This Utah mom saves tons of money at Walmart using 6 secret tricks that even shocked us

·8 min read

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Want to save big bucks shopping at Walmart? Follow Melea Johnson's lead! (Photo: Instagram/themeleashow)
Want to save big bucks shopping at Walmart? Follow Melea Johnson's lead! (Photo: Instagram/themeleashow)

There’s a reason Melea Johnson proudly calls herself “the reigning Deal Queen.” More than 11 years ago, this Utah-based fitness enthusiast figured out how to keep her family on budget by identifying unique savings strategies at her favorite retailers. She became such an astute deal-hunter that she eventually launched her own YouTube channel and Instagram account to help other families save time and money.

When it comes to spotting deals, it’ll take more than a worldwide pandemic to stop Johnson’s wheels from turning. During Covid lockdown, she outdid herself by discovering new Walmart deals and perks without even setting foot in the store. Instead, this enterprising bargain shopper did a deep dive into Walmart.com, Walmart+ and the Walmart app, stepping outside her comfort zones from the comfort of her home.

“Now that lockdown is over, I’m looking forward to shopping at Walmart again,” Johnson told Yahoo Life. Between her tried-and-true tricks and her newly discovered digital strategies, her ideas for saving at Walmart are utterly impressive — so much so that we asked her to share a few of them with us. It turns out even our shopping editors hadn’t heard of some of these hacks!

Here, Johnson spills the goods on six little-known ways to shop smart at Walmart, whether in person or online. Shhh, don’t tell your friends!

1. Pit the Walmart app against Walmart.com to find the best deals available

The Walmart app is filled with savings opportunities. (Photo: corportate.walmart.com)
The Walmart app is filled with savings opportunities. (Photo: corportate.walmart.com)

During Walmart’s Black Friday 2020 savings event last November, Johnson noticed that some of the time-sensitive deals on her Walmart app weren’t showing up on Walmart.com. After digging in, she realized that the two shopping platforms don’t necessarily sync up, time-wise.

Case in point: A much-coveted, $120 hoverboard that was supposed to be reduced to just $69. When Black Friday rolled around, the big-ticket item was still full price online. Initially, Johnson was bummed. “I wanted to get these hoverboards for my kids as Christmas gifts,” she explained.

“People were refreshing Walmart.com, trying to get that amazing hoverboard deal, but none of us were able to see it,” she continued. “Then I noticed the discount had already gone live through the Walmart app. And those of us who checked the app were able to snag the deal early.”

Johnson says she's scored holiday items, cleaning supplies and other sale-priced goodies using the same tactic.

She doesn’t know for sure why the Walmart app reflects deals before the site does, though. “I would assume that there are different programmers for the website and the app,” she guesses, “But if you're looking for a [seasonal] deal, or you're trying to buy something before it sells out, you might want to check both the Walmart website and the Walmart app to see which one’s been updated with the sale price first.”

Download Walmart's free mobile app for iPhone and Android here.

2. Zero in on the deepest discounts on Walmart.com with this simple trick

Melea Johnson loves to make Walmart bargain shopping a family affair. (Photo: Instagram.com/themeleashow)
Melea Johnson loves to make Walmart bargain shopping a family affair. (Photo: Instagram.com/themeleashow)

Walmart shoppers love a good clearance deal, and it’s fun to find them in-store (here’s how to scavenger hunt for hidden clearance deals at your local Walmart!). But Johnson tells Yahoo Life that you can still score clearance discounts online, and they’re even easier to unearth.

Nope, it’s not because Walmart.com or the Walmart app have virtual clearance sections set up; they actually don’t, surprisingly. But their search functions are designed to surface and filter an exhaustive list of the site's clearance deals in one spot — and Johnson loves to use it on the app especially.

“If you go to the Walmart app, you can actually search the word clearance and it will pull up every single clearance item that Walmart currently has on their website. When I checked today, there were over 15,000 clearance items available that you could grab at Walmart through the app,” she said. “You can also search a term like ‘clearance under $5.’ Once you start typing in the word ‘clearance,’ other popular searches will auto-populate to help you find more clearance deals.”

Ditto for Walmart.com, which will then let you filter search results by price, so you can zero in on the lowest clearance deals available within the site’s expansive inventory.

