5 Ways to Stop Wasting Money at the Drugstore

by on March 7th, 2015
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Neighborhood drugstores are convenient pitstops for everything from groceries to household products, but the expansive selection and unique setup make it easy to overspend. If I am not careful, those tiny shopping carts can lead to big totals at the cash register. I reviewed my shopping habits and found five simple ways to avoid wasting money at the drugstore.

1. View the ad in advance.
I like to scour the sales ad in advance to determine if it is worth going to a particular drugstore. The ads sometimes match coupons with sale items, making it easy for me to remember to gather the right coupons.

2. Make a list to help avoid impulse buys and expensive convenience items.
Drugstores have a virtual minefield of impulse buys with diverse temptations including electronics, single-serve beverages, lucky bamboo plants and infomercial fodder. It seems as though there is an impulse buy for every sensibility. I make a shopping list with a firm spending limit to help me avoid distractions and keep extra items out of my shopping cart. Grocery items, like milk, are worth buying if they are a good price. Otherwise, it is cheaper to go to the grocery store when I need more than one or two items to patch my food supply.

3. Scrutinize sales and clearance tags.
Steeply discounted sale and clearance items may seem like a bargain, but it is important to look at the actual price instead of the supposed savings. For example, I found a clearance bag of coffee at CVS for approximately $8, but passed because it was too close to the expiration date for that price. I went to Target and found fresher bags of the same coffee for $7.99 with seasonal flavors reduced to $5.58.

4. Go shopping without young kids in tow.
Although kids need opportunities to learn and practice good behavior, the drugstore is not a fun place for younger kids who are prone to tantrums and meltdowns. Zhu Zhu Pets, jumbo candy bars and similar items are on display throughout the store and near the cash registers, making it hard for little ones not to notice them.

5. Spend instant rebates as soon as possible.
Instant rewards and rebates that print at the register are nice perks, but they have short expiration dates. That means I risk forgetting to use them or having to redeem them on expensive products during a bad sale week. Instead, I break my shopping list into separate transactions so I can receive the rewards on one order and hop back in line to redeem them on my second order.

More from this Contributor:
5 Ways Sales Can Make or Break Your Grocery Budget
Tips for Coping with New Coupon Policies
Guide to Using Digital Grocery Coupons


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