Thursday, January 15, 2009

How I support my shopping habit without spending a dime

There's something you don't know about me.

I get a ton of stuff from CVS (major pharmacy/drug store, in case you didn't know) all the time and I never pay for it. My husband says I steal from them all the time. So, now instead of asking how much I paid for something when I get home from a CVS run, he's like, "So, what did you steal today, honey?"

In the future, I'll have more posts about my love of coupons and good deals, and I'll tell you all about how a couple months ago I literally spent $27 (yes, twenty seven) dollars on groceries for an entire month.

But, for now - I shall tell you about one of my favorite stores, and I how I manage to steal from them all the time and haven't ended up in handcuffs in the back of a cop car just yet.

So...CVS has this sweet thing called Extra Care Bucks (known from here on out as ECB's), and ECB's are WAY cooler than sliced bread. If you don't know about ECB's and they are not a part of your life yet, you are seriously missing out, and you need to flick yourself on the side of the head for being such a cotton headed ninny muggins. Go ahead. Flick yourself real quick. I'll wait.


So, ECB's print out at the end of your receipt on certain products, and you can find the products that generate ECB's by reading the weekly and monthly CVS ads. Not hard.

Before we begin, let me tell you before I'll need a CVS card. It's free, and it's like those shopping cards you get at the grocery store to get the good deals. So, anyway, head to the counter and ask for a CVS card, or you won't get the sale prices.

Alright, now let's get down to the nitty gritty. Let's say you want to buy a new lip gloss and it's on sale for $5.99 and you get $3.99 back in ECBs (which you will know after reading the ad, right?). So, you plan to fork out $5.99, but lo and behold! You have a coupon for $2 off this exact lip gloss. My lucky stars! So, you give them your coupon for 2 bucks off and they tell you that your total is $3.99. You pay them $3.99 and then get $3.99 back in ECBs. It's like an instant refund.

You're going to have to spend money initially, unless you happen to need drugs and have a prescription transfer coupon. I had a new prescription, and I had a CVS coupon (found in a weekly ad - they do it every so often) for a $25 gift card if I transferred a new prescription to their pharmacy. So, I took some of that money and bought my first CVS products.

The sweet thing about ECBs is that nearly every week they have things that are free after ECBs, which means they'll sell it for a price like $2.99 and give you $2.99 back in ECB's.

Right now I've got about $21 of ECB's (they don't expire for one month, by the way). So, within the next week or two I'll be making another CVS run.

Last time I went to CVS I came home with 5 Listerine mouthwashes, 2 L'oreal lip glosses and a Sally Hansen nail polish, and all I had to pay was tax, so just a few cents, really, and I'm just using the remaining balance on my gift card, so that will last me a long time.

Not only did I get all those things for free, but by combining my coupons with the ECB deals, I generated the same amount of ECB's that I spent. So, I'm supporting my CVS habit and not dipping into our slim monthly budget.

We no longer pay for things like toothbrushes, razors, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, nail polish, fun cosmetics, feminine products, and basic health and hygiene items. And we all know those can add up super quick!

I love, love, LOVE to shop and CVS lets me shop (often getting fun things like 2 new lip glosses a month that I could never justify otherwise) without actually paying for anything.

So, maybe it's not technically stealing, but we call it stealing at our house just because it's fun to pretend, I guess. (We're weird. I know this!)

Now, I realize this post was rather boring and a heck of a lot more technical than any other post I've written, but I wrote it with the intention of being instructional and helpful.

Go check out to learn more about how you can have a blast shopping at CVS for free. If you've got questions about what I said above (it was rather complicated), please email me! I love sharing good deals and helping people save money! It's

Also, if you STILL haven't gone over to check out Mama Kat, you need to do that. Right now. Stop what you're doing, do yourself a favor, and go on over there. This post is a part of her Writer's Workshop Thursdays, which is something I look forward to every week. (She gives bloggers several prompts to choose from, and this week I chose to write about a time I stole something). Mama Kat is a total riot, and she makes me crack up DAILY. She's a phenomenal writer, and an incredible mama. Please go check out her blog. You'll be glad you did.

