Here’s How You Can Avoid Overspending at Target

Target logo. | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The pain of dropping $100 or more at Target (when you intended to only buy a bottle of shampoo) is real. From the beauty products and home goods to clothing and electronics: Target can be a total budget drain. Why is it so hard to resist the big red bullseye?

One big reason we love Target is the retailer portrays itself as a discount store, even though that may not always be the case. Plus, Target merchandisers understand the psychology of what makes shoppers giddy and play into that euphoria. Fashions rival higher-end retailers and the store is set up to play into your sense of lifestyle.

“When shopping at a big-box retailer, such as Target, that carries everything from grocery items to apparel to electronics, it’s very easy to get distracted from what’s on your actual shopping list,” Andrea Browne Taylor, Online Editor at Kiplinger’s said to The Cheat Sheet. “The layout of the store is widespread by design. While you’re shopping, you’ll likely have to walk by several other aisles — filled with items that might entice you to make impulse purchases — before you even get to the aisle you really need.”

Shoppers are clearly drawn away from their list as the average Target shopper spends about $62 per visit, and $7 of that bill is devoted to junk, according to Women’s Health. That equates to about $364 a year in junk spending alone if you shop every week.

Rather than hemorrhaging money at Target every week, pare down those expenses using these smart money moves, courtesy of Kiplinger.

Be a planner

Sounds simple enough but Taylor says a little planning can go a long way. “Before your next trip to your local Target store, go online and print out a copy of the store map,” she explains. “Familiarize yourself with the exact department aisles you need to shop in, so there’s no need to wander around the store to find them when you get there. This may seem a bit over-the-top, but if you’re on a budget it’s a smart shopping strategy that will help you to not overspend.”

Hit the clearance items

Toys at Target

Find the deals on the ends of the aisles. | Amanda Harding via Cheat Sheet

The ends of Target aisles contain the biggest bargains and clearance items, according to Kiplinger. One pro move is to look at both ends of the aisle for savings, which can easily be 25% or more.

Price match

Target honors competitor coupons and will drop their price if you find it cheaper elsewhere. Before you shop, scan competitor flyers and be sure you bring any deals or offers when you shop. Also, if you’ve already purchased something from Target and find a better deal, inquire about getting credit. You can price match for a purchase made up to 14 days. This includes both competitor offers and price drops at Target. To price match online orders, call’s guest services hotline at 1-800-591-3869.

Order online and pick up in a store

One easy way to remove impulse buying from the picture is to order online and pick up your loot in the store. While not every item is offered online, you can reap the benefits of ordering clothing, electronics, beauty products, and more. When picking up your purchases, resist the urge to shop. Visit the customer service desk, retrieve your items and leave–no browsing.

Snap up deep post-holiday discounts

Target storefront

Shopping at Target during the holidays. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Target offers up to 70% off holiday items right after the festivities occur. While most people stock up on Halloween and Christmas decor, don’t forget about Labor Day sales. Kiplinger found 45% off patio furniture, plus scored an additional 15% discount as part of the store’s Labor Day sale.

Bring your own bags

Shoppers receive five cents off their total purchase if they use a re-useable bag to tot their wares. While five cents may not sound like much, using reusable bags reduces the personal use of plastic.

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