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  • Drugstore Game Padawan Update: Walgreens and CVS

    If you’re just tuning in, I’m mentoring Hayden in The Drugstore Game. If you’ve always wanted to play but weren’t sure how to get started, follow along with Hayden as he becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money’s FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

    If I recall correctly, Hayden doesn’t have any Register Rewards to spend at Walgreens, but there’s a nice moneymaker deal that’s a low out of pocket this week. There’s a 2 for $5 sale on Excedrin in this week’s ad. The 20-count Excedrin Menstrual Cycle is included in the sale, and is giving back a $2 Register Reward. There is a $2/1 printable coupon, so the deal looks like this:

    1 Excedrin Menstrual Cycle $2.50

    - $2/1 printable coupon

    Pay: 50 cents + tax
    Receive: $2 RR

    I found the Excedrin Menstrual Cycle with the rest of the painkillers, in the corner with the menstrual cramps relief products. The shelf wasn’t tagged, but it rang up at $2.50 and produced the RR without a problem.

    Hayden reported that he has a $3.50 ECB and a $2 ECB to spend at CVS this week. Here’s what I wrote to him:

    As for CVS:
    If you have access to enough computers to print 5 of the $1.00 Colgate 360 ActiFlex manual toothbrush printable coupons, then you can do the following:

    5 Colgate 360 ActiFlex toothbrushes $1.99 each
    1 Kleenex 88 cents

    - 5 x $1/1 Colgate toothbrushes
    - $3.50 + $2 ECB

    Pay: 33 cents + tax
    Receive: $5 ECB for Colgate

    There was a 75 cents/1 Colgate 360 toothbrush coupon in today’s paper, but that makes the toothbrushes 24 cents instead of free.

    Do you eat canned tuna? Here’s a follow-up scenario:

    5 Bumble Bee tuna 49 cents each
    3 Kleenex 88 cents each
    1 Colgate MaxFresh toothpaste

    - $1/5 Bumble Bee printable coupon
    - 50 cents/3 Kleenex from 1/3 SS
    - 75 cents/1 MaxFresh from 2/21 SS
    - $5 ECB

    Pay: 83 cents + tax
    Receive: $2 ECB

    It’s not my favorite scenario because you end up with only $2 ECB, but there aren’t any moneymakers to help absorb the cost. If you can get a $/$$ coupon from the scanner or maybe via email, we’d have more to work with. Maybe you’ll be luckier than me – I never get those coupons!

    Note: If you can’t or don’t want to do the Colgate 360 toothbrush deal, you can just do the second scenario and pay 33 cents + tax out of pocket, and get back a $2 ECB.

    There isn’t much at RiteAid this week, but I’ll post a scenario later of my transaction that didn’t go quite the way I’d planned. Denise has expressed disappointment about the lack of RiteAid posts, and since I’m here to serve, I’ll write about how to play The Drugstore Game at RiteAid this week. And I might as well write up similar guides for CVS and Walgreens too, so look for those soon too.


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    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer’s full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

    Drugstore Game Padawan Update: Next week’s deals don’t look that great

    If you’re just tuning in, I’m mentoring Hayden in The Drugstore Game. If you’ve always wanted to play but weren’t sure how to get started, follow along with Hayden as he becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money’s FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

    I haven’t had a chance to go through the ads myself yet, but I asked Hayden to let me know what he’s interested in for this coming week. Here’s what he reported back:

    At CVS I see:
    Puffs $.88. I think there was a coupon in the newspaper a few weeks ago, I’ll check for sure tomorrow. I have a few boxes stocked up from a Walgreens deal a few weeks ago so if you don’t think this is a good enough deal I can wait on them.
    Colgate Toothpaste $2.99 2 ECB. If I don’t have any coupons I can wait on it. I’ll check for sure tomorrow. There is a 2/5 2 ECB deal next week which might be better if there are any mfc coupons.

    Rite Aid:
    I don’t see anything I can’t live without.

    Walgreens:
    Only the Puffs 3/5 but since I don’t have any RR to work with I’d rather purchase them at CVS or Rite Aid.

    I’m also looking for some Tums (gen) so I’ll probably just buy those at Rite Aid because I have the Rx [prescription gift] card.

    I usually stock up on tissue when there are moneymaking deals to absorb the cost, or as a filler, since tissue is rarely totally free. I’ll have to take a look at the ads to see if there’s a way to craft a deal like that to minimize the cost. I didn’t list the details, but I mentioned here that I worked 6 boxes of tissue into my Walgreens deals last week, paying $2.21 plus tax for the tissue plus a whole lot of other stuff. That’s how I try to buy things I need, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Hopefully, we can make it work for Hayden!

    Drugstore Game Padawan Update: Hayden’s been busy but . . .

