Grocery Geek: Learning from My Mistakes at CVS

Oh woe is me! I left my little stash of ECBs at home today. On our way home from a very fun outing, we stopped by to get my hubby a little sore throat relief. I had my coupons, but not my ECBs, so I had to do without. When five kids are waiting in the car ready to go home, you don’t say, “Honey, I need to go back home and get these coupon things.” Well, maybe you do. But, I chose to just roll with it today. We’d had such a fun day, I didn’t want to throw a wrench in it.

I bought:
Cepacol drops 4.99
CVS throat spray 4.79
2 papers 2.50
1 Intuition razor 8.88

The total was 21.16 + tax
Minus $3/15 coupon
Minus $4 Intuition coupon

I paid $14.16 + tax out of pocket which was a major bummer after my great deals last week.
But, I got back $6 in ECBs, so it was like getting all the above for $8.16 which is not bad since they included things we really needed.

Now, since I am all about learning from my mistakes and hopefully not repeating them. My goal is to reduce my out of pocket CASH to be as little as possible with each transaction. This is what I would do if I did it again.

Transaction 1:
Intuition razor $8.88
1 Johnsons buddies soap $.99
360 Toothbrush $3.99
1 Colgate toothpaste $2.99

This subtotal would have been $16.85 + tax
Minus $3 coupon
Minus $4 Intuition coupon
Minus $1 Johnson’s coupon
Minus $1 Colgate TB coupon
Minus $1 Colgate Tpaste coupon

That would have been $6.85 OOP (+ tax)
With a return of $6, $2, and $3.99 in ECBs.

Then I would have done Transaction #2
Cepacol drops $4.99
CVS Throat spray $4.79
2 papers $2.50
Colgate Toothpaste 2.99

This would have been a subtotal of $15.27 + tax
Minus the $3/$15 coupon
Minus $1 Colgate Tpaste coupon
The total would have been 11.27 + tax
Minus the $6 ECBs
Minus the $3.99 ECBs
I would have paid $1.28 (+ tax) out of pocket.

So, if I had been thinking more quickly on my feet, I could have paid $8.85 and would still have $4 in ECBs. I suppose the end result is not that different, except I’d have about $6 more real money in my wallet — and a lot more stuff.

It may seem really wierd to even consider this alternative, but I think if we’re going to follow a strict budget, $6 makes a difference. I’ve shrugged off too many $6’s in the past. (That is a Chipotle burrito, after all.)

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  1. I made a little boo boo this week too. I bought the wrong toothpaste so I didn’t get any ECB’s for them (-$4ECBs) and I used the wrong amount of ECB’s… my order totaled $9.98 and I should have used my $3.99 ECB and my $5.99 ECB but I handed him the $4.99 one first and he didn’t know how to take it off. So I gave the 3.99 one and ended up owing a dollar extra. I still got $41 of items for $1.98 OOP with tax.

  2. FishMama says:

    My sister calls CVS an exercise in mental gymnastics. Isn’t that the truth?

  3. Shandra says:

    I’m a CVS newbie (I’m hoping to go on my first shopping trip there tomorrow!) and wanted to bounce my scenerio off of you to see if it looked okay to you.

    Shick Intuition
    Coupon -$4.00
    ECB -6.00
    Overage of $2.88

    Crest Spinbrush
    1 @ 4.49
    ECB -$2.00
    OOP $2.49

    Aquafresh Toothpaste
    3 @ $2.99
    Coupon -$1.00
    ECB -$9.00
    Overage of $1.00

    Colgate Toothpaste
    1 @ $2.99
    Coupon -$1.00
    ECB -$2.00
    Overage of $.01

    Herbal Essence
    1 @ $2.77
    Coupon – $1.00
    OOP $1.77

    Adidas Deo.
    1 @ $4.99
    ECB – $4.99
    OOP $0

    1 @ $4.69
    ECB -$4.69
    Coupon -$2.25
    Overage of $2.25

    Colgate 360
    1 @ $3.99
    ECB – $3.99
    OOP $0

    Total of 41.80
    CVS $3/15
    Coupons $9.25
    ECB $32.67

    Overage of $3.12

    Does that all seem right?
    Thank you so much for your time!

  4. FishMama says:

    Shandra, I certainly don’t mind giving my two cents — so long as I don’t have 101 other requests! I can barely get my own lists together!

    But, since you’re new at CVS, I am happy to help. Keep in mind I just got my card in February, so it’s not like I’m an expert. I defer to in all things CVS. Crystal has WAY more experience than I.

    But, I do have a couple thoughts on your plan.
    1) Keep in mind that the store might not have everything on your list. Be ready to be flexible.
    2) If you have more than one 3/15 coupon, you may want to break this up into several transactions to maximize your savings. It says “one per customer,” so consider going back a different day.
    3) Since you’re just starting out (and esp. if the budget is really tight), only buy what you will really use. Believe me, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrushes seem to have been “free” every month since Feb. You don’t have to do all this at once.
    4) On that note, it may be better to start with a small $15 transaction and see how it goes. For example, you could just do the Intuition, the Spinbrush and one Aquafresh.
    That would total $16.36 +tax.
    Minus $3/15
    Minus $4 Intuition coupon
    Minus $1 Aquafresh coupon
    That would bring your total to $8.36, getting ECBs back for $6, $2, and $2.99 that you could roll into the next transaction.

    Remember that you still have to pay money upfront, so if you break it into smaller transactions, you’ll be able to spend the ECBs instead of more cash from your wallet. For me the goal now is to play around with the combinations and see what I can do with as little cash upfront.

    If you’ve got the $29.52 + tax (the # I came up with for your purchases after coupons) in your budget to pay upfront, you could go ahead and do it this way. You’ll certainly have a lot of ECBs to spend when you’re done.

    But, be advised that if you buy 3 of the same item (like the Aquafresh), the ECB coupon will print up at $8.97, so you will have to spend that much on a future transaction in order to redeem it.

    Also, in my book, you need to make another wise purchase with the ECBs, or it kind of takes away from the “free” part of these purchases.

  5. Shandra says:

    Thank you so much for your time and help!

  6. FishMama says:

    Shandra, I hope you’ll report back with how it went!

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