50 Insider Secrets to Help You Save at All Your Favorite Stores
A $5 or $10 savings here and there can add up. Here's how to get them everywhere from Costco and Target to Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack.
Macy’s: Try this free-shipping hack
No one wants to pay for shipping. But for Macys.com orders that total less than $99, you’ll have to fork over a whopping $10.95 for it—unless you’re buying beauty products, which ship for free. The hack: Add a cheap beauty product (one you’ll actually use that costs less than $10.95) to your shopping bag and enjoy that sweet free shipping on everything else. Learn the 8 things Macy’s employees wish you knew.
Macy’s: Know when to go
Looking for the perfect date for your seasonal shopping spree? Remember that Macy’s Semi-Annual sales (aka, 20-75 percent off anything you could possibly need) occur in July and January. Their Friends and Family sales happen in April or May and December. The store’s One Day sales typically take place on the third Saturday of the month, writes thekrazycouponlady.com.
Macy’s: Get 25 percent off
Download the Macy’s app and get 25 percent off your first app order. Or create a free Macy’s profile and get a 25 percent off coupon emailed to you.
Macy’s: Compare prices
Scan in-store barcodes on the Macy’s app to make sure the in-store price is cheaper than the online price. If it’s not, show the cashier. You’ll be able to get the discounted online price at the register. The app also allows you to read reviews and receive weekly catalogs and exclusive deals, to make sure you’re never leaving money on the table.
Macy’s: Buy yellow
A yellow clearance tag means an item is on its final markdown. That means it’ll never get any cheaper than the price you see on that yellow tag. A blue clearance tag means the item will be discounted one more time (to a yellow tag). After your shopping trip, try these 12 ways to save at restaurants.
IKEA: Get special discounts
Join IKEA’s free family rewards program to get special members-only prices in a different department (say, artwork or office accessories) each month. You’ll also get special deals at the food court (two free kids’ meals with one adult entrée, anyone?) and get updates on promotions and sales.
IKEA: Hit the “as-is” section
The “as-is” section is IKEA’s answer to a clearance department. There, you’ll find returned, damaged, and previously displayed items at steep discounts. Go on Monday mornings to get the first shot at items customers returned over the weekend.
Costco: Start in the back
The farther you walk into the store, the better deals you’re going to find. Start your shopping trip in the back, suggests Lifehacker. And avoid the front of the store at all costs. It’s been dubbed “action alley” because it gets the most foot traffic—and because of that, it’s got some of the least budget-friendly deals. These Costco shopping secrets will save you major money.
Costco: Buy that chicken
Costco’s famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens sound too good to be true. But it turns out they’re totally worth it. Costco’s chickens can weigh twice as much as its competitors, for a fraction of the price. Plus, they’re perfectly seasoned and have no preservatives, MSG, or artificial colors and flavors. Learn more secrets about Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chicken.
Costco: Get free money for other stores
A $50 gift card costs $50, right? Not at Costco. The store sells gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, and other retailers for less than their face value. For example, get two $50 gift cards for just $79.99. That’s $20 savings on money you were going to spend anyway.
Costco: Book your next vacation
Costco has partnerships with all types of hotel and resort companies, which means your membership could help you get group discounts you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. Whether you prefer to set sail on a cruise or head out to a theme park for the day, the chain has probably got you covered. Head to their website for details on packages.
Costco: Don’t fall for this trick
Costco stores constantly move their stock around, which means you likely won’t find your favorite goodies in the same place twice. That’s because management knows that the more time you spend searching for your go-to products, the more likely you’ll be to notice—and hopefully purchase—other items. The best way to avoid this trap is to go in with a list and stick to it. Here are 15 more savings secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.
CVS: Get an ExtraCare card
And once you do, add your email address to your account. You’ll get notifications about sales and coupons (things like 20 percent off your entire order, or $3 off a $15 purchase). Take note of which sales are going on each week and plan your shopping trips around them. These are the 49 secrets your pharmacist won’t tell you.
CVS: Shop the sale
You’ve officially gotten our permission to shop the sales at CVS. It’s one of the major ways to save at this place: shop when the things you’ll need eventually are discounted, not when you’ve run out and need to buy them, no matter the cost. And with those ExtraCare savings, your returns will be even greater, and your discounts will become even more tailored to your needs. A dollar or two here and there can add up fast. Save even more on beauty supplies with these 10 savings secrets for Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Target: Go on markdown day
If you’re looking for a certain item, plan your shopping trip for the day of the week that item’s department is marked down. Stores stick to a regular schedule, slashing prices from certain departments on specific days, former guest services and planogram team leader at Target Chris O’Neil, told RD.com. For example, Monday will be children’s and baby clothes and Wednesday will be shoes, etc. Ask an employee at your local Target what their schedule is. If they won’t tell you, O’Neil recommends showing up early and noting where employees are adding little red markdown stickers. Try these 10 savings secrets that work at Target.
