Posted on May 18, 2010

CVS 101: Extra Care Bucks for Dummies

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Every single week without fail I post links to drugstore coupon matchup highlights.  I usually don’t give them much of a glance because I’ve never been that much of a drugstore shopper.  More and more though, I am realizing that I have been doing myself an injustice.  Drugstores are pretty much packed with products that you can take home for FREE (or for very VERY little money)… you just have to know how each store’s saving program works.  Walgreens uses Register Rewards (RRs), Rite Aid used Single Check Rebates (SCRs) and CVS uses Extra Care Bucks (ECBs).

Back in the glory days Kmart would frequently run their super double campaigns that did NOT require a store loyalty card and did not come with so many stupid rules and stipulations attached to them.  It was always a great opportunity for us to stock up on health/beauty/household items for pennies on the dollar.

These days I do the majority of my couponing at the grocery store.  While you can still save big and even get free items in the health/beauty/household categories, the drugstores seem to be where the real savings party is happening for those products.

Last week I decided to try my hand at some CVS ECB shopping.  I want to show you how very simple it is to spend a minimal amount of money out of pocket to score some fantastic deals.

To shop at CVS, you only need to have one thing:  an Extra Care Card (they’re free and you can sign up for one right in your local store).  If you choose to use coupons in addition to your card, you will increase your savings.

To save crazy big money at CVS you need to roll your ECBs from week to week.  That means you will take your ECBs (they work just like a store credit or gift card) from one week and use them to purchase item(s) that will produce more ECBs.  This limits your out of pocket spending and basically let’s you play with CVS’s “money.”  Fun, huh?

Of course, you can save even more if you use coupons when they are available.  CVS will frequently have something on sale and offer the same amount of money in ECBs as they are charging for the item.  (For example, a Schick razor will be on sale for $6.99.  When you purchase the razor you will get $6.99 in ECBs to use on a future purchase.  Not let’s say you have a coupon for that razor-  you’ve just turned that deal into a MONEYMAKER because you will get back more in ECBs than you spent on the product.  Coooool!)

Let me walk you through two super simple deals where I rolled some ECBs.

2 weeks ago I purchased:
2 Bayer Aspirin @ 1/each
1 Kotex U Tampons @ $4.99/each (produced a $4.99 ECB)
Total: $6.99 plus $4.99 ECB

I used the following coupons:
2 $1/1 Bayer printables
1 $1/1 Kotex U insert coupon
New Total: $3.99 out-of-pocket plus $4.99 ECB

The following week I headed back to CVS.  I had my $4.99 ECB to put towards this week’s purchases.

I bought:
2 Right Guard Deodorants @ $2.69/each (each one produced $2 in ECB for a total of $4 ECB)
1 Schick Hydro 5 Razor @ $8.99 (produced a $4 ECB)
Total: $14.37 plus $8 ECB

I used the following coupons:
1 $3/2 Right Guard Coupon
1 $5/1 Schick Hydro Coupon
$4.99 ECB from last week
New total: $1.47 plus $8 ECB

And there you go.  I used coupons and ECB to purchase new ECB generating items. That made it possible for me to walk out of a store with nearly $15 worth of product for less than $1.50 AND I still have $8 ECB to spend at CVS!  Even if you only pick up 2 or 3 items each week, it’s worth it.

I look forward to continuing to roll my ECB to see my savings really add up.

As it now stands, here are my savings after just two weeks:

Total value of purchases: $21.36

Total out-of-pocket that I paid: $5.46

Total ECB generated: $12.99

64 Comments

  • Reply Jess May 18, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    I went today and here is a quick list of what I puchased.
    2 dawn hand renewal dish soaps
    3 packages of cookies
    1 puffs with lotion tissue
    4 packages of fig newtons (the little 4 count)
    1 gallon of milk

    After my coupons and a few extra care bucks I paid 40 cents. I have over 15 dollars in ECBs so I don’t mind spending them every now & then and not getting any back…especially when I get something like a gallon of milk!

