Friday, May 2, 2008

Centsible Shopping at CVS - Part 2

Did you try your hand at CVS yet? Or were you waiting to read the rest of the series on Centsible Shopping at CVS? In part 2 of this 3 part series, you'll learn a few more "tips of the trade" to make your shopping experience even more profitable! If you have not read part 1 of this series yet, you can do so here.

1. Remember that there are limits on all the ECB items. The ad as well as the sale tag on the shelf will clearly state what the limit is. This is usually pretty self-explanatory. But if, for instance, the ad states "buy 2 of x product, get $5 ECB's", and the limit is 2 per household, then that means that you can get the ECB's 2 times; it does not mean you can only buy 2 products. You could buy 4 products and get the $5 ECB's twice.

2. You do not have to do a buy $$, get $ deal all in one transaction. For example, if the ad states "Buy $15 of x product, get $5 ECB's", you do not have to buy all $15 worth in one transaction. If you only buy part of it the first time, your receipt will tell you how much you have toward that deal and how much you still need to spend to get the ECB's.

3. While we're talking about receipts, I will go ahead tell you that your receipt will also tell you when you have reached your limit on an item. Or if you haven't reached your limit yet, it will tell you how many more you can get before you do reach your limit. I think this feature actually comes in very handy because I don't always buy my limit of an item all at once, but sometimes I can't remember how many I have bought. I'd hate to buy my sixth item when the limit was 5 and not get any ECB's back.

4.Last week I explained that you need to check the weekly circular to find the items that give back ECB's. So that we didn't get in too deep all at once, I didn't tell you that there are also monthly ads as well. You can pick one of these up in the store on the shelf right next to the weekly ads. The monthly ads are full of items that give back ECB's. Many of those items are free after ECB's. There is a strategy for buying these items, though; don't just go in and buy up your limit on the first day of the month. I like to buy my free after ECB's items gradually throughout the month to use them to bring my total up so that I can use a $/$$ coupon ($4 off $20, $3 off $15, $2 off $10, etc.). This way I can buy the things that I need that do not give back ECB's. For example, if I need a gallon of milk, this is what I would do:

Buy $16 of free after ECB stuff
Buy a gallon of milk at $4.
Total = $20
Use a $4/$20 coupon
Total = $16 (or less if I used any coupons)(paid in previously earned ECB's of course)
Receive back $16 in ECB's for all the free after ECB stuff I bought

See how it works? I forfeited none of my ECB's at all and I got my gallon of milk too! That is how to use strategy to save hundreds of dollars on groceries every year!

There is one thing to note, however, about using strategy like that. It's risky. Sometimes the free after ECB's items go out of stock rather quickly. Sometimes they are re-stocked, but sometimes they aren't. Before I scare you, though, let me just say that there have been very few times I've gone through a month and not gotten almost all the free after ECB's items. Once you start doing this on a regular basis, you will learn which items tend to go out of stock faster than others, and you can make sure to get those early on in the month. You can also find out which days your store's truck comes in, and shop the day after. You can also ask if they have more of the item in the back. One time there was some free after ECB's toothpaste, and I found out that they just simply didn't put it on the shelf, but they had plenty in the back. If the stock is out early in the month, you can ask the manager if they will order more before the month is out.

The monthly ad also contains items that are not free after ECB's but have the potential to be free when combined with coupons.
Next week I will share some great tips about how to get the most out of your coupons, where to find coupons, and how to plan your CVS shopping trips so that everything goes as smoothly as possible in the store.
If you have any other questions, let me know, and I'll cover that next week as well!


  1. Thank you so much! I am so new to trying to shop CVS and I don't know why I am so slow to wrapping my head around it all!! Your 2 parts thus far have been very easy for me to understand and I will be watching for part 3. I am going to link you on my page under the others that are teaching me to be a better steward of our money.
    Thanks again and blessings!!

  2. The CVS's in my area even give me rainchecks on free after ECB items. This policy varies depending on who I talk to on any given day or in any given CVS, but they have *all* given me some sort of a raincheck for the free items.

  3. Hi there, thanks so much for taking the time to write this article up. I'm new to CVS'ing and I spent 50 bux and didn't get very deep discounts at all. Only 16 ECBs -- but I'm slowly learning.

    About what you said here: "There is a strategy for buying these items, though; don't just go in and buy up your limit on the first day of the month. I like to buy my free after ECB's items gradually throughout the month to use them to bring my total up so that I can use a $/$$ coupon ($4 off $20, $3 off $15, $2 off $10, etc.)."

    Can you explain how the $/$$ coupons are earned? My first instinct was to buy up the limit ASAP -- I didn't know that the $/$$ coupons accrue over time.



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