Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to shop at CVS and get stuff for free

Now that Rebecca from Moms Saving is helping us out with the top deals at CVS, I thought it was appropriate to do a quick guide to how you can use CVS to get things for free. Most weeks (maybe every week), you can go to CVS and get items for free, but you need to know how to do it. Believe me, once you get started with CVS, you'll be hooked like we are.

First things first, you must sign up for an ExtraCare card. You can sign up online but I'm not sure how long it will take for you to get your card in the mail. I would sign up in the store so that I could begin using the card immediately. You need the ExtraCare card to be able to get all of the special prices and offer that are advertised in the flyer. I recommend that you scan your card every time you enter the store. There is a big red machine at the front of the store when you walk in that you can use to scan your card. It prints special offers like any Extracare bucks that you are owed and special money saving coupons that are attached only to your card. You can't use any coupons that you see that have been discarded by other people because each offer is exclusive to the owner of the card.

You earn rewards each time you use your ExtraCare card at CVS. These rewards are in the form of ExtraCare bucks that you can use to purchase items from CVS. They are like coupons. You earn one ExtraCare buck for every 2 prescriptions that you purchase from CVS (of course, ALWAYS scan your card), and you also earn 2% back on your other purchases at CVS. Every three months you will receive your ExtraCare bucks and you can use them to shop with. These are great to treat yourself to something special.

Of course, there are also weekly ExtraCare bucks that you will receive with purchase of advertised sale items. In the weekly flyer there are one or two things that are free after ExtraCare bucks. You purchase the item, and immediately after you have paid for your item the value of the item prints off as an ExtraCare buck. For example, say you purchase a free after ExtraCare buck item like a Colgate toothbrush. It costs $2.99. You pay $2.99 plus tax out of pocket, and you will receive $2.99 back in the form of ExtraCare bucks that can be used on your next transaction at CVS. It's like the toothbrush was free because you now have $2.99 worth of ExtraCare bucks to spend on other items in the store. How cool is that?

Well if you think that is cool, consider this. We'll use the same item. You purchase a Colgate toothbrush that is advertised as $2.99 with $2.99 worth of ExtraCare bucks coming back to you. Say you scanned your ExtraCare card at the big red scanning thing at the front of the store, and it printed off a $1 off coupon for the Colgate toothbrush. AND you also have a manufacterer's coupon for $1 off of the Colgate toothbrush. You can use BOTH coupons to purchase the toothbrush and you will still get the $2.99 ExtraCare bucks. That's because at CVS you are allowed to "stack" coupons. You can use any CVS coupon that you have on an item PLUS any manufacturer coupon you may have on the item. That would mean that we only had to come out of pocket $.99 for the toothbrush but we still got $2.99 in ExtraCare bucks. You basically made money to purchase that toothbrush. When you see the term money-maker, that's what it means. That's one of the reasons that I love CVS. You can purchase most things with ExtraCare bucks with a few exclusions (no prescriptions, alcohol, lottery, tobacco, stamps, etc.). You can't beat that!

I recommend that you try that once or twice and you'll be hooked. Who doesn't like to get stuff for free? I know we do! What I'm about to explain to you now is something you can try once you become more advanced with using ExtraCare bucks: rolling them. I'm not sure if there is an official term for it or not, but that's what I call it.

What you do is you do an inital purchase of an item that gives ExtraCare bucks, and then you only use the ExtraCare bucks you've earned on other items that give ExtraCare bucks. You roll them from week to week. This is a great way to shop and get items for FREE after the first purchase. Sometimes we roll our ECB's and sometimes we just use them on anything.

So what happens if the value of an ExtraCare buck you have exceeds the value of the item you want to purchase? You get some free stuff. Let me explain with another scenario. Lets say you start off with $8 in ECB's. You want to purchase the toothbrush from the above example at $2.99 and you'll receive $2.99 ECB's for the toothbrush. So you have $8 - $2.99= $5.01. If you check out like that, you won't get ECB change unfortunately, so what you have to do is use the entire value of the ECB. You could buy whatever else you'd like to use up all of your 8 ECB's, but it must be done in one transaction.

The next thing you need to know about to get the most out of CVS are the $3 off of $15, $4 off of $20. If you have an ExtraCare card, you can go here to input your email address to get a $4 off of $20 coupon. These are like extra money to me. How so? Well, lets use our same example from before. Bear with me, you'll want to know about this goodie. Okay, so say you are going to buy 4 toothbrushes for 11.96 and get 11.96 in ECB's back. That comes to $12 after taxes. If you have a $3 off of $15 coupon, you can get $3 more worth of product for free.

When it's time to check out, I prefer to use the $ off of coupons first (like the $3 off of $15), then ECB's, then CVS coupons, then manufacturer coupons. It's a good idea for you to keep up with how much money you save so you don't miss out on free products. For the toothbrush example up above, if you have 4 toothbrushes at 11.96 and some lotion for $3.05, your total will be $15.05. You have 4 manufacturer coupons, each for $1 off, you have 4 CVS coupons each for $4 off, and you have $6 extra bucks from a previous transaction, along with the $3 off of $15 coupon. Your coupon total would be for $17, and your purchases total would come to only $15.05. If you don't want to lose that $1.95, make another small purchase. Many people get items for free or almost free from CVS by keeping up with all of the ways to save money. I think it's best to plan out all of your transactions ahead of time so you can come up with the best possible scenario. Here is an example from a couple of months ago. We didn't preplan so we probably could've done better with some forethought.

I hope I've inspired you to try your hand at getting freebies from CVS. We normally get free (or really cheap) toothbrushes, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, body wash, diapers, and medicine. These are the things we are able to stock up on. Of course, we are often able to get great deals on other items in the store too. If you haven't already, subscribe to this blog so you can get the best of the week deals for CVS. Check back right here on Fridays for the preview of the best of the week deals for CVS. We're talking lots of free or cheap stuff here.

1 comment:

lollimom said...

Thanks for all of the information. It really is important to get your coupons, discounts and ECB's in order before you check out!


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