Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I get a lot of questions when it comes up that I spend a lot of time at CVS. I figured I'd share my answers here, for anyone wondering the same things...

Q: Why buy things at CVS if you can get a good deal at Wal-Mart or Costco?

A: Because Wal-Mart and Costco won't give me those things for FREE. Sure, you can always get a good deal at a Big Box store, but my definition of a "good deal" has changed somewhat over the past few months. To me, paying for something is not a good deal. Getting something for free but paying TAX is just BARELY a good deal. A truly good deal is getting something for less than free, and I'm only able to do that consistently at CVS because of their great ExtraCare rewards program.

Q: What are these "ECBs" you prattle on about?

A: Hey, I don't prattle! Okay, maybe a bit. : ) ECB stands for ExtraCare Buck. CVS's rewards program hinges on these ExtraCare Bucks (also called Extra Bucks). When you buy an item that is free-after-ECBs, that mean that you pay cash for the item and then at the bottom of your receipt prints a certificate for exactly that amount (minus tax). You're able to turn around and spend that certificate (ECB) like cash. It's like being able to spend your money TWICE! And a great thing about an ECB is that it reduces your taxable total, unlike Walgreens' Register Rewards.

Q: Why do you buy things at CVS that you don't really need? Isn't that wasteful?

A: I buy things that I don't need only if I can give them away to someone AND if they will help me with my transactions in one of the following ways:
  • the item is free-after-ECBs, and I have a coupon for it, which turns it into a "money-maker"
  • the item is free-after-ECBs, and I need some items to get my total up high enough to use a coupon for $ off a $$ purchase
  • my ECBs are going to expire and I need to buy something to "roll them" (meaning, I now have another month to find something I want to spend them on)

Sometimes I can accomplish all three in one transaction! But I will never simply throw away a product that I get for free. If I can't use it, I will find it a loving home. : )

Q: Doesn't it cost you a lot of time and effort to plan and clip coupons?

A: Absolutely. It's a time commitment, to be sure. But the difference for me is that it is more a HOBBY than a tedious commitment. Lance can attest that I am the happiest when I'm deep in "deal-planning mode." If it ever becomes too tedious, I will scale back my efforts, but for now this is FUN! And besides that, I haven't had to step foot in Wal-Mart in MONTHS! So worth it.

Q: What happens when you've stocked up on everything you need?

A: I don't know yet, but I'm getting very close to that point! I have a feeling I'll continue to "do the deals" and give away the extras I don't need. After all, I don't want to let my huge stash of ECBs expire...

Q: What if I don't WANT the items I can get for free at CVS? I'm picky about my toothpaste...

A: You can't be a brand snob and play the Drugstore Game very efficiently. Now, there's nothing wrong with knowing exactly which brands you like (in fact, that can be a money- and time-saver in itself!), but to fully take advantage of the ExtraCare program, you have to be willing to try new products. Lots of new products. Some may be duds (vanilla toothpaste? BUST!), but one might be your next "favorite," who knows? I'm lucky that Lance is open to trying new toothpastes, bar soaps, laundry detergents, etc. That's why I can pull this off. We may be switching toothpaste flavors every other month, but we'll never have to pay for it!

You may try what my friend Denise does: Utilize the program when it fits YOUR needs, and don't buy products you know you won't like. She doesn't rack up quite the stash of ECBs that I do, but she buys what she knows she will use, gets a great price, and she's content. And she doesn't have to find a place to store all the diabetes monitors. Ha ha!


Mareydenis said...

Heeeeee heeeee!!! Good post, Katy! And there were coupons for $30 off my brand of diabetes monitors in last week's paper. I'll have to watch the circulars for sales and then I can have the fancy model for home, work and to carry in my purse! The clinic at Vandy can give you some for free, but it's more fun getting it free from the store with coupons and rebates.

I still have about 6 months of my favorite toothpaste all stocked up (free after ECBs and coupons!)


Stephanie said...

WHAT! You forfeited a whole PENNY!? Where did I go wrong!?
What fun to read about all the good bargains you've gotten. Good for you!
Love, Mom