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Wal-Mart has earned its reputation as a money-saving store by offering low prices on just about everything from car accessories to canned goods. And while no one will doubt Wal-Mart is a great place to save money, that doesn’t mean some items can’t be found elsewhere for less.
To help you maximize your savings, GOBankingRates.com asked a variety of experts to list items you should snatch up at Wal-Mart — and items you should steer clear of. Find out if you’re shopping smart at Wal-Mart.
10 BEST WAL-MART DEALS
The nationwide retailer has become synonymous with “savings” — and for good reason! With net sales increasing by 1.9 percent in the fiscal year ending on January 30, 2015, it’s obvious that many people are capitalizing on Wal-Mart’s low prices. Click through to see which 10 items are good deals at the retail giant.
While kids’ toys are a hit and miss at Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart is the place to be if your kid is into Legos, said Regina Novickis of Slickdeals.com. Members of the site post great deals they find, with the best of the best appearing on the front page. “Over the past year, our deal community of 9 million has front-paged more Legos deals from Wal-Mart than any other merchant, including Target and Toys ‘R’ Us,” she said.
2. DISPOSABLE RAZORS
If you’re not into paying a premium for smooth skin, Novickis said Wal-Mart can help with name-brand razors. And savings expert Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com said her site found Wal-Mart’s prices were up to 50 percent less drugstores’ prices. “For example, a three-pack of Venus Women’s disposable razors was $6.97 at Walmart and $12.99 at some drugstores,” she said. Pavini also added that Coupons.com offered a dollar off coupon, making the razors just $5.97.
3. ORGANIC FOODS
Eating healthy and organic food doesn’t mean you have to pay a high sticker price. Pavini said that Wal-Mart is actually making going organic affordable. “You can find many brand-name organic foods for less,” she said. Coupons.com found Organic Heinz Ketchup for $2.58 compared with $3.69 at the grocery store. And Amy’s Kitchen Soup was $2.25 at Wal-Mart and $3.69 at the grocery store.
4. PHOTO ANNOUNCEMENTS/CARDS
Want to make that birthday party or summer party announcement really personal? Lori McDaniel, senior content manager for Offers.com, said that Wal-Mart is a smart place to go for photo announcements. “You can get personalized photo invitations or cards for as low as 28 cents a piece, compared to about $1.27 a piece at a site like Shutterfly. That’s a 78 percent savings,” she said.
You don’t have to throw a party to save on photo printing, said Pavini. Wal-Mart is also a smart choice for photos with 4-by-6 prints as low as 9 cents each, she found. “The trick to getting the best deal is choosing the home delivery option, which gets you the lowest price,” she said.
But even if you go for the one-hour photo, Pavini said you’re still only paying a few cents a photo. Her bonus tip: “Create a free account with Wal-Mart Photo, and you may receive a sign-up gift,” she said. “We got 25 free one-hour photo 4-by-6 prints.”
6. SIMPLE FURNITURE
Need a few practical furniture items for your home? Wal-Mart might be a smart stop, said Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing for DealNews.com. “Wal-Mart consistently offers basic desks, shelves, futons and more for a lot less than most other stores,” she said. “Many of Wal-Mart’s furniture does include free shipping, which isn’t something you can say from most furniture stores,” she added.
McDaniel gave an example. “You can get a simple student desk for as low as $44 right now at Wal-Mart, versus $79.99 at IKEA,” she said. “That’s a 45 percent savings.”
7. BABY GEAR
While there is some conflicting input for name-brand baby items, like diapers — some experts touted Wal-Mart and some said these items are cheaper elsewhere — McDaniel said other newborn and toddler items, such as the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playards, are a go.
8. WAL-MART-BRAND GROCERY ITEMS
If you’re looking to fill that pantry with staple items for a little less money, Wal-Mart could help, said savings expert Stephanie Nelson of CouponMom.com. Wal-Mart has an extensive line of its own low-priced store brands that Nelson said are of comparable quality to supermarket brands.
“For example, I compared the cost of basics like rice, sugar, dried legumes, canned tuna, flour, sweeteners and condiments,” she said. “Overall, Wal-Mart’s store brand staples were 20 percent less than the supermarket options.”
9. COFFEE AND TEA
Brand-name coffee, tea and many other brand-name grocery store items that rarely go on sale can often be snatched up for far less at Wal-Mart, said Nelson. “For example, my favorite brands of coffee and tea are both 27 percent less at Wal-Mart,” said Nelson. And what’s even better, she added, is that Wal-Mart will also accept coupons on those items, making them an even better deal.
