Spending Money to Save Money – Part One

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Couponing at Walgreens

That just sounds silly, doesn’t it?  To my amazement, it isn’t so silly after all.  Granted, the conditions need to be right in order to have success.

One of my favorite ways of doing this is by using rewards programs.  What are they?  Simply put, they are programs based on rewarding others for particular behaviors.  Whether it be job performance or purchases meeting certain criteria.  You can find rewards programs just about anywhere.  From your local gas station, to the plastic in your wallet, to your corner drugstore, and everywhere else in between.  Schools use them, employers use them, parents use them, and so on.  I mean who doesn’t want to be rewarded for doing something and we as humans have learned the power behind it all and utilize it daily.

Since I’m not an expert in all areas that are rewarding, I’m only going to fill you in on a few that I’ve found really pay off.

Register Rewards from Walgreens

You don’t need to sign up for anything to get them.  The rewards come from purchases made on the qualifying items of the week.  When you buy the specific item(s), at the end of the transaction (when you’re handed your receipt) the cashier will hand you your Register Rewards (a.k.a. RR).  Believe it or not, people throw these on the ground as they leave the store sometimes.  It’s crazy.  Why?  It’s money!  They’re throwing money in the trash, or on the ground, or the rewards get left in carts. Ok, I admit it, I used to do it too. I had no clue how they worked and never took the time to figure it out. Once I started couponing, I learned what I had been missing out on.

Learning the Tricks of the Trade

It’s not exactly hard, but sometimes it can be a bit tricky. For example, RR’s are considered a coupon, and Walgreens doesn’t allow you to have more coupons than items or the same amount of coupons as items.

So what that means is:

If you have 4 cans of tuna and your total is $4.98 and you have 5 RR’s of $1.00 each,

you would only be able to use 3 of them for a savings of $3.00 making your total out-of-pocket (OOP) $1.98.

However, if you bought 4 cans of tuna and 2 pencils (these would be called filler items) that were .10¢ each for a total of $5.18.

Then you could use all 5 RR’s for a savings of $5.00 and your total oop would be .18¢ plus tax (yes you will have to always pay tax).

Why does this work? Because now you had 6 items and 5 coupons which means you had more items than coupons. That’s the easiest way to remember it…more items than coupons.

This would work the same way with manufacturer coupons you clip and bring in the store.  If you clipped 2 coupons for tuna and both were for $1.00/2, you would then need 2 more filler items. The good news is that now you’re saving even more money.

Those 4 cans of tuna cost $4.98 before and now cost $2.98. You then add 4 pencils (to make sure you have more items than coupons) which are .10¢ each or .40¢ total.

Now your total is $3.38 and you can use 3 of those $1.00 RR’s for a total OOP of .38¢ AND you get to keep that $2.00 in RR’s for a later visit. But not too much later as these do usually expire within 2 weeks. Always check the expiration dates.

Also, you will sometimes receive one single RR for say $2.00 for one item that you purchased and another for maybe $4.00 for a different item.  It just depends on what you buy.  Meaning, if you had $6.00 in RR’s, but one for was $2.00 and the other was for $4.00 and your total is $3.38.

More than likely you would either add something to your list that will bring the total to a little over $4.00 (at least .01¢) so that you can use the $4.00 RR or use the $2.00 RR and pay $1.38 out-of-pocket.

Walgreen’s doesn’t refund cash for remaining amounts on your RR’s.  Also, there are no rain checks for RR items and if you do return and item, you will have to forfeit your RR as well.

What if my RR didn’t print?  If there is no error on your part and it just didn’t print for some reason, you can either:

1.  call  1-888-8coupon, option 3.

2.  You can use the form VIA ONLINE:  Contact | Catalina Marketing

3.  The store will give you a form to fill out and mail in to get your RR.

Expanding the Savings 

The newest thing for me is the discovery that Jewel-Osco takes the Walgreen’s RR’s. This may be true with other stores. The best way to find out if your local stores will, is a simple phone call. Of course, you will want to verify with your local Jewel as each store could have a slight variation of policy.

I have to say when I found this out and verified, I was so excited. I mean, buying $100.00 worth of product for $20.00 is a great savings. Especially since I usually buy what I need. Then you figure in deals that give you enough RR’s to cover what you spent oop and take those RR’s to Jewel and get some grocery items (usually items I match up with coupons also) it’s like everything you spent at Walgreens was a free bonus! Last week I did this. I spent $20.00 (with a savings of $60.00) OOP and earned $19.00 in register rewards in which I then went to Jewel and used. Gotta love that!

