My Start with Coupons
It was five years ago that I started couponing. I remember so clearly being at Target and accidentally discovering the 75% Toy Clearance (back then it was 75% while now it is only 70%). I quickly realized that if I could save 75% on TOYS that I could, and should, be saving money on ESSENTIALS. I switched from buying generic products at Walmart to shopping at Publix and Kroger where my coupons doubled and the three drug stores (CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens) where the rewards were crazy good. Coupons combined with sales equalled a TON of free products. Swimming in a stockpile of razors was common and a thing called free toilet paper existed. But then things changed.
Why I Don’t Shop at Drug Stores Anymore
Slowly the drug stores have made so many changes that have alienated coupon shoppers from shopping at their stores. Hmm, perhaps that was the point? Could the stores have gotten tired of people clearing shelves? Was coupon fraud happening? I definitely agree that these things were occurring, although I wasn’t partaking in either. Then came along that TLC Show. You know, the one that combines the word Extreme with the word Couponing and then things really changed. Stores started redoing their coupon policies and deals became poor.
Why I Don’t Shop at CVS
The quantity of deals at CVS has been sparse. Of the three drug stores CVS has changed the least over the past 5 years, and the changes they made were positive. I love using my Green Bag Tag at CVS since it helps save the environment and I basically get 25¢ each time I use it. But when there are few deals to get me through the door the incentive to use that Green Bag Tag is nonexistent. With the month long expiration date on their ExtraBucks, CVS has the longest turn around time to use their in store rewards. Now to be completely honest, I just don’t like the staff at the CVS by my house. Staff can make or break your desire to shop somewhere, and the unfriendly staff paired with a lack of deals means I am not likely to head to CVS.
Why I Don’t Shop at Rite Aid
Rite Aid was my favorite drug store during 2012, but I slowly stopped shopping there. Rite Aid used their Wellness Program in 2012. With your Wellness card Rite Aid tracks the amount of money you spend. When you reach 500 points you will save 10% off your entire non-sale purchase for the year. When you reach 1,000 points you will save 20% off our entire non-sale purchase for the year. In 2012 Rite Aid also used their +Up Reward system where you get an in-store reward to use at a later date after you purchase a specific item. As the year went on Rite Aid changed the +Up Rewards. They can now only be used starting at 6:00 AM the day after you shop. This limits shoppers from doing back-to-back transactions. That may be great to prevent people who clear shelves, but for the average shopper who may just want to “cash out” their rewards on something like iced coffee or toilet paper this is very, very annoying. Plus, Rite Aid ended their Single Check Rebate program which allowed you to submit your receipt and get cash back in the form of a check on qualifying purchases. The Single Check Rebate was a great way to turn your +Up Rewards in to cash.
Why I Don’t Shop at Walgreens
Walgreens used to have the Easy Saver Rebate program where you could turn your Walgreens money into funds that you put onto a gift card or even get a check. You really got your money back and didn’t have to worry about expiration dates. Sometime in 2009 Walgreens did away with the Easy Saver program. They just had their Register Rewards, which expire in 2 weeks. There were still several good deal that pulled me through the door. Fast forward to 2012. Walgreens implemented the Balance Rewards program where you earn points for your purchases as well as for filling prescriptions at the Walgreens pharmacy. Once you have 5,000 points you can trade them in for a reward. Note: Points expire 36 months from the day you earn them, but they expire sooner if you don’t have any account activity for 6 months. Be sure to watch these dates closely so you don’t lose out on the points you’ve earned.
Earn 5,000 Points, Receive $5.00 Reward
Earn 10,000 Points, Receive $10.00 Reward
Earn 18,000 Points, Receive $20.00 Reward
Earn 30,000 Points, Receive $35.00 Reward
Earn 40,000 Points, Receive $50.00 Reward
Drug store prices are higher than Target or Walmart. Without a good incentive I am unlikely to head there to shop. I don’t want to pay MORE money for the things I truly need! Rewards with short expiration dates or that cannot be used the same day, hard to understand points, and the lack of good deals mean that I am looking for deals in other places. Don’t get me wrong, I will stop in occasionally, but these stores have fallen off my radar for shopping for items I need on a regular basis.
What are your thoughts? Do you spend more or less time shopping at drug stores lately? Have your shopping habits changed over the years?
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