Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What was in my cart at Walgreen's this week? (And what was my minor blunder?)



In an attempt to reduce my spending on all household goods and health and beauty items, I am reading sales ads very closely and trying to match with coupons found online.

Last week, I made a bottle of spray glass and window cleaner, using ammonia, isopropyl alcohol, dish soap and water. My daughter does the windows, here. And she told me it worked very well. So that's a keeper. (recipe here) At 12 cents a pint, it cost less than half of what the large refill jug of window cleaner costs per pint at Dollar Tree.

This week, I thoroughly went through Walgreen's online Sunday ad, to find their deals.

So, the daughter who does windows (yay for that!), prefers spray cleaner, a squeegee, and paper towels. Who am I to argue with her supply list, if the result is I don't have to wash windows? So, the other week, I bought paper towels for the first time in years. My best deal, on the spur of the moment, was Cash & Carry at 69 cents per 65 sheet roll. That's .0106153 per sheet. Walgreen's has their house brand of paper towels, on sale for 50 cents per 56 sheet roll, or .0089285. I bought 4 rolls and saved just under 38 cents.

Cerave is my moisturizing cream and face wash (I "wash" with the cream). I've been paying about $12.49 per container, when on sale, at Bartell's. Walgreen's has it on sale this week, as a BOGO1/2 off. The shelf price is $15.49. BOGO1/2 off gives me a price of $11.615 each. I went online to find a coupon, and printed out 1 coupon for $2 off any purchase of two Cerave items, bringing my cost down to $10.615 each. I bought 2 containers and saved $3.75. On top of the savings, these were bonus packs. each canister of moisturizing cream came with a trial bar of their moisturizing soap. Yay for useful free stuff!

When I'm paying, I use drug store cosmetics. When someone else is paying (the birthday freebies that I get from Sephora, or birthday/Christmas gifts from family members), I am happy to use department store cosmetics. (Both my son and my husband gave me Sephora gift cards for Christmas this year.) Anyways, drug store cosmetics can be quite good, even for someone like myself who is allergic to many ingredients in cosmetics. I like Neutrogena's loose mineral powder as a very light foundation. I've been buying it at Target, when on sale, for about $12.99. Walgreen's has all of their Neutrogena cosmetics on sale this week at BOGO1/2 off. Their shelf price for this powder is $14.79. They only had one compact of my shade. I inquired, and the cashier said she would sell me 1 compact at 25% off (which is what the BOGO1/2 off works out to). Good deal, as again, I had gone online and found a coupon for $1 off any 1 Neutrogena cosmetic item. My powder came to $10.09, after coupon, saving me $2.90 on that item.

In December, Walgreen's had cream cheese on sale with in-ad coupon for 99 cents each 8-oz brick, limit 4. I tried a couple of stores and found very little stock, so I requested a rain check. I used one of my rain checks and bought my 4 packages.

So far, so good. With these next 2 items I made minor blunders. 1000 sheet bathroom tissue was on sale for 50 cents/roll. When I bought bath tissue through Staples last spring, I paid (pre-tax) just under 48 cents per roll. But the other day, I mistakenly compared the after-tax price, of 51 cents per roll. I bought 6 rolls of Walgreen's 1000 sheet bath tissue at 50 cents per roll, pre-tax, costing me an extra 2 cents per roll, or 12 cents total.

And with facial tissue -- Walgreen's has boxes of their house brand facial tissue on sale for 99 cents. I usually buy facial tissue at Dollar Tree for $1. I thought I'd be saving 3 cents total, on 3 boxes of tissues. However, the Dollar Tree brand boxes contain 175 tissues per box (or .0057142 per tissue), whereas the Walgreen's boxes contain 160 tissues (at .0061875 per tissue). This minor blunder cost me just over 22 cents, total.

Despite my two minor blunders, overall I had a healthy savings of $6.69 (not counting the savings from the cream cheese rain check, as I wouldn't buy cream cheese if it were priced over $1, anyway).

The benefit of making small blunders, like these, is they create a mind-set of vigilance in me, preventing me from making similar blunders in the future. I'm not likely to make the same mistake on facial tissues again. And now I know, Dollar Tree does have a good price on tissues.

26 comments:

  1. Good job on the savings! Your "blunders" were very minute. ;) I have very sensitive skin as well and have become very minimalist in my cleansing and makeup routine. Oil cleansing method for me, using olive oil. Carrot rose face cream by Purple Prairie Botanicals when needed. Eyeliner by ELF, mascara by Lavera (my expensive item), and a dusting of Revlon powder if needed (this compact has lasted at least 3-4 years so far with 1-2 more to go). My skin is the thing I receive many compliments on and people give me strange looks when I tell them I cleanse with olive oil, lol. Due to changes in diet as well as my skin care routine, I don't even burn in the sun any more WITHOUT sunblock/sunscreen while hiking multiple days per week at least 4 hours at a time (in my younger days I would burn just riding in a car). On super sunny summer days I occasionally use a mineral sunblock, though, if I will be out a long time.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      We're fans of ELF, here, too. One of my daughters bought an ELF product, at Dollar Tree, a couple of weeks ago. I use ELF concealer, and my daughters use their clarifying powder foundation and mascara.

