Jul 28, 2008

My Drugstore Game Philosophy

Now that I've been playing The Drugstore Game for almost six months, I've developed an informal philosophy that I thought would be worth sharing:
  • Don't chase every deal. It's hard to resist a great deal, especially at the beginning, but as we've discussed before, chasing every deal can lead to burnout. It's okay to spend a little more money if it means not driving yourself crazy.
  • Don't use intentionally misuse coupons. I'm not referring only to obvious misuses like altering a coupon. I mean, don't try to use a coupon on an item it's not intended for. One example is the Dawn 2 for $2 after ECB deal at CVS. Some shoppers were planning to use a $1 off Dawn Simple Pleasures coupon, even though Simple Pleasures was not part of the deal.
  • Be kind to the employees. Even if they have a bad attitude. I'm quite lucky, in that I have enough drugstore options that I can avoid the stores that seem to be unfriendly to coupon users. But even so, every once in a while, I'll run into an unpleasant cashier who huffs and puffs about my coupons. I try to be cheerful, even if the cashier isn't. I know I'm not doing anything wrong, so I don't have a problem standing my ground. If a deal didn't quite work, I politely inquire about it (for example, when my ECBs didn't print).
  • If I'm not satisfied by the store's employees, I can escalate my issue to the corporate level. Find executive information at the Consumerist and A Full Cup.
  • Experiment with your coupon organization. I started out with one multi-pocket folder and now I have two. But for the same reasons as Money Saving Mom, I am considering not clipping coupons I'm not sure I'll use and switching to the binder system. (FYI, A Full Cup also has a coupon database where you can look up coupon sources.)
  • I only keep as much as I have storage space for. Even if something is a fantastic deal, I don't buy it unless I have space for it. Unless . . .
  • I am donating it. I do buy many things I don't need or don't have space for if they are free or almost free and I have someone to give it to.
  • I will only play the Drugstore Game if I am having fun. I keep track of my savings in a simple spreadsheet, and I get a real kick out of seeing how much I've saved each month. But if it ever stops being fun, I'll dramatically reduce the amount of time I spend planning my trips and visiting the stores.
So that's my Drugstore Game philosophy. What's yours?


Anonymous said...

I decided, after consolidating my shampoos and lotions and toothpastes, that even if I do have space, I'm using what I have. I am only restocking when it gets low (as in, maybe one more to go). Things are on sale so much, this makes sense. Plus, it forces me to use what I have. I've had food expire on the shelves when I stockpile too much.

stalkermom said...

I liked all of your points. I am not buying anymore toothpaste until I only have 1 left!

marci lambert said...

great article. yesterday, after buying eight bottles of body wash i realized i need to stop buying so much! so i think i will try to resist things i'm stocked on unless they are free or less than $.50 each.

btw, six of my body washes were $.33 each. sigh.

Denise Mall said...

Wow - thanks I needed that! Being a newbie, I'd rather stay in toe now, then have to back track.

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

Great points, Cathy! I've found that after doing the Drugstore Game for 6 months now, it's like having a price book in my head. I know how often toothpaste, diapers, my preferred brand of shampoo/makeup, etc. goes on sale at CVS, so I know how much to buy to last till the next sale. That way--I don't have to play the game every week. It's really helped me let go of feeling like I'm "missing deals."

lbellomy said...

Great post. Personally, I don't "stock up." I only get what I need to make the deal work - once. We all have plenty - why not leave enough so everyone can participate?

I'm not saying people who do this are doing anything wrong, it's just how I do things.

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Anonymous said...

What you said about not chasing every deal makes me feel a little bit better. . .I was really busy last week, and I let the L'oreal Vive bogo at CVS get by me, even though I had the bogo coupons. Aargh! I'm kind of kicking myself, but really, I have plenty of shampoo, and it will be free again sometime.

Chief Family Officer said...

I'm glad there's so much agreement :) I've got a couple of things I want to add now that I've gotten some feedback, so keep an eye out for a follow up post soon!

L. J. Lowe said...

I've never been real great with coupons. I don't have a ready source of them, as I don't know anyone close who gets the Sunday paper. I do use online printable coupons. I'll search for specific items, if I know I'm going to need to be buying it. I only use coupons on items that I regularly buy or on new items, that with a coupon, would be nearly free.

I'm not much of a shopper, so I'm not big on spending. But I do get a great thrill out of extra savings. Just a few weeks ago I saved and extra $2 on Platex Sport. I used a $1 coupon that I printed online and a $1 coupon that was in Walgreens Super Saver Catalog. I wasn't planning on getting the bigger box, but it was more than twice as much product for just a $1 more, than the smaller quantity box. :)

I love Walgreens free w/rebate offers, too. I can use the rebate money from one month to buy the freebies the next month, so that the money keeps getting recycled and I keep getting my extra 10% added to my rebates.

I love your blog! Glad I stumbled onto it. Thank The Frugal Duchess for linking to your blog! http://sharonhr.blogspot.com/2008/07/save-5-bills-other-favorite-links.html