Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CVS 101

Learning the ins and outs of the CVS ExtraCare Program may seem a little overwhelming at first, but it’s really simple when you break it down into the following steps.

First, you must sign up for your very own CVS ExtraCare Card. This can be done on, or you may sign up in a store. When you sign up in a store you can begin using your card immediately. If you choose to sign up online, you will get your card in about two weeks.

You’ll need to pick up a weekly store ad, as well as a monthly store ad. You can find the highlights of the weekly and monthly store ads posted here on Luv a Bargain. You do need to be careful with the weekly ads, as they can vary between locations. Scan both ads to find the ExtraCare Bucks offers that most appeal to you. The best offers are usually the ones that are already free after ExtraCare Bucks (ECBs).

Your goal is to attempt to create scenarios that actually earn you a profit in ECBs. You can do this by reducing your total amount spent out of pocket (OOP) with CVS dollar off coupons (ex. $3 off a $15 purchase), CVS item coupons, and manufacturer coupons. You can actually “stack” one CVS store coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item, and use both in conjunction with a $/$$ coupon.

Learn how to roll your ECBs. Once you’ve mastered the art of earning a profit on ECBs, you’ll want to learn how to “roll” them, where you'll be using them to pay for for items that earn more ECBs. AFter your initial out of pocket trip, learning how to effectively roll your ECBs will save you the most money in the long run.

You may occasionally purchase items that you don’t really want or need, but there are lots of places you can donate items to . Think about shelters, nursing homes or even gift baskets as gifts.

Once your at the store and you've gotten the items from my scenarios, you may want to group your purchase into multiple transactions. The reason you want to do multiple transactions to maximize your savings from $/$$ CVS coupons when they’re available. For example, if you have a $2/$10 purchase coupon, it makes more sense to do multiple transactions as close to $10 so you can get $2 off each one. A second reason would be to roll your ECBs that print from one transaction and use them to pay for your next transaction to minimize your actual OOP expenses.

Another very important thing to remember is to present your coupons in a certain order. When you’re ready to check out, have your ExtraCare Card scanned first. Then present your coupons in exactly this order to maximize your savings (1) CVS dollar off transaction coupons (2) CVS store coupons/manufacturer coupons (3) ECBs. If you present your dollar off coupons after your manufacturer and store coupons, your total transaction amount may not be high enough to allow the system to accept the coupon.

Before leaving the store, check your receipts and verify that all ECBs you earned for your next trip printed correctly.

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