Walgreens 101

I’ve been shopping at Walgreens for a number of years and have found some really great deals there. It is not as complex as CVS, and, sad to say, the deals are not usually as good. However, sometimes they have some excellent bargains and the more I’ve shopped there, the better I’ve gotten at getting lots of groceries for a few dollars or less.

Besides just the normal store sale, Walgreens has two different types of deals to take advantage of:

1) Coupon “Stacking”

The weekly store fliers often include a number of store coupons which are good all week. Since these are store coupons, they can be “stacked” with manufacturer’s coupons, meaning you can use them in conjunction with a manufacturer’s coupon. So, in this case, you can use both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon on one item. Often, you’ll be able to get a really great deal by stacking a store coupon, a manufacturer’s coupon, and a store sale.

2) Register Rewards

Similar to the CVS Extra Care Bucks Program, the Register Rewards program rewards you for buying certain items each week. When you buy the item or items which are advertised as producing a Register Reward, you will get a printed coupon after you checkout called “Register Rewards” which you can use like cash on your next purchase.

They usually have a few of these items per week–some which are completely free after Register Rewards. By using a store coupon and/or a manufacturer’s coupon when buying a Register Reward item, you are often able to get the item for more-than-free, free, or almost free after the Register Rewards.

Unlike CVS, the Register Rewards (RR) are not tied to a store card. Instead, they just print out for everyone who buys that particular item or items that week. Because of this, there is no limit on how many of one deal you can do. That said, they have recently tightened their system so that you usually cannot roll the same RR over and over again on the same deal.

For instance, not too long ago, they were running a Proctor and Gamble Buy $25, Get $10 in RR promotion and they were also running a Unilever Buy $20, Get $10. With store coupons, manufacturer’s coupons, and the Register Rewards, I was getting most of these items for almost free. However, I couldn’t do the P&G deal over and over using the $10 RR to pay for my transaction after coupons, since the computer is programmed to not print out another $10 RR on P&G products if I paid for with the $10 RR I got from purchasing them last time. Make sense?

So, you can either just do the deals once, or you can do the deals multiple times and pay out of pocket and then save the RR’s you collect each time and use them on groceries or other items later. Or, your best option is to do what I did: Do multiple transactions and alternate between the P&G deal and the Unilever deal. This way, you can keep rolling the RR’s over and over and paying very little out of pocket.

Helpful Tips

From what I’ve found, the Walgreen’s cash register system is set up a lot differently than CVS. So for those who are used to shopping at CVS and always paying less than a $1 for a few bags of groceries, you might find yourself frustrated at first. I’ve spent some time figuring out what works best and here are my tips:

1) You must have as many items as you have coupons.

Most of the registers appear to be programmed not to accept any more coupons than you have items. So, make sure and tally up your items and coupons before you check out. The Register Rewards count as a coupon as do any of the store coupons, so count those, too.

If you have more items than coupons, add on a few cheap items so that you have the same number of items as coupons. I always play it safe and try to have at least one more item than coupons. This just guarantees the register doesn’t have issues.

2) In order to get your total down to the lowest amount possible and for the register to accept all of your coupons, the order you give your coupons in is very important.

So far, I’ve never met a Walgreen’s cashier who knew how to manually push a coupon through. So if you’re coupon won’t go through, it won’t go through. That’s why it’s important that you have as many items as coupons and that you hand your coupons over in the correct order.

After lots of trial and error, here’s the best coupon order I’ve come up with:

-Register Rewards first
-Then manufacturer’s coupons
-Then store coupons

Doing it in any other order than this seems to cost me at least a few dollars more or it causes the system to jam and not allow my coupons through and means I either have to add on some extra items or it means that I pay extra money out of pocket.

I give my coupons to the cashier in batches split up in the groups mentioned above. This keeps things simple and ever since I started doing it this way, I’ve never had a problem with the register jamming or a coupon not going through.

3) If for some reason they cannot get a coupon to go through, request that they void the item right then off of your order.

It’s much easier to just void it off right then and not pay for it, then to try and mess with it later. And voiding it off is a very simple process.

