These are a few of the principles I have used to save on essentials at CVS. It’s a lot to absorb. I’ve decided to use an outline, but it’s still a lot! Read through a few times first.

Vocabulary

ECBs – Extra Care Bucks, vouchers for $$ off your next trip

Overage – the value of ECBs is more than amount paid out of pocket

Websites Discussed

www.MoneySavingMom.com

IheartCVS.com

CouponMom.com

1) Do NOT buy things that are not on sale.

a. A former student who is a CVS employee told me that CVS loses $4-5K weekly because of all their deals. They compensate by overpricing the rest of the items.

b. CVS cannot be a “convenience store.” If you say, “Since I’m here, I might as well pick up__…” it will eat up your savings. Almost everything is cheaper elsewhere when there is no deal. Chances are that you will be going somewhere else anyway, since CVS will not carry all the things you need.

2) Check your websites before you go.

a. I was introduced to www.moneysavingmom.com and I have stayed loyal. (from her home page, click on the “Categories” tab to get to the CVS post.) There are many blogs that will have this information. A Google search will lead to more.

b. If there is a printable coupon link, print as much as you can from the blogger’s page. They often get a kickback from the coupon sites. So, it’s just polite to give her as much kickback as possible because she already did the hard work of hunting out the deals.

3) Look ahead.

a. IheartCVS.com has link to future ads at CVS. They usually stay a few weeks ahead of the game providing pdf, html, or Google doc files of the ads.

b. CVS will sometimes go a couple of weeks without truly good deals. If you don’t want to use up your ECBs on a not-so-great deal, you may want to forgo the trip this week and get the good deals that will be out the next week.

c. Don’t forget to check the expiration date of the ECBs. They’re usually good for a little over 3 weeks.

d. Check the coupon link for printable CVS coupons for “$$ off a purchase of $$ or more.” These are usually about 17-20% off your before tax subtotal. For example

i. $3 off a $15 purchase (20% off)

ii.$4 off a $20 purchase (20% off)

iii. $5 off a $25 purchase (20% off)

iv. $5 off a $30 purchase (17% off)

These are links that a emailed to customers and they are kind enough to post the link. They come out approx every other Thursday and expire on Sunday. So, if there are good deals one week but no $ off $$ coupon out, wait until Thurs, Fri or Sat to visit CVS. Then make sure to snag your next week’s deals on SUNDAY because the coupon will expire after that.

4) Get a couple of Sunday papers

a. Subscriptions are cheaper than buying them on Sunday.

b. Taking a page out of CouponMom’s book (Google CouponMom. It’s worth it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF8BKYtBX8Y ), don’t clip the coupons until you need them!! I have become a little obsessed with the removal of unnecessary clutter as of late. I felt so disorganized when I clipped more coupons that I needed—just in case there might be a deal on the item, just to realize that I had thrown away coupons that would have made items free or with overage (overage is when the store’s deals are more value than the item’s price, making money for you). Then I had to spend a lot of time sifting through old expired coupons to throw out. I’d also have an enormous, yet unnecessary, bulge in my purse that with the pile of coupons—and I need that space in my purse for diapers and day-planners! So, here is the plan to conquer the coupon clutter:

i. Don’t clip until you find a deal that uses that coupon. Bloggers will list the date it came out in the paper and the insert where the coupon resides on the blog. If you have them all clipped out, it’s harder to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

ii. Write the date that the insert came in the paper on the outside of the insert.

iii. File the insert away until you find a deal. I personally chose to make a hanging file for each month. I still write the dates on the outside to differentiate the weeks.

c. This system also works for your non-CVS shopping. Before you go to your regular grocery store, if you have things on your list that you must buy that week, go to CouponMom’s database (free registration on couponmom.com), type in what you’re going to buy and if there is an unexpired coupon in the stack of inserts or a printable coupon, the database will tell you where it is!

d. Try to bum reject coupon inserts off of people who love you. My mom is a coupon clipper, but only for things that are already on her grocery list. That leaves a lot of reject coupons in her inserts. I have asked her to clip out everything she would use and give me the stack of leftovers unclipped in the inserts. I squeeze a few extra dollars out of that each week. A friend of mine makes rounds after church asking her mother-in-law, aunts, grandmothers (a bunch of generations all in the same church) for their leftover inserts each week. She also has a few people in her neighborhood who volunteered to give her inserts every week!

5) If you have an Rx to fill, fill it at your CVS.

a. The former student/current CVS employee explained that the reason they are willing to take the aforementioned $4-5K loss weekly is because it gives them enough traffic that the pharmacy makes an extra $20K weekly.

b. If you have an HMO or the like that has a fixed co-pay, you might as well fill an Rx at CVS to keep them willing to give us stuff for free.

c. I personally have not had an HMO in my adult life (other than in college…but only my undergrad). I have had only 3 Rx filled in the last 5 years. So, they aren’t making any money off of me in that respect. However, before the days of Supercouponing (I think that it deserves a cape like Superman), my chiropractor sent me to CVS because they had a better selection of homeopathic remedies on the shelves. They were sometimes the only place that carried some homeopathics that wasn’t an overpriced health food store or special order.

6) Immediately scan your member card when you get there.

a. The little scanner that checks an item’s price (close to the front of the store) will print CVS coupons if you scan your member card.

b. If you scan the card as many times as it spits out coupons. I’ve had it give me 4 rounds of coupons before.

c. You don’t have to use those coupons right away…esp if you have already mapped out your trip.

7) Don’t be discouraged by your first trip.

a. The first time you go, it feels like you’ve been had. This happens because all of your ECBs are good for the NEXT trip. So, you end up paying out of pocket for the first trip or two.

b. If they don’t have what you came in to get, ask for a raincheck with ECB offer.

8) Remember your local rescue missions, food pantries, and church ministries.

a. I have given bags and bags of deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, soap and baby cereal to the rescue mission this year. I make sure I bring my 4 yr old with me. I want to provide him with the awareness that God may not have chosen us to have the income write a check, but we still have a responsibility to give to charity by whatever means we can.

b. A lot of these items, we may not have bought for ourselves, but I can get them for free and sometimes free with overage. I may be trying to meet a price threshold to use a $ off $$ coupon to discount things I need…like diapers.