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How to Combat The Money Spending Black Hole at Target

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More Target

collin at target with emoji pillows in cart

We’ve all been there — you walked into Target to pick up a bottle of shampoo (and maybe even some conditioner if it’s on sale). You’re on your way to the checkout line. Somehow along the way, you ended up with a cart filled with everything from groceries to a new bookshelf, a beautiful throw pillow, and a puppy (okay, maybe not the puppy).

We all know that Target trips can lead to overspending, so here are some ways to keep your Target spending in check.

1. Skip the Bullseye Playground.

Have you ever fallen victim to Target’s Bullseye Playground (formerly the Dollar Spot)? We sure have! It’s so easy to get sucked in given its proximity to the entrance and allure of $1 items. You may think a dollar here and there couldn’t possibly hurt your checkout total, but if you actually look at the prices, most items are well over $1, ranging from $3-5! We say skip right past this section (or at least set a limit on how many items you’ll purchase from it).

“The Target trance is a real thing and goes something like this –


Collin walks into Target for toilet paper and detergent. Collin smells popcorn. Collin gets popcorn at the Target cafe because popcorn smells good at all times of the day. Collin tries to bypass the dollar area at the front of the store, but Collin notices those lovely clearance tags. Collin stops to look and somehow items have appeared in her cart. Collin heads to the household area, but her cart steers her over to the apparel section. Collin all of a sudden is on her phone adding apparel Cartwheel offers. Collin now has apparel items in her cart. Collin forgets why she came to Target and is browsing clearance end caps.


Collin is finally checking out, 5 hours later. Collin spends $500. Collin goes home and is not happy when she heads to the toilet to pee. Collin realizes what she missed on her Target list. The end.” — Collin

2. Use Target Drive Up.

target order pickup with cartwheel promotions — collin with target order bags

Not only is the Target Drive Up service crazy convenient, but it helps you avoid adding unnecessary items to your cart since your shopper will only pick up what’s on your list. All you have to do is place your order in the Target app, arrive when it’s ready, and a Target associate will bring it out to your car. Easy peasy!

Hip Tip: You can now combine Cartwheel offers with Target Drive Up! Check out the details here.

3. Make solo trips.

It’s hard to stick to a list when you’ve got kids, spouses, friends, or family either encouraging you to buy that adorable tray for your kitchen or just throwing what they want into the cart. Head in alone to avoid the distraction and stay on target (pun intended). 😆

“I try to have tunnel vision and just get my items, or else I will overspend for sure. My husband on the other hand overspends every time he goes there with my daughter. They go in for one thing and come out with half the toy aisle. And now that he knows how to use the Cartwheel offers, it’s all over. In fact, he’s there right now with my daughter. She needed white gloves for a Christmas thing they’re doing at school tomorrow. I’m cringing to see what they end up coming back with.” — Jessica

4. Purchase online only.

target cardboard shipping box

You can’t buy it if you don’t see it, right? If you know what you need and your products will ship for free, try ordering your Target necessities online. This way you avoid browsing the aisles and adding more “stuff” to your cart. And if you can’t get free shipping to your home, see if they can be shipped to store or just picked up at customer service.

Hip Tip: Apply for a Target REDcard credit card or debit card to score so many great perks, including free 2-day shipping on most items on (no minimum purchase!), an extra 5% when you pay with your REDcard and more!

5. Set a contingency rule.


I’m not trying to bash on picking up a few extra things here and there because Target does have some pretty great deals! To keep yourself in check, though – make a shopping rule before you hit the store, like clearance items you find must be at least 50% off or under $10. You can also set a limit on how many extras you’re allowed to add to your cart. It’s the best of both worlds as you score a deal – but without going over your limit.

Hip Tip: Check out more ways to save at Target!

6. Take a picture, get it next time.

target monogram coffee mug anthro copycat

Good things come to those who wait. Something my mom always taught me, “If you’re meant to have it, it will be there next time.” For those products you’re on the fence about, give yourself some time to mull it over. If you still want it next time you’re in the store (and it’s still in stock!), put your found treasure in the cart!

