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It’s time for bargain hunting

My beloved bargain hunters, our time has come.

This is the time of year retailers go into desperation mode trying to get rid of winter (and other) inventory, which means big savings for us. This year will be even better than years past, since cold weather put a huge damper on retail sales numbers last month.

The best deals I’ve ever gotten in my life were nabbed in late February and early March. We’re talking 60-cent earrings, $4 sweaters and $9 drapes.

This time of year is better than Black Friday, because you see savings across just about every category. It’s also a great time to buy charitable items that can be donated to those in need. It’s more Real Housewives of North Tonawanda than Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but it’s a blast nonetheless.

There are all kinds of clothes, housewares, toys and other random stuff in clearance bins all over town. It’s like a treasure hunt! Here’s what you’ll find:

• Winter clothes. This is when I stock up on all my new clothing. We wear warm clothing nine months of the year and this is the cheapest way to get it.

• Holiday dresses. Whether they’re little ruffly numbers for the kids or black velvet cocktail dresses for yourself, these suckers are dirt cheap. Why pay more for a dress you’ll wear once a year? Just stick to something classic and non-trendy so it won’t go out of style while it sits in the closet for the next 10 months.

• Winter coats. You can find beautiful coats at department stores for seven bucks right now. Buy the next size up for your kids. I just saw warm, stylish children’s winter coats for $11 at Target.

• Valentine’s candy. If you need peanut- and tree nut-free treats to keep allergic kids safe, stock up on Valentine-branded Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Mike and Ikes, Skittles, Hershey’s Kisses and Charms Valentine Pops, all of which are on sale cheap.

• Christmas and holiday gifts. Save a ton of cash by stockpiling heavily discounted gifts. This also is a good time to grab items for your “oops, I forgot your birthday” stash so you’ll always have gift items on hand.

• Try online. Search your favorite stores’ websites by clicking on their “Sale” or “Clearance” tabs, but keep in mind some in-store merchandise might be much cheaper.

• Go deep. Clearance racks can be crammed into out-of-the-way places. Use price-check scanners in the store, too, since prices are often actually lower than their listed price. This is how I once got a $30 ceramic tissue box cover for $1.60.

• Be picky. Remember, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Ask yourself if you really need or want something, and whether you truly have a use for it.