WARNING: The following post may be offensive to those who enjoy paying full price. 😉
I am the Queen of the Clearance… bow before me! Okay, all joking aside, I do fancy myself a “queen of the clearance,” at least when it comes to post-holiday shopping. Somewhere in between the super-savvy shoppers — extreme couponers or people who know how to properly predict/time sales — and folks for whom it’s too much of a hassle and who generally pay full price, are people like me who like to save money AND a lot of time. I’m not one to spend hours searching for bargains, clipping or downloading coupons, or comparing sales. When I’m looking to save on shopping, I like to get in and get out without a lot of “research” or other work beforehand.
This is why clearance sales, especially holiday ones, are great: all the merchandise is in one location, you know exactly what to expect, and because stores want to move the items quickly, markdowns progressively get better. All major retail chains have clearance sales after the holidays, some sooner (and with greater price reductions) than others. While I’m at a point now where we want to get RID of stuff in the house and are doing some major purging, I’m always on the lookout for truly useful items I can easily store. Because we have an annual Halloween party, for example, I at least take a peek at Halloween sales at places such as Target, Kmart, Big Lots, and Walmart. By now, I have plenty of decorations and such, so each year my clearance purchases get smaller. Still, I usually score big! Take a look at my loot from yesterday:
Target had Halloween costumes, decorations, and trick-or-treat items at 90 percent off (candy is at 70 percent off). I got:
- A “poison fish” plush bathroom rug: $1.50
- A Minions T-shirt that will still fit my kid next year: 50 cents
- A “Need a Hand?” skeleton-hand apron: $1
- Two large trick-or-treat bags (one skull, one Day of the Dead): 30 cents each
- Orange and black girls’ tights I will give to a friend’s daughter: 40 cents
- Black liquid eyeliner (2): 20 cents each
- Plush “mummy” bear: 50 cents
- Mesh decorative cloth: 50 cents each
- Large glow sticks, 8-pack (4): 30 cents each
- Face paint tubes (2): 10 cents each
For everything pictured above, I spent a grand total of $6.80… yup, less than seven bucks! Of course, they had plenty more items in stock (and I did purchase a few more things than pictured here) but this is a representative sample. Most of the items I will save for next year, but a few can be used at other times. The eyeliner is good for any time. The skull-and-crossbones bag can be used to carry our stuff during a pirate festival. And it goes without saying that glow sticks can get quite pricey, so to get some (especially in a longer length) at such a “steal” is great. I will use these on New Year’s Eve, at parties and play dates, backyard adventures on summer evenings, and special events such as festivals (I bring glow sticks for all our friends’ kids when we meet for Fourth of July fireworks, and they’re always a hit).
It’s easy to go crazy buying stuff when it’s this cheap, so instead of using clearance sales to “stock up” items I may or may not use, just based on price, I am very disciplined about what I buy. Generally my criteria are:
- Is this something we need and actually will use?
- If it’s a novelty item, can I justify it as a truly one-of-a-kind?
- Will it keep well for repeated use?
- Am I saving significantly by buying it now instead of around the holiday next year?
- Do I have space for it (both a container to put it in, and an organized out-of-sight spot to put the container)?
- Can I use it for something other than its intended purpose?
This approach helps me to focus on practical deals, keep clutter down, and start planning for next year. As time goes by, I also use these opportunities to “upgrade” some items and get rid of old stuff. Best of all, when the holiday comes around next year, I don’t need to scramble to find decorations and pay full price. I just need to dig out a few storage bins from their hiding places and I’m all set!
Okay, now, YOUR turn: what’s your best strategy for clearance sales? What has been your biggest “score?”
NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post, just sharing helpful tips. The companies named here are suggestions based on my own experience and did not provide any compensation or discounts.
Leave a Reply