How to Make Money Shopping at CVS & Walgreens

how to save money at CVS
Mike Mozart under Creative Commons

It's called the “drug store game” by veterans who play each week. Their strategy is merely one of buy low and sell high, but they aren't picking stocks; they are buying toiletries and other household essentials at popular drug stores and reselling them on Ebay.

Each and every Sunday, CVS and Walgreens release their weekly sales ad. Buried among the deals are a number of loss leaders that are meant merely to get you in the door. Many of them are free or nearly free and there are a growing number of savvy shoppers that are using these weekly deals to earn some extra cash.

I've used this method myself many times and it always makes me smile to walk out of the drug store with a basket of items and a receipt that proves I only spent 21 cents or some other obscenely low number.

This method takes discipline so if you find yourself impulse buying every time you walk into a store than this might not be the extra money maker you are looking for. However, if you think you're ready to give it a try there are few things you will want to know:

Extra Care Bucks and Register Rewards

These are the loyalty programs that CVS and Walgreens have set up and are an essential part of getting items for free. The way the game works is that you buy the sale item at regular price and then the register prints you out a gift certificate of sorts that you can use on your next purchase. The first time you hit the stores you will, unfortunately, be paying with cash out of your pocket. However, you can then use your gift certificates each week to pay for your items and you will be left only having to pay the tax. The register will print you out a new gift certificate which you can use the following week. Rinse and repeat.

Use Coupons to Get Items Even Cheaper

This is essential so that you can keep your costs as low as possible. Both CVS and Walgreens allow you to use a manufacture's coupon and a store coupon on each item. Even if the item is already FREE! Now, the registers won't allow you to have a total below zero so you'll sometimes need to add a small item to ensure this doesn't happen (I prefer the carmel chews next to the register…lol).

There are a number of bloggers who post a copy of the sales ads a few days of advance and let you know which items have coupons available. One of my favorites is Jenny over at Southern Savers. She makes it really easy and even lists the links that allow you to print the specific coupons for that week.

Only Buy Items That Will Resell

Ebay buyers are a fickle group and not everything you buy will make you money. Remember, Ebay buyers are looking for a deal too, so they aren't going to be willing to merely pay the sticker value on the items you are selling. It took me a little while to figure out what items were worth my time and what items I was best leaving on the shelf.

One particluar hard lesson was when I had listed 17 Oral-B toothbrushes only to get one bid for .99 cents. Hardly worth my time and gas to collect them. However, I have found that I get a decent resell price for Deodorant ($1 each) Shaving Razors ($2-$6 each). Do your research and check past auctions to find out what sells before driving to every drug store in your town.

As always I hope you have lots of success and enjoy making a little extra money why you are shopping. Let me know in the comments if you have taken advantage of the deals at CVS and Walgreens.

Good Luck Penny Hoarders!

Update: A special thanks to Trent Hamm over at The Simple Dollar for featuring this article on his top rated blog. By the way if you are interested in possibly winning a copy of Trent's book, “1001 Ways to Make Money”, make sure you enter The Penny Hoarder's Holiday Giveaway. Also, thank you to the Carnival of Personal Finance for featuring this post.


The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.