    • Reply mamacheaps May 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

      See– that rocks! I’m so glad I finally decided to REALLY give it a good try. :)

  • Reply This Week's CVS Trip (5/23) | Mama Cheaps May 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    […] I promised myself, I am continuing to try this whole “CVS ECB” thing.  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

  • Reply This Week's CVS Trip (6/3) | Mama Cheaps June 4, 2010 at 5:03 am

    […] I promised myself, I am continuing to try this whole “CVS ECB” thing.  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

  • Reply This Week's CVS Trip (6/6) | Mama Cheaps June 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    […] I promised myself, I am continuing to try this whole “CVS ECB” thing.  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

  • Reply CVS Deals: Week of 6/13 - Free Old Spice, Gillette | Mama Cheaps June 13, 2010 at 10:00 am

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  • Reply This Week's CVS Trip (6/14) ($19+ Moneymaker after ECBs and MIR Rebate!) | Mama Cheaps June 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    […] I promised myself, I am continuing to try this whole “CVS ECB” thing.  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

  • Reply CVS Deals: Week of 6/20 - Free Colgate, PowerBar, Glade | Mama Cheaps June 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    […] to CVS?  Read my CVS 101 post […]

  • Reply CVS Trip this Week (6/20) | Mama Cheaps June 22, 2010 at 5:01 am

    […] I promised myself, I am continuing to try this whole “CVS ECB” thing.  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

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    […] to CVS?  Read my CVS 101 post […]

  • Reply CVS Trip This Week (6/27) | Mama Cheaps June 27, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    […] am continuing this crazy quest to watch my CVS savings add up week after week.  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

  • Reply CVS Deals: Week of 7/4 - FREE Bausch and Lomb, Post Cereal Moneymaker | Mama Cheaps July 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

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  • Reply CVS Trip This Week & The Tale of Rude CVS Boy | Mama Cheaps July 7, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    […] we were continuing this crazy quest to watch my CVS savings add up week after week.  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

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  • Reply CVS Deals: Week of 8/15 - FREE Right Guard, Crest, SoBe & More! | Mama Cheaps August 14, 2010 at 11:51 am

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  • Reply CVS Trip Today: Spent $.96 OOP, Got Back $16.99 ECBs | Mama Cheaps August 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    […] as LITTLE money out of pocket as possible- while generating as many ECBs that we can!  Read my CVS 101 post to learn all about CVS and Extra Care […]

  • Reply CVS: $.50 Glade Sense & Spray Starter Kits 8/22 (After Coupon & ECBs) | Mama Cheaps August 17, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    […] 8/22, Glade Sense & Spray Starter Kits will be on sale $5 with $3 ECBs back WYB 2 (limit 1 […]

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  • Reply CVS: Tylenol Precise for $.99 After Coupons and ECBs | Mama Cheaps August 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    […] has a month long ECB deal on Tylenol […]

  • Reply sarah October 3, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Thank you Mama Cheap!!!! I am now totally stoked to do this!!!!! :)

  • Reply New Quaker Oatmeal Coupon = CVS Moneymaker! | Mama Cheaps October 9, 2010 at 5:53 am

    […] Instant Oatmeal – $2.50 (Get $2 ECBs WYB 2 starting tomorrow, 10/10) Use 2 $2/1 Quaker Instant Oatmeal printable coupons Pay $1 out of […]

  • Reply CVS: 10 Free Gain Dish Soaps After Coupons | Mama Cheaps November 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm

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  • Reply 2 CVS Trips Yesterday: $.36 OOP, Got Back $25.07 ECBs *Freebies Galore!* | Mama Cheaps November 26, 2010 at 10:31 am

    […] There is a GREAT 3 day sale at CVS right now (ends tomorrow).  If you haven’t already gone, definitely consider going.  If you are new to shopping at CVS and want to try it, this is a great way to start- SO many ECBs available! […]

  • Reply Jamie March 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    How do you tell how many ECB’s you will get for a specific item?

    Example: Schick Hydro 5 Razor @ $8.99 (produced a $4 ECB)

    How do you know that item produces a $4 ECB?

    • Reply mamacheaps March 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      Every week the CVS circular shows the items that will produce the ECBs. :) So you just find a blog that posts the weekly CVS coupon matchups (I post them every weekend) and go through the list – they will tell you what’s on sale, what’s producing ECBs and what coupons are available to use on them. :)

    • Reply mamacheaps March 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      Whoa- double smiley faced you. Sorry about that. LOL

  • Reply Netta March 14, 2011 at 11:03 am

    This sound like a winner… just seen you on doctors… lost my job… I’m on it!!!!!

