Friday, January 6, 2012

Walgreens Shopping Guide

In the city closest to where I live, we have a Walgreens in every section of the city. It is a very convenient place to do your coupon shopping, and they have a rewards program that can really boost your savings. Sometimes Walgreens deals can be confusing, so I will try to break this down as simple as possible!

There are a few things to remember when shopping at Walgreens for deals. You should have the weekly ad, or Little Mom's weekly ad/coupon match up, your manufacturer coupons and your in-ad coupons (store coupons). You can read about the difference in coupon types here

By stacking sales prices with 2 kinds of coupons, you are going to get the best deal, or even some items for FREE. Some purchases will generate a coupon called a Register Reward, which can be used on future purchases. 

First of all, you should always remember to hand the cashier your manufacturer coupons first, followed by store (in-ad) coupons, then Register Rewards. This is so that the discounts are applied correctly. You could be missing out on savings if you don't do it in this order!

Register Rewards: Walgreens has a promotional checkout-coupon program much like the Catalina Coupon programs you may be familiar with from your local grocery store. Walgreens’ program is run by the same company, but their checkout-coupons are called Register Rewards.  A Register Reward (abbreviated as RR) is a long, receipt-like coupon that prints after you make a qualifying purchase.  Flip through your Walgreens sales circular (or read Little Mom's Walgreens Ad/Coupon Match Up each week) and look for products which state that you will “receive register reward” with purchase.   After you complete your purchase of the advertised item, you will receive a Register Reward to use on your next purchase.  PAY ATTENTION TO THIS PART: the savings you receive will not be on the product you’re buying but on a future purchase. 

This is what a Register Reward looks like.
Walgreens shoppers do something called "Rolling Rewards". There are 2 ways to do this, the complicated way and the easy way

The easy way is pretty simple to explain: on your initial visit, you will stack coupons with sales prices, and earn Register Rewards. You can then wait until your next shopping trip to use the Register Rewards and get items for FREEThey usually expire 2 weeks from the date they are printed.

The complicated way involves multiple transactions at the register, which is best to do if there are multiple registers open. The basic concept:If you receive a Register Reward generated by the purchase of product A,  you cannot use it to buy a second product A if you want another Register Reward to print.  The best way to get around this is to find 2 different products that trigger a similar value Register Reward and alternate buying those items in separate transactions. Example:

Transaction #1: 
Buy 1 toothpaste (use manufacturer and in-ad coupons to get best price) will produce $3,00 RR
Buy 1 lotion (use manufacturer and in-ad coupons to get best price) will produce $3.00 RR

We cannot use the RR from the toothpaste to buy another toothpaste, if we want another RR to print. (This is where the easy way ends, you take the RR and use it on another day). So we buy a lotion, that prints a similar RR amount. We buy it at the same time as the toothpaste. 

Transaction #2:
Use the RR from the 1st lotion to buy a second toothpaste. (Your item may be free!) this will generate another RR for the toothpaste, $3 RR. 
Use the RR from the 1st toothpaste to buy another lotion. (Your item may be free!) this will generate another RR for the lotion, $3 RR. 

Your store most likely has limits on how many transactions like this you can complete in one day. The benefit of this complicated way, is that you have very little out of pocket costs, you can get your initial purchase money back and then some, in one visit. The drawback, is it requires a lot of organization, planning and can make other customers cranky. You might not mind that, but it kind of bothers me, and I try to be considerate. 

The benefit of the easy way, is...well, it is easy! On your second trip, you do minimal planning and get your purchase free, plus more RR to spend! The drawback, is your initial investment out of pocket. Little Mom can keep that cost low by helping you match sales prices with coupons, plus RR deals

Balance Rewards: Essentially, this is a program where you earn “Balance Rewards Points” for buying certain products. You can redeem these points at a later date for in-store dollar credit. 
If you have not yet signed up for the program, do so in a Walgreens store or sign up online. If you have already signed up online and would like to receive a physical card, you can attach your account to an actual card in the store. Every time you check out, be sure to swipe your card or enter the phone number that is attached to your Balance Rewards account. 
How it works: Each week, there will be several items listed in the weekly ad that will earn you Points. For example, let's say there is a promotion on Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes. When you purchase two, you’ll receive 500 Points. You can earn multiple points in a single transaction. Certain items, such as soda or bottled water, do have a limit listed in the ad. Other than that, there is not a limit on how many times you can receive points from the same promotion. 
Manufacturer coupons and Register Rewards do not interfere with any points earned. In other words, you will still earn points when using manufacturer coupons and Register Rewards.
The monthly Walgreens Savings Book coupons are the exception to this rule. They do count against your total. If you are doing a “Spend X amount of dollars, Receive X amount of Points” promotion, you need to meet the specified total before manufacturer coupons but after the monthly Walgreens coupons.
Your Balance Rewards card does not keep track of purchases. If you need to spend a certain dollar amount to receive points, you need to reach that dollar amount in a single transaction.
At the end of your transaction, the Balance Rewards Points you earned will show up on your receipt right away! If they don’t, call Walgreens Customer Service, and they will credit the points to your account.
Once you reach at least 5,000 Points on your card, you can redeem them. 5,000 points equal a $5.00 reward. 40,000 points equal a $50.00 reward. It is advantageous to save your points so you get more bang for your buck!

So, to wrap this all up in a neat little package for you, this is how to save BIG at Walgreens:

1. Use Little Mom's ad Match Ups to find a list of the best deals for the week.
2. Gather your manufacturer coupons and your store (in-ad) coupons.
3. Pay a little out of pocket (if anything) and gain Register Rewards. 
4. use those RRs and BRs on future purchases to get things FREE or super cheap.