I’ll admit that some of the best extreme couponing that I’ve been able to do has been at CVS. Like those extreme shoppers on the TLC program, there have been a couple of times in the past year where I’ve been able to couple sales with coupons, and walk out of CVS without having paid a penny. Yes, that’s right, I got stuff for free, and I didn’t break the law.
That’s why in today’s blog post on extreme couponing, I’m going to share some of the ways that I’ve been able to achieve extreme savings at CVS. Now the reason that I’m focusing on CVS is because that is the pharmacy store that is nearest to me. You may live near a Rite Aid or a Walgreens. Given each store’s rewards programs, you may be able to achieve similar savings. I know that my mother does well with buy one, get one sales at the Rite Aid near her. But for my purposes what I know–and what I feel I know well–is how to extreme coupon at CVS.
I’ll admit that the biggest help in my extreme couponing at CVS is CVS itself. Specifically, I’m talking about my CVS Extra Care Card and the Extra Bucks program. With every purchase I make in the store, I earn rewards towards an Extra Bucks coupon. I am able to increase my rewards payout by looking for specials that CVS is running to earn extra Extra Bucks, plus I always bring my own reusable bags and use my CVS Green Bag Tag to earn an additional $.25 back with each purchase (max, one Green Bag Tag transaction per day).
For example, last week I posted a $1 off Listerine coupon and then shared with you a sale that CVS had going on for Listerine. First, Listerine was marked down to $3.99. Then, you could earn Extra Bucks for buying that Listerine on sale. That is, if you bought up to two bottles, CVS would give you $2 Extra Bucks for each bottle, up to $4 back. (You were limited to a max of $4 Extra Bucks earned.) Well, I was able to print out two $1 off coupons from Coupons.com and apply them to my purchase, bringing the cost of each bottle down to $2.99. I had a $4 Extra Bucks coupon from a previous purchase I’d made, which means that I ended up spending, before tax, about $.99 per bottle of Listerine. Best of all, once I made that purchase, that $4 in Extra Bucks printed out on my receipt, which, in essence, made this transaction a money maker–I netted $2.
In addition to allowing customers like me to earn Extra Bucks, CVS has been, in essence, giving away free money in other ways. For instance, over the holidays, when you purchased $30 in one visit on certain items, you earned a free $10 gift card. That promotion has carried over into 2012, where each week, when you spend $30 on certain items, you get a $10 gift card. Now $30 may seem like a lot to spend in single trip, but I hardly ever spend $30 of my own cash. Here’s why.
Whenever I visit CVS, I start my trip to the store by scanning my CVS Card at the Extra Rewards kiosk in the front of the store. On a recent trip that kiosk had printed out my quarterly Extra Bucks rewards, which was for $13. So the $30 I needed to spend to get that free $10 was down $17 out of pocket. But on that trip I also had a $2 coupon and another $1 coupon that I was going to use, meaning that by spending $14 on $30 of merchandise, with the $10 cash card I got, I really only spent $4.
I mentioned earlier about the maximum amount that you could earn on Extra Bucks based on your purchase. I didn’t always read the fine print on these Extra Bucks specials, and a couple of times I ended up buying more than I meant–thinking I would get more Extra Bucks back, only to discover that I’d exceeded the limit of what I could earn. I made that mistake twice, and will never do it again.
One of my friends asked me if I felt like I was getting sucked into a CVS cult with all of those Extra Bucks burning a hole in my pocket. Well, do they make me visit CVS more often? Yes, because I want to use my free money before it expires. But at the same time I never go in and buy, just to use them on something I don’t need, and just so I could say, “Hey, I got this for free.” When I’ve got an Extra Bucks nearing expiration date and nothing I need in my medicine cabinet, I’ll go grab a gallon of milk at CVS and use the Extra Bucks to get a free gallon of milk. What mom doesn’t need a free gallon of milk, right?
In case you are a devout Extra Bucks user like I am, you may be interested in a contest that CVS is currently running. It is a photo contest for “I’m Not a Money Trasher” being held on Facebook, where you can enter to possibly win $2,000 in CVS gift cards.