15 Days of Pinching Pennies at the Drug Stores (Day 5): Extra CVS Tips


Ready to finish up learning how to shop CVS using coupons? (You can do this!) First you’ll want to read through these posts if you haven’t already:


I got a great question last night asking about whether or not it’s really worth using shopping CVS for their ECB deals, and thought it was so worth discussing, so here goes:

“I’m still trying to figure out how I’ll know what to buy. It seems that you have to buy things you don’t necessarily need to get the ECB’s. Is that what you post with your deals at CVS weekly posts? So a newbie like me should just follow those scenarios and buy what you say until I pick it up on my own? Sorry. I really want to do this, but I don’t want to spend money on items I don’t need. I understand donation items too, but is it worth it for what I’m actually going to need and use?”


Here was my response:

I (completely!) understand! The thing that I’ve figured out over the years is that there’s a basic cycle to shopping at the drug stores, so if I can get on their sales cycle to purchase things (deodorant, shampoo, paper products, toothpaste, etc), I end up with everything I need for just a few dollars over the course of several months. It is easier in the beginning to follow the scenarios (I think?) and then once you get the hang of out to roll your ECBs you can venture out for different items. BUT the trick to the drug stores is to really snag the deals that are next to nothing with ECBs, so some weeks you get things you may not use (I only get those if they’re free or just way too good a deal not to donate), and then roll those into more deals the following week. 


As with all stores, the drug stores have a certain cycle to their sales, and if you can change your shopping so that you the ads based on their sales cycles, you will save a ton of money. Drug store shopping isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve got a little energy to put into it, I promise you can save hundreds, of not thousands of dollars!


Okie dokie ~ here are a few more tips to help you make sure you’ve learned just about everything about how to shop at CVS with coupons:


1. Watch for additional monthly CVS ECB offers.

Just like weekly Extra Care Bucks offers, CVS offers monthly ECB offers that work exactly the same way as weekly ECB sales, however they’re available for an entire month.


2.  CVS will give you Quarterly ECBs depending on how often you shop CVS.

CVS Quarterly ECBs are earned each quarter, including approximately 2% cash back on most CVS purchases. To qualify for these savings, you must spend at least $25 at CVS in a given quarter, and your CVS Quarterly ECBs will printout once each quarter while shopping.


3.  CVS offers additional ECBs when you fill a prescription.

In addition to Quarterly ECBs based on your purchases in a given quarter, you’ll also earn ECBs every time you fill a prescription at CVS.  For every 2 prescriptions filled at CVS, you’ll get $1 in ECBs.


4.  CVS gives Beauty Club Points when you purchase participating products.

In addition to CVS ECBs and Quarterly Rewards, earn CVS beauty Club points when you shop. To get those savings, sign up for the CVS Beauty Club and link your CVS Extra Care Card to your Beauty Club account. For every $50 you spend on beauty products at CVS, you’ll get $5 in ECBs! Items included are things like hair care and accessories, skin care, cosmetics, etc.


5. CVS offers Rain Checks.

If you get to CVS and they’re out of a product (including ECB offers), request a rain check. Then purchase the item when it’s back in stock and your cashier will manually print the ECB savings when the item is back in stock. Rain checks do not expire at CVS.



So there you have it ~ just about everything you can learn about CVS’ing, hopefully covered for you! Next week will start working on Rite Aid (they have some incredible deals there too!), which hopefully will help you pinch a few more pennies out of your grocery budget.  Let me know what other tips, suggestions, or questions you have in the comments section – I love hearing from you!

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15 Days of Pinching Pennies at the Drug Stores (Day 4): Make Sense of CVS Scenarios


Last night we discussed what a CVS “ECB” (Extra Care Buck) is, so tonight it’s time to really put that into practice! I know it feels like a lot to understand if you’re new to drug store shopping, but I promise the deals at the drug stores are worth it (especially on Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner really!) My goal is for you to really grasp drug store shopping prior to the big sales days which are coming up not too far from now.


Each Friday night here on PPP, my friend Shannon does a ton of work putting together a scenario that maps out exactly how to get the most for your money the following Sunday at CVSYou can check always check those scenarios out in the CVS archives, but here’s just one example of how these scenarios will work.


(Note, this is not an actual scenario for a current sale ~ you can find those HERE.)


