Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coupon Challenge...

by Ann
Challenging games are fun.  I find bargain hunting / couponing to be a contest between myself and the previous deals I’ve garnered.  Can I save even more this week than I did last?  The challenges include getting great values, and buying only what I truly want and need.  I must admit I am not always the victor when it comes to the second part of that task.  I confess to having stockpiles of supplies that I couldn’t resist because they were too cheap (or free!) to pass up.  Any time I hear of a school club or organization doing a food or personal hygiene products drive I am glad to contribute!

I look forward to Sunday mornings for many reasons.  The pace is more relaxed than any other day of the week; no work pressures, and Jazzercise class doesn’t get going until 9:35.  That gives me plenty of time to glance through the Sunday paper with a focus on the coupons and ads.  (Maybe in my next life I will focus on the news and skim through the ads – but I’m happy with my current system for now!)

I kiddingly say that CVS pharmacy is my “favorite store.”  The statement is a stretch, but don’t tell Mindy, the wonderful Sunday morning clerk at my CVS that I enjoy shopping for clothes more than for deals on toothpaste!  We didn’t even have CVS stores in Arizona until four or five years ago, so I didn’t know what I was missing until they arrived on our scene with vengeance.  Now there are two within three miles of my home. 
See the graphic below for what I would consider a pretty typical week's trip to "my favorite store":
I spent $ 5.59 and saved $ 31.35!

The CVS Sunday advertisement supplement is the first thing I dig out of the paper.  CVS does a wonderful job matching many of the week’s sale items to those things that are in the clip-able manufacturer’s coupon inserts, so I need to have in mind what is on sale when I look at the coupons.

The first thing I look for in the CVS ad is what is included as weekly “Extrabucks Rewards.”   Each week there are several items that are typically (but not always) on sale, and if you meet the minimum purchase requirements receive “Extrabucks” on the receipt that can be used as cash for most store purchases within the next month.  Sometimes the value of the Extrabucks is the full price of the item.  The key to making this work is being sure to use those extrabucks before they expire.
On holiday weekends the ads are amazing!  Last week there were a couple of pages of products that would end up being totally free to coupon crazy people like me.  On the Sunday before Thanksgiving I got “extracare bucks” for so many items that the receipt was almost twice as tall as I am (see photo).  I have to admit that I then went back to CVS for their new ad sales ON Thanksgiving to use those extrabucks (the stores should have been closed, but since they weren’t, and the deals were so good..).  I spent $ 1.96 and saved $ 35.46!
Me with the CVS receipt from the Sunday before Thanksgiving
with all of the "extra bucks" from the free things I got!

Here is a picture of the TOTALLY free things I got on this one trip.
The only item that would be classified as a "weird something I would not otherwise buy" was the
box of Scooby-Doo fruit snacks, but I never know when I might be frantic for a fruit snack!

Additionally, CVS register receipts often include store coupons that can be used for subsequent purchases. If I can find an item that I can combine a sale price, a store coupon from a previous shopping trip, a manufacturer’s coupon, and get “CVS Extrabucks Rewards” I feel like I hit the lottery!  All four rarely coincide, but three is not a stretch with careful planning. Looking at this example, it would not be unrealistic to hope that the selling price for Softsoap would be right around $2.00, thus two free, or nearly free products!

Those of you who are Walgreens fans could argue that your drugstore has similar deals, but I would contend that the policies at CVS far exceed those of your store’s.  Walgreens does not allow for combining manufacturer and their “register rewards,” has only a two-week window to redeem rewards as opposed to CVS’s four weeks, and will not allow multiple rewards to be redeemed on one item.
I went through the many-step process to make the scan of the receipt below a downloadable graphic so I could brag about my savings at CVS so far this year -- $1126.02!  You may be thinking, "ok, so how much has she spent?" and I can honestly reply that each week's total is between $2 - $40 depending upon how many extrabucks I have to spend from the previous week.  And no, I don't go EVERY week, but it's a sad week when the ad isn't good enough to get me in gear!
No, I never aspire to be on the Extreme Couponing reality show, nor have I even seen it.   I just feel like I have “won the game” when I get such great deals, and encourage anyone with time and energy to play the game to enjoy the sport with me (just don’t snap up all of the free deals before I hit the store)!
Happy Shopping!  I'd love to hear from you if you have additional tips
that I could share with our readers!


  1. Wow- that's great info. We just got out first CVS here and I haven't even gone in yet! I'm going to check it out tomorrow!

  2. I spend a lot of time in my local CVS, I love it.