      I'll look into that mascara. I've not heard of Lavera before. I received a trial size of Make Up For Ever mascara, as a birthday freebie from Sephora a while back, and I couldn't believe how much better it worked than some of the drugstore brands. So I understand the loyalty to an more expensive cosmetic brand on some items.

      Interesting about not burning any more. I've always burned. I wonder how much diet does have to do with it? What do you think in your diet could have changed your skin? I may give the olive oil a try. At least on some of the drier parts of my face/neck. And I think it would be a great make-up remover. The Cerave does a good job of moisturizing my skin. I can put it on in the morning, and be good for the whole day. And although it's not touted as a face cream, that is where I use it most. And at a fraction of the cost of department store facial moisturizers.

      Have a great day!

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    2. I first heard of the idea that diet affects burning on the Wellness Mama blog. The biggest factors that I believe have helped me are removing all bad fats from my diet (I use light olive oil instead of vegetable oil in things such as cakes and pancakes, EVOO for some uses, Spectrum or similar shortening instead of vegetable oil shortenings, butter, even tallow and lard--not the processed type available at big stores, but sourced from a business that uses the fat from pastured animals...not super cheap but I find I can make french fries or whatever, then strain the tallow and keep it in a jar in the fridge for re-use) and limiting sugar (I do have a sweet tooth so am not perfect at this but much improved from my younger days).

      Also, using simple oils and a moisturizer made from them on my face and neck, rather than what I previously used which was a well-known brand but contained many hard-to-pronounce chemicals (and I'm a chemist by degree, haha).

      During seasons when I'll be in the sun a LOT during the heat of the day, I also take astaxanthin, known for being good at helping with inflammation (with lupus and Hashi's this is good for me anyway).

      Last but not least, I get lots of gelatin in my diet, intentionally, along with vitamin C (these two work synergistically).

      Hope that helps. It has not been an overnight process by any means, but the result of much studying about nutrition as a whole to combat autoimmune issues and tweaking things here and there for general health as well as the benefit of less burning in the sun because I love to garden and hike and am outside a LOT.

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    3. Thanks for all of that information, Cat!
      I think that making changes does take time to incorporate everything new.

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  2. Those were some good buys and very small blunders, Lili. On the subject of cosmetics, my current eye and face cream came from the Grocery Outlet, but seems like a nice brand and I think it was $2.99 each. I have found that drugstore make-up works just fine for me and one thing I have been using probably since I was a teen is Cover Girl mascara. I have tried other brands, but always come back to this favorite. It's the blue tube, "professional mascara" and it costs less than the other CG mascaras. We have an Ulta cosmetics store here, and they have regular coupons out, which they will combine with manufacture coupons.
    Mary

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    1. I've never gone to our Ulta because the ads make it seem pricey. Thanks for the heads-up--I may have to look into it more!

      Lili, I'm also a fan of CeraVe. I have a dermatologist who recommended it years ago, and I find that not only is it a good moisturizer and non-irritating to my skin (eczema), but if I am careful with my skin care, I don't have to make return trips to the dermatologist very often (CeraVe is expensive, but saving a co-pay at a doctor's makes up for it). Glad you got a good deal.

      I use a tinted moisturizer by Neutrogena as my makeup base. I get it at our regional chain, Meijer--they often have a BOGO half off deal and I stock up on it then.

      Are you renting your daughter out? I would love to have someone do windows for me. My 10-year-old cleans the mirrors but she's too short for windows at the current time. :)

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    2. Yes, do check out Ulta. While they carry the more pricey brands, they also carry the lower priced brands like Cover Girl. They will also have the BOGO half off deals and will accept coupons on top of that.
      Mary

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    3. Hi Kris,
      When your kids are just a tad older, maybe they can take on the windows for you!

      My daughters work summers in housecleaning for their university. Consequently, they're extremely thorough! All in all, the summer job has not been so bad for them (and me!).

      I love CeraVe, too. It's been the one thing I can put on my face that doesn't result in an eczema flare-up. I can't wear most lipsticks/balms, and am still looking for something for lip color, if you have any ideas.

