Jan 4, 2010

Ways to Make & Save Money #1: Play The Drugstore Game

You can read the rest of the Ways to Make & Save Money series here.

I wouldn't call The Drugstore Game the most important way I'm going to save money this year, but it may be my favorite way. I've been playing The Drugstore Game for almost two years now, and it's absolutely transformed the way I shop. I can't believe how much I used to pay for every day items like shampoo, toothpaste, and toilet paper. These days, I have a list of items that I will only buy if they end up being free, and I have much lower target prices on other everyday items, like toilet paper, tissue, and dental floss.

If you're new to The Drugstore Game, read my Drugstore Game Primer first. (Even if you've played the game for a while, you may want to read it again as I updated it for this post.)

I play The Drugstore Game at the three big chains: Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid. I'm fortunate, because all three chains are pretty ubiquitous in the Los Angeles area, so it's quite easy for me to shop at all three stores each week (though I rarely do that anymore).

Here are the items I only buy if they are free:

Adult toothbrushes (I've found it more difficult to get the kind of toothbrushes my kids use for free)
Non-dandruff Shampoo
Sanitary pads
Lip balm

We are not brand-loyal when it comes to any of the above items, so I buy them when they are free and add them to my stockpile. Not being brand-loyal makes life a lot cheaper!

It's also important to remember that if you can wait for a sale, one will eventually come along. Of course, if it's stressing you out to be running out of something, then by all means, go out and buy the cheapest item you can find. But if you can wait, do. A great sale may be just around the corner.

As I prepared my budget a few weeks ago, I realized just what an impact The Drugstore Game has had on our spending. I spend no more than a third of what I used to spend on toiletries, paper goods, and other household items. Since our consumption of these items is just going to increase as the kids get bigger, it's more important than ever for me to shop smart and keep my stockpile stocked!



Unknown said...

Do you have a Dollar General close by? I have found that the kids' toothpaste and cute toothbrushes can be found there for 25 cents or less quite often! I try to keep a stockpile of those at my grandparents' house for my cousins' small children to use when they stay there, since we have no kids and it costs me so very little to add one or two to whatever I'm already there to buy. Plus they make excellent teacher gifts for my mom to give her students. Anyway I rattle on...Dollar General keeps them for about $1 here in Alabama, and I've had a lot of luck finding them on clearance too.

Thanks for all of the work you put into your blog. I look forward to reading it every day or 2- I had to pull myself away from my hours and hours of blog reading because I wasn't getting anything else done! Happy New Year to you and your family.

Lulu said...

There is a CVS where I live but no Walgreens or Rite Aid so I think I miss out on a lot of great stuff.

I am newish to couponing the Drugstore game.....and certainly do not do it as hard core as you do..but it is so amazing to pay 10 cents for a large toothpaste or to get toothbrushes for free.

My mother (may her soul rest in peace 12-12-08) believed in buying in bulk and in stockpiling things that are non-perishable. I love shopping at CVS and as I read more tips on how to combine coupons with sales it just gets easier and easier. Plus, when you have a stockpile you can wait until the next great sale.

My friends laugh at me but then they always have toothbrushes, toothpaste and toilet paper when they come to my place and sometimes they 'shop' out of my cupboards.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Kristin - Aw, that is SO sweet. Thank you so much, you've totally made my day! I've got a post coming tomorrow for you :)

@Lulu - I'm so sorry about your mother. I'm sure she'd be very proud of you and your stockpile, though!