Monday, September 28, 2009

Do You CVS?

For months I've seen posts here and there about CVS and ECBs and getting stuff for free. I finally did some research on different blogs to try and get some background information before I tried it because one, it seemed a little confusing, and two, it looked like it might take more work than it was worth.

Of course you do have to have the CVS Extra Care Card to start with, but it's free and you don't have to jump through any loopholes to get one. Then one of the main things I read was that you initially need to buy a few things that give you ECBs (Extra Care Bucks) back. I'll vouch for that.

Another thing that people said was that they had to split up their transactions when they were using their ECBs. (When you earn them they print at the bottom of your receipt, and each different promotion prints out separately. So if you earn 3 ECBs for buying a certain shampoo and 2 ECBs for buying deodorant, you will have two different coupons print at the bottom.) I think every other person I read about could only use one ECB coupon per transaction. I have been fortunate and every CVS I have gone to lets me use all mine in one transaction. I can't imagine trying to split up my items to use five different ECBs. That would get cumbersome. (ECBs usually have an expiration date one month out.)

When you are purchasing items at CVS, even if you earn ECBs you can still use manufacturer coupons. For example, last week I bought a tube of toothpaste that was on sale for $2.99 and I earned 2 ECBs. I also had a manufacturer's coupon for $1, so in effect I made one cent. If that was the only thing I had purchased that day and I'd had a 2 ECB coupon from a previous week or earlier in the week from a different promotion, I could have walked out paying nothing and still earned the 2 ECBs to use later.

You can never get cash back on your ECBs, so you must use them all or you forfeit them, so add in a candy bar or something (although I've not come close yet). Also, most of the promotions are limited so pay close attention to the sales flyer. It will also print on your receipt that you have reached certain offer limits, or that you have so much to go to meet the offer.

Also check your receipt closely. In four weeks I've already had a couple of mistakes that I've had to have corrected. The first week I purchased something that had the sign under showing it was part of the ECB sale, but it didn't ring up that way. I didn't realize it until I was home, and it was excluded in the sale flyer. I just returned the items for credit the next week. Then last week I had a similar thing happen, but since I caught it in the store they went ahead and gave me the sale price and my ECBs. This time it was not something that was specifically excluded.

One thing I've done is only purchased items our family will use. I've made a point not to buy something just because it has ECBs associated with it. I also make sure the items are cost effective compared to how much I would normally pay, otherwise it defeats the purpose. So how have I done? If you're still with me, here's how it's panned out so far:

The first week I spent $19.99 after coupons and earned 9 ECBs.

The second week I spent $10.96 after manufacturer coupons and the 9 ECBs. I earned 7 ECBs.

The third week I spent $26.95 after manufacturer coupons and the 7 ECBs. I earned 13 ECBs.

The fourth week (this week) I spent $35.98 after using manufacturer coupons and the 13 ECBs. I earned 25 ECBs.

So altogether in four weeks I've spent $93.88 and have 25 ECBs to use next week. What do I have to show for it:

Two bottles of my mousse
three bottles of Tide
16 big roll pack of Charmin Ultra Soft
Gillette Fusion Razor
Vaseline Sheer Infusion Lotion
Four bags of Dove Chocolate (hey, don't judge me)
8 ct. Schick disposable razors the girls use (I think there were two bonus razors in it also)
three bottles of shampoo Buddy uses (two of them had 33% more in them)
two gallons of milk
one bottle of shampoo Hubby uses
Colgate Total
three packages of Extra gum (Sparky)
two extra large packages of Orbit (Sparky)
some candy (I'm not even telling)
two deodorants (boys)
two toothbrushes

I'm pleased so far, especially considering I got some chocolate out of it!

I usually sit down on Sunday after I get the paper and go through the ad and my coupons. Obviously the things that give you the most ECBs would be the ones you would like to buy, but if it's something you don't use or you have to spend a lot of money to get them, it doesn't make it worth it. I have found that going in the store with not only the ad but also a list of what I would like to buy is very helpful. On my list I usually put the specifics of the ad and purchase requirements, and then I have the ad if I need to refer back to it. It makes the trip through the store go a lot faster.

This site has advance notice of future CVS ads and lots of CVS information. Sometimes I'll get my CVS shopping list ready ahead of time from here.

So, do you CVS? Has the thought crossed your mind? Too complicated? None near you? Not worth the trouble? I'm sticking with it for a while because I'm definitely not spending more than I would somewhere else and eventually I might build up enough ECBs to do what other people do — walk out paying nothing.


Mari said...

It sounds like you are doing really well with it. I would CVS but there are none near me.

Kristenph said...

I do CVS and although I'm not a super expert. I have never heard that you could use one ECB per transaction, just one ECB per item purchased. I've always been able to use multiple ECBs transaction. What I can't do (though I haven't actually tried it.) is to use multiple ECBs buying one item. For example, I don't think you can purchase a pack of diapers and then put a $2, $3, and $5 ECB and get $10 off the package.

There are some people that do multiple transactions because they want to use the ECBs they just earned on another item. Especially on things that you can earn ECB's on more than one. Like buy 1 tube of toothpaste, get $2 ECBs, use that on the second transaction and get more ECBs.

Sorry to write a book ;) I hope this helps.

Betsy said...

I would never judge anyone buying chocolate! :) I may be jealous that you have 4 bags of doves, but never judging! LOL!

We have a CVS but I've never been in it. I do a similar thing at Kroger..using to tell me the specials and what coupons to use. I only buy what we normally would use and nothing more. Then I'm off to Super Walmart and Aldis.

I'll be curious to see if you are hooked on the CVS in a few months. If it works out, I may try it! :)

Kayren, Pink Daisy Girl said...

Kristenph ~ thanks for sharing. Every bit of knowledge helps with CVS and ECBs.

I hadn't really seriously thought about trying the multiple transactions until you put it into words here. I went back to my receipt and refigured if I had made my purchases in multiple transactions, using the ECBs for each successive purchase, I would have spent roughly $16 instead of $36, but I would only have 7 ECBs to carry forward to next week instead of 25 ECBs. I may have made a mistake in my figuring, but it's pretty close. I think before I go next week I'll play with it on paper and see what I come up with. I'm just math geeky enough to like that kind of stuff.

Thanks again for your comments!

Kayren, Pink Daisy Girl said...

Betsy ~ never heard of the Kroger thing. We do have a few of those around here, although Meijer's is the largest chain probably. When we first moved here I wasn't sold on Meijer's, but now that I've gotten used to the way they do their sales I like them better than Super Wal-Mart in most cases. They print out coupons when you check out for future purchases and also do double coupons. My favorites they print out are the ones for x number of dollars off of an x number of dollar purchase. Sometimes I get $5 off of $75. Not hard to do with a family of six.

Unfortunately the Aldi's is not close enough for me to make it worth my while to go. I need to plan it for sometime when I'm in that area. I drive by and say, "Oh, there's Aldi's." One of these days...

Designed by Blogs by Sneaky Momma