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    4. Sorry, I don't seem to have problems with lipstick and just use L'Oreal with no problems. I wonder if you have a local dermatologist who sells lipsticks/balms you can use? It might be pricey, though. I am on a mailing list for this brand: http://avaandersonnontoxic.com and I'm wondering if that would work? I've never used it but my children's 3rd grade teacher sells it and she is very observant of health in general, including skin care concerns.

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    5. Thanks, Kris! I'll check out that link.

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  3. Cerave is a good moisturizer. A few months ago, there were several sample offers of the moisture cream and cleanser. Came in a cute bag with a $3 coupon (courtesy of hip2save.com blog) I would love to buy this brand, worked so well in desert climates, but I am overstocked with other brands. For our local climate, I need less moisturizers and in fact use toners and oil reduction cleansers instead.

    Walgreen has a pretty good points system that pays more than 1:1 on redemption, and have online coupons that load to the Balance Reward card. Sometimes there are targeted coupons alerted by email, like spend $20 and earn $10 in points back. Plus AARP affiliate discounts, also many opportunities during the year to earn free membership by buying Walgreens brand products. So far I haven't paid for membership and keep adding another year til 2018 so far. AARP is another good thing, love the magazine, the special stir and restaurant discounts, and Entertainment Book online coupons. For our trip, I printed two B1G1F entree coupons, and one paired well with a ShopYourway rebate using the enrolled credit card, so one meal was totally free. Also Walgreens is a Savingstar.com eligible store, and there are coupons and rebates that pay in addition to what is used in-store. I try to line up the deals before shopping. The only difficult thing is watching the expiration dates on points. Walgreens points expire in 6 months, and require an in-store purchase that adds points to the total. Recently (during our trip) I had to use my husband's Walgreens card or lose the points. So without needing anything, we decided on a 99c moisturizer sample. Well that purchase was under $1, so made 0 points difference. Had to go back to the store and make another purchase.

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      When I think about where you live -- my skin would love your climate, but my hair would go nuts! The humidity must keep your skin very youthful.

      Thanks for all the info on Walgreen's Rewards. I didn't realize you could use the points towards AARP membership. AARP has been great for hotel stays, for us, as we don't have AAA (which gets the same rate at many hotels).

      Have a great day!

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    2. I would love to live in the PNW, instead of here!! Funny about 10 years ago, I loved the desert climate, found it great for my skin and hair. This year, being older, I really had to moisturize my face, hands, and legs, and the top layers of my skin literally sloughed off. Usually my hair loves the desert climate, but not this year, I had to use mousse to fluff it up so not to show any balding spots so much. I don't know what happened but one year made so much difference. The kicker was when the rental car agent told a couple of youngsters, "if the old people don't want the car, you can have it"...I can't forget that one....first time being referred to as "old".

      Actually you don't use the points to buy AARP membership, a one year free membership form is printed at the cash register when you buy certain products, usually the specific terms of the promotion are found in the monthly savings book available at the front of the store. Another reason we are interested in AARP membership is for the dental insurance they offer. We buy the insurance when we think we may have big dental work coming up. We also used our AARP to book trips in the past.

      YHF

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    3. I don't know why but one of those AARP one year membership forms printed when we bought the 99c moisturizer (that didn't generate any points)...can't figure that one out, but was an unexpected gift.

      YHF

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    4. Did this come as a Catalina? Or was it right on the receipt? I'll be watching for those!

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    5. I just read your comment before the last one. Old people -- hmmmmph! I remember the first time I was called Ma'am. That was painful! But today, I got a compliment from an older gentleman, maybe in his late 70s early 80s. So, I think it's all relative. Remember when we were really young, and anyone over 30 looked ancient?! That rental car agent was probably very young.

      My step-mom lives in Arizona. Last spring she was telling me how dry her skin is there. I told her about CeraVe,so she bought some and tried it, then made sure to thank me for the info on it, as it really helped her skin. So, when you go to the dessert, it might just be a matter of having the right moisturizer with you. I've noticed that many hand lotions no long do a thing for me. I need something high in oils, it seems. And for me, it has all been just in the last year or two that I've developed drier skin.

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    6. Lili, the form comes out as a catalina.

      LOL, nowadays, I'm obsessed with the age thing. I recently saw a population graph online and it showed how the leading edge of the boomer generation are fast dwindling in numbers. Shockingly so, like falling off a cliff. Makes me think I've got only 20 (at most) years of relatively good health if I'm lucky, so in that sense I am OLD lol

      You're right about some moisturizers not doing a thing, like it has more waxiness and less absorption. But we noticed CeraVe did absorb very well. We didn't use enough (sample size) to see any results, but I think with the discussion here I'm sold.

