16 April 2008

Learning the Ropes

I've been reading up quite a bit, looking over adds more scrupulously, and forming a game plan. I clipped more coupons for stuff I may never buy, and wrote up a shopping list. And finally, I took the plunge and set foot in my local CVS store to see what killer bargains I could wrangle up.

You see, I've been hearing a lot from Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom and Biblical Womanhood about how she spends around $1 a week out of pocket at CVS, and is able to buy all her household items (paper products, beauty products, health care and baby supplies) by using coupons and the "Extra Care Bucks" (ECB) program. So I thought, since she was also challenging her readers this week to declare an anti-Procrastination day, that it was time to get my feet wet.

Well, it wasn't easy. I had two of my children with me, which is not highly recommended, especially if the youngest one is near ready for lunch and/or a nap. But we did have snacks and a sippy cup, and a big brother who is a great helper (and even pushed a second shopping cart), so we managed pretty well.

But I did run into a couple of bumps. I had heard about this one great offer where some gals were buying three toenail separators (.99 each) and earning $5 in ECB. It sounded like an easy first-timer transaction, but I got no ECB lovin' there. (But now have lots of toenail separators for those special people in my life...)

They were also running a special Buy 1, get 1 free offer for Colgate toothpaste, and I was SO excited because I had a $1 and $1.50 off coupon, but when I read the fine print, the coupon was for Colgate Total Advanced, and the B1G1 offer was for Colgate Total. {Has anyone noticed that there are WAY too many different varieties of toothpaste out there!? It's almost as bad as yogurt choices!}

I was also unable to find some items that I was just going to price-check to plan for my next shopping trip, and with a baby "on the edge" I wasn't going to prolong my visit, so that was a little frustrating.

(Sigh) I'll spare you all the details (because there is a "language" associated with CVS shopping that can make your head spin if you're new at it like I am, or if you really don't care much about that sort of thing). Long story short: I spent $35.26 out of pocket, saved nearly $18 in coupons and in-store offers, and earned $7 in ECB for my next shopping trip to CVS. I have a good supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste for everyone, and I'm already planning what to buy at my next trip, although my husband is not convinced that this whole thing is going to work for us. We'll have to give it some time and see.

So, we learned a few things, and got stuff we did actually need, like toothpaste and toothbrushes. Crystal encourages newbies to take it slowly and try it for 3 months before giving up, so I'll see how much I can improve my skills. For any family members (or friends or random blog readers) who don't bother with coupons or ECB's, you certainly can help me by sending me your extra coupons and/or the ECB portions of your CVS receipts if you're not planning to use them. And anyone who wants to learn more about what in the world I'm talking about, a good place to start is over at Crystal's Money Saving Mom website. Look for CVS 101 guidance here.


  1. I've been CVSing for a few months now and it is definitely worth while. It does take getting used to though. I often do it with all five kids in tow, and that adds to the excitement!

    I'm sure you'll do better as time goes on. My first couple trips I spent way more out of pocket and got far fewer ECB's than I had anticipated. And, just so you know the ECB's are connected to your specific Extra Care Card, so they aren't transferable.

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope you're experience gets better and more successful as mine has. Crystal has so much wisdom and encouragement to share!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement! I thought someone had mentioned that they found someone's receipt and got a few bonus ECBs when they used it. But at this point, I'm better off not trying to complicate matters. I'm definitely hoping to go without kids next time, but sometimes they help keep me from wandering the aisles looking for things not on the list! I'm glad your kids find it fun as well. That's encouraging.


  3. Call CVS and let you know you purchased 3 Essence of Beauty products, but didn't get the ECB's. They will credit your account and they will print on your next visit to CVS. I purchased the EOB gift bags for $1.49 each. They even came with matching tissue paper.