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Madness takes its toll - Save money at the clearance section

By (view all posts by JustHazel)
at 6:30AM Tuesday October 30, 2012
under Money Saving Tips

It's Astounding

Deep in the belly of the beast we call the grocery store is a place so fraught with fright even the bravest of savings souls cower at the mere mention of it. Not really, I just don't get the chance to use the word fraught that often.

I'm typing about The Clearance Cave.

Where is it you ask? It's just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right. Head towards the back of the store. Cling to your cart real tight. Somewhere along the back wall (or side, depending on where your store has the stock area) is a door that separates the shoppers from the stock area. This can be a veritable cornucopia of clearance items – fruit, bakery, etc. Plus a treasure trove of non-perishables. Some of the stuff found back there, okay, I have no idea what is. Dare I say, Riff Raff?

Time Is Fleeting

Many don't know this place exists. We're in a hurry, we've got kids in tow, the game starts in 20 minutes and the Little Smokies haven't belly flopped into the vat of BBQ sauce yet. Whatever our reason, we frequently pass by this area. Making the clearance cave part of your routine will help. We've got a savings fire in our heart, so let's fan it. (Janet)

Madness Takes Its Toll

Sheer madness can occur in this dimly lit portal to savings. Most recently, I scored cans of Friskies cat food for $.20 a can. Six 18lb bags of Arm & Hammer Cat Litter for $4.50 a bag. What a buy – makes you cry – and I did.

I love clearance baked goods. Sometimes I get a hankerin' for chocolate but my "back forty" doesn't need chocolate. So I'll grab a used cake for $.99, eat enough of it to satisfy the craving, then I don't feel bad pitching the rest.

The flavor fest of fall is upon us so, Hot Patootie, bless my soul, I'm waiting for used pumpkin roll!

Okay, I know these items aren't "used" – I blame my mumz, ha! She would always say we were going to the used bread store when we headed off for day old bread. I will always proudly refer to clearance and close-outs as "used". (harrumph)

Explore the "Castle"

Throughout the main portion of the store, there are mini clearance caves. My two favorite grocery stores have cart wheel grooves in the tile as it's a ritual to hit all these spots, even if I'm just going in to score free toothpaste. Up through produce, over to meat, back to the main cave, frozen end cap, down to dairy.

The trek to dairy makes me shiver with antici…pation, it's total bovine intervention. There's some wackidoodle rule about dairy products that forces Freddy the Dairy Dude to put milk in the clearance section when it's still got 10 days left before it expires. At first I thought it was udderly ridiculous to see gallons of milk for $.99 / half gallons for $.45, I got over it. Other fridge items wind up there, too. Buitoni Raviolis for $.25 a package, totally tubular Pillsbury biscuits for $.10, Land O Lakes Cinnamon Sugar spread for $.25, Egglands Best Dozen eggs for $.45, Great Scott – it's endless!

The meat clearance section can also make my eyes bug out. Oscar Mayer Littles & Buddig packets for $.25, Oscar Mayer boiled ham for $.70 a package, and hot dawgs! I enjoy having 20 packages of hot dawgs in the freezer at work. (You're a hot dog, and you'd better not try and hurt her … FrankFurter. Sorry about that, I just don't know what came over me.)

You can also find hidden gems on the shelves, these are the items on the runway waiting for take-off to the main clearance cave. They usually have little tags that say "reduced for quick sale" or "close-out", that kind of verbage. But you have to look for them. If I were in charge, these tags would all be Magenter so they would stick out like a banana on your head.

Enter At Your Own Risk / Pitfalls

Will your store let you use a Q on Clearance Items? Some stores will, some stores won't. Even though some policies have nothing in writing, you may encounter a register-ista that will give you the big ole Bradish "Denied!"
  • Always check expirations dates. I'm surprised at how many clearance items aren't even close to expiring. Meat is often iffy – you may be gambling. To me, it's worth a roll of the dice. Unless it's green, of course.
  • Sometimes we succumb to the allure of a price tag that says 75% off. The store knows this and wants you to fall for it. Know your prices - just because it's clearance tagged, doesn't mean it should be bagged.
  • Columbia may enter your feet and make you want to break out into a wicked tap dance. Proceed with caution.
 I used to hate the regular grocery stores, I was loyal to a different store. The grocery store has now become an arcade and it's a series of games we can all win.

With the economic forecast being Rocky, don't let your Meat Loaf! All stores have clearance crannies, hunt them down. Become a clearance cave spelunker. Use your grocery store to help you realize your financial freedom. Don't dream it – BE IT!

And yes, I get sentimental sometimes and feel it would be wrong not to add one more line as I fling Melba into the air … "A Toast, to absent friends."

JustHazel is a member of, as well as a reader, active community member and now guest writer.  When you don't see her around she's probably hamming it up in her hovel.