3 Ways to Stop Busting Your Budget at Target

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Here’s how to take control of your spending.


key points

  • Target is notorious for tempting people to overspend.
  • Whether you shop there regularly or infrequently, here are some steps to limit your purchases.

There’s a running joke that it’s impossible to enter a Target location and spend less than $100. The reality is that Target offers a wide range of items at affordable price points. But the store’s massive selection can also lead to overspending.

Now it just so happens that the closest Target to my house is about 20 minutes away, and that fact alone keeps me out of the store most of the time. But on occasion, I will do a Target run, and often, I find myself falling into the trap of going in for two or three things and coming out with a loaded shopping cart — and a credit card tab of $100 or more.

If you have a tendency to overspend at Target, you can take comfort that you’re in good company. But it also pays to follow these three tips to stop busting your budget.

1. Only visit the store when you need something specific

If you have a Target nearby, you may be tempted to stop in to browse once a week just for the sake of seeing what’s new or on sale. Don’t do it. Once you enter that store, you risk getting sucked into purchases you were never planning on making.

Instead, only visit Target when there’s something specific you need. Have a birthday party you need a gift for? Sure, pop into Target — chances are, you’ll find a toy or outfit at a reasonable price point. But don’t swing over to Target because you have an hour to kill while your kids are at dance class and the store is in the same shopping center as their studio.

The selection offered by Target can be overwhelming — and also, very tempting. That’s why it’s so important to make a shopping list before going to Target.

Imagine you’re popping in to pick up some groceries. The problem with Target is that it sells way more than just groceries. You could go in expecting to buy bread and bananas and come out with a new lamp, throw pillow, and stationary. It’s really important to get into the habit of making shopping lists and sticking to them precisely.

If you’re like me and don’t shop at Target regularly, you may end up spending quite a bit of money those times you do visit the store. If you’re buying holiday gifts at Target, or loading up on a bunch of home decor, it means you’re not making ordinary, everyday purchases. And as such, it’s best to save up for those items in advance rather than charge them on your credit card and hope for the best.

If it weren’t for the fact that I happen to live in a bit of a Target dead zone, I’d probably spend more money at the store. I admittedly tend to spend more than anticipated when I do drive over to shop there. But recently, I’ve taken steps to limit my spending at Target. If you tend to go overboard on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to do the same so you don’t wind up with a costly pile of debt on your hands.

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