Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Anatomy of a Deal

I was thinking today that I never really explain how I go about planning what I'm going to buy. These Walgreens trips required a bit of planning, so I thought I'd share the process.

End Goal: As many Gillette razors as possible: $8.99 - $4 coupon + $6 RR back = $1.01 profit. I ordered 20 extra coupons from ebay, so I have aways to go.

What I Could Do: Go into a store, buy a razor and use my coupon, pay $4.99 OOP and get back my $6 RR, repeat, repeat, repeat. But the problem with this is that I'll be spending tons of money OOP and will accumulate tons of $6 RR's that are only good for two weeks. No go.

What's Even Better: Plan a way to use my Gillette RR's to buy something else that produces RR's, then use those RR's to buy more Gillette. Ok we have a plan! Its all about the math now.

Starting off, I had one $6 Gillette RR, a bunch of $1 Halls RR's and three $2 Herbal Essence RR's (from last week). Since I can't use my Gillette RR to buy more Gillette, that leaves the Herbal Essence and Halls. I wanted to buy one more Halls, so I knew I couldn't use any of those RR's to pay. That leaves my three $2 Herbal Essence RR's. I'd need to buy at least three filler items since I'm using three RR's. Since I'm using a coupon on the razor, that can't count as one of my items. The razor costs $4.99 after coupon, so I need to buy three extra items and get my total as close to $6 as possible. $6 minus $4.99 equals $1.01 so I went hunting through the circular for something close to $1.01. I decided to buy:
  • Gillette Fusion MVP Manual or Power Razor System $8.99, used $4 coupon (9/27 P&G) and got back $6 RR = $1.01 profit
  • Halls Refresh Sugar Free Drops (20 ct) $1, used $1 coupon (9/27 SS) and got back $1 RR = $1 profit *Used up my last coupon, this zeroes out after coupon so I didn't include it in my calculations
  • Velveeta shells & cheese $1.49
  • 2 Halloween pencils $0.13 each with in-circular coupon
  • Used three $2 RR's, total was $0.65
The Velveeta brought me up to $6, but I needed the two pencils as filler items so I'd have enough items vs. coupons. That used up my Herbal Essence RR's, and now since I have some Gillette RR's, I might as well figure out how I'm going to use them. Here goes:
  • Vaseline Sheer Infusion Lotion 6.8 oz $6.99, got back $7 RR = FREE/$0.01 profit
  • Halloween pencil $0.13 with in-circular coupon
  • Used $6 RR (Gillette) and $1 RR (Halls), total was $0.62
Since I'm not using any coupons on the lotion (waited too long to print them and now they aren't available anymore), this scenario was easier to plan. Two items, two RR's. Easy as pie.

Now I have some Vaseline RR's in my pocket that I can use to buy more Gillette.
  • Gillette Fusion MVP Manual or Power Razor System $8.99, used $4 coupon (9/27 P&G) and got back $6 RR = $1.01 profit
  • Chapstick Fresh Effects $2.99, got back $3 RR = FREE/$0.01 profit
  • Halloween pencil $0.13 with in-circular coupon
  • Used $7 RR (Vaseline) and $1 RR (Halls), total was $0.96
On my last scenario, I ran out of Halls RR's to use, so...
  • Gillette Fusion MVP Manual or Power Razor System $8.99, used $4 coupon (9/27 P&G) and got back $6 RR = $1.01 profit
  • Halls Refresh Sugar Free Drops (20 ct) $1, got back $1 RR = FREE (out of coupons)
  • Velveeta shells & cheese $1.49
  • Used $7 RR (Vaseline), total was $1.11 *Probably could have gotten this lower, but I planned this one in the store. I never do as well when I do this.

Got all that? ;) I repeated a bunch of the scenarios a couple times. I love shopping after work when the teenage cashiers are working. They could care less about how many transactions I'd like to do (I usually limit myself to two per store), how many coupons I have, etc. Its great! And with the promotion I got at work a couple months back, I'm now working in a different part of the state. On the way home, there is Walgreens Way. Its a stretch of highway (right on my way home, I don't even have to detour) where there are...count 'em!...four Walgreens all within 15 minutes of each other! Oh, its so wonderful! They are all very well stocked on the monthly deal items, so I haven't had any problems finding what I want.

