Get cheap and free items at CVS–no extreme couponing required

You’ve probably seen or read tales of “extreme couponers” lately, folks who stockpile 20 years’ worth of toothpaste and chicken broth in their basement after getting the items free. There’s no doubt these folks get some real values, but you don’t have to be a super-serious coupon clipper to score great deals. I routinely get items free or almost-free by pairing sales, coupons and the CVS Extra Care program, which gives me CVS Extra Bucks for designated purchases.

CVS is a national drugstore chain which probably has a store near you; check the CVS store locator Web page to find the closest location. In addition to its pharmacy, CVS offers a wide variety of cosmetics, toiletries, household products and food. To earn CVS Extra Bucks, you’ll need to fill out a brief enrollment form at your store and use the Extra Care card you receive each time you shop there.

CVS can be quite pricey on many items, so the key to CVS bargain hunting is to know what a good price is for the items you buy. For example, a 12-pack of Coke may sell for $4.49 at your grocery store, so a sale of four 12-packs for $10 at CVS offers a great price. Usually, the actual sale price for items like this at CVS will be something like 4 packs for $13, but then you get $3 in Extra Bucks back at the end of your sales receipt. You can use the bucks coupon on your next visit for money off almost anything in the store.

I frequently use my Extra Bucks the following week to purchase another sales item offering Extra Bucks. Yesterday, I bought a tube of Colgate toothpaste on sale at CVS for $2.99, with Extra Bucks bringing the effective price down to 99 cents. Then, I used a coupon to lower the cost to 49 cents. With my Extra Bucks from previous purchases, I got the item without any cash out of my pocket.

A few times a year, CVS shows that it cares about customers by rewarding them with bonus Extra Bucks, based on how much they’ve spent at the store during certain portions of the year.

To get the most out of the Extra Bucks program:

    • Don’t let your Extra Bucks expire—that’s like throwing cash away. Their expiration date is usually about a month after the purchase that generated them.
    • Plan your shopping trip by checking the CVS weekly sale ad online. Focus only on items which are as cheap or cheaper than what you’d pay at a big-box retailer like Walmart.
    • Shop early in the week to find merchandise with Extra Bucks in stock.
    • Ask for a raincheck on out-of-stock sale items, and be sure the clerk includes the Extra Bucks offer on your raincheck. When you redeem it, point out the Extra Bucks to the cashier before they enter the raincheck into the register.
    • Use coupons to expand your savings. You can often get toiletries at extremely low prices or free by combining coupons and Extra Bucks.

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Filed under Cheap and free stuff, Rewards programs

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