Couponing at CVS

Some people who are serious couponers go to many drugstores to take advantage of weekly deals.  I prefer to just stick to one drugstore.  So I chose CVS.  I think I’ve got them pretty figured out.  

Here’s my strategy:

  • First- sign up for an Extra Care Card.  This way you will get sale prices and earn Extra Care Bucks.  Extra Care Bucks are reward dollars you can use in store on most anything except things like alcohol, tobacco & prescriptions.
  • Next, as SOON as you walk in go straight to the Extra Care Bucks machine and scan your card.  Coupons and Extra Care Bucks will print.  You will also see Extra Care Bucks at the bottom of your receipts.  Be sure to keep those and use them quickly as they are only good a few weeks.
  • If you don’t already have some, buy some reusable shopping bags.  Be sure to take them with you to CVS.  Not only are you helping the environment, you earn money back from CVS in the form of Extra Care Bucks.  First you buy a Green Bag Tag then they scan it each time you shop using reusable shopping bags.  You earn $1 on every 4th scan.
  • Also, sign up for the CVS Beauty Club.  You earn $5 in Extra Care Bucks for every $50 you spend on beauty items.  Plus they give out fabulous beauty coupons periodically.
  • On Sunday I clip my coupons then go through the CVS ad.  CVS advertises a ton of great deals each week where you can earn Extra Care Bucks.  Pair those up with coupons and you’re doing great.   Here’s an example, it’s my list from Sunday of items I bought to earn Extra Care Bucks.  1. Spend $10 on John Frieda get $3 ECBs (Extra Care Bucks).  2. $3 ECBs WYB (when you buy) a 2-4 pack of Colgate toothbrushes.  3.  Earn 1 ECB wyb 1 Efferdent. (I use them to clean my CPAP machine‘s tub).  4. $2.50 in ECBs wyb 1 giant Crest Pro Health mouthwash.  5. $7 in ECBs wyb 2 Banana Boat sunscreens. I used coupons for each item as well.
  • When I get home I clip my Extra Care Bucks and put them in my little coupon baggie for CVS to use on next week’s trip. So now I have $16.50 to use next week!  It’s just like cash!

Couponing to Disney has a VERY informative page on how to shop at CVS.  Be sure to check it out.

 

Coupon categories

 Organizing your coupon binder can be a daunting task.  I needed some help with the categories so I asked Susan for her help.  CSP chimed in too.  I made a title page for the Food and Non Food pages and listed the categories so it would be easy to find a coupon in a flash.    I don’t know why my pages are showing up yellow, they are white.  Must be the lighting.   Anyway, CSP helped me kind of order the categories by the way the stores are normally laid out.  

Here are the categories I used:

Non Foods

  • Paper Goods
  • Laundry – Dish- Cleaning
  • Household
  • Medicines & Vitamins
  • Beauty
  • Hair
  • Bath & Body
  • Oral Care
  • Pugs

Food-

  • Dairy
  • Frozen
  • Condiments & Salad Dressing
  • Canned Veggies & Fruit
  • Pasta & Rice
  • Breakfast
  • Baking
  • Spices & Sauces
  • Snacks
  • Drinks
  • Sandwich Stuff
  • Soup
  • Meat

Some of the categories are a little vague but it lets me put things in a broad category like Household where I put candles.  I am really liking this system!

Where to get coupons

When you first start couponing you need coupons.  Where to get them?  The Sunday paper is your best bet.  Some people buy multiples of the paper to get lots of inserts.  Red Plum and Smart Source are the main inserts in most Sunday papers.  You can also print coupons from their websites.  If you really think you’re going to get into saving money by couponing, I would go ahead and set up a folder on your favorites bookmarks bar marked Coupons.

Then go to these sites:

Red Plum

Smart Source

Coupons.com

Coupon Mom

 

Coupon Network

 

There are a TON more sites out there, just Google Coupons and you’ll see!  Don’t forget eCoupons too.  You use them for your groceries as well.  Go to Upromise and set up an account, then once a month activate their eCoupons.  Then when you buy say, a can of soup, you can use a paper coupon on the soup at the store, then get credit in your account for your eCoupon. Saving Star is another great resource for eCoupons.  They have an app too so while you’re in store you can check your account.  Build up $5 at least then transfer it to your Paypal account or get gift cards.

Don’t forget, there are 2 main types of coupons.  There are manufacturer coupons issued by the companies that make the products and there are store coupons issued by the stores.  You can stack these coupons for ultimate savings.  Example:  you want to buy Tide detergent.  You clip a manufacturer coupon from the Sunday paper for 50 cents off.  Then you read  Target‘s ad and clip a coupon with the Target logo on it that says store coupon next to the expiration date that is worth 25 cents.  You are allowed to use both to save a total of 75 cents.  That’s called stacking.

You may want to check with a friend or neighbor and start swapping coupons.  My friend Christina and I swap coupon inserts every couple of weeks.  She has 2 small kids and I have 3 dogs so our needs are different and we clip different coupons.  We swap the coupons and it’s like we bought 2 papers!   Some people also participate in coupon trains where they will receive an envelope full of coupons, pull the ones they want, add the ones they won’t use, then send them on to the next person in the train.

Now go get clipping!

