This One Little Grocery Swap Saves My Family $249 a Year

published Oct 16, 2023
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someone taking target groceries out of target bag in a kitchen setting
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Prop Styling; Tom Hoerup

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Target became my preferred grocery store — it was a gradual process. The convenience it offers as a one-stop shop for items other than food certainly had something to do with it. Being able to sip on a Starbucks latte and peruse the latest home decor collection or browse through best-selling books and must-have beauty products, all while simultaneously checking “grocery run” off my perennial to-do list is a luxury that most grocery stores simply can’t offer. 

The factor that ultimately swayed me, though, was when I began using Target Circle, the retailer’s rewards/loyalty program. I’ve never been an especially diligent person who seeks out coupons or special promotions, but I started noticing how easy it was to save money simply by shopping with the app. It didn’t require any extra work on my part — a quick tap on available offers or coupons before checkout was all it took. And when I realized how quickly I was racking up earnings rewards (which I could use to buy practically anything in the store), that cinched Target’s stature as my preeminent grocery store.

Credit: Target

How Target Circle Works

Before I get into how I save money with Target Circle, I thought it might be helpful to review how the program works. First and foremost, it’s free to join. You can either sign up online or through the Target app. There are two main benefits to using the rewards program. You’ll get exclusive access to special offers on products and you’ll earn 1% rewards back on all of your purchases, which you can redeem towards anything in Target (except a few things like gift cards, pharmacy prescriptions, and alcohol).

Whenever you shop, whether it’s online or in-store, you simply log into your Target Circle account and save any offers that are available on the products you’re buying. If you are shopping in-person, you can also use the app to scan items in your cart to see if they have any offers available. At checkout, you can either enter your phone number on the keypad or scan your personalized bar code before you pay, and it’ll apply the saved offers and count your purchase towards 1% reward earnings.

What’s also great about the Target Circle app is that it keeps track of my savings for me. I can click on the “My Target” tab and see exactly how much I’ve saved this month, this year, and even going back a couple of years. It also organizes my savings into various categories, including promotions/deals, earnings rewards, and redeemed offers. To give you an idea of the yearly savings I’ve personally experienced, my 2022 tally (as 2023 is still in progress) was a grand total of $249.05. Not bad for simply tapping a few buttons in the app before checkout.

How I Save Hundreds Shopping with the Target Circle App

One of the most convenient aspects about using the Target Circle app is that it keeps track of my shopping habits (facepalm, for better or worse). So any offers or discounts available on items I regularly purchase, the app automatically curates those into a special offers page called “Target Circle offers for you.” All I have to do is tap the plus sign to save the offers, scan my barcode at checkout, and done! It really feels like an effortless way to consistently save money on products that I would otherwise be paying full price for without the app.

Even on products that I don’t buy regularly, it’s easy to find deals under the “Discover” tab by clicking on “Top Deals.” I either scroll through the offers to see if anything entices me, or I filter the offers by categories, such as “Grocery Deals” or “Clothing Deals.” And if there’s something specific I’m looking for, I simply type it into the search field, and it will automatically alert me if any deals are available for that particular item or deal category, such as “20% Off Shoes for the Family.”

The other major way I save money is by taking advantage of the 1% earnings back on all Target purchases. This is essentially free money that I can use to buy virtually anything that Target sells. When you factor in that I not only shop for groceries at Target, but also household essentials, clothing, toiletries, pet food, school/office supplies, and more, my earnings balance accumulates rather quickly. This comes in particularly handy for reducing my Target bill during the holidays or whenever I have larger purchases to make.

If You’re Shopping with the Target Circle App, a Few Tips

  • You can earn rewards on past purchases. If you forgot to scan your barcode or enter your phone number on your last trip to Target, you have up to 14 days to enter your receipt number into the app or online. Once you enter your receipt, it’ll apply your purchase total towards your 1% earnings rewards.
  • You can use the app for in-store Starbucks orders. Simply enter in your Target Circle number before paying for your coffee. All Starbucks purchases in the store count towards your earnings rewards points, and with an average of $5 a cup, it adds up quickly.
  • Enter your birthday into the app. Target will send you a special birthday deal of 5% off your shopping trip. You don’t have to put the year — just the month and day.

Do you have a grocery tip that’s saving your family money? Tell us about it in the comments.