Analysis

Here’s Why You May Never Want to Set Foot in Target Again

There’s an old joke that it’s impossible to get through a Target run without spending at least $100. I’ve certainly managed to spend less. But to be fair, the last time I went, my bill came to just over $100 courtesy of my kids being with me and wanting extra things on top of what my shopping list contained.

As a general rule, I don’t tend to do a lot of shopping at Target. Part of this is because there’s no Target particularly close to where I live. But also, I’m not actually such a big fan of the store. I realize I’m a bit of an anomaly, though. Most of my friends love Target, and those who live near me commonly make the longer drive to get to the store. But here’s why you may want to decide that you’re done with Target — and that you’ll be doing your shopping elsewhere.

1. The potential for impulse buys is just too extreme

You could make an unplanned purchase any time you shop at a store, whether it’s a pharmacy, supermarket, or even a place like Home Depot. But when you have a store like Target that sells pretty much everything, it’s far too easy to be tempted to throw extra items into your shopping cart, put them on your credit card, and deal with the bill later.

But that’s not a great approach to personal finances in general. As it is, American consumers have far too much credit card debt. As of the end of 2024, they owed a collective $1.05 trillion, according to TransUnion, with an average per-borrower balance of $6,360.

We can’t necessarily attribute all of that debt to Target. But it’s stores like Target that commonly lead to impulse buys that are bad for people’s budgets. So if you’re someone who has trouble saying no to unplanned purchases, then Target is not the sort of store you should be shopping at unless you’re doing super well financially — meaning, you’ve got tons of money in your savings account and no debt other than perhaps a mortgage or auto loan.

2. The prices aren’t actually that good

You’ll sometimes find good deals at Target, depending on the items you’re looking for. But one thing you should realize is that Target isn’t a discount retailer. Target’s main selling point is that it gives you access to a host of goods under one roof. But that doesn’t equate to cheap prices.

For example, one of the things I recently stopped into Target to get was an extra pair of swim trunks for my son. I found one for $13 and bought it because the price seemed reasonable. But then I checked Amazon, and lo and behold, it had swim trunks for less.

You can also buy household essentials like paper towels at Target. But unless there’s a specific sale, I find that they’re cheaper on Amazon — and then they get delivered so I don’t have to lug them home.

Look, I’m sure the idea of never shopping at Target is enough to make some people cry. If you can pull off your Target shopping without bringing home a cart full of extra items, and if you’re able to find great prices on the items you buy specifically, then by all means, keep going there. But there’s a reason I shop at Target sparingly, aside from the longer driving distance. And you may want to limit your shopping there, too, for the sake of your finances.

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