Freebies & coupons

Another way to get coupons for your coupon stash is to ask for freebies.  There are a TON of freebie websites and email newsletters out there.  Just Google Freebies and you’ll be sure to find one you’ll like.  I subscribe to Shop For Freebies. com’s daily newsletter.  Couponing to Disney also alerts me to freebies.  When you receive a freebie or sample in the mail most of the time there is a coupon included.  Like today I received a sample of Gold Bond body wash.  I’ve never used this brand or product but I LOVE samples so what the hay?!   Samples are great for travel because once you use it up you just throw out the package and you don’t have to return home with big bottles.  Anyway, included with my sample was this coupon for $1.00 off the product.  Not too shabby for 30 seconds of inputting my name and address!

Email pays off!

After being inspired by Couponing to Disney I made a list of some of the products we use that I love.  Then I sent emails to the companies praising their products but NOT asking for coupons.  I received an envelope full of coupons from Dial last week and today I received a booklet of coupons from SC Johnson because I wrote to Glade about their Spring candles.  LOTS of good ones too!   So if you’re looking to build your stash of coupons I highly suggest writing to some of the companies whose products you use on a regular basis.  I mean look- one email made me almost $20!  More than that actually because our grocery stores double up to 98 cents.  Word.  Oh, and if you’re thinking “OMG I don’t have time to write a million emails”…don’t!  Just write one.  Then save it somewhere, copy and paste, and change some details.  Basically here’s what I wrote to Glade:  ” Hi!  I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how much I enjoy the Spring Sparkle  Glade candles.  The lime scent is so fresh and clean smelling!  My husband, who normally doesn’t care what kind of candles I burn, even loves these and has remarked how good the house smells.  I know the Spring Sparkle is a seasonal scent but please consider making it part of your permanent line.  Thank you for making such a quality product at an affordable price!  Sincerely, Shanny & CSP”.   That’s it.  Like 4 sentences.  Took 2 minutes tops.  Made almost $10 a minute!

What to do with expired coupons? Send them to the troops!

At the beginning of each month I go through my coupons and pull out all the expired coupons.  Seems like such a waste to throw them out though right?  Well, we don’t have to.  Did you know that there is a very special group of people who can benefit from our expired coupons?  Our military families stationed overseas!  They can use expired coupons for up to 6 months past the expiration date!  Isn’t that awesome!?!  No need to add to a landfill when you can help people.  Now, how to get the coups to the troops?  There are a ton of organizations that help, so depending where you are you may choose a different group than I would.  If you Google Coupons for Troops this is what you get.   So just pick a group and send them your expired coupons.  They take food and nonfood coupons.  Basically you separate the coupons into food and nonfood piles, add up the dollar amount then put them in baggies and send them in.  Consider it the least we can do for the people who protect our freedom every day!

Little big of a brag

I read of Couponing to Disney how she writes to 5 different companies a day and they send her coupons.  So I tried it.  I emailed Dial about their soap.  CSP will only use white Dial soap.  Sure enough a couple days go by and look!  6 coupons arrived in the mail!  And not just for Dial, but for Purex and Soft Scrub too! 

I’ve graduated

So I’ve been couponing for a few months now.  I started in early Spring and organized my coupons in a little accordion/check file like this:   It worked great for me for a while.  But the longer you coupon the more coupons you acquire.  Every time I’d go shopping I’d make a list and pull the coupons I’d need and put them in a plastic baggie labeled with the store name.  This was fine until I’d get in the store and see something that wasn’t on my list.  Maybe an unadvertised sale or something. Then the shuffle would begin.  I’d have to pull out the stack of coupons and shuffle through them until I’d find the one I wanted.  Pain in the tookus and a time waster.

So I finally graduated.  I found a zippered binder (zippered so the coupons won’t fall out) kind of like this one at Target.  Then I ordered 2 sizes of baseball card sleeves from Amazon.  Even though I had to order 100 pages of each size it was a MUCH better deal than buying them 20 or so at a time from the store.   I ordered the standard 9 a page sleeve and also a 3 a page sleeve that holds 4×6 items for the larger coupons.  I also bought standard tabbed dividers.  I  didn’t go fancy with my dividers because I wasn’t sure how many I’d need.  These are just write on tabs.  Works just fine.

It took a while but with Susan’s help I came up with a list of categories.  I separated my coupons into Food and Non Food,labeled my tabs, then loaded up my binder.  I made a table of contents with an extra tab divider.    It’s SO much easier for me to find coupons now.   And cleaning out the expired coupons is so easy too because I can see the expiration date right there through the sleeve.  If you get a binder I suggest getting one with an accordion file at the front like mine.    I keep restaurant coupons in the front pocket and store ads in the other pockets.  Makes it easy when I’m at CVS to be able to pull out the ad and see exactly what’s on sale without having to hunt the ad down in the store.

Yes, the binder is big and heavy and a PITA to carry.  BUT, I just put it in my reusable grocery bag.  When I get my buggy I put my purse in the kid seat then open my binder over my purse.  There are pockets in my binder for pens, my lists, etc.  And CSP is happy because my purse is hidden from prowling burglars.   The binder’s bulk is the only drawback.  I LOVE it.  There’s a pocket in the back where I keep my little store baggies with the coupons I’m going to use on that trip.  And now if I need an additional coupon in store it takes seconds to find instead of minutes.  I feel like a pro!