Monday, March 22, 2010

Playing the System - CVS

Since I joined Coupon $ense last summer and started using coupons on a regular basis, I've been intimidated by the CVS loyalty program. Their Extra Care Card offers money back on certain transactions in their weekly ad, called "Extra Care Bucks" or "ECBs". They can be combined with regular coupons if you can spot the right deals. It seemed like a complicated system to me, so I kept telling myself "I'll start it next week" over and over again.

I finally bit the bullet and am now in my third week of "CVSing". Not only is it a lot easier than I thought it would be, but it is addicting! I can't wait to get my CVS ad on Sunday so I can see what great deals they have for the week. My Coupon $ense instructor has been invaluable, as well as the various couponing blogs that I've discovered. My favorite I've found so far is Deal Seeking Mom. I just like how everything is written out.

Anyway, here's my first week at CVS.

Because it was my first week, I didn't have any ECBs to use already. So I knew I would pay more out of pocket (OOP) this time.

Pantene Products: 2 for $6.97 - $2 off 2 coupon = $4.97 OOP, earn $2 in ECBs
Gillette Fusion Razor: $8.99 - $4.00 coupon = $4.99 OOP, earn $4 in ECBs
(2) Oral-B Toothbrush: $4.00 each - $0.75 coupon each = $3.25 OOP each, earn $4 in ECBs each

So my subtotal was $16.46, but I earned $16.00 in ECBs. So even though I had to pay the $16.46 (+tax) up front, I earned almost that much back to use for my next transaction.

For Week 2, I had $16 in ECBs to spend. The first CVS I went to didn't have everything I wanted, so I made two trips.

Trip 1:

Herbal Essence Shampoo: $2.99 - $1 coupon = $1.99 OOP, earn $1 ECB
Gillette Razors: $6.49 - $2 coupon = $4.49 OOP, earn $2 ECB
(4) Stayfree Pads ($3.89 each): $15.56 total - $7.78 (2 buy one get one free coupons) - $2 (2 coupons for $1 off) = $5.78 OOP, earn $2 ECB per package for total of $8 ECB
2 travel size baby shampoo for $0.99 each, no coupons or ECB on these, I just needed them

Subtotal: $14.24 - $14 ECB that I used from my first trip = $0.24 (+tax). This is where I went "Wow, this is awesome!" I still had $2 ECB from my first transaction, and earned $11 more, for a total of $13 ECB for next time.

Trip 2:

Right Guard Deodorant: 2 for $5.00 - $3.00 in coupons = $2.00 OOP, earn $2 ECB
(Not shown, 2 Snickers bars for 50 cents each...because I was hungry and they were by the register. I only ate one though. I saved the other one for Paul. I swear).

Subtotal: $3.00 - $2.00 ECB I used = $1.00 (+tax). If I had resisted the Snickers bars, I would only have paid tax on this transaction! $13 ECB left for next time.

Week 3:

CoverGirl Powder (the promotion was $3 ECB when you buy $10 worth of product):
$6 each, $12 total - $6 (buy one get one free coupon) - $1 coupon = $5.00 OOP, earn $3.00 ECB
Crest Rinse: $3.99 - $2 coupon = $1.99 OOP, earn $2 ECB
Colgate Toothpaste: $3.99 - $1 coupon = $2.99 OOP, earn $3.99 ECB
(Not shown, I caved on my hunger again. Keep in mind that I am doing this at lunchtime usually...1 20 oz Mountain Dew for $1.49 and 1 Doritos single for $0.99: $2.48 OOP, earn $1 ECB. So at least I got something back for it!)

Subtotal: $12.46 - $11 ECB used = 1.46 (+tax). $11.99 left in ECB for next week.

Sorry if this is boring, but I find it fun and a bit of a challenge. The goal is to spend ECBs on products that earn more in theory you would just keep rolling them over and not really spending much money at CVS ever again! A lot of the things I choose to buy are things we will use, and if we won't use them then I plan on donating them. And since CVS allows one manufacturer's coupon per product, you can combine different coupons to get great deals like the Stayfree Pads from Week 2, where you actually make money.

I'm still a beginner at it, and far from figuring out the great deals all on my own, but that's where belonging to Coupon $ense really pays off. It makes it much easier to plan my shopping trip.

That goes for grocery shopping, too...but that's another story.


  1. Wow! I've been using more coupons and ads to my advantage lately, but this is so impressive. I might just have to join coupon $ense. I am getting addicted to saving money lately, so this really speaks to me...thanks so much for sharing! ~Katerina

  2. Nice, I LOVE CVS! I love seeing all your deals. I bet you get a thrill walking out paying only pennies for all your loot! I started CVSing a couple years back, I had to stop for a while because our stash was piling up and it was unnecessary for me to keep going... that was 6 months ago and we are still stocked up on toothpaste, shampoo, etc. YAY for great deals! PS I have heard good things about Coupon Sense... maybe I should try that next. :)