How to Save Money at Walgreens {Shopping Walgreens 101}

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Walgreens

Walgreens runs fantastic promotions which allow you to pick up household and personal items for cheap or even FREE. The key to making the most out of drug store shopping is to know how to combine manufacturer’s coupons with in-ad coupons and, even better, Reward Programs.

How to Save Money at Walgreens

Before we get started here are a few basic things to remember:

– Get organized before going to the store! Know what you are going to buy and have the coupons out for those products.
– Note if you need to do separate transactions and separate the coupons accordingly.
– Bring a calculator or use your cell phone (in case you need to rework a deal) and take the weekly circular ad or pick one up when entering the store.

Register Rewards (RR)
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At Walgreens you can earn Register Rewards (RR) on specific products. RR are manufacturer’s coupons that print from a Catalina machine at the register. These RR are Walgreens specific (more on that later) and are worth a certain value just like a standard coupon.

RR deals are listed in the weekly circular ad, and you will find matchup’s on my site telling you what to buy and even giving deal ideas. In the example above, for every Glade product you purchase, you’ll get $1 RR. You can use a manufacturer’s coupon on this purchase to make your out of pocket even lower.

These RR can be “rolled” to produce more RR thus lowering your total out of pocket expense. RR deals can also be combined with manufacturer’s coupons to get an item cheap, free or make it a moneymaker! This is the drug store “game,” getting paid to shop at the store!

Keep in mind:
– RR expire after 2 weeks!!
– RR can be used to purchase anything in the store, except the same item (discussed further below).

Balance Rewards Points
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Balance Rewards is the other Rewards program at Walgreens. 1000 Balance Rewards points = $1 to use on anything in the store (besides the usual dairy, stamps, prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, phone cards, lottery tickets, transportation passes, charitable donations, or money orders.)

You need to have 5000 points ($5) before you can use them. To earn points, all you need to do is look over the ad, pick which qualifying items you would like to purchase, and be sure to hand over your Walgreens card at check out. You can buy as many qualifying items as you like in one transaction, and you will earn points for all qualifying items.

In the example above, we are able to purchase 3 Dove Body Washes at “buy one, get one 50% off” and earn 3000 points. You can use coupons as well to lower your total!

Keep in mind:
– Balance Rewards points expire after one year of total inactivity on your card.
– You cannot use points to pay for a transaction where you hope to earn points.
– You will earn points if using manufacturer’s coupons and Register Rewards, but if you are doing a deal such as “spend $30 on these items, receive 5000 points” and you are using the coupons from the monthly booklets (discussed further below) your total needs to be $30 AFTER the monthly Walgreens coupons are applied.

In-Ad Coupons
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In-ad coupons are store coupons that lower the cost of an item or items. In the example above, this weekly ad contains a coupon for Arizona Tea, making them $0.50 each. The great thing about in-ad coupons is that you can combine these with a manufacturer coupon to get free or almost free items. Just make sure to watch for a quantity limit for the coupon (limit 4 in the example above).

In-store Coupon Booklets
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Monthly, Walgreen’s will have a coupon booklet located at the front of the store. This booklet contains Walgreen’s specific coupons (known as IVCs or “instant value coupons”) and can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons. These help lower the cost of items.

In the example above, the weekly ad is telling you that there is an IVC out for Scott or Cottonelle paper products. Checking a coupon database, there is also a manufacturer’s coupon out for $0.75/1 Scott paper towels. This will bring your total to just $3.24!

You can usually find a Healthy Savings Coupon Booklet by the Pharmacy and periodically ad flyer’s at the register. You don’t need to cut these coupons out, just show to the cashier and she/he will scan the coupon. Each coupon can be scanned over and over until they expire (no need to take more than one booklet!) and one scan will apply to each like item in your transaction.  If you purchase 4 products, you only need one of IVC.

Things to Know
You can purchase multiple DIFFERENT items in 1 transaction and get multiple RR to print. You can’t purchase 2 or more of the SAME products in 1 transaction and get 2 or more RR to print.  You must separate RR deals for the SAME item into different transactions to earn a RR for each item.

