If you have to buy it, get the best deal!
My favorite challenge when shopping in-store at Target is getting out for less than $100. It’s a fun game, and I think you should play it some time. I go in there for one or two things and walk out with a cart full of items. Target seems to do that to me more than any other store. There are just so many things to discover and the shopping experience is almost always pleasant. As much as I enjoy shopping in the store, a lot of the items I buy are cheaper online than they are in store. There is only a $35 purchase requirement for free shipping. That is my first tip before this article even gets started. Check the online prices for your recurring purchases. The difference may surprise you. Some of the more costly items are up to $10 cheaper online.
For items you purchase on a recurring basis, you can sign up for a subscription and save 5% when they ship. Considering the online price is already cheaper than most in-store prices, it could save a lot to start placing online orders. Subscriptions are not subject to the $35 free shipping minimum either.
Whether shopping in-store or online, all Red Card holders get 5% off every order. I am adamantly opposed to having store credit cards. They tend to have higher-interest rates, only work in one place, and all lines of credit affect your score (positively or negatively). Signing up for too many credit cards can hurt your score. As it is preferable not to have too many cards, I recommend having lines of credit with cards that work in most places, like a Visa or MasterCard. Those who do not want a credit card can sign up for a debit card version of the Red Card. If I ever start shopping primarily with a debit card, I will sign up for this. A benefit to shopping with credit over debit is you do not have to constantly balance your checkbook. Your credit card payment is only due once a month, and you can review charges then. Of course, the drawback is it can get easy to overspend if you only balance payments once a month.
My favorite thing to purchase from Target online is a limited edition Beauty Box. These are one-time purchases that are available for $5-$10. Every box gets free shipping, but you must meet the $35 free shipping minimum if you add anything with it. The box above, which is in transit to my house, and the box below both went for $7. That is the most standard price of the beauty box these days. Each box usually has 6-8 items. Some are full-sized, some are sample sized, and some are foils. Box value is usually at least 3 times the cost. As long as the personal value of the items you want to keep is over the cost of the box, these are good purchases. When the cost of the box is around or less than the items I will actually keep, I tend to pass. Better boxes usually run out of stock within the first few hours they get released.
This is not a subscription, and you get to see all items inside the box before making a purchase decision. A box is usually released every month. The first Monday of the month is the most common release date. There are times when the boxes release late on Sunday night, which is great for West Coast shoppers. Really exceptional boxes usually run out-of-stock while we sleep on the West Coast. All boxes include a $3 off $15 Beauty (works on cosmetics, skin care, and hair care) coupon. Each coupon works once online AND once in store, because the promo code is different from the bar code. Remember to write down or photograph the online code if you shop in person first. Each coupon is only valid for about a month after the box ships. When the box takes a long time to ship, and it usually does, you have less than a month to redeem the coupon by the time it arrives.
Target is a great place to register for special occasions,. The pricing is more affordable than a lot of similar stores, but a lot of the items still have style. Everyone knows about Wedding, and Baby registries, but did you know Target does them for Housewarmings, Kid’s Wishlists, Custom, and College, as well. Even if you do not have a lot of friends or family, Target gives a 15% coupon to purchase the items on your registry after the event. Whether people indulge you or not, you get a discount just for creating it.
There is a Clearance section online. I have found some gems here so it is worth mentioning. More often than not, the items in the clearance section offer pretty slim pickings.
Whether shopping in-store or online, take a look at the Top Deals section. There are always a lot of offers. You can’t redeem them if you do not know about them. The good news is whether shopping online or in-store, a pop-up (online) or promo tag (in-store) can alert you to the sale. Some stores are better at notifying you of promo codes than others. You will usually text a code to Target for the in-store version of the coupon or add it to your CartWheel (scroll down) account. My store does not always take down offer tags when they expire so I get tricked into thinking something is on sale when it isn’t. If the offer is for a free gift card with the purchase, it will get emailed after your order ships, or the cashier will give it to you when you check out.
