Dec 13

Today’s subtitle is CVS VS RiteAid deathmatch.

I used to be a casual CVS shopper. Bath tissue, toothpaste, the usual stuff. Then I met (on line, of course) Erica who hearts CVS.

cvsAnd after following her site for a bit, I upped my game. By knowing as many as 3-4 weeks ahead of sale, it was easy to plan visits for the best deals. Her forum also offers the T’s&C’s for coupon redemption, and strategies to maximize your saving. Not too far from my house there are also a number o Rite Aid stores. Fear not, Erica hearts Rite Aid as well.


Now and again, I’d go to Rite Aid as well, and the time seems good to offer a few comments to contrast the two. A friendly ‘deathmatch.’

Let’s start with Rite Aid – The rebate deal is called +Up Rewards. For example, the weekly ad might have toothpaste on sale for $2, with a $1 +Up reward. The reward isn’t taken off the price at the register, it’s loaded to your Rite Aid card, and is redeemed on your next purchase. The reward will expire after 14 days if not used.

CVS – A similar rebate method, the reward is called ExtraBucks, but it’s given as a coupon, i.e. a piece of paper you have to present to use it. It has an expiration date about 30 days out, although the two CVS stores closest to me both said they honor these up to six months after expiration. The ExtraBucks are also valid immediately.

It’s a close call. Easy to lose an ExtraBucks coupon, but also easy to forget your +Up Rewards are expiring. This makes CVS the winner for me. I’ve caught great sales at Rite Aid only to find my +Up Rewards have no good sale coming up in the next two weeks. With CVS, the Extrabucks are set aside for the next deal, not spent for the sake of using them up.

These purchases are all for household needs, the bath tissue, toothpaste, laundry soap, bar soap, etc. So long as you know what the normal price is for these items, you can time your purchases to catch a sale, and use some Sunday paper coupons. I’m aware of the extreme coupon folk that have made the news. Safe to say, I’m not that obsessed. 5 minutes with coffee and the Sunday paper and the good coupons are set aside. Another few minutes each week to look at the next weeks sales and see what I’ll buy on the way home Monday. The ten minute effort can be $25 in saved grocery money. (Note – the images above from Erica’s site link back to her. Click the image to see what deals she’s finding this week.)

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

May 03

If you don’t know it, I am a Costco fan. As with anything, people love it, hate it, or don’t happen to have one nearby, and therefore, don’t care. Countless articles on what you save at Costco vs what you’d be better off buying elsewhere. Hint – know your unit pricing. That said, my daughter asked me to print and pick up a few pictures for her to give as a gift. A bit short notice to me, she found picture frames over the weekend, and sent me the pictures to print with a day’s notice. I like CVS, and pass the local CVS pretty often, so I sent the digital pictures to CVS for printing. 19 cents each, not too bad. Until the fine print – “Orders under $5 subject to $1.49 surcharge fee.” So, the choice was to pony up $1.49 or go elsewhere. Here’s the thing. I am 10 miles away and a 45 minute round trip to Costco. So spending $3.50 in gas makes no sense, and CVS it was. It would have taken 27 pictures to hit the $5 minimum. Do people print that many pictures at once? In the old days, it was $12 or so to print a roll of film, 36 pictures, and pick out the two good shots for the photo album. Today, with digital pictures, we no longer print bad shots.

That said, let’s look at the photo cost of CVS and Costco. First, Costco –


The 4×6 pictures are a bit cheaper, 6 cents, in fact. No big deal there. Let’s look at CVS and compare the rest –


If you have a collection of 5×7 frames in your house, it’s 39 cents vs $1.69. Over 4 times the price at CVS. Plus the surcharge if we only need a few pictures. I also included the next sizes to compare 8×10 and the poster sized prints. I had a function last year, and wanted to print a 20 x 30 poster. Not being an artist or having any aesthetic skills, it took a few tries to get it right. So my Costco tab for 5 posters was $45 compared to the $100 it would have cost at CVS.

