Before I started this process, I’m not sure I had ever set foot in a CVS. I didn’t know much about them and I had always been a Walgreens girl. Walgreens was in Chicago, my family had always gone to Walgreens, and being brand loyal, so did I. Now they have both found a place in my couponing heart.
CVS has several ways to get things for free/make money.
First and foremost is the Extra Care Buck (ECB). ECB’s are the equivalent of a manufacturer’s coupon that is good for a set amount and useable on any product you choose. In the good old days (well, a few weeks ago) ECB’s would eat up the tax as well. Unfortunately, this is a thing of the past. They are still wonderful, though!
You earn ECB’s for many different things depending on the week.
For example, this week you can Caliber recycled school boxes for $1.99. You will pay $1.99 + tax and receive a coupon on the bottom of your receipt for $1.99 that is good on any future purchase. It will expire one month from the receipt date.
You can then turn around and use this ECB for $1.99 on 2 Paper Mate 10pk pens (.99). You will be charged $1.98 + tax. You will use the $1.99 ECB (which the nice cashier will adjust down to $1.98), pay only your tax and get another ECB for $1.98 to use on your next purchase. This is what we call rolling. You have only paid $1.99 + tax out of pocket, but you now have 3 products and $1.98 in ECB that you can use. So virtually, your purchases were free.
You can also use coupons with ECB offers. For example, this week Colgate Maxfresh is on sale for $2.99 with $1 ECB back. You could use a $1 coupon, pay $1.99, and get $1 back. Total cost – $.99. I don’t recommend doing this particular deal, by the way. There are several things you should never pay for again and toothpaste is one of them. We will find it free somewhere in the next few weeks.
A second way you can save/make money at CVS is by using the coupons that print out of the magic coupon machine. These machines are typically located close to the entrance and look like a red box with a scanner. You will wave your CVS card in front of the scanner and personalized coupons will print out. These are store coupons and CAN be used in conjunction with manufacturer’s coupons (a third way to make/save money here).
One of the great coupons that you might get out of this machine is a $/$$ coupon. Currently you can print one of these off the CVS website through their survey. At the end of the survey you will receive a $5/$25 coupon. These coupons can be used on anything (other than the basic coupon no-no’s of prescriptions, liquor, etc.) and in conjunction with ECB offers.
For example, product A is selling for $3.99 with $3.99 back, limit 3. There are manufacturer’s coupons for $1 in the paper. Product B is on sale for $5 with $5 back, limit 4.
You will buy:
3 Product A for 11.97
3 Product B for $15
Now you will use your $5/$25 making your total $21.97
Next you will use your $3 in coupons for product A, making your total $18.97
You would pay the $18.97 (hopefully in ECB that you have saved up!)
and get back $26.97 in ECB
A pretty decent moneymaker!!
And this is how we play the CVS game. The cashiers all know how to adjust coupons down (if you are buying a product for .99 and have a $1 coupon) and are used to this kind of transaction.
It can be a bit confusing at first, but you will get the hang of it.
Feel free to ask me any questions by email or in the comments.
Now you can check out your deals and head to CVS!