There you have it! I’m sure I missed something and didn’t explain everything very clearly so please feel free to ask concerning any questions you have. Also, for those who are a pro at shopping at Walgreens, please feel free to add in your tips and advice. Fill in the holes that I missed!

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Comments

  1. says

    Comments from old blog copied and pasted below:

    Anonymous Mrs. Jo said…

    Thanks to your tips I’ve recently become a Walgreens nut! I’m wondering if all of the stores are different because:
    1. I’ve had many cashiers manually enter a coupon for me if it doesn’t work
    2. I’ve never heard of the coupon per item rule and have never had a problem with it (and I usually use a couple of coupons per item, store and manufactered ones stacked.

    The one thing that is frustrating is that sometimes our Walgreens doesn’t have the sale items on sale. I go to the store looking forward to getting free oatmeal and Advil Extra Strength and they don’t have any in stock all week!

    The only thing you may have forgotten in your write-up on Walgreens is the clearances. This is the best way I make money by shopping there. The end caps are chock full of clearances and all the summer stuff is on 75% off! I’ve gotten so many great deals this way because often what is on clearance is something I have a coupon for. Recently all the baby shampoos/lotions went on clearance. I had a 75 cent coupon on a Johnson’s item and the large bottle of baby lotion was only 70 cents, so I made money! Recently diapers were on a closeout for $2.59 and with coupons on these Pampers I got them for 59 cents-$1.50 per package. I love the clearances at Walgreens!

    October 13, 2007 10:15 AM
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    Blogger Josh and Brooke said…

    I was just going to agree with the previous comment.

    I always have more coupons than items and it has always worked for me.

    Also, I have had to have the cashier call for a manager to manually enter a coupon. Usually they get a little annoyed, but the manager doesn’t mind because they want our business! I try not to feel guilty about having them do a little extra work…

    I too have run into the situation where they are out of stock on sale items even by Mondays! I just ask for a rain check and they are always good to honor these even a month later! It never hurts to ask.

    October 13, 2007 10:53 AM
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    Blogger Mandy said…

    Thanks for the info Crystal! I think I have CVS down and have slowly been trying to understand all the Walgreen’s deals.

    October 13, 2007 11:30 AM
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    This post has been removed by the author.

    October 13, 2007 11:45 AM
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    Blogger Crystal said…

    Wow, that’s interesting that some of you have had such positive experiences at your Walgreens. Every one I have been to around here seems to be run by a coupon Nazi so I have to be extra careful. And when they can’t get the system to take my coupon, they’ll just hand it back to me and tell me I can’t use it – I’ve had this happen with some of my $10 RR’s, too!

    Maybe that would explain why I’m not such a Walgreens fanatic!!

    I’ll update it with this information.

    October 13, 2007 11:49 AM
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    Blogger Avlor said…

    Super! Thanks for the tips. I made my first Walgreens shopping trip the other day. (I had avoided the stores because I’d heard negative comments.) I didn’t quite maximize it as well as you could have. But not bad for a first try and picking up a few things (before the boyscouts start collecting for Scouting for Food at the end of the month).

    October 13, 2007 12:55 PM
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    Blogger InsertWittyBlogHere said…

    Another thing to remember as a difference between CVS and Walgreens is that while the ECBs will reduce any sales tax you owe, the RRs will not. For instance, if I buy something for $1 at CVS and use a $1 ECB, I will pay zero tax – it’s considered a store discount, so the tax is accordingly reduced.

    However, if you do the same thing at Walgreens with a RR, you will pay the tax on the item. They are considered manufacturer’s coupons, so you still pay tax.

    It’s not a huge difference, but it’s worth remembering when you are pre-figuring your deals.

    Great run-down on the whole deal!

    October 13, 2007 4:24 PM
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    Blogger Crystal said…

    InsertWittyBlog: The tax has definitely made a difference for me in how I feel about Walgreens and CVS. :) However, I have found that by doing my coupons in the order I mentioned above, it seems to lower the tax. Sometimes I’ve even ended up with a negative balance and had to add stuff on!