    • Reply mamacheaps March 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

      Welcome, Netta! I’m so sorry to hear about the job – but you will be rocking out these deals in NO time flat!! :)

  • Reply Denise Cappiello March 14, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I’ve never been able to find information like what you;re giving out. I can’t wait. My husband and I are both retired. Well, I’m not retired; I’ve been on disability for 21 years. Social Security Disability helps, but it doesn’t pay all the bills. This will help our botom line!!! Thank you.

    • Reply mamacheaps March 14, 2011 at 11:25 am

      I am thrilled that you found us and can’t wait for you to start watching YOUR savings pile up! It’s crazy – I NEVER thought that I would be cruising the stores for deals or bringing home bags of free toothbrushes and such. It’s amazing. And it’s actually really easy after a little practice. :) p.s. WELCOME!!

  • Reply Carrie Reyes March 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    don’t forget to scan your cvs card at the kiosk in the store. you can scan more than one time and get different coupons each time. I scan my card until it says “no more coupons for today.”

    • Reply mamacheaps March 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      YES! Great reminder! Gosh, I do so love that machine. :)

  • Reply Beth March 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I saw your info on the doctors today, I’ve been out of work and searching for a year and a half now… this is just what I need to stretch my dollars, do you have any advise on how walgreens works? we live in the middle of nowhere and the closest drugstore is walgreens (it’s still a 40 mile each way trip) thank you!

    • Reply mamacheaps March 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Beth!

      First off, welcome – I’m thrilled that you found the site – and sorry to hear about the fruitless job search.

      YES – Walgreens has a VERY similar program!! You do NOT need a store loyalty card – they don’t have one at this point. Instead of Extra Care Bucks they call their “store money” Register Rewards. They essentially work the same way. And you can roll them from week to week. Walgreens counts their RRs as store coupons though, so you always need to purchase one item for every RR that you want to redeem. That’s why you’ll hear people talk a lot about finding cheap “fillers”… a small piece of candy, pencil, etc to count as an item to use with the RR. This is a great forum with lots of Wags into and weekly matchups: http://www.afullcup.com/forums/walgreens

      Good luck! :)

  • Reply tania March 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    hi i was wondering if there is any freebi wed sites in canada. if so would u tell me them please and thanx. :)

  • Reply elvin j ruiz March 15, 2011 at 2:21 am

    I JUST HEARD ABOUT THIS ON THE DOCTORS SHOW TODAY…I HAD NO IDEA ABOUT THIS….THE SAD PART OF IT ALL IS THAT IM NOT ALONE….WOW,,,,,THNX…I WILL DEF HAVE MY WIFE TRY THIS….

    • Reply mamacheaps March 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      I’m so glad you found us – welcome! :)

  • Reply Melissa April 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I have been following your posts on FB and love them even though I live in FL some things apply. I decided to try out CVS tonight and ECB’s. I think I am still on a learning curve. I didn’t realize you could still earn ECB’s on item you purchase with your bucks. I spent them all tonight as this was just a fun trial run.

    for just under 11. out of my pocket, I purchased.
    1 9pk Charmin bath tissue w/ 1.00 coupon
    2 Crest Clinical toothpaste w/ 1.00 coupon per
    1 body wash gold bond w/2.00 coupon
    1 Oral B toothbrush w/ 2.00 coupon
    1 bag of litter (random) w/1.00 cvs coupon
    1 dawn det. w/ .25 coupon
    1 Bottle of 20oz soda..(for my hubby) w. .75 cvs coupon
    easter candy..randoms like cadbury eggs. Total impulse ;)
    Have a feeling I could have done better.

    …Thanks so much for your helpful info.

    • Reply mamacheaps April 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      Hi Melissa – WOW – don’t underestimate your savings – you did AWESOME!!!! I’m excited for you! p.s. I have a feeling that a little bag of cadbury mini eggs will be finding their way into my cart this weekend. ;)

  • Reply Sophia April 22, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Hi
    I have a question about the ECB.
    1. How do I know how many ecb’s I get back on an item I buy?
    2. How do I use the ecb’s on next weeks purchase?
    3. How do I use my ecb points I earned on my green tag?

