All over the coupon, money-saving, frugal blogs (at least the couple I've frequented), CVS is the big hero. And they may have started the whole thing. I have no idea. But I'd like to say a word on Walgreens's behalf. (By the way, the Chicago Manual of Style stipulates the " 's " after a proper noun ending in "s." I'm not sure I'm a huge fan either, but after editing some according to Chicago, it's hard to flout their authority. So, try not to let it bug you. I did it on purpose.) At any rate, I'd like to go on record as saying that for the three months or so that I've done the drug store thing, I've found more out-and-out free things at Walgreens than anywhere else. Plus, you absolutely cannot beat the 10% bonus. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I am indebted for this information to the tutorial and subsequent "deal updates" I've read on MoneySavingMom. She (the aforementioned mom) provides an in-depth guide to Walgreens shopping on her website.
By "in-depth," I mean really in-depth. If you've avoided drugstores like the plague because they are always more expensive than WalMart, you're smart. They are. Unless you're selective. But I digress. If you're not familiar with drugstores like Walgreens, you might get lost in her terminology. I'd advise you to get a copy of the Easy Saver Catalog and see for yourself what the store is doing. Skip the first half with coupons for a moment and peruse the Rebate Items. The first several will likely be stuff touted as "free." If you're willing to think about it like Walgreens, the stuff is actually free. No really, it is. Here's what happens:
1. You buy the stuff with actual money
2. You go home, create an account at walgreens.com and enter the receipt information
3. You repeat steps 1 and 2 until the end of the month
4. You request (via walgreens.com) that your rebate be put on a Walgreens gift card
5. You wait several weeks
6. You check your account numerous times during those weeks to see what progress has been made on your rebate's return to you
7. You receive in the mail a genuine Walgreens gift card
"How much is my gift card for?" you ask. Well, for the moment, let's suppose you bought only the stuff touted in the catalog as free. And that you used no coupons, and that the total price of everything for the month was $20. (Now adjusting for my state's 6% sales tax, that should come to $21.20.) Since Walgreens will tack on 10% of your rebate amount, your gift card will be good for $22. So, if you adjust for sales tax, what just happened is that you received $20-worth (which is debatable, I know, but stick with me) of necessary or fun products for -$0.80. You're 80 cents ahead of where you were before you started shopping there.
Now it gets fun. What if, say, Proctor and Gamble want to help you buy something they make? So they issue a coupon. So you buy something touted as free from the catalog. You pay Walgreens $4, P&G (by means of a coupon) pays Walgreens $1, and Walgreens pays you $5.50. It's intense. If you like Sudoku, you'll go for this.
(By the way, since this is my blog, I get to share another, more sappy reason I love drugstores. My husband and I had our first date at, among other places, a CVS. Okay. We were actually going to breakfast, but we had to get some pictures developed first, so we dropped them at the drugstore. We had a few left on my roll--and I admit I wanted a picture or two of both of us--so we had the store clerk snap a few. Henceforth in our dating, we tried to get a picture in a drugstore near every major major attraction we visited. Everyone together now . . . "Awwwww!")