“I walk into Target and immediately bee line for a cup of joe at Starbucks. I wait 15 minutes because the new Starbucks takes that long to make my coffee. Walk to the baby section for wipes & diapers and pick up 3 baby outfits along the way. Now, as I’m on my way to grab the toiletries/paper goods I came for, I get sidetracked in every home aisle and end up with something “Magnolia related” in my cart. Oh, and don’t forget all the picture frames/candles I pick up on the clearance end caps on my way there. How many pictures/candles in your home is too many?! Asking for a friend…” — Amber

Love the mug pictured above? 😍 Buy it here!

7. Only shop with Cartwheel offers.

Similar to setting a rule, make a plan to shop only from the list of Cartwheel deals. With helpful tools like the nearby Cartwheel offers in the Target app, you can keep on track based on your current location in the store.

8. Place it in your cart, then put it back.

jeans in a Target cart

Akin to taking a picture of an item and coming back to it later, an opposite (but still effective) approach is to spark the excitement of owning the item – but without actually making the purchase (and no, I’m NOT talking about shoplifting). So how does that work?

“If I see something in the store that I really want, I put it in my cart, and then I finish up my shopping. Before checking out, I hold the item and I look at it again. Is the thrill of ownership still there, or was I just excited to put it into my cart? Nine times out of ten, I end up returning the item to the shelf or rack. The brief amount of time I owned it in the store was enough to spark joy for me. On the rare occasion I buy the item, I knew it was the right choice. — Jamie

9. When all else fails, just avoid Target.

Simply put, you can’t overspend at Target if you don’t actually go to Target. Get your necessities at other budget retailers like Dollar Tree or even Amazon. Out of sight, out of mind!

“We used to get our prescriptions from Target, but my husband made me move them to a drive-thru grocery store because he said I would go on a 30-minute Target shopping spree every time I waited for my prescriptions to get refilled. 🤷” — Michelle 

Have you ever “accidentally” overspent at Target?

Tell us your funny shopping stories in the comments!


Join The Discussion

Comments 74

  1. Victoria

    Well I DO LOVE Target!!! Love sales, coupons, cartwheel and some staff who is amazing. But there is always something once in a while… Very rude manager here and there, sometimes they even accuse of things that do not make any sense, like using fake coupons if its not color. I am very sad, because lately there are more and more hiccups shipping with coupons.
    So I just try to order online if I can, do store pick up, so I could avoid all that hassle.
    I have to say that it looks that Walmart is making customer service better, but not Target. I am dissapointed.

    • Harley D

      Lol @ Victoria I can tell this post was written for you your sounds like a serious targetaholic lol just playing with you happy new year merry Christmas happy holidays ❤️

  2. Jilloverspendatarget

    Good advice. I feel like I overspend at target each time I go. They recently remodeled ours and I feel like I wander aimlessly around the store because they have marketed it perfectly for me.

  3. Kristy

    Costco is another one! I should just avoid all stores period! Lol!

    • Angela

      Me too! They always have new fun stuff to try. We try not to go when we are hungry 😋

  4. Jen

    Best tip: Don’t enter that store!
    (Love your play-by-play of going to Target for TP, Colin. Gave me a good chuckle. 😂)

    • Lo

      Lol that’s me! I just can’t go anymore. I have to look at every end cap and scan

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      LOL! Glad you enjoyed it! 😂

  5. Kathryn

    Not admitting anything, but my husband says he wants to be buried in Targets parking lot so I can visit his grave at least twice a week.

    • Haseena

      Lol for a second I thought u were going to say so he can chase you away from going into the store 🤣

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      LOL! Too funny!

    • Jen


    • donnadb

      Yes, I told my kids just to sprinkle my ashes at Target.

    • riss

      Kathryn for the win!

    • sne3103


    • Aleks

      Lol!! I’m crying at your response. I can’t even…

    • Theresa

      Best sense of humor ever! Happiest Holidays! I love Hip2Save and all the best people who start their shopping here.