CVS Scenarios Example

Transaction #1

Buy 2 Colgate Multipack Toothbrushes $4.49 (Total = $8.98), Earn $3 in ECBs when you buy 2 Colgate Toothbrushes

Buy 1 Scope Mouthwash $3.99, (Total = $3.99), Earn $3 in ECBs when you buy 2 Scope Mouthwashes

Total before coupons and ECBs = $12.97

  • Use (2) $2/1 Colgate coupons
  • AND use (1) $1/1 Scope coupon
  • Pay $7.97 out of pocket
  • Get back $6 in ECBs to use towards your next CVS purchase ($3 in ECBs because you bough 2 Colgate and $3 in ECBs because you bought 1 Scope)
Transaction #2

Buy 2 Right Guard Deodorants $3 (Total = $6)

Buy 1 Zantac $8.99 (Total = $8.99) Earn $4 in ECBs when you buy 1 Zantac

Total before coupons and ECBs = $14.99

  • Use (2) $1.50/1 Right Guard coupons
  • AND use $4/1 Zantac coupon
  • AND use $6 ECBs from Transaction #1
  • Pay $1.99 out of pocket
  • Get back $4 in ECBs to use towards your next CVS purchase ($4 in ECBs because you bought 1 Zantac)


Transaction #3

Buy 1 CVS Diapers $6.99 (Total = $6.99), Earn $2 in ECBs when you buy 1 CVS diapers

Total before coupons and ECBs = $6.99

  • Use $2/1 CVS diaper coupon
  • AND use $4 in ECBs from Transaction #2
  • Pay $.99 out of pocket
  • Get back $2 in ECBs to use towards other items at CVS OR save them to use on a new ECB deal in the future!



If there’s an ECB offer that requires you to spend XX dollars to get XX ECBS, you can separate that amount over several transactions.


In this scenario you would spend $10.95 out of pocket for $35.95 in products, AND get back $2 in ECBs to use on a future purchase. That makes your total for all 7 items (including a pack of diapers) just $8.95 after coupons and Extra Care Bucks, and a savings of 75%!




Stop back tomorrow night for a few final CVS’ing tips, and let me know what questions and suggestions you have as well! If you’re new to CVS’ing, you’ll want to also read through these posts to get started:


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15 Days of Pinching Pennies at the Drug Stores (Day 3): What Is A CVS “ECB”


So we got through the very beginning basics of How to Save at CVS last night (are you still with me?) so tonight it’s time to start confusing you. ;) Really though, once you figure out how to “roll” your ECBs at CVS you’ll be well on your way to saving big, so let’s get started!


What Is A CVS “ECB”?

1. What is an ECB?

At CVS, each week in their weekly ad you’ll see items that are “Extra Care Buck” (ECB) deals.  As I mentioned last night, the very best savings at CVS come from their ECB deals. When you shop and purchase ECB deals you’ll receive a printout at the bottom of your receipt for a certain number of ECBs towards your next purchase.

2. ECBs are like real cash at CVS.

Extra Care Bucks are just like real cash to be used on a following trip at CVS (in fact, I keep my ECBs in my wallet next to my cash so I don’t forget them!) They typically expire in 30 days, so be sure to use them before their expiration date.

3.  You can “roll” your Extra Care Bucks.

To get the most bang for your CVS buck, you’ll want to “roll” ECBs from your first trip at CVS towards your next trip, and then continue to use those to pay every time you go to the store. You can even “roll” those ECBs on the same day or in the same week to keep your initial out-of-pocket costs low!

 4.  You can separate ECB deals into separate transactions.

If there’s an ECB offer that requires you to spend XX dollars to get XX ECBS, you can separate that amount over several transactions.


For example: If you need to spend $30 to earn $5 in Extra Care Bucks on Proctor & Gable products, you can spend $15 of that in one transaction and $15 in a separate transaction to earn the ECBs, as long as you purchase them within the given week that they are offered. 


 5. Use your highest value ECB first when checking out.

When checking out at CVS, you’ll want to use your highest value ECB first towards your purchase, so that you can save smaller ECBs for smaller purchases.  Be sure to use ECBs that are less than the amount of your total purchase so that you don’t lose any of the value of your ECBs. (Since you can’t split up ECBs into more than one transaction, any amount that you have on your ECB over the amount of your purchase would be adjusted down, and you would lose that extra value.


6. Easily check out at CVS.

If you have your coupons ordered a certain way, you will save the most when shopping at CVS. Here’s the order that I use when shopping CVS:

1. Give your cashier any CVS store coupons for money off your total purchase (for example an email coupon from CVS for $3 off your $10 purchase.)
2. Next, give your chasier any CVS store coupons for a specific item you’re purchasing.
3. Then use any manufacturer coupons.
4. Finally, use ECBs that you’ve received from a previous shopping trip to lower your out-of-pocket expense even further.



