Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tips For Walgreens

I get a lot of questions about couponing at Walgreens.  I will be the first to tell you that their coupon policy is a bit more complicated than most stores.  For months I refused to shop there.  Too intimidating.  But once you get the hang of it, there are some GREAT deals to be found. 

So the tricky part is that you have to do math.  In general, to coupon, you will do a heck of a lot of math.  Couponing would make 3rd grade math teachers proud.  It's all one giant math game.  Not complicated but it does require you to use that noggin'.  But Walgreens adds in ratios. 

Walgreens, like Target, Price Chopper, Rite-Aid and CVS, will allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon on a single item.  Yay!  And you can use your Register Rewards on top of that.  Triple yay!  But you cannot have more coupons than items in a single transaction.  And Register Rewards count as coupons.  So upon checkout, at a maximum you can have a 1 coupon to 1 item ratio. 

Still with me?

This is where "filler" items come into play.  And why I often come home with a piece of $0.39 candy.  Let's pretend you want to buy shampoo.  And you have a newspaper coupon for said shampoo.  And a Register Reward that you earned last week from buying toothpaste.  You may use both the coupon and the Register Reward.  But you need a filler item.  You need to fix that ratio so that you have at least one item per coupon.

Most of the time I would rather find coupons for $/1 item.  But in the case of Walgreens, $/2 or more items becomes a great way to use a coupon on more than one item without needing to add in an unwanted filler item.

Another thing to note is that Register Reward deals at Walgreens, unless otherwise noted, are always a limit of one.  So let's say that the shampoo you purchased above will produce a $2 Register Reward this week.  And you would like to buy three bottles of shampoo because combined with the coupon and Register Reward, it's a rock bottom amazing price.  If you want to earn that $2 Register Reward for each bottle of shampoo, you will need to make three separate purchases.  And you cannot use the first $2 shampoo RR to buy the second bottle.  You may use a RR earned from last week's toothpaste deal.  But if you use RR from the first shampoo to pay for the second shampoo, it will not produce another Register Reward.  The system knows where your Register Rewards come from.  So when it states limit of one, it means it. 

I really hope that helps a bit.  Please feel free to ask me questions.  I am still learning.  And make mistakes all the time.  And have transactions go wrong more often than not.  But I am more than happy to share the little bits I do know with anyone.  Don't hesitate to ask.  Chances are, I've asked the same question not so long ago of another more experienced coupon bloggers.

Want to see what I purchased tonight at Wags? 

Well first let me explain that I had $16 in Register Rewards that expired at midnight.  I really didn't need much this week so I sort of had to scramble to use them.  But not using them kills me- it's free money- so I had to figure something out.  I had to do two separate transactions because one of the Register Rewards was for the Luster White toothpaste from a few weeks ago.  As I wanted to again earn the RR this week, I had to take care to separate them.

Transaction #1:

(2) Ellio's Pizza  $3.99
(2) Biore Cleansing Strips  $5.99  (normally $7.49 I think)
(1) Nexcare clear waterproof bandage  $3.49
(1) Nexcare flex bandage  $3.49

-(1) $1/2 Ellio's Pizza coupon
-(1) Buy one Biore Strips, get one Cleanser for free  $5.99 *my store was out of face scrub but as the Biore Strips are actually called Biore Cleansing Strips, my store let me use the coupon.  it will be subject to your store though*
-(1) $1/2 Nexcare bandages
-$16 Register Rewards

*(1) $5 Register Reward from the Biore (buy two and earn a $5 RR)
*(2) $3.49 Mail in rebates for the Nexcare bandages.  There is a peelie on the boxes and you are able to send in for a full refund.  You are allowed one refund for each type and there are three types.

Total value of items purchased including tax ... $30.90
Total paid out of pocket ... $3.91
Total saved ... 87.4%
Total earned including Register Rewards and Rebates ... $11.98

Transaction #2:

(1) G Fit Gatorade Recover  $2.50 (normally ??)
(1) G Fit Gatorade Prime  $1.50 (normally ??)
(1) G Fit Gatorade Perform  $1 (normally ??)
(1) Luster White Sensitive Toothpaste  $4.99 (normally ??)

-(1) $1.50/1 Luster White Toothpaste newspaper coupon
-$8 Register Rewards

(1) $5 Mail in rebate that prints after you purchase all three of the G Fit Gatorades
(1) $4 Register Reward from the Luster White Toothpaste

Total value of items purchased before store sales ... $15.74
Total paid out of pocket ... $1.17
Total saved ... 93%
Total earned including Register Rewards and rebates ... $9

Even if you don't have a stack of Register Rewards about to expire, you can still totally go take advantage of some of these deals.  The Luster White is producing a great $4 RR this week.  If you have the $1.50/1 newspaper coupon, it becomes in the long run a $0.51 Money Maker (before tax).  I have more toothpaste than I know what to do with.  I give it away like Halloween candy.  But as this was a Money Maker for me because I had to use up RR's, I justified it.  The G Fit Gatorade becomes FREE after the mail in rebate.  So that was just a no brainer for me.  Of course I am going to try a new product if is going to be free at the end of the day.

Another note is that if your store is already out of the sales, just go ask for a rain check.  The rain check will include the Register Reward deal so you can just pick it up next week or the next time it is back in stock. 

So in review, I bought all of the above pictured, a total value of $46.64, for a total out of pocket cost of $5.08.  A savings of 89%

You should note that unlike many other bloggers, I do not count the Register Rewards earned into my total until I actually use them.  I've had several occasions of foolishly letting them expire.  So for me, you will see that I only include them in my total when I use them.  But I like to note what I earned so that others can go purchase the same deals if you are so inclined.

I Heart Couponing!!


Ruth said...

Great explanation!

I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Walgreens. Love the savings but the filler items get frustrating. But it is hard to complain about saving 89%! :-)

JulesTX said...

Great job....
I try to always use my Walgreens RR and CVS Extra care bucks before they expire, but sometimes I miss the date. On another note, I'm off to get my free paper at Staples today. I'm determined to get the rebate processed in the next 24 hours before I possibly forget.

Thanks for all your tips.