    • Heather c

      Bwhahaha 🤣🤣

  6. Kathy

    I know we all have to decide what to do for ourselves but I use to be a huge Target shopper and now I never give them a dime. They started frustrating me when they took a stance that they could not support any military related charities or events years ago. Then I was done for sure when they chose as a corporation to have a policy that anyone can use any restroom, no questions asked. I was already toying with not shopping there and that was the final straw. It has been a savings for us for me not to have them on our store list. I always found some deal that I just couldn’t pass up.

    • Ani

      That is so beyond immature and unreasonable. They are many charities to support but it can’t be just one. I have military friends/familyso it’s not like I have an angst or anything, honestly think big and stop being so narrow minded. Bah humbug to you! You clearly want special treatment all the time.

      • Em

        Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. Hers maybe different than yours, but this is the spice of life! 🙂

      • Kathy

        I totally agree with you. There are many to support and we have to choose what we do and don’t support and it says something about us. That is why I have stop supporting them. I have family who is in the military and I have family who still supports Target. I’m sorry to have offend you. If you knew me personally you would not have taken that as so offensive. This is why I rarely comment and don’t personally have any social media accounts. People take things wrong too often.

        • Momof3

          Well said.

  7. Angela

    I love target and can totally overspend there. I hope that if I someday win a big shopping spree it’s at target!! I have started shopping online and doing in store pickup so I am less tempted.

  8. KS

    I love target and our local store closed almost a year ago. I’ve saved a lot of money now that it’s not 10 minutes away!

  9. Amy

    Funny post! I love Target but found after ordering two things over Thanksgiving week that had to be returned, they tried to give me a gift card when I paid for both with my Target debit card. On one item they credited me back less than the purchase price and no gift card awards or coupons were involved. The credits have still not appeared on my bank statement. I have talked to their (horrible) phone “customer service” 3 times and they still haven’t fixed it. They “say” they had a system problem, but how many people out there just don’t double check their bank account and they never got their refund?
    I’m getting so annoyed! No recourse since it wasn’t a credit card. I don’t know what else to do–the store can’t help either.

    • Suzanne H

      Does your local news or newspaper have a consumer help segment? One of our local stations does and people get help real fast when they are on the news talking about getting ripped off! At a minimum, I would report them to the Better Business Bureau and write a letter to the President @ Target corporate. Most State Corporation Commissions REQUIRE BY LAW that all letters to the President have to be responded to.

  10. Jes

    And this is why I’m thankful the nearest Target is almost an hours drive for me. I can save up and get it all out of my system about twice a year!

    • riss

      Yes, be thankful! I have 3 Target stores around me (north, south and west) from 3.5 miles to 6.5 miles! Temptation all around!!! Best to avoid Target. And Costco.

  11. Mary

    I only purchase for in store pick up. Go straight to the pick up service and back to the car lol.

  12. Katie

    Kathy, I agree with you. I used to shop at Target several times a month but when they changed their policy to let anyone in the women’s bathroom I stopped going there. I’ve limited my shopping at Target to only when I absolutely have to get something there because nobody else has it. The safety of my family was more important than any deal there; especially after seeing that bad situations have happened because of their decisions and they don’t seem to care. To hear they don’t support military charities is awful. I’ve saved a lot of money by not shopping there. As much as I love the store, the “deals” or what they sell, I would ALWAYS overspend when I went there on stuff I didn’t need thinking I would find “someone” to give it to. Thanks for the post Hip2Save. Good ideas for saving money on any store!

    • Momof3

      Well said.

  13. L

    Easy, just do what I do. Be broke all the time! Easily helps from overspending since nothing is more embarrassing than being declined at the register!

    • Jen

      Just scrolling through the comments to see if anyone was poor like me! Ha! When you can only afford the essentials, you don’t know the problem of things accidentally jumping in your cart…. you’re sitting there with a calculator making sure you’ll have enough to cover what’s in your cart.

      • MommySpendsLess

        I remember those days. I found Hip2Save and couponing about a decade ago (it was hosted on a free blogging platform back then) because I was tired of buying the 4-pack of toilet paper and calculating how much money I had left vs how many gallons of gas I needed to get to/from work until Friday. I’m still not rich but it feels like it when we can buy whatever (within reason) groceries we want and fill up the car. As someone who has been there, just wanted to say keep your chin up – it won’t be long before you’re buying useless stuff at Target too lol

  14. Greta

    I watched a news report about Target not supporting our troops/vets rumor and how it began; it revealed one Vietnam vet group wanted cash & did not go through proper channels.Target does not typically give cash donations and if it does there is request paperwork they require.