Which Target you shop at can also make a lot of difference. When it comes to drugstores, and Target sells a lot of drugstore items, there is a lot of fluctuation in price. Within the three Targets by my house, I’ve noticed a lot of fluctuation in pricing on items I regularly buy. Of course, the Target closest to my house tends to have the highest prices of the three. Is it worth it to drive to a Target far away to save a few dollars? That is personal preference. On a small purchase, the added gas may eat up your savings.
For those who like to plan their store visits in advance, Target creates a Weekly Ad. What I love about the Weekly Ad is it is user-friendly. If you click on the item you want to look at, it will pull up. You can also customize the ad to the store closest to you and clicking on the item will show you availability at the store. No sense is rushing over to the store to grab a great deal if your store does not even have it in stock. Although a trip to Target is never really a waste to me. I can always find things to buy even if I had no idea I wanted them when I walked into the store.
Target does offer price matching in store or online. Many times this is automatic with no customer involvement required. Several times when Ulta has a sale on an item, Target will have the same price throughout the Ulta sale. This price matching does not apply to clearance, discounts for being a credit card holder, coupons, discounted damaged items, and a few other obvious exclusions. Getting the match is a bit of a hassle, but it is worth it if you find an incredible deal elsewhere within 14 days of making your purchase. To get the price matched in store, visit the guest services counter. Show the agent proof of the cheaper item along with your receipt. If the better price is not advertised somewhere, it is not adequate proof. The agent will verify that the item is the same and in stock. Once verified, the agent will approve the lower price.
If the lower price is available at Target online, this counts for an in store purchase. This is especially helpful if you need the item quickly and do not want to pay extra to get it in store today. It works the other way around as well, but as I already covered in this article, the online price is almost always cheaper. Customers who find lower advertised prices for online purchases would need to call customer service to get the price matched. Although I am sure it occasionally exists, I am unsure how one would prove his/her local Target had a better price to get an online match. It is probably something the phone agent can get access to without customer assistance (I’d hope). That or they could have you send them a copy of your receipt.
Some Targets offer a Beauty Concierge. I’ve only chatted with a beauty concierge once. She was pretty knowledgable. If there is a deal on the floor, s/he can help you find it. What is even more helpful, considering you cannot return opened products, is the person can offer product advice. Even when shopping alone, a concierge can help you try to guess which foundation might match you, if a particular blush will suit your skin tone, and help you find testers. Yes, some Targets have testers and who better to point them all out than someone who specifically works in that section. Finding them can get difficult in the sea of products. It is not like a Sephora where there is a tester in front of everything.
There are a lot of clearance sections in-store. This was once a red (orange) banner. Target re-branded the banner to make it yellow (like the online banner pictured above). These clearance sections are almost always on end-caps. How many clearance end-caps you see depends on how many products they need to move. I’ve seen times when there are multiple end-caps full of beauty clearance and other times where beauty shares with other items, like the photo below. As I already have an article dedicated to in-store clearance, I will not expound upon it too much here.
There are always promotions at Target. One offer that is available until 04/28/18 is Buy Three, Get One free on Premium Trial Size Products. This offer includes a lot of products, including some I already have in my collection. If I like them, I can get more at a discount.
There is a mix-and-match brands promotion from Axe, Caress, Degree, Dove, Dove Men+Care, Lever 2000, Noxzema, POND’S, Q-Tips, Simple, St. Ives, Suave, TreSemme, and Vaseline. If you buy 4 products from any of these lines through 03/17/18, you get a $5 Target gift card. This is a common offer, but the products will alternate throughout the year.
Whenever I see a Priced Right Daily tag, I get mixed feelings. I can say I see why Target places these gaudy tags in the aisle. They trick the mind into thinking you are getting a deal. Tags always take a beautiful aisle and make it an eyesore. When the tag really does not say anything, I always wonder why it is there. Elf is one of the few brands that has the same pricing just about everywhere, including Ulta.
The New & now section does not really have deals. I do like to check this section to see what is new to Target. I’ve found interesting things here. When Target does carry drugstore brands or products that had not been available before, they are typically priced lower than other drugstores, except of course, Walmart. In that sense, you can get a deal by being aware of what is new to Target.
