If you love shopping at Target, you know how easy it is to go in with the intention of grabbing a couple of your favorite items but leaving with a few shopping bags and a receipt totaling way more than you'd planned. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior can wreak havoc on your wallet -- even more so with the current increase in prices.
To help keep your Target shopping habit in check and save money, here are some of the top do's and don'ts of shopping at Target -- straight from retail experts.
Do Join Target Circle
"The loyalty program is free to join and has different offers on a regular basis that you can save in the app and take advantage of," said consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews. "The great thing is that saving offers but not redeeming them still shows you're interested and can help you see future promotions tailored to your interests."
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Do Opt for Target's Brands
"Target has several in-house brands that are worth your time and can save a ton compared to name-brands," Ramhold said.
"The Good & Gather hot cocoa mix is one of my regular buys from the store, and comes in a few different flavors, including seasonal offerings like pumpkin spice. It tastes rich and luxurious but is cheaper than big brands like Starbucks. I keep them on hand to mix into coffee or to have on their own, and there's no way I could go back to the cheap packets with freeze dried mini marshmallows now."
She added, "Target's brands encompass a lot more than just food, too -- their Room Essentials Y-Weave plastic baskets come in a variety of sizes and are perfect for organizing tons of things from headbands to yarn to nail polish and more."
Do Take Advantage of Pickup
"Target stores offer in-store pickup, but some locations also offer drive-up pickup, and it's amazingly convenient, but it can also help to protect your wallet (assuming you have self-control online)," Ramhold said.
"If you aren't wandering around the store, you won't be subjected to temptation, so opt for drive-up or in-store pickup when you can to save time and potentially money as well."
Do Download the App
"If you're going to be taking advantage of drive-up pickup, you'll need the app anyway, but it's also super user-friendly and easy to shop," Ramhold said.
"Even better, you can choose your preferred store through the app, pay with the app, create shopping lists and even navigate the store you're shopping within the app. If an item is in-stock, the app will tell you what aisle to find it on, which can save you so much time if you're looking for items in an unfamiliar part of the store."
Don't Shop With a Basket or Cart
"If you enjoy shopping at Target, chances are good that at one point or another you've gone with the intent to buy a few things, grabbed a basket or a cart, and left with way more than you intended," Ramhold said.
"If you're trying to avoid impulse purchases, consider shopping without a cart or basket, as long as you can carry the few things you're planning to buy without issue. That way, you're limited to only buying what you can carry, which could prevent overspending."
Don't Assume All Website Items Are Sold In-Store
"That is, if you're shopping online, don't assume everything will be coming from Target," said Ramhold. "Like other retailers, the store has a third-party marketplace now, which means you can see a ton of different sellers offering up items in a range of prices. This doesn't mean they're bad sellers, but if you're in doubt at all, make sure to refine your searches so that you're shopping either third-party sellers you trust or looking only at what's available directly from Target."
Don't Skip the Clearance Section
If you're looking for a specific item, you can find great deals by going to the Target website and typing "clearance" into the search bar. You'll find thousands of items at clearance prices that you can filter in multiple ways, such as by category, amount of discount, size, price, brand or guest rating.
When you're in the store, Suresh Kamar, founder, CEO and shopping expert at Saver.com, said to make sure and shop the clearance racks where you can find amazing deals on things you might need. Kamar found a brand-new pair of jeans for just $4 this way.
"Most people don't realize this, but most items are marked down by 50% or more after they've been on the shelf for more than a week," Kamar said. "So if you see something you like, grab it then!"
Don't Go to the Store To Return Items You Ordered Online
If you have a hard time going to Target without buying something, avoid going to the store to return items you ordered online. "Instead, return purchases by mail -- for free -- using a prepaid mailing label provided through your Target account online," said Kamar.
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