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Oh, Target. I have such a love/hate relationship with thee (let's be real, it's about 99% love and 1% hate). Target is the epitome of the phrase "shut up and take my money" so I have been forced to get extra crafty with how to save money on my multiple trips to my favorite store. I want to let you in on what I have lovingly dubbed my Target Triple Threat: Red Card, Cartwheel, and Red Perks.

Red card

If you shop at Target at all, you have probably been asked "Would you like to save 5% on your purchase today by signing up for a RedCard?" Why yes, yes I would. My Target Red Card is the only credit card I have and it is wonderful. You can save 5% off of just about anything and everything in the store (the only exception I can think of is gift cards). Brian and I actually shop at Target a lot for groceries, so saving that extra 5% week after week really adds up. So far this year, I have saved $167 in nine months. Their prices are almost always lower than most grocery stores even before the 5% savings.

Not only do you receive 5% off, you always get free shipping from Target.com (update - this does not pertain to large furniture items). Additionally, you get an extra 30 days for returns. This is awesome for me because I tend to buy something for the home and "live with it" for a few weeks to determine if I really like it. Or clothes that I say I will fit into next month but then never do. ;)

Not keen on the idea of a credit card? I totally get it. Target also offers a debit version of the RedCard that connects to your bank account. So you get all of the perks of being a RedCard holder without the potential for getting swipe happy and busting your budget with a credit card.

Cartwheel

Next up in my bag of tricks is the Cartwheel App. I LOVE Cartwheel. It is like a game for budget-savvy shoppers. Basically it is an app that has coupons/offers for select Target items. You choose what offers you want to use and add them to your list. For example, it may have an offer for 5% off Market Pantry (Target's house brand) Frozen Veggies. At checkout, the cashier will scan your barcode from the list. So far, I have saved $467 by using the app since 2013. I like to use Cartwheel two ways:

1. Shopping based on the highest discount. The app is organized by category. If I am going to a party or need to bring something in to work, I will go to the Food category, and then sort by highest discount first. 50% off Snickers? My co-worker won't complain if I bring those to the birthday party! Or say Brian and I want to try something new for dinner but don't know what, I will see what is on sale. This is a great way to get amazing deals on items when you don't have to buy something specific.

Elizabeth Burns Design | How to Save Money at Target, RedCard, Cartwheel, Red Perks
Elizabeth Burns Design | How to Save Money at Target, RedCard, Cartwheel, Red Perks

2. Shopping based on your grocery list. If I have a specific list of items I need to buy and don't want to be tempted with other things on sale, I will use the search bar. If I need bread, I will search for that and see what brands have the highest discount. Usually, you can double up weekly sales and the Cartwheel savings, so if Mission Tortillas are on sale 2/$5 and then there is a Cartwheel savings of 15% off, you can take advantage of both. If I am in a hurry and don't want to search for every item, I will use the scanner function of the app to scan the bar-codes of the items I have in my basket. Then I just add any applicable offers to my list.

Elizabeth Burns Design | How to Save Money at Target, RedCard, Cartwheel, Red Perks
Elizabeth Burns Design | How to Save Money at Target, RedCard, Cartwheel, Red Perks

Another way to save with Cartwheel is on clothes! Often you will see offers for 20% off Mossimo or 25% off shoes. Here is a little tip: they often say offers cannot be used on clearance items but it almost always works for me. A good way to check and see if it will apply is to scan the clearance item bar-code via the app and see if an offer pops up. The one issue I have with Cartwheel is that as of today, you cannot use Cartwheel for online purchases, only in-store purchases.

redperks

The handy RedPerks app is the cherry on top of of Target savings. RedPerks is the Target version of a reward system. For every dollar you spend, you get 10 points. Once you get 5000 points (so $500 spent), you can claim a "reward". Unless you are spending some serious dough at Target, it can take a while to get enough points to claim a reward, but they are actually worth the wait! To date, I have gotten a free gigantic laundry detergent ($15 value), a free pair of jeans ($37 value), free Neutrogena Sunscreen ($11 value), and a free checkout item for signing up (I chose beef jerky for Brian). :) Some of the past rewards I have seen are sunglasses ($20 value), children's toy ($15 value), or a 5% off shopping day! Technically, this is not a way to save at Target, but it is a nice little perk (pun intended) of shopping for things you would normally buy anyway.

Coupons

I don't include this in my Target triple threat, but it is worth noting, nonetheless! I personally do not usually have the patience for coupon cutting, but if you do, make sure to check out Target's coupons! As far as I know, you can only print them and they are not able to be used on a mobile device (bummer). The nice thing about the coupons is that they usually have a far-out expiration date, so I will just keep them in my wallet until one of the items goes on sale. Some of my favorites include toothpaste, deodorant, vitamins, and shampoo. Again, you can usually double these up with clearance and sale items.

Elizabeth Burns Design | How to Save Money at Target, RedCard, Cartwheel, Red Perks

At checkout, the cashier will often give you coupons that print based on your shopping history. So if you just bought a few Lean Cuisines, you may get a coupon for $1.50 off five Lean Cuisines. I like to hold onto these for when that item goes on sale and then double up.