Thursday, January 8, 2009

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.In part one 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.

In the next part of this series, 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.


  1. Don't forget about rainchecks. If an item is out of stock, CVS will issue a raincheck, and those never expire. Also, all CVS cash registers are able to print out ECB's on command. So, if your CVS was out of an item, you could get the raincheck, purchase it weeks later, and any ECB's that you were supposed to get originally will still be printed out. It's a win-win!

  2. I went in today to purchase the throat coolers that are in the January montly deal ad for 4.99 get 4.99 ECBs back. I also had a BOGO coupon, so I'd pay for one and get 9.98 back in ECB's if I'm not mistaken. However, they said they hadn't heard of it and didn't think they carried that item at all. I said, "umm, it's in your January monthly deal ad." They said, "well, sometimes they give us only a certain amount of something and once we're out, we're out. Maybe that's what happened." I said, "Can I have a raincheck, then?" They said, "No. If they only sent us a certain amount, we won't get anymore in." I was a bit upset by that. I was supposedly talking to the manager. She wasn't rude, really. Just said, "So sorry about that." Now, they really should have given me a raincheck, right? Because I could have at least used it at a CVS that stocks it, right? Or am I completey wrong?

  3. Lana,
    You most certainly should be able to get a raincheck. I do it all the time. They have done it a couple different ways for me. They either write the raincheck for $0.00 (which I don't like because then you can't use coupons to make a profit), or they will write the raincheck for the purchase amount and make a note that it's supposed to give back ECB's. Then they either print the ECB's on their machine or sometimes they write them out on a piece of paper. (I've never had a problem with other employees accepting the hand-written ones.) I would email customer service and have them answer your question about their rain-check policy so you can print it and take it to the store to show them.


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