Confession: “I Have an Addiction to Target”

addicted to target

This is a guest post by Amy C. Ridenour who has struggled with an addiction to Target. Here’s her story.  I’m sure many of us can relate… 

Confession: “I have an addiction to Target”… 

My husband just got out of the Army. This is the best thing ever because we’ll be able to have dinner together on our anniversary for the first time since we’ve been married; but now we’re on one income while he goes through at least four years of college. This is a huge change for us – we’re in our thirties and used to two incomes that let us buy new cars and a nice house. We never really budgeted for food or held back on the extras we thought we needed, like new sneakers or GPS watches. But we had debt.

So, when he decided to get out of the Army we started to pare down: we moved into a condo close to where I work and got rid of my brand new Subaru (I still miss that car!). We sold tons of stuff on Craigslist and eBay: furniture, shoes, clothes, games, DVDs, an extra computer and TV. We paid off my credit card and his Jeep.

But we still had loans on a truck, a home we had to sell at a loss when the Army moved us, and the degrees I had gotten a decade ago.

So we started cutting – Netflix, Sirius radio, the DVR function and cable. We bought a CSA for vegetables and meat. We refinanced the truck at a lower rate. We stopped eating out – so much.

Then I made a list of things to do to save money. The best part about the list was that most of the things not only saved us money, but also made us healthier:

  • Running is free, alcohol is not
  • Drink more tea, less Keurig coffee
  • Eat oatmeal instead of cold cereal

But the biggest and hardest change for me was the first thing on my list:

  • Avoid Target

I got this idea from my friend Jessica. Her New Year’s resolution, as told to the Facebook nation, was to visit Target quarterly, thereby spending a total of $400 a year instead of, say, a billion on unregulated trips.

The realization that no matter how small the errand (a tube of toothpaste?) a trip to Target always costs at least $100 struck a raw truth in me. It stayed in the back of my mind and I tried to cut down on my trips; at least I intended to.

But I really hadn’t. It wasn’t until I was standing in line at a Target in Germantown, Tennessee that I suddenly realized the truth – I had a Target problem.

My husband and I were on a road trip to North Carolina from Louisiana – his last Army post, and we stopped to get enough water and candy to get us from Memphis to Shiloh Battlefield. Obviously we could have stopped at any gas station to get candy, but I love Target, and it was there, just off the road, looking new and clean and accessible. It was really early on a weekday morning and there weren’t many people out, and only one cashier open. The girl in front of us in the checkout line had a super-full cart – a pair of sandals and some flats, aqua skinny jeans, gauzy shirts, pink blush, bright nail polish, mascara, organic household products in pretty containers, Milano cookies and Starbucks coffee, frozen breakfast waffles, yogurt, tissues, a plush elephant dog toy. After she unloaded there was three hundred dollars lying on the mechanized belt. I thought – that poor girl – I’ve been there; lonely, frustrated, filling the void with Target.

When I moved to Savannah, Georgia from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a whim because I had a super-broken heart I more often than not found refuge in the new styles and clearance racks at Target; a new bra, pants, a dress, some bright nail polish and a microwaveable appetizer always made things better, right?

The same thing happened years later when my new husband was deployed overseas. I moved to Asheville, North Carolina because it was a great place to live, but it was still lonely. In Asheville the Target is hidden up on hill – you really have to look for it because there’s not even a sign on the road pointing you up to the bulls-eye. But I found it quick, thanks to my iPhone, and was soon a frequent visitor, trying to reinvent myself with every trip. For $100 I could get clothes and makeup and magazines and scented candles and wine.

Treats – it’s all treats. If I compared what I’ve bought at Target with what I’ve actually used I guarantee 50%  was a waste. There are books I haven’t read and clothes I haven’t worn, and probably another 25% was just an unnecessary expense. Really, how many purses did I need? How many pairs of tights?

I wish, of course, that I would have always gone by the smart money adage of “is it a want, or a need?” Target is full of my wants. Of course some things are cheaper there: tampons, body lotion, face wash on sale with a coupon peeled off the front. But how much do I add-on when I visit? I’m like a kid in a toy store – I want everything, I need nothing.

So I’ll spend a few more dollars at the grocery store to get the needs like dish detergent and toilet paper. I’ll clip my coupons and double them at a less appealing retail establishment. Because Target is the devil when it comes to a Spending Fast – they just don’t mix; there is something about that little red bull’s-eye that is just too enticing. Target – I quit you.

