Oct 31 2007

How to ‘do’ the drug stores

Country Girl at Heart has posted a question for me:

…I have a question about shopping at Rite-Aid, Walgreens and CVS. When I look at the ads I don’t see all of the deals that you (being the veteran that you are) see. But when I come to your blog I see all these great freebies and savings that I could use. What am I missing? The strategy seems so confusing. Point me in the direction of a crash course please.

First, thank you for the compliment, but I’m not a veteran at all. I only started this drug store stuff a few weeks ago! (I wish it was sooner.)

Since finding out great deals each week can be super time-consuming, lately, I’ve been taking the easy way. I’ve been buying free-after-rebate deals only at Rite Aid, though I plan to start combining sales with coupons to get other items for free. When I do this, of course I’ll show everyone how.

I have only bought the free-after-rebate things at Walgreens, as well, so far. I’m waiting to get my rebate gift card (with an extra 10% on it) before I spend much more at Walgreens. That way, I’m keeping my out of pocket (OOP) expenses to a minimum.

CVS was the first drug store I tried out, and it’s a cool one, but I’ve got to admit it is a little complicated.

For the newbies and the confused:

Visit Crystal’s blog. You can’t go wrong here. She has tutorials on CVS here and Walgreens here. Read both of those, and if you have questions, please ask.

Throughout the week, she’ll post deal combo ideas to show you sample shopping lists. Readers (including you) can submit suggestions to her, and she might post them for everyone to see.

I learn about a lot of deals and coupons through her blog.

Also, I visit couponmom.com. You have to register (for free) to use the site, but her staff matches up sales fliers with coupons in the newspaper. It’s a fast way for me to see some good deals without having to work for it.

But, say your Internet goes out some week. No worries! Just grab your CVS weekly circular, the CVS monthly catalog, Walgreens weekly circular, the Walgreens Easy Saver catalog, and the Rite Aid weekly circular and Rite Aid monthly book. All are available near the front of each store, usually in between the double doors. They also typically come in the Sunday newspaper, or through postal mail.

For each store, here’s what I do:

I look to see what items are free after rebate. These are usually obvious–and will be marked as free. For Rite Aid, if the sale price matches the rebate amount, then it’s free. Often, you’ll see the language “purchase price will be refunded (up to $x.xx).” Items this week at Rite Aid include Adidas body wash, GE power strips, and some Oral-B toothbrushes. For a complete listing of this month’s Rite Aid rebates, click here.

You can combine manufacturer coupons with store coupons and rebates to increase your savings. For example, this month, there is a $1 rebate for Listerine Whitening Rinse, 16 oz. I know I have a coupon for $1 off, so there’s a $2 savings right there.

That’s pretty much the overall strategy: combining manufacturer’s coupons with store coupons and rebates. For CVS, the strategy is to use your extra care bucks to generate more extra care bucks, and never pay anything out of pocket.

Some Rite Aid deals this month:

Electrasol products have a $2 rebate this month at Rite Aid, and there’s always coupons out for those.

On page 17 of the Rite Aid monthly ad, you’ll see a BUNCH of bottles of hair products. Deal # 87 in that booklet says if you purchase $5 worth of any variety, you’ll get a $1 rebate. Buy $10, you’ll get $3 back, buy $15 and you get $5 back, and $20 will get you $8 back. It doesn’t say if you have to buy them all in one transaction or not. Since Rite Aid deals are all entered online, it seems like you wouldn’t have to, but I don’t know for sure.

Bottles pictured include Pert, Tresemme, Garnier Fructis, Dove, Vive, Aussie…and a million others. See your own ad for details. This applies to bottles that cost $3.99 or more.

To get the $8 rebate, you’d have to reach $20 before coupons. At $3.99 each, that’s six bottles to put you over $20, but you might try finding four at $3.99 and one at $4.04 or slightly higher to get the best deal.

There are coupons out for buy one, get one free shampoos, and $1/1 or more. The best way to do this would be to use BOGO coupons AND $1 off one shampoo. That’s two bottles and two coupons (absolutely allowed).

I would need to go to Rite Aid to confirm prices, but here’s a hypothetical scenario:

Bottle 1: $3.99 (use BOGO coupon)
Bottle 2: $3.99 (get this one free, and use a $1 off 1 coupon)
Bottle 3: $3.99 (use BOGO coupon)
Bottle 4: $3.99 (get this free, and use a $1 off 1 coupon)
Bottle 5: $4.04 or more (use $1 off 1 coupon)
Total before coupons: $20. After coupons out of pocket total: $9.02.
After $8 rebate: $1.02 for five bottles of shampoo, or $0.20 each, plus tax.

I now have 11 bottles of shampoo in my storage bin (and several bottles in the shower) so I don’t plan to participate in this one.

UPDATE: To get your rebate check from Rite Aid, you simply go online and enter information found on your receipt. The store register verifies this information somehow, and you get credit for the rebate. At the end of the month, you click a button on the site to request your check. You can only do this once per month. You will know exactly how much money to expect. It takes a few weeks to arrive.



10 Responses to “How to ‘do’ the drug stores”

  1. Hey-Kacie

    Thank for posting so much information for me. I really want to see if I can save money on and buy products that I need. I’ve been telling my husband about rebate checks and CVS credits and he’s really excited to see if we can save as well. Thanks again.

  2. Are the rebates done online or by mail? Do the savings reflect the cost of postage? Just curious. All this makes my head spin!

  3. Oooh, I should update the post to include more on the rebates. But for Rite Aid, you can do the rebates two ways: online or by postal mail.

    I’d suggest everyone do it online, since it’s easy, it will save you a stamp, and you can know right away if you got the correct item.

  4. I’ve been a big fan of the Walgreens bargains for over a year and just recently posted on my blog about this…honestly, I can’t understand why more people don’t take advantage of such great offers. I need to start attacking the goodies CVS and Rite Aid, but don’t think about it much because I have to drive a bit further. When they opened a new Walgreens in my town last year, I was one happy girl :)

  5. I’m a newbie to the whole CVS game. In fact, I just made my first CVS purchase today (and blogged about it of course!). I could have done better, I think.

    Thanks for sharing all these ideas! It’s a lot to soak in at once, but I think in the end it will be worth the complication!

  6. Good Cats! You really can save a bunch. These stores keep luring me over with their perscription by offs (bonus switch)

  7. I love this post. I wanted to ask the same question, but I was too embarrassed…LOL. But, now I have a better idea how to do this! I can’t wait to get my coupon book, and check all of the online places you mentioned. Thanks so much. You are such an inspiration :)

  8. You’re welcome! Don’t be afraid to ask questions–we’re all here to help!

  9. Thank you for posting this. Like others I seem to have been missing something. I guess I will head over to Crystal’s blog and check out Drugstores for Dummies. :) Thanks for the tips. I enjoy your blog.

  10. I discovered Walgreens about a year ago and I love it! I can’t believe that they just give stuff away for just a little bit of work on my part. I am definately going to check out CVS in the near future…

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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