Shopping at CVS is a great way to stretch your dollar and build a stockpile of toiletries. Both The “Cent”sible Sawyer, I Heart CVS, and Money Saving Mom have good articles on the basics of getting started at CVS. If you don't already have a CVS card, you’ll need to get one. Register your card online to get emails with more coupons.

When you purchase certain items at CVS, you will earn Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) that count as cash, so we subtract those from our beginning price to get a "net" price. It will take a small amount of cash to get your deals started, but it’s easy to start small and build up slowly.

To illustrate how ECBs work, here is an example with a current sale at CVS. Through mid-February, Oust sanitizing spray is on sale for $3.99 with $3 ECBs. Two weeks ago there was a coupon in the paper for buy-one-get-one-free (B1G1F) Oust sprays. Your transaction would look like this:

  • Let the cashier scan your CVS card first.
  • Buy 2 Oust for 7.98 + tax
    - $3.99 coupon
    = 3.99 + tax.
  • Earn back $6 in ECBs = profit of $2!
  • Check your receipt to be sure the ECBs printed.

So not only do you get the Ousts for free, but you “earn” $2 in ECBs for your next purchase. Not bad! If you happen to not use Ousts, you can give them to a friend or even donate them to your local food pantry. (Don’t forget that you can deduct your donations on your taxes. It’s a win-win-win situation!)

You can also earn ECBs by filling your prescriptions at CVS. This month you earn $2 for every 2 prescriptions you fill (double the regular amount of $1). Always try to bring a pharmacy coupon or a competitor's pharmacy coupon for a free gift card with you as well. (Target or Walgreens often have them). Check my left sidebar for a link to a forum that posts internet pharmacy coupons, and remember to check the ads for competing pharmacies in the Sunday paper.

That’s all there is to it! Just like grocery ads, I check blogs for the coupon match-ups to decide what I would like to buy each week. There are similar programs at Walgreens and Rite Aid that you can do as well. We don’t have Rite Aids where I live, and the Walgreens program is a bit more finicky, so I currently only shop at CVS, but don’t let that stop you!

Next up will be the last installment of the series - advanced couponing.