June CVS Primer

extra care key cardAs queen of my castle, I am responsible for procuring all the necessary supplies and provisions to keep my palace and the royal family in good health . One of the things that helps me do this and stay within our budget is to shop at CVS. Their customer loyalty program is one of the best I’ve ever seen. And, believe me, they are making me loyal. You can bet any FishFam prescriptions will be filled there, rather than the “other” drugstore around the corner.

Last month I posted a primer explaining how to make the most of CVS’s May advertised specials. By popular demand, I have prepared a “primer” for some of the products advertised in June’s Extra Care Book.

You will not need to clip any coupons, but your savings would be much greater if you did. Check Money Saving Mom frequently. She is expert at giving heads’ up about specials and coupons. I learned (almost) everything I know from her. You can obtain coupons by purchasing the Sunday paper, getting friends’ old copies, or printing manufacturer coupons as available. Check the coupons database at Hot Coupon World for the latest info about what coupons are out there.

1. Go to CVS.

2. Sign up for an Extra Care card if you don’t already have one.

3. Pick up a weekly ad and the June Extra Care Book.

4. Purchase the following and make sure you use your new Extra Care card and have them run it before they run the items. Don’t forget to double check the ad with the items to make sure you got the right brand, style, and size:

Oral B Cross-Action 2 pk $6.99
Listerine Smart Rinse $3.49
(2)CVS bandages @1.99 = $3.98

This should total $14.46 + tax
Get back ECBs for $6.99, $3.49, and $3.98

So, you’ve paid out $14.46 (+tax) and received back $14.46 in ECBs which are good for about a month’s time. Don’t lose them!

Now, you could go back some other time in the month of June and buy the following:

another Oral B Cross-Action 2 pk $6.99
another Listerine Smart Rinse $3.49
4 Balance bars @1.50 = 6.00

This should total $16.48
You’ll hand over your $14.46 in ECBs and pay the remaining $2.02 and the applicable tax.

You will get back in ECBs $6.99, $3.49, and $3.00

You had an initial $14.46 investment plus the additional $2.02 + tax, totalling $16.48 out of pocket, but you still have $13.48 to spend at CVS. All those items only “cost” you $3.00 + tax!

Now, don’t you just love CVS?

Updated: As Jen reports in the comments section, there is a new $3/15 coupon available. MoneySavingMom has the scoop right here. So, should you choose to redeem this coupon, you will greatly reduce your out of pocket expenses in the above scenarios.

Trip #1:
You will need to add a “filler” to get your pre-tax total up to $15. (I would get a can of tuna for 66 cents. This is a great deal on its own.)

Your total would be $15.12
Minus the $3 coupon.
You would pay $12.12 plus tax and receive $14.46 back in ECBs.

Trip #2: Again you will need to add a “filler” worth $1. Make sure it’s something you will use!The total in that transacation should be $17.48 + tax.
Minus the $3 coupon = 14.48
Pay with your $14.46 ECBs.
Pay the remaining $.02 and applicable tax.

Using the coupon, you would pay out 12.14 + tax and get back $13.48 back in ECBs. With savvy coupon usage, you will get more stuff, pay less out of pocket, and make a “profit” in CVS money!

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  1. Hi…I enjoyed reading your CVS and post as well as many others. I do have a question for you. I am new to the CVS thing and was wondering why you add the fillers in your scenarios? Does it have to do with coupons? I appreciate your time and your willingness to share in order to help others.
    Thank you.

  2. FishMama says:

    Rachel, thank you so much for your question because it pointed out a huge mistake on my part. Thank you!

    When I wrote this originally, I was trying to work in a coupon, such as a common $3 off $15 purchase. But, then I decided I wanted to make this really easy for newbies so that no one just starting out would feel like they HAD to have the coupon. But, my brain is getting fuzzy from crunching numbers all afternoon and evening, so I didn’t do a good job editing that out. THanks for bringing that to my attention!

    I’ve adjusted the scenarios without the fillers, making them an even better deal. Hope that helps.

  3. Mrs. Garner says:

    This is a great BASIC description of how to shop at CVS. I’m going to link this to my blog. Thanks again!

  4. FishMama YOU ROCK!! LOL. Thanks again. I am off to look for coupons. I know for a fact there is one for the Smart Rinse. Also, there is buzz that the limit on the bandages may be more than 2. I don’t know for sure though!

  5. FishMama says:

    Mrs. G, thanks for the link. The more the merrier.

    Jen, you make me laugh. Glad I have such a loyal following. 😉

    I think you’re right on the bandaids. I bought two this morning, but it did NOT say that I had reached my limit on the bottom of the receipt. Interesting….let me know.

