My mom is a really frugal person who knows how to play the system. Today I learned from her how to play the Walgreens game.
Walgreens used to have a monthly rebate program. Each month, I got the free-with-rebate stuff religiously. They stopped that program and started a new one that I just never got around to figuring out.
I still had a Walgreens gift card with some money on it left over from the rebates.
Well, here’s how they do it now. Their circular ad lists items that are “free.” Really, you have to pay for the item and then you get a coupon for the cost of that item. So you buy a $2.99 item and you get a coupon for $2.99 off your next purchase. You just have to remember to use it before it expires. This is probably where they get people, but not my frugal mother! And not me!
To play the Walgreens game, use your coupons to buy more free stuff next time. Use those coupons next time and so on. There’s an initial investment, but once you start rolling coupons, stuff becomes free or very cheap. Just make sure you only buy stuff you need and only stuff that gives you coupons (the “free” stuff) or stuff that’s just a really good deal. Don’t make regular purchases at Walgreens! When you start making regular purchases there, you’ll eat up those savings quickly. Stick to grocery stores and Walmart/Target type places for regular purchases; they are much cheaper. Today I did buy some stuff that didn’t give coupons because they were “buy 1 get 1 free” and HSA eligible.*
Here’s how I fared today:
Total of stuff I bought with tax: $20.19
Total after using gift card: $7.57
Total after HSA reimbursement: $1.57
Total coupons: $11 off my next purchase
So next I need to learn to play CVS. There are lots of blogs about how to do this stuff, but I can only learn through doing it. So it’s taken me a while to figure it out.
Maybe I’ll post after doing this for a while to say whether or not I think it’s worth it.
* HSA is “health savings account” and is kind of like a flexible spending account except you don’t lose the money at the end of the year. HSAs come along with high-deductible health insurance plans. My company deposits some cash in my HSA every month as an incentive to use that health insurance plan, so my company actually paid for these couple Walgreens items. 😉