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Are you a new frugal mom who's trying to stretch her family's budget, get dinner on the table, and stay sane in the chaos of modern family life?

The New Frugal Mom is a site dedicated to sharing practical ideas for frugal living to help you save both time and money.

January 17, 2009

Back to Basics: Walgreens Explained

Shopping the deals at Walgreens, is a little trickier than at CVS (my explanation of how shopping CVS can save you big money is right here) because there are more ways to save and because of a different register system that requires a little more attention to detail on your part when you're handing over your coupons.

I did have a version of this on my first blog; here it is again in as few steps as I can detail it.

Back to Basics: Walgreens Explained

As always, first check the store locator for Walgreens to find the closest one to you. If there isn't one close to you, skip reading this post. Your time is too valuable to waste!

First, let's detail the different types of coupons you can use at Walgreens:

Manufacturer Coupons
These are your Sunday insert coupons, printable coupons, peelies, blinkies, etc.

Register Rewards
These are catalinas (coupons that print at point of sale) for a certain value that can be used like cash on your next purchase at Walgreens. Each week, a few items at Walgreens generate RRs at point of sale; some weeks have more than others. Check your ad carefully. Two important points to remember:

* The cash register system at Walgreens classifies a Register Reward as a Manufacturer Coupon; and,

* You CANNOT use Register Rewards you earned on one product to then buy the same product again. This is a critical point, and is different than the ECB system at CVS, where you can use ECBs earned on one product to then buy the same product again.

(A CVS example: assuming a limit of (2) for this deal, you buy toothpaste for $2.99, earn $2.99 in ECBs, then buy a second tube of toothpaste for $2.99 and pay with the $2.99 in ECBs you earned on the first transaction; this works with ECBs at CVS but DOES NOT work with Register Rewards at Walgreens.).

*You CAN use Register Rewards to buy a DIFFERENT product that earns Register Rewards, and then you can "rollover" the second set of Register Rewards by using them to make a second purchase of the first product you bought.

(A Walgreens example: You buy (1) tube of toothpaste at $2.99 that earns you back a $2.00 RR {Register Reward}. You make a second transaction, purchasing a razor for $9.99 that earns $6.00 RR. You hand your cashier your $2.00 RR from the first transaction and pay the difference of $7.99 and earn back $6.00 in RR. Then, you make a third transaction, purchasing the toothpaste again for $2.99 and $3.00 worth of goodies you need. Your total comes to $5.99 + tax; you pay for your third transaction with the $6.00 RR you earned in your second transaction and have $0.00 out-of-pocket (OOP) owed -- essentially, you get your third transaction for FREE. You also earn a new $2.00 RR on the toothpaste you purchased in that third transaction. This example is basic; you can add in manufacturer coupons to save even more.)

IVC (Instant Value Coupons) Coupons
These are the coupons found in the Walgreens Easy Saver Catalog for each month. You can print them from their website here or you can grab a copy of the ESCatalog from the front of the store (it's usually in a side pocket of the weekly ad rack).

These are Walgreens store coupons, which is different from the Maufacturer coupons mentioned above. This means you can "stack" a Walgreens IVC with a Manufacturer's coupon for even greater savings.

(Example: You purchase a tube of toothpaste for $2.99; you use an IVC from the Easy Saver Rebate Catalog for $1.50/1 on that toothpaste. You also use a Manufacturer coupon for $1/1 on that toothpaste. Your net cost after both coupons is $0.50 + tax.)

In-Ad Coupons
These are also Walgreens store coupons, meaning you can "stack" them with Manufacturer coupons just like you can with the IVC coupons.

These are found in the weekly ad circular; clip 'em and use 'em! You can also find printable versions here; you'll just need to enter your zipcode to get your local store ad.

Walgreens Store Coupons
If you're lucky enough to happen across these, grab 'em! Often, you'll find pamphlets of Walgreens store coupons near the pharmacy. Again, these are store coupons that can be "stacked" with manufacturer coupons.

Online Printable Walgreens Coupons
These are generally released monthly or quarterly, and usually for a certain dollar off your total purchase of a set amount. You'll need to register for a free account with Walgreens and opt to receive email updates to get these coupons in your inbox.

An important note about Walgreens $$/$$ printable coupons. The final total is calculated after ALL coupons are redeemed. Example: you get a $5/$20 printable Walgreens coupon in your email box. Your total must be $20 after ALL coupons (manufacturer and in-store) are redeemed.

The Easy Saver Rebate Program

**Walgreens has ENDED the Easy Saver Rebate Program, May 2009**

Remember the Easy Saver Catalog (ESC) I mentioned above when talking about the IVC (Instant Value Coupons)? The coupons are just one small part; the best part is the monthly rebate items located in the catalog.