For those who are into photography, these price difference add up fast. I don’t spend that much in an average year on photos, but the savings still adds to my list of reasons I like Costco and find the membership worth it.

Do you have a Costco or other warehouse club membership? Are you happy with your saving?

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Dec 04

I’ve been thinking of a year-long project for 2010.

Planning to track my savings from coupons, rebates (I don’t do too many of these), and CVS. Any cash back on credit cards will also count.
Shortly after I got married, I did this to prove to my wife that it wasn’t just a few dollars. Over the course of a year the savings exceeded $2000.

So, I’m going to start tracking after the New Year, and report on the first Friday of each month how I did the month prior. Let’s see what I can learn from this exercise and what ideas I can share with you.


written by Joe \\ tags: , , , ,

Aug 07

Today, I’d like to focus on the regular use of coupons, and point you to a few web sites to help you along. While the Sunday paper is a great start, some weeks are better than others.

The online sites have been more consistent for me over the last few months. First, I’ll suggest you visit I Heart CVS as er1ca (not a typo) posts adds up to 4 or so weeks in advance for CVS, as well as links to online coupons you can print such as $3off$15, $4off$20 or $5off$25. Combine these pretty large dollar off coupons with the manufacturers coupons and extra bucks (rebates that print on your receipt that are cash for your next trip) and you save quite a bit.

Next, look at This site posts well over 100 decent coupons each month, as well as some that change a week at a time. Many are .75 and can be doubled if your local grocery store does that for you. If you sign up on the site with your email, they’ll send you a note at the start of the month to remind you to take a peek.

Coupon Dad has a selection, although a number of coupons offered first require a visit to a web site, a bit more effort than I’d like to put into a single coupon.

Retail Me Not offers both coupons for shopping on line as well as those you can print out.

Last, both SmartSource and Valpak have a selection of both printable and online coupons to choose from.

If you are living on a tight budget and need to find even $10 – $20 a week in savings off your grocery bill, this is a great way to spend just a bit of time to reach that goal.


written by Joe \\ tags: , , , ,

Jul 03

Subtitled, “The CVS Edition.”

As part of watching your spending, timing purchases according to the sales cycles and using coupons to save even more, consider the deals that CVS offers week after week. A few weeks back, Dove bath soap, normally $8.29 for six bars, was on sale for $7. But CVS had an “extrabucks” (ECB) deal, if you spent $20 or more on this product, you’d get back $10 in ECBs. So, with no extra effort, you’re now at $11 for 18 bars, instead of $24.87. But wait, it gets better. By glancing at Erica’s web site I Heart CVS I was alerted to a $4 off $20 printable coupon. After presenting it, I also had two $1 coupons good off any multi pack of Dove. Final cost was $5, less than you’d pay for generic soap. The I Heart CVS site also offers a glance at the weekly flier up to a month or so out. Erica frequently posts her hauls on line so you can see her strategy and how she consistently is able to save 75% or more on these purchases. Take a look at there and see how you can turn just a few minutes of your time into a savings of $20 or more. Remember a dollar saved is not a dollar earned. It’s more like $1.50 or more that you’d need to earn to clear that $1 after taxes.

On a visit planned for the week of July 12, I plan to get Zaditor eye drops ($14.99 with $3ECB) three packs of pens ($0.99 with $0.99ECB on ea, two pair scissors ($2.99 with $2.99 ECB on ea) and two glues ($0.99 with $0.99 on each). Total bill, $25.92. I have a $5 ECB, a CVS coupon for $5 off the Zaditor and a $2 manufacturer coupon on the Zaditor, net register bill $13.92. But I also leave with $11.95 in ECBs or $6.95 more than I handed in. A net cost of $6.97 for a $15 necessity and a head start on a few school items.

As they say, your mileage may vary. Some weeks are better than others, but I find that with very little effort the savings make the planning worth it.


written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,