CVS is one my favorite stores to shop and I get some of the best deals there! I have gotten tons of free or almost free stuff there. How did I do it? By playing what is commonly referred to as "the drugstore game." If you've never played the game, it can seem a bit overwhelming at first but once you get the hang of it, it's easy and fun! The first thing you need to do is get a CVS Extra Care card. It's totally free and you can apply in store and get your card instantly or you can do it here and wait a few days to recieve it by mail. The reward card is how you earn "extra care bucks" or ECBs when you purchase qualifying items. These are listed each Sunday in the CVS ad. (Make sure you link your email address with your card at http://www.cvs.com/. Periodically you will receive $/$$ coupons or % off coupons. I received a $4/$20 coupon right away.) For example, today I purchased Tone body wash for $3.88 and received $3 in ECBs back. The ECBs print at the bottom of your receipt. You will receive 1 ECB receipt for each qualifying item. Make sure you detach them from your receipt before you throw it away! These do have an expiration date so make sure you use them before they expire!
Keep in mind that if you are just starting out, more than likely, you will be starting with zero ECBs. You will have to spend some money out of pocket to get your first few ECBs. Just make sure that you allow for this in your weekly budget. Look for good sales matched with coupons to pay the least amount out of pocket. I would try to stick to less than $5 for your first few transactions.
The secret to getting free things is to continue to roll your bucks over from week to week. In other words, use the extra bucks you already have to purchase items that will earn you more extra bucks. Check the ad each week and look for items (you would use or can stockpile) that will acquire more extra bucks. Use your extra bucks that you already have to pay for those items (and try to pay little, if any, out of pocket.) Then you will be given more extra bucks for a future purchase. Try to match up your items with coupons to get the best deals. Simply CVS does a great job of matching up the deals with the coupons each week. All the work is done for you! Clear as mud?? Let me give you an example from my shopping trip today.
Began with 8 ECBs from a previous deal
Purchased one Gillette Fusion ProGilde Power Razor @ $9.99 received 4 ECBs
used 1 $4/1 Gillette Fushion razor from the 12/26 P&G newspaper coupon insert =$5.99
puchased one Tone body wash @ 3.88 received 3 ECBs
used $1/1 tone body wash printable found here =$2.88
total after coupons = $9.06
used 8 ECBs (acts as a coupon and the tax is adjusted down)
paid .94 out of pocket and received 7 ECBs for next time!
(Make sure you have the cashier scan your Extra Care card FIRST. Use any $/$$ coupons first, then hand the cashier your mfr. coupons and then your ECBs last.) Also, take advantage of the coupon machines at the front of the store (not all have them). Scan your card and it will print out coupons. You can scan your card over and over until the machine tells you that there are no more available for that day. Hang on to these, if you can't use them right away, as you may be able to use them on a future deal. One of the other benefits of having an Extra Care card is that you will earn 2% of what you spend back in ECB's every quarter. These will print out on the coupon machine or when you checkout.
I don't necessarily use my bucks every week. If there aren't any good deals then I will hold onto them and see what comes up the following week. I don't just spend them to spend them.
I've also been known to do 3-4 separate transactions in a row to get more deals in the same week. Just keep them rolling. For example, let's say that you purchased an item that qualified for 4 ECBs. The item costs $5 and you have a coupon for $1 off. You already have 4 ECBs from a previous purchase. You use your ECBs to pay for this item and pay $0 out of pocket since there is no tax on $0. There is another item that you want to purchase that will gain you 2 ECBs. The cost on this item is $4. You do not have any coupons. Use your 4 ECBs from your first transaction to pay $0 out of pocket and receive 2 ECBs. You leave with 2 "free" items and have 2 ECBs for next time. You can do this as many times as you want! Keep in mind that you also have to use all of your ECB's at one time (per ECB receipt). Remaining ones will not carry over so make sure you use them all! So grab some filler items (candy, chapstick, etc.) if you need to. You don't want to lose free money! In my experience CVS is very coupon friendly. Don't hesitate to use them!!