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Navigating the Clearance Section: It’s Not a Deal If You Don’t Need It

bright red clearance sign marking a rack of discounted clothing
Kenishirotie/Shutterstock

Last season’s clothing and home decor at discounted prices seems too good to pass up, but it’s still a waste of money if you’re buying things you don’t need. Clearance sections are good and bad, depending on your spending.

When it comes to impulse shopping, one of my biggest downfalls is the clearance section. I love a good deal, but it took some time for me to realize what actually equates to a good deal. When you start looking at all of those bargain clearance deals, whether it’s post-holiday or just the usual clearance section, here is what you should keep in mind.

Do You Really Need It?

It’s fun to hit up the after holiday clearance sales. Fun and pricey, if you’re not careful. For every single item that you pick up off the shelf or rack, decide whether you need it or not and what use it will have in your life, in your home.

Consider the fact that Christmas and Halloween items will go home and get packed up for a year before you ever see them again. In fact, you might have some amazing clearance-bin deals from last year still packed up. How many bags of spider webbing or strands of tinsel does anyone need, after all?

The same thing goes for everything else too. Just because some workout pants you wear are on sale doesn’t mean you need them if you already have multiple pairs that are in good condition.

Make a List

Speaking of needing things: clearance items should be on your shopping list too. Lists are one of the things that will help the most when it comes to avoiding impulse shopping if you hold yourself to only buying what you’ve written down.

Go into the clearance section with a knowledge of what you’re looking for, even if it’s something basic. Maybe you need clearance toys for birthday or Christmas gifts. Perhaps you’re looking at clearance clothing for new work shirts.

Buying something you actually need at a steep discount is a great way to save money. Buying something you didn’t need in the first place, no matter how big the discount, is a waste.

Wait for the Best Deals

You’ve made a list, and it only has stuff on it you need. There’s one last step. Don’t rush right out to the store the day after a holiday, unless you’ve had your eye on something that may sell out quickly. Wait a few days until the clearance prices increase, and then you’ll get the best deals. Sure, some stuff will be sold out, and the clearance section will be picked over, but you’ll save more money this way (between the better percentage off and the fewer items to choose from).

The same goes for store closings. Find out when the final date is the store will be open and plan your trip around that. Stores often begin at only around 20 to 40% off when they first announce they are going out of business. You may get up to 75 or 90% off if you wait closer to closing (but, again, more stuff will already be gone – but you’ll save more this way).

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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