  15. kerRI

    Target cashier: did you find everything you need ??
    Me: first of all, i was looking for any of this.
    My Target life story too..

  16. Stefanie

    I try not to shop too much at any stores so I can save some money, but I now specifically look for Target sales and deals since they advocated for allowing people to use bathrooms according to their actual gender. I LOVE that Target is unwilling to compromise their integrity and support for LGBTQ+ folks in the face of misinformation and hatred!

  17. Michelle

    I *rarely* shop and Tar-shay. I don’t find good deals and the “deals” I find, I really don’t need anyway.

  18. E

    I make a list and stick to it. My kids are watching me and my spending habits. We realized it was bad when my son started crying to go to target to spend money because he had money. I used to be in target at least once a week. Now it’s more like once a month. If that. But, I do have a small budget for their after-Christmas clearance. Because 90% off is my fave… haha.

  19. Sc

    Thanks for your bigoted post. I had no idea target was so lgbtqia supportive, pro-human rights, and allied towards inclusivity. I now plan to shop there even more!
    Way to go target! “(At target) we believe that everyone – every team member, every guest, and every community – deserves to be protected from discrimination and treated equally” Preach!!

    • CS

      Couldn’t agree more

    • shop4mybabies

      Ditto to this. Any company who puts so much into charity and equality has my dollars

    • Rose

      You forgot to mention “perverts” (in their women’s bathrooms) as another group who Target supports. So maybe now “lgbtqia” should be expanded to “lgbtqiap”.

  20. sandy

    So true on some of your points on this post. Who here has had a handful of “put-backs” for the cashier when they checkout? I always feel bad but I got to!

  21. Sara

    I am never in a Target spending hole because their Cartwheel offers usually just bring their prices down to Walmart’s regular prices. I am in Target only 3 – 4 times per year. Occasionally they have a good deal on something I actually buy, but I think Target is mostly overrated. I prefer Walmart, Albertsons, and Amazon.

    I hate the remodel. The store just looks understocked due to alot of empty space. It makes it seem like there is less variety to choose from. Also, the Target I prefer to go to got rid of the cafe. I love their grilled cheese sandwich. They moved the alcohol into that space. The other Target still has a cafe but that store seems less organized than the one I use to like.

    The bathroom thing doesn’t affect me one way or the other. If I need to use the bathroom, I am going to use it. Needing to go trumps who else is in there.

    • cooper

      Not really. If the Cartwheel discount is 5% or 10% then yes close to Walmart prices…but Target carries much more organic natural food companies/brands then Walmart – Walmart barely carries anything – most of the grocery section there is loaded with pure garbage foods (at least in NY)

  22. Mella

    Target is too expensive for me. Drugstores, dollar stores, regular grocery stores, buying clothes online, are all cheaper. Plus they’re so anti coupon there.

    • Lori

      Amen Mella!

  23. Bob Springer

    See you in about 10 to 15 years, as Target is on the same track as K Mart , and will go South from there to Chapter 11 , , then 13…. They are running out of time and they have No Idea how to fix , if could…. Mark my words……….

  24. Christine

    I quit shopping there and deleted Cartwheel too. They hassle me about coupons every time I go in there and they are too expensive without coupons. There are other stores near me that I prefer to shop because they don’t hassle me. I also bought a heated blanket there a few years ago that stopped working and they refused to exchange it, accept a return or refund my money. The past two years I’ve bought a similar item at Costco because I don’t have to worry about returning it if it stops working. If I do order something I order online.

    • cooper

      if you bought it a “few years ago” I can understand they are not going to exchange it or return it…’s one thing if you bought it a few months ago..

      • Christine

        Everyone else “understood” what I meant. This comment adds nothing to this discussion.

