Thursday, October 16, 2008

CVS and Walgreens: Doing the Drugstore Thing

Drugstores are a whole different animal. I went in to drugstores a few times in college and couldn't believe the ridiculous prices. I had no idea why anyone would go there for pretty much anything... besides drugs. I have recently learned that if you work it right, you can get some great deals.

Each drugstore does their own rewards or money back program. At CVS, they're called "Extra Care Bucks" and Walgreens calls the "Register Rewards." Basically it is free money that prints with your receipt that you can use on your next purchase. It isn't a surprise, like sometimes at the grocery store, though. The weekly ad will tell you if a product qualifies for "EB"s or "RR"s. Many times the reward is worth the same as the price you pay for the item, making it essentially free (though you have to fork over the money initially, and spend money at the store later). It also is not uncommon for you to make money on a transaction by using a coupon (see vitamins and Dimetap below). You have to be smart about how you divide up your transactions to minimize your out of pocket expenditures.

Here are a few examples from my week:

At Walgreens I got:

Royal gelatin 5/$1.00

Dimetapp on sale for $3.99 [also: if you buy 3, you get $10 RR]
I printed 3 coupons for $2 off each one
$1.99 each or $5.97 total

I spent $6.97 (plus tax) and got $10 RR

This was a pretty big spend (though still a great deal, especially considering what it would cost be if I had to run to the stor at 3am for something like this... it's good to have on hand), as far as doing the drugstore thing goes, because it was my initial investment. I will use my $10 RR in the coming weeks for other purchases that will likely also result in additional RR money.

At CVS I made a few transactions (some on different days, others back to back) in order to minimize the out-of-pocket spending.

Transaction #1

2 Nature's Bounty vitamins, buy 1 get 1 Free = $4.99 (earns $2 EB)
-2 coupons for $2.00 off = -$4.00
$.99 (earned $2 EB)

1 CVS bar soap @ $.99 (earns $1 EB)
$.99 (earned $1 EB)

$2 spent, $3 EB earned

Transaction #2

idential to #1: $2 spent, $3 EB earned

Transaction #3

1 Colgate Total Toothpaste @ $3.49 (earns $2 EB)
-1 coupon for $1.50 off
$1.99 (earned $2 EB)

1 Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste @ $2.99 (earns $2 EB)
-1 coupon for $1.00 off
$1.99 (earned $2 EB)

2 CVS bar soap @ $.99 =$1.98
$1.98 (earned $2 EB)

$0 spent, $6 EB used, $6 EB earned

Transaction #4

Tampax tampons (40ct) plus venus razor, on sale for $5.99 (earns $2 EB)
$5.99 (earned $2 EB)

$0 spent, $6 EB used, $2 EB earned

So at CVS, I spent a little over $4, got everything in the two pictures above, and still have $2 EB in my hand to use in the future!

Please let me know if you have trouble printing any of the coupons I link to on my site. I can help you troubleshoot or fix the link.

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