Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Couponer's Guide to Shopping at Target

Is there anything better than shopping at TAR-JAY?!?!{a rhetorical question, of course} Target is more than a big-box store, it's a place that will convince you how much you absolutely need EVERYTHING they have in the store. All of us have at one time or another (or every week in my case) gone in the store to buy "a couple of things" and ended up spending a couple of hundred dollars! We can still get all the goodies we want, we just don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to do it. Read on for my user-friendly couponer's guide to shopping at Target.

Before you arrive at the store:

1) Prepare your game plan - Yes, the key to a successful and frugal shopping trip to Target is making a list of what you'd like to buy at the store based on their sales circular. This will become list# 1. With so many websites offering coupon match-ups for Target's weekly deals, this part will not be difficult at all. Decide which sale items on the circular you'd like, then make certain they are priced right AND have coupons to match as well.

Once you have your circular sales list done, it's time to jot down items you are interested in buying IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT (list# 2 - a.k.a. your "wish list"). Because Target is such a large store offering a variety of ways to save (weekly sales, price cuts, gift card promotions, clearance items), it's very possible to walk out of there with tons of great deals you weren't expecting to find. In order to take advantage of temporary price cuts and unadvertised gift card deals, you must have all your manufacturer and store coupons with you. My preferred method is the ubiquitous coupon binder, but you can pick another method if it works better for you.

2) Clip the coupons you are sure to use - Stay organized by clipping all the coupons you'll need for list# 1 (the circular sales items you chose from the coupon match-ups). By doing this step ahead of time, you'll be certain to have all the coupons you need in one place which will help make your check-out process run smooth (fingers crossed).

3) Don't forget your RED Card and reusable shopping bags - The lovely folks at Target have seen fit to offer shoppers a few easy ways to add more savings to their receipts. The store will deduct 5¢ off your total purchase for each reusable shopping bag you use. They also have their RED Card 5% off daily promotion. If you use any of their RED Cards to pay for your purchase (Target Visa credit card, store credit card or Target debit card), the register will take 5% off your total. For example, if you spend $100 and use 5 reusable shopping bags during your shopping trip, Target will deduct $5.25 off your receipt. That's a nice little chunk of change for basically doing nothing!

I would never recommend getting a credit card just to save 5% on ANYTHING. I suggest getting their debit card. You use it instead of your own bank card, but the purchase is deducted from your bank account the same way it would be with your regular debit card.

Once you're at the store:

1) Grab the items from "list# 1" first - In my experience, walking aimlessly around Target leads to impulsive purchases. I minimize the temptation to indulge by grabbing all the items on my circular sales list first. I do this as quickly as possible (depends on how cooperative my boys are). Once I'm able to put these items in my cart, I'm assured of not missing something because I got caught up looking at other stuff. {By this I mean the toy department. Did I mention it's a good idea to leave the kids at home? Yeah, right ;-)}

2) OK. Now it's time to shop "aimlessly" - Say what? Didn't I just get through saying you should avoid walking around the entire store without a plan in order to avoid the impulsive purchases we've all been known to fall prey to? Yes, I did say that, but this time around your cart is probably full with the items you got off list# 1. Seeing all the things you need to pay for serves as a fine deterrent (a little reverse psychology here). Pull out list# 2 and check to see if any of the items on your wish list are on price cut, clearance or part of an unadvertised gift card promotion. I can't tell you how many times I've walked out of Target with free items because my wish list picks were on clearance AND I had a coupon!

As you make your way through the store searching for deals on your wish list, keep an eye out for other deals, particularly unadvertised gift card deals. I was able to score a set of kitchen knives, a free cutting board and a $5 Target gift card for $19.99! Be sure to venture into those sections of the store you might not normally visit. There are always great deals awaiting you.

3) When in doubt, SCAN, SCAN, SCAN for a price check - This has to be the most important piece of advice I can give any Target couponer. Park yourself next to one of the many price scanners you'll find at the store and price check EVERY ITEM IN YOUR CART. That's right, EVERY SINGLE ITEM. Why? Because you don't want any surprises at the register when it comes to pricing. You want to make sure the items are coming up priced the way you expect them to (especially the sale items from list# 1).

4) Plan your checkout before you, well, checkout - You will find that many of Target's store coupons are worded in a way that will require you to have more than one transaction during your check out. For example, if you plan to buy 2 Tide laundry detergents using both a manufacturer and a store coupon on each item, you may do so, but the store coupon might preclude you from purchasing more than one item in a transaction. No problem! Simply divide your items up into two transactions and follow suit with any and all other items that might have similar coupon restrictions. This will, of course, make for a longer check out, but you will still get all your deals without compromising on what you came for.

Additional Target couponing tips:

1) Arm yourself with a copy of the store's coupon policy - Put a copy of Target's coupon policy in your binder, purse, baby bag, hat, pant pocket. I don't care where. Just do it. VERY IMPORTANT if you want to make your shopping trip a smooth one. Trust me, folks. It's all about shopping with CONFIDENCE, and arming yourself with THEIR coupon policy will make you a confident couponer!

2) Know which coupons Target will accept - DUH! That would help, right? OK, here we go:

-manufacturer coupons {including internet printables}
-Target store coupons {Sunday coupon inserts, home mailers, store coupon booklets, internet printables, catalinas, even mobile phone coupons!}
-Super Target coupons are accepted in Target as long as the item is carried by the store
-Target allows stacking a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for every individual item
-Do not accept competitor coupons
-Target does not double coupons
-Will adjust the value of a coupon down it it exceeds the value of the item in question
-Target does not give cash back for overage (assuming they allow overage and this varies from store to store)

3) Give 'em your MRF Q's first - In my experience, it is always a good rule of thumb to hand over your manufacturer coupons before giving your store coupons. Store cashiers and managers are more willing to adjust the price of a store coupon down if stacking coupons results in a free item with overage. This applies to practically every grocery, drug and big-box store out there.

4) Forgot a coupon at home - buy it anyway! - Target is a really great store to coupon at because they will accept a coupon for an item AFTER you purchased it. Let's say you spotted Dove Body Wash on price cut and knew you had a coupon for $3.00 off the item, but you forgot your coupon at home. Go ahead and grab the body wash. If you come back to the store with your receipt (and the item just in case) and the coupon you wanted to use, Target will give you the value of the coupon back! I know, AMAZING!
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I hope you've found this couponing guide helpful. Look for more store-specific couponing guides in the future.
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