  25. RnBwDsh789

    Number 8 drives every retail employee crazy!! PLEASE don’t just “leave it on the shelf”….give it to your cashier and tell them you don’t want the item!!!! It can then be quickly sorted and put away, rather than be found later while they clean the store. I promise – we don’t have a problem with people not wanting things at the register as long as it’s only a few things. But definitely DON’T leave it laying around the store in the wrong spot!!!

    • Jessica

      I don’t believe she meant set it down anywhere since she said “return the item to the shelf or rack”, meaning where it came from. I will agree that it definitely sucks when people just set stuff down all over but i don’t think that’s what she meant here😉

  26. Tara

    My trick is to not get a cart. You can only get as much as you can carry.

  27. hipsaver2

    I like the Target ‘Dollar Spot’ for their knock off items they have that is more affordable than their other brand name home decor items they carry. I found myself going less to Target after their makeover. I used to know exactly what spots to hit to find clearance and now it’s harder.

  28. Aleks

    I feel the same way about Marshall’s. It has a magnetic pull that grabs me every time I drive past one. And once I’m inside, forget it!

  29. Nita

    I personally find Target overpriced for most things ..and so the few things I KNOW are well priced and I can only get there like Methods cleaning products and Kodiak pancake mixes.. I usually get those items and I’m out.. the dollar spot doesn’t get me bcus I KNOW the stuff I want is all $3 n up..I’m in my 40s so it’s years of experience I guess, to know how to shop and what to avoid.. it’s ALL a learning experience imo.

  30. Ihearthip

    Target is a genius.

  31. Megan

    But I just can’t!! I can’t I tell you!!! 😂

  32. Laurie Villotta

    Target is very expensive in my opinion. I do not want to have to use my phone for the app to get “deals”. I also think all of rhe womens and teen clothes are very expensive. I prefer Walmart all the way. You know that their groceries are much cheaper and you do not have to use the app. Their grocery pick up and site to store are amazing. The return process on online returns is amazing. I do almost all my shopping and shipping from them. But my Aldi is by far the best kept secret. But hey I am sure there are millions of others that visit this site that never have to worry about a budget.

    • Sharon

      I agree. Too expensive.

  33. Molly Mi

    For me, if I want to make sure I don’t spend everything in my bank account, I will take one of my kids. Nothing comes even close to an active toddler or a cranky baby for getting me in and out as quickly as possible. 😂

  34. K

    Yup #9. I actually save so much money now by avoiding target!

  35. Cathy B

    #9 – Don’t go!!! I stopped going when the bathroom issue came up. A friend of my husband went to the ladies room and a straight up man was in there. She was mortified. I would have called management! That reinforced me not going back. She is still traumatized by that, and tells the story to people. They cancelled my debit and credit accounts because I wasn’t using them. I have received offers in the mail since then, but not remotely interested in going back! They miss all of the business I gave them for sure! Lol!

  36. Suz OH

    Did not know how much money I am saving by living so far from a Target! This post has gotten me past my “sorrow” that nearest one is an hour away from my new location. Do order online more but stick to sales. Just yesterday received an on sale (thank you Hip 2 Save for the heads up) storage unit that was very heavy. So glad I did not not have to struggle with it at the store.

  37. Kb

    Collin, where did you get the purple shirt you’re wearing in the first picture? Love it!

  38. Heidi

    Am I the only one that has found their recent girls clothing area is very small and lacking in stuff? I was looking for skirts for my daughter for a Christmas concert, and the only skirt I found was a tulle type skirt. I am very disappointed in the new clothing line, and more impressed with Walmarts new clothing line. I was shocked to see so many cute kids outfits from Walmart when I was helping the Salvation Army Angel Tree program this season. This will definitely keep me from spending too much at Target!

    • K

      Yes!!!! The girls section is very empty but my target is closing next month so I wasn’t sure if that’s why

  39. Cheapcheapgoesthemommy

    Thank you for not being perfect I love your shop and confessions and how real you keep it thank you thank you!!!

  40. Cindy

    The “place it in your cart, then put it back” trick is what I do when I go to Target and Walmsrt. It works! By the time I’m done browsing and ready to check out, I take a good look at the extras I’ve picked up and almost always put them back.

  41. Sharon

    I find Target too expensive and rarely shop there.

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