The clearance bin is your friend
Hidden among the lime-green knee socks and 'High School Musical' folders are some real steals.
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 Sometimes they're outdated.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.
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.
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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
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A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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