Each month, Walgreens offers around 50 (sometimes more, sometimes less) items in their Easy Saver Catalog that earn you a cash rebate. Unlike the ECBs at CVS, this rebate does NOT print at the end of your receipt. Instead, you need to enter the receipts for each rebate item you purchased into Walgreens online system (you can still fill out the form inside the Easy Saver Catalog and send it in via USMail; doing it online is a bit faster and saves you a stamp). At the end of that month's rebate period, your full total of rebates will be tallied and Walgreens will send you a check for that amount.

BUT, you don't want a check. What you should do, IMHO, to increase your overall savings, is opt for the second choice that Walgreens offers for their Easy Saver Rebates: a Walgreens Gift Card for the amount of your rebates plus 10% of your total rebates.

(Example: you earn $10.00 in rebates for the month; opting to have your rebates loaded to a Walgreens gift card will earn you 10% more, or $1.00, giving you a full total of $11.00 on your gift card.)

You'll receive a Walgreens gift card for the first month you do a rebate; after that, you'll be asked when you're entering your receipts for the next month's rebate items if you would like a new gift card of if you would like your rebates loaded to your current gift card. Walgreens will email you to let you know when those rebate dollars are loaded (and ready to spend) on your gift card.

The ultimate goal is to "roll over" some or all of your rebate dollars each month by buying more items in the next month's Easy Saver Rebate Catalog. And if you can "grow" those dollars (increase them) by purchasing items that are FAR (Free After Rebate) with a current coupon, you'll be rocking and rolling!

(Example: Shampoo priced at $3.99 is FAR; use $1.00/1 coupon to purchase it for $2.99. Enter online or send in by mail for the rebate amount of $3.99 + 10% when loaded to your gift card. You'll receive $4.38 in rebates ($3.99 + $0.39) for an item you only spent $2.99 to purchase, a net gain of $1.40.)

Redeeming your Coupons

One big difference between using the ECB system at CVS and the varied methods of saving money at Walgreens is the difference in the way the registers at both stores accept coupons. While the CVS registers will accept total coupons than your total items (you have 3 items, but you have 4 coupons total), the Walgreens registers will NOT.

So, if you come up with a shopping scenario where you have (4) coupons for only (3) items, you'll need to add in a "filler", a small, low-priced item (scan the ad carefully and you'll see plenty of items under $0.50) to bring your item total up to (4). And remember, the cash registers recognize RRs (Register Rewards) as Manufacturer coupons so be sure to count those in your totals.

Also, you do need to be mindful of the order in which you hand your coupons over to the cashier. It actually does matter and can change your final total (or cause the register to beep mercilessly and frustrate the cashier).

The order in which you should hand your q's over to the cashier:

RRs, Walgreens Store Coupons (IVCs, In-Ad, other Store Coupons); Manufacturer Coupons, then, $$/$$ Walgreens Printable Coupon (example: $5/$20) if you happen to have one of these - they're rare but wonderful!

Bottom line, when redeeming your coupons at Walgreens, remember:

*Total Number of Items MUST = Total Number of Coupons

*RRs, Store Qs, MFR Qs, $$/$$ Qs

*****That's it!*****

You can see from all the different ways to save and ways to earn money at Walgreens that the savings can be quite significant - but it can also be quite confusing.

My best advice: start small. If you're new to shopping with coupons, learning the basics of couponing can be daunting enough. Give yourself a small budget to use each week at Walgreens and start off with small transactions so you can learn what works and what doesn't.

For help in finding the best deals each week and gaining more knowledge about how to build shopping scenarios at Walgreens, start bloghopping! Go visit my friend Andrea's weekly Walgreens Snack Summary; visit Denise's Drugstore Divas each week; and visit the mega-linkup of shoppers deals at Money Saving Mom each week.

You can also visit the girls over at Be CentsAble and check out their Grocery Gathering each week to find the best deals + coupon matchups for Walgreens.

Don't be afraid to chime in to this post or any of the other bloggers I mentioned (or any blog!) with a comment if you have a question or something isn't clear. All of us were once beginners, too! We remember very well how overwhelming it can be!

Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment - I'd love to hear what you think!


  1. I have a question. Why did you have buy buy 3 small items?? i'm confused on that part.

  2. newmami_rgv I'm assuming your asking about the example I used for the number of coupons vs. the number of items?

    At Walgreens, the total number of coupons you use must be equal to or less than the total number of items you purchase (whereas at CVS, your total coupons can exceed your total items). It's simply how the register system works at Walgreens.

    Does that answer your question or no? If not, could you clarify?


  3. hi! the lady at a Walgreens store just told me today that if you use RR for purchasing an item, you cant get another RR from it even if it's supposed to give you one per their weekly promo; she said the only way u can get the RR reward is when you pay with cash/credit card,etc. so this doesnt seem liek you can roll-over your RR as you have explained. so im a bit confused and would liek to knwo if youve actually done it and gotten new RR after using you previous RR from previous purchases. thanks! and i like your site, great tips from here! keep it going

  4. I've noticed that with the economy has different types of companies start up an easysaver program on their website. Sounds like everyone is doing some sort of spin now to keep up with the slowing sales.


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