3. Take advantage of Walmart+ — its unrivaled perks are not even available on Amazon Prime

Walmart+ and the Walmart app are Melea Johnson's secret Walmart deal-hunting tools. Get ready to save! (Photo: Walmart)
Walmart+ and the Walmart app are Melea Johnson's secret Walmart deal-hunting tools. Get ready to save! (Photo: Walmart)

"Walmart+ and Amazon Prime are very similar. However, Walmart+ has a little bit more value because you're able to get a few things that Amazon just can't provide,” says Johnson of Walmart’s exclusive rewards program.

One of those perks is having groceries delivered to your home for free through Walmart+, versus the $5 to $8 delivery fee you’d incur shopping at Amazon Fresh (regular shipments on orders over $35 are free). The other is Walmart’s fuel discount program, which gives you a potential discount of up to five cents per gallon of gasoline at Walmart & Murphy stations. “Amazon doesn't have gas stations, so they obviously can't offer that kind of discount,” notes Johnson.

A Walmart+ account is a must for any Walmart shopper — or anyone who shops online, goes grocery shopping or even drives a car. For just $12.95 a month or $98 a year (after that 15-day free trial), you get free delivery from your local Walmart store, free next-day and two-day shipping when you place an order on Walmart.com (no minimum required!). 

You can sign up for your free 15-day trial here. Walmart+ even gives you free shipping when you shop online.

4. Score an extra 15 days free on your new Walmart+ account by doing one quick thing

Walmart Plus
Enjoy all these perks free for a full 30 days when you take a quick, three-question survey. (Photo: Walmart.com)

Free shipping, free grocery delivery and a fuel discount are just a few compelling reasons to sign up for a Walmart+ account, but the retailer sweetens the deal even further in exchange for just a but of feedback.

Says Johnson: “When you're signing up for a Walmart+ trial membership, they'll give you 15 days for free. However, in the fine print, it does state that if you answer a three-question survey during the free trial signup, they’ll actually give you 30 days, instead of 15, to try out Walmart+ for free.”

Got a moment to spare? It’ll save ya.

5. In Walmart stores, the most hidden of all hidden clearance deals are hiding here

Walmart
Look to the end caps of each aisle for some buried clearance treasure! (Photo: REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian)

Walmart’s hidden clearance shopping is a beast unto itself — find out all about this cult-favorite pastime from this Walmart bargain-hunting pro and this Walmart clearance-shopping power couple — but Johnson shared with Yahoo Life one savings strategy we’d never heard of before.

“When you're searching in a Walmart store for clearance, the best place to find deals is on the inside end cap. And when I say that, it means the inside, that's not closest to the main aisle,” she explains about the actual end portion of a shopping display within each aisle.

“Manufacturers will actually pay to have their product featured on the outside of an end cap, because people see it as they walk by. It's a high-traffic area, so those are highly coveted spots for brands. So Walmart will take a lot of their clearance items and put them on the opposite side of the end cap. If you walk around the back of it, you’ll see a whole bunch of clearance items from the entire section that have been marked down with a yellow sticker.”

6. Speaking of yellow stickers, here’s a smart shortcut for hunting down hidden clearance deals

Walmart has a whole color- and number-coding situation going on with its clearance price stickers, and knowing how to decipher these codes will help you identify hidden clearance deals even faster.

“Any yellow clearance tag that ends in a double zero means that it's final sale, so it's not going to get any cheaper than that price you see. It's a great idea to buy the item when you see it with that sticker,” Johnson tells Yahoo Life.

“There's also a tricky thing that happens where sometimes you'll see a white tag that's not clearance that will end in a double zero. Those items are not clearance and not final sale. So don't get tricked, and make sure it's a yellow tag that says clearance and has a double zero. And, you know, you're getting the best possible price on it.”

Johnson adds: “There's another scenario where you might see a yellow clearance tag that ends in a five. That means it's on clearance, but it has the potential to go cheaper. So in that situation, I tell people that they should maybe wait, if there's a lot of that item, until the price gets marked down a little bit more...”

Got all of that? If Johnson’s razor-sharp Walmart-shopping strategies have you hungry for more, follow her Instagram account, where you’ll find all of her latest budget-friendly finds, smart shopping tips and more.

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