    Thank you so much
    for your time

    • Reply mamacheaps May 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      Hi Sophia!
      Some answers:
      1) Each week the CVS circular will highlight all of the products that offer ECBs – and it will tell you how many you will get back.
      2) Your earned ECBs will print out at the bottom of your store receipt. Hang onto them and then the next time you shop, hand them over just like coupons.
      3) You have to use your green bag tag, I think, 8 times before you get an ECB. Same as the other ECBs, it will print out with your store receipt and you can use it on your next trip. :)

  • Reply Tara Morgan May 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    This is great! Thank you!

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  • Reply Regina June 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I am very new to this, I have been collecting coupons for at least 2 months now and have only used maybe 5…lol I am going to CVS shortly so let me know if I have this correct…if I purchase 4 things, pay a total of $15.00 get $10.00 back in ECB, I have to use them on my next order so my first order I am still REALLY paying the $15.00? So I am wondering how I am really saving on my first trip. Can someone please let me know if I have this right. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Happy Couponing to all!!

    • Reply mamacheaps June 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      You will almost always put out a little bit of money in that first trip – but then as you roll ECBs from week to week, your out of pocket spending will be very low and your savings will be huge!! Good luck! :)

    • Reply Rachel June 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      Regina, you can also plan your strategy ahead of getting to the register (preferably before you even get to the store) and break your purchase into multiple transactions to limit your out-of-pocket expenses. I had $4 in Walgreens RR left over from last week’s shopping, and by ringing up three separate transactions I was able to “roll” additional RR earned on this trip and got $11 in product for less than $2 actually spent. In the end I was left with $1 in RR to use in the future!

  • Reply Regina June 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    OK thank you very much for getting back to me :)

  • Reply CVS Deals: Week of 6/19 | Mama Cheaps June 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm

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  • Reply Susie June 25, 2011 at 2:22 am

    I really scored at Walgreens last week .I bought
    3 suave body wash @ $2.00 each = $6.00
    3 suave lotions @ $3.00 each = $9.00
    mfg coupon (BOGO x 3)= -$9.00
    Suave register rewards(spend $1.00 get $3.00)= -3.00
    2 gillette body wash @ $2.99 each = $5.98
    mfg coupon (save @2.00 x 2) = -$4.00
    3 Colgate toothpaste @ $4.29=12.87
    BOGO (Walgreens sale)= -4.29
    1 colgate sensitive @ $2.49=$2.49
    BOGO (Walgreens sale)= -2.49
    mfg coupons ($1.00 x 3)= -3.00
    mfg. coupon ($0.75)= -.75
    mfg coupons ($4.00 off x 3 coupons) = -12.00
    1 dozen eggs $1.69
    Walgreens coupon= -$0.70

    Total purchases=$38.03
    Total paid = $1.80 + 3.36 tax
    Register Rewards $3.00

    Total paid = $0.36 !!!!!!!!!!!! woooooohooooooo

  • Reply juli July 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    ive never really shopped at cvs but i would love to save some money whats a good way to start or how?

  • Reply Thao Conrow July 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    How to apply have Wallgreen Register Rewards (RRs ? ? plz help me out. thanks

    • Reply mamacheaps July 5, 2011 at 8:56 am

      Walgreens does not require a customer loyalty card to get RRs.

  • Reply Amanda November 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    i never really new or understood how ecbs worked…but you explained it so plainly..i will have to work on this..seems quite tedious though..btw is it the same process with rite aid +UPs?

    • Reply mamacheaps November 6, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      They are really so simple – definitely worth trying. Rite Aid works much the same way, as do Walgreens’ Register Rewards. :)

      • Reply Amanda November 7, 2011 at 9:02 am

        ok, cool..im gonna try it this week. thanks so much for the info! :-)

  • Reply That's Country Living March 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    […] Kisses or Hugs chocolates.  I intended to make them with Hugs, but while  shopping for free stuff at CVS, I was unable to find Hershey’s Hugs.  Instead I picked up white chocolate eggs by Dove.  […]

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