Monday, July 11, 2011

How To Save Big By Shopping At Drug Stores!

We have discussed how to find coupons, use coupons, match up coupons to sale prices, and stockpile items when they are at their lowest price. Now I want to tell you about a little secret that surprises most people. It certainly surprised me! That secret is: you can get the BEST deals by shopping at drug stores!

Nearly every week I come home with bags full of items from CVS that I paid pennies for, and you can, too! If you’ve never shopped at a drug store before, you may think I’m crazy, but I have been able to virtually eliminate our household toiletry/cleaning supply budget, and often some OTC medicines as well!

The trick is learning to use the reward systems in place at each of the major drug store chains. There are three major chains: CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. All three offer some form of cash back incentive program for buying certain items that are participating each week.

You may say “Aren’t drug stores more expensive?” Most of the time the answer is yes! Often, they are grossly overpriced. However, if you are spending the store's money and not your own, that almost ceases to matter!

Here’s how it works:

Item A is on sale for $2.99. When you buy that item, you receive a reward back for $2. You also have a coupon for $1 off that item. You pay $1.99 OOP for the item, after using your coupon. Then you get back $2. It’s “like” you got that item for “free”. *I tend to not like this analogy because you are actually paying for it up front, but we will get to the actual FREE in just a second. =)

Now you have $2 of their money to spend. You could go right back into the store and use it to buy something you need. Maybe you ran out of milk, which is $2.99 there that week. You could buy the milk, use your $2, and pay just $0.99 for it, which would be an awesome deal. I suggest that you not do this, though.

If you hang onto your $2, next week there may be another item that is on sale for $4.99 and when you buy it, you get back $4.99. There happens to be an awesome coupon that you found online for $3 off of this item. You buy the item, use your $3 off coupon, use your $2 store reward and pay nothing! THEN, you get back $4.99 to spend next time! You now have more of "their money" than you started with, and you didn't have to pay anything!  This process is called “rolling.”

The main idea of “rolling” is that you are always spending the stores money on items that will give you back more of the stores money to spend later. There will be an initial investment when you get started, but after that, the savings are phenomenal!

At CVS the rewards are known as Extra Care Bucks (ECBs). To learn more about how to shop at CVS, please visit my good friend Cheryl at Simply CVS. Her site is devoted to all things CVS and if there is a coupon that matches up to a sale at CVS, you can bet she knows about it and has posted about it, so I always check her site out before heading out to see if there’s something I missed.  The link will take you to the home page where you will find posts for the latest sale ad.  Look on the right side bar for a list of CVS Lessons to help get you started!

At Walgreens the rewards are known as Register Rewards (RRs). I find Walgreens a bit more complicated to shop at than CVS because the RR’s are considered manufacturer coupons. If you want to use a RR along with a coupon for a single item, you cannot. This is because you have to have a 1:1 item to coupon ratio. You will have to purchase a “filler” item so that your ratio will be 2:2. There are a few more details, and my friend Cricket at Thrifty Texas Penny is an expert, so head over to her page and read all about it.  The link will take you to her Walgreen's tutorial page, but have a look around because she's got some great stuff there!

I do not even have a Rite Aid in my city, so I know absolutely nothing about that, but you can visit Brandi at Must Love Coupons to learn all about that.



What is your favorite Drug Store to shop at?

That is all I have prepared for this series, but be thinking about anything I may not have covered.  Tomorrow I am going to give you an opportunity to ask any questions you still have!  I hope you enjoyed these posts.  I should be on my way back home right now!

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