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5 items you should always buy at Target—and 2 you can skip

Megan Leonhardt

If you've ever overspent at Target, you're not alone. The retailer makes it very difficult for shoppers to hold back, to the point where the phenomenon has a name: the Target effect .

That's due, in large part, to Target's popular store brands like Archer Farms, Threshold and Up&Up. "Target has dozens and dozens of store brands, many of which rate very favorably when compared to other retailers," says Joanie Demer, co-founder of the Krazy Coupon Lady .

Still, not everything at Target is a good bargain. CNBC Make It asked several experts about where to find the best deals when they're shopping at Target.

Here are five types of products they recommend and two items they say aren't worth the money.

Don't buy: Books

"Target's book department is very small," Christy Palmer, founder of AllThingsTarget.com , tells CNBC Make It . So if you're looking for an extensive selection or want help deciding what to buy, she recommends shopping at your local bookstore. Since prices aren't always the lowest, either, if you're budget-minded, try a used bookstore, an online retailer like Amazon or a library.

Make It compared Target prices to Amazon's on two popular hardcover books and found that Amazon can be cheaper. Target sells the new James Patterson hardcover book, "The Cornwalls Are Gone," for $18.30; Amazon has it for $12.80 . Oprah Winfrey's new book, "The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose," is available at Target for $18.29. Amazon sells it for $16.75.

"Our goal is to be priced competitively for our guests every day. We competitively shop thousands of items each day and make ongoing pricing adjustments to ensure we're offering great value to our guests," a spokeswoman for Target tells CNBC Make It.

Don't buy: Televisions

When it comes to shopping for your latest technology upgrade, you have a lot of options. But while Target may be convenient, it might not have the lowest prices, experts say.

"Consider shopping elsewhere for bigger purchases like TVs and electronics," says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot.com .

Palmer agrees: When it comes to TVs, you are better off sticking with other big box stores.

If you're looking for a specific brand, try retailers that specialize in home entertainment, where the selection is better. Brad's Deals recommends shopping for TVs at BuyDig and P.C. Richard & Son , which both ship nationally for free.

That said, if there's a great sale or coupon offered by Target, then you may find good deals. And if you can wait until the last few months of the year, Target often offers free shipping when you shop online, says Jim Markus of Brad's Deals. "This isn't a guarantee that it will happen again, but we did see free shipping in November and December for the past few years," he says.

Target also offers a Price Match Guarantee , where the retailer will match the price if you find an identical item for less than you see in the store, the spokeswoman says.

Buy: Cat & Jack children's clothing

Launched in 2016, Target's Cat & Jack brand focuses on clothing for babies and children. It's proven to be a hit with Target shoppers: Sales surpassed $2 billion last year. More recently, the brand even rolled out apparel designed specially for kids and toddlers living with disabilities .

"The clothing and accessories from Cat & Jack are cute and fun and they come with an amazing one-year guarantee," Palmer says. "If the clothing doesn't hold up, you can return it up to one year with your original receipt."

To get the best deals on children's clothes, the Krazy Coupon Lady site recommends shopping in-store on Mondays, when items go on clearance. Once the clothing is marked down, Target will increase the discount every 10 to 14 days.

Other clothing may be worth tossing in your cart as well. For example, Stephanie Nelson, founder of the site Coupon Mom , loves the store's Xhilaration leggings that sell for just $10 a pair. "Higher-priced leggings at other stores are not as good as Target's," she says.

Buy: Home decor

Decorating a room can be expensive, so it helps when you can find quality items for less. Target is the place to go for that, Palmer says.

"Target has several home decor lines that are sure to match everyone's tastes," she says. For example, Target carries the Hearth & Hand brand, which is created in collaboration with Magnolia, a home and lifestyle brand by Chip & Joanna Gaines.

The Project 62 brand is great for those that prefer more modern decor, Palmer says, and the Opalhouse brand offers shoppers items with a more international flavor. The Threshold brand has a "casual and classic feel," she says.

Target even has a line for kids called Pillowfort.

Buy: Laundry supplies

"Some of my favorite items to buy at Target are laundry detergent and household items," Demer says.

Target regularly puts laundry detergent on sale. Deals go live on Sundays, as do Target app coupons. To take full advantage, the Krazy Coupon Lady site recommends shopping early in the week and keeping your eyes peeled for the occasional 50% off promotions, some of which only last for a day.

Buy: Paper products

Skirboll and Demer agree Target shoppers can find great deals on household essentials like paper towels and toilet paper.

Plus, not only will you regularly find coupons for these products in the Cartwheel coupon program, you can almost always find a promotion for a Target a gift card if you buy in bulk, Demer says.

We found promotions readily available in-store for toilet paper and paper towels. An 18-mega roll package of Charmin Ultra-Soft toilet paper sells for $20.49 at New York area stores, according to Target. If you buy three packs, Target will give you a $10 gift card if you use their order pickup service .

Similarly, if you buy two packages of Bounty paper towels (eight huge rolls) for $16.69 a piece, you'll receive a $10 Target gift card using their order pickup service.

Buy: Smartly cleaners

"These cleaners come in some amazing scents, they work great and the prices are super low," Palmer says.

The store brand product comparison app Brandefy compared eight of Target's Smartly products, including dish soaps, hand soaps and all-purpose cleaners, to the name-brand Method line of products. Target's low-cost products are the winners, with the Brandefy team picking the Smartly products almost 63% of the time.

The Smartly 32-ounce bottle of all-purpose cleaner sells for $1.59, while a 10-ounce bottle of dish soap is only 79 cents, according to the Target app.

When it comes to comparing quality, one trick Demer recommends is using the Target app to scan any product that you're looking to purchase before you put it in your cart. "I love to do that because I can look at reviews for the items," she says. "I like to use store reviews to make sure that when I'm buying a store brand I'm still getting a premium product."

Don't miss:

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  • 7 foods, grocery items and other essentials to always buy at Walmart

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