We Let $5 in Extra Care Bucks Expire

by Kevin on March 29, 2009

(Photo by striatic)

D’oh!

We’ve been cataloging our experience with CVS’ Extra Care program. With the program on select items each month you pay the regular price, but you get some or all of the cost back as Extra Care Bucks. These ECBs are just like cash at CVS stores except they expire one month after you get them.

My wife and I have been pretty busy lately and haven’t had a lot of time to look through all of our coupons to maximize our savings. Unfortunately I remembered yesterday that we had an ECB for $4.99 that was due to expire at the end of the month. We should look and see what we can use it on, I thought to myself.

I went to our handy coupon accordian file only to discover that the ECB had expired the previous day.

Frustrating, but it goes to show you really have to stay on top of these things. We are still tweaking our system for couponing and it is evident we need to adjust even further. To prevent this type of error in the future I am considering creating a calendar reminder on the day before all of our ECBs expire. It would pop up on my phone or Gmail to remind me — hey, you’ve got one more day to use this.

For all of you coupon masters out there, what do you recommend to keep yourself organized?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Kashman March 29, 2009 at 11:47 am

Don’t throw it away yet! Try to use it anyway – some CVS stores will accept expired extra bucks. In my experience, the policy varies by store and also be cashier. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again.

Also, you have to cut yourself a little bit of slack or you will make yourself insane!

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Bill March 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I agree with Kate. Don’t make yourself crazy tracking all these lures stores use to keep you coming back.

Since my wife does most of the shopping, she keeps all these in the front of her coupon envelope. When we discover one expired we may try to use it anyway (another great suggestion by Kate!) but we don’t worry about it.

Again, the retailer’s motivation for making such offers is to gain your loyalty which is to their advantage more than yours. Clearly, they have succeeded in your case because you regret not using the ECBs.

Think about shopping on your own terms. Take what’s given if you care to but seek only what you need and nothing more, unless of course you’re floating in cash. In which case, feel free to ignore my rant!

An excellent, thought provoking post. Well done.

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Kimberly March 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

The ECB thing is hard to maintain, at least in a way where I actually save money.

Biggest time saver ever is forums.slickdeals.net – search the drugstore section. They do coupon matchups for you and tell you their source (which insert from which date) as well as give links to relevant printable coupons, and they always have the sale flyers (as well as the monthly ECB flyer) pretty far in advance.

I just keep the inserts intact, filed by date, and I pull out what I need (thanks internets!).

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B7 March 29, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Sorry to disagree with you, but I think the whole thing is a waste of time. Wouldn’t it be easier to figure out ways of making more money from your blog?

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Cathy @ Chief Family Officer March 30, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Ah, you have my sympathies! Last month was not a good month for me in that regard – I let $6 ECBs and $6 Register Rewards at Walgreens expire because I had the wrong date in my head.

One way of keeping track is to enter the expiration dates in your calendar – Google calendar would let you send yourself a reminder. The only thing is that you’d have to remember to delete them once you’ve used them, which I would never remember to do.

If you have a bunch, you could keep a list on the outside of your coupon folder or whatever you use to organize your coupons. The next time I have a bunch, I think I will do this. Right now, I have only one $3.99 ECB – I spent $20 the other week on the day they expired, and that was mostly luck since for some reason in my head I had the dates wrong again!

Also, as Kate mentioned, there are some CVS’s that allow you to use expired ECBs, so you may want to check the next time you’re there. She’s also right that you don’t want to drive yourself crazy about these things. I reminded myself that I got TONS of stuff worth way more than $12 doing the deals that I did to end up with the ECB and RR and it helped some.

@B7 – I haven’t actually paid anything for oral or hair care products in over a year now, except for specialty items that never go on steep sale or never have coupons. Not only have I saved hundreds of dollars on that stuff, I’ve also saved money not buying other stuff because this satisfies my urge to shop. Besides, it’s really FUN! But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea either :)

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Steve @ Start-Up March 30, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I did the same thing last month. It’s the worst feeling. I wait for what I consider a great deal and then forget about my ECBs. The best way is to use your ECB on an item that will net you the same amount of ECBs even if you don’t need the item. At least you extend your ECB deadline.

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Brittan August 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I actualy work for cvs and most locations take coupons out of date for for a few days but if not just call 1800 shop cvs and they will re issue the coupon no big deal

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