Register Reward Exclusions:

PRESCRIPTIONS AND ITEMS PROHIBITED BY LAW. ALSO EXCLUDES TOBACCO, ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, SALES TAX, LOTTERY TICKETS, MONEY ORDERS/TRANSFERS, DAIRY, PRESCRIPTION SAVINGS CLUB MEMBERSHIP, HEALTH CARE SERVICES AND GIFT/PHONE/PREPAID CARDS. COUPON VALUE CAN NOT EXCEED PURCHASE AMOUNT. REGISTER REWARDS MUST BE FORFEITED IF QUALIFYING MERCHANDISE IS RETURNED. CUSTOMER PAYS ANY SALES TAX.

Making Multiple Transactions to Maximize Spending Quickly

You can use them right after you receive them at Walgreens. You have to split your items into separate transactions (not purchases). Meaning you pay for part of your items, then start over (like you’re a new person) with the rest. I’ve even done 4 transactions. A little tip. If you do have multiple transactions, it’s a good idea to go to the beauty counter, maybe photo to pay or let the people behind you go in between transactions. This will help the cashiers to not feel stressed as the line grows. You may have less stress also. Another benefit would be that it gives you time to check receipts, count rewards, and ready your next transaction.

Now, when it comes to using your RR’s with multiple transactions there is yet another tricky part. Don’t stop reading now. Really, once you get it…you get it. This may be a little confusing so bear with me. An example: if you want to buy 2 tubes of Colgate toothpaste and buying one tube will give you RR’s (it usually works that there is a limit of 1 RR per transaction for an offer on a specific product), but you won’t receive RR’s on the 2nd tube if you buy it with the 1st. In order to get RR’s for the 2nd tube you will need 3 transactions. What happened to having 2 transactions? Well that’s the tricky part. For some reason, if the second tube was rang up after the first tube, even if in a second transaction, the RR for that item won’t print out. Hence, the third transaction.  This goes for anything made by the same manufacturer.  You can’t pay for a Colgate toothbrush with a RR that says, “Thank you from Colgate”.  Another popular brand is Procter & Gamble and there are many products made by them.  You can click on the link to their website and click on Brands to review which products you want to keep in mind.

My Recommendation to Keep it Simple

Now I wouldn’t recommend a person new to couponing or using these rewards to have many transactions in the beginning of the learning process. Keeping it simple can also help to keep you from getting discouraged when things get mixed up. And, they will probably get mixed up. Keep your cool and you’ll get through it. Believe me, this is all worth it. I couldn’t imagine shopping any other way now. Anyway, once you’re successful the first couple times, it begins to make sense. Not to mention you’ll save money.

Another thing I recommend is to not buy every deal that gives you a RR, even when you’ve got things figured out. That would become rather expensive. Because you are paying that initial cost. Also, the more you get the bigger the chance of an oversight.

Guidance from the Experts

A wonderful way of helping you figure out transactions is by visiting sites like KrazyCouponLady.  It’s a fantastic website dedicated to couponing and helping you get the best out of your money.  They frequently update match-ups (coupons on top of sales and RR’s).  The layout is easy to navigate and basically, they do all the work for you.  Walgreens is only one of the many stores you can find match-ups for on their website.

Match-ups and Their Importance

Match-ups defined:  Combining sales with manufacturer coupons and when available, store coupons to reduce the price of an item.  Sometimes significantly reducing price or making the item free.

An example of a match-up good from 2/12/12 thru 2/25/12 listed below.  This one doesn’t include a RR.

Got2B Products $5.99

Buy One Get One Free on sale thru 2/25

Use (2) $3.00/1 Got2B Products from Red Plum (RP) 2/12/12

Final Price:  2 for FREE  (By the way this deal would need 1 filler item because of the 2 coupons and 2 items.)