    If you’re just tuning in, I’m mentoring Hayden in The Drugstore Game. If you’ve always wanted to play but weren’t sure how to get started, follow along with Hayden as he becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money’s FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

    Hayden’s continued to shop at the drugstores, but he’s still in “these prices are better than what I’m used to paying” mode, rather than “this is how you maximize your money” mode, so I haven’t had that much to say about it.

    However, Denise asked if Hayden has bought anything at Rite Aid yet, and the answer is yes. Here’s how he did:

    1 Rite Aid brand acetaminophen rapid release $4.00
    1 Soft Soap $.79
    1 Trident Layers Gum $.99; used $.75 cents/1 from 2/7 SS
    1 Vaseline 10 oz $2.99; used $1/1 (not sure of coupon source)
    2 Degree deodorant $1.50 each; used 1 75 cents/1 from 1/31 SS (that’s less than what I paid for 1 stick at Walgreens)
    1 Motrin PM: $2.99

    Total cost: $12.26
    Tax: $1.20
    Total: 13.46 (paid with gift card received from prescription transfers)
    Coupon savings: $2.50
    Will receive: $2 SCR for Motrin

    There was a $1/1 Motrin coupon in the 1/31 SS that would have made the Motrin PM free after SCR, but Hayden doesn’t have that coupon. I’ve counseled him to have patience on things like deodorant but he is so anxious and excited about the deals that he can’t seem to let them go by just yet.

    That’s one thing about The Drugstore Game: it can be so addictive. And you feel that it’s okay because you’re spending less on things than you would have before you began the game.

    But take it from me, because I have two years of Drugstore Game experience under my belt: if you are patient and flexible about brands, you will probably never have to pay for toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, razors, body wash and lip balm.

    Drugstore Game Padawan Update: Hayden’s been busy!

    If you’re just tuning in, I’m mentoring Hayden in The Drugstore Game. If you’ve always wanted to play but weren’t sure how to get started, follow along with Hayden as he becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money’s FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

    Hayden’s got the week off from school, meaning he can make multiple visits to the stores. He is super excited to have discovered how cheaply he can buy things he used to pay so much more for at Target or Walmart. I remember that feeling – just the other day, I made a comment about how I used to think $1 was a good price for Kleenex at Ralphs (because they’d double the 50 cents/3 coupon). And just look – last week, I got six boxes of Kleenex plus a bunch of other stuff for $5 out of pocket.

    But back to Hayden. He took the scenario I’d suggested, but couldn’t find any Sobe so he bought a Green Tag instead. (Those are the leaf-shaped tags you attach to your reusable bag and have scanned each trip. After four trips, you’ll get a $1 ECB.) Here’s how it went:

    1 Aussie Volume Shampoo $2.99-1.00 coupon from 2/14 RP = 1.99 (get $2 ECBs)
    1 Colgate Total Advance $2.99 – 0.50 coupon from 1/31 SS = 2.49 (get $2 ECBs)
    1 Crest Pro Health Enamel Rinse $3.49 – 2.00 coupon from 2/7 P&G = 1.49 (get $3.50 ECBs)
    1 Green Tag 99 cents

    Used ECBs: $6.00
    Subtotal: $.97
    Received ECBs: $7.50
    Saved: $13.59

    Note: I always find the “savings” total on receipts to be incredibly deceptive, because they take the discount off regular price into account. And even before I started playing The Drugstore Game, I never would have paid a drugstore’s full price for a bottle of shampoo or anything else – so for me, at least, those “savings” aren’t really my savings. However, I must admit that I do get a kick out of seeing the number anyway, especially when it works out to 90%+ savings. :D

    Hayden also headed to Walgreens and used his $6 Register Rewards to buy some deodorant:

    Dove Men Degree Deodorant: 2.49/each x 2 with in-ad coupon
    3 3 Musketeers Bars 3/$2

    Used 6.00 RR
    Subtotal: $.98
    CA Tax: $.44
    Paid: $1.42 cash
    Saved $8.87

    He should have gotten a $1 RR for buying the candy bars, but it didn’t print. I would give this store one or two more chances, but if he consistently has problems with getting RR’s, I would recommend he switch to another store.

    Hayden also headed to Rite Aid and transferred a couple of prescriptions. There are $25 gift cards for transferred prescriptions in this week’s Rite Aid circular, and those gift cards will really help offset the out of pocket costs that are always higher at Rite Aid because of the delayed nature of the Single Check Rebate program.

