Disclaimer: We don't suggest doing laundry with eggs.
I have a strange confession to make: Register Rewards make me nervous. For the uninitiated, a Register Reward is a Walgreens-specific catalina (a catalina is a coupon that is printed at the register after you make a qualifying purchase, and you can read more about them here) sponsored by the manufacturer of a particular product, and their values vary by promotion. One week you might spend, say, $10 for two bottles of Aussie shampoo and receive a $3 Register Reward courtesy of Procter & Gamble. You'd pay $10 plus tax at the register (or less if you have coupons) and walk away with the shampoo and the Register Reward, which you'd use during your next Walgreens visit to get $3 off your purchase.
Register Rewards normally expire within two weeks of being issued, and they're subject to most of the same rules as any other coupon you'd use at Walgreens. The most advantageous possible way to use them is to "roll" them into other purchases that trigger Register Rewards, which might mean, for example, taking your $3 Procter & Gamble Register Reward and using it the next week to buy a $3.99 stick of Tom's of Maine deodorant that triggers a $1 Register Reward. Then the next week you might use that $1 Tom's of Maine Register Reward to buy a tube of Aquafresh toothpaste that triggers yet another Register Reward, and so on and so forth, until you've stockpiled more shampoo and toothpaste and toothbrushes and razors than you know what to do with. There are shoppers who are masters of this, and holy fudge do I admire their dedication. Because keeping up with drugstores (for Walgreens is not alone in offering such incentives; Rite Aid and CVS have similar loyalty programs) exhausts me.*
So when Nelly and I spent $14.21 at Walgreens last week to buy a couple of miscellaneous items and a whole mess of Colgate products and got back a total of $6 in Register Rewards, I wanted to use them quickly if possible, to make sure they didn't go to waste. We scoured this week's ad as soon as it arrived, hoping to find something we could use. We're good on nearly every toiletry under the sun, and Walgreens doesn't have particularly attractive pricing on most grocery items, so those were out. We wanted to avoid collecting more Register Rewards if possible, lest the weather turn nasty and make it hard for us to redeem them in time. And we buy little in the way of cleaning supplies because there's hardly anything we can't clean with vinegar or baking soda – and that's when it dawned on me: laundry detergent!
We weren't in desperate need of it, but it's something we know we'll use. Our options, based on the weekly circular, were a 48-load jug of Wisk for $6.99 (which would entitle us to a $1 Register Reward) or two 80-load jugs of Sun for $5.99. "Have you ever used Sun?" I asked Nelly, who nodded in the affirmative. "Did you like it?" At that, she looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "It's detergent," she replied. So that was that, and off we trekked to collect our detergent, along with a dozen eggs (on sale for $0.99). Our total with tax was $0.98, which we paid for using a gift card I earned online, so we effectively got 160 loads of laundry (a conservative estimate since we use less detergent than what all the companies that manufacture it recommend) for free. Now if only there was a Register Reward that could be applied to our electric bill...
* My problems with Walgreens, in no particular order, are that the cashiers are frequently confused by their own coupon policy; the number of sale items they keep in stock is frequently insufficient; the store atmosphere is often terrible, with overcrowded shelves and poor lighting; and there are rarely enough registers open to keep up with all the customers. Admittedly, these are all minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things (I doubt anyone ever wept like Stella Dallas over having to request a vitamin rain check), and they're very much of the "your mileage may vary" variety, as there are undoubtedly many better-managed locations that suffer none of these ailments. But I digress.