Stop back tomorrow night when we’ll go over some very specific transaction examples, and be sure to let me know what questions and suggestions you have as well! If you’re new to CVS’ing, you’ll want to also read through these posts to get started:


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15 Days of Pinching Pennies at the Drug Stores (Day 2): How To Save At CVS


How to Save at CVS

Since CVS is by far the easiest drug store to shop with coupons (at least in my opinion?) I figured we’d start off this week working on how to shop CVS using coupons. Now, we’re going to start with very basic information here (so you seasoned CVS’ers may find all this old news), but I want to make it as simple to follow as possible for folks who’ve never used a coupon in their lives.


(Hopefully we’ll all learn a thing or two, and if you see anything that I  miss please add that information to the comments section so I can get it added!)  Here goes. . .

The Basics of CVS Shopping

1.  Request a CVS Extra Care Card.

You can get a CVS card at your local store or sign up for one on the CVS website.

2.  Also register your CVS card online.

CVS emails out coupons fairly regularly, so you’ll want to register your card HERE to make sure you don’t miss any deals.   Just for signing up for a card you may receive a coupon for a few dollars off your purchase. Definitely take a few minutes to sign up to get some extra savings!

3.  Use your Extra Care Card every time you shop.

Using your Extra Care Card every time you shop will  help make sure that CVS sends you tarted coupons, and you won’t miss out on any extra savings.  If you forget your card at home you may use the phone number tied to your account when checking out so that you don’t lose any savings.

 Note that you should have only one CVS card per household. There is some debate on this one, however I feel like it’s not worth sacrificing my integrity for a deal – and I promise there are plenty of deals even with just one card!


4. Scan  your CVS card at the red coupon machine.

As soon as you walk in the door at CVS, you’ll notice a red machine where you can scan your card to receive extra coupons. You’ll also get targeted savings, as well as a coupon for a free item occasionally! CVS uses these coupons to motivate you to shop, and since these they’re store coupons, you can “stack” them with additional manufacturer coupons to save even more. (We’ll talk more about stacking coupons at CVS shortly.)

5. CVS offers two kinds of sales each week.

When shopping CVS, watch for traditional store sales updated each Sunday, as well as “Extra Care Buck” (ECB) offers. Typically your very best buys of the the week at CVS will be the ECB deals, but always scan through the weekly ad to see what items get you the most for your money! CVS sometimes offers Buy One Get One offers (often on toiletries or detergents), and those savings can be as much or more than the regular ECB savings.


Also watch for clearance items throughout the store, as clearance items in addition to Extra Care discounts will be the best you’ll find in the store!


Always (always!) be nice to your cashier. It’s completely worth it, and will make you feel good too!



Today’s CVS Trip: See how Shannon bought everything above for $3.84 today at CVS

Stop back tomorrow night when I’ll explain more about what Extra Care Bucks are and how to use them, and how to “roll” your Extra Care Bucks. Be sure to prepare for the series by reading through this week’s CVS deals, and if you have friends who could benefit from saving on diapers, toiletries, paper products and more, I’d love for you to invite them to join us too!




What questions do you have about shopping the drug stores? Leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to tackle your questions throughout the series – I promise you can do this!
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15 Days of Pinching Pennies at the Drug Stores (Day 1)



Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much your family spends at the grocery store?


Would you love to save 70%, 80%, or even 90% on toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper products and more?


Could weekly savings on basic household staples give your family additional freedom in your finances?


I promise, you can save at the drug stores with these simple tips.


Shopping at the drug stores is an incredible way to drastically reduce your shopping budget, but it takes a little time to learn the ins and outs of shopping using coupons at the drug stores. To help make it easier for you to pinch those pennies at the drug stores,  I’ve compiled dozens of tips that I’ll share over the course of the next three weeks, which will help you learn exactly how to save, every time you shop at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.


I started using coupons at the drug stores back in 2006 when a good friend told me how much she was saving at the drug stores. My kids were younger then, so I stocked up on diapers, baby wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and just about everything else in the store by using coupons matched up with the stores sales ads and any additional offers. The first year that I shopped at CVS alone I saved over $1,500 ~ clearly I was hooked!


Over the years the deals have changed a bit and penny pinching with coupons isn’t quite as easy as it once was, however I promise you can save if you’re willing to put in a little effort. Saving at the drug stores does take some work and determination, but if you’re willing to put in some time initially to learn your favorite drug store’s policies, I guarantee you’ll see changes in your family’s shopping budget.


