How to Combat The Money Spending Black Hole at Target
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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.
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.
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 Target.com (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.
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.
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!