The coupon experts will tell you that the drug stores are where the big dogs get their deals. I’ve been hesitant to take them on for a few reasons.
- Selection. Groceries take up less than 1 aisle. You get a lot of options when you’re looking for something like cold medicine, but hardly any for a lot of everyday buys.
- Size. Some of them are great, but in the city most of them are teeny tiny things that I hate having to navigate through.
- Staff. Seriously, it is a very rare event when I go to a drugstore and don’t have to wait in an insanely long line for the only cashier working a register. They want people to buy lots of stuff but they’re really not staffed for it most of the time.
But I’m singing a new tune since I started my coupon binder. One of my secret reasons for not going was that too many deals involved money to be used on your next purchase. I lose these constantly.
Then I found my coupon binder and voila! All my extra cash at my fingertips.
So lately I’ve started playing the drugstore game. Not a lot. Just dipping my toe in. By having small, targeted drugstore trips I get to take advantage of great deals without getting so frustrated. (I’ve also been going late at night, so there’s less lines. And I head out of town a bit to bigger locations.)
Here’s why it’s the source of the best deals:
Cash back + Coupons + Sale = Cheap, Free, or possibly even some money in your pocket.
So an item gets marked down. AND they offer you a receipt for cash. (Extra Bucks or Register Rewards.) All of that is great, but even better is that you can pile coupons on top of it.
Keep in mind, drugstore couponing is different than grocery store couponing. You’ll need extra organization and planning. You’ll also need additional time for trips. On the plus side, if you put all your circulars together, you’ll be able to compare more deals to make sure you get the most savings.
So let’s examine my CVS trip Sunday night.
Here’s my haul (just pretend I’m The Coupon Goddess):
The price? $33.10. Doesn’t sound very impressive, does it? Not a ton of items, still a substantial amount of money. But consider this: at full price, the same amount would buy me the batteries, the Tampax and the Swiffer. Nothing else. These are high price items, the ones I hate buying because just one or two things adds so much to my bill. (Oh, and also there were some Twizzlers I got for Eric which he had already started devouring before I could take the picture.)
I didn’t get all crazy sale stuff. The brush was because I’ve lost mine. Not on sale.
Let’s see some examples of the trifecta of savings:
- On sale, 2 for $5.97. That’s $2.01 in savings for both.
- I had a coupon for $1 off.
- $2 Extra Bucks for purchasing 2.
So instead of paying $7.98, I pay $2.97. This is our normal shampoo, didn’t even buy something special, just something I was buying anyway.
- On sale for $7.99, savings of $2.
- Coupon for $2 off.
- $2 ExtraBucks.
Used to be $9.99, I get it for $3.99. I’ve been really scoring on tampons lately, and these big packs are my favorite. Another thing I buy all the time.
- On sale for $2.77, savings of $0.22.
- Coupon for $1.
- ExtraBucks for $2.77.
Normally $2.99. I paid… -$1. Yup, I made money buying toothpaste. If only I had my old coupon binder which was loaded with Colgate coupons.
Keep in mind, I still just buy things we use and will need. I’m stockpiling just a teensy bit with the cleaning supplies because we’re moving soon and I know we’ll need them. But the toothpaste, shampoo, batteries all go really fast so it’s always good to have them around.
All in all, I spent $33.10. Original price of my items was $60.19. But that leaves out one important thing:
Oh right. Those things that look like receipts but are actually dollar bills sitting in my coupon binder.
$9.77 in ExtraBucks. So actually I spent $23.33 on my little haul.
I also made a quick run to Walgreens the same night. They had the best milk prices–over $1 cheaper than grocery store–and we drink a lot of it. And I had a shiny $3 coupon for razors. The razors were on sale everywhere, but Walgreens definitely had the best deal. A good price, a great coupon and $2 Register Rewards for next time.
The Extreme Coupon folks have been known to clean out the drugstores on Sunday morning when the new prices start. That will never be me. It’s rare I buy more than 2 of anything. But just because you don’t go that crazy doesn’t mean you can’t do quite well with a little planning. There were plenty of ExtraBucks deals I didn’t use and plenty of sales I skipped because I am trying to keep from bringing too much stuff into the house before we moved.
Oh, and one more thing. If you’re a regular CVS shopper, I’d recommend getting one of their little reusable bag tags for 99 cents. Every 4 times you use it, you get $1 back in ExtraBucks. It may take me a month to get that dollar, but I’ll use it. And if I’m going to pop in for something like a prescription, you can bet I’ll pull out my reusable bag and have them scan it.
I think I’ve found a drugstore routine that works for me. I bet you can, too.