To get started, I recommend choosing one store to focus on and learn everything you can about how to shop strategically at that one store. (I typically choose one that’s closest to my home especially if it’s well-stocked, as many of the same items go on sale at each of the drug stores throughout the course of a month or two.)  Once you’ve mastered shopping at that store, you may want to tackle learning to shop a second drug store, but keep it manageable so that you’re not overwhelmed. (This will help you stick with it, and since so many deals rotate you won’t miss out on many savings!)


QUICK TIP:  The very best savings of the year at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens typically happens on Thanksgiving Day (not Black Friday like most other retailers.) To really save big, learn to pinch your pennies at the drug stores throughout the year, so you’ll be ready to easily save when the big day comes around!


{Today’s CVS trip: Spent $9.64 after coupons, ECBs & rebates for everything above}

Stop back tomorrow night as we’ll delve into the basics of CVS shopping, and in the meantime you can prepare for the CVS portion of the series by reading through this week’s CVS deals. If you have friends who could benefit from saving on diapers, toiletries, paper products and more, I’d love for you to invite them to join us too!


What questions do you have about shopping the drug stores? Leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to tackle your questions throughout the series – I promise you can do this!





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25 Days of Summer Savings: Find A Local Bike Trail

Looking for a fun frugal activity this summer? By far one of the things that we’ve loved since moving to Ohio has been checking out new walking and bike trails, and with beautiful weather this summer just about everywhere, there’s just no reason not to try out a new trail in your hometown!

Last week my husband and I found ourselves kidless for exactly one hour and twenty-two minutes, so we headed out for a quick bike ride on a local trail. We had absolutely no idea where we were going, but ended up on the boardwalk above after riding for thirty minutes. We had such a great time, and didn’t spend a penny enjoying the evening!

We do have bikes (which we’ve had for several years), but you could always just walk a local trail if you don’t have those already. 


If you’re new to hiking or biking, go HERE to find a local trail in your area, and read more tips over HEREI’d love to hear if you’ve found a great place to ride near you – leave a comment to share!

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Ivory Bar Soap Experiment

Here’s a fun little experiment to do at home with Ivory Soap (especially since it’s on sale this week at Walgreens!)

Pop a bar in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and watch it expand. If you’re kids are like mine, they’ll love watching it, your microwave will smell Ivory Clean fresh, and it’s neat to watch the consistency change. Fun!


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Homemade Sprinkler

We tried out making this plastic bottle sprinkler last summer, and it was so easy, lots of fun, and my kids set it up all by themselves! (I hate my kids growing up, but there is definitely something nice about having ones big enough to help out with these projects . . . especially since I’m not all that handy with a drill myself.) :)


Homemade Sprinkler


Here’s what you’ll need to get started it if you’d like a little frugal summer fun too:

  • plastic bottle (we used a 2-liter bottle)
  • duct tape
  • hose
  • drill to make holes in the bottle
Go HERE for great step-by-step instructions ~ it should take you just a few minutes to set up and my kids loved it.


What ideas will be on you summer to do list this year? I’d love to hear them! You can also check out my summer fun board on Pinterest for more summer fun ideas.





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Backyard Obstacle Course

Looking for another way to enjoy some Summer Savings? Here’s an EASY idea: we made a simple backyard obstacle course today (using items from our garage), and my kids enjoyed exactly 18 minutes of happiness until one was wounded by a splinter. ;)

My kids love gymnastics (and spend a lot of hours practicing in the gym each week) so I let them put boards up high to make a balance beam while I was standing nearby. If your kids are younger (or not used to being up high), you could easily create a balance beam on the lower portion of a set of saw horses.

All they did was time themselves going across the “beam”, racing between trees, jumping off dirt mounds (yes, we still have mounds in our yard ~ grrrr ~ ) and raced up to and back from a certain point pushing the wheelbarrow. They of course fought hard to have the fastest time, and had a ton of fun with absolutely no moo-lah involved. Summer savings success! ;)

To see more (involved!) ways to create an obstacle course in your backyard without spending a penny, head on over HERE.

And by the way, they did wear tennis shoes the second time around – clearly this was not something to tackle in their flip flops! And yes, we’re still praying for grass around here. Trying to make some lemonade out of lemons though I s’pose. . . ;)

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25 Days of Summer Savings: Find A Local Splash Pad

Looking for a fun (frugal) break from the summer heat? Way up here in Ohio we haven’t struggled too much with heat at all (I’m absolutely shocked with how cool it is here so far), but on way-too-hot-days a great option is to find a local splash pad.

Here are a few (random!) splash pads I found in different areas of the country. (Leave a comment if you have a great one in your hometown!)

You can find many more Splash Pad Parks over HERE as well – let me know if you’ve visited one that your kids have loved nearby!

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