Ways to Save, Part 5: Drugstore Games at Walgreens

Not to long ago, I never went in a drugstore except maybe to pick up a prescription. I wondered who would buy all those varieties of products (tomato sauce? flip-flops?) and there never seemed to be that many people in the stores. I would look at the ads in the Sunday paper occasionally, but I could get toilet paper or other things for cheaper elsewhere.

A few years ago Walgreens started popping up on every corner, but I never even went inside any of the stores. I had no reason to, or so I thought.

Then I read Money Saving Mom’s blog and found posts titled “Walgreens 101″ and “Rite Aid 101″ (CVS, too, but we don’t have those stores here). She wrote that these stores had programs that I could take advantage of in order to get things like deodorant or toothpaste for free and many other things for pennies on the dollar. What? How come I hadn’t heard of these before?

Well, I followed her steps and instructions and nervously did my first transaction using some coupons to bring my total lower. The out-of-pocket wasn’t great, but I knew that once I built up some rebates and “register rewards” I could start rolling these to hardly pay anything for the things we use all the time. I was getting excited.

For four sweet months, I used the Walgreens Easy Saver Program to earn rebates. The first month I earned more than $25 dollars. After that, I was able to use that money to earn rebates on other items, earning between $25 and $40 dollars each month on Walgreen’s gift card (they even added 10%!), so I literally only paid a few dollars out of pocket for shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, razors, shaving cream, etc.

I would also use the register rewards (RR), if they were for something I needed, but the money on the gift card was much easier to use and didn’t expire, which was a huge bonus.

Wow, I could really see how it was affecting our budget – I was amazed at how these simple items had been causing our budget to rise in the last few years as our kids grew older and needed to shave and all the other things that come with adulthood (ugh!).

Needless to say, when Walgreens discontinued their program at the end of April, I was disappointed. I hoped they would add something other than the Register Rewards. For a few weeks after they dropped the program, they had more items earning RRs, making most of them free if I just rolled the RR’s into the next week’s items earning RRs.

But for the last month, the items earning large amount RRs have dwindled. They usually have toothpaste and deodorant, but how many more of these do I need? I’m stocked up. They seem to have a lot of $1 RRs now, which usually don’t make the deal worthwhile. Or if there is a large dollar amount RR ($15), it’s for something like a glucose monitor. It would be free, but I don’t need it, I don’t know anyone who needs it, and it’s just not something that’s going to get me in the store.

So, how do I save at Walgreens anymore? Well, I’m still in a waiting mode, but the following steps will still save from buying at regular stores.

  • Keep clipping coupons for health and beauty items to use in conjunction with Walgreens sales and RRs.
  • Look at each week’s advertised sales. See if there are items that will earn a RR AND there is a coupon to use with them to make your out-of-pocket lower. Once you’ve earned some RR’s, roll them into the next week’s deals you can find.
  • Walgreens also has some store coupons in their ads that you can combine with manufacturer’s coupons for additional savings.
  • Wait to see if Walgreens adds another saving program, and check out Rite Aid’s rebate program!

Next up, Rite Aid! Really, even though Walgreen’s isn’t as good for savings as it was, everyone who wants to save on their health and beauty items needs to be shopping at drugstores. There really is a reason to go into these stores!





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