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When Shannon turned Works for Me Wednesday on its head this week, asking us instead to tell about something that doesn’t work, I instantly knew my topic.

Walgreen’s.

More specifically the deal-hunting at Walgreens that involves many flapping coupons, spending much good money on fancy name brands, and waiting for rebates that come many weeks later and sometimes are disallowed entirely.

I know that many frugal blogs talk about the wonderful deals that are to be had at Walgreens. But after trying this for three months in a row, I have to admit that this particular money saving strategy is doing nothing but frustrating me.

Yes, I’ve saved some money. But I’ve also been coaxed to buy name brand products that I would never waste spend my money on otherwise. I’ve spent literally hours cruising the aisles with fists full of coupons. My little girls are starting to whimper when we even drive past Walgreens. And the stuff I end up buying is so….small. Call me strange, but when I walk out of a store having just spent $50, I want to be holding more than one bag. I hate the sinking feeling that I would have been much much better off having bought my Colgate, Prell, and toothbrushes at the dollar store, coupons be hanged. And I would have gotten done much sooner.

I WANT Walgreens coupon-stacking/rebates to work for me, I really do.

But after my latest shopping fiasco, I’ve got to face the facts.

It all started last week when I realized the soccer field was only two blocks from Walgreens. I decided that my little girls would be much happier playing on the swings and watching big sister’s soccer practice than cruising endless aisles at Walgreens. So I handed my teenaged sons a cell phone and asked them to play with the little girls while I zipped over to make the most of the May rebates at Walgreens.

Around and around I went, matching coupons and reading fine print and trying to make sure I got the maximum money back. Besides about $10 worth of rebate items, I was also hoping to get a $10 ‘register reward’ for buying 4 Colgate products. I was especially pleased about this deal because I also had coupons for Colgate to jack up my savings. I only had a few more things to find when my cell rang. It was my son.

“Hey!” he said. And then he called the name of my 3 year old and I heard odd screaming fading in and out. He called her again, sounding distracted. More odd wavery screaming.

I called his name, starting to panic, trying to get him to talk to me. But he didn’t seem to be listening to me. I called his name louder. Panic was rising in my throat. Was she hurt? I knew it wasn’t irresponsible to leave my 3 and 5 year olds at the park with their 13 and 16 year old brothers, but the mom guilt kicked in…

When still he didn’t answer me, I left my cart in the corner and jetted out of the store and hopped into the van, trying to fight back the fear that the three year old was really seriously hurt. A minute later I was pulling into the parking lot. To see my little girls swinging, screaming happily as they went back and forth. The big boys were protectively in position behind them.

Augh.

I called out to my son to hang up the phone. He looked at me, puzzled, utterly oblivious to the fact that he’d called me.

Relieved but still rattled, I jetted back to the store to gather up my coupons and my last couple items. At the checkout, the cash register accepted all my coupons (yeah!) but then refused to spit out my coveted $10 register reward. ?? The teenaged clerk sighed and called his boss, who arrive by turtle 20 years 6 minutes later. It was then that I learned you aren’t allowed to combine coupons and register rewards. I’d saved $3 with coupons only to lose my $10 reward. Not only that, but on closer examination, it turned out I’d bought the wrong Colgate products, so wasn’t eligible for the reward anyway.

I was now 10 minutes late to pick up the kids, so instead of arguing, I scooped my bounty one teeny $40 bag up and hurried off to get the kids, who were thankfully still happy and well.

On the way home I consoled myself with the fact that at least I still had about $10 of rebate money coming …eventually.

Except when I got home, I discovered that somewhere in all of that hassle, I’d lost my receipt.

Bye-bye rebates.

I am, however, the proud owner of a bottle of plaque-revealing mouth rinse, which I never in a million years would have bought without the promise of a rebate. Oh, and some lightbulbs–only a buck, and yes, we do use those. And more toothpaste. Toothpaste that cost 3x as much as I would have spent at the dollar store.

Yes, I realize that with a little better concentration and a firm grip on my receipt, I would have saved a bit of money. But I am left with the overwhelming feeling that really, sadly, Walgreens rebate/couponing does not work for me.

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