Monthly Archives: October 2011

How to save big money on brand-name makeup

My efforts to save money often lead me to purchase generic products when buying canned goods, cleaning supplies and other items. But there are certain times when a generic item doesn’t make the grade in my book, and that’s the case when it comes to makeup. I’ve used Mary Kay products since I began wearing makeup as a teenager, and I don’t plan to switch to something new.

Mary Kay isn’t cheap, however. A tube of medium-coverage foundation from a Mary Kay distributor will cost you $15, about double the price of Cover Girl or Maybelline foundation sold at Wal-mart. The good news is you don’t have to pay full price for Mary Kay makeup if you’re willing to buy it on eBay.

I recently won an eBay auction for Mary Kay foundation and got two tubes of foundation for $3 with $4 shipping—that $7 total is about 75 percent off the retail price.

A check of recently completed listings on eBay shows other bargains, too. One buyer got a tube of Mary Kay concealer for $4 (shipping included), saving 60 percent off the retail price. Another purchased a stick of eyeliner for $5.25—the same purchase from a distributor would total $10. A tube of Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara sold for $6.30, less than half of the retail price.

Other makeup brands sold on eBay include Lancome, Clinique and Sephora, so you can get a bargain on your favorites, too.

When buying makeup on eBay, keep these tips in mind:

Shop early. Don’t wait until you only have a day or two of makeup left to start bidding. Shipping can take a few days.

Bid with patience. Determine what you’re willing to pay for the product and keep trying to get it at that price. If others outbid you, move on to another auction. Use eBay’s completed listings tool to see what price the item you want typically sells for on eBay. (Contact me for help if you’re not sure how to do this.)

Buy in bulk. Some of the best deals on Mary Kay makeup come when you buy multiple packages of the same item. Use one product now, and save the other for later. I have never had any problems with makeup I’ve stored for months. If this option makes you uncomfortable, buy in bulk, and split the cost and products with a friend.

Check sellers’ feedback ratings. While eBay has a great buyer protection policy, you can save yourself some headaches by shopping with the best sellers to begin with. I don’t bid on any item offered by a seller who has less than 99 percent positive feedback.

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Filed under Saving money, Shopping tips

Walgreens’ Register Rewards program not worth the effort

I recently highlighted how you can use the CVS Extra Bucks program to get cheap and free items without spending a lot of time clipping coupons. Walgreens has a similar program called Register Rewards. Unlike the CVS program, you don’t have to register to participate in Register Rewards. While this is an admirable feature of the program, it fails to deliver a good overall experience.

With Register Rewards, Walgreens offers select items at a sale price each week, then gives you extra savings in the form of a coupon you can use on most merchandise during a future shopping trip. Here’s why I think the program isn’t as good as the CVS Extra Bucks promotions:

Prices: Walgreens generally charges more than CVS for similar products. This week, Walgreens had Softsoap body wash for 2 for $4 with Register Rewards; the CVS price with Extra Bucks was 2 for $2. Even when items are on sale at Walgreens, you can often get them cheaper at a discount retailer like Walmart.

Expiration dates: CVS usually gives you a month to redeem the Extra Bucks coupons you receive. Walgreens only gives you two weeks. Sometimes, Walgreens doesn’t have anything on sale I want within two weeks, and I have to use the coupons on something else.

Bonuses: CVS gives you bonus Extra Bucks on a seasonal basis, based on how much you’ve spent in the store in the preceding months. Walgreens can’t offer this feature since you don’t register to use the Register Rewards program.

Signage: I have lived in two different states this year and shopped at Walgreens stores in both locations. I consistently find the stores do a poor job of putting up signs to help you identify which specific products are included in the Register Rewards program that week. For example, there may be 15 types of Colgate toothpaste on the shelf, but only one specific type and size qualifies for the reward.

In-store coupons: To get sale prices on many of its items, Walgreens requires you to redeem coupons you must clip out of its weekly ads. This is just silly. If it’s on sale, just give me the sales price without the hassle.

The disadvantages of shopping at Walgreens and using its rewards program far outweigh the benefits. I recommend spending your time targeting savings at other stores.

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Filed under Rewards programs, Saving money