Example:
Pantene earns $5 RR, Keebler cookies earns $3 RR and Sure Deodorant earns $2 RR. All these items are for DIFFERENT promotions, so they can be purchased in 1 transaction giving you three (3) RR’s, totaling $10 RR received in one transaction. However, you can’t buy 2 Pantene in the same transaction and earn two (2) $5 RR; you’ll only get 1 back. So, Separate items that are the Same!

*You can purchase items that are DIFFERENT and pay with a RR; this is the only way to “roll” a RR. You can’t use a RR to purchase items that are the SAME.

You can’t use the $2 Sure RR to purchase another Sure, either the register will beep or if it allows it, you won’t get another RR printed. The key to lowering your out of pocket expense is to use RR of similar value to pay for DIFFERENT items of similar value.

Example:
You could use the $3 Keebler cookie RR to help pay for the Pantene. Better yet, find 2 items that earn the same value RR and flip flop back and forth between the 2 items.

Example:
Pantene earns $5 RR and Venus Razor earns $5 RR. Buy Pantene in 1 transaction then purchase the Venus Razor in the 2nd transaction using $5 Pantene RR, then purchase another Pantene in 3rd transaction using $5 RR from Razor and so on.

Note: if this is confusing to you, I would recommend switching between using Register Rewards on items that will earn Balance Rewards points and using Balance Rewards points on items that will earn RR. This will keep you from making the mistake of using a Register Reward on the same item or using Balance Rewards on items that are triggering Balance Rewards.

*You MUST have the same total # of items as total # of manufacturer coupons.  Remember that RR are manufacturer coupons!  Store coupons don’t count for this.  Use “fillers” (cheap or clearance items) to bring your total # of items up.

Example:
I purchased the Pantene, Keebler and Sure in 1 transaction and had a coupon for each, but I also wanted to use my RR from last weeks Diapers. I have 4 manufacture coupons but only 3 items. I must buy a “filler” item. My kids love to pick candy for good behavior but that can get costly. I had found clearance Chapstick for $0.25 awhile back so I used those as “fillers” for a long time.

You need to hand over coupons in the following order:

#1 Manufacturer’s (printable or Sunday’s paper)

#2 Walgreens coupons

#3 Register Reward

Cashiers won’t usually override and handing the store coupon before the manufacturer coupon can cause the register to beep and cause you to lose a deal. Stick with this order and you should be good.

Walgreens changed their policy recently and no longer allow a “buy one, get one free” coupon to be used with a “buy one, get one free” sale (resulting in both items free). In order to use one BOGO coupon now, you must purchase 4 participating items (2 for the sale and 2 for the coupon).

Where to use your Register Rewards:

Walgreens RR are meant to be used at Walgreens; however, Harris Teeter accepts 1 competitor’s coupon per transaction. This can sweeten a deal at Harris Teeter or let you use an RR before it expires (sometimes there are weeks that I really don’t want anything at Walgreens, but milk is cheaper at Harris Teeter than at Walgreens.

Further, if you throw away an RR or let it expire, you might as well have taken the cash and thrown it in the trash!

 Don’t miss the weekly Walgreens Coupon Matchups!

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How to Save Money at CVS {Shopping CVS 101}

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CVS is one of my favorite stores to snag cheap or FREE items. CVS has a rewards program called Extra Care Bucks or ECBs for short. ECBs print out at the bottom of the sales receipt when qualifying items are purchased and are valid for exactly 4 weeks.

How to Save Money at CVS

Terminology:

ECBs = Extra Care Bucks – think of as gift cards that must be redeemed in a set amount of time.
CRTs = CVS store coupons – think of as a coupon (can be stacked or used along with manufacturer’s coupons for even greater savings!)

The first step to shopping CVS is to get an Extra Care Card. Sign up for a card HERE or in store.

Next, check your weekly ad (or my site) for advertised deals. You will notice ECB promotions advertised that will either reduce the cost of an item or make it free after the ECBs. Remember to start out small and only buy a couple items that produce ECBs the first week and move up from there.

