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Even though I have written so much in this blog about “saving at the supermarket” over the past 7 years, saving money at the drugstore has become just as big a deal. So today, let’s take a look at what savings at your pharmacy can really mean to you and how much it affects your budget and life!
Pharmacy Sticker Shock
Drugstore sticker shock seems as if it is on everything from prescriptions to toilet paper. If you look around the store, it seems like it is a very real thing if we even attempt to shop for convenience when we are already there for actual prescriptions or other medical necessities. We have all been in that position, haven’t we? But there are plenty of ways you can actually save big at your favorite drugstore. Here are a few important things to know and do when it comes to you and your pharmacy right now!
Picking the Best Pharmacy for You
The best pharmacy for you can only be determined by you and your experiences (and perhaps by your prescription insurance plan). I have my personal favorite and that is CVS (meanwhile my wife prefers Walgreens). There are several reasons I pick CVS as my favorite and I can highlight some of them for you here. But you may have different reasons for selecting a drugstore, so pay attention to your reasons.
Pharmacy chains today have become mass merchandisers that sell just about every category you can think of from health and beauty products to groceries and from toys to sunglasses and every type of candy you can think of naming!
The number one reason most people go to the pharmacy is for medications and prescriptions. For seniors like me, that means regular trips to them and location can be an important decision maker because of it.
First, yes, convenience to my home makes a choice easier and important. But the truth is that for me, several drugstores are close by including the one inside my local supermarket. Proximity is important but it may not be not the most important reason to select a pharmacy.
For me, a major decision maker is that CVS is the preferred pharmacy for my Medicare Advantage health plan. That means I can save on my regular prescription cost every month there rather than paying more at other pharmacies. That is a big factor if you use many prescriptions like my wife and I do. If you only use your local drugstore for other reasons, then consider other factors that I will highlight here.
Best Ways to Save at the Pharmacy
1. The Welcome Wagon
Since 1928, Welcome Wagon has been connecting new residents with the local businesses in their community.
The first thing you should know about your pharmacy is whether or not they participate in the Welcome Wagon program when you first move into their area. Since you will get many coupons if you move to a new apartment or home from the Welcome Wagon, they will almost always include discounts and coupons that you can use there and at other local businesses that include pharmacies and drugstores.
It’s so easy to sign up for all these free coupons and discounts as all you need to do is to do it online at WelcomeWagon.com or simply by calling 1-800-779-3526.
2. Avoid some items at the pharmacy
There are some things at the drugstore you use that you will go through quickly like diapers, pet food, plastic baggies, and toilet paper. Yes they are here and available, but seriously, they may not be at the best prices and are often way cheaper when bought in bulk at a wholesale club (if you are in this stage of life, it may actually be worth buying a membership that saves you money in the long run).
“In a pinch” items like charcoal, travel cups, and beach gear will be less expensive even at a big box store like Walmart or Target. So while gazing at that huge wall of greeting and gift cards might look intriguing, in the end you are more than likely going to overspend at the drugstore on an everyday basis. You can opt to buy your discounted gift cards on a site like Raise.com or GiftCardGranny.com and save regularly when you do.
3. Use all of the tricks you know to save at your local pharmacy
Pharmacies do have many ways to save you money. All of them that I know have loyalty cards that will save you money on purchases and actually earn you rewards that can be converted to discounts when accumulated. That’s another reason I am a fan of CVS and the program called “ExtraCare”. I have found it to be the friendliest of all and I have saved as much as 100% on a shopping trip where I came home with several products that wound up costing me nada!
You can use all kinds of their discounts and manufacturer coupons and get cash back on them as well. I often stack my coupons and CVS always honors them when I do.
Check out sites like Rakuten.com or CouponCabin.com for coupons and cash-back offers at drugstores. On both, you can enter the name of the pharmacy to view available savings and shop online right from their sites. Both platforms also have free automatic alerts for you to find more available savings as you browse online.
When you sign up for rewards programs, you will save money. The major drugstore chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid all have rewards programs that are free to join and give members access to exclusive discounts. When you use their rewards card, just simply swipe it or enter your phone number at the checkout and earn points for your purchases, which will rack up the savings.
4. Shop around for the best prescription drug prices
Prescription drugs can cost dramatically different prices at different drugstores. Don't overlook the pharmacies at warehouse clubs and other types of discounters, as they may have better prices on your medications. Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale Club will all allow non-members to use their pharmacy services.
But don’t stop there. You should also consider a service like GoodRx.com to find the pharmacy with the lowest prices on the prescription drugs you take. All you have to do is to type in the name of the drug and you’ll see a list of pharmacies near you and the price they charge for the drug. They also offer coupon codes for prescriptions that save even more.
However, don’t assume that an online-only service will always be cheaper than a brick-and-mortar store and always compare the cost of prescription drugs at the pharmacy drugstore versus any other prescription prices.
For more tips on how to save on prescription medications, check out this post.
5. Mail orders and deliveries
These days, especially with our reluctance to shop in person, ordering online and having things delivered has really become “a thing” more than ever. Drugstores have joined right in the fray.
You can shop online for many categories and items which also includes the pharmacy. Saving on your prescriptions is easy with online shopping at most places for your drugs.
Don’t forget to ask the pharmacy about their mail-order options. With mail-order prescriptions, you usually get a three-month supply of your recurring prescriptions. So not only will you save money, you’ll save time since you won’t have to go in-person every month to pick up your script.
You can get even smaller drug orders delivered directly from your local pharmacy, usually free or with a very small delivery fee. CVS offers that and I have taken advantage of it. And oh, by the way, if you avoid going you may also avoid shopping for impulse items which of course will save you money too!
Think of your local pharmacy and drugstore as another potential way to save even on everyday needs that you might never think about. I have saved over the supermarket regularly in health and beauty aids and even on grocery and household items too, but it requires actually looking at the ads, coupons, and being a loyalty card member to do it right. It’s easy, free, and it should be a part of your “super saving ways” to save all the time.
What’s your favorite drugstore source and what ways do you save money there? Do you have a “super saving” plan for your pharmacy purchases now?