    October 13, 2007 4:31 PM
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    Anonymous st_ignatius110 said…

    I end up with a negative balance on my and the cashier won’t let me add anything else!!! She calls over the manager, who now hates me because I use coupons, and she won’t let me use my coupons on the clearance items!! Grrr. That is fine. I figured out she is the night manager so I never go on her shift…lol…nazi indeed! If I go during the day their is a male manager who is really nice…does not know that Wal Greens will take coupons AND print out the RR’s…but THAT I can deal with!!

    Thank you for a GREAT write up! I never understood the rebates. I will start THIS WEEK collecting my rebates.

    October 13, 2007 4:54 PM
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    Anonymous lizzykristine said…

    The Walgreens in our area all have super-friendly employees, very helpful. For instance, in the recent free ink cartridge refill, apparently there was something wrong with the cartridge I took in, but the employee filled up an empty one he had in the back and gave it to me in place of my defective one. They don’t always do that, but sometimes… :)

    Also, the Walgreens in this area are very good about taking lots of coupons (including more than the number of items) and several times a cashier has overrode the system when a coupon isn’t working correctly.

    The only problem I’ve had with Walgreens is that some stores don’t have the items listed for that week’s sale or register rewards. However, if you live close to more than one store — I drive past 2-4 Walgreens a week in my errand run — a store just a mile away will often have that item. It’s weird. But hey, it gives cause for checking out another store’s clearance items while I’m there!

    All in all, I am very pleased with the Walgreens here.

    October 13, 2007 7:32 PM
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    Blogger Angela said…

    I agree. I recently started shopping at Walgreens thanks to your Supermarket Savings 101 course. We only have one local chain (well, two–Safeway and Whole Foods). Our Albertson’s and Lucky’s both closed. We have not CVS. BUT! We have a Walgreens on every corner. I shop at different ones based on where my errands are that week. I haven’t had any problems using coupons stacked, have always had great cashiers, and they have always had the sale items…sometimes on endcaps instead of on the main aisle. Our closest Walgreens has an endcap labeled “Free After Rebate” and on it are all the F.A.R deals!

    On my last shopping trip, the cashier asked me how I did it! Basically he just wanted to know where I got the manufacturer’s coupons to stack with the Walgreen’s ones. I told him, the local paper. I’m surprised sometimes by how little some people know!

    All this to say, Thank you!

    October 13, 2007 7:32 PM
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    Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When Walgreens came to town a few years back, our family was so excited; they were just a couple minutes from the house & we thought we’d be able to run in and grab grocery items at grocery store prices. wrong.
    It wasn’t long before we began calling it ‘the store that doesn’t have anything’ as we could rarely find what we went looking for.

    What I really wanted to add, though is – be sure to get your rebates turned in on time!! Inspired by (and jealous of :-) all the CVSing ya’ll talk about, I decided to see what I could do at Walgreens. They actually had some of what I was aiming to get. I’d figured out to do a transaction to get register rewards first, then the rest of my purchases – including $15 worth of stuff I didn’t really need, but was going to get $10 backon, so it was a decent deal. I was careful to put my receipt with my saver booklet, but when I finally had a moment to fill it out, I’d misssed the deadline to mail it. ARGH!!
    so, watch those deadlines!

    October 13, 2007 9:25 PM
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    Blogger Stephanie @ ATime4Everything.com said…

    As for the deadline on the rebate, I mailed one in past the deadline and had no problem.If I were you I would still mail it in because it only says to “please postmark by” That to me is a request, not a deadline! I have mailed mine in twice late and never had an issue!

    I have had good and bad experiences at Walgreens. They are usually out of stock, but I have learned to get a raincheck. The only thing about that is if my coupon expires before they restock I am out of luck. Their is a cashier there who is awful to deal with, she rolls her eyes and sighs loudly at all of my coupons. I try to avoid her, but if I can’t I try very hard not to let her intimidate me! The managers have all been wonderful, and have even substituted higher priced items for me if they are out on something!
    Overall, I would rather go to CVS but our closest one in 45 minutes away, so I only go if it is a super deal!

    October 14, 2007 6:05 AM
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    Blogger jeni said…

    I’ve had the exact same problems as Crystal. Also, it usually takes me much longer to get my rebates back on a gift card, 8 weeks or more! Even on the ones I’ve asked to put on a card I already have.