Next is an example of a deal using a match-up and an offer of RR’s going on for the week of 2/12/12 thru 2/18/12:

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler $19.99

Buy 1, Receive $5.00 Register Rewards

Use $3.00/1 Gillette Fusion Proglide Styler from RP 2/5 (exp 3/31) Pay $16.99, Receive $5.00 Register Reward

Final Price: $11.99

Now the final example will show you my favorite way of accruing RR’s:

LypSyl Extreme Cold Sore Relief, .3 oz $5.00 

Buy 1, Receive $5.00 Register Reward

Pay $5.00, Receive $5.00 Register Reward

Final Price: Free

You may wonder why I like the final example for receiving RR’s the most.  I think maybe it’s because it’s easy.  You pay the same amount you’re getting back and there are no coupons to hunt down and clip.  However, if there were a coupon for maybe $2.00/1, then I would make $2.00.  This would be then called a moneymaker or MM.  Because I would be paying $5.00 – $2.00 (coupon) = $3.00 OOP and receiving a $5.00 RR.  Pretty cool, isn’t it?  You don’t have to be a couponer to receive and use RR’s, but it is an added benefit if you can and do.

Making a List Before You Go

This isn’t always needed.  If you’re only going for one or two things, you probably don’t need a list.  Anymore than that, then yes, I would make a list.  It’s amazing what you can forget under pressure.

The way I organize my list is:

  • By transaction if there is more than one.  With each item listed and clearly stating the quantity, size, price, and coupon needed.
  •  I then count how many items I have for each transaction in comparison to how many coupons I’ll be using in that transaction.  (I use paperclips and little pieces of paper that are labeled with the transaction number to organize the coupons.)
  • I make notes in the margin to remind me how many of each item I need to put in my cart and whether or not I need to use a store coupon and if it’s from the ad or the Monthly Savings Booklet or IVC Booklet.

So how do I go about making my lists?  I started out by using The Krazy Coupon Lady’s website.  I wrote down all the deals they had posted and things I needed by hand.  That combined with clipping coupons and the fact that I was a novice took a bit too long.  I then began to copy and paste the deals onto a Word document and print it out.  That made things faster.  Now, I like to use websites that give you the option to click a check box to pick a deal that will go on your list and when you’re done you can print the list.  My favorite for this is CouponMom.  It’s definitely a time-saver and it also has the option to sort your items by coupon date for easier searching of coupons .  You can sort by percentage saved which is a nice feature as well.  Want to send the deals you picked to your email, you can do that too.  Lastly, there will even be a total price and total savings percentage at the bottom of the page.

An Example of a Multiple Transaction List Using Deals This Week to Get You Started:

1st Transaction

LypSyl Extreme Cold Sore Relief, .3 oz $5.00

Buy 1, Receive $5.00 Register Reward

Pay $5.00, Receive $5.00 Register Reward

Final Price: Free

1st Trans. Total Due $5.00 (OOP) and I would receive $5.00 in Register Rewards to use on next transaction

2nd Transaction

Hefty One Zip Bags, 13 pack Freezer, 17 or 22 pack Storage $3.29

Buy 1 Get 1 Free

Use $0.15/1 Hefty One-Zip Bags peelie (exp. 3/31/12)

Final Price: $1.57 each when you buy 2 or $3.14 total

Got2b Products $5.99

Buy One Get One Free, On Sale thru 2/25

Use 2 $3.00/1 Got2b Products from RP 2/11

Final Price: 2 for Free

Mitchum Deodorant $1.99 With in ad coupon  *Buy 2 (one will be used as filler)

Use (2) $1.00/1 – Mitchum or Mitchum for Women Product – (coupons.com)

Final Price: $0.99 each or $1.98 total

2nd Trans. Total Due 5.12 but use $5.00 Register Reward from 1st transaction.  The total will then be

 .12¢ + tax

Grand Total:  $5.12 + tax total OOP for product worth of $18.11

Of course, this is a quick and easy transaction, so it may not seem like such great savings.  Imagine those items weren’t buy one get one free or they weren’t on sale.  That product worth jumps up quite a bit.  Which brings me to my final point.  Just try it.  Try something easy and fast.  See how you like it.  I’m eager to pass this knowledge on because it really is crazy how much you can save.  Not only that, but you can gain the ability to have extra items around the house that you need.  In the end, avoiding those costly trips that result in paying full price because you need it right now.  Another thing I’ve noticed, is that I buy more name brand products and try new products more often.  Only if it’s cheaper than the store’s version.  Good luck and thanks for taking the time to read my advice.

The idea that I can squeeze more out of my money is smart and it feels good!

5 thoughts on “Spending Money to Save Money – Part One

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