Target: Know your discount codes
It’s always nice to know how much of a discount you’re getting—and at Target, it’s easy! At the top right corner of each price tag, you’ll see a small number that reveals the percent off. “Most of the time, items will be 30, 50, 70, which means it’s 30, 50, or 70 percent clearance,” former Target executive team leader Lynda Peralta told RD.com. “You rarely see something go for 90.” So if you see a 70, you know you’re getting a good deal. Here’s more information on Target’s discount codes.
Target: Shop the end caps
Target stores put most of their discounted items on the shelves at the end of their aisles. Check there first for the things you need before strolling down the aisle.
Target: Combine sales and coupons
If you’re afraid your doubled up coupons will be rejected, don’t be. Target allows you to use Target coupons, manufacturer coupons, and Target Cartwheel (the store’s app) coupons all on the same item. Check out the site couponmom.com to find manufacturer coupons on the items Target has on sale each week. That’s some super savings.
Target: Register for your wedding
Your friends and family will be able to get free shipping on the items they order from your registry. And after the wedding, you’ll receive 15 percent off any items that weren’t snatched up. Don’t miss the 11 money-saving hacks Target employees won’t tell you.
Barnes & Noble: Join the kid’s club
Sign up for Barnes & Noble’s Kid’s Club (it’s free) and get 30 percent off any one kid’s book or toy. You’ll also earn $5 in rewards for every $100 spent on kid’s stuff. Plus, your child will get a free cupcake on their birthday. Now that’s how to raise a reader. These are the 9 best sites to read free books online.
Barnes & Noble: Attend free events
No matter what city you’re in, your local Barnes & Noble is bound to host author readings and publicity events, as well as story time and other activities for kids. Find your location online and see what they’ve got happening. It’s a fun, free way to change up your routine and meet people with similar interests.
Kohl’s: Shop on Wednesdays
If you’re 55 or older, you’ll receive a 15 percent discount every Wednesday if you shop in-store. Here are 9 more things seniors can get for free.
Kohl’s: Try a Power Hour sale
You’ll find out when your local Kohl’s is hosting these impressive sales by checking your local paper and the Kohl’s website. Hint: They usually take place a few times a month, so don’t fret if you miss one.
Kohl’s: Get on the list
Sign up for the Kohl’s email list and receive a 15 percent off coupon. Text SAVE07 to 56457 for another 15 percent off code (you’ll also be signing up for the store’s mobile alerts, which you can unsubscribe to at any point).
Kohl’s: Receive rewards
Everyone likes to be rewarded for doing well, and the same thing applies to shopping, right? That’s why you’ll want to sign up for Kohl’s Yes2You Rewards. Show the cashier your card each time you pay (you can also sign up for an app version, in which case you’ll show them your phone), and receive one point for every dollar spent and $5 for every 100 points. That’s $5 for every $100 spent.
Kohl’s: Hit the online clearance bin
The clearance section at Kohl’s is nothing less than a gold mine. But there’s an even easier way to shop it: online. Go here for the store’s online selection, and find savings as much as 60 percent off.
Wegmans: Double your coupons
With a little extra work, you’ll reap major returns at Wegmans. Present the cashier with a manufacturer coupon worth less than $0.99 in value and you’ll get the value of that coupon, plus another $0.99 off, courtesy of Wegmans. Obviously, they’ll also honor coupons worth more than $1, although they won’t match them.
Whole Foods: Download the app
If Whole Foods is your primary grocery store, you’re well aware of some of their higher-than-average prices. To lower costs, download the Whole Foods app. It’s totally free and loaded with coupons and deals, so you’ll know exactly what to make a beeline for at the store. Don’t miss the 40 smart ways to save at the supermarket.
Home Depot: Return your dead plants
If you tend to kill your plants easily, you might want to shop for them exclusively at the Home Depot. The retailer promises to take the plants back if they die within a year. The official policy: “The Home Depot unconditionally guarantees all tropical, house, and landscape plants (only perennials, trees, and shrubs). A perennial is a plant that is expected to live for more than two years.” If you return the plant within 90 days, you’ll get a refund. After that, you can exchange the plant for a new one or receive store credit. Just make sure to keep your original receipt.
Home Depot: Take a class
We love stores with free activities. The Home Depot offers free classes for kids and adults. Kids’ classes include making crafts like window birdhouses and periscopes, while adult courses range from “Installing a Vanity” to “Making a Bookshelf Planter.” Keep in mind that you’ll have to purchase your own supplies. These 12 easy home upgrades add serious value to your home.
Home Depot: Pick up the “oops” paint
Each Home Depot paint department features an “oops” rack. The paints on these racks are heavily discounted, but not because there’s anything wrong with them. Often, they were simply ordered in the wrong color, or another customer decided to leave a bucket behind. Either way, if you’re working on a small project and aren’t attached to a color, it’s worth checking out these paints first.