You’ll also notice 2 different types of promotions in the weekly ad. The difference is important to pay attention to because (as you’ll read later in the post) this determines what kinds of CRTs are able to be used on what types of promotions.

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Crest Whitestrips are NOT on sale, but they ARE printing $10 ECBs when you buy 1.
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Glade sprays ARE on sale, and they ARE printing $1 ECBs when you buy 3.

Shopping example:

Glade sprays (8-9 oz) are on sale 3 for $3, and you get $1 ECB when you buy 3 in the same transaction.

There is a $1 off ANY Glade purchase coupon (Note: this coupon excludes the 8 oz sprays so you would need to purchase the 9 oz in order to use the coupon). Remember to always read the fine print on coupons.

You would buy 3 Glade 9 oz sprays, use three (3) of the $1/1 coupons, pay tax only, and get $1 ECB for buying 3 sprays. You just made $1!**

**I’m using the Glade scenario because this is a SIMPLE starting point for readers who are new to shopping CVS.  Always start off with an easy transaction while you learn to coupon and save money at a new store.  Once you have built up your ECB’s and are comfortable with all the little tricks to save, you can start doing more complicated transactions.

Now that you have your first ECBs you can “roll” them the next week (or in another transaction) to further lower your out-of-pocket expense. Rolling is when you use your first week’s ECBs earned to pay for the next week’s purchases and receive more ECBs back. You can use more than 1 ECB in a transaction, as long as it does not go over the total amount you owe CVS.

Additionally, you can use an ECB earned from a product to pay for the same product (just be sure to pay attention to the “per household” offer limit!

For example:

Crest Whitestrips has a limit 2 per household in the image above.  You can earn the $10 ECBs for buying the Crest Whitestrips and turn around and use that $10 on another box of Whitestrips and get another $10 ECBS – but you can’t do it a third time and expect another $10 to print.

CVS allows you to use 1 manufacturer’s coupon and 1 store coupon (CRT) per item. You can also use ECBs on top of this. Play it right and you could walk out of the store with $20 – $50 worth of items for less than $1 OOP!

The best order to give coupons is:

#1 – Scan your card

#2 – Give any CVS coupons with a minimum spending limit such as $3/$15 (all other coupons will reduce the total and the limit will not be reached anymore!)

#3 – Give CVS Coupons (CRT) (This is a different order than Walgreen’s!!)

#4 – Give Manufacture Coupons

#5 – Give ECB’s

Note on CRTs – purchase based CVS coupons (Example: get $4 off a $15 deodorant purchase) can be used on any item in the store, at any time. Percent off CVS coupons (Example: get 20% off a deodorant purchase) CANNOT be used on items that are on sale. See the the pictures above of different deals to learn to tell the difference between sales and non sale ECB promotions.

Notes for ECBs:

– Valid for exactly 4 weeks.

– ECB offers usually have a limit of 1-5; make sure you read the fine print. The limit 1 is for the entire week or month (whatever the particular promotion period). The tags on the shelf under the item will have the dates of the promotion listed in fine print. The limits will also be listed in the sale ads.

– If you lose them, you might as well throw away cash!

– Excludes alcohol, tobacco, lottery, gift cards, money orders, postage stamps, pre-paid cards, and prescriptions (see bottom of ECB for more details)

– ECBs are tied to your Extra Care Card and can only be redeemed under that card. If your husband has a card, you can’t use an ECB earned under your card and pay for an item using his card.

– You can use an ECB to pay for an item that is less then the ECB value, but you will be forfeiting the rest of the ECB amount. (Example: Item X costs $2.50 and you have a $3 ECB, you’ll lose $0.50). Add in a $0.50 “filler” so you don’t waste money.

– CVS has a “98% Rule” in place: this means that the ECBs will print as long as your pre-coupon and pre-tax total is within 98% of the threshold needed.
Huggies Diaper CVS sale
So in this deal example, you need to spend $30 to get the $10 ECBs. You actually only need to spend $29.40 and you will get the ECBs. This makes it really easy to reach the threshold without having to go over with items you don’t actually need.