With all this Walgreens shopping, we can't neglect CVS! I had a $6 EB expiring today, otherwise I probably would have passed on these deals.

  • Tone bar soap (2-3 pk) $1.88, used $1 coupon and got back $1 EB (Limit 1) = $0.12 profit
  • Colgate 360 Acti Flex Toothbrush $2.99, used $1 coupon (9/27 SS or here) and got back $2 EB (Limit 1) = FREE/$0.01 profit
  • Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers $3, used $1 coupon (October All You magazine) and will send in for TMF/Satisfaction Guarantee (Oct. All You mag) = $1 profit
  • CVS recycled school box $1.99, got back $1.99 EB = FREE *Raincheck from 8/16-8/22
  • 4 J&J Travel First Aid Kits $0.99 each, used four $1 coupons (4th adjusted to $0.96, 8/2 SS), got back $4 EB ($2 EB WYB 2) = $4 profit *Raincheck from 8/16-8/22
  • Used $6 EB, total was $1.29


News Around The Blogs said...

I wish I could go shopping with you!

frugalsuz said...

Its really not as fun as it looks. I'm sure my boyfriend would agree. :) There was a woman ahead of me who was bragging to the cashier how she was ONLY paying $5 for two bottles of aspirin. I had to bite my tongue, especially when she said "You can't do better than that". She paid her $30+ total and left, then I checked out and paid under $1.

gjuliano728 said...

I was at wags today and was told by two cashiers the coupon policy had changed. According to them, you can only use one RR per transaction and you can't combine a RR with a manf. coupon. Is this true????


frugalsuz said...

Sigh, if I had a nickel for every time a cashier told me the policies had changed...

No, that's absolutely not true. If you look at page 11 of this week's circular on the Dove deal, notice how it says "Coupon savings in most Sunday papers". If Walgreens weren't accepting coupons on items that produce RR's, why would they put a note about a coupon in their own circular?

And the wording on the RR's says - total # of coupons/RR's cannot exceed number of items in the transaction. It doesn't say you can only use one per transaction at all, but many folks misinterpret the policies or aren't properly trained. You could try pointing this out to them, but you may have yourself a coupon unfriendly store unfortunately. Are there any others you can shop at instead?

gjuliano728 said...

Yes, there is another Wags I can go to. In fact, it's the one I usually go to. I just was in the area of the other one and thought "why drive across town when there's a Walgreens right here." Well, I'm going to drive across town from now on. I can' tell you how mad they made me. I KNEW they were wrong! Thanks for getting back to me.

Laurie said...

This is a great post! Walgreens is definitely the most difficult store to explain.

annathy03 said...

Great explaination Suz! WAGS is definately the hardest to get (esp if a cashier doesn't know the rules), but they have some great deals!

jcnkevin said...

How do you get your totals down so low at Walgreens? The lowest I can ever get them down is around $1.50 or $2 because of tax. It won't let me use more Register Rewards than tax.

gjuliano728 said...

I went to a different Walgreens today and was able to use my manf. coupons and RR with no problem. I'm NEVER going back to that other Walgreens. I was so pleased because I got over $55 worth of stuff for less than $3 after RR and coupons. This happen to include nasal spray that wasn't on sale or have RR - just something I really needed for my husband. (Of course, this absolutely KILLED me to buy, but what are you gonna do?!)

News Around The Blogs said...

Holy Cow, I ran out to Walgreens late in the day and got some great deals!

frugalsuz said...

That's always the way isn't it? The best stores are those that are furthest away. At least we have options though!

It really can be, especially if you're not familiar with all the Walgreens rules.

I know, the deals have been great lately. And one thing I love about WAG's is that you can go back for more and more, vs CVS where you're limited to a certain amount of product.

That's right, RR's can't be used towards your tax. So when I'm planning my scenarios, I don't even attempt to figure out what the tax will be. I just calculate things based on the prices, and try to get it as low as possible. It helps to buy food - no tax here in NJ on that.

That's awesome! Sometimes it hurts less to buy non-sale items when you can use RR's to pay. You'd have to spend those RR's in two weeks on something anyway!