Cartwheel is only available in store, but many online prices are naturally cheaper than store prices. It allows you to electronically clip up to 50 coupons. New offers releases every Tuesday. Add your desired offers to your Target app. It does take some serious time to scroll through all the offers as it is not unusual for Target to have 700-900. If you are running in for a few items and have the willpower not to browse the entire store, you can only search for items in the category you’re shopping in. For really targeted trips, like grabbing a quick birthday present, or some medicine for a headache I usually do not even bother with Cartwheel.
The hardest part is remembering to have the employee scan your bar code at checkout. It took me a while to get the hang of that. From the times I have remembered to load my Cartwheel and have the employee scan it, I’ve saved $267.18. My average trip to Target is somewhere between $100 and $200 so it took me a while to get over $260 in savings.
On my last visit, my subtotal after Cartwheel was $234.26, and I saved $5.31. I also saved $0.21 at the snack bar on a $5.19 subtotal.
I also uploaded the receipt to Ibotta and got another $2.50 back on the purchase. Had I looked at Ibotta before I went shopping, I probably would have received more back. It was nice getting $2.50 back on items I was going to purchase anyway. Ibotta is a coupon app that allows you to upload receipts and get rebates on specific items. New members get a $10 bonus if they save $10 using the app within the first 30 days. This purchase actually qualified me for that bonus. Anyone who refers a new member gets a $5 bonus. You have to select the store you want to shop at, browse through the offers, add the ones you want, and upload the receipt after shopping.
Once you reach $20, you can cash out. Thanks to receiving my $10 welcome bonus with this purchase, I actually have enough to cash out now.
There are some gift card options for cashing out and one even offered a $5 bonus. Of course, the $5 bonus was for a place I am not interested in. I decided to do a PayPal transfer to my account.
Within seconds, PayPal emailed me to confirm receipt. That is the fastest I’ve ever received a PayPal transfer. So far, I am enjoying this app.
When it comes to Cartwheel, clipping coupons, and Ibotta, they are all time-consuming. You have to decide if these extra steps are worth the small savings you will receive. The savings add up over time, and there are some deals you can really score with. I do not have the time or patience to learn extreme couponing so this is as close as I will probably come.
You can create an online account (using your cell phone) to print in-store coupons. Many of these coupons are inside Cartwheel now, but that was not always the case. Unless you have easy access to a printer, check Cartwheel before printing anything. I redeemed that muffin coupon within Cartwheel so I did not need to print it out.
Other than the traditional methods of getting coupons, via mail, newspapers, magazines, etc, you can also get coupons from coupons.com, MyPoints, and Swagbucks. What I like about printing coupons from MyPoints and Swagbucks is you get points for printing and redeeming coupons. You can use those points to cash in for gift cards to retailers. It is like scoring twice.
A lot of people tell me Walmart has better prices than Target. On some things, that is true. Assuming Walmart is cheaper on everything is a mistake. If Walmart always had the lowest price, it would not need Savings Catcher, which I will cover when I write my Walmart article. There are items I regularly purchase at Target that are actually cheaper at Target. Drugstore pricing just has a lot of fluctuation. Between Cartwheel, Clearance, and more access to discounts via Top Deals, Target can really rival Walmart in pricing on a lot of items. When there is a price difference, it is almost always $0.11 per item. If I can get something for $4.99 at Target, I can usually get it for $4.88 at Walmart. The reason I shop in person at Target more than I shop at Walmart is I enjoy the shopping experience more at Target, and I feel Target has better quality brands when purchasing accessories or home decor.
The Beauty Box is a wonderful way to sample drugstore products. If you want to redeem the coupon from your Beauty Box, make sure you remember the date it expires. I’ve lost too many based on how quickly they expire and forgetting about them until they do. Take a look at the Top Deals before placing an order or shopping in store. Load Cartwheel offers before any major in-store purchase. Remember to check all offers before placing an order. See all Target articles. Read all articles in the Getting the Best Deal Series. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
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