Friday, October 1, 2010

Navigating CVS

I told you yesterday about my CVS love but I hear the murmurings...
I hear you asking, "But Pary, isn't CVS more expensive?" (I get that question a lot.)
The simple answer is yes and no...if that is a simple answer at all.

Yes, their prices are more expensive if you are in a pinch and you need something right that second. They are, after all, in business to make money and they cater to folks who need convenience.
No, their prices are not more expensive, in fact, they are cheaper than the one stop shop mega mart down the road if you take advantage of the simple programs they offer you.

The beauty of CVS is that they are way ahead of their competitors in their coupon friendliness. CVS has figured out that all of us Coupon Queens generate sales. We also have big mouths and are eager to share our positive shopping experiences with our friends who in turn start shopping at CVS. It's the circle of life.

1.  The very first step to saving big at CVS is to get an Extra Care Card. 
This is the barcoded card that you hand the cashier each time you check out in order to receive the discounted prices on items and to receive your Extra Care Bucks (ECBs).   You have to fill out a form in order to get the card but the only information that you really need to put down is your name, phone number (in case you don't have your card with you, you can give them your number to receive the same discounts), and e-mail address.

2.  Sign up online to receive e-mails from CVS.
Don't worry.  They will not inundate you with spam and various nonsense; however, they will send you coupons for money off of your transaction ($4/$20, $5/$30, etc.) and let you know of sales in the photo, pharmacy, or online stores.

3.  Scan your Extra Care Card at the Coupon Center for additional in-store savings.
This is where you will receive coupons that you can use right then or save for another shopping trip.

4.  Don't lose your ECBs.
It should go without saying but I have people who I love and adore that will come shopping with me and then, all of the sudden, you hear the Veggie Tales music swell and someone bursts into song, "Oh where are my Care Bucks?..."  (If you are unfamiliar with "The Hairbrush Song" sung by Larry the Cucumber from Veggie Tales you are missing out.  For after hearing it once, you will forever use it as your theme song of lost items...or maybe that's just a Team Moppins thing...)  Your ECBs are like cash.  Don't lose them.

5.  Be aware.
I have had very few problems with CVS scanning an item and the price is incorrect but when it has happened, they are quick to fix the problem.  Also, if your ECBs do not print (again, this is fairly rare) just point out the item in the circular and ask if they will give you the Extra Bucks.  If they are out of an item, get a raincheck.

6.  CVS allows you to use both a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon on each item.
Let's look at this week's ad for an example and prepare a shopping list (this is a very feasible beginner scenario):

Before you leave home, check for a CVS e-mail with a coupon for $4 off of a $20 purchase.  Once you arrive at CVS scan your card for available coupons and look for a $7 off of a $15 Revlon purchase.

Pick up:

Oral-B Vitality Toothbrush $23
2 x Reach Access Flosser $3.19
Revlon Lipstick $7.49
Revlon Lipstain $8.99
Total Retail:  $42.67

First let's subtract the CVS store coupons:

-$4 off of a $20 purchase
-$7 off of a $15 Revlon purchase
Total CVS coupons:  -$11

Now let's subtract the manufacturer coupons:

-$10 Oral-B Vitality from 9/26 PG
-$1 Reach product printable
-$1 Reach product printable
-$1 Revlon Cosmetic 9/12 SS
-$1 Revlon Cosmetic 9/12 SS
Total Manufacturer Coupons:  -$14.00

Total Retail - Total Coupons = Total Out Of Pocket
$42.67 - $25 = $17.67 + tax
That's a savings of 59%...but wait...there's more...

Now the receipt will print out and have your Extra Bucks at the end of it. 

You should receive:

$13 ECBs for the toothbrush
$6 ECBs for the Revlon
$5.98 ECBs for the flossers
Total ECBs $24.98

After using all of those coupons, you have come out ahead:  you paid $17.67 + tax but got back $24.98 for a profit of about $7.31!

So when you add their sales and incentives to manufacturer coupons, you get great deals. If you would like to see more of what I am talking about take a look here.

Don't forget to go on down to the Marshall CVS store where they are having a Customer Appreciation Day from 10-5 October 1st.  They will be serving cookies as well as having a drawing for a $25 gift card.

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