Secret savings & outright money-saving ideas from your favorite stores just in time for the holidays

CLEVELAND - It's that time of the year again when you're staring down a long list of holiday presents and wondering how can you get the best bang for your holiday budget. We're sharing some inside store secrets and the open incentives for you to keep your cash.

Special purchases, BOGOs, clearances. In a sea of savings, they're all on the mind of Von Bradley, from Amherst, who's about to spend big bucks this holiday season.

"Most of the time, I'm looking for sales and deals," said Bradley while she was shopping.

JCPenney is hoping to get her those deals with a renewed promise on coupons for their customers, email alerts for buyers, savings when you sign up for the store's credit card, plus additional savings like $10 off a $25 or more purchase sent to you when you spend in the store. 

"Coupons and sales are back in full force," said Duane Kansey, who is the store leader at the JCPenney store at Great Northern Mall.

You can get text savings when you text "join" to JCP365 and they'll scan the discounts at the register. There's a JCP app where you can earn rewards like gift cards, movie tickets and more. Social media interaction is big, too. Follow JCPenney on Twitter and like this past Halloween, a secret word will be sent out.

"Anybody that followed JCPenney on Twitter, if they came in the store and just said the word ‘boo' to the associate at the register when they were ringing out, they got a free coupon," Kansey explained.

Target is another store offering plenty of chances for you to keep your cash.

"We're really excited about the ways we can offer savings to our guests," said Jeff McCandless, who is the District Team Leader for Target in Cleveland.  He said the store's credit card gets you 5 percent off every purchase.

There's price matching. Twitter #mykindofholiday gives you more info on deals. You can stack coupons from manufacturers on top of apps like Cartwheel and Target's app.

"Click on mobile coupons and all of these coupons are going to automatically load with one quick scan of that bar code by your cashier," said McCandless, as he demonstrated one of the apps on his smartphone.

Shopper Bridget Hofer said she has taken advantage of Target's smartphone savings.

"I've only been using it for maybe a month and I've saved over $30," said Hofer with a smile.

And shopper Chris Gorka basically only uses coupons or specials from her phone.

"Just because I'm carrying a million things when I'm walking out of the house," Gorka explained while pointing to her young son who was sitting in a shopping cart.

Target.com has discount opportunities with coupons and exclusive deals as well.

Kohl's carries a bunch of savings opportunities, too. Kohl's cash will get you $10 when you spend $50. Kohl's charge card customers are sent special discounts. Wednesday is Senior Citizen Day with 15 percent off purchases. There are email alerts. And just in time for the holidays, Kohl's has a new app that features savings and exclusive offers.

We also teamed up with Consumer Reports to find you more savings. It reported at Marshalls and TJMaxx, markdowns usually happen on Wednesdays. You can sign up for email alerts for chances to win you a $50 gift card. And if you share your TJMaxx finds on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with #maxxinista you could win a $1,000 gift card.

Bradley enjoys some interaction with retail. She gets text alerts from a store.

"I like it. They'll send me one text a week normally. It's not an overload," Bradley told us.

And how about H&M? Consumer Reports says shop on Thursdays because that's when the big-selling items arrive. Meanwhile, download the H&M app where you can shake your phone and get a coupon code. Sign up for email alerts and get 20 percent off. Plus, bring in a bag of used clothes in any condition and get a 15 percent off coupon through the store's new recycling program.

These are all tips Bradley is now armed with as she heads into one of the busiest shopping times of her year.

"We usually spend about $500 on family and friends all together," said Von. "Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the deals."

We talked to the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart. It does not have a ton of programs. Reps told us the chain just offers the lowest price on all of its items every day.

It will price match, but there's a formula you need to be aware of before you try to get a discount. Here's a copy of WalMart's policy:

We're committed to providing low prices every day. On everything. So if you find a lower advertised price on an identical product, tell us and we'll match it. Right at the register.

We gladly match the price in the following types of ads:*

  • Buy one, get one free ads with a specified price
  • Example: Buy one for $2.49, get one free (BOGO)
  • Competitors' ads that feature a specific item for a specified price
  • Preferred shopping card prices for specific items that are in a printed ad
  • For fresh produce and meat items when the
    • price is offered in the same unit type (lb. for lb.; each for each)

    *The following are guidelines and limitations:

    • We will match any local competitor's advertised price.
    • We do not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor's ad.
    • Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.)

    We do not match the price in the following types of competitor ads:

    • Items that require a separate purchase to get the ad price
    • example: "Buy [item A] to get [item B] for $C"
    • Items with no actual price that require a purchase to get free product
    • example: "Buy both [items A & B] to get [item C] for free"
    • Items that require a purchase to get a competitors' gift card
    • example: "Buy [item A] to get a $B gift card
    • Buy one, get one free (BOGO) ads with no actual price given
    • Going out of business or closeout prices
    • Percentage off
    • example: "All mascara, 40% off"
    • Competitors' private label price promotions

    We do not honor:

    • Ads when the actual price for items cannot be determined
    • Internet pricing
    • Misprinted ad prices of other retailers
    • "Going out of business" sales or "closeout" prices
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