    October 14, 2007 6:24 AM
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    Anonymous Lesley said…

    I have just started shopping at Walgreens and I am really enjoying it!! :0) The people has been extremely helpful, one of the ladies went over the whole coupon and rebate thing with me, it was very helpful. :0) We do not have a CVS here, so we use what we have and for us its…Walgreens. ;0)

    BTW~~Its good to know that they will give rain checks if they don’t have an item that was on sale with a coupon. I was not sure, so I didn’t bother to ask. However, I will definatly ask next time!! :0)

    October 14, 2007 12:26 PM
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    Blogger Erin said…

    Thanks for the great summary of Walgreens shopping! Some things I have been learning through trial and error. I love your new blog and these little ‘drug store 101′ write ups, very helpful!

    One thing I would add about Walgreens, is to REALLY check that items are ringing up correctly and that you get the RRs that are coming to you. I have only been a regular Walgreens shopper for a few months, but almost every trip there is something that rings up incorrectly. Fortunately, the managers have always been very quick and polite about resolving the issues, even giving me cash for RRs that did not print, but I really have to be on my toes when I shop there. I know this is important whenever shopping, but have had to be especially vigilant at Walgreens.

    October 14, 2007 7:31 PM
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    Anonymous Mrs. Jo said…

    At the Walgreens I go to, every cashier knows how to manually enter a coupon. This has saved me since none of my computer-printed coupons ever ring up at any store (grocery, Wal-Mart, etc.) Most are really friendly and I’ve never needed to see a manager except once for a raincheck. They always give me the benefit of the doubt and will willingly substitute items if they aren’t in stock.
    Our Walgreens is BRAND NEW so maybe this makes the difference in the way the register system is set up?
    Since there is no CVS here, this is how I have fun, finding deals at Walgreens! I think the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere WY and no one else uses coupons like me helps because I find tons of great deals and the clearance shelves are full of stuff.

    October 14, 2007 10:50 PM
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    Blogger Jeana said…

    I’ve never had trouble stacking them either. I usually go to the makeup counter. They want people to check out there because if you are buying make-up they get some sort of credit for it. Because they are trying to encourage people to ring up there they are usually nicer about the coupons and such.

    The Advil Extra Strength was delayed due to FDA approval–none of the stores here had it that week.

    I don’t usually clip my ad coupons, I just circle them, careful not to mark on the part they scan. Most of them know how to enter it manually but if they don’t they jus tfold the ad and scan that section. This makes it easier to keep up with the coupons.

    And mine reduces the tax too.

    I haven’t run into the problem with number of coupons but that may be because I usually buy some smaller sale items, like mushrooms or canned fruit for 39 cents.

    October 15, 2007 7:32 AM
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    Blogger Carrie J said…

    I have mostly had good experiences at Walgreens. It depends on what cashier I get. Most are wonderful, but a few aren’t. There is one who constantly forgets to scan the in store (ad coupons) if I don’t watch her very closely. She gets annoyed when I remind her.
    My opinion is that when stores offer coupons, rebates, RR etc. they should make sure their employees are well trained in how the system works.
    My first few jobs were in retail and I know if I had rolled my eyes, sighed, or acted annoyed toward a customer there would have been the devil to pay. As a result I have a very low tolerance for rude cashiers.

    I also think there should be a chain wide policy on how coupons are handled so when you walk into any Walgreens, CVS or Kroger etc., anywhere you know how your coupons will will handled. Especially if they triple coupons like they do for some of you lucky people.

    October 15, 2007 9:58 AM
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    Anonymous Jenn said…

    Thanks so much for this post and the one on CVS. We are always trying to find ways to save money and these will be increibl helpful. I am looking forward to reading more on your site soon!

    www(dot)fullofboys(dot)wordpress(dot)com

    October 15, 2007 12:12 PM
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    Blogger Bethany said…

    Something I’m learning the hard way is to not pick up “bonus packages” (such as “50% more free”) when I’m trying to earn Register Rewards. A couple months ago, a cashier explained to me that it rings up differently and won’t give the appropriate credit. (They were very nice about it and ended up doing a manual override.) I could not figure out what I’d done wrong today (the cashier thought my coupons had messed it up, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t it) until after I left the store and remembered that piece of advice from months ago.

