Sunday, January 14, 2007

CVS explained...hopefully!

I have recently talked to several of you about my two new favorite places to shop, Walgreens and CVS. Some of you read Shawna's post here and here about the deals she was able to get at Walgreens last week. Both Walgreens and CVS run some awesome promotions each week, but most of the public is too busy to take advantage of the savings. And it can be confusing too, so don't be discouraged if you don't understand everything at first. We learned all this from another friend, and both Shawna and I are willing to answer any questions you might have... or even go shopping with you to get you started!

One of the most important things I can stress is find a way to get the Sunday paper coupon inserts each week. I subscribe to the Sunday paper only which is only a little over a dollar a week, deliver
ed to my door, and I have saved so much in the process! But most of you probably know someone through work or church who gets the paper but doesn't have time to clip and use coupons. So ask them to save them for you! Or, better yet, get your own paper and get their coupons too! The more you have of each coupon, the better. But you can honestly do all these deals with just getting your own paper each week. So there - that's my first recommendation!

Secondly, when you start doing these rebate programs, be prepared to spend a little money up front. Talk with your spouse about how much you are both willing to spend in the beginning and stick with that amount. The deals will always be there, so you can go at your own pace. But you do have to spend a little bit at each store before you start accumulating store credit. It is so worth it though! Now I can go shopping for household items and only spend a dollar or 2 out of pocket, sometimes nothing at all!

To get started at CVS, go to the store and sign up for a free ExtraCare card (basically like a Dillons card). I recommend signing up at the store because you'll get your card much quicker than if yo
u sign up online and they have to send it to you. You will hand your card to the cashier each time you make a purchase, and it will apply all of your purchases to your account for credit. Each weekly ad will advertise the current promotions the store is offering (yes, they do advertise these now! Check your ad!), so when you look through the ad, look for maroon circles next the products, advertising how many Extra bucks you will receive when you buy that product. Your Extra bucks (ECBs or Extra Care Bucks) will print at the register 2 days after you purchase the item. They will print after your receipt. You can also print your coupons online at

For example, this week on page 17 of the weekly ad, it says:
$5 Extra Bucks when you buy 2 Extra Strength Tylenol GoTabs chewable 6 ct.
You pay 2/$4.98
Extra Bucks Reward $5.00
After Your Extra Bucks Reward = FREE with card

Now if you collect coupons, you will probably have 1 or 2 coupons for $1.00 off Tylenol GoTabs, so you can use those when you buy them, spend $2.98, and get back $5.00!!!

This offer says limit 1, so you can do it once this week...but sometimes there are deals that are unlimited, and that's where you can earn a bunch of store credit. Remember, you accumulate the Extra Care Bucks if you buy the product, regardless of how much you paid after coupons.

Sometimes the offers for ECBs will be "Spend $___ on these products, Get back $___.

For example, this week on page 14 of the ad, it says:
$5 Extra Bucks when you spend $15 on these Crest and Oral-B items.
If you have coupons for these items and can spend less or close to $5 out of pocket after coupons, this would be a good deal! Sometimes they will even advertise "Spend $10, Get $10 back" and then when you combine coupons it is a Moneymaker! Remember, you accumulate the Extra Care Bucks if the regular price of what you are buying meets the amount specified, BEFORE coupons.

Another bonus to the Extra Care Card is that they track your spending a give you quarterly 2% cash back bonuses in the form of ECB's.
They also award $1 for every two prescriptions you have filled in their pharmacies.

So how do you use these ECBs? Well, in 2 days from your original purchase, they show up on your account. You can check them on the CVS website,, on the left side of the screen. Look for the Check Coupons and Balances link, and follow the directions.
The ECBs can be used to buy anything in the store except for alcohol, cigarettes, gift cards, pharmaceuticals, etc. But anything else is okay. Which means that you can now use your new ECB to buy another item which will net you some more ECBs. And it just keeps going and going!

When your ECBs print after your receipt, often a CVS coupon or 2 will print as well, which may be for a specific kind of item, such as "Save $3 when you buy Dove hand lotion," or for a certain amount off of your total, such as "Save $5 on a $20 purchase." You can combine these with your manufacturer (from the paper) coupons and with your ECBs too, allowing you to tuck in those extra needs your family might have that week. And I often have 2 or 3 to use, so I can get $5-$15 worth of extra stuff, using coupons of course!

Another new thing in the CVS world is that you can now combine multiple ECBs, so you can potentially be handing the cashier quite a load of paper! They don't call me the coupon lady for nothing! But then again, I usually only pay a dollar or 2 max for a whole load of items, so I don't mind the nickname! :)

Okay, so as I read back through this, I can see how it might sound a little intimidating, but I can assure you, the people I know who have given it a try have figured it out within a few weeks. If you're interested, take a shot at it, ask a lot of questions, and see if it is something that will help your family budget out.