 

What is your biggest temptation? Do you ever find yourself on auto-pilot at stores? How do you stop the cycle and change your ways?

(Shopping addictions are legit and real. If you think you might have a problem don’t be afraid to go to a Debtors Anonymous meeting. I’ve been.)

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp! SpendingFastBootcamp.com

30 comments

30 thoughts on “Confession: “I Have an Addiction to Target”

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  1. Joey @ the green gaz

    Great post! I moved to Asheville this year after living in Minnesota (the home of Target) for a decade. As you can imagine, in the flatlands of Minnesota Target is readily available and really easy to get to. I was thrilled when I found the one in Asheville – because it was so difficult to get to that I knew I’d be shopping there a lot less. What a genius planning move – to make downtown, independently-owned shops easier to get to than the big boxes!

    Reply
  2. melanie

    OMG. I’ve been to that target in Asheville and probably spent way too much money there. Also, as someone who once worked at Target, I like to think that their marketing tactics don’t work on me, but they’ve tricked me before too. It helped me to know that they have an “intuitive shopping,” so they place items that are similar together. They might put strawberries beside pound cake, for example. Knowing that I am trying to be marketed to is half the battle for me.

    Reply
  3. Jillian

    I’ve started paying a little more for food delivery from a dairy and a produce company as an experiment to see if I would actually save money buy avoiding those little extras I would see at the grocery store or Target every time I would run in for just one thing. I think it works out well for my budget planning too because the dairy sends a bill the next month and the produce company has a flat rate for a box. I also feel like I can plan out the meals in advance more easily and don’t want to throw anything out because it cost more per item.

    Reply
    1. Amy C Ridenour

      Jillian – We’ve gone to a CSA for meat and veggies – that keeps me from shopping a lot (Whole Foods is another weak spot for me!). I need to do better planning out meals though!

      Reply
  4. Heather

    I feel like Ross and Chandler from Friends trying to quit the gym…

    “I wanna quit Target!!”

    I don’t know how they do it! How on EARTH do I ALWAYS spend way the heck more than was was clearly on the list – even with coupons and such.

    They. Are. Marketing. Geniuses!

    Blows my mind how it never fails.

    I gave up Target for Lent a few years ago…man, that was hard. But now a fancy, brand-spanking new Target has opened. I swear angels sing when the doors slide open. The escalators will take your cart filled with goodies down FOR YOU. Awesome.

    But, we have to go on a spending fast now…so I have to leave Target alone for a good while. We just bought a minivan since neither one of our cars was large enough to seat 3 carseats… Good times.

    Great post and hope for some more awesome tips!!

    Good luck on quitting Target :)

    Reply
  5. Felice Fotographic

    AH! I cannot tell you how many times my husband and I have joked about a Target trip costing us $100 no matter what we went in there for, until it wasn’t funny anymore…We have since stopped going to Target all together. I even transferred my prescription so I wouldn’t have to walk in the store for anything. I get sucked into the magic of their color themed dishes, seasonal items, the $1 section, etc. Forget it! Good for you!

    Reply
    1. Amy C Ridenour

      Felice –
      The housewares and seasonal are a trap! Luckily I moved into a tiny condo – which is a great way to stop buying anything for the house – there’s no room!

      Reply
  6. Jennifer

    I quit Target about 6 months ago and it was and still is hard. I love that store, but I realized I always spent at least $100 a trip. I only allow myself to go there once in awhile. I must go with a list and try not to allow myself to stop in the clothing section, however at my Target, my size clothing is right by the door. Target and I have a love-hate relationship!

    Reply
    1. Amy C Ridenour

      Jennifer –
      I’ve tried to convince myself the clothing just doesn’t fit right so I shouldn’t even try!

      Reply
  7. Stacey

    OMG I can so relate. I love in Hayward, WI so Target is at least 2 hours away but when I get there I can do some damage. I keep trying to give my husband my Target card but keep asking for it back. Sometimes it seems hopeless…..

    Reply
    1. Amy C Ridenour

      Store credit cards are the devil! I just say – Debit is way safer for me – when they offer me a card at the checkout!

