Many shoppers use coupons and customer loyalty programs to save at grocery stores. Coupon-clipping queen Faye Prosser uses the "clip and shop" method for great bargains at drug stores as well.
Prosser explained her money-saving process: Flip through fliers advertising store specials, make a list, and, most importantly, clip coupons.
"This is my coupon organizer. This is my baby," she said.
She's then ready to save big at a drug store. "If I ever pay for toothpaste again, it will be a miracle," she said.
Prosser signed up for drug-store loyalty programs. With CVS, she earns Extra Care Bucks, or ECBs, by buying specially advertised products. Then she combines ECBs with coupons to get great deals, such as free toothpaste.
"So the price of Colgate is $3.99. And then you get a coupon for $3.99 after you buy it. And you take those ECBs, and each week you roll them into other ECB deals," she said.
Prosser pointed to another great deal on body scrub: "On sale for $4.99. But you get a coupon ... an extra bucks reward for $4.99 at the register that you can use on anything else."
That wasn't the only bargain she got on that body wash: "I'm using a 75-cent coupon with this purchase, so I pay $4.99, minus 75 cents, but I still get a coupon at the register. This is what we call a moneymaker, where I get back more than I paid."
Another "moneymaker" was $2.99 mouthwash on sale with ECBs, plus a 50-cent coupon. "So I'm actually only paying $2.49 for it, but I get back $2.99 at the register," she said.
Prosser used coupons to sweeten a BOGO – buy-one-get-one-free – deal for shampoo and conditioner.
"That makes them a dollar for these products that are normally $5. That's an 80 percent savings on a really good shampoo and conditioner," she said.
When deals are really good, Prosser stocks up. With six $1 coupons, she got soaps for 19 cents each.
Prosser admitted that the process of getting such deals can be mind-boggling.
"My recommendation to folks is to take it in baby steps, one step at a time," she said. "Start by getting your coupons organized. Start by finding coupons for the things you use."
Though intimidating in its own way, Prosser's coupon organizer is the key to her efficiency and isn't that time-consuming, she said.
"If you watch a TV show a week, then your best bet is to sit right there while you're watching your show and clip and file your coupons," she said. "On Sunday nights, I watch two shows, and that's my time to get everything ready."
Is it worth it?
Prosser's cart full of soap, drinks and shampoo initially totaled $37.19. After coupons and ECBs, the bill dropped to $16.55. Prosser also had a $25 gift card earned with a prescription transfer, so she paid nothing – and earned more ECBs.
"You just keep rolling in the ECBs, that is, rolling it over to one free thing after another – crazy," Prosser said.
And she intends to be back the following week to find more bargains.
"Anyone can do this. I promise," Prosser said.
Prosser taught a workshop Saturday called "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half" at Wake Tech's Western Wake Campus, 3434 Kildaire Farm Road in Cary. For information on upcoming classes call 919-866-5839 or visit SmartSpendingResources.com.