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Spending Money to Save Money… Not at CVS

A reader recently asked me if I ever spend money to save money and then provided the following example:

I have a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase at CVS. Usually, my CVS purchases are small – a card, shampoo, etc. But, would you stock up on supplies that you don’t need now but will eventually use to “save” $10?

I have so many thoughts on this topic that I’m not sure where to begin. I’m a crazy coupon clipping, Sunday morning, drugstore shopper. So my idea of stocking up is a bit extreme. I clip and organize coupons each week and use a number of online sites to match those coupons with weekly drugstore sales. Using this technique I’ve managed to stock up on shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, razors and shaving gel for free or practically free.

While I’m all for searching for a good bargain I am not a fanatical drugstore shopper. I’ve seen blogs that promote buying 30 tubes of toothpaste in one visit to the store or forty boxes of cereal. I don’t stock up to this degree. I buy one tube of toothpaste and call it a day, but if the drugstore runs another sale on toothpaste the next week I might go and pick up another tube. I typically shop at CVS and Rite Aid, because they are both very close to my home.

Having said that if I did not stock up on products this way I would not typically shop at CVS, because it is one of the most expensive stores in my area.

My advice to the reader is not to stock up on items at CVS unless she can buy a number of items that are on sale and/or has a stack of coupons for the items she wants to buy. Otherwise after using the $10 coupon I bet she would save no more money than if she bought the same exact items at another store.

In my opinion the 20% savings rate on this particular coupon is not worth it. If the coupon provided $4 off a $20 purchase I might consider it worthwhile, but a coupon should not lure you to spend an additional $40. I think you’d be better off buying the items week by week as they go on sale.

WorkingMom

Friday 20th of August 2010

I usually try to buy my health and beauty goods at Target when they're on sale AND I have a 10% off coupon from my Target Visa. I do shop at CVS when certain items are on sale and I have a coupon for them.

One cost-saving measure I've used FREQUENTLY this year is that CVS honors other stores' prescription transfer coupons. With a few strep throats under our belts, I was able to get gift cards for $10 and even $25 every time a new prescription was called in; the medication was needed anyway, I got "free money", and CVS got the business.