Home Depot: 110 percent price-match guarantee
Many stores offer a price-match guarantee (show them proof of a lower price on an identical product at a competitor and get that price), but Home Depot does it one better: they’ll match the price, plus take off 10 percent.
Home Depot: Sign up for texts
If you shop at Home Depot frequently, you’ll want to sign up for their text alerts just to stay in the know about special deals and promotions. But even if you’re making a one-time stop, you’ll want to sign up. By signing up for mobile alerts, you’ll get $5 off a $50 purchase. These are the 8 other Home Depot savings secrets only experts know.
Amazon: Get free shipping
Amazon offers free shipping on orders of $25 or more. But if you’ve added everything you need to your shopping cart and are still a few dollars short, don’t splurge on a new top to get free shipping. Amazon offers “add-on” items (type “add-on items” in the search bar to find them) for just that purpose. Items include practical things like toothpaste, razors, and snacks. That’s practicality, plus free shipping. If you’ve got prime, you’ll want to learn the 17 Amazon Prime benefits most people don’t know about.
Amazon: Check the outlet
Amazon already has great deals. But to find the best of the best, head to the Amazon Outlet. This section of the website sells overstocked items for as much as 75 percent off. The stock is limited, but you can see exactly what percent off an item is, and how long the deal will remain.
Amazon: Compare prices anywhere
Download the Amazon Shopping app for a quick way to compare Amazon prices to any product you come across at a brick-and-mortar store (or anywhere on the web too, for that matter). This will especially come in handy at stores with price-match guarantees.
Amazon: Find the coupons page
Clipping coupons is a hassle. Amazon makes it easier with a dedicated coupons page. The page is searchable by brand or product, but if you’re more concerned with deals and less bothered by brands, you can search by category (personal care, makeup, household supplies, etc).
Amazon: Subscribe and save
Another way to save on household goods with Amazon is to order a bunch of them at once. Simply sign up for reoccurring deliveries with Subscribe & Save. You tell Amazon what you need and how often you need it, and they do their best to help you save on the bulk order. Don’t miss these 15 Amazon hacks you need to know.
Nordstrom Rack: Find the best quality
True Nordstrom aficionados know that only a fraction of the items at Nordstrom Rack are brought over from an actual Nordstrom. The others are manufactured specifically for Nordstrom Rack and could be a much lower quality than full-line items. Nordstrom items will never have a white “Nordstrom Rack” tag. Instead, a true Nordstrom item will either have a Nordstrom tag or a designer tag with a red clearance sticker on top.
Nordstrom Rack: Clear the rack
About once a month, Nordstrom Rack holds a Clear the Rack sale in which you’ll get an extra 25 percent off everything at the register. Ask for an email receipt on any regular purchase and you’ll automatically receive brand notifications, including the dates of Clear the Rack sales.
Nordstrom Rack: Shop beauty products
It’s not an impulse buy if you actually use it. The designer fragrances at Nordstrom Rack are legit—and often sold at bargain prices. Use your Amazon Shopping app to make sure you’re actually getting a deal, but don’t feel bad stocking up. They make great gifts and are a fun way to change things up.
BJ’s: Use a one-day pass
If you’re not a member of BJ’s but happen to be near one—or are considering becoming a member but don’t want to commit just yet—try a one-day pass. The pass is totally free and allows you to shop ’till you drop for an entire day. Before you do, find out the 10 shopping secrets no one tells you about BJ’s.
BJ’s: Buy organic
While big-box stores aren’t always the best places to stock up on fruits and veggies (you can probably find cheaper in-season produce elsewhere), BJ’s is known for its organic food products. That means it’s even cheaper than Trader Joe’s or Stop & Shop.
BJ’s: Stack coupons
Before you head out to shop, do a quick search for manufacturer’s coupons for items on your shopping list. Crosscheck them with your BJ’s coupons. The store allows you to stack the two and get double the deals.
BJ’s: Rent a car
If you’re a BJ’s member, you can save up to 35 percent on car rentals by going through the store.
Walmart: Skip the actual clearance
Instead of checking the actual clearance section for discounted products—especially consumer electronics—rather-be-shopping.com suggests looking in the glass cabinets below the full-priced items. “Most marked down, high-end electronics are held in cabinets near or under their respective items. Most reduced items are not displayed and rarely have price tags. Ask to see their clearance specifically in cases. At the change of major seasons many older model items will be switched out for newer ones,” an employee said. These are the 12 craziest things Walmart employees have seen at work.
Walmart: Skip Black Friday
You can get those same deals at other, less-crowded times. The store offers their Black Friday deals for the entire week of Thanksgiving. They’ve also begun having Black Friday-like sales in July to rival Amazon’s Prime Day—and you don’t even have to pay a membership fee to access them. Check with your local Walmart to find out the day of the sale and get there early.