Smart SpendingSmart Spending

The clearance bin is your friend

Hidden among the lime-green knee socks and 'High School Musical' folders are some real steals.

By Donna_Freedman Jun 10, 2011 8:57AM
I went into Walgreens to get free-after-rebate nutritional supplements. Found 'em, too -- along with eight double-roll packages of toilet paper, four boxes of tissues and a two-pack of paper towels for a fraction of their original cost. 

I love the clearance section. It's like a yard sale except that you don't have to drive from place to place. Sometimes the goods are battered. Sometimes they're outdated. ("Hannah Montana" and "High School Musical" folders? Really?) Sometimes you wonder why anyone would have wanted to buy these items new.

But sometimes you score, big time. 

I'm not talking about the clearance racks in the clothing department. Personally, I hate trying on clothes so I rarely buy them. But anytime I step into a supermarket or drugstore, I take a fast detour to shelves and/or tables marked "closeout," "reduced for quick sale" or "last chance."

Often I find nothing of value. But hidden among those off-brand deodorants and Christmas-themed hair scrunchies are items like:
  • Bags of Starbucks coffee, $2.50 (I don't drink coffee but I like to donate it).
  • Canned pumpkin, 25 cents.
  • Women's knitted gloves, two pairs for 33 cents.
  • Boxes of instant vanilla pudding, 9 cents.
  • Bandages, 50 cents (and I had 50-cent coupons, so they were free).
  • Canned tomatoes, 35 cents.
  • Bags of diapers priced as low as $2.50, presumably because their bags were slightly torn.
I can't figure out why the store felt compelled to remainder four-packs of Quilted Northern and Nature's Choice Premium brands, but I sure am glad they did. Currently I'm in Anchorage, house sitting and then visiting, and I'd wanted to buy some TP rather than go into my hostess' stash for two months in a row.

The clearance bin let me buy it for a lot less. Half of the purchase was even triple-ply. Luxury! (I think. I've never used that kind before.)

It also let me help out my niece, a single mom of two: I took the paper towels, two boxes of tissues and five packages of toilet paper over to her place. The discount was a nice boost to the "helping" section of my budget.

My only regret is that I didn't have any Quilted Northern coupons. That would really have let me lay waste (so to speak) to the clearance bin. But 18 cents a roll is a great deal, and I wouldn't have gotten it if I hadn't taken a 60-second detour to the back of the store.

Seriously: Get in the habit of cruising the clearance. The bucks you save may be your own.

More on MSN Money:

Jun 10, 2011 3:49PM
I was surprised that they allowed you to use coupons on reduced or clearance items.  Many stores will not. 
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