Monday, January 26, 2009

Beginning Your Journey to Saving: Drug Stores- CVS

Part 2
(click here for the rest of this series)

Drug Stores such as Walgreen’s, CVS, and Rite Aid are great places to get started couponing! They offer great products that you can often get for free or even MAKE money on. Yes, that's right, you can make money by shopping. What a great concept, since we usually think about shopping as spending money!

CVS and Walgreen’s often offer instant rewards that are like getting cash back! Both Rite Aid and Walgreen’s offer rebate programs that offer money back in a check or gift card form. These aren't instant, but can also help increase your savings.

So how can you make money? ....let's get started with CVS, it's the easiest!

  1. CVS Extra Care Card

Make sure that you have a store loyalty card! You won't get the savings otherwise! You can sign up in store or online. I haven't done the online process, so I'm not sure if they mail you your card or how it works! In store, simply ask the cashier to sign up!

  1. Extra Care Bucks (ECB's)

Every week, I'll post CVS deals listing things that are on sale. Many times the sale items will offer “Extra Care Bucks.” These are coupons that print out on the bottom of your receipt, and they are like cash! You can use them on almost anything in the store (gift cards, prescriptions, alcohol and tobacco are the main restrictions!) and pay for them with ECB’s as you would pay with cash. Another bonus- these ECB's often help you get FREE product or MAKE money on a product

Here is a FREE example:

  • Gillette Shampoo is on sale for $4.99
  • In the Jan. 18th P&G insert there is a coupon for $2 off one Gillette shampoo, which will make your final price $2.99.
  • This month ECB offers includes $3 when you buy Gillette shampoo, so you'll get $3 back making your final price FREE (technically -.01)

$4.99 - $2 coupon - $3 ECB = $-.01

Here is a Money Maker example:

  • Sometimes an item at CVS gives you the same amount of ECB's as you "paid" for it.
  • In December, CVS had many items that were money makers
  • Excedrin Express Gels 20 ct was $3.99, Get back $3.99 ECBs
  • There were many $2 off blinkies and insert coupons, giving you an overage or money maker of $2!!

$3.99 - $2 coupon - $3.99 ECB = -$2!!

You can use ECB's to buy things that produce ECB's! Some products have a limit of more than one of the same item giving ECB's and at CVS you can use the same ECB's to repurchase the same product. This is called “rolling” ECB’s. When you roll them, you will continue to get free products!

Here is an example of rolling:

  • Last month an ongoing deal was Soy Joy Bars, $6 get $6 in ECB's (with a limit of 5!)
  • You can put out the $6 once to buy the first package of bars (or use previous ECB's you've earned to pay)
  • Every time you go back use the $6 ECB you've earned to pay for another! (If you buy all 5 at once you'll get one ECB for $30, which can seem great, but you'll have to buy a lot at once to use that up!)

  1. Stacking CVS coupons and Manufacturer coupons

What is a CVS store coupon?

  • CRT's- these are the coupons that along with ECB's print off at the bottom of your receipt. They are usually cents/dollars off of a certain product or group of products or possibly your total purchase. Occasionally, there are even ones for totally free products

  • Price Scanner Coupons- if your CVS has a price scanner, scan your CVS card to get extra CRT's! These are great, but it is a work in progress! I find that stores are often out of paper, offline, or they just don't have them! I've gotten to know one CVS manager well, so he always gets that store's going for me, after "complaining" (teasingly!) that I've broken it again!

  • Diabetes books- these can usually be found in the back of the store near the pharmacy and are free. Occasionally they have CVS store coupons, similar to CRT's.

  • Reinventing Beauty Magazine- these can be hard to find! It is a magazine found near the front of the store with the ads, with other magazines, or in the beauty section. I've only found them once! These are .99 a piece and you DO have to pay for them! Please don't tear out the coupons inside and leave the magazine behind. (Although reportedly some stores have stacks of the coupons beside the magazines that they will let you have for free!) Again, these coupons are like CRT's.

  • Email coupons- if you link your Extra Care card to your email account you will occasionally receive coupons directly from CVS. These are often $ off of a purchase amount ($3 off $15 purchase) or similar to CRT’s with $ off a certain product.

How do you stack these coupons?

If you get a CVS coupon for $1 off Listerine and have a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off Listerine, you can use BOTH to get a total of $2 off your purchase!

Often items that produce ECB's may have CRTs and manufacturer coupons out, to get even BETTER savings!

Here is an example of how to stack coupons:
(This scenario is made up, but close to a former true scenario!)

  • Listerine is on sale for buy one at $4.00 get $2 ECB’s
  • There is a $1 off manufacturer’s coupon found in a recent insert
  • There is a $1 off CVS coupon found in a recent issue of the Diabetes Magazine.
  • Use both coupons to get a total of $2 off the Listerine, then you’ll get $2 in ECB back making it FREE

$4.00 - $1 - $1 - $2 ECB’s = FREE

  1. Transferring Prescriptions

Even though I usually don’t spend much money at CVS once I use my ECB’s, there’s often a small amount left to pay after tax is added! I try to keep a balance on a gift card to take care of this so that I usually spend nothing out of pocket at CVS!

CVS honors ALL competitor’s coupons for prescription transfers! These coupons can help you MAKE money as well!

For example:

  • Walgreen’s has been offering coupons for a $25 gift card with transferred prescriptions.
  • I have a prescription that costs $7 and transferred it using this coupon to get a $25 CVS coupon, which helped make me $18 on this one transaction!
  • I’ll then take that $25 gift card to cover what my ECB’s don’t or even to buy a few things that I need that I can’t get quite for free.

(Note: Kroger also accepts competitor’s prescription transfer coupons, so you could later switch to Kroger if you had multiple copies of the Walgreen’s coupon!)

Ok, so that was a lot of info! Where do I start? Check out the current week’s ad, and find a free, money maker, or cheap item that you can start with! Save your ECB's from that item to buy a new one later! Just be sure to check the expiration dates! ECB’s DO expire!

Each week, I'll have my plan posted, plus links to deals that you can do!

Alyssa at Keeping the Kingdom First runs a $5 CVS Challenge every week! It's a GREAT way to get started, doing two deals and spending $5 or less out of pocket!

I have earned so many ECB's that I usually have more than $10 on hand at all times (right now I have about $40!!), plus a full $25 gift card for transferring that prescription!

I use a lot of the products that I get at CVS. I also give lots away because they already made me money, and I get to bless others! The great thing about the money makers is that you can use the extra money to buy things that you need, like grocery items or other things not on sale!

Start off slow with one or two items! You’ll eventually become a pro and learn to love “CVSing!”

~Stacey of Daisy's Deals~

Please email me for questions, suggestions, and anything else at daisysdeals (at) hotmail (dot) com. As I begin this journey, please bear with me as I am still learning myself! If you see anything that you feel is inappropriate or against store/website policies please "politely" let me know.

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