    October 15, 2007 6:44 PM
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    Anonymous Angela said…

    People aren’t very nice in MD and it seems we really have to work hard to get any half way good deals at all. If you ask for a discount or a coupon you know should go through and it doesn’t go through they treat you like your inconveincing them. Anybody have advice on how to deal with it?

    October 16, 2007 7:37 AM
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    Blogger Megan said…

    I just did two Walgreens trips in the last two days. My biggest tip is to CHECK YOUR RECEIPTS. The people were very friendly and helpful, but both times I was overcharged.

    The first time four out of fourteen of my coupons did not go through. Also, my $10 Register Reward didn’t print. I didn’t notice the coupons until I got home (so I returned the products the next day), but thankfully I noticed the Register Reward error when I got to my car. The manager was very nice and gave me a gift card for the amount.

    The next day, an extra charge showed up on my receipt. That, too, was immediately taken care of, but only because I noticed it.

    When I gave my coupons to the lady the second day, they all went through. She had me give her the store coupons first and then the manufacturing coupons. She said it works better that way.

    Thanks Crystal, for your helpful hints, and for posting all the good deals you find. What a huge blessing you are!

    October 18, 2007 2:32 PM
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    Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I’ve been a fan of Walgreens since growing up in NW Indiana but I didn’t know all these tips and I never realized you could stack store & manufacturer’s coupons. With your info I’m ready to try tomorrow for some good deals. Thanks!

    October 26, 2007 9:21 PM
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    Anonymous DoubleD said…

    So how do you guys get manufactures coupons?

    October 29, 2007 1:46 PM
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    Anonymous Gin said…

    I know this is a bit late, but as I understand the number of coupons rule, you can have 1 store coupon/item and 1 manufacturer coupon/item. Thing is, the RR reads as a manufacturer coupon. That is when you need an extra item to fill it out.

    October 31, 2007 10:46 AM
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    Blogger Tania said…

    I am trying to fill out the rebate form and when it says to circle the price and write the offer number on the receipt–What is the offer number??? I am thinking this is really easy, but it went completely over my head. (-: Please help me!!

    November 12, 2007 3:22 PM
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    Blogger Billie said…

    I am humbly excited! I am humbled because I thought I was frugal and new how to take advantage of deals…but I was wrong! You all are true deal makers! I have never done the Walgreens or CVS thing and will be excited to try this. I also am trying to drastically reduce my grocery bill. It’s almost overwhelming at first!

    Thanks for all of the great advice. I’m going to blog about my money savings journey on my blog! http://www.lifelaughterchaos.blogspot.com

    November 16, 2007 6:48 AM
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    Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I’ve had good luck at our local Walgreen’s. I always go in on Thursdays when they have restocked the shelves. That way I also never have to go across town.
    I’d check with your local Walgreens and see when they stock their shelves.

    December 28, 2007 12:55 PM
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    Blogger Erin said…

    I have a question about filling out the Easy Saver rebate form. Where it asks for a quantity do I put the number of items I circled for that rebate (ie. 4 12 packs of coca-cola) or is it the number of rebates I will be getting for that item?
    It’s my first time and I’ll be getting $20 back! I’m THRILLED!! Thanks for all the helpful hints!

    January 26, 2008 2:52 PM
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    Blogger KaseyQ said…

    Here’s my question- where are the Register Rewards advertised? I went up and down the aisles of my Walgreens this week and I combed the store flier, and I didn’t see ANYTHING about Register Rewards! What am I missing? I would love to take advantage of these! Is it possible they aren’t offered at my store?

    January 26, 2008 7:39 PM
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    Blogger Kasie @ ~The Art of Life~ said…

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing all your hard-earned advice! I truly appreciate it.
    I had a question that might seem silly, but I’m trying to make sure that I have this correct.
    If an item is free after rebate and you use your Walgreens gift card to pay for it, do you still get the amount that it was worth back? Or do you have to pay cash in order to get the rebate? Thanks!