  6. sandysue15 says:

    I’ve been reading womens’ blogs re: saving at CVS and a few have mentioned getting $5 off $15 purchase coupons from some type of “scanner”. What is that? Is it a scanner at the CVS store? Is it like a price-scanner? I’ve never seen one. Thanks!

  7. FishMama says:

    Hi Sandysue, welcome. Good question! Some CVS stores have a scanner that will read UPC codes for prices. It will also print coupons if you scan your card. I usually get $3/10 CVS purchase and $1 off cookies. (I would never have tried their cookies otherwise — and we like them — A LOT.) But the coupons can vary. Yesterday I got a random $5 ECB coupon. I have no idea what that was about, but I’m not complaining.

    There are other coupons available elsewhere. For instance, in April the Washington Post ran a $3/15 coupon which was available online to subscribers. CVS also often emails coupons to Extra Care customers.

    Please beware: There are also several websites out there that post illegal coupons. There is floating around a $5/15 that is not legitimate as well as a “$25 gift card with prescription” that is also fraudulent.

    I do not recommend using any coupon that you don’t receive directly from CVS or that you know comes from a highly reputable source. I believe that CVS is doing its customers a great service by offering this program and great coupons. I, for one, do not want to abuse this.

    My husband is self-employed and I am always amazed at how non-business owners think they can take advantage or a company or corporation. Even if it’s a huge company like CVS,it is still wrong.

    I will climb off my soap box now. 😉

  8. This was a very helpful post–thank you!

  9. Hey, the limit is three. There is also a NEW legit $3/15 coupon that you can get from subscribing to another newspaper. Akron Beacon Journal, June 1st edition, page A9. You can do a free trial right now.

    Those scanners are a neat idea but the one at my CVS is ALWAYS out of paper 🙁

  10. snarflemarfle says:

    This is a great primer! As a one income household now (our income dropped by a third when I quit work to take care of our kids) I try to be frugal when possible. This will be helpful on future CVS trips.

    Here’s my question though…some of this “game” seems like purchasing something just to get it free (however, I don’t notice that in your post). What do I do with stuff I don’t use (like getting a diabetes monitor or health nut bars) or how do I adjust the “system” so that I get stuff that I actually do need (like toilet paper)? I think I need to really study this a bit more in order to get the full benefit. I’ll be subscribing to your blog feed!

  11. I am new to the CVS thing and noticed on your primer that there is a $3/$15 coupon. Is this still available? I was unable to print from the link this mornning and would love to get one of these coupons. Thanks!

  12. FishMama says:

    Jen, thanks for the heads’ up on that coupon. I will check on it today.

    Snarflemarfle, good question. I personally do not buy something that there’s NO WAY we use (like a diabetes monitor). If we knew someone who did need one, I would.

    I do buy things that I never would have tried otherwise. We discovered the CVS cookies for example because of coupons. Another friend would have never bought the SoBe waters that were on sale last week if they hadn’t been free. But, now, if she were getting something at QuikTrip while traveling, she might be inclined to buy that instead of a soda. That is one of the benefits that manufacturers get out this system.

    That said, the scenarios you will see on different blogs post options that you may or may not use. I adjust it to fit our family. I am up to my eye-balls in free toothbrushes, so I personally will probably not get the Oral-B 2 packs, but we do use bandaids and the smartrinse on a reg. basic (I do have 4 boys after all!)

    I adjust for our household. And that is where your learning curve is right now. This type of program will save you money provided that you don’t buy things you don’t need or won’t use and aren’t tempted to buy something else at full price while you’re in there.

    I subscribed to the free trial of the Grocery Game awhile back. It was helpful in learning about stockpiling. Terri said to buy what you will use when you don’t need it.

    For instance, stock up on toilet paper when you see a good deal. Never run out so that you can avoid paying full price. Use wisdom in this. You don’t need more than a 3-6 month stash because sales will come around again. Don’t feel tempted to do every deal. Your necessities come first (hopefully on sale with coupons) and then your stockpile items. Check out!

    Jenny, the May primer did feature a $3/15 coupon. But, it expires Friday and I wanted this primer to be super easy for someone just starting out. I will check on the one Jen mentioned and report back later. 😉

    Thanks for stopping by, all!

  13. Gretchen Magruder says:

    Thanks so much for the help….I’m headed out to CVS for my first try at the “game”!!

    Question about coupons….I printed the one from the Beacon paper…is it possible/ethical/legal to print that more than once and use it over and over again?

  14. FishMama says:

    Hi Gretchen, I hope that it works well for you!

