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  • The Drugstore Game: Is it worth it?

    It’s been almost two months since I started playing The Drugstore Game, so I decided to do the math and see how much I’ve saved. That way, I’ll have a better idea if all of the effort is worth it.

    As background, I used only my CVS purchases in my calculations, since I spend very little at Walgreens and I buy only items that are steeply discounted (usually with a weekly ad coupon) or free after rebate (usually with a manufacturer’s coupon, making them more than free, plus I get an extra 10% on the rebate by having the rebate credited to a Walgreens giftcard).

    So in the last two months, I’ve spent $80 at CVS. This includes approximately $20 in makeup that I bought just for the bridal shower I attended about a month ago.

    To compare what I would have spent if I hadn’t shopped at CVS, I went through my receipts and added up the cost of things I would have bought anyway: toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, the makeup, tissue, etc. I used the price I would have paid for these items if they were on sale and/or if I had a coupon at stores like Target and Ralphs. My total was over $130, and I’m pretty sure that’s conservative.

    So, the verdict is that I’ve saved at least $50 in less than two months by shopping at CVS. And, I’ve gotten many more items that I wouldn’t have bought at other stores. We are actually using some of these things, like razors, greeting cards, and deodorant. And there are quite a few things we’re donating or giving away, like over-the-counter medication and hair dye. It’s actually been a mental adjustment to learn to buy things I don’t need, simply because they are money makers (i.e., free after ECBs plus overage because of a coupon).

    As I get more experienced and skilled at calculating the various deals for CVS, I expect to spend less and less out of pocket while buying more and more. I hope I will never have to pay for toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner ever again.

    The other thing to consider when calculating how much I’ve saved is that I’m now making significantly fewer trips to Target than I used to. I have good self-control at CVS because I know that without ECBs and sales, their prices are generally higher than other stores. But at Target, I will often temtped by things that are on clearance. So I’m sure my savings are actually a lot more than just $50 in two months!

    Comments

    1. Way to go! I’m glad you are working the deals to best benefit your family (and have things to give others!)

      Over the past several months, I’ve been taking it really easy at Rite Aid and Walgreens.

      Now, I’m going to step up my game and hit those two and CVS reasonably hard. Not so hard that I’m doing 5 transactions at one store in a day, or buying a bunch of extra newspapers, but enough that I’m going to accumulate a huge stash of necessities (plus plenty left over to give).

    2. MoneyCommonSense says:

      I am a convert. I used to think I couldn’t afford buying at Walgreens or CVS. Now almost every time I set foot on either store I am getting paid to buy stuff there. I do more walgreens because that’s what I have near me. But even by shopping CVS every three weeks or so, I grow my ECBs and then turn around and spend them on something I don’ have coupons for.
      Also, I have become what Kacie above mentioned: sometimes I do buy a few extra newspapers, most of the time I trade for multiples of coupons. It has to do with who I am but to me it doesn’t make sense to make $15 in a deal when I can earn $75 by doing it right and investing a little bit of money to get there. Even when I have bought newspapers o coupons I have never spent more than $5.

    3. Amphritrite says:

      I work the Walgreens deals regularly because I live in the LOND and without CVS – it’s the best I can do out here, even if the service sucks.

      In the past three months, considering all the product I’ve taken home and stockpiled, I’ve literally saved nearly $1000. The best part, of course, is that I don’t have to shop for any of that for a good, long while.

    4. I totally agree with this post! I think that my biggest budget improvement from playing the CVS game comes from reducing my Target spending!!!

    5. GinaVA3 says:

      It kills me that you spent $80 at CVS! Argh! With practice, you can learn to spend much much less, and then you’ll see better savings. I don’t shop at Target at all anymore, and this week I’m trying to figure out how to buy even more food/groceries at CVS since it saves us $200-300/month shopping there (yes, I’m serious, but I also have two in diapers). Not going to Target is key, as I’m a very compulsive shopper. But I’ve been able to “spoil” my kids with those impulse purchases at CVS–sand toys, bubbles, balls, coloring books, etc.–when I would never do that before. It takes the pressure off the tight budget.

      If only CVS sold the stuff Home Depot had, that would really help. :)

      Are you working during the day? I think the reason CVS works for me is that I can make multiple trips during the week, dragging the kids kicking and screaming, usually, but it’s easier to shop there when there aren’t a hundred people there at the end of a work day.

    6. Anonymous says:

      I started CVSing in November 2007. I am fully addicted. I really enjoy shopping and saving money. :-)

    7. SAHMmy Says says:

      I love that you calculate your savings by comparing your deals with sale/coupon prices. I always laugh at the checkout clerks who point out: You saved 56%! Well, buddy, that’s the only reason I’m here–are there actually people willing to pay your store’s ridiculously high regular prices?

    8. Christina says:

      Thanks for doing the math! Now I just need a CVS in my area! LOL! But seriously, I have done well at Walgreens, too, and I think it is important to tally those numbers up. It keeps you motivated!

    9. Chief Family Officer says:

      @Kacie – Have fun getting back into the game!

      @MCS – I’ve been very impressed by what you’ve shared about your purchases at Walgreens. I’ve found the RR a little intimidating (mostly because they expire quickly and the deals don’t seem as great as CVS), but I did do one of the P&G deals today and am planning to do another one before the week is over. Thanks for the inspiration!

      @amphritrite – Wow, $1,000 in savings is fantastic! Enjoy your free time now that you’re not shopping :)

      @aande – I’m glad I’m not the only one!

      @Gina – Ha! I knew someone was going to say that. To a real pro like you, $80 at CVS is a fortune! You’re right, it is hard for me to get to CVS more than a couple times a week. But I’m getting better at the deals, I swear!

      @anon – Are you finding it addicting like me? I find myself in the shower putting together deals in my head :)

      @sahmmy – Me too! I love it when they circle the “You saved” number on the receipt, as if it means anything!

      @Christina – I hadn’t thought of it as motivation, but you’re right! I’ll keep a tally on a regular basis. Actually, I think I heart CVS has a free downloadable spreadsheet to track CVS savings. You could probably easily alter it to work for Walgreens.

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