Learn Your Local Store’s Clearance Routine

As much as I do use coupons on some things there are many things I save money on without the use of coupons.  I know plenty of people who absolutely refuse to buy something unless they have a coupon for it, but I just can’t bring myself to be that way.  If I really need something I’m going to buy it, coupon, no coupon, sale price, no sale price.  If my cat needs a new cat bed because his is falling apart I'm going to buy one then, not 6 months from now when they finally go on sale.

There are a few items I will only buy when on sale, though.  I don’t have to have a coupon for those items because I buy them on clearance.  If I do have a coupon to that particular store I will pair it with the sale to save even more.  Seasonal items fall into that category as well as a few other things.  I didn’t set out to be an extreme couponer, and let’s face it.  Without breaking couponing rules and clearing shelves it’s pretty hard to successfully become an extreme couponer who pays nearly nothing for everything!

So let’s get back to that whole seasonal thing.  I pick out a few local stores that I shop in almost weekly, and when it comes closer to the season’s end I start watching how items are moved around in the store. For example, Dollar General almost always begins moving seasonal items that go on clearance to the end of isles, displays in front of the register, and separate clothing racks.  Of course stores and prices will differ depending on your location, but you will always find savings if you stick to a few stores you shop at all the time.  My favorite store for savings is Dollar General because sales start at 10% off and end at either 90% off or .10 per item depending on the stock. 

My seasonal/after holiday shopping list:

  • clothing (especially for my daughter or gifts for others)
  • bedding (fleece, flannel, electric blankets, etc)
  • shoes
  • stocking stuffers
  • anything that will be great as a Christmas or Birthday gift
  • holiday items I can use next year (ribbon for hair bows I make, decor, holiday themed non-candy stocking/basket stuffers for the LO, tablecloths)

Other things I replace from time to time that go on major sales often:

  • towels
  • washcloths
  • DVDs
  • kitchen items

So, this weekend I made my weekly shopping trip to Dollar General with my $5 off $25 Saturday coupon in hand.  To my surprise all the winter blankets had dropped to 75% off a couple weeks earlier than expected, so it was time to stock up.  I would normally wait until they were 90% off, but with the blankets flying off the shelves I’d rather pay the 25% than not get any at all.  I don’t go overboard and buy a ton of winter blankets for us because we don’t need new blankets every year, but twin size fleece blankets and throws make great gifts at Christmas and as birthday presents in the colder months.  Finding them on sale means I can add them to a gift basket with other sale items allowing me to give a larger gift.

I knew I needed to spend $25 to use my $5 coupon, but that is very easy for me to do at the Dollar General.  I started with the blankets.

  • 1 $15 queen size cream colored fleece for my own bed- $4.50
  • 1 $10 Dora twin size fleece for the LO’s room (matches her new toddler decor perfectly) $3
  • 5 $6 twin size fleece blankets in either blue or burgundy (solid colors are great gifts)- $1.80 each

When I got to the register the three blue blankets actually rang up even cheaper, $1 each!

Total original cost- $55

Total spent- $14.10

Savings- $40.90

Essentially it was like buying the 1 queen size blanket that I would have bought for myself anyway and getting 6 more blankets for free!

The cost of the blankets definitely wasn’t enough to use my coupon, but I wasn’t done.  I have 8 friends having babies over the next 4 months, so hitting up the infant and toddler clearance wrack was a no brainer.  I don’t like to give baby gifts for newborns because everyone gifts newborn clothes.  Instead I always shop for something in the 6-9 month or 9-12 month (because a lot of babies move into that size before 9 months) range, and that means clearance sales are perfect!  I did pick up 3-6m items for the 2 babies due in September. All clearance infant and toddler clothes were $1 each and Buy 1 Get 1 Free.  I was able to buy outfits for all 8 babies and a few 3T outfits that will fit my own daughter next fall/winter.  I got a total of 20 outfits for $10!  The original cost of each outfit was between $2.50-8.

That brought my total to $24.10 before tax.  We added a .75 juice drink for the little one and a .50 candy bar for the Hubby bumping the pre-tax amount to $25.35, and just enough to use my $5 off coupon. 

Total cost after sales tax- $21.79

Total number of items- 29

If we broke the total amount down into a per item amount I roughly spent .75 per item, and this is why it pays to learn the sales routines of your favorite local store!