- Personal Finance
The Drugstore Game: Saving Money at CVS
CVS offers many deals that give you many free or almost free items. You just need to know how to take advantage of the deals they offer you! If you are new to the drugstore game, CVS is usually the easiest store to start with.
Extra Care Card
CVS has a customer loyalty card called an Extra Care Card. By using this card, you can receive special discounts on items. In order to take advantage of the great deals at CVS, you must have an Extra Care Card; the card is free. The card also tracks your spending to give you 2% of what you spent each quarter, which it gives you in the form of an Extra Care Buck (see below) to spend on future purchases.
Extra Care Bucks
Extra Care Bucks, also known as ECBs, are CVS coupons printed on your receipt. You earn them by buying specific items advertised each week. You can then use these coupons for money off your next purchase. For example, CVS recently had a deal where 12-packs of Coke were $3 each. If you bought $15 worth of Coke, you’d get $5 ECB, which you could then use on another purchase for $5 off.
Rolling ECBs is using your ECBs you got on one item to make another item free or almost free. This could be using your ECBs from a previous week on items you’re buying at a later date, or it could be doing multiple transactions to get maximum savings. For example, if in one day you plan on buying mouthwash ($5 with a $3 ECB) and makeup ($10 with a $5 ECB). You could buy them together and spend $15 and get back $8 ECB to use at a later date. You could also buy the makeup and spend $10 and get back $5 ECB. In a second transaction you could buy the $5 mouthwash and use the $5 ECB from the makeup, making the mouthwash free, plus you also get $3 ECB to spend at a later date.
Coupons Accepted at CVS
At CVS you can use multiple types of coupons:
Manufacturer’s coupons: Found in Sunday newspaper inserts and online
Extra Care Bucks: Rewards for buying certain items, printed at the bottom of the receipt, valid for 1 month after purchase
Store coupons: Can be found at the bottom of some receipts (also called a CRT), on the store website, and at the coupon kiosk inside the store (just scan your Extra Care Card).
Stacking coupons is the process of using multiple coupons for the same item; they just can’t be the same type of coupon, so you can have one manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon, and you can also use ECBs. If you were buying makeup for $10, you could use a $2 manufacturer’s coupon and a $5 store coupon. You could also use ECBs worth $3 or less. What is nice is that unlike Walgreens, you don’t have to have as many items as you have coupons.
CVS limits how many items with Extra Care offers you can purchase. This usually is one or two items, but I’ve seen it go up to six. The limit allows you to get great deals, but prevents you from truly being able to stock up on a particular item. Your Extra Care Card tracks how many of each offer you’ve purchased.
Extra Care Tag
CVS rewards you for bringing your own bag. If you purchase an Extra Care Tag ($.99, and they occasionally have ECB deals where you get a $.99 ECB for purchasing one), the store will link it to your account. For every four purchases you make in the store while using your own bag, you will get back $1 ECB.
I Don't Need It, But It's Free
As you play the drugstore game, you will find you come across many items that you can purchase for free, but aren't items you want or need. You then have a choice: don't buy it (which would be the traditional wisdom--don't buy what you need) or buy it and donate it. "Buying" free items is a great way to get items to give to family and friends or donate to homeless shelters, food banks, or other organizations that help the less fortunate. I supply relatives (six families) with almost all of their health and beauty and cleaning supplies for free. I also donate hundreds of dollars worth of items (which cost me nothing!) to the local homeless shelter.
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