Around here finding ways to save a buck in our budget has become a family pastime. It is almost like a national sport, the winner being the competitor who can find the best deal or save the most money.
Recently I have come to the forefront of the tournament when I woke up to the amazing savings at CVS. I say woke up because I have been sleep walking in to pick up a miscellaneous prescription or an obscure item at the last minute for a couple of years now, all the while stupidly missing out on some truely monumental saving opportunities.
It is such a wonderful place to shop at that it waffles between the number one and number two position in my book as the best places to shop and save. (The other contender is Kroger which I'll address another time in another post.)
Okay, back to the topic at hand.
Why do I love CVS so much?
Well like I said, I used to just go in there and naively bypassed all of these amazing opportunities. Then I woke up.
Next, you need to stop in there and pick up an Extracare card, this is the name of their customer appreciation card and you most definitely want one, this is the key to all the savings.
Then take that card home and go back to the link I just gave you two paragraphs ago and register your card. You want to do this- trust me. CVS will then send you a welcome email - open it. More than likely they are going to have a substantial coupon in it and possibly others as well.
I'm going to pause here and say a word about coupon use. If you are like I was, you thought one of two things about them:
1. I don't have time to clip and file let alone remember to use coupons.
2. My time is more valuable then the money I would save using coupons.
Do either of those thoughts sound familiar? If you think that let me give you something to chew on. In todays world with the computer and cyber space as they are, coupon use has become more electronic than paper thereby saving much more time. Secondly, how much is your time worth. I just went to a store yesteday and using coupons purchased $52.30 in groceries but only paid, $19.68 (including tax.) I maybe had a half an hour between organizing my shopping list and coordinating coupons to actually going to the grocery store. If I saved $32.62 on groceries in a half hour of work, that means my time was worth $65.24 an hour! Do you earn $65.24 an hour? Better yet, $65.24 an hour in a 40 hour work week would be a annual salary of $135,699. Now that's a salary I would like to have. I know I don't make that except by using coupons in the right way at the right places.
Using the Extracare card from CVS allows the store to track your purchases (no this is not like "Big Brother Watching You") over time they will get to tailor the coupons they give you to your purchases. Neat huh?
Once you get your card and sign up online you now have what CVS refers to as an Extra Bucks reward account. Here you can accumulate savings and earnings two ways.
#1 - When you shop in the CVS store or shop online at CVS.com, if you use your Extracare card you will always earn 2% of your total spending (does not include presciptions - but hang on I'll get to those). This 2% will go into your Extra Buck rewards account. Then at the end of each quarter the next time you shop in CVS at the end of your receipt will be printed your Extra Bucks reward coupons which will be the total amount of the 2% you accumulated over the course of the quarter. Again, this will print at the bottom of your store receipt the first time you go into the store at the beginning of the new quarter. So far example, if over a 3 month period you purchased $50 worth of items, your Extra Buck rewards coupon would equal $1. Now I know that doesn't sound like a lot but hang with me, I'm getting there. Note here that if you use the Extra Bucks reward coupon on a purchase you will not get any change back or get to keep any unused portion of it until your next purchase so make sure the full amount will go toward that purchase. Also note that you only get this if you have registerd your card online so don't loose out on free money.
Now here is where the savings can get even better. Because you have registered your card online, from time to time you will get special offers like Double or Triple Extra Bucks back, so now on the $50 worth of purchases instead of getting $1 back you could get $2 or $3 back as well as coupons to throw on top of the Extra Bucks.
#2 - When you use your ExtraBucks reward card for prescriptions you will receive $1 for every two prescriptions filled. Good you say, but not enough savings to convince you? Okay, follow along with me now as I teach you the true tricks of the CVS trade.
Each week in the store circular which you can pick up in store or go to CVS.com to view ( I suggest to do this before actually going to the store to shop so you are more prepared) will specify certain items that qualify for Extra Buck rewards. And here is the best part, you get those back immediately at the bottom of your receipt. Let me give you an example of something I did just this week. I purchased a Doves Men's Bodywash for $5.49. I had a coupon that took $1.25 off of it. Then when I checked out, I got a "rebate" in the form of Extra Bucks rewards coupon printed on the bottom of my reciept for $5.49 that I can use the next time I go to the store. Now if you do the math, $5.49 - $1.25 - $5.49 = + $1.25 which means I not only got the product for free but I EARNED $1.25. How amazing is that? And I do this all the time there.
The CVS Pharmacy will also have Extra Buck rewards on certain items as well. I gave a photograph of one above.
Now, let's save even more than just getting our Extra Bucks rewards. In my example I gave you earlier where I actually earned $1.25 I used coupons. This is the strategy I employ always and only. Let me explain. I get the weekly circular and look for all the extra buck reward deals and sale items. Then I pull out all coupons that correspond with that item. Here is something you might not know about coupons. There are two types: manufacturer coupons which is what most people are familiar with and say "Manufacturer Coupon" across the top or a store coupon which is issued by that store and can only be used in that store. You can combine a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon together to get double savings. So, if an item is on sale and you have a store coupon for it and a manufacturer coupon then you get tripple savings: the two coupon discounts and the sale price. But wait, there's more...
At CVS not only will you get the manufacturer coupon, plus store coupon, plus sale savings, but if you are purchasing only those items that are Extra Bucks specials that week you also get the extra bucks reward coupon at the end! Huge, huge savings in this store.
Okay, I just want to finish this up by mentioning a couple of tidpits I've learned.
First, just because it is on sale, if you don't need it and will never use it don't buy it, you are not saving yourself any money if you end up throwing it away. Secondly, the great thing about many of the products at CVS is that they are nonperishables. While they may have expiration dates they usually last a long time, so stock up when the price is right. Also note that the first time or two you go in there you may not have huge savings, but after a couple of times once you have started accumulating those Extra Buck rewards at the end of your receipts you will notice the difference with the amount of cash you have left in your wallet. Lastly, don't be discouraged if you do not have any Store coupons as explained earlier (as compared to manufacturer coupons,) I often don't have them and still realize significant savings.
Let me know how this works for you all! Jamie