Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do you CVS?

Some of my long time readers will recall that we've been doing freezer and pantry meals for the last couple months, in an effort to be a little more frugal and use up what we've stockpiled before buying more. That's been going so well that it has sort of motivated me to see what else we can save.

I've never been much on coupons, mostly because I try to cook fresh food (and there's rarely any coupon for mushrooms, for example!) and it just seemed like we were sort of wasting money and time - money to buy the paper to get the coupons (we don't normally subscribe), and time to hassle with culling them, keeping up with them and juggling them as we (or, more often, just I) went through the store.

With the recent economic crisis, though, my attitude has shifted in a decidedly more thrifty direction. I rarely pay full price for much these days and if I'm not happy with the price, I simply don't buy it. Meanwhile, my friend Katherine has gotten me onto the CVS bandwagon. Do you know about this? The whole world is catching onto it and it's very very cool. I'm learning how to stack deals - like combining a buy one get one deal with a manufacturer's (or CVS) coupon, and then taking advantage of the extracare bucks (CVS "cash") that CVS gives on a particular transaction. My BFF Angie pointed me to a GREAT website that explains how to work the CVS deals (and, if you live in the south, helps track your local savings opportunities - see Southern Savers).

So this week I had a couple coupons (they print at the end of your CVS transaction receipt) and a couple manufacturer coupons in hand, and decided to take my first crack at the CVS game. And I was thrilled to find it worked just like everyone said it would. Some of this will be obvious to most people, but I just never knew stores would let you combine deals this way. I always thought it was a "one offer per transaction" type world. Apparently I had another think coming!

Let me give you a couple examples:

The first time I went, I had a CVS coupon for $4 off a $20 transaction. I also had a coupon for $2 off Tums (yes, I actually take these, stop laughing!) and a $1 off Ghirardelli (chocolate gets me through the workdays, people!). Now I could have just grabbed whatever occurred to me to fulfill my $20 requirement, but instead I grabbed the store circular (you know that little newspapery thing that is always floating around in shopping baskets and on the floor of the store? Yeah, that thingy, the one I usually ignore) and found several deals for buy one get one free. So I got a couple cans of shaving cream, a couple deodorants, and a couple toothpastes - all BOGO. I also got my chocolate bar and the Tums - grand total, $20.07 before coupons. First I gave them my $4 off $20 (you have to do this first so your other coupons don't bring your total below the required mark). Next, the $2 and $1 coupons.

Grand total paid? $13.65
Grand total saved?: $14.26 (with buy one get ones)

I got eight items (one, the Tums, is usually $5.79 just by itself) for $13. I was thrilled!

But the next day was even more fun. While perusing the circular (I stopped going through it once I got my total to $20), I found (at the very end) a buy one get one (BOGO) for a vitamin that I take. Normally the vitamin is ridiculously expensive, and I'm all for being healthy but I had been looking for a deal on it. Normally $25 for 30 pills, CVS was running the BOGO - but they had also stocked the manufacturer bonus bottle - 45 pills for the price of 30. Then, I had my $4 off $20 coupon, so I ended up paying $21 for two bottles of 45 pills - to get 90 pills I would normally have to pay $75. Woohoo! Savings of $54. And I'm officially hooked on this game.

So today we went to Publix and (using the same method of stacking deals, taking advantage of BOGO's, printed coupons, etc.) we saved $35 on $145. I'll take 25% savings at the grocery store any day!

I've rambled on long enough but wanted to share this for anyone who isn't yet familiar with the savings to be had these days. Between coupons you can print/gather from the newspaper, and coupons and deals the stores are giving, it's worth the time and effort (at least for us) to do this these days. Hope you enjoy and find some deals for yourself!

Happy Saturday!

Love, Dahrlin'


What Color Is My Hair This Week? said...

I CVS on occasion. The location of the nearest CVS is not in my usual shopping area so a deal has to be really good or it has to be combined with another errand. I have walked out of the store with nearly $100 worth of stuff for under $5 around Thnsgiving!

Michelle said...

Interesting... I've never been inside a CVS although they're popping up all over around me now. You get a $4 off coupon with every transaction? Interesting.... And I'm with you on the coupon clipping. I buy fresh, so it's hard to find those kinds of coupons :)

Robin's Reports said...

I do CVS but not at the level you're talking about. I will have to reread & check out the links tomorrow and absorb it all. I must have this thriftiness you speak of. LOL.

Jack's job got a 10% salary cut on Friday. No annual raise. No bonuses any more.

Angie's Spot said...

This couponing thing is totally addictive, but in such a good way. I keep singing my praises of how much money we've saved over the past 6 weeks and Jake just smiles and nods and congratulates me. Finally, a hobby he can get behind. LOL!

Robin's Reports said...

I just took a BUDGET shopping test with some homeschool moms. I thought I'd post the results to you too. It's primarily a comparison between ALDI, WMart, BJs.

"Ok, here's what I learned after shopping at ALDI's today. First off..... this is not the miracle cheap fix I thought it would be. I think I am actually better off spending $300 one week of the month and then $150 or so the two weeks into the month. BULK IS BETTER. This buying small boxes of stuff for small prices really is not cost-effective. I'll definitely have to make a 2nd run to WM for missed things. Plus, more trips during the month to re-buy staples.

The cans of veggies, ceraels, eggs were cheap, BUT, I think I can do nearly as well with buying frozen bulk at BJs for veggies, bulk variety cerael and buying 18-24 eggs at WM.

I did stay in the budget with $94 for my trip BUT, I definitely didn't get everything for the week. I really do want to budget shop but 1) I don't think FL's prices are comparable with national avgs 2) it is worth it to bulk shop at a wholesale place, then buy small incidentals at WM.

I do shop with lists and sometimes with complete menus in mind. I do like to stop the pantry though and then I can vary my menus as people's craving come up. With ALDI's, I did restock the pantry pretty well, but lacked on many other items that I'll have to buy fresh. I didn't notice many deals with fresh veggies or meats.

On a side note, I don't usually buying bulk items at BJs w/o needing bags, but I found the entire rebagging my items with my own bags at ALDIs to be a frustrating extra step. You have soooo many small things needing bags that we spent a LOT of time bagging which I didn't like. I'd almost rather have heavy cases than that. I can see where ALDIs would work well for retirees or singles. "

I can't wait to try your CVS challenge next.

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