7 ways to save money at Trader Joe's

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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.

RELATED: The most underrated buys at Trader Joe's:

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11 underrated Trader Joe's must-haves (Bon Appetit)
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11 underrated Trader Joe's must-haves (Bon Appetit)
“The frozen Mini Beef (or Chicken) Tacos are terrible but also, like, delicious. Especially at 2 a.m. Especially if you happen to be a college student. Or even a nostalgic, drunk adult.” –Kurt Soller, features editor
“The frozen Spanakopíta is my JAM. It’s what I make every time I have nothing in the fridge. Twenty minutes in the oven and it’s flaky puff pastry goodness, with a heavy dose of spinach. Bonus: They aren’t thaaaaaaaat bad for you.” –Carey Polis, web editor
“The Truly Handmade Flour Tortillas. These are the closest I can get to the lard-made ones my sister ships from the grocery store in Houston for my birthday. They make Mission tortillas look like flour-coated patties of sadness, which THEY ARE. The Trader Joe’s versions—even in whole wheat if you’re trying to fool yourself—are thin and buttery and great for breakfast tacos, drunk quesadillas, and eating plain, microwaved with cheese—a French technique I picked up from Jacques Pepin*.” –Alex Beggs, senior web editor *Lies
“There was a long period of time where I was weirdly into the Frozen Vanilla Greek Yogurt, which is the only flavor they have. And I don’t even usually like vanilla! It’s just the right ratio of tart-to-sweet.” —Emma Wartzman, assistant to the editor in chief
“I went through a HEAVY Mini Ice Cream Cone phase circa 2011. There’s no such thing as having just one of them at a time, so I had to cut myself off when a four-cone-a-night problem was developing. But I revisited my love for them late last year, and they were (and still are) at least 100000x better than the TJ’s frozen mochi that I chipped a tooth on once.” –Elyssa Goldberg, associate web editor
“I survived my senior year of college thanks to the Pork Shu Mai. They’re $3 a pack! Hit ’em with scallions and some soy sauce and you’re set. Also, it goes without saying that their Charles Shaw wines are a deal that probably shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In college, we used to buy a case of Three Buck Chuck (12 bottles for $36) and bring them to parties. We’d then sell the bottles for $6 each and double our initial investment. More shumai for the whole team. The hustle was real.” –Alex Delany, assistant production manager
“I buy the Dried Bing Cherries several bags at a time. A couple years ago, I developed what I’ll describe as a dried cherry habit—I stir them into oatmeal or yogurt in the morning, add them to salads for lunch, or I’ll mix some with toasted pecans to serve the purpose of a lazy woman’s granola for all car trips or flights. The unsweetened, unsulfured Bings at TJ’s are my dried cherry of choice—plump, with a great sweet-tart balance.” –Meryl Rothstein, senior editor
“The Cha Siu Bao Chinese Style Pork Buns. No, they’re not as good as your favorite dim sum spot, but for an emergency freezer snack, they cannot be beat.” –Lily Freedman, Test Kitchen contributor
“The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dunkers offer a primer in metaphysics: There’s chocolate in the cookie, but then that cookie is IN chocolate. How did the universe come about? What is matter? Why are we here?” –Alex Tatusian, designer
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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 two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

More from Credit.com:
7 Signs You're Living Beyond Your Means
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

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