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Frugal Friday – Shopping at CVS

I know, I know, I’m sounding like a broken record talking about my venture into Couponing with a Purpose.  I’m just excitedly spewing out everything I’m learning.  Eventually I’ll simmer down.  Pinky swear.

Prior to learning about how to shop drug stores, and then using sales/coupons/on-site rewards to score great deals, I can tell you that I rarely set foot in a CVS or Walgreens.

Mostly because as a whole, the prices are elevated, especially when compared to some place like Wal Mart.  And so for that reason, I don’t purchase anything at a drug store unless it is an advertised sale, and I know that I have the coupons to back it up.

I can honestly say that much of my recent experience is with CVS exclusively.  Their Extra Care Bucks (called Register Rewards at Walgreens) are easier to use and accumulate.  Also, CVS just seems to be better stocked.  Whenever I’ve attempted to buy something on sale at Walgreens, they are usually out of the item.  And yes, I could ask for a rain check, but Walgreens does not honor Register Rewards with a rain check.  I’ve asked.

CVS, on the other hand, will honor the Extra Care Bucks with a rain check.

Extra Care Bucks are advertised in the Sunday circular.  For example, if you buy a certain item, you can use a coupon, and you may get, say, $2.00 ECB printed on your receipt.  You can then use those ECB like cash on your next purchase.

Which could be either next week, or on another consecutive transaction.  I typically only do one or two transactions at a time, because mentally, that’s all I can take.

I’m still a novice, after all.

Basically, there are a few things you can do at CVS to get you started.

  • Scan your Extra Care Card at the red in-store kiosk every time you walk in the door.  You can receive some nice high value store coupons that way.  And you can usually scan your card at least twice.
  • Purchase a Green Bag Tag for only 99 cents.  I have a bag that holds my coupon box and purchases, and I have just attached my green bag tag onto the handle.  Have the cashier scan it whenever you check out, and you will receive $1 ECB for every 4 times you shop.  Every little bit helps.  And you’re using your own shopping bags, thusly saving a plastic tree.  Or whatever.
  • For every 2 prescriptions you have filled at CVS, you will receive $1 ECB.

(Special hat tip to True Couponing for all their terrific information regarding shopping drug stores!)

Earlier in the week, I did my shopping at CVS, and I wanted to show you what I came home with.

People, I spent $1.62.  And that was just to cover the tax.

Here’s how I did it:

First of all, because I registered with CVS ExtraCare e-mail (insert link), I was able to receive a special $5 off of a $25 purchase (before coupons).

• The Head & Shoulders was on sale for $4.49, and offered $2 ECBs (limit 1).  And I used a Buy One Get One manufacturers coupon, so I came home with 2 bottles.

• The Cascade was on sale for $2.99. I used a mfg. coupon for $1.00 off.

• The toothbrushes were on sale for $3 each.  I used 2 $2 off mfg. coupons, and I received $2 in ECBs.

• The candy bar was free, because I got a coupon which covered the entire cost of the product from the kiosk when I entered the store.  And no, the children never laid eyes on it.  🙂  I like to think of it as a shopping bonus.

• I bought the mascara at 50% off for $5.25, the concealer at 75% off for $2.37, and the Scunci hair products on sale for $1.99 because they were a great deal, and I needed them.

I paid for the remainder of the purchase with my ECBs from last week, in the amount of $16 ECBs.  I only had to pay cash for the tax.

And still, I have $5 in ECBs from this purchase and a Green Bag Tag credit.

My goal now is not to pay anything other than tax if I shop at CVS next week.  This method of shopping is really keeping my cleaning supplies and toiletries budget down.

And if an occasional candy bar crosses my path, who am I to say no.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, head over to Life as Mom.

10 Responses to Frugal Friday – Shopping at CVS

  • My question about the couponing this is this…would you use say, Head and Shoulders, if you didn’t have the coupon? When I did coupons years ago, before the advent of the internet and reality television, I found myself buying things that we didn’t use just because I got them with a coupon. Not necessarily brands, but items. Not too smart on my part, but it wasn’t a cult back when the earth was still wet from Noah’s flood. I am curious because everyone seems to be doing it.

    • Mollianne,

      Yes, I have two people in our house who have issues with flakey and itchy scalp. (Not saying who…) 🙂 We found that H&S works the best, and it would kill me to buy it, because $$$$$! I’m able to keep it in stock now without any sticker shock. The same goes for items like Cascade. I’m rather brand loyal when I find a product that works, so I’m only buying the brands that I know and actually prefer.

      But great question!

  • Hey Sis! Been thinking ’bout you all day. And Tom- we watched Battlefield:LA the other night, and I was talking about it with one of the dialysis techs today. I totally nae dropped Tom. And he actually described him to see if that was who I was referring to! So, those were obviously a memorable 30 seconds for him!!

    Anyway, I only wish wish wish we had a CVS here. Or Cold Stone. Or, well, alot of things. Oh yeah, like SUMMER!!!! (Right now? 29 degrees outside).

    This sounds like a great, but easy way to shop and I could manage it.

    I dislike Walgreens here. Both the staffing and the drive. It’s in Redmond, which is 40 minutes from our house. So, after gas and a stop at Sonic going and coming (if Mommy is happy, everyone lives. I mean, is happy) is makes no economical sense to shop there for me.

    Keep up the good work! I am so proud 🙂

  • I have found that I (surprisingly) love CVS for the very same reasons. I have not had much luck with couponing, but in their Sunday ad they tell you if you will find a coupon in the Sunday circulars. I love the ECB and the coupons I recieve via e-mail. Once, they actually paid me to buy 2 ltr bottles of pepsi. The pepsi was on sale for .89, and they had $1 off coupons! I left the store with more money than I had entered it with.
    Can’t get better than that.

  • Walgreens does have at least one item of value going for it now…it’s their private label Big Flats beer at $2.99 per 6-pack. NOBODY comes close to that .50/beer price. Then again, it’s best served ice cold immediately after cutting the grass…in Texas…or Florida…in 102 degree heat…or 102% humidity…it’s all the same…

  • Wow. I keep telling myself that I am going to start couponing, but it looks like work, and I’m not a very good planner. I mean, REALLY not a good planner.
    Something along the lines of running out of toilet paper regularly.
    But, one day… when I grow up, Imma be just like you.
    (minus the hair scrunchies, cuz, those are SO yesterday!)

  • Great job. I’ve not seen those green bag tags things in the CVS up here but then we are out in the boonies so everything takes longer to get to us. Again, great job and keep teaching us how to do this……Please!

  • I didn’t shop at CVS either until Denise started talking about the savings on BlogHer. The cool thing about CVS is when they have a BOGO (Buy one, get one) sale you can use 2 coupons, one for each product. I am also brand picky. Despite how great a sale, somethings I will not switch brands for.

  • ….”saving a plastic tree”…..


    I’m just thinking about getting into the CVS thing. I know, late to the party, but now I live within walking distance of one of their stores. 🙂

    I used to get a few hundred dollars worth of groceries for a few bucks back when albertsons was still open in my area.
    Now there are NO stores left around here that double coupons …..

  • You can sometimes find a friend who uses a brand you don’t use (or give them your coupons) or donate. 🙂