If you are like many Target shoppers, you have a rough time going in, getting only what's on your list, and getting out.
Kinda like Mission Impossible ~ Am I right or am I right?
I'm cracking down on my unnecessary spending in an effort to get debt free ASAP, and conquering my Target shopping list ~ OWNING that list ~ is a high priority.
Here are my top ten tips for only buying what's actually on your list at Target. It can be done. I promise! I did it today:
These tips can be used at most any store that is an overbuying temptation for you!
They aren't just for Target ~ but see the video at the end of the post to understand
why I singled out Target instead of making this a list of tips for any ol' store.
Tip No. 1: DON'T GO TO TARGET IF YOU DON'T ACTUALLY NEED TO DO SO
Pretty self-explanatory, right?
Tip No. 2: MAKE A LIST
Whether you are going in for new underwear, baby diapers (or adult diapers...), shampoo, a gallon of milk, or whatever else, make sure you have a written list and a pen or pencil handy to check things off as you pick them up. Or, use an app on your phone that lets you check items off as you shop. Double and triple check your list ~ did anything sneak onto the list that you don't actually need? Cross those items off before you get to the store!
Not only will a list help keep you focused, but it is gratifying at the end of the shopping trip (at least for me) to see that your cart and your list match. As you shop, check your list regularly and make sure the items on it are the items you truly need.
Additionally, group the items on your list according to the section of the store you are likely to find them in. All food items together. All apparel items together (and maybe also broken down between women's, men's, boys, girls, baby). All hygiene items together. Pet items together, and so on. If you shop section by section, following your list, you are less likely to wander into tempting areas of the store to, ahem, browse. You know browsing at Target isn't a thing ~ browsing at Target is really put-stuff-in-my-cart-that-I-don't-really-need. You will also save time if your list categories correspond to the layout of the store.
Tip No. 3: PREPLAN YOUR IN-STORE STRATEGY
If you are shopping at the same location that you always shop at, you should know the layout of the store. Mentally prepare by visualizing your journey through the store. Act like a homing pigeon and head straight for the items you need and do not stray from that path. Act like you have horse blinders on and avoid looking side-to-side. You don't want temptation to grab you. Get in, grab (and pay for) your items, and get out! No dilly-dallying. No wandering. No detours.
Tip No. 4: KNOW YOUR PRICES
As a frugal shopper, I know what prices are high, middle-of-the-road, good, and oh-my-gosh-is-it-really-that-cheap-how-can-I-pass-this-up for the items I buy regularly. I also keep tabs on prices of big ticket items that I am saving up for. This can take practice, and I encourage you to consider using a pricebook (<-- link to a site on someone else's website).
I only buy things like groceries at Target if the price is better than any of the grocery stores in my area (rare where I live). Keep in mind that Target does accept coupons and you can use a manufacturer coupon WITH a Target coupon at most locations (check with your specific store about their policy).
Avoid temptation on the rock-bottom and clearance prices. A deal isn't a deal if you won't actually use the item or if you can't use it before it goes bad.
Tip No. 5: DO A CART CHECK BEFORE HITTING THE CHECKOUT
Once you think you are ready to checkout, do a cart check. Compare your shopping list to the items in your cart. Anything extra in there? Take it out. Return it to its shelf, or better yet, avoid temptations due to walking back to that shelf and give it to your cashier, stating you changed your mind about the item ~ it's not a big deal. They have people do go-backs (taking unwanted or misplaced items back to their shelves) throughout the day as part of the job. You aren't creating extra work for anyone ~ it's actually part of somebody's job to put this stuff back! Be ruthless with this!
Tip No. 6: HAVE A PLAN WHEN TAKING CHILDREN IN WITH YOU
Ideally, don't take children with you. Seriously! Target and many other stores focus quite a bit of their product placement with children in mind. There's a reason the colorful, exciting looking cereals, crackers, chips, and so on are on middle and lower shelves ~ because they are more likely to be seen by the young-uns. Marketers know that parents are more likely to buy an item if a child begs for it, whines over it, throws a tantrum to get it, etc. Marketers WANT your kids in the store with you!
If you have to take your kiddo, try to make sure they are well rested and fed before you go. Hungry tummys are more likely to ask for food purchases. Cranky kids are more likely to grind down your reserve and get you to cave just to prevent a full-on meltdown. If your child is small enough, pop them in the cart seat so they can't randomly grab stuff off of shelves.
Consider having one toy or book that is used ONLY during your shopping trips and make it a big deal that they get to play with the "Target toy" during your shopping trip ~ this should be the ONLY time this toy or book is EVER used! You want to keep it special!
Tip No. 7: BUY YOUR ITEMS SOMEWHERE LESS TEMPTING
If I know I only need shampoo, I head to Walgreens or CVS. I don't find either store tempting at all. Rarely do I leave either with extra purchases! If I do pick up something extra, it might be one small item, not a cart loaded up with clothes, shoes, dvds, housewares, etc. Even if Target actually has the lowest price on an item, it might be best to buy it at a low-temptation store just to avoid the likelihood of extra, unnecessary purchases.
Tip No. 8: PLAN THE TRIP SO YOUR SHOPPING TIME IS LIMITED
To go along with planning your shopping list by categories and according to the store layout, consider shopping at a time when you know you have to be in and out within a set, brief time frame. You have to be at an appointment at 4pm? Hit Target at 330pm and boogy your way through that store to make sure you get to your appointment on time! This cuts way down on browsing and temptation buying since you literally don't have time to spare.
Tip No. 9: IMPLEMENT A CASH ONLY RULE
Plan ahead for your Target trip. Stop at the bank and get cash. Drop your credit cards, check cards, checkbook, etc off at home before going to Target. Take only as much cash as you think you NEED to get ONLY the necessary items on your list (don't forget to estimate tax too). It's hard to buy something extra when you have only a limited amount of cash in your wallet.
Tip No. 10: EXAMINE YOUR TARGET SHOPPING WHY
If buying extra stuff when you go to Target or any store is a regular occurrence for you, spend some time thinking about why it is happening. Is there an unfulfilled need pushing you to make these purchases? Does it give you a temporary high? Is it an attempt at self-validation?
Your reasons may be minor (maybe you are bored and need a hobby, a job, or to do some volunteer work). Or, maybe you the problem is more serious (an addiction, depression, avoidance of other life issues). If the problem is serious, consider seeking professional counseling ~ there is NO shame in it. Seeking out help when you need it is a brave act of self-care.
Did you like this post? Check out these posts for more savings tips and ideas:
- Overwhelmed by your to do list? Try this
- Go minimalist: 5 easy tips
- What happened when I packed away half our dishes