CVS 101
A Beginner's Guide to Big Savings at the Pharmacy

Have you really utilized that CVS around the corner (I know you have one…they seem to be popping up everywhere!)? You will after you read this, as there are serious savings to be had at any CVS; you just have to know how to work the system.


CVS has a membership card that you can obtain for free by simply filling out a form—don’t worry…they won’t send you anything in the mail you don’t want. Now that you have an ExtraCare card, your journey to saving big has begun. Once you have your card in hand (if you apply online, they will mail it; if you register in the store, you walk out with it in hand), register it at the CVS website, as they will send you emails with coupons/deals as well. 


Now that you have a card, you can collect ExtraCare Bucks for all of your purchases, and you can even get some back at the register that can be used on the next trip (they do expire…usually in about 3 weeks’ time).  For now, I will discuss using the program to walk out of the store with ExtraCare Bucks in hand.  In CVS 102 I will discuss using them for more long-term use.


Keep an eye on the Sunday paper.  If you don’t get a local paper (which I would suggest you at least get a Sunday paper—most newspapers have a good rate for Sunday only delivery), go to your local CVS and pick up the weekly flier to take home and peruse through.  Don’t try to do it all while you are in the store…this needs to be well planned to get the biggest bang for your buck!  While you are in the store (either picking up a flier or shopping), look for a monthly book as well near the front where you pick up the weekly flier.  These deals are running for the entire month and can provide valuable information.  They are not published with any of the weekly fliers, so it is important that you get both!


CVS has some great sales, but as you are looking through the flier, keep in mind that you are looking for ExtraCare Bucks (ECBs) notations…especially at first when you need to get some of those in hand! They will be noted in red and tell you how many you get for a particular purchase. These rewards will be printed at the register and although they cannot be used on that purchase, they will be ready to use on your next trip. Keep in mind those things that you really need now or will needing in the near future.  Also keep in mind things that you have room to stockpile in case you do find a great deal.  We will later discuss getting other things that you can donate to charity or set aside for future needs (that will be in CVS 103).  For now, let’s just get started.


Keep in mind that all stores—including CVS—lets you combine store coupons for particular items and manufacturers’ (mfr) coupons for the same item—but typically only one of each per product.  Example…if you have a CVS coupon for a particular brand of deodorant and 2 mfr coupons for the same brand of deodorant, you can use one CVS coupon and one mfr coupon together on one stick.  To use the other mfr coupon, you would have to get another stick of the same deodorant.  Look through that Sunday paper and compare the coupons in there (or that you already have on hand) with what CVS is offering.  You can get some stuff down to really cheap.  Note that you will be paying full price (or sale price) up front.  This is why the first trip you will spend more money out of pocket than you will at any other time.  Don’t be discouraged.  Your journey is beginning and it only gets better from here. 


Note that in the fine print below each ECB offer in the flier you will see how many times you can get this offer per ExtraCare card.  However, the ECBs offered in the ad pertains to the pre-coupon price.  So just because it says that you have to spend $10 on products to get 5 ECBs, keep in mind that if you have coupons that can knock that $10 down to $6, you still get 5 ECBs because the pre-coupon price met the qualifying amount.


Find some ECB products, use store coupons and manufacturers’ coupons to get the out of pocket price as low as possible, and victory—you walk out of the store with ECBs (which are just like cash at any CVS) in hand for your next trip. 


10 Steps to Proper CVS Shopping:

1.)    Plan, plan, plan.  Don’t go into the wandering around to find what has ECBs attached to it.  Read the fliers, look at your coupons, search for coupons online, and make a list.  If you don’t stick to the list, be prepared to (usually) spend more out of pocket money.  It sounds like a lot of planning, but it is so very worth it when you can save so big.

2.)    Fill up your basket/cart with the items you have carefully planned to get.

3.)    Present your loot along with your ExtraCare card to the cashier.

4.)    Give the cashier your CVS overall discount coupons.

5.)    Then give the cashier any additional coupons.

6.)    Give the cashier your ECBs from any previous visits.

7.)    Pay the low out-of-pocket amount.

8.) Marvel at the ECBs that you have acquired due to this purchase.

9.)    Dance out of the store feeling victorious. 

10.)    Call your friends and family and brag.


All of the above information is solely my suggestions.  Make sure you make the system work for you and the products you most commonly buy.  Use coupon websites (some can be found on the side of my blog under the links section) to find coupons that didn’t come in the paper.  You only have to print the ones you need and I have never had a problem with anyone taking printed coupons.


So, now you are set with the basic information you need.  Please read CVS Lessons Learned… so you can avoid the mistakes I made.  Whenever you feel as though you have conquered this practice, continue to CVS 102 and CVS 103 to improve your CVS skills and save even more!