Here’s a quick 101 in CVS. I post scenarios for newbies every week, but you can look here for the getting started basics.
Step One: get an Extra Care card. It doesn’t cost anything to get. Pick one up at the store or order one online at www.cvs.com. If you do it in store, then you can start using it right away.
Make sure to always have the cashier scan your card with every purchase you make. Without it, you don’t get the sale price, and you don’t earn ECBs.
Step Two: Call 1-800 Shop CVS and register your card with your name, address, phone and email. They will email you a $4 off a $20 purchase or more. Plus, they send out more of these types of coupons every so often, depending on your spending/the last time you received an emailed coupon.
Step Three: Plan out your first trip. Check out my newbie scenarios each week for help with this. Start small so you don’t overwhelm yourself, and so you can begin to understand how it works. Biggest newbie mistake is trying to do too much on your first trip. My first trip was $5 out of pocket (OOP), and I haven’t spent more than that in the store since.
ECBs – What are they?
ECBs = Extra Care Bucks. Extra Care Bucks print at the bottom of your receipt, and you can use them like cash in the store. Some exclusions apply. Like you can’t use them to buy stamps, alcohol, and prescriptions. See the fine print on the ECBs for full details.
There are certain items that earn you Extra Bucks. There are monthly Extra Bucks, and there are weekly ones. Be sure to pick up the monthly ad at your store, and you can get the weekly one in the store, mail, the newspaper, or you can always see it each week on the CVS website.
Some items are free after ECBs, or will be free or really cheap if you use a coupon. You want to get these items to start out with. Once you earn ECBs, you can use them to buy more things that earn you ECBs so you will just continue to get things for free if you do it this way.
Each item that earns you ECBs does have a limit though. For example, the monthly deal Children’s Advil is 5.79 earn 5.79 ECBs. The limit on this is 2 per card. So you can only get this deal twice for the entire month.
Transaction Example: Zippfizz is 5.99 earn 5.99 in ECBs this week, so Free. You buy this and then want to get some Children’s Advil. Children’s Advil is 5.79 this month, earn 5.79 ECB. So Free after ECBs. But wait, there is an online coupon for $1 off Children’s Advil. Use that coupon, that makes your Advil 4.79. But your ECB you have from getting the ZippFizz is for 5.99. You don’t want to loose that money, so you ad in $1.20 in whatever you want, hand them your 5.99 ECBs, and you walk out just paying tax. Plus you’ve earned 5.79 ECBs, from buying the children’s Advil, to use next time you go shopping.
* You can use your ECBs right away, as soon as you get them. Just tear it off of your receipt and use it on your next transaction.
* If you don’t use it, you loose it. Each ECB you have says “up to,” and then whatever your amount is. If your total isn’t over the amount of the ECB, then they can just reduce the value of the ECB and you walk out paying 0.00. But, then you have lost some ECBs.
*ECBs expire a month after they were issued to you. So you want to keep getting items each week, or at least every other week, so that you don’t loose your ECBs. If you keep getting free items, or close to free after ECBs, then you are doing what is called “rolling” your ECBs. Every time a new ECB prints the expiration date is farther away. So you “roll” those ECBs so that you never loose them.
CVS Coupon Basics:
*You can use one Manufacturer(MFR) coupon per item.
*You can save even more by using the coupons CVS puts out. For example, CVS emailed out a $3 off a $15 (3/15) to many customers last weekend. You work this by getting your pre-coupon total up to $15, use your 3/15, use your MFR coupons and your ECBs, then you walk out with more Free stuff.
*If you use an x/xx (2/10, 3/15, 4/20, 5/30), this is an amount off of your pre-coupon total.
*If something is on sale Buy One Get One Free (BOGO), you can use two $1 off coupons because you are getting two items.
*If something is on sale Buy One Get One Free (BOGO): buy two items, use a BOGO coupon, and get both items FREE!!!!! The sale pays for one item, and with the BOGO coupon the MFR pays for the other.
How to figure out what your Out of Pocket (OOP) will be:
Taxable Item Total
(-) CVS B1G1 Sale
(-) CVS Q’s
(-) ECB’s Used
= NEW Taxable Total
(x) Tax Rate
(-) Manu Q’s
= Total OOP
–Can I have more than one card? The cards say one per household. However, many people shop with more than one card. For instance, I use my mom’s card, and my card. This way I am able to shop for her, as well as myself.
– Is there an certain order I should hand everything over to the cashier? YES! I have tested this and discussed it with people on HCW and DS. It is clear that you always do lower OOP, and don’t waste your ECBs, by doing it in this order:
x/xx or other CVS coupon (Q)
ECBs (the exact amount you need, not all of them – see How to figure out OOP)
If you go in the negative have them zero it out, or throw a candy bar up there as a filler.
–What are fillers? Fillers are either Free or really cheap items you use to get your total up so that you can use an x/xx, or so you don’t loose ECBs.
–I keep using all of my ECBs, what can I do so I don’t loose them? Roll them. Use them to get things that give you more ECBs.
–What does moneymaker mean? Meaning you make money after Qs and ECBs. Like with the Advil. Use the $1 off coupon, and it becomes a $1 moneymaker. Obviously you don’t make actual cash in your pocket, but you do make ECBs to spend at the store. You’re spending practically nothing, and increasing your ECBs.
–How do I know when I’ve reached an ECB limit on my card? It will show you on your receipt the ECB deals you have done for that week and the entire month.
-I don’t need all these things, so why should I do this? I don’t need all the things I get. But because I do moneymakers, and continue to roll my ECBs, I am able to get the things I do need for Free or really cheap. Plus I am able to take a bag full of great things over to the local battered women’s shelter. Just because you don’t need some of these things, doesn’t mean no one does. It will make you feel good to provide for your family, and be able to give to others!
Sometimes you have to get things you don’t need, so that you are able to get the things you do need.
Where’s that Coupon Machine????