(And if you look at silly things like the times on blog posts, NO. I did not write this post at midnight. I am not a crazy person. Midnight is for sleeping, people. Blogger has a sweet feature where you can schedule posts for the future. Click on post options and you can pick the date and time you want the post to go up, and Blogger posts it for you. And don't mention it - you're welcome for the tip.)


April said...

Midnight may be for sleeping but for some reason I am awake at 2:24 am. Anyway, a friend of mine does the CVS thing and it's insane. The closest CVS to me is an hour a way. :( Got a 'steal' plan for Wal-Mart cause that's all we got!

Jenners said...

OK. My brain hurts...a lot. This is where we -- who are so alike in so many ways -- depart. I have tried to clip coupons but I never remember to take them with me. And I just don't take the time to read all the circulars and stuff. It sounds like a huge time commitment. On the other hand, you make an extremely good case that is definitely pays off to do this. And since I've always wanted to be a small-time criminal and this type of "stealing" is legal and above-the-board, I shall have to give it a go. I wish I could introduce you to an old friend of mine whose husband was a coupon freak. His greatest moment (possibly in his whole life) was the day he somehow got a whole bunch of groceries totally free and somehow it came out that the store owed HIM a nickel!!! I kid you not! He caused all kinds of problems with double coupons and clipped coupons and in-store sales. I think this is truly an art form and I just don't get it.

And be sure to read my "Honesty is the Best Policy" post because it has a very public love letter to your blog ... and your well-deserved second award.

And love the new header!!!!! I'm sure you are feeling better now that it is up.

And I should tell you that I am leaving on vacation tomorrow and will be gone for a whole week and can't blog while I'm gone so promise me you won't be tooo funny while I'm gone! It will take me forever to catch up on everything!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a CVS near me. What can I steal from Walgreens?

Sera said...

Blueviolet - in case you don't get this over here, I'm heading to your blog to tell you about the fun at Walgreens! Thanks for stopping by again!

Sera said...

Jenners...heading over to your blog now!

Sera said...

April - tell me about this Wal-Mart "steal" plan!!!

thoughts and ramblings said...

ECB's are addicting...I work at CVS in the pharmacy and I'm so surprised when people do NOT use their extra care card. how DUMB! you probably already know this but just in you know that you earn extra care bucks for prescriptions too? $1 for every 2 prescriptions you make sure you scan your card every time you buy prescriptions too! The bucks will print out at the end of every quarter. It's just free cash!!!

Have fun...I'm totally an addict too! LOL


Sera said...

Hi Anne!

Thanks for stoppin' by. I laughed inside my head last time my quarterly ECBs printed out. I'd had one prescription filled, so that was 50 cents in ECB's, but I only ended up getting $1 back for the whole quarter because my spending was so minimal, but I still got a bunch of stuff. Glad to have another addict in the midst! :)

Mama Kat said...

You may as well be speaking spanish. I did flick myself...but then I apologized to myself because I realized CVS is nothing I've ever heard of in my life and that's not my fault.

I would love some free stuff though...what if I just take it from Target?? Is that kind of the same??

Nana said...

This is amazing! I'm going to have to read it again.

Summer said...

I am soooo into this. I want to start right now!!!!

Heather said...

I didn't find this to be boring at all. I am trying to get into the whole coupon/sale thing where I get paid to buy groceries, and I can't wait btw to see how you spent $27 on groceries for a month. Have you posted that yet? Anyways, Jenners sent me here after reading I'm looking for coupons. I'm going to have to try the CVS thing. I have a card, but just don't go there that often. But having 5 kids and 1 husband I go through CVS type stuff very fast. Thanks for the inspiration and helpful idea! :)