Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CVS 101 (part 1)

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!

So are you ready to try shopping at CVS? I have some more to explain so come back tomorrow for part 2 and then you can try your hand at getting stuff for FREE at CVS!

(Photos courtesy of

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