Monday, September 5, 2011

Why I Don't Play The Drugstore Game

I've never really shopped at drugstores or used their respective rewards programs, but after reading through some extreme couponing sites & speaking to some friends I decided to give it a try.  After a month & a half of shopping at Walgreens (the only pharmacy chain in town), getting all of the freebies & their respective register rewards, I've come to the conclusion that the drugstore game is not for me.  Not for me at all.  Here's why:

Time:  It takes a lot of time to plan out the proper shopping trip, including maximizing register rewards, & pairing them with manufacturer coupons.  I'd say it would take me at least half of one of E's naps to come up with a game plan.  Time that is money.  Time in which I could be cleaning up the house, so we don't have to hire a cleaning service, or time where I could be cooking from scratch so we're not tempted to order takeout.  Though I was getting "deals", unneeded bottles of shampoo & tubes of toothpaste weren't valuable enough for me to spend my time getting them.

Stuff:  Rather too much stuff.  In order to get maximum register rewards you need to purchase the free items, the problem being that sometimes you don't want the free items.  I don't need a "free" glucometer or a soy supplement to help menopause.  Yes those items could be donated, or passed along, but I still have to buy them, store them, & then figure out what to do with them.   

Gas:  I spent extra money on gas going to Walgreens several times a week in order to get the maximum deals.  I'm concerned about my carbon foot print, & to me, it's just not worth the financial & environmental costs. 

Higher Prices:  Walgreens does have some great sale items to get you in the door, but if you don't happen to need or want those sale items their prices a high.  Much higher than the places  I normally shop.  For instance, one week at Walgreens a gallon of milk was $4.07, while a gallon of milk at Target the same week was $3.09.  I found that despite having register rewards, my money just didn't go as far at Walgreens. 

Money:  Often, I get hoodwinked into thinking that by getting deals & "saving money" I'm money ahead.  In reality I always have to SPEND money in order to SAVE money.  The same prinicple applies to Walgreens, you have to spend money to get your free register rewards.  When we tallied up our expenditures for the month of August I was shocked at the amount of extra money I spent to get my "free" items.   My problem came in the amount of money I had to pony up for sales tax for each item.  Here sales tax is 9.25% and it doesn't take much time for the to amount to a significant amount of money.  Though I got well over $120 worth of merchandise, I still ended up spending close to $30.  $30 isn't a ton, but it's enough to make a dent in our budget. 

Bottom line, trying to play the drugstore game caused me to go shopping much more frequently that I normally do.  It cost me extra gas, extra time, & extra money.  I'm impressed at people who do enjoy playing the drugstore game & can make it a money saver, but for me & our family, it just wasn't worth it. 


  1. I can't do it either... most of the same reasons and half the time they didn't have the "free" things in stock, so I found myself driving around to extra places.

  2. I had done it in the past but gave it up once I figured out that everything was overpriced anyways.

    But, last weekend I got sucked in again. I did A LOT of planning and was only semi excited with the result. I'm going to give it a few more tries so I can cash in my points at a high level, but unless I can improve my savings I probably won't continue after that.

    (the program basically works like this: you shop 3 times on special days and spend $50 before coupons and you get $50 to spend in the store).

    Besides the over priced stuff, the $50 really cut into our weekly food budget. Luckily our store sells food too so that helped me not feel too guilty.

  3. It's the planning that I can't do. My brain just doesn't work that way!! I prefer to go to the same store that I know is the all-around cheapest and get roughly the same shopping list every week. It works for me! P.S. I still owe you a phone call... :(

  4. I can't seem to do the drugstore deals most of the time either. I go and get what I know we will use and need like diapers, gum, liquid dish soap, some hair conditioners and such. I stopped into a store last week because they had the cheapest price on a real pricey cereal I wanted and I totally forgot to price match the cereal at Walmart while I was there. My brain feels a little too fried and overwhelmed to do 3 transactions one after the other to save on gas and to work the best deals. One lady said you could purchase everything all at once and save the register rewards and use those rewards for the next weeks purchases. (I probably wouldn't make it the next week. @_@)

  5. One tip to cut down on the cost: Rite Aid does rebates, too. I buy those items with the up+ rewards and then put that money in with my ups. You have to be disciplined not to take it out- but if you only use it for your out of pocket costs and tax you purchases can be totally paid for by Rite Aid.