Thursday, October 13, 2011
See Ya Later, Target
As I've mentioned in previous posts, my husband and I keep a spreadsheet, on which we track our monthly spending. Comparing recent months to months before I began to actively attempt to save money, one thing, other than the amount of money spent, is very different - the number of monthly transactions made at Target.
Target has long been our go to store, the place to which we turned for day to day needs, where we often did our grocery shopping. By minimizing, though not totally eliminating, our Target runs, we have drastically cut our spending. I decided to think about specific things we used to spend a significant amount of money on when shopping at Target. Below, I've broken our spending into categories and for each explained money saving alternatives to shopping at Target.
As of July, I have done most of my weekly grocery shopping at Kroger. There are a few advantages to shopping there vs. Target or other area grocery stores. First, Kroger's prices tend to be lower. They also double coupons up to $0.50. Target does not. By shopping Kroger, you also earn quarterly rewards gift cards ($1 for each 100 points accumulated), as well as credits toward money off gas (100 points = - $0.10 per gallon). These are small benefits, but really, more than you'll find elsewhere.
Personal Care Items (shampoo, razors, etc.) and Household Supplies (cleaning products, tissues)
This category was always a Target downfall. I would walk into the store with an idea of an item or two we needed, but somehow walk out with a cart full of extra "stuff." I've reversed my thinking about shopping for personal care items and household items, and now, instead of shopping for them when I'm about to run out, I look for deals ahead of time. I have been slowly building a supply, and have items ready to go when a need arises. I now purchase most of these items from drugstores, like CVS and Rite Aid, using store rewards for payment. Doing this, I only pay sales tax on products like shampoo, body wash, toilet paper, and toothpaste. Read this previous post to learn more about saving at CVS.
Ok, I still have a little problem spending money on clothes at Target. It seems to be the one store to have fit my body and tastes post baby. I HAVE made some changes to my clothes shopping habits, though. When shopping at Target for clothes, I check online for coupons. The Target website will often post coupons for a percent or a dollar amount off of certain brands, like Merona or Mossimo. I have actually gotten some FREE clothes from Target using these coupons.
I have also signed up for other stores' e-mail lists. By doing so, you'll be alerted to sale events and will likely receive coupons. Loft and Old Navy seem to send out coupons weekly. If you're free, I also suggest shopping mid-week. I've walked into to Loft a number of times, on a Tuesday or Wednesday, to find a sale event for 40% off the entire store, which had not been advertised by e-mail or website.
i-tunes Gift Cards
My husband used to grab an i-tunes card from the impulse rack next to the cash register on nearly every trip we made to Target. Fifteen dollars at a time, this adds up. I didn't want him to give up an interest of his, though, so we've come up with a few alternatives. One, we listen to Pandora, which is a free, customizable online radio station. You can search by artist and genre, and Pandora will create playlists of similar music. You can rate songs with a thumbs up or down, to help the program learn your tastes.
We haven't given i-tunes up completely, though. We've just found a way to get gift cards for FREE. Using Swag Bucks, a search engine that rewards you for internet activity, I have accumulated points, which I have redeemed for an i-tunes card. See this previous post for more info, or head straight to Swag Bucks to check it out!
There are a number of places I now turn to when searching for baby deals...and Target is rarely one of them. When looking for diapers, I head one of two places, a drugstore, like CVS (where you earn a free pack for every 6 you purchase), to use my coupons along with rewards dollars, or Amazon.com.
Parents can sign up for an Amazon Mom account, which offers free two day shipping on baby products, like diapers, wipes, etc. To save extra money on Amazon, sign up for Subscribe and Save options, which offer a percentage off sale prices. You can subscribe to have the same item shipped to you at specified intervals, say every three or six months. An option I use more often, though, is signing up for Subscribe and Save, then unsubscribing after I make my purchase. There's no way I will be needing the same size diapers three months later! It's best to unsubscribe right after making your purchase, or you might forgot to take care of it. I a few months pack, I had a unexpected charge for a case of diapers because I had forgotten to unsubscribe. OOPS!
Miscellaneous Purchases/Non-Urgent Needs
Random trips to Target used to result in unplanned purchases and big bills. How have we been able to cut these out? Amazon.
Now, products on Amazon obviously cost money, so how is this saving us money? Well, we make our Amazon purchases using gift cards earned through Swag Bucks. If there's a non-urgent purchase to be made, one that can wait at least the time of two day shipping, we'll turn to Amazon and use our gift card money, rather than make a Target run. This takes some will power, but has decreased the impulse shopping that would accompany a trip to Target for the one needed item.
Reader Response: Can you pinpoint a store or spending category that consistently busts your budget?