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The Coupon Lady: Don't ignore drugstores

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I have always been able to find some great deals while shopping at grocery stores for our weekly needs and stockpile. However, if I were to list my top 10 best individual deals, probably only one or two items would come from grocery stores. The majority of the list would be deals that I found at drug stores.

A few of my favorite drugstore deals include getting brand-name diapers for $2.99 a pack and Nyquil for $1 a bottle and finding free items every week! Common sense tells shoppers that drugstores are horrible places to shop; prices are marked up higher than superstore or grocery store prices, so aren’t sale prices just the everyday low prices at other stores?

It’s a matter of timing. Drugstores have sales just like grocery stores. A good couponer already knows to try to match coupons to sales and stock up. However, with drugstores there are ways you can stack your savings. Using store coupons, manufacturer coupons, store rebates and even manufacturer rebates together can save a shopper some serious money.

First, you need to under­stand that you can stack a store coupon with a manu­facturer coupon. Store coupons can be found in the store, online and through e-mails or regular mail. For example, if I have a store coupon for $1 off any toothbrush and I have a manufacturer coupon for $1 off a Colgate 360 toothbrush from my Sunday newspaper insert, I can use both coupons on one toothbrush and save $2.

Second, understand that you need to wait to use coupons during a sale. Using our toothbrush example, let’s say that the normal price for the Colgate 360 toothbrush is $3.99 at the drugstore. However, the store puts the toothbrush on sale for $2.99. If you use your two coupons while the toothbrush is on sale, you will only pay 99 cents.

Look for items with store rebates to make the deal even sweeter. Our toothbrush is on sale for $2.99, but the sales ad also says that the toothbrush will earn you a $1 store rebate. That means that after we pay $1.06 for our toothbrush after taxes, our receipt will have a $1 coupon printed on it for nearly anything in the store. If you subtract the value of your rebate from the price you paid, it means you only paid 6 cents in taxes for your toothbrush.

Use little deals to help pay for big deals. I like to break up my drugstore transactions to keep my out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum by using my store rebates on my next transaction. This is called “rolling” in coupon blogs and Web sites. For example, if I had two sets of coupons for the Colgate toothbrushes and the drugstore has a limit of two toothbrushes per customer, then instead of purchasing the two items together, I could split the transactions into two separate orders. In the first transaction, I pay $1.06 for the item and get the $1 store rebate. My next toothbrush would cost just 6 cents after using my store coupon, manufacturer coupon, and the store rebate that I had earned in the first transaction. I would earn the $1 store rebate again once the receipt prints. When I leave the store, I will have only spent $1.12 out of my pocket and have a $1 rebate for a future purchase.

At first, start small; pay for one item, get your rebate, and then do it again. When checking out, be courteous to other shoppers by only doing one or two small transactions at a time. Finally, be open to buying things you don’t need in order to pay for other things you do need. If you find an item that gives you back a bigger rebate than you spent on it, buy it and use the rebate to pay for something else that you need. Have fun with it!

HOLD A CLASS

Are you a business, church or social group and want to share your passion for savings with your fellow members? We are now accepting requests for free coupon classes to be held at your location or event. For more information, contact Carol Gunter at The Augusta Chronicle at (706) 823-3318 or e-mail at augustacouponlady@yahoo.com.

Our next Couponing for Beginners class is scheduled for June 22 at 6:30 p.m. Register for this event online at www.smartshopper622.eventbrite.com or by phone.


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