(Note: Sometimes, CVS will have ECB promotions where you can “Spend $20, get $5 ECBs OR Spend $30, get $10 ECBs”. Anytime you see the word OR in a CVS deal, the “98% Rule” rule does not apply to these deals. Note: this is not a current deal, just an example!).

Additional Ways to Earn Extra Care Rewards:

Quarterly Rewards:

You can earn ECBs based on your purchases that will print every 3 months, these are called “Quarterly Rewards”. This is in addition to the ECBs earned from the weekly advertisements that print at the bottom of your receipt. You’ll earn 2% back on every purchase in-store and online. These calculations are based on how much money you actually spent at CVS, AFTER ALL coupons and ECBs.

Example – Your total comes to $24 before coupons and ECBs you’ll be using. You hand over $10 in coupons and $10 in ECBs, making your total out of pocket cost $4. 2% of $4 is $0.08 – this will go towards your Quarterly Rewards. It doesn’t seem like much, but it can add up if you do a lot of your shopping, especially without coupons at CVS!

Prescription Rewards:

If you have your prescriptions filled at CVS, be sure to enroll in their Prescription Rewards program. For every 10 prescriptions you get filled, you’ll earn $5 ECBs. If you get 1 prescription filled a month, after 10 months, you’ll have an extra $5 to spend at CVS. Think of how great the rewards can be if you get your spouse and children’s prescriptions filled at CVS as well!

Beauty Rewards:

Once you have your CVS card, be sure to enroll in the Beauty Rewards program. When you first enroll, CVS will email you a 10% off shopping pass on any beauty products, then for every $50 you spend in beauty products (BEFORE coupons), you’ll get an extra $5 ECBs!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done makeup deals where I paid practically nothing after coupons and ECBs, got ECBs back for the weekly deal, AND got an extra $5 ECBs because I spent $50 before coupons. This is one of my favorite perks of shopping at CVS.

If you’re enrolled in the Beauty Rewards program, CVS automatically keeps track on your receipt of how much you’ve spent and how much you need to spend. Another perk of this program is CVS will email you $3 ECBs on your birthday, as long as you tell them your birthday when you register.

Note – Beauty Bucks will take 48 hours AFTER you hit $50 to show up on your account.

Magic Coupon Machine:

You’ll notice when you go into the CVS store that there’s a lovely little machine that looks like a huge red box. You can scan your Extra Card Card and store coupons (CRTs) and/or ECB’s you’ve earned from purchases (such as the Beauty Bucks or Pharmacy Rewards we discussed above) will print out the side.

I scan my card every time I walk into the store-you never know what will pop out!  My last trip I received a CRT for a $25 Gift Card with a new or transferred prescription and a CRT for $15 off a $75 purchase.

Rain Checks:

Additionally, CVS will issue rain checks for any item that is out of stock, and your rain check will note any ECBs you were supposed to receive after purchasing the required items, so when you redeem your rain check, you’ll get your ECBs as well.  Coupons can also be used with rain checks to further lower your OOP. If the item you want is out of stock, get a rain check then head back to the store the following week with your coupon to get the same deal you missed.

These rain checks never expire, so don’t lose them!

Further, you can register your CVS card with Upromise and earn more for the kids’ college fund.

*Keep a copy of the Official CVS Coupon Policy with you.

Get your full CVS weekly ad and coupon matchups HERE.

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Using SavingStar Coupons at Stores Without a Loyalty Card

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Re-posting since many of you are new to shopping Farm Fresh and want to take advantage of the SavingStar program.

I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of exactly what you need to participate in the SavingsStar program at stores that don’t have a store loyalty card such as Farm Fresh.

At Customer Service, ask for a UPromise key tag.  You will use the same key tag for any UPromise or SavingStar coupons you load onto the card.

You must register the card online just like your store loyalty cards.  Once you register the card, you can add coupons to your account.  At the register, just have the cashier scan your UPromise card, and you’ll see the SavingStar coupon savings in your SavingStar account.

