I’ve got a secret for you: up until 2008, I made a point to avoid drugstores at all costs. This is because besides their loss leaders each week, the costs on all of the other products are much higher than what you would find at a grocery or department store.
How to Get Free Products at Drugstores
Then I learned how to stack rewards and play the Drugstore Game, and my whole world changed. Now, not only was it much cheaper to shop at drugstores, but I was scoring lots of products for free. That’s right—completely free. In my first year alone I scored over $700 worth of free products at CVS. And that’s before any rebates or cash back credit card opportunities.
The savings can really add up! Especially considering we only have a two-person household.
Learn to Play the Drugstore Game
Have you ever heard of the Drugstore Game? If not, I am tickled to be the one to introduce it to you. When I was laid off in 2008, I decided that I wanted to learn how people on the news were able to walk out of a store with a cart full of products and their wallets intact. It was one of the best time investments I have ever made.
Each of the large drugstores across the US (CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid) has its own version of store credit. For CVS, it’s the ExtraCareBucks. For Walgreens, it’s Register Rewards and Balance Rewards. Finally, Rite Aid has Single Check Rebates. You need to sign up for each of the programs, and then you need to learn how to use it like a drugstore gamer (and not like the typical shopper does). Here are the basics behind the game:
- Subscribe to a Sunday Newspaper: While you do not need to coupon in order to play the Drugstore Game, coupons can significantly supplement it (instead of your own cash). You also do not need to clip all of the coupons, nor be an extreme couponer (no dumpster-diving required here). You can use Discounted Newspapers to get your subscription at a lower price.
- Purchase Products that Yield Store Credits: Each week the store’s circular will outline which products will yield store credits upon purchase. These are the products you will want to buy. To begin, you need to “buy into” the system, meaning you will need some upfront cash (say $5-$10). Once you have the store credit from a purchase, like $2 in ExtraCare Bucks or Register Rewards, then you are in the system and can start to use it to your advantage.
- Roll the Store Credits: From now on, you will use your store credits to pay for products that yield you more store credits. And you can do this over, over, and over again. Because the products that yield store credits rotate each week, you will eventually build up quite an impressive stockpile and can shop from your own cupboards instead of from the store’s shelves.
This was a basic rundown of the Drugstore Game, and there is definitely more information. Check out my first eBook in the Drugstore Game series, The CVS Drugstore Game, for a complete breakdown of how this works.
Stack Savings with Rebates
On top of the Drugstore Game, you can still submit products and receipts for rebates. Please note that it is up to the company as to whether or not they pay you the pre-coupon or post-coupon price you paid. However, in many cases, even when I have received a product for next to nothing the manufacturer has given me a rebate for the full retail cost before coupons and store credits were subtracted.
Stack Savings with a Cash Back Credit Card
Finally, you can reap even more savings in drugstores by pairing your Drugstore Game with a cash back credit card. For the Walgreen’s Drugstore Game, you can actually play part of it online, so online purchases through a cash back credit card will help save you more money (further stacking would be to open a UPromise account and shop through their link to receive 5% cash back into a college savings account). Otherwise, your cash back will be earned at the cash register. Drugstores are often a featured category for many of the quarterly rotating 5% cash back cards. It should be noted that if you play the Drugstore Game, then your totals will be quite low (I aim for paying less than $2.00 in each transaction). So while you will earn cash back, it might not be that much.
Putting all of these strategies together should save you a ton of money compared with what you are currently spending on your household’s toiletries. What a great way to save money!
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