target has groceries! Some Target stores carry more than others. Mine has refrigerated produce, frozen meat, dry goods (like pastas, sandwich bread, cereal, juice, soda), ice cream, and even a small baking section. Each week, some items will be on sale. One week it may be bread, milk and eggs. The next week may discount cereal, pasta and pasta sauce. As you scan the ad each week, make a note of what’s on sale. Within six weeks, you’ll be able to identify your stores’ sales cycle and know when to stock up and when to wait.
A bonus to shopping at Target is that you can combine offers. If you clip coupons from your newspaper, which I highly recommend, you can combine them with Target.com coupons. Yes, Target offers coupons on their website, for a variety of products. My favorite Target coupons are for the generic Target brands like Market Pantry, Simply Balanced,  and Up & Up. The generic brands are always more affordable and I have yet to find a generic Target product inferior in quality. If you prefer name-brands, Target offers coupons for those products, too. If you really love a product, like Pillsbury crescent rolls, visit their company website. You can print coupons directly off their website.


Target jumped on the mobile coupons early. You can install the Target app to your smart phone for free, and every week they add new mobile coupons. Have a manufacturer coupon, a Target printed coupon, and a Target mobile coupon? You can use two of the three, as they now only allow one Target coupon, one cartwheel, and one manufacturer coupon per item. The only caveat is that Target mobile coupons can only be used once each. So if you buy juice every week and have a mobile coupon, you can only use the mobile coupon once, or until they update the barcode (typically every week to ten days). Target also recently unveiled its Cartwheel app and website, which links to Facebook. The more you save and share, the more coupon spots you earn. So if you already have the triple savings mentioned above (Target mobile, manufacturer coupon and Target.com coupon), you can add a fourth savings: Cartwheel. All four coupons overlapping is a joyous event that takes planning, but is oh so worth it. You can also link your debit account to a Target Redcard and save an additional 5% off each receipt, plus get free shipping from orders at Target.com.
Love shopping at Target? Want to earn a gift card just by walking in the door? Double up on your smart phone skills by using the Shopkick app. You open the app, walk into Target, and earn kicks. The more kicks you earn, the higher gift card you can redeem them for. 500 kicks will net you a $2 Target gift card. But Target isn’t the only place where you can earn kicks. Other retailers, such as American Eagle, Aerie, Sports Authority, Wal-Mart and more also participate. Often, you can scan items in the store to earn additional kicks.

So shopping at Target doesn’t have to be a splurge. If you use the ad, coupons and your smart phone, it can actually help you spend less, and save more. Happy Saving!

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