5 Ways to Save at the Drug Store

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eHow Money Blog

Countless articles tell you how to save money at the grocery store by clipping coupons or buying generic. Many of these same strategies also apply at the drug store, and with a few new tricks up your sleeve, you can save even more. “It’s not fun to buy toilet paper,” says Jodi Furman, the blogger behind Live FabuLESS. “But saving money on the boring necessities frees up money for the other things that you might want to buy.”

According to a British survey conducted by TRESemme, the average woman spends the equivalent of about $50,000 on her hair over the course of her lifetime. That’s a whole lot of hair products! Here’s a look at five ways you can save at the drug store on hair products, toilet paper, and more.

Sign up for a loyalty card. Large national chains like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens all have customer loyalty programs. You’ll often get the most bang for your buck if you choose one drug store to frequent and learn the ins and outs of their loyalty program, Furman says. For instance, CVS periodically emails customers coupons for $5 off $20 or 25 percent off their entire purchase. You can also scan your card at CVS kiosks in store and the machine will spit out additional coupons. Smaller regional drug store chains have their own loyalty programs, too.

Shop based on sales. Rather than running to the store when you need hair gel or toilet paper, Furman suggests buying what you need when it’s on sale and keeping extras on hand. “We all know we need toothpaste and toothbrushes, but I don’t recommend stockpiling like its Armageddon,” she says. Toiletries and paper goods often have a longer shelf life than groceries but you probably don’t need 40 sticks of deodorant. To stretch your savings even further, pair sale items with store or manufacturer coupons. Sites like Southern Savers do some of the legwork for you so you can look up that week’s coupon match-ups instead of searching for them yourself. You may be able to score additional savings on top of sales or store coupons using mobile apps like Ibotta and SavingStar.

Pay attention to expiration dates. When coupons print out at the drug store register (for instance, Walgreens Register Rewards or CVS Extra Care Bucks), keep them as you would cash. Unlike cash, though, this money has an expiration date attached, so Furman suggests scheduling this date on your phone so you’ll get a reminder to use it before it expires. CVS Extra Care Bucks are generally good for up to 30 days, while Walgreens Register Rewards typically expire in two weeks or sooner.

Look for prescription transfer offers. Drug store chains periodically offer $10 or $25 gift cards to customers who transfer a prescription. Beware, though: Having several different prescriptions scattered at different drug stores isn’t ideal because it’s less convenient for you and also means the pharmacist can’t warn you about potential drug interactions. But if you’re not taking a bunch of different medications, these gift cards can help you buy some of the essentials without any cash out of your own pocket. And drug stores will often honor a competitor’s prescription transfer offer, according to Furman.

Don’t get seduced by a deal. Couponers sometimes overspend because they’re so excited to use a certain coupon. “It’s great to save 80 percent,” Furman says. “But it’s even better not to spend that money. Don’t buy things just for the savings. Make sure you’re buying the things that you need.” If you find a really great coupon for something you don’t need, consider sharing it with someone else through a coupon swap or the Coupons to Troops program, which sends coupons to U.S. military families stationed overseas.

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