Addendum (added 4/7/07): So many of you have commented here or emailed me asking to be included on my email list. I really enjoyed being able to share the deals I was finding on a weekly basis, but recently I've been trying to simplify my shopping process and save time where I can. If you've started clipping coupons yet, you know it can take a little time each week, as can going to more than one store. So right now I'm trying to streamline the process and make it a little more effortless. :) That said, the emails aren't happening anymore. So sorry! But I will share my favorite site for CVS info on a weekly basis. It's,f533, a forum where people share the deals they are finding. You can even find info on upcoming weeks, for those of you who like to plan ahead! Check it out! I've found it to be very helpful!


shawna said...

very well done!

Anonymous said...

thanks rachel!!!
did i miss you at mops last week?
hope to see you this thursday!


jenica said...

Could you add me to your email list? I've always thought Walgreens seemed like such a worthless store, but this is proving me wrong! We don't have CVS here.

dave & rachel said...

I'll definitely add you to the email list. I always send something out Sunday evening for that week's deals, and then as I find more deals, I try to pass them on too.

If nothing else, you could at least get the free after rebate stuff at Walgreens every month (there is an EasySaver catalog at the front of the store that has rebate items for the month). But if you have a way to get coupons, you could potentially get a lot of good prices there. I have been surprised b/c, like you, I always thought Walgreens was for suckers, people who were too busy to go to Walmart, so they traded price for convenience. But with the Walgreens coupons (there are some in the EasySaver and some every week in the Walgreens store ad--also at the front of the store or in the Sunday paper) combined with manufacturers coupons, there are some awesome deals out there.

andyandjenica said...

I was just checking out It looks like you can print easy saver coupons/rebates(the catalog) and a tally sheet right off the site.
Does this look right to you? (I am in the dark with this.)

So you mail in all your rebates at the end of the month?

I think I'll just GO to Walgreens and get started.

I'm not saying you all aren't doing good at explaining! Great actually. It's probably like playing a new game, you just need to start to get the hang of it!

Josh and Brooke said...

will you add me to your email list too? we don't have CVS either, but there is a walgreens on almost every corner! thanks!

dave & rachel said...

Yes, just go to Walgreens and pick up the EasySaver catalog there. Don't bother printing it online if you don't have to. The booklet is very self-explanatory. You just look for deals that work with the rebates all month long, and then send in your receipts and the rebate form (in the catalog) at the end of the month.

Check your email! :)

Kim C. said...

This is fantastic - thanks for taking the time to explain!

Carrie said...

I heart CVS. :) A great place to read about the CVS and Walgreens deals is the Drugstores forum at!

Thanks to Life in a Shoe for linking to you!

dave & rachel said...

Carrie, Yes, I love that site! Actually Crystal from Biblical Womanhood introduced me to it. We used to live in the same town, and she helped me get started with all this stuff. Last fall I would have never thought I could do all this, and after several months of giving it a try, it is so much easier now.

Frugal Homemaker said...

Hi! I would love to be on the Walgreens/CVS e-mail list that was mentioned on Growing Bloom's site, but I can't find an e-mail address for you! Please add me- my address is

Thank you so much! I love your site and have added it to my bookmarks.

Homeschool Help Web said...

Good job, I think you explained it all very well.

The only thing I would quibble with is the multiple ECBs thing - most of the stores will NOT take multiple ECBs of just the regular money ones. Yes, you can combine the "$2 off this item" and $1 off stomach remedies" type register coupons, but you can't combine the plain money ones at most places. Used to be able to, but not for a couple of years now, unfortunately!

Do you have a Rite Aid? RA's rebates work similar to Walgreens, except you can do it all online and don't have to mail in anything at all, which is really cool.

dave & rachel said...

We don't have a Rite Aid.

The ECB thing must differ from store to store. The one where I live used to not take more than 1 per transaction, but when they switched from Osco to CVS, they started allowing you to use multiple of them at a time. I don't know if they are only doing this in Osco converted areas?

Homeschool Help Web said...

That very well could be the difference - they may be trying harder to please customers because of the switch.

Too bad you don't have a Rite Aid, you can get a lot of good stuff there, too!

Rhonda said...

I would like to be added to your email list for Walgreens and CVS deals. My email address is rhonda dot miller at oplink dot net.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Could you add me to your weekly CVS/Walgreens deals email list? I live on the Missouri side of KC and began couponing and using the Extra Care Bucks and Easy Saver in January. Thanks for your hard work!


chickadee said...

thanks for the great explanation. i would love to be able to do this. i live in a very rural area and do not have a cvs but we are getting a walgreens about 30 minutes away.

Anonymous said...

After reading your CVS posts I'm excited about getting started and saving money!! Can you add me to your CVS/Walgreen's email list? My email address is
Thanks KW

Anonymous said...

Please add me to your email list! As of April first, the extra bucks are printing at the register as soon as the item is purchased. Makes it so much easier! In my area, we can use as many extrabucks as we want at the same time as long as the number of bucks does not exceed the number of items purchased. This is the actual piece of paper the bucks are printed on, not the dollar value. Throw in a pack of gum if you don't have enough items!

dave & rachel said...

Sorry, everyone! I no longer send out an email list of deals. Check out this link for more help:,f533


Tiffanie said...

Could you add me to your email list, as well. We don't have a CVS, but do have a Walgreens. Thanks so much.

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