7 Tips for Stretching Your Budget at the Drugstore
Drugstores can make a sizable dent in your budget, but they’re also some of the best places to save money on everyday essentials. Here are seven tips for making the most of your money at the pharmacy.
1. Order a 90-day supply of your prescription medications.
See if your insurance will let you get three months’ worth of your prescriptions in one pharmacy visit. A 90-day supply tends to cost less than a 30-day supply, and you won’t have to go to the pharmacy as often. You can also get many medications through mail order, which could save you even more money.
After comparing prices, contact your doctor’s office if a 90-day supply of your meds is cheaper. You’ll probably need the doctor to write you a new prescription.
2. Look into prescription discount programs, even if you have health insurance.
Many health insurance companies require that you pay a copay for each of your prescriptions. However, paying out of pocket may be cheaper than using your insurance in some cases. You may also need to pay this way if you have a high-deductible health plan that requires you to meet a prescription deductible.
There are a few reasons paying out of pocket might save you money. One is that different pharmacies charge different prices for the same medications. A prescription discount program like GoodRx or SingleCare can show you which local pharmacies offer the lowest prices for your prescription medications. In addition to comparing prices, they’ll often give you coupons that can save you additional money on your prescriptions. These coupons apply to full-price medication purchased outside of insurance, not the price you’d pay with a copay.
3. Learn which products drugstores tend to price well.
While drugstores tend to have higher-than-average prices for grocery items, vitamins and office supplies, their weekly sales can help you save a significant sum. According to Reader’s Digest, drugstores offer some of the best sales on gift cards and personal care items like toothpaste and razors.
4. Join rewards programs at the pharmacies you visit most often.
Many drugstore chains, including Walgreens and CVS, will award you loyalty points for shopping there if you sign up for a loyalty program. The points can typically be redeemed like a gift card.
Sometimes you can earn extra points for purchasing a specific type or brand of product. These loyalty programs can also unlock members-only discounts on photo services, as well as special savings around the holidays.
5. Take advantage of e-coupons and online promo codes.
Many drugstores offer smartphone apps that let you redeem electronic coupons at checkout. A few minutes of coupon clipping can lead to significant savings on all sorts of products, from cosmetics to snack foods to laundry detergent.
Likewise, drugstores regularly offer promo codes that lower the price of certain items in your online shopping cart. Look for these codes on the homepages of drugstore websites, or use tools like RetailMeNot and Giving Assistant to locate these discounts quickly.
6. Go generic.
Just as generic versions of prescription meds can cost less than their brand-name counterparts, generic over-the-counter treatments tend to have lower retail prices. In many cases, you’re getting the same antacid or allergy remedy big-name brands offer, but with different packaging.
7. Get a flu shot.
Many pharmacies will give you a gift card or coupon if you get your flu immunization there. Walgreens, CVS and other drugstores have offered this type of incentive in recent years. Plus, a flu shot can prevent you from spending money on flu-related doctor’s visits and supplies such as pain relievers and cough drops.
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