    According to the CVS expert ( “This coupon can be used legally by anyone who signs up for their own free subscription to this newspaper and downloads their own coupon. There are no restrictions on it besides the usual restriction that it can only be used once per transaction, however, each individual store can choose to limit the usage of it to one per customer.”

  15. happilysaving says:

    Thanks for this great tip. I didn’t come out ahead, but I did good for my first round. Or did I?

  16. snarflemarfle says:

    Another question-

    I went to CVS yesterday for my first try at the “game.” I did pretty well (everything I bought was on sale and I had an additional coupon for most). But, what do you do when they are out of a product in the sale? Example: The Bounty, Charmin, Duracell deal…they were all out of Bounty. Would they have had an alternate something to purchase to get the $10 ECB’s? And now I have a $10 ECB and a $1 ECB. Can I use them both in the same transaction?

  17. FishMama says:

    The ECBs are computer-generated based on bar codes. So, if they are out of something, you will need to choose something within that deal. For instance I got the last Bounty and 3 Charmin instead of the 2 and 2 that I had originally planned. Or, you can try your luck at a different store. With that type of deal, the computer should track your purchases and when you hit the $20 it will generate the ECBs. Just check your receipt before you leave to make sure it’s marked on the bottom of the receipt.

    Yes, you can redeem more than one ECB coupon in a transaction. Just use the biggest one first. If your ECB is for a bigger amount than your transaction’s pre-tax total you will have to buy more filler or sacrifice the difference if the cashier knows how to adjust it down.

    Good job, snarflemarfle!

  18. Thanks so much for the advice! I am new to CVSing and have only gone to CVS once but have a raincheck for the 5/11 Coke products to use up but no ECBs.

    Anyway, I have a question, please forgive me if this has been answered. In this week’s sale flyer there is a General Mills sale-buy $20 of product and get $10ECB. I have coupons for about $3 off of the cereal-would the $20 be before or after coupons?

    Thanks again!

  19. FishMama says:

    Hi Mommy,

    Sorry it took me awhile to answer your question. The $20 counts as long as you ring up $20 worth of GM products. There was a glitch at my store. Many of the products were marked $3/10, but rang up at $3/9. So, I had to buy 7 items instead of 6. But as long as the product total is over $20, you should be good.

    Using the 3/15 coupon can be tricky, depending on your store. Some have reported that the CVS coupon has to be used after your other coupons. I’ve never had that situation happen, but it could.

  20. FULL OF JOY says:

    I have been totally stressed about the CVS thing until now, THANKS! Here is my question, when you say ‘on a second trip’ could you go to a second store that day or does it have to be a different time? Thank you so much for helping me get in the CVS game!

  21. All I can say is Holy you-know-what!!! Until last week I thought the CVS ECB’s were some kind of cheesy come-on to get you in the store, and the “bucks” were worthless points. Boy, was I wrong. I went last week and came out with 16 ECB’s and heading back tomorrow. It seems to me that I should be clipping every coupon I can get my hands on. FOr the most part I buy generic and at COstco whenever I can. But I can see how I will be able to save huge amounts of money getting serious with CVS’ing. IS there a place I can download older coupons from the Sunday paper inserts? Thanks.

  22. Thanks for posting this I am going to try it today, but have one question. After the second trip- do you save the ECB bucks for next month or spend that on necessities?

  23. I haven’t even tried to begin this CVS thing, I’m trying to get it all figured out first. This week would it be better on the 2nd trip to buy 2 Brut deodorants @ $2.69 each (geting 6ECBs) instead of the 4 Balance bars? If this isn’t better could you explain why? Your CVS post is awesome and so informative!!! Thanks a lot!!!

  24. FishMama says:

    Rene, you can’t download old inserts to my knowledge, but you can check out the recycling bin or ask friends who might subscribe to the paper.

    Lindsay, that depends. I try to work ECB-generating purchases each time so that I’m not “losing” ECBs, but if it is truly a necessity and I would be buying it anyway someplace else, then I would use it on that.

    Andrea, sure, you could definitely sub the Brut for the Balance bars. You’d just need to make sure that your total due exceeds the ECBs that you have so that you don’t sacrifice any of the ECB. Remember too that if you do 2 Bruts then your ECBs will print out as $6 instead of two separate $3 coupons. This isn’t a big deal, but effects your future transactions. Does that make sense?

  25. Anonymous says:

    k…i started cvs-ing last week and i'm already confused! does ANYONE have the flyer that i do?? my flyer starts june 14, goes thru june 20. it has BIGI on cvs vitamins as the main item on the first page. i can't find any scenarios using this flyer. help please, before i give up!

  26. FishMama says:

    Anonymous, I'm not sure how you found this post – but it's from LAST JUNE. That would be very confusing, indeed.

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