      I had another thought about hotel booking that might save some money. This year I found the best rates and booked most of our nights with Hotwire "Hotrate". Occasionally there are coupons to sweeten the deal. And I used Upromise.com to earn additional 5% cash back, and MrRebates.com 6%. The only problem is you have to prepay and cannot cancel, and you don't know the hotel name until you have purchased. Sometimes it is possible to guess which hotel it is based on the amenities.

      YHF

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    7. About the hotels on priceline and hotwire, hotrate -- there's a website and I can't think of the name of it right now, but it's forums of people listing what they've recently bid, what section of the town, what star rating and what hotel they got, as a result. Some people have had remarkable success at getting their desired hotel by using this site/forums. I think this site focuses primarily big cities, large population centers, high tourist attractiveness. I've looked at it for So. Calif trips.

      Our one big obstacle with these sites, though, is when we need more than one bed. You get run of the house rooms, meaning whatever they want to give to you. In many cities the queen queen rooms are more desirable than King rooms, so you wind up with 1 King bed, and that's it. Which for us, as a family of 5, or even when just 3 of us go somewhere, doesn't work very well. It's fantastic, though, if you only need one bed, and aren't choosy which hotel you stay in.

      You keep eating the bean burgers and Kang Kong and you've got at least another healthy 40 years!! Statistics are helpful for generalizations. But individual cases vary considerably. There's a lot that goes into longevity that a lot of baby boomers have disregarded for too long.

      You know, if a car rental agent said had said something similar to me, as yours did to that to the younger people in your case, I would have followed up with, "and there goes your tip!" With a smile of course!

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    8. I think one of the forums is called betterbidding.com...I tried years ago to follow the discussion but never got the hang of it. You are absolutely correct about "run of the house" being what is given for hot rates. We were told our "assigned" rooms are not ready, so it is not that we had a choice of rooms.

      Thanks, Lili, for your kind words of support...I was in a state of shock hearing those words and just stood there with my mouth open. The gal who said that meant no harm because she didn't think we heard. My husband was out walking around looking for another car in the lot while I stayed back near the booth.

      As you can see, we are bargain travelers. I'm sure one of the classier rental companies would not have uttered that word.

      YHF

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    9. You jarred my memory. It's biddingfortravel.com -- another site with what people have bid and what they got on hotel rooms.

      We're bargain travelers, as well -- for the most part. We try to get the maximum enjoyment from a vacation, without spending more than we need to. I am constantly thinking and rethinking, as I plan a trip. Just how much or how little do we do, time do we stay, money do we spend, to get that maximum enjoyment for dollar spent. I know there are times when someone else in the family would really just prefer an all-out spending frenzy of a vacation. But my practical side can see that we would have to give something else up to do that sort of trip.

      I'm sure the gal at the car rental place didn't mean anything either by her remark. But she should learn to mind her words better! LOL! I've said stupid stuff, too. I work at not repeating those mistakes. But they are just that, for most of us, mistakes.

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    10. I constantly rethink our spending plans too. And you're absolutely right about spending frenzies having to be made up somewhere else. Our trips are so thrifty, I'm sure no one would believe how little we spend. But it is a juggling act with lots of mental gymnastics from start to finish. Only my husband is witness to the amount of work that I do in planning before the trip and juggling while on the trip (so we can utilize all the coupons, points, etc and eat for 49 days spending $183.30 plus tips), and he constantly reminds me how grateful he is for my efforts and compliments me saying that I have put together a wonderful trip (I think he said that 10x!!).

      Sounds like you are in good control with what your family enjoys. And you have a very good sense of balancing enjoyment, luxury and good taste with saving money. Happy travel planning and have a wonderful restful weekend!!

      YHF

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    11. ...oops, looked at my notes again, that was the charge card amount, in addition we spent another $50 in cash, mostly at taco shops.

      YHF

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  4. I think you did really well & your blunders were very minimal! :-)
    Maybe I need to start doing the Walgreen & Rite Aid thing, we have both of those about a mile form home but I have never really looked int their sales. I did a few times years ago but seemed they were always out of everything & I just got frustrated. Maybe time to check into that again.
    Rhonda

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    1. Hi Rhonda,
      Thank you. I know -- our Rite Aid is frequently out of stock, by the time I get there. So it is frustrating. But I do love Walgreen's rain checks, with the long period to redeem them. Some sales are a good deal, especially the BOGO1/2 off. But like with all shopping, you have to know your prices.

      Have a great day, Rhonda!

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  5. There's not doubt about it, Lili, you are an expert shopper and your family is lucky to have you minding the till. However, I wonder if you ever get tired paying attention to every penny (literally) or do you like math enough, it's somewhat of a game?

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      I do grow weary of watching every penny. But right now, if I want to continue to do the things that cost $$$, it's necessary. I try to think of it as a game, though.

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.