Jan. 24, 2011 -- Chrissy Pate, co-founder of the website BeCentsAble.net learned how to trim her own grocery bills by 50 percent to 80 percent and then went on to teach workshops and co-author a book to show other people how to do the same. We got Pate to share some of her secrets with us right here.
Pate says to really ramp up your savings on food, personal care items and household supplies, drugstore strategies are crucial. It's the one venue where you can not only save money, but sometimes even make money.
That's right, if you're savvy about combining coupons, rebates and rewards, you sometimes walk away with a pile of drugstore merchandise and get money back! Here's what Pate and her partner, Kristin McKee, have to say about drugstore strategies:
Walgreens offers shoppers a wide variety of store coupons in its weekly sales ad and in the Walgreens store coupon book (found in stores). These store coupons can be used with manufacturer's coupons.
Kraft dressing is on sale for $1.99. Use a 50 cents off manufacturer's coupon. Use with a 50 cents off Walgreen's coupon.
Final Price: 99 cents.
Walgreens also offers a Register Rewards (RR) program as an additional store incentive. The offer is usually "buy X amount (dollars or quantity) and receive $X in Register Rewards." Register Rewards (RR) print out at the register at the completion of your transaction and are good on your next purchase. Make sure to watch the expiration date on these rewards.
Kellogg's cereal is on sale, two for $5. Get $2 in Register Rewards (store credit) when you buy two. Pay $5. Get $2.00 in Register Rewards (store credit).
Final price: $3 for two boxes, or $1.50 each.
You can also use coupons with Register Rewards to score some great deals.
Kellogg's cereal is on sale, two for $5. Get $2 in Register Rewards (store credit) when you buy two. Use a buy one, get one free manufacturer's coupon. Pay $2.50 for two boxes. Get $2 in Register Rewards (store credit).
Final price: 50 cents for two boxes, or 25 cents each.
The Low-Down on the Discounts
CVS has an excellent incentive program, Extra Care Rewards, where you earn Extra Care Bucks on specific product purchases. ECBs can be used like cash at all CVS stores. This program offers you the opportunity to get many items for next to nothing, free or even with overage. To participate in the Extra Care Reward program all you need is a CVS Extra Care card, which you can request in the store or online.
Extra Care Bucks can be earned in two ways. First, you will receive 2 percent of your cumulative spending at the end of each quarter. Second, ECBs can be earned when you buy certain advertised items in the weekly sales ad. Extra Care Bucks will be printed at the end of your receipt. Be sure to check for them before tossing the receipt.
Crest toothpaste is $2.99. Pay $2.99. Get $2.99 in ECB (store credit).
Final Price: FREE.
Manufacturer's coupons can be used on items that also have ECB offers.
Crest toothpaste $2.99 each. Use a $1.00 off manufacturer's coupon. Pay $1.99. Get $2.99 (ECB store credit).
Final price: You profited a dollar in store credit and got free toothpaste.
Rite Aid has store coupons in their weekly sales ad. Rite Aid also has videos you can watch about the latest products and then you get exclusive in-store coupons.
These store coupons can be used with manufacturer's coupons.
Hormel Compleats are on sale for $1.99. Use 75 cents off manufacturer's coupon. Use with 50 cents off Rite Aid Video Values coupon.
Final price: 74 cents.
Another great way to save is using the +UP Rewards Program. This program is very similar to the Extra Bucks Programs at CVS and Register Rewards at Walgreens. You can also use coupons with this program to get items at rock bottom prices.
Hormel Compleats are on sale for $1.99. Get $1 +UP Rewards (store credit). Use 75 cents off manufacturer's coupon. Use with 50 cents off Rite Aid Video Values coupon. Pay 74 cents. Get $1 +UP Rewards (store credit).
Even More Savings
Rite Aid has a rebate program called Single Check Rebate or SCR. You can enter your receipts online at Rite Aid throughout the program month so you don't have to mail anything in.
To learn more about how to save big bucks at the nation's drug stores, try one of Pate and McKee's affordable online workshops, available here: http://www.becentsable.net/workshops/.
To see what's on sale this week at national stores, and coupons that are available to combine with those sales, here is another great link: http://www.becentsable.net/store-deals/.