      Reply
  8. janet @ ordinary mom

    Love this! And it is so true. At the beginning of the year I spent about 2 hours unsubscribing from every newsletter I received in email. And because I don’t see “$20 jeans” from Old Navy or this deal over here, I don’t buy. And exactly as she said, I never needed it. Out of sight IS out of mind.

    :)

    Reply
    1. Amy C Ridenour

      So smart Janet! Those ads will get you – along with the mail coupons and free perks when you buy!

      Reply
  9. Rachel

    This is so, so true – so completely spot on! In fact, this is the reason I switched to Walmart for all of my toiletries, house-cleaning products, etc. At Target, there were so many other temptations – the swimsuits and sunglasses and dog toys and skincare products and greeting cards and candles. At Walmart, those temptations just don’t exist – they don’t offer the same merchandise. Plus, I think their prices are a little lower.

    Reply
    1. Amy C Ridenour

      Rachel –
      That is so true there are not the temptations at Walmart – but I boycotted them long ago because they won’t spring to have more than 2 cashiers open at any time!

      Reply
  10. Beth

    My biggest temptation: Lorna jane!! Its a womens clothung store here in oz. they mostly sell excercise clothes but all of their clothes are incredibly confortable. My biggest weakness is these inpirational singlets. Different saying on different ones in different colours. I have about 40 of them! New ones come out every three months!! Trying to save to build a tiny house but it goes out the the window when i pass lorna jane.

    Btw: tiny houses. These are house on a trailer that are so tiny you only fit what you need (about 160sq ft) mortgage free, relatively bill free. Not for everone but check them out.

    Reply
    1. Meghan

      Beth, that is so funny! I have also bought Lorna Jane singlets and I live in Denver, CO. I even paid the tariff. Those sayings are catchy and unique (at least around here). I only have two though, not 40. I’d probably have more if I didn’t think about buying them when it’s winter there and out of season.

      Reply
      1. Beth

        Doesnt make a difference here! They are still the same price:) available all year around!! the girls in the store in sydney city know me by name so its even harder. I think she has stores in the usa , may be cheaper to get it delivered within the country! I Go in every tuesday and they ask about my tiny house! All that money you save you coukd come down under and buy them yourself!

        Reply
        1. Meghan

          Oh my gosh, maybe I should not go on their website to find out where the US stores are. Just saying. I already have my work out clothing obsession. Fortunately, I don’t have a big fixation on clothing, but I am curbing unnecessary buys. As it is, I lost 3 dress sizes and have had to re-stock. I’m also about to transfer to a job in DC, where suits are more common. AND thrift stores are hard because the pants are usually too short. It really takes an effort. At least if I go to the Limited with a coupon, I know that the black fabrics will always match. We can always justify buying things, can’t we??

          Reply
  11. Kim Wilson

    Thanks for being honest Amy! Being anti-Target isn’t popular. I too have had to restrict myself at Target reminding myself of so many things purchased that were under-utilized or under-appreciated once nestled in at my home. It is easy to allow shopping to become a sport! Best Wishes to you and your husband on your lives together.

    Reply
  12. Amanda Z.

    I do the main bulk of my grocery shopping at Target. There are a lot of other options where I live, but Target is usually the cheapest. We can easily spend $200 – $300 in one go, but we go once a month when my husband gets paid. And holy hell – dog food, diapers, laundry detergent, toilet paper – that stuff adds up. I use my sunday coupons paired with my target coupons (did you know you can use both on one product?) and save quite a bit. I get 5% off with my Target debit card and that is another huge reason why I shop there.

    Now my husband and I are both graphic designers and we spend way too much time oogling over products, but with a little one in daycare, there is no disposable income. Plus I’d rather have a week of food than a new outfit!

    Reply
  13. Viktoria

    I find any sort of superstore, where they sell both groceries as well as clothes and household items, is dangerous. I let myself shop there once a month, when I do my big shopping trip. The rest of the month I buy groceries someplace that only sells groceries and nothing else. The big weak spot for me though is Amazon. It’s way to easy to spend money without thinking about it! So I had to break up with Amazon recently so that I could get my credit cards under control!

    Reply
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  15. K

    Wow, this post hits home with me as well. I’m always tempted at Target to buy just one more thing than I was expecting too. In fact, it happened this morning :( Glad to know I’m not alone.

    Reply

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