I seriously have the BEST friends ever (who just happen to be awesome bloggers too)! Since I’m still having a tough time with my arm, my pal Gianna from Nouveau Cheap was kind enough to share some of her tips & tricks with Beauty Junkies Unite readers for saving mega bucks when shopping for the best in beauty at the drugstore. She’s known for her sale-savvy spending and always winds up scoring the best deals. I hope this helps you too! —xo, Amber
I was absolutely thrilled when my pal Amber asked me if I would write a post for BJU. If you’re reading this, I think we can all agree that this blog is nothing but awesome. So getting a chance to contribute to this awesomeness is a pure delight for me. Amber, I hope I don’t let you down!
I thought it might be fun to give you, dear BJU readers, a little how-to or cheat-sheet for the next time you’re itching for a drugstore beauty fix. There are many “insider” tips and tricks that can really help you maximize your savings and never, ever pay full price for a drugstore beauty product again (well, unless you want to). So let’s get right into it!
1) Coupons are your friend. There are many types of coupons available to us these days, and if you’re planning to buy drugstore beauty products, don’t leave your house without some coupons in your purse. There are traditional manufacturer’s coupons (the ones that come in the Sunday paper, in magazines, in the mail, and even appear on makeup displays themselves), printable manufacturer’s coupons (the kind you can print instantly from the comfort of your computer from sites like RedPlum.com, AllYou.com and Coupons.com) and then of course there are store coupons (coupons that appear in drugstore weekly circulars, etc. that are issued directly from the drugstore itself).
2) You can “stack” coupons! In other words, if you play your cards right, you can use TWO coupons for ONE item, but you have to follow this simple rule: generally speaking, most drugstores will let you “stack” coupons only if you’re using one manufacturer’s coupon and one store coupon. Here’s an example: Let’s say you spot a coupon in the Walgreens weekly circular for $1 off Dial Body Wash. Now, let’s say you also clipped a $1 Dial Body Wash coupon from your Sunday paper a few weeks ago. Guess what? Since the Walgreens coupon is a store coupon, and the Sunday paper coupon is a manufacturer’s coupon, you can use BOTH coupons toward a purchase of one Dial Body Wash!
3) If you’re going to use coupons, patience is a virtue. In order to maximize your savings, save your coupons until there’s a sale on the product you’d like to purchase. Sure it’s great to use the two $1 Dial Body Wash coupons I mentioned above to save two bucks off the full retail price. But if you wait until Dial Body Wash goes on sale (which it often does), well NOW we’re talkin’! Let’s say Dial Body Wash, which is usually around $4.99 a bottle, goes on sale for $2.99. Use your store coupon and your manufacturer’s coupon and now you’re looking at a full-size bottle of Dial Body Wash for just 99 cents. Bingo!
4) Be a detective when it comes to weekly drugstore sales. For most parts of the country, the big three drugstores (Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens) run their weekly sales from Sunday to Saturday (if you live in a test market, these days can vary a bit). But generally speaking, the new sales start on Sunday and they end the following Saturday. But the great thing is that many websites (like IHeartRiteAid.com, IHeartCVS.com and IHeartWags.com) have this information available several days in advance. This can really help you devise a game plan and figure out which coupons you want to use at each store (especially since you have to keep track of each coupon’s expiration date). Let’s say you get the Sunday paper and clip a good coupon for $1 Pantene haircare. Well, usually the big three drugstores will run sales in conjunction with the Sunday paper coupons, so you need to figure out which sale is the best (ie: which sale will help you save the most money). This can all be easily achieved by checking these drugstore sites and planning ahead. I swear, this is actually more fun than it seems. After you get into a groove, it becomes a game of strategy and you’ll love seeing how much money you can save within a given week.
5) Don’t be a snob to drugstore membership rewards programs. I tell my readers this all the time: pay attention to membership rewards—they can be the difference between getting that Dial Body Wash for 99 cents and getting it FOR FREE. Here’s a quick breakdown of the big three drugstores and their membership programs:
a. Rite Aid: The Wellness+ program is relatively new but it absolutely ROCKS. It’s free to join, and by doing so, you can take advantage of the weekly sales and +UP Rewards. Here’s an example of a deal that’s going on at Rite Aid this week: All Maybelline products are 40% off (awesome!) and if you purchase a Maybelline mascara, you will receive $1 back in +UP Rewards. In other words, Rite Aid is giving you $1 back, which will print at the bottom of your receipt, and can be used toward your next Rite Aid purchase. There are tons of other advantages to the Wellness+ program, but that’s the biggie, and it’s well worth the two minutes it takes to sign up.
b. CVS: The Extra Care program is one of the best when it comes to the world of drugstore shopping. Not only do you get to take advantage of weekly sales, but you also get to take advantage of CVS Extra Care Bucks (which are just like Rite Aid +UP Rewards). In other words, if you purchase a qualifying item (which will be clearly listed in the weekly circular as well as in-store), you will receive a certain amount of Extra Bucks back at the time of purchase (they’ll print out on your receipt). Lots of times CVS will run a deal where if you purchase, say, $10 worth of Revlon cosmetics, you’ll receive $3 back in Extra Bucks. Well guess what? If you happen to also have a Revlon coupon (there was $1 Revlon coupon in last week’s newspaper), you can purchase a $10 mascara for just $6 ($1 coupon + $3 Extra Bucks). Also, there’s a red CVS coupon/scanner box inside every CVS location that should NOT be ignored. Scan your Extra Care Card at this box EVERY time you go to CVS for even MORE coupons ($4 off a $20 purchase, etc.). And remember: If the red coupon box gives you a coupon for a specific product, this is a store coupon, which means you can “stack” it with a manufacturer’s coupon, if you have one.
c. Walgreens: Wags doesn’t have a reward program, per say, but they do offer something called Register Rewards. They function much like Rite Aid +UP Rewards and CVS Extra Care Bucks, in that they will print at the bottom of your receipt and you can use them toward your next Wags purchase. The great thing about Wags Register Rewards is that they often make the item FREE or very close to it. An example: this week Walgreens has the new Carmex lotions on sale for $4.99 with $4 back in Register Rewards. These lotions normally retail for over $7 each, so this is an excellent deal (and remember: if you also happen to have a $1 Carmex coupon, that would make this lotion FREE). Also, Wags releases a coupon booklet every month (available near the entrance) with TONS of store coupons for beauty products. Combine these with any manufacturer’s coupons you may have, and you’re looking at an excellent savings.
I hope these tips are helpful for those of you who are new to the wonders of drugstore beauty. After a little while, it becomes easier and easier until one day, it will become second nature to you. And then suddenly, you’ll be scoring free razors, shampoo and toothpaste galore!