Our Recent CVS Successes

by Kevin on March 11, 2009

CVS drug store game

We got all of this for $2!

The past few months we have been trying out what some call “the drug store game“. Essentially you utilize drug store sales (CVS, Walgreens) and manufacturer’s coupons to get items at either a very discounted cost or for free.

Recently, we did just that. We’ve been grabbing Sunday papers for several weeks now (including one that didn’t have coupons — d’oh!), clipping out the coupons, and sorting them. Yes, it is a bit of work. Yes, it is saving us money. If you buy a $2 paper and save $3 with coupons, you are already profitable on your venture.

The photo above is some stuff we got a pretty good deal on. The only thing missing from the purchase is a large bottle of Tide detergent, priced at $10.99.

Our First Big Deal at CVS

The breakdown:

The last time my wife went to CVS to buy some stuff specifically for the drug store game they printed off a “$10 off $30 purchase” coupon. Totally awesome, except it was only good within the next three days. We weren’t planning on buying anything else that month, but that’s a pretty hefty discount.

I decided we should try to get over $30 buying things we would actually use, then utilize coupons to get the cost down dramatically. The only thing in the above picture that we wouldn’t normally use was the 6 hour energy drinks. The only reason we bought these is they were $4.99 with a $4.99 ECB. Essentially we would get the money back on the receipt, and it helped us get over $30.

The items include: Gillette Fusion Gamer razor ($8 – $4 ECB – $4 coupon = free), Gillette shampoo/conditioner in one (can’t remember, but I used a coupon), Head & Shoulders trial size ($1 – $1 coupon), 6 hour energy ($4.99 – $4.99 ECB), Wrigley’s gum ($1.19 – $1.19 coupon), Tide ($10.99 – $0.35 coupon).

With the $10 discount and coupons we ended up getting $33 worth of items for $14. That’s a savings of $19.

Here’s the kicker — we also got $12 back in ECBs. We will use those ECBs on future purchases. Awesome. We could get $12 worth of items for free — so we essentially paid $2 for $33 worth of stuff!

Another Small Success at CVS

This week CVS has Herbal Essences shampoo on sale for $2.88 per bottle (regularly $4.99). A few weeks ago there was a coupon in the paper for $3 off of two bottles of Herbal Essences shampoo or conditioner. On top of the sale at CVS, you also earn $1 in ECB per bottle (up to 5 bottles).

Here’s how the deal breaks down:

  • $2.88 per bottle x 2 = $5.76
  • $3 coupon = $2.76 Out of pocket
  • $2 ECB = $0.76 at the end of the day

Again, my wife is apparently very lucky when she goes to CVS for us. The same day she got the $10 off of $30 coupon she landed a $3 off any two shampoo or conditioner. Ding ding ding!

That’s right, add that to the bottom of the above bullet points.

  • $3 off = -$2.24

The negative means this is what the folks on the coupon forum call a money maker. We got the shampoo for free and have $2 to spend on top of that.

Starting to Believe

These recent successes have started to sway me. I started this drug store game as sort of a test. I wasn’t sure if it was the real deal. I wasn’t sure I could pull off getting lots of items for free or discounted.

But it’s starting to click. That steady supply of coupons is key, but it is starting to click. Look forward to more posts on this subject in the future.

Anyone else out there enjoying lots of couponing and drug store game success?


Sandy March 11, 2009 at 8:40 am

Yes! I do this all the time. In fact I just posted a CVS 101 video on my blog. I get free or dirt cheap things and if I have multiples I get rid of them on eBay so I am actually MAKING money on the free stuff. I know it sounds crazy but if I can get multiples of things for nothing and I won’t need them for months why not make money off them?

I’ll give you an example. I recently purchased 3 bottles of ALL where I paid less than $2 total for all three. I sold one bottle to my brother for $2 and the other to my mom for $2. They paid a third of the price and I had all my money back. 🙂

Yes, I know…I’m cheap. Love it though!

Tiffany March 11, 2009 at 11:06 am

I love it! I’m becoming a Coupon Queen myself, especially now that my husband and I are paying for daycare. I am having some success with Walgreens. I just learned that they have an Easy Saver Catalog that they keep at the front of the store…it’s free and has extra coupons or mail-in rebates. This week, they have Garnier Fructis hair products on sale for $2.99-$2.00 Easy Saver coupon, so it is down to $0.99 Then, I have a $1 manufacturer’s coupon from a few weeks ago, so I should get it for free.

By the way, Walgreens does Register Rewards…same thing as CVS’s Extra Bucks.

Trevor @ Financial Nut March 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

Interesting tactic. I find myself being to lazy to sit there for any extended period of time, laboriously clipping our coupons from the paper (which I would have to go buy).


If you’re saying you’re saving some serious money (as serious as “coupon money” can be), then maybe I’ll give it a try! 🙂

Great post.

I found you via Wisebread’s Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs. Congrats on making the list!

Christine March 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Great post! Looks like you’re starting to get the hang of it. Remember as you are buying several newspapers every week that you can also purchase clipped coupons and/or inserts online without the hassle of dealing with multiple papers and the mess they can potentially cause. Since you’re only purchasing the coupons you need you are able to get a greater number and for a cheaper price. When you’re really ready to get hardcore check out the Drugstore and Grocery Forums at http://slickdeals.net/ After going through the threads you’ll feel ashamed to pay for toothpaste and shampoo when some stores will literally pay you to take it, lol. Give it a whirl, I think you’ll like what you read.

Rebecca March 11, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Congrats on your bargains. I used to do several CVS trips a week. We ended up with so much free deodorant, toothpaste, and other toiletries that I ended up selling a bunch off at a garage sale we had. It’s very time consuming but definitely worth the effort if you have the time!

Ken March 11, 2009 at 11:50 pm

My wife moved her prescriptions to Rite Aid and got 2 $25 gift cards. She has been on a tear the last couple months. I wrote a post on couponing that came right from her. Come on by and check it out.

Russell Fascenda March 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm

You mentioned the CVS “$10 off $30 purchase” coupon, I don’t know if you can depend on those, but I’ve found Winn-Dixie checkout does a similar thing. Almost every time I spend a small amount on groceries, it will print out a “$10 off $75 purchase” coupon for me. I wonder if the CVS is a similar situation.

You could work this to your advantage if this is a consistent thing, make one trip to buy just a few items and get your coupon, then make your return trip for the majority of your purchases.

Before you protest about the cost of “two trips”, you could always put your first purchase in your car, turn around and go right back in the store. I don’t think the coupon has a “use after” date.

Kevin March 13, 2009 at 9:35 pm

@Sandy: Sounds like you are having a lot of success with it. We’re really starting to get the hang of it, too.

@Tiffany: Yea I forgot to mention the RRs. We haven’t done any of those yet, but I’ll keep my eye out.

@Trevor: I’ll be doing continuous updates showing what kind of deals we’ve been getting. I posted again today showing people how to get started.

@Rebecca: Did you get a good deal selling it at the garage sale? Or was it pennies on the dollar? Did you just run out of storage space?

@Ken: Yea I’ve seen those ads where if you move the prescription around you can get multiple gift cards.

@Russell: I’ve not seen anything like that from our grocery store, but your strategy seems solid to me. I would do just that.

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