CVS Lessons Learned
Read this and avoid the mistakes I made!

Some CVS lessons I have learned—

1.)    CVS overall savings coupons (like $4 off a total purchase price of $20) apply to the subtotal.  Always use these coupons first; if you give them manufacturer or specific item store coupons first, your total may drop below the minimum purchase price for the coupon, and you will not be able to use the coupon. 

2.)    Be careful to pay attention to which specific items are on sale or offering ECBs.  It may not be all Colgate toothpastes…just one specific flavor and size.  Make sure that you get the one you meant to. If you make a mistake, go back and get the one you meant to.  If you don’t want to hold up the line or if you don’t notice until you check your receipt, immediately go to the toothpaste aisle and get the one you want. Do a return on the other one and pay for this one. There is no reason to pay extra or not get the rewards because you didn’t pay attention.

3.)    Ask for a rain check. If you want a particular bargain and although your store carries it, they are out of them, tell them that you want that item and get a rain check for the price that you saw advertised so you can come back later and get the item. My stores will even honor ECB deals on rain checks. What they do is deduct the amount of the ECB from the (rain check) purchase price and so you can get immediate gratification! What's better than ECBs for later?  ECBs for NOW!  =)

4.)    Never buy things just because they are on sale.  If you are not going to use it or give it away so someone else can, you are not being frugal or a good steward of your money.  Sure, the ECBs are nice, but now you have stuff that you cannot use and it will either take up space or help fill a landfill. Bad idea.

5.)    Check out webites/blogs for rebate offers.  You can find some items a.) on sale, b.) have ECBs associated with them and c.) offer a rebate—all for a single purchase.

6.)    You can only use ECBs of a lesser value than your total in many stores, although this is dependent on the management of the store.  You cannot have a total of $7.78 and get $8.00 in credit due to ECBs. You can use one for $7.00 and pay the $0.78 out of pocket or you can ask them to mark your ECBs down to the $7.78 total (some stores do this and some do not). 

7.)    When you are ready to use ECBs, they are taken off of your subtotal. Sometimes it is more cost effective to use two smaller amounts to knock your subtotal down as needed.  ECBs will not pay for tax. For example. If you have a subtotal of $20.00 and tax of $1.40, your total will show $21.40 at the register.  If you use an ECB receipt for $15.10 thinking that you will also get to use a $5.00 one, as your total will be above that, you are wrong.  This will knock your subtotal down to $4.90 and you will have to pay for that out of pocket, as you cannot then use a $5.00 ECB at full value.  However, if you had used a $14.00 ECB receipt to knock the price down to a $6.00 subtotal (tax is recalculated for a total of $6.42), you will be able to use that $5.00 ECB receipt to get down to a $1.00 subtotal and walk out paying $1.07 out of pocket!  (all above based on a 7% sales tax and used only as an example). *By the way, the tax is adjusted in my state (GA), but some states require that the tax not change with the coupons, so the details here may or may not apply to you.

8.)   Scan the largest coupons first.  Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?  If you have a $22.00 purchase and one $4/$20 coupon and one $3 manufacturer coupon, you must give them the $4 coupon first.  This will knock the price to $18 and you can still use your $3 coupon for your product. However, if you give them the $3 coupon first, the amount will now total $19 and you cannot use the $4 coupon.