Tuesday, August 1, 2000

CVS Tutorial

Would you like to learn how to shop at CVS and get the things your family needs (like toothpaste, shampoo, razors) for FREE and even get extras to share with others?

Well, you have come to right place! I will attempt to explain the best I can how to use the CVS ExtraCare Bucks program to literally earn your family money by saving a ton of money!

First of all you need to pick up a CVS ExtraCare card at your local CVS store. It is a store loyalty card that tracks your purchases and also gets you cheaper prices than someone buying the same item not using an ExtraCare card.

It looks like this:

The main way you can save money at CVS is by using ExtraCare Rewards or bucks. ExtraCare bucks, or ECB's for short, are like CVS cash. They can be used to buy almost anything in the store (excluding stamps, alcohol, RX, gift cards). Your ECB's will print on the bottom of your receipt when you scan your CVS ExtraCare card and purchase a qualifying product.

Each week CVS puts out a weekly ad. You can find this ad in your Sunday newspaper, online here, or in your local CVS store. In this ad you will find all the things that are on sale that week as well as items that CVS is offering ECB's on that week.

For example this was in this week's ad:

So if you went into the store and bought the Revlon foundation you would pay the $9.99 out of pocket (plus tax), but you would get a coupon or ECB printed on the bottom of your receipt for $9.99 that you can use toward a future purchase. Sort of like an instant rebate check.

BUT if you already had ECB's that you earned from a previous purchase you would use whatever ECB's you had (let's say $10.00) to pay for the foundation, pay the tax of a few cents, and you would still get the $9.99 ECB's back on the bottom of your receipt. So now you have really gotten the item for FREE (plus tax) since you used your previous ECB's to pay for it.

Now in the scenario above you paid $10.00 for a $9.99 item. CVS will not give you change back for an ECB, you just lose it (they adjust the amount of the ECB down to the total of your order). So you would in essence lose a penny if you paid $10.00 when it only cost $9.99. But that is ok sometimes. In my opinion if I had a $8.00 ECB and a $10.00 ECB, I would rather pay with the $10.00 ECB and lose a penny then pay with the $8.00 ECB and then have to PAY $2.00+ tax out of pocket.

You can use any number of ECB's to pay for an order. If in the scenario above you had a $2.00 ECB, $3.00 ECB and $5.00 ECB you can use them all to pay. Like I said, ECB's are more like cash than coupons - you could use (10) $1.00 bills to pay so you could use (10) $1.00 ECB's to pay too! So treat them like cash - I guard my CVS coupon binder that contains my ECB's as much as I guard my wallet!

So the foundation that we talked about above was a FREE after ECB product and CVS usually has 1 - 2 FREE items each week. But they have many other items that produce ECB's each week that can turn out to be FREE or nearly free after you use a coupon on them.

Here's how:

The Softsoap bodywash pictured is on sale for $4.99 and will give you $4.00 back in ECB's. So if you paid with previous ECB's you would still pay $0.99 + tax for it. BUT there was a coupon for $1.00 off Softsoap bodywash in a recent newspaper insert.

So here is how your transaction would look:

Softsoap $4.99
- $1.00 manufacturer coupon
Total $4.00 + tax (pay cash or ECB's)
Get back a $4.00 ECB - so once again the item is FREE!
But it gets even better. Sometimes you can even earn more ECB's than you spend by combining a coupon and ECB deal (called moneymakers).

Here's how:

These Blink tears were already a "FREE after ECB item (FAECB)." But to make it even better there was a $3.00 coupon in a recent insert.

So your transaction would look like this:

Blink tear eye drops $7.99
- $3.00 manuf. newspaper coupon
Total $4.99+tax (pay in cash or ECB's)
Get back a $7.99 ECB!

So you would be earning $3.00 more in ECB's than you spent and get the item for FREE!
(Photos courtesy of iheartcvs.com)
Here are some tips to help you even more with your CVS shopping:
  • Ask for rainchecks. If CVS is out of any item, even a ECB item, ask for a raincheck. On the raincheck they should write the event code(a small # code printed in the CVS ad next to the ECB item) on the raincheck so that when you buy the item later you will not only get the item at the sale price, but they will able to print the ECB for you as well.

  • Watch the limits on ECB deals. The limit will be printed in the ad and on the shelf tag. If the item has a limit of more than 1 don't buy all the items in the same transaction. If you do, the ECB's for ALL of the items will print in one lump sum ECB. For example: if an item gives a $5.00 ECB and has a limit of 5 and you buy all 5 in a transaction you will get (1) $25 ECB! This is rather hard to use later if CVS has a slow week and you don't have a $25 total after coupons.

  • "Buy $ worth get xx ECB deals". For deals like "Buy $20 worth get $xx ECB" you don't have to buy all the items in one transaction. Just make sure to go back and finish doing the deal! The bottom of your receipt will keep track of all your purchases for the week. So if you bought $8.00 worth it will say "amount toward reward - $8.00, amount needed to reach reward - $12.00." This is the same for "buy 2 get xx ECB". You don't have to buy both items in one transaction - just don't forget to buy the 2nd one later!

  • Watch the bottom of your receipt. Not only will it keep track of your purchases like I stated above, it will also keep track of the limits. It will say how many items you have bought and if you have reached your limit yet.

  • Scan your card at the Coupon Printer every time you visit CVS! If your store has a price checker/coupon printer, scan your card there to get valuable CVS store coupons! Especially on your first visit that week, you can usually scan your card multiple times until it says "No more coupons available." Also watch for CVS coupons to print on the bottom of your receipt.

  • Stack your coupons if possible. CVS will accept 1 manufacturer coupon AND 1 CVS coupon on each item. So if you had a CVS store coupon for $1.00 of any deodorant and you had a manuf. coupon for $1.00 of Sure deodorant you could use both coupons and get $2.00 total off 1 Sure deodorant.

  • Watch the expiration dates on your ECB's!! If they expire most stores will not let you use them and you are in a sense throwing money away! There have been times that I have had ECB's expiring and no good ECB deals to do. So I would just buy milk, or TP or something my family needed instead of letting that "money" go to waste! I try to keep my ECB's filed (in my small coupon binder) with the ECB expiring the soonest first so I know when I have to use it.

  • Register your card at CVS.com. They will sometimes send you coupons like "$4 off a $20 purchase" and more in your email.

  • Hand your coupons to the cashier in a certain order. If you have any kind of $ off coupon like $5/$25, etc. hand the cashier that coupon first. Then hand all your manuf. coupons and CVS coupons. I always then ask the cashier what the total is before tax (since my ECB's will not pay the tax) and I then combine and grab any ECB's that I have that can get me closest to the total without going over (unless it is only a few pennies over).

  • Be nice to your store employees and cashiers!! I have 2 main CVS stores that I visit in my area and I know most of the employee's names and greet them by name as I come in the store. And they either know my name or know who I am (one store has a CVS hall of fame with pictures of great CVS shoppers and their coupon testimony posted and they call me "Hall of famer"!) I have to say, I have some wonderful CVS cashiers! I have shared diaper coupons and tips on how to do a really great deal or a hidden deal that week with them on multiple occasions. So, no groans as I come up to the cash register with my stack of coupons and sometimes even multiple transactions - they laugh and chat with me and try to guess how much I will pay for everything. It makes shopping at CVS so much more enjoyable and it also helps me uphold my Christian testimony!
I hope this has helped answer your questions about shopping at CVS and you are ready to give it a try!
If you have a question that I haven't answered, please either leave a comment or send me a email at centsiblesavings (@) yahoo (.) com.

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