Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Sinking Target: Frugal Shopper Seeks Alternatives

"That will be $0.76 cents, you can slide your card here." Said the Target clerk ringing up four photos I had printed for the Federal Tax Credit I've blogged about recently.

"The power of my Red Card -- I'll use it for the smallest purchase!" Was my response.

"Oh really, did you know THEY are ending that program in May 2016?" Said the clerk, with THEY meaning the powers that be at Target headquarters.

Shocked and a bit annoyed, "Seriously?  Don't THEY know how powerful the 1% donation to local schools is?  If that ends, so does my loyalty to Target."

A bright clerk quickly sought confirmation from a manager, "yeah, they're ending it in May, why?" The manager was not as savvy as the clerk.

Why?  Because supporting local education is important, very important.  I am am mom, but also the first in my family to go to college, followed by grad school and then law school.  The school donation program at Target was the impetus behind many purchases I could make elsewhere.  I conveyed this to Target via its Facebook page. The company confirmed it was ending the program, but to stay tuned for new and exciting local programs.

My husband scoffed at the response, "they are simply cutting costs, remember the Wall Street anaylis we looked at?  They are looking to cut costs, plain and simple."  Earlier in the month our 7 year old was interested in why Target stock was falling; yes, he is 7 and very wise with money -- his college fund owns some of Target.  The analysis had a lot to say about how shoppers just won't buy furniture from Target.  I laughed, of course not -- "you go to Target for over the counter medications, Kleenex and a Starbucks.  Their shoppes (me excluded) flock to IKEA when they want furnishings -- what a waste of focus."

And sure enough, today I see that Target is beginning to close retail outlets in the States.   As the 1% of purchase price being donated to schools ends, so does my loyalty.  I'll still shop there, but not nearly as often and not for nearly as wide a range of products.  When it comes to over the counter medications and other items for the bathroom, the price is great on their Up & Up line.  However, Amazon Prime lurks around the corner.  Buying on-line yields me 3% back on all purchases, free delivery 7 days a week to my home, the ease of shopping for staples as well as specific items (holiday gifts) from the comfort of my home anytime of day.  As we approach rounding the corner to a new year, I plan to experiment with Amazon Prime.  Will it actually reduce my spending by cutting down on impulse buys?  Will I buy in bulk more, and shave time off of my already hectic schedule?  I am not alone, another working mom out in the Bay Area uses Prime the same way.

Tips and suggestions for alternatives to the Big Box stores are welcome -- saving time is almost always more important to me than saving money.  What smart tips can you offer?

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