*A manager had to find the key tags, but they are at the Mt. Pleasant location. I know many of you have been able to get them at other stores in Hampton Roads as well.

Read all about the SavingStar coupon program on this post.

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Couponing Basics: Understanding Coupon Terminology

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There is a standard for referencing coupons & coupon locations. Most sites you view should have similar abbreviations and coupon terminology.

Below are the most common:

  • Insert-the group of coupons found in the newspaper
  • SS-Smartsource coupon insert
  • RP-Red Plum coupon insert
  • P&G-Proctor and Gamble coupon insert
  • GM-General Mills insert
  • All You Mag-coupons from the All You Magazine (followed by issue month)
  • 01/02-date coupon insert was delivered (Jan. 2nd)
  • $1/2 or $0.50/1-the coupon value is $1 off when you buy 2 products or get $0.50 off when you buy 1.
  • $1/2 from 01/02 SS insert-get $1 off 2 products, coupon found in the Smartsource insert from Jan. 2nd
  • Peelie– coupon found stuck to an item (you have to “peel” it off)
  • Blinkie– coupon found in a machine near the item (usually has a blinking light)
  • Tearpad– coupon found on a pad near an item (you tear off a coupon)
  • Catalina– coupon or advertisement printed at the register (named after the machine itself)
  • Mailer-coupons received in the mail or included with a free sample
  • BOGO or B1G1-Buy 1 item, get 1 item Free
  • BOGO 50% off or B1G1 50% off -Buy 1 item, get 1 item 50% off the price
  • Printable coupon or IE-a coupon printed online
  • Overage – stores like Walmart don’t adjust a coupon down, you get the full price of the coupon value even if the product cost is less than the coupon value. Example – purchasing a product for $0.97, using a $1 off coupon give you $0.03 overage.
  • Moneymaker-sometimes you will make money by using a coupon paired with a register reward deal or similar promotion. Ex. Item price is $5.99, earn $5.99 RR. Essentially you are getting this item for free after the RR but if you have $1.50 coupon you only spent $4.49 and still received the $5.99 RR. You have made a “profit” of $1.50!
  • OOP-Out Of Pocket, initial expense
  • WYB-When You Buy, followed by a number (refers to needing to purchase a specific # of items)
  • RR-Register Reward from Walgreens
  • ECB-ExtraCare Buck from CVS-more to follow part 3
  • +UP Reward – Rite Aid reward
  • Roll” a Catalina-using a Catalina, RR or ECB earned from your 1st transaction to pay for your 2nd transaction, using the 2nd Catalina to pay for a 3rd transaction and so on
  • Stack – using a manufacture and store coupon together on 1 product. See more information coupon stacking here.
  • YMMV – “Your mileage may vary”  This deal may be dependent upon your specific store or store manager.

Use the store coupon matchups to put these coupon terms to go use!

See all Coupon Basics Posts

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New Deal Rating System

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TCC rating $

In an effort to help everyone determine what we (Melissa, Emily and I) feel is a good deal, I’ve added a new Deal Rating System.  You will start to see a deal rating box on the bottom of all applicable deals posts.  While coupons and deals are only posted that we feel are “good,”  it can be helpful to know just how good the deal really is.

Obviously, $$$$ is the highest rating we can give a deal.  That’s not to say $ isn’t good.  We just might not have a current sale or offer to pair the coupon with, but we want you to hold onto the coupon because it is likely you will be able to score a great deal later.  The coupon just may no longer be available.

Please use this new rating system in addition to the stock-up price guide to help ensure you are maximizing your savings.

TCC rating $$$$

What do you think of the new rating system?  Do you think this will be beneficial to your money saving efforts?

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What’s My Stock-up Price?

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Wonder what I consider to be a good price?  You can see my stock-up price list here.  This should only be used as a guide and I would highly suggest stocking up if the price meets or drops below the price listed.

Create your own price guide for your favorite products and feel free to let me know about items you would like to see added to the list.

*I suggest printing out the stock up price list and putting it in your binders to reference while you shop.

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