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Feb 032014
 February 3, 2014  Posted by  Coupon Insider, Features, Hot Deals, Shopping

You can always spot a true cheapskate: We make a beeline for the clearance aisle. For novices, this can be tricky, as the clearance section is not always easy to find. In most cases, it’s “hidden” in the store, most often in the back. However, each store is different: Some grocery stores keep it in a corner near the front; others refer to clearance items as “Manager’s Specials.”

If you can’t find it, just ask at the customer service counter for its location — every store has one. You’ll know you found it because it’s usually a hodge-podge of products strewn about the shelves. At first, it can be intimidating. However, you can often find some amazing deals. Don’t let the clutter deter you from searching for deals.

Items are usually marked at least 50% off  – the benchmark for a true frugal find. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “It’s all expired, old or junk.” Not true. Many items make their way to the bargain bin because of overstock, label changes, seasonal flavors or maybe the product is being discontinued.

As they say, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Such can also be said of a disorganized clearance aisle. With a little patience and digging, you can find just about everything from pet food to soup to deodorant and much more. The trick is to check every time you shop, because inventory changes often — sometimes daily.

I’ve been known to take a lazy Saturday afternoon and make a “clearance run” – just shopping the clearance aisles at Target, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart and grocery stores. At the major retailers, what’s marked down at one branch is usually true at all locations. As a result, I may just search Target stores on a quest for a particular clearance item before it’s all gone. It doesn’t work each and every time, but it pays off (literally) when you find an unbelievable deal.

Here’s the real secret about clearance aisles: You can use manufacturer’s coupons on top of the discounted prices. Some of you may think coupons can only be used on full-price items. Not true. Marked-down items are fair game for coupon clippers.

You may encounter an employee who questions the policy, but just ask for a manager who should approve the transaction. Why? Because, stores receive the face value of coupon from the manufacturer, as well as an 8-cent handling fee. Be assertive.

Using coupons while shopping the clearance section is one of the main ways cheapskates get items for free or for just a few cents. I have a closet full of soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, shampoo, cereal, soup and more for which I paid pennies.

How do you get started? First, find the clearance aisles in each of the stores you frequent. Then, without fail, check the shelves every time you shop. You might even consider adding “clearance” to your weekly shopping list, as a reminder. Once you make it a habit, it will be second nature for your cart to make its routine pit stop. You’ll be amazed at what you find – namely the money back in your wallet.

Your greatest savings will always come from being a smart shopper in the grocery and clearance aisles. With a few great bargain-bin finds, you’ll better understand why coupons are even more valuable to your bottom line at checkout.

Living on the Cheap always has a great source of manufacturer’s coupons. New coupons are added each month, so check back often.

Bryan Chavez

LOTC National Deals Editor Bryan K. Chavez carries his purple coupon binder with pride everywhere he goes because he knows it's as "good as gold." His deal-seeking skills are so sharp that he regularly saves upwards of 75% on his grocery receipts. One of his passions is helping others save money. When he's not clipping coupons or sniffing out the next great promotion, his professional background is in public relations & marketing for non-profit organizations. Bryan is an editor at Mile High On The Cheap.

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