We’ve all been there. You stop by Target only needing a couple of essentials. But much like these handy tips on Surefire Ways to Blow Your Grocery Budget, if you don’t have a plan of attack, you’ve come home with a plethora of items you didn’t need. (Though this post contains affiliate links, it’s in no way directly associated with Target.)
It’s not like the grocery store either where you’ll just end up with a little extra food if you go in unprepared. You could find yourself with new clothes, throw pillows, wall art, furniture, cheap decorations, expensive decorations, or practically anything. That is precisely why I gave Target up cold turkey for FOUR months.
I thought the solution to the problem was simply not to risk temptation, and stop going in. Turns out we still needed things like toothpaste, contact solution, deodorant, and other necessities I used to get there. I tried going elsewhere. I love the Honest Essentials Bundle, but they just don’t have everything. I used Amazon for some things, but it’s hard to browse for new shampoos online.
Ultimately what I realized is that as with so many things in life, moderation is key. I started going back to Target last month, but with some very strict guidelines. It’s been working for me so far, so I thought I would share some easy tips:
1) Walk Right Past the Dollar Bins
Don’t even look in that general direction. I know what you’re thinking… This stuff is cheap. It’s the place you SHOULD be shopping… Don’t be fooled! Unless you are looking for something specific that’s on your list (see below), you don’t need it.
2) Make a List and STICK TO IT
This is perhaps the most important tip. If you’re going to go, go with a purpose. Don’t stray from the list. That’s when you start getting in trouble and the final bill adds up quickly.
3) Don’t Wander
You have your list, which does not include a new decorative orb for your desk, so there’s no need to browse through the decor isle. You won’t find the deodorant next to the cute party platters, so avoid that area. Catch my drift?
4) Get a Red Card
I always resisted the spiel they’re required to give. “Want to save 5% today?” I never even listen to those requests. They could be genuinely offering me a million dollars and I automatically respond “No thanks not today”. My sister-in-law talked me into the Red Card, and I’ve never regretted it. It’s not a credit card. It’s just like a debit card, it comes right out of your checking account. And you save 5% every single time you shop!
5) Bring a Baby/Toddler
It doesn’t have to be your own, in fact you are welcome to borrow mine. He’s right at that sweet spot where he’s super curious, too busy to ride in the cart, and too crazy to walk on his own. There is NO time to dilly dally and buy excess stuff with these guys.
6) Get the Cartwheel App
It has all kinds of coupons that you won’t find anywhere else.
7) Shop Online
When you shop online, you really need to know what you’re looking for. It solves that whole wandering issue. Plus you get free shipping with the Red Card.
8) Don’t Bring a Preschooler/Kindergartner
In the same way that a baby/toddler will make you move your hiney quicker because you never know when a tantrum will strike, a preschooler/kindergartner will put a hustle in your bustle because otherwise they’ll put half the store in your cart. By the time you get to the register you’re so exhausted you end up buying all the crap anyway. Bad plan.
9) Use a Hand Basket Instead of a Cart
Plain and simple. You can’t fit a new end table in a hand basket.
10) Set a Timer
Thanks to Natalie for this suggestion. Give yourself an allotted amount of time. If you know you only have half an hour, you’re more apt to just get in, get what you need, and get out. I know when I have the luxury of time, that’s when I end up with an entirely new (and unnecessary) wardrobe for my little girl.