Clearance Shopping at Target

One of my best frugal shopping strategies is clearance shopping at Target. I almost never pay retail at Target. After only paying 25% of the original price a few times, paying full retail is just….well, not frugal.

My family laughs at my adept skill at finding the best bargains at Target. They can laugh all they want. When I tell you about my shopping trip earlier this week, you too will be a believer in Target clearance shopping.

But first, a disclaimer. To make Target clearance shopping truly frugal, you have to abide by three rules.

  • Only buy things you need or have plans to purchase anyway.
  • Stick to your budget.
  • Don’t use your credit card.

Now that we have the rules out of the way, lets get on to shopping.

Wednesday I stopped by my local Target to pick up some Folgers Simply Smooth coffee. No, it wasn’t on clearance, but it’s the only brand of coffee that doesn’t make me sick. And I did have a coupon. And it was on sale. Anyway…

I put the coffee in my cart and started browsing the perimeter of the store. The outside endcaps are usually where the best deals are located. I looked at the shampoos and makeup but didn’t find anything priced for less than what I normally pay.

Then I hit electronics. I found a lot of great stuff there, but I didn’t put anything in my cart. I didn’t need any of it, and I had no immediate plans to buy the things I saw. I moved on to automotive. Normally I don’t find anything there, but I hit the jackpot on Wednesday. There were tons of NASCAR things on sale. I picked up several stickers, decals, and flags. Sam’s birthday is next month, and he wants a NASCAR party. The little gift bags are taken care of, and I spent less than $5 total.

I scored my best deals in the garden section. Everything was marked down. I bought 4 big planters for $1.24 each. I want to plant a big garden next summer, and these will come in handy. I didn’t need them, but I did have future plans to buy them.

And my big purchase of the day? I found a gas grill on clearance for $30. Before I put it in my cart, I called my husband to get his opinion. It’s always a good idea to consult your spouse before making a major purchase. Often this will confirm whether the purchase is a good idea, or it will serve as a reality check that maybe this purchase is a want rather than a need.

In this case, my husband agreed to the purchase. Our old charcoal grill is getting, well, old. We’ve been talking about making the switch to gas for a while. In this case, it made sense to spend $30 now, rather than wait until next summer and spend over $100 (the original price of the grill).

Finally, I picked up some Speedo goggles for my son. He’s been complaining that his eyes hurt when he swims, and at $2.24 the price was right.

In the end, I spent $55.33. When I added up the full retail prices, the total came to $213.24. I paid 26% of full retail (and that’s including that can of coffee that wasn’t on clearance). My shopping trip was successful for several reasons.

I only shopped the clearance sections. I walked the perimeter of the store and past each of the endcaps, but I never even ventured into the main aisles. I’m human, and I can be tempted to buy unnecessary items as much as the next person. By only shopping the clearance sections, I only saw the good deals. I wasn’t tempted by the full priced merchandise.

I shopped all the clearance sections, even the sections I don’t normally frequent. I don’t normally buy the automotive stuff for my family. My husband does. But if I hadn’t stopped there, I wouldn’t have scored the deals on the NASCAR items. You never know what you’ll find and where. Clearance items often get moved to wherever there’s room, so it pays to check all the clearance sections.

I had a good idea of what I needed. I keep a list of things that we’ll need in the future. I don’t always have it with me, but I have a pretty good idea what’s on it. I knew that we were going to need a new grill in the future. When I saw the inexpensive grill, I knew it was a purchase worth considering.

I know what I normally pay for things. Why did I pass up the shampoo? Because I know the brand, I usually buy costs less than the clearance price of the shampoo at Target. Having a pricebook is good for this purpose. I don’t have one yet, but it’s one of my goals for the near future.

I shopped without the kids. Enough said.

Finally, when I wasn’t sure about a purchase, I took time to consider it. Instead of putting the grill in my basket right away, I took the time to call my husband and walk around the store a bit before I came back to it. In the end, I was sure of my purchase because I had carefully considered it.

I don’t always have such great shopping trips at Target. In fact, most of the time I walk out of the store with nothing. But it’s worth it to keep checking back, because of weeks like this one. Bargains can be had, but you have to be patient and persistent.

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About the Author: Linda Clevenger

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