Over the past two and a half years I dramatically cut back on clipping coupons and scouring drugstores in search of freebies. My primary reason was a desire to save time. It was a royal pain in the you know what to drag my infant son around from store to store, pull him out of the car seat, find a way to occupy him while I shopped, distract him while we waited in long lines and strap him back into the car.
I haven’t played the drugstore games for quite a long time, but when I found myself walking out of Rite Aid two weeks ago with $15 worth of +UP Rewards I could feel the urge to restart the coupon clipping madness. You can’t use +UP Rewards on the same day you receive them, which is of course Rite Aid’s tricky way of forcing you to return to the store to buy more items, so I knew I’d be back another day.
I typically purchase vitamins through Amazon’s subscribe and save program. The combination of already low prices plus a 20% discount makes the final cost difficult to beat. For some reason I marked my frequency of shipments as every two months rather than every month and by the time I ran out it would have taken too long to receive the next bottle, so I dragged myself to the drugstore one Sunday afternoon and paid way more than necessary for vitamins. As a result of that purchase I earned $15 worth of +UP Rewards.
The following Sunday I was back in the store buying other products I needed. This time I spent a mere $1.68 out of pocket and received another $8 worth of +UP Rewards, thereby continuing the cycle. A few days later I was determined to use that coupon and end this madness but couldn’t pass up another deal resulting in a $6 coupon. Each time I walked into the store I spent less than $3, but I still had to plan my purchase, get to the store, wait in line and drive back home. This all resulted in much more time than I wanted to spend. I saved a good deal of money with those last two purchases, but when I accounted for my time it just wasn’t worth it.
What’s worse I found that a combination of sales, coupons and +UP Rewards often isn’t that much cheaper than buying the same products at BJ’s or Costco. So why go to the hassle of driving to the store every week, keeping track of just how much of a product I have on hand, reading through store circulars and clipping coupons when I can stock up on a product at a warehouse store and not need to shop again for three to four months.
I save a lot of time by shopping at warehouse stores three or four times a year. I also think my year end spending is pretty close to the prices I pay at drugstores without all of the work. I certainly spend less on unplanned items. While in the grocery store I was tempted to buy everything from cereal to large bouncy balls. I didn’t need any of those products despite the big signs alerting me to their sale prices.
Needless to say I wanted to end the Rite Aid +UP Rewards cycle and purchased one last item to use my last coupon. Wouldn’t you know the Rite Aid register had something else in mind. It printed out a coupon for $15 off $30 to be used on any purchase. Ugh!