It happens almost every time: You run into Target thinking you're going to spend $20 and then you end up spending $200. Between stylish table linens, metallic bowls, and all those Chip and Joanna Gaines goodies, it's impossible not to go overboard. Luckily, you can save some decent money on groceries, paper goods, and cleaning supplies when you use the store's app.
Here's what you need to know about it.
The Target App Versus Cartwheel
If you're a long-time Target shopper, you've probably used Cartwheel. The app, which the store launched in 2013, was sort of a social couponing situation, where you could learn about deals and share them with your friends as you shopped. It would give you a menu of items currently on discount, which you could click on to add to your virtual coupon book and then generate a barcode for the cashier to scan on your way out.
Then, in 2016, the Cartwheel app started offering manufacturer coupons, not just Target-exclusive discounts. You could use the app to scan a barcode in the store, and it would pull up any coupons automatically, which you could add to your list as before, and sign up for emails and notifications when your favorite products were on sale.
This past August, Target responded to customer demand and integrated the Cartwheel app into the Target app, so it's no longer a separate thing. But there is still a Cartwheel tab in the Target app that has all the deals people love about Cartwheel, plus some new features.
Tips for Using the Target App to Save Money
1. Build your list at home.
As you're getting low on a packaged good, scan the barcode using the app. It will automatically search for the product (or similar ones) at Target, then you can click to add it to a shopping list. If there's a relevant deal, the little Cartwheel shopping icon will pop up on the list; click on it, check out the deal, then add the coupon to your Cartwheel coupon list. If you're adding something generic (like "pizza") to your list, type it in, then click on the icon and it will search deals that way, too.
2. See what's available before you head to the store.
When you find something in the app, icons will show you if you'll find it at your base store, if you can get it for store pickup, or if you need to order it online or elsewhere. This way, you won't waste time or gas money driving to the store for something they don't have.
3. Check for deals while you're in the store.
All Target stores offer free WiFi (and have since 2012!). That makes it especially easy to use the barcode scanner while you're in the store to see if an impulse buy has a discount via Cartwheel. Scan the code and see what pops up. Check every item you throw into your cart — because, why not?
4. Save on store-brand items.
A common budget shopping tip is to buy the store brand, and through its app, Target offers discounts on their own proprietary brands like Archer Farms, Simply Balanced, and Market Pantry, so you could be getting a discount on something that's already cheaper than it's bigger-name-brand counterpart.
More on Archer Farms
5. Keep your shopping trip on track.
For many items on your list, the app will tell you exactly which aisle you need to visit. No accidentally veering into the paper goods section while looking for cereal! Not that you've ever done that ...
6. Search the app for bonus discounts, too.
When you go to your wallet to scan your barcode, there's also a little box marked "Coupons," where you'll find Target's in-store deals as well, like discounts on household essentials, baby food, and cold medicine. Scan those for even more savings before you head to the check-out aisle.
7. Share your list.
You can text or email your list to the whole family. This way, your husband can pick up stuff if he happens to be out and you can coordinate so that no one doubles up.
Do you use the Target app to save on groceries and other household essentials? Do you have any other tips to add?