    One thing Hayden and I have discussed in our emails is the thrill of the deal and how it’s hard not to buy something right now just because it’s so much less than he’s used to spending. Here’s a bit of our exchange – the first part is from me:

    One thing I’m sensing is that you’re impatient to get the deals, which I totally understand. It’s addicting and I was shopping like mad when I first started The Drugstore Game too. But I would caution you that patience really pays off and helps you get the best deals. You have to find a balance between buying what you need and stockpiling so that you can get the very best price on everything. For example, I never pay for toothpaste anymore – I only buy it if it’s free or a moneymaker. The same goes for deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, razors, body wash – unless you’re brand loyal, you should never have to pay for these items.

    I would encourage you to start a price book if you don’t have one already. Mine really helps me keep my enthusiasm for sale items in check. Today, for example, I saw All detergent on clearance at Target, so it was tempting to get them but at $3+ after coupon it just wasn’t a great deal because I know my stock-up price is $2 or less per bottle.

    Hayden responded that he keeps all his receipts and can easily put together a price book. I recommended that he read my most recent post about price books, and use NCN’s price book template. He also said:

    I never knew how easy it could be to get everything for free so I’m still okay with paying a bit for it but I’ll try and limit costs even more. I have been brand-loyal with a few things, so right now me and my family are okay with trying new things to limit costs. Me and my dad are pretty flexible with what we use, but my sister and mother are more brand-loyal than were are.

    I’m okay with paying a little bit for things right now to see what other brands I like because even paying a few dollars for something is still saving me money from me being too brand loyal and buying things not on sale.

    Hayden’s perspective is really bringing me back to when I first started playing The Drugstore Game. It’s so counterintuitive that you can get so much for so little, or even free, and you figure you’re saving money anyway. Which you are, compared to what you used to spend.

    As I told Hayden, he needs to do what feels right for him and his family, so if he’s not going to go for the absolute minimum out of pocket, that’s fine. But I’d bet that once he gets used to seeing free toothpaste, razors, shampoo, etc., week after week, he won’t want to pay for it either :)

    Drugstore Game Padawan: Good Week for CVS

    If you’re just tuning in, I’m mentoring Hayden in The Drugstore Game. If you’ve always wanted to play but weren’t sure how to get started, follow along with Hayden as he becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money’s FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

    It’s a slow week at Walgreens, but a good week for CVS. There are quite a few items that are free after ECBs and coupons, and the Crest Enamel Shield Rinse is a $2 moneymaker with a limit of two.

    Hayden is starting the week with a $4 ECB and a $2 ECB. Here’s a scenario I sent him to roll those and get some free stuff:

    1 Aussie shampoo or conditioner $2.99
    1 Crest Pro-Health Enamel Shield rinse $3.50
    1 Colgate Total $2.99
    2 Sobe Life Water B1G1 + 5 cents each CRV*

    - $1/1 Aussie from 2/14 RP
    - $2/1 Crest from 2/7 P&G
    - 50 cents/1 Colgate Total from 1/31 SS
    - B1G1 Sobe printable coupon
    - $4 ECB + $2 ECB

    Pay: 8 cents + tax
    Receive: $2 ECB for Aussie, $3.50 ECB for Crest, and $2 ECB for Colgate

    *CRV = California Redemption Value, a cost we pay on bottles to encourage recycling

    If you’re starting with zero ECBs and you want to play along, here are some scenarios that will minimize your out of pocket expenses (I assume that you have only one set of coupons in these scenarios):

    Transaction #1:
    1 Crest Pro-Health Enamel Shield rinse $3.50

    - $2/1 Crest from 2/7 P&G

    Pay: $1.50 + tax
    Receive: $3.50 ECB

    Transaction #2:
    1 Aussie shampoo or conditioner $2.99
    1 Colgate Total $2.99

    - $1/1 Aussie from 2/14 RP
    - 50 cents/1 Colgate Total from 1/31 SS or $1/1 from Jan. All You
    - $3.50 ECB

    Pay: 98 cents + tax
    Receive: $2 ECB for Aussie + $2 ECB for Colgate

    Transaction #3:
    2 Clean Liquid Foundation or Powder $6 each

    - B1G1 Cover Girl Product from 2/7 P&G
    - $1/1 Cover Girl Product from 2/7 P&G
    - $2 + $2 ECB

    Pay: $1 + tax
    Receive: $5 ECB

    Transaction #4:
    1 Crest Pro-Health Enamel Shield Toothpaste $3.50
    1 Gillette Disposable Razors $5.79

    - 75 cents/1 Crest toothpaste from 2/7 P&G
    - $3/1 select Gillette products from 1/10 RP
    - $5 ECB

    Pay: 54 cents + tax
    Receive: $3.50 ECB for Crest + $2 for Gillette

    When shopping at CVS, you need to watch the limit on the ECB deals. The limit on all of the above deals is one, except for the Crest, which has a limit of two. So, if you have two sets of coupons, you can do buy two rinses, use two $2/1 coupons, and make a $4 profit (see my example).


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