10. LAUNDRY DETERGENT
Wal-Mart is a pretty good place to keep your clothes clean for less, said savings expert Jon Lal, founder and CEO of BeFrugal.com. “You’ll find the lowest prices at Wal-Mart for name-brand laundry detergent when comparing prices at both brick-and-mortar and online retailers,” he said, noting that the savings can be as significant as a few dollars less.
Pavini found that you can save about 30 percent on detergent at Wal-Mart compared with online stores. The exception is when Amazon runs a sale, “but if there’s no sale going on, Wal-Mart is a safe bet not to overspend,” she said.
10 WORST WAL-MART DEALS
Like with every store, there are some items you should avoid at Wal-Mart. You might be better off buying products at some of Wal-Mart’s competitors, such as Target, Amazon, Costco or Ikea. Read on to find out which 10 items savings experts say you should skip at Wal-Mart.
It’s true that Wal-Mart has low prices on High-Definition TVs, but McDaniel said she doesn’t categorize them as good deals. “Wal-Mart’s HDTVs are at ‘low’ prices because they are the lower-quality versions than those sold elsewhere,” she said. “Get higher-quality at low prices at a warehouse store like Costco.”
2. NUTS AND SEEDS
It’s a given that nuts and seeds are healthy snack choices, but Wal-Mart’s might not be the healthiest for your wallet,” said Novickis. “You’ll find much better deals on nuts and seeds at stores like Aldi and Trader Joe’s.” She added, “On average, Wal-Mart is about $1.50 more per pound for whole almonds than Trader Joe’s, and mixed nuts are about $1 more per bag than at Aldi.”
3. GIFT CARDS
Gift cards can be a great way to make someone’s day, but Wal-Mart might not be the most savvy place to shop for them, said Novickis. “There’s no need to pay full price for gift cards,” she said. “Shop sites like CardCash.com to find discounted gift cards,” she said. While the discounts vary greatly depending on the merchant, they can be up to 27 percent off, said Novickis.
Avoiding getting your next laptop from Wal-Mart, advised Sakraida. “In the past two months, less than 1 percent of DealNews’ price-checked laptop deals were sold at Wal-Mart, which means your chances of finding a good price there are very slim,” she said. For better deals, she suggested Newegg or Microsoft Store, as well as directly from Lenovo, HP and Dell. Just remember to look for coupons, she added.
5. WRAPPING PAPER
Did you score a great deal on Legos at Wal-Mart for that upcoming birthday party? You might want to find the wrapping paper elsewhere, said Novickis. The quality of the wrapping paper you’ll find at Wal-Mart is comparable to the paper you’ll find at dollar stores for a lot less, she said.
If you need to replace your refrigerator, Wal-Mart might not be the place to find the coolest deal, said McDaniel. “You’re better off shopping at a store like Sears or Best Buy, which frequently run specials that include free disposals of old machines, or free delivery and installation,” she said.
Batteries are pricey. In fact, they can make a decently priced toy suddenly expensive. So, it’s important to get the best deal — and that’s likely not at Wal-Mart. “Hands down, it’s best to buy these at a warehouse club store,” said Novickis. Move batteries to your Costco or Sam’s Club shopping list .
Ah, bedding. Just saying it sounds peaceful. And Wal-Mart’s prices might seem soothing as well. But if you’re at all worried about quality, said Novickis, you might want to give Wal-Mart’s bedding section a rest. “While the price might seem right, given how many hours are spent in bed, a better quality can be found at a comparable price at merchants such as T.J.Maxx, Ross, and Home Goods,” she said.
9. STRAIGHT TALK WIRELESS
Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk month-to-month wireless service for $45 for a 30-day plan might seem appealing, but Sakraida and DealNews strongly advise against it. “DealNews readers almost unanimously panned the quality of coverage, customer service and Straight Talk-compatible phones,” said Sakraida. “Many customers who tried to save with Straight Talk service and a phone ended up going back to their original carrier.”
10. MEATS, CEREAL, SODA
Many grocery items that seem like a good deal at Wal-Mart, you can get for less at the grocery store, said Nelson. “Some [grocery store] items are priced below the wholesale cost in order to lure customers into the store and are usually featured on the first page of the store ad,” she said. “These sale prices are generally less than Wal-Mart’s Everyday Low Price for the same items.” Her examples include 50 percent off chicken, beef, pork, cereal, packaged items like crackers and cookies, and soft drinks.
Written by Alaina Tweddale of GoBankingRates