Trader Joe’s is already well-known for helping shoppers save money. After all, it’s the home of Two Buck Chuck (wine) and a wide array of Joe-related house brands that are far less expensive than similar products found at other stores.
In fact, the store is famous for keeping overhead expenses low (smaller stores, less selection, fewer staff). But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to eke out even more savings at Trader Joe’s, and without a lot of effort.
Here are seven ways you can save even more when you shop at Trader Joe’s.
1. Review the Fearless Flyer
Never, ever, ever just walk into Trader Joe’s without first checking out the Fearless Flyer, Joe’s guide to all things yummy (and new/seasonal). Unlike most stores, Trader Joe’s doesn’t have sales, so you won’t find additional savings in the Fearless Flyer or coupons (although you can use coupons – more on that in a minute). What you will find is a guide to the latest product additions to the stores, descriptions of the products and even some suggestions for how to enjoy them.
But how does that help you save money? Well, instead of buying something blind and then not using it because you either didn’t like it or weren’t sure quite how to use it, you’ll have more information to go on. Which leads us to the next way to save money…
2. Take Advantage of the Free Tastings
So you think that Organic Pumpkin Spice Granola Bark sounds like it might be tasty, but how can you be sure? What if you hate it when you get it home?
Never fear, Trader Joe’s is famous for letting customers try before they buy. Now, certainly, they aren’t going to pop that frozen Butternut Squash Parmigiana into the breakroom microwave so you can try a bite, but they will open up that bag of granola and let you decide for yourself if it’s worth taking a bag home.
3. Just Return It
Oh, no. You didn’t take our advice and try it before you bought it. No worries. If you do end up buying something you don’t like, just return it. The return policy at Trader Joe’s is truly fantastic: As long as you keep the receipt, you can return almost anything, for almost any reason.
4. Use the Recipes
If you’re perusing the Fearless Flyer and come across a product you’ve never tried and aren’t sure how to prepare, never fear! The Trader Joe’s website has a great list of recipes and you’ll frequently find a few suggested preparations for the products included in the Fearless Flyer. So if you’re worried about buying something and letting it go to waste while you try to figure out what to do with it, let that worry go.
For example, shaved Brussels sprouts are in the current flyer and there is a recipe for a grilled sharp cheddar, applewood bacon and shaved sprouts sandwich on the Trader Joe’s site. Um, yes, please!
5. Use Your Coupons
Yes, Trader Joe’s has a lot of store brands. But for the brand-name products they do sell, coupons are always welcome. AllNaturalSavings.com provides a weekly roundup of Trader Joe’s coupon matchups and deals that can really help you save.
6. Wag a Bag
This is especially important if you live in a city with a bag tax or that has outlawed plastic or paper shopping bags. Bringing your own bags — especially if you’re buying a lot of items — can end up saving you a few extra dollars per trip.
7. Use Your Cash Back Rewards Card
If you aren’t already using a cash back rewards card to pay for everyday items like groceries, gasoline and more, you’re missing out on some significant savings. You can check out our roundup of some of the best cash back rewards cards in America to see which one might best fit your needs. Of course, to qualify for most cash back rewards cards, you have to have a good credit score, and rewards credit cards aren’t for everyone.
That’s why, even though it’s great to be focused on saving money on everyday purchases, it’s also good to keep in mind that keeping your credit in good shape can result in huge savings over your lifetime by way of better terms and lower interest rates on future loans. You can see how much your credit score is costing you with this free lifetime cost of credit calculator, and you can see two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.