Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to Become a Frugalista: CVS Shopping 101

If you have never coupon shopped at CVS it can be a little intimidating, but once you get the hang of it you can get stuff for FREE every week! And if you're really doing it well you can build your stockpile and never have to pay for personal care items again!

The most important thing about shopping at CVS is your CVS ExtraCare Card. You have got to sign up for one of these babies because they really help you rack in the savings - all you have to do is ask for one at your local CVS. One you have your precious CVS ExtraCare Card make sure you sign up for e-mails from CVS to get valuable CVS coupons in your inbox including a $4 off $20 CVS coupon!

Ok so you've got your CVS ExtraCare card - What's next? You definitely want to buy one of these Greenbagtags. They are only $0.99 at CVS. You attach them to any reusable shopping bag you have and then make sure the cashier scans the card every time you shop with your reusable bag. On every 4th scan you will get a $1 ECB (more on those later). So in just 4 visits you will earn your $0.99 investment back and you will be "making a profit" in no time!

NOTE: you might want to wait to purchase a Greenbagtag because there are occasionally coupons or sales which make them FREE as well!

So what's the first thing you do when you walk into CVS with your ExtraCare Card, your fistful of coupons and your Greenbagtag? Scan your ExtraCare Card at the Magic Coupon Machine of course (a.k.a the "coupon center"). When you scan your ExtraCare Card at the Magic Coupon Machine its spits out even more awesome coupons for you! The best part about these coupons? - They are CVS coupons which means you can use them along with a manufacturer coupon (also known as stacking) to really increase your savings! AND you never know what you will get - sometimes you will even get a coupon for a FREE item just for scanning your ExtraCare Card!

ExtraCare Card - Check - Greenbagtag - Check - Magic Coupon Machine - Check.... Now what the heck is an ECB??? An ECB is the abbreviation for ExtraCare Buck. These bad boys are almost as good as cold hard cash!

Every week CVS has sales in their ad where you receive ExtraCare Bucks for purchasing certain items. How it works is: you buy said item and the ECB will print out on the end of the receipt. You can then use those ECBs on almost anything else in the store (exclusions are alcohol, tobacco and gift cards) either right then and there or at a later date. ECBs are usually good for several weeks so you can roll them (use your ECBs from this weeks sales on next weeks ECB sales and receive more to use on the next weeks and so on)!

Now here's where the real magic happens - many times the items that are FREE or super cheap after ECBs also have current manufacturer coupons (whether printable or in the Sunday paper) can be used on them. So you can buy an ten which is FREE after ECB use your manufacturer coupon for X dollars off only pay the price minus X and still get back the full ECB value - its like MAKING MONEY to buy the product.

One of my absolute favorite things about CVS is that they will issue a Rain Check for any sale items they don'y have in stock (even the FREE after ECB items)! This way if you rush to the store all excited to get your freebies only to find out that someone has cleared the shelves, all you have to do is ask for a Rain Check and you can get your deals another week when they have the item back in stock!

Six Steps to CVS Success
  1. Your ExtraCare Card is your best friend
  2. Think green - Remember your Greenbagtag
  3. Run to the Magic Coupon Machine
  4. Stacking Coupons to multiply your savings
  5. Bring a copy of CVS's Coupon Policy
  6. If they're out of something always ask for a Rain Check
Now check out the current CVS deals to put your new skills to the test!