This is for Wendi! First, thanks for reading! I am LOVING having comments and visitors!!!! 1013 people have visited me! That just amazes me. OK, to the post…
ECBs=Extra Care Bucks
CVS Pharmacy has a customer rewards program that distributes what is basically credits at their store for buying certain items. You have to sign up for an Extra Care card but you can do that right in the store. If you look at their sales paper, you’ll see something like Colgate Toothpaste Pay 2.99, Earn 2.99 in ECBs. What this means is that you will pay 2.99 out of pocket for the toothpaste. The best part is that CVS does accept coupons (and usually printable coupons off the Internet) so you can usually find at least $1 or $1.50 off coupons out there (regular circulars or buy the All You magazine. It will pay for itself in 2 coupons and there are tons in there). Let’s say you have a $1.50 coupon. 2.99-1.50=1.49, right? So, you pay $1.49 and you get 2.99ECBs!!! ECBs print out for each deal so if you buy 2 Colgates and get ECBs and then get, say, a Suave deal that generates 6ECBs, then at the bottom of your receipt, you will have 2 separate ECB coupons, one for 5.98 (2 Colgates) and 6 (Suave) . That’s great because it lets you try to match your ECBs to your cost as closely as you can and not have to waste them.
After you pay, at the bottom of your receipt will be the ECBs which can be used on most items in the store (or online) except:
* Excludes alcohol, tobacco, lottery, gift cards, money orders, postage stamps, pre-paid cards, prescriptions, and special order Home Health Care items, including footwear.
** Excludes pharmacy items paid for in whole or in part by state and/or federal health care programs and prescriptions purchased in-store in NJ and NY, and controlled substances in Louisiana. (per their site)
There are a couple of ways to earn ECBs. You earn 1 ECB for every 2 prescriptions you have filled. You earn 2% of all purchases. These are both distributed quarterly. So, every 3 months, it’s ECB time and you go in and scan your card and your ECBs print out.
The other way to earn them (how to make the system work for you) is to get instant ECBs for buying certain things each week, like the Colgate I mentioned above. Initially, you have to put a bit of money into it but once you do, you can start rolling ECBs. The best way I have found to make this work is to scour sites like www.iheartcvs.com. They basically TELL you how to do it! Plus they tell you which coupons match up to the deals and they usually have previews of the sale papers, the monthly ECB deals and other deals. Sometimes you can find coupons for items that you won’t use but that generate a ton of ECBs so you buy it, use your coupons to get it at a cheaper (or free) price and then get the ECBs to use on your next purchase. A lot of people do this with insulin meters. Most folks say that they donate these to local health departments. I have a personal stance that I don’t really buy what I won’t use, especially if isn’t free. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
I used to just hand over my card when I picked up prescriptions and then if I remembered the ECBs, lucky me. Then one day I started reading about how many people were getting things cheaper or free and I thought, why can’t I do that? So, the first weekend in January, there were huge ECB deals so I tried it. I spent about $35 on about $75 worth of stuff after my coupons and then I got $25 worth of ECBs to use later. And thus began the obsession. HAHA! I also used to think that everything was too high in CVS but I was wrong about that. You just have to watch for sales and then use coupons.
I’ve had the hits and misses. You have to pay attention to make sure that you’re getting the absolute right item. And you have to make sure your ECBs print and that you use them before they expire (usually within a month). I’ve spent more than I should have twice, but I’ve also made up for it. Hunter just shakes his head and says he doesn’t get it but he can see what I get and how little I spend. I have banned myself from getting more toothpaste at this point…I have SEVENTEEN of them in less than 3 months. All Colgate or Crest and ALL FREE. ALL OF IT! Crazy isn’t it???
Also, CVS is pretty good about offering other coupons like free items or coupons for specific items that print at the bottom of receipts too. My favorites, though, are the Save $4/20 or $10/50 coupons that occasionally print out. It’s easy to spend $50 before all your coupons and ECBs. You have to make sure you hand over things in the right order. CVS Card, ring up items, hand over any $4/20 or $10/50, then hand over regular coupons, then hand over ECBs for as close to the total as possible since they don’t give you change for what you don’t spend.
Last thing. Be sure your email and your address is correct in their system. I have a separate email for just such things. They often send out coupons in the mail AND over the Internet (these are usually good for the weekend only so watch for those!) In January, I actually got coupons for my birthday. How cute is that?
So Wendi, if you have a CVS nearby, try it! I highly recommend iheartcvs. I’ve gotten so many deals simply by following that site. It’s become a game to me and I like the free and cheap stuff, I have to admit.
I hope this has made sense. I read it 4 times and read it to Hunter whose eyes glazed over. :o)