3 Money Saving Lessons from my CVS Shopping Trip

by on January 22, 2012 in Points & Reward Programs

CVS is one of the places I love to shop. Their Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) reward program makes it easy to get items for free, or much less than I can anywhere else. ECBs are like cash back to use on a future trip to CVS.

Today’s shopping trip was really good and I wanted to share it with you, because it is good example of how I shop and save money. There are 3 lessons you can learn from the way I shop.

But first, here’s what I bought:

  • FIVE 8 count Bounty Basic Paper towels at $5.99 each
  • TWO gallons of milk at $2.99 each
  • ONE 3-pack of Kleenex tissues (100 ct. each) at $2.99
  • ONE Snickers candy bar at $.67

I also used the following coupons:

  • FIVE $1.00 off one Bounty
  • ONE $.50 off a Kleenex 3-pack
  • ONE $2.00 off a Kleenex 3-pack (I got this from the CVS kiosk when I arrived there today!)
  • TWO $1.00 ECBs from previous trips

I got back the following:

  • $10.00 CVS Cash Card – the paper towels and the Snickers bar were part of this week’s CVS Cash Card program
  • $3.00 ECBs – $1 back for each gallon of milk + $1 back from the Kleenex bundle

My total at the register for everything I bought was $32.28 after coupons. After the $13.00 I got back to use on a future trip, my whole purchase (40 rolls of paper towels, 2 gallons of milk, 3 boxes of Kleenex and a candy bar) was $19.38.

Not bad!

Ready for the lessons?

Lesson #1: Stockpile your coupons.

A common misconception about using coupons is that you actually have to USE all of your coupons. I like to collect a large variety of coupons for items I might need as well as items I will need, but I rarely use them all. I don’t feel bad about not using all of them, because I can give my excess coupons away in my Coupon Cheer Giveaways, or send them to overseas military families once they expire.

The benefit of having a large stockpile of coupons is that when something you need goes on sale…you probably have a coupon for it.

Notice I used FIVE of the $1.00 Bounty coupons? I had five on hand, because I had collected several little P&G coupon booklets from various product packages during the last year. Some of the booklets came from Charmin packages I bought months ago, and some came from Pampers packages. These booklets are great to keep around, because their expiration dates are usually quite a ways off, and you never know when you might need the coupons inside!

I got the $.50 Kleenex coupon from the paper, but I really lucked out when I scanned my Extra Care card at the kiosk in CVS today. A $2.00 Kleenex coupon printed, and because those are store coupons, I was able to stack it with my coupon from the paper, and after ECBs back… they basically paid me $.51 to take the 3-pack of Kleenex home!

Lesson #2: Use coupons with sales and special promotions.

$5.99 for the Bounty Basic paper towels wasn’t a terrible price, but my coupons and the CVS Cash Card program made it a pretty awesome deal. The 3-pack of Kleenex was also a great buy because of my coupons and the ECBs back. The milk at $2.99 wasn’t bad, but the $1.00 ECB back on each gallon made it a steal at today’s milk prices.

Let’s look closer at each purchase I made:

The paper towels were the reason I went to CVS today. I needed paper towels, and they were on sale as part of the weekly CVS Cash Card program. Each week, from now until summer, CVS has a variety of items tagged with a Cash Card symbol. If you buy $30 worth of those tagged items, you get a $10 CVS Cash Card back (gift card). You can do this up to 5 times a week.

I bought 5 packages of the 8 count paper towels. I even had to ask the manager to look for more in the back of the store! They were marked at $5.99 each. The amount toward the Cash Card is PRE-coupon, so use your coupons, but use the tag price for figuring out if you’ve made it to $30 or not. The Snickers bar put me over the $30 mark, because it was part of the promo this week, too.

My coupons brought each pack of paper towels down to $4.99. Leaving tax out, $4.99 x 5 is $24.95, and if you deduct the $10 Cash Card that I got back, I got 40 rolls of paper towels for $14.95, which is 37 cents a roll. That’s awesome!

The 3-pack bundle of Kleenex ended up being a much better deal than I had originally planned, because I scanned my card at the Extra Care kiosk when I went in, and they surprised me with a $2.00 coupon that I could stack with my $.50 coupon from the paper.

The deal was a 3-pack of 100 count Kleenex for $2.99 with $1.00 ECB back. With my 2 stacked coupons, I paid $.49 and they gave me $1.00 back in ECB, so it was a money maker! SWEET! Originally, I had planned to pay $.50 per box of Kleenex, which is a nice deal.

The milk was also a score, because milk prices have been crazy lately. Who would think to buy milk at CVS? ME! I paid $2.99 for each gallon I bought, and they gave me $1.00 ECB buck for each of those two gallons, making them $1.99 each. A good deal!

Lesson #3: Stockpile items you use on a regular basis.

One way that I save money is by keeping a pantry of items I use on a regular basis. I stock up on the things I use most often, when they are at their lowest price, so I save the most money possible. I don’t just store extra food, I also store extra toiletries, diapers, wipes, and other household items…like paper towels.

I bought a TON of paper towels today. People who saw me wheeling my cart out, piled high with 5 packages of paper towels, probably laughed…but if they knew what I paid, and how long they would last me…they wouldn’t laugh!

It was MONTHS ago that I last bought paper towels, and it will be MONTHS more before I buy them again. By buying them when I can get them at their lowest possible price, and having them on hand…I save money.

If I wait until I totally run out and need more, I am at the mercy of the price that week. By stocking up, I already have them. And, I paid much less than I would if I bought them as I need them.

This is a very difficult thing for many people to understand,  but if you really want to save money….this is how to do it!

I have a free printable resource that can help you determine the lowest price on the items you buy them most often. Click here to download a copy of my FREE Price Book. It can help you track the prices on the items you want to stockpile, so when you see the best price…you will KNOW you’re getting a good deal.

So, today’s trip to CVS was a success!

What do you think?

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