Your savings strategies have helped me save more, so I naturally believe these will help some of you save more money, too. Despite the fact that grocery prices seem to be rising every week, smart shoppers can manage to stretch their dollars if they look for special promotional programs.
DEAR STEPHANIE: Here's a suggestion for people who buy vitamins. Buy Nature Made Vitamins and earn points for a free bottle of vitamins. After you earn 500 points, they mail you a coupon for a free bottle of vitamins (worth up to $7). When you get your coupon, wait for the store to have "buy one, get one free" deals. If you redeem your coupon during the deal time period, you can get two bottles of vitamins (up to $7) for almost nothing (you may have to pay taxes). - Josh B. of Matthews, N.C.,
I went to the Nature Made Web site to learn more about the program. Each vitamin is worth a different number of points, which are listed. On average, a bottle is worth about 100 points, so buying about five bottles would earn a free bottle. You do not need to mail in any UPC codes or labels, you simply join their "Wellness Rewards" program and enter the codes online at the Nature Made Web site. You can also print free coupons for the vitamins from the Nature Made Web site on your first visit. So if you buy your initial bottles when they are selling at half price and use your coupons, you may be on your way to a free bottle (or two during "buy one, get one free" sales) very soon at a very low cost. Visit www.naturemade.com for more details.
REWARDS NO Rx FOR SAVINGS
DEAR STEPHANIE: I have concluded that I am not enchanted with the CVS Extra Rewards bonuses. Although one receives their rebate on the spot, it is essentially a CVS gift certificate, one which must be used within 30 days, can easily be misplaced and which, unlike a gift card, must be used entirely in one visit. I often find myself scrambling to spend my Extra Rewards at CVS before they expire, and having to buy things that I might not necessarily be ready to purchase, diminishing the luster of the "free" promotions on which rebates are offered. Although one must wait for a check to be received by mail, I like Rite Aid's rebate program the best. It is easy to enter receipts through the Internet, and a check is more desirable than what is essentially store credit. The problem I have with Rite Aid is that throughout the chain's locations, I consistently have difficulty finding sale items in stock. Walgreens provides a gift card, which is less advantageous than a check, but at least it may be used for less than the full amount of its value, and does not expire. - Oren S. of Upper St. Clair, Pa.
I agree with Oren's assessment of the Walgreens and Rite Aid programs, but I personally believe the CVS Extra Bucks Reward program is easier. That may be because I always seem to need the current week's promotional items, which uses up the Extra Buck reward certificate from the prior week easily. However, everyone's shopping needs and preferences are different, so I would encourage readers to visit the drugstores' Web sites directly to learn more about their rebate programs. If you find one you like, you can save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News' "Good Morning America."
You can find more of her savings tips in her book "The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom" and on her website at www.couponmom.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.