    February 08, 2008 10:36 AM
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    Anonymous LuvTahoe said…

    “REGISTER REWARDS” are advertised in the weekly store flyer. As far as I know the stores should all have the same sales/deals going on except for maybe clearance items. For example this week Walgreens has on page 15***Gillettte Fusion Phenom Razor on sale for $9.99 and it states you will receive $6.00 register rewards to use as cash on your next visit making this $3.99 a pretty good deal but wait..if you combine this with a manufactuer coupon of $4.00 off this item is FREE even better. I found this coupon in the Sunday paper for 2/10 P&G. Every area is different but if you would like to learn more about locating coupons you can email me.

    nateandautumn@att.net

    February 11, 2008 6:19 PM
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    Blogger Kathryn & Kevin said…

    I’ve been shopping at Walgreen’s forever and never knew about the new Register Rewards. Either I didn’t buy the right products or I just never paid close enough attention to the receipt. Thanks for providing this information.

    February 18, 2008 7:38 AM
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    Blogger Becky said…

    I have had two different Walgreens handle the same situation two different ways. I was purchasing an item that qualified for Register Rewards. I also had a coupon for the item resulting in an overage. The cashier knew the item was giving RR and refused to take the coupon too. He said that I had to choose either the RR or the coupon and that if I used the coupon the RR would not print. I decided not to buy the item there at all.

    My next trip to Walgreens, I attempted the same transaction using my coupon AND…. my RR did print. The cashier said nothing about taking advantage of both the RR and the coupon.

    I think the cashier at the first store was one who like some treat the deals we do as wrong????

    February 28, 2008 9:43 AM
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    Anonymous Sadeleri said…

    Wow I came across your great site! Funny I was just complaining today about what Becky mentioned above. Walgreens 3/2/8 ad says all OLAY soap $2/4 PLUS RR and all colours/varietys of OLAY had RR stickers on the shelf. However only the blue one were spitting out RR. They put some aside for me and said they’d check into it and for me to call Mon. However, I still got a snotty comment from the Manager who said “You know other peopl were happy just to get the soap for Free even w/o the RR. Excuse me? I specifically didn’t use my coupons st Rite Aid last week so I could do this deal at Walgreens 3/2/8-3/9/8 :(

    March 02, 2008 11:04 PM
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    Blogger Tessah5702 said…

    Tania – I was wondering the same thing about the offer number – I think I figured it out. It is the bold number in the upper left corner by the product listing in the EasySaver catalog. They can also be found on the website – http://www.walgreens.com/store/rebateclub.jsp
    For example – Yes to Carrots body butter is offer #8. Sneaky – but findable:) Hooray for free stuff!

    March 13, 2008 7:20 PM
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    Blogger Lily said…

    And if you don’t have insurance, you can get a prescription discount card. I found a very good one at http://www.rxdrugcard.com. Low membership fee. Drug prices posted. Check it out!

    March 14, 2008 11:25 AM
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    Blogger The CFO Now said…

    So wait! On my very first trip when I’m getting my first rebate card, I shouldn’t stack with other coupons right? Because then there wouldn’t be anything for them to rebate me back with if I got it for free to start with, right? So basically all the free after coupons deals I should stay away from, but free after rebate I could do? Then the next time I could start doing free after coupons when I’m using my card?

    Am I overthinking this?

    March 18, 2008 8:36 AM
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    Blogger ~wenhether~ said…

    WOW! Thanks for this info. They are opening up a Walgreens right down the road from here…guess I am going to have to make it my new hang out!!

    April 07, 2008 8:12 AM
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    Blogger April said…

    This is wonderful.

    I’m trying to use coupons and save money. This really helps me out. Thanks for sharing.

    April 27, 2008 7:09 PM
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    Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just found your website – really helpful – thanks for doing it!

    Did my 1st super-coupon trip to Walgreens. It was such fun! I did lay out some $$ this first time, but everything I bought I needed, was a good value, AND was 50% off retail or better (Dove clearance cookies for 9 cents – woo-hoo!)
    I’m really looking forward to when the rebate gift card business gets rolling.

    Thanks-

    CDC

    May 16, 2008 12:09 PM