CVS 101

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any kind of an introduction to any of the stores, so I thought I’d start with CVS, which is my favorite drug store!

First, CVS does not double coupons, none of the drug stores do in fact. Because of this, it’s not always a great place to get food items, but it’s a GREAT place to get health and beauty items for free!

Each drugstore has a program, and CVS calls it’s program Extra Care. You have an Extra Care Card that is only yours, and your purchases can generate Extra Care Bucks (ECBs). The thing about drug stores is that you can get some amazing deals (I haven’t paid for toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, etc in years now!) but you do have an itnitial out-of-pocket expense. The items are usually free AFTER ECBs, which means you pay for the item upfront, and then get a slip of paper ‘bucks’ good for your next purchase. After a couple of weeks, your out-of-pocket (OOP) expense will be minimal, because you use the bucks you earned the week before on this week’s buck-earning items.

Now, each week, CVS has certain items that generate ECBs when you purchase them and they’re advertised in the weekly ad. Sometimes these are good deals, and sometimes they aren’t. The best deals are the items that are free after ECBs, especially if you can use a coupon in addition to make it a money-maker!

For example:

Starting 04/24/11, CVS has Blink Tears eye drops on sale for $7.99. You will also get $7.99 in ECBs when you buy it, so, it’s free basically, after the initial out-of-pocket.

BUT… a few weeks ago, there was a coupon for Blink Tears in the Sunday paper for $1 off. So this is a money-maker item. You can use coupons on any item, even the ones that generate the bucks. You’ll spend $6.99 for the drops, and get $7.99 back after your purchase. Again, you have an initial oop, but doing this for a while, it’s much less. I’ll be getting this using some of my ECBs that I earned this week, so I’ll only pay $1-$2 OOP and get the $7.99 ECB back.

Now, these bucks have an expiration date, but it’s been my experience from talking with the staff that they’ll take them, even if they’ve expired, up to a month after, so you have some grace with that! You also can use them only on pre-tax totals. They can’t be applied to tax, and you can’t use them to buy alcohol, gift cards, etc. The limitations are printed at the bottom of the bucks.

CVS is great because they also have a few other perks to their program. The coupon scanner machine prints out coupons every day when you scan your card. Sometimes it’s nothing special, but a lot of those coupons have gotten me some free stuff when you pair it up right.

They also frequently email you $ off of a $ purchase coupons when you sign up with your email address. These are a GREAT way to score some overage or use that money towards a higher priced item. You need to hit your target price BEFORE coupons, but you don’t have to after coupons, so you can use ‘free’ items to maximize your savings.

For example, you can use freebie items (like the eye drops I mentioned above) to hit the target price (ie $3 off of a $15 purchase, $15 being the target price in order to get the additional $3 off). Then you could throw in a few free-after-coupon deodorants (Dove Men+ deodorant starting Sunday!), and now your total is $12! If you buy anything that’s $3, you’ll get it for free because you’ll be using the $3 off of your $15 purchase coupon. You could get some single roll paper towels, a couple bottles of shampoo, Easter candy, or anything you need really! You could also get something more expensive, and basically have a $3 coupon towards it.

Probably my favorite thing about CVS is their prescription coupon policy! If you get prescriptions (and who doesn’t get one every once in a while at least?) you can use competitor’s prescription coupons at CVS! Target and Kmart are FREQUENTLY publishing prescription coupons in their ads. Usually it’s either $25 for a transferred prescription or $10 for a new or transferred prescription. Now, you can play the transferring game, which is transferring prescriptions from one pharmacy to the other to use the coupons (it’s very time-consuming and they pharmacy techs don’t like you very much for it) or you can just use the $10 gift card coupons for a new prescription. I keep them in my purse and car for an unexpected round of antibiotics. With five people, it happens every couple of months, and I’m able to pay, literally, nothing out of pocket for all my CVS purchases when I roll my bucks and use my gift cards for the balance. It’s an intermediate couponing strategy, but not as complicated as it seems!

One more thing, if you go to CVS and find that they’re completely out of something that you wanted to get (ie a money-maker or free after ECB item), you can get a raincheck and they never expire! NEVER! It was a glorious day when I learned of this little tidbit! That meant not running from store to store trying to find this really hot deal before the week’s sale changed! I could just get a raincheck and get it in a week or two (or 12) when they restocked! They even raincheck the ECBs that generate from an item’s sale, which is different than the other drugstores. Trust me when I say this is a big perk!

It’s a lot of information, but it’s really not too complicated once you start doing it! Any questions?

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