Clearance shopping

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It’s been a slow week on the blogging front: Boo-Boo got sick… then I got sick… Between a clingy, nursing baby and my 100º fever I’ve been in more of a survival mode than an organizational one. But, I’m still working on my project by doing some planning and a little shopping, too.

When I was at Target waiting to pick up Boo-Boo’s prescription, I decided to hit up their clearance spots.

Here’s what I found in the home, office supply, and Valentine’s Day sections:

 

Score! I’m super excited for the curtains as they were exactly what I was looking for to hang in the craft/play room.

When I got home and unpacked my prizes, I started thinking about how I feel so much more excitement finding great deals than if I just went out and paid full price. Of course, because of home economics it’s not always possible to plunk down $25 for new sheets. But I think that even if I had the money I’d still shop this way. Do you agree?

Here are a few tips for clearance shopping that I’ve learned along the way:

1. Know your discounts. At Target, items usually start at 15% and then go to 30%, 50%, and eventually 70% off. Seasonal items will go down to 90%. A lot of times I’ll spot something I like at 30% and then wait for it to go down to 50%. In my experience, a lot of things don’t make it down to 70%. It’s a little bit of a gamble (I guess that’s part of what makes it fun) and sometimes you’ll wait on something only to never see it again because someone else bought it. I consider several factors in my decision to wait for deeper cuts or buy now. If I really love it and need it and there aren’t many left, I’ll buy at 50% or maybe even 30%. For example, the curtains I bought this week were only 50% but there were only three panels left and I knew I wanted them for a specific, immediate purpose and they were exactly what I was looking for. Another time, toddler shirts were on 50% clearance. They had an entire rack. I thought they would be precious on Boo-Boo for next fall. But I waited it out and got them at 70%.

2. Scan it. Target is usually good about putting a little red sticker on anything that’s on clearance. But sometimes things get clearanced before they get a chance to mark it or things get put i the wrong place. If you see something that seems out of place or large clearance sections with several different % off signs, use those handy scanners to check the price. This is especially true for seasonal items. Scanning is also a good task for bored husbands or older kids to do while you are rummaging through the clearance selection.

3. Weekday late mornings are best. I usually find markdowns happening on Tuesdays-Thursdays around 9:00 or 10:00 AM. Usually by the weekend all the best deals are gone. I know it’s difficult if you work during the day, but shopping during the week is much better.

4. Set your price limits. It’s really easy to get carried away with awesome deals and buy things you won’t use or too much of something that might not work in the end. Maybe you give yourself a weekly allowance or a project budget. Yes, you are getting great deals, but you are still spending cold, hard cash! Buying clothes on clearance for the season ahead can be especially tricky. For adults, not much is going to change from one year to the next, but when buying for kids, well, it’s a shot in the dark. I have limits for what I’ll pay for future wear. If it’s for a year or more in advance, I’ll only spend $5 and under. That way, even if he can’t use it I’m not out that much money and I can feel okay about taking it to the resale shop with the tags still on it. (Or giving it as a gift!)

5. Think outside the (bread) box. Being able to envision items as something else will help you get what you need at a fraction of the price. Seasonal and speciality items are often quick to get marked down and usually hang around because people think they are out-of-season or not useful. Whenever I see something on 50% or 70% off, I think about how I could use it in a different way than it was intended. For example, I’ve found plus size dresses for under $5. Now, I don’t wear plus sizes but that material can be cut up and made into something like a pillow or curtains or a smaller dress. I think this creativity is what I like best about clearance shopping. I’ve done one or two posts about repurposing something I found on clearance. For your budget’s sake, it is important to be reasonably sure you have a specific plan and that you will follow through.

Anyone else love clearance shopping?

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