Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walgreens 101

This is the first in a series of 3 on the major drug stores that I cover. Before I started shopping this way I believed something untrue... EVERYTHING is more expensive at Wags/Riteaid/CVS - shopping there is pretty dumb!
I could not have been MORE WRONG. THIS is where you want to go to buy your shampoo and conditioner and makeup and OTC medicines. TRUST ME!

Here is a resource you can use to help you save a TON of cash at Walgreens!!

A few Definitions before we get started:
Register Reward (RR) a catalina coupon given when you buy something specific.
Catalina Coupon - printed on a narrow register tape, handed to you with your receipt by the cashier.
FARR - Free after Register Reward
GB - Get back
OYNO - on your next order
OOP - out of pocket.
Filler - With regards to Walgreens a filler is typically an item added to your order to help you use a register reward. There are two types of fillers (1) a quantity filler - you need another item in order to use another register reward on your order. (2) a dollar amount filler - You have a 4.00 RR and your total is only $3.79 so you need a 21¢ filler in order to use that $4.00 RR

Learning to shop at walgreens can be taxing but I promise it is really worth it. It is a great place to stock up on items because while normally there is a limit of 1 register reward per deal there is no limit to the number of transactions you can complete. Just remember the difference between stockpiling and hoarding :)

I recommend you also read:
Money Saving Mom's Walgreens 101
Chief Family Officers Drugstore Primer
Southern Savers Getting Started Guide
Please comment with your questions so I can address them within this post for everyone's benefit :)

How Walgreens Works:

The way that Walgreens works for you as a couponer and consumer is through an instant rebate program. The way you take advantage of this program is by purchasing specific items and rolling your register rewards. The key to this is buying extremely SMALL orders to keep your OOP low.

Here are some other helpful tips for Walgreens shopping:

1. The cashiers will mislead you due to lack of knowledge. They will tell you crazy things...if you know they are wrong just say thanks and do what your plan was originally.
2. Keep your orders small - one or two items is preferable unless you have a good RR rolling scenario.
3. The number of coupons on your order must match the number of ITEMS on your order. If you want to use 3 $1.00 RR's on an order with a MFQ then you MUST have 4 items on your order minimum!!
4. They will not adjust RR's down so your pre-tax total must equal or exceed the amount of the RR you are using. This is another place you would use a filler.
5. In TN I recommend using food items for fillers wherever possible because food tax here is only 7.75% vs the tax on non-food items. I've used boxes of crackers that were on clearance for a quarter before (as an example)
6. You will get only ONE reward per 'deal' on each transaction so if you need 4 widgets and they are FARR then you need to do 4 transactions to get all of your register rewards.
7. You cannot pay for a 'deal' with Register rewards earned from the same deal. In other words you can't buy a widget, get that RR and turn around and apply it to the next widget and expect to get a RR. You must buy a Wackadoo in between the Widgets with those RR's so that you can roll your money to the next transaction.
8. The above sometimes includes deals from the same company. sometimes the computer will not print out rr's if you pay for an order with a RR generated by another item from that same manufacturer. Crest toothpaste & skippy peanut butter are both made by Proctor & Gamble. I would avoid trying to build any scenario that involved rolling those two back and forth.

Additional Info and examples:
Consider the following items from the current ad:

$2.99 Herbal Essences Shampoo, Conditioner or select styling products
You get a $2.00 Register Reward When you buy 1 at this price.

$2.49 Robitussin DM to go 2 ct box. FARR (Free after Register Reward)
You get back a $2.49 Register Reward for buying this.

$1.00 Halls Refresh Cough Drops (FARR)
You get back a $1.00 RR WYB 1. (WYB = When you buy)

Example of how the program works:
$1.00 Halls Refresh Cough Drops
$1.00 + tax due total
Pay with cash
GB $1.00 RR

$1.00 Halls Refresh Cough Drops
$1.00 + tax due total
Pay with $1.00 RR generated from Halls Refresh Cough Drops

pay tax OOP
GB - Nothing!

So you actually LOSE A DOLLAR!!!
(at least that's how *I* See it) If that dollar RR came from something else then you would still get your RR for the halls. Make sense?

Here are some sample Transactions from a recent Walgreens trip I had. I will not list them all as I did 19 transactions!!!
T1 (all except the very first transaction - that one i had to pay an extra $2.49 out of pocket!)
$2.99 Herbal Essences Shampoo
$1.00 Halls Cough Drops
-$1.00 Herbal Essences Coupon (MFC)
-$2.49 RR from other transaction
86¢ due
GB $2.00 RR & $1.00 RR

$2.49 Robitussin to go 2 pack
-$2.00 RR from other transaction
72¢ due
GB $2.49 RR

my first transaction cost me 3 something because I had to have a starting place. But once I made that initial investment I just flopped back and forth until I had done 10 of the first transaction and 9 of the second.

I left with $12.00 in RR and will have the ability to go back in later and spend some of that and for $17.58 OOP I brought home:
5 bottles herbal essences shampoo
5 bottles herbal essences conditioner
9 boxes Robitussin DM to go 2 pack cough syrup
10 bags of halls renew cough drops
$12.00 worth of register rewards unspent

I think it's a good deal even if i only got the shampoo and conditioner. (That is what i was after btw) If I had been smart I would have bought some .29 packs of travel tissues and used up the $1.00 RR's to keep my OOP even lower!

The 5 bottles of shampoo & conditioner will go with the other 1 of each I have and should last my best friend almost 1 year. So I have plenty of time to find and catch another HE deal.

I also have cough medicine and cough drops in preparation for the winter cold and cough season (I *ALWAYS* get sick - if you know me well - you KNOW THIS!)

Unfortunately you cannot shop as my brother puts it "like a normal person." You cannot just plop everything up on the counter and expect that to help you save money. You may save some money but not as much as you would if you did multiple transactions. Observe:

Shopping like a "Normal" person
$29.90 Herbal essences (10 bottles)
$10.00 10 bags cough drops
$22.41 Robitussin DM to Go
-$10.00 (10 $1.00 MQ's for Herbal Essences)
$52.31 + 9.25 % Tax = $57.15 Out of Pocket
GB $1.00 RR (Halls)
GB $2.00 RR (Herbal ESsences)
GB $2.49 RR (Tussin DM To go )
$51.66 (difference between what you paid and your register rewards)


A summary of all of my transactions:
$29.90 Herbal essences (10 bottles)
$10.00 10 bags cough drops
$22.41 Robitussin DM to Go
-$10.00 (10 $1.00 MQ's for Herbal Essences)
$52.31 Total due + ($4.84 in tax) = $57.15 due
-$18.00 RR HE
-$22.41 RR Tussin DM To Go
$16.74 Total OOP (i actually paid $17.58 OOP total)
GB $10.00 RR (Halls)
GB $2.00 RR (Herbal Essences)

I realize most people would not buy this much stuff if they had to pay full price. But think about over time. Over the next year will you buy 5 bottles of shampoo and 5 bottles of conditioner? Probably. Will you buy 10 bags of cough drops? how often do you get sick? I KNOW I will be sick and use that stuff.

Do you see how Rolling register rewards helped me save money?
Help me improve my content for your benefit :) Please comment or email me or send a smoke signal and let me know what your questions are so I can help you :) Please don't be that kid in the class struggling because you think you are the only one with the question.

The first week I shopped at walgreens like this I spent $50.00 and didn't come home with NEARLY this much stuff!!!!!


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