Posted by: Alex | June 27, 2010

Get things for FREE at CVS

Having covered my general coupon strategy in an earlier post , now it’s time to dive into the details for where I do most of my shopping. That’s right CVS, after 1st picking up this coupon strategy 2 years ago I thought to myself look at all this stuff I can get for next to nothing so for a period of a few months I went to Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS but then I realized as nice as it is to get free stuff – it’s nicer to save time while you are at it. So I settled on just CVS which I believe is the best out of the three. I will detail shopping at each in later posts and you can decide for yourself which one you prefer. So here are the steps to follow for getting things for free or better yet making money and getting the items for free at CVS:

1. (One time only) Sign up for an ExtraCare card at CVS. This takes a few minutes and can be done in store or online. Without this card you cannot reap the benefits of all the sales. It comes as either a card you can put into your wallet or on your key chain. Personally the key chain wins out every time. While you are at it, go to CVS.com and make sure you are signed up to get email alerts on the different deals available to you. My personal favorites are: $4 Off a $20 transaction or $5 Off a $30 transaction. Assuming you only buy things you would have bought anyways this is free money.

2. Each Friday CouponMom posts the preview deals for what will be on sale the coming week and more importantly what you can get for FREE Another option is to just wait until Sunday and look up the same deals except this time around no need to go to the preview page. Either way you will want to sort on percent saved and the items that have the highest percentage of money saved will appear at the top. 100% saved = FREE. That however is not all, some items will actually make you money. Here is one of my favorite examples: Buy Old Spice Body Wash for $4.00, get $4.00 in Extra Bucks. Then in small print it states ExtraBucks limit of 2 per household. Now if using CouponMom you see there is a coupon in a particular Sunday paper that states BOGO – But One Get One FREE, what this means is that if you have this coupon you can stroll into CVS, pick out 2 Old Spice Body Washes and when you go to pay you hand them the 1 BOGO coupon. The transactions end up like this: you pay $4.00 for the two products, and then on your receipt you get $8.00 ExtraBucks. In my opinion this is earning $4.00 and getting two products for FREE.

Now you might wondering what ExtraBucks are, well I will tell you. It’s the equivalent of cash the only difference being is that (a) it can only be spent at CVS and (b) it expires typically about 1 month from the time you got it (it prints out on your receipt when you buy a qualifying purchase so make sure you don’t just toss your receipt without checking if there are any ExtraBucks on there)

Having said that, the only reasons I go to buy something at CVS are (a) I can get something for FREE based on this weeks specials (b) I receive an email coupon for $4 off $20 then I would go to CVS and see if there are things that I need anyhow and buy them.

The only time it makes sense to buy generic (i.e. CVS brand) is if you do not have a coupon and the brand item is not cheaper. Before you are ready to check out – I recommend coming up to any one of the several price check machines they have in the store and checking the prices on what you are about to buy – this will confirm you are getting what you expect. This machine is also a good 1st stop on any trip to CVS as when you scan your ExtraCare card sometimes you can get coupons printed out right away, before you even buy anything.

Interesting tidbits:
1. If you go to the store on Sat, you might notice the specials listed on the shelves already reflect the price from the upcoming week. Do not worry everything that is on sale and the ExtraBucks are in effect until midnight. However as an added bonus anything that is not on sale that Saturday but will be on sale starting Sunday – the prices are already in the system so you can buy it for the Sunday price.
2. When looking for items on sale especially those that have ExtraBucks associated with them, be careful to not fall into the trap of only thinking that there has to be a price tag right above the item, and if all those are gone, you are out of luck. Typically the items to the left and right assuming they are the same brand – qualify for the sale – just use the price check machine and if the price matches the sale price you can bet you will get the ExtraBucks for this item as well.
3. If the item is just not there, go up to a store clerk and say: I would like a rain check for xxx where xxx is something you point to in the store circular (they can be found at the entrance to each CVS). The rain checks at CVS do not expire and they include not only the sale price but also the ExtraBucks you would be getting.

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