The holiday shopping season is a great time of year to kick off a lucrative cycle of collecting rebates and rewards at drugstores. Why? Because there are lots of party supplies and stocking stuffers available at drugstores, so it's a good time to spend a bit of money at these types of stores, to get yourself started.
Drugstore rebate and rewards programs are a way to not only SAVE BIG, but to actually make money! As you know, leading up to the publication of my book, "SAVE BIG," every week in this column, I'm previewing some of the great money-saving information I've gathered.
Rebates are offers you have to apply for and rewards are offers that give you store credit. If you do it right, you can save so much at the drugstore that you will have more money to spend at the grocery store. It's such a smart strategy. I mean, wouldn't you rather put your money into T-bone steak than toilet bowl cleaner?
I will detail programs at CVS and Walgreen's in this column, because they are the biggest. Rite-Aid has similar savings programs, and you can apply many of these principals at regional drugstore chains, too.
Rebates are a pain. There, I've said it. But they are also full of possibility. That's why we're going to talk about them anyway. Rebates are those offers where you have to mail in your proof of purchase and other paperwork and the company sends you a check.
That's the pain. Here's the possibility: Because you can often combine rebates with coupons or sales, you sometimes make money on them. If your purchase price was low enough, then your rebate check represents a profit. That, I like! If you don't pursue rebates you are leaving money on the table.
But I am ever mindful of the need to save time as well as money. So is it worth it to apply for rebates? Maybe. It depends how much time you have. A personal story, my eye doctor recently suggested that I hold a warm wash cloth to my eyes for two minutes every evening to help my dry eyes, and I told her, "I'm sorry. I can't do that. I don't have two minutes to spare." Really.
If your life is crazy like that, set a threshold for yourself. Decide how generous a rebate has to be before you'll apply: $5? $20? $50? Whatever amount is meaningful to you. Forget the rest. It's small stuff. Savings.
If you're going to cash in on rebates, learn to look for them. Some are obvious, because they're advertised or they show up on your register receipt, but there are other rebates available that you may not know about. Here are some sources of rebates:
Sunday manufacturer circulars.
Manufacturer Web sites in the promotions section.
Your grocery store customer service desk. All you have to do is ask.
Drugstore rebate books.
Rebate Web sites
Rebate Web Sites
Rebate Web sites are a source of rebate offers, but they also provide other valuable services. Some allow you to apply for your rebate online instead of doing the endless cutting and pasting and mailing of forms. These sites also help you track your rebates.
It's great! You are putting the company that made the offer on notice that you are watching. They can track that you are tracking them. This helps solve the common complaint that rebate checks never arrive.