Frugal Gifting for Valentine’s Day

There are quite a few good articles out there about how to save money on Valentine’s Day, and while reading many of them I came upon my favorite tip so far.

Write a Love Letter.

Yup, you heard that right. It’s not the flashy electronic widget he might have been dreaming of, but a Love Letter will mean an incredible amount to any reader. So, how do you write a love letter?
Here are the 5 easiest steps in the world to writing a great love letter:
1. Think 100-200 words.
2. Use a great quote. Search for anything you want.
3. Say what’s in your heart.
4. Say “I Love You” (shocking, no?)
5. It doesn’t matter what you say – it’s the thought that counts! (I’m serious….)

Don’t Know What to Cook Tonight?

Go to, type in the ingredients you have on hand – and voila!

Free Coupon Class Cheat Sheet: How to Coupon at CVS

Couponing can be very confusing at first. But it’s not as hard as it seems. Read this cheat sheet to learn about how to coupon at CVS.

The CVS ECB (”extra care bucks”) Program

The CVS system is based on the idea of the “extra care buck” or “ecb”. One ECB is worth one dollar, but ECBs are only good at CVS. So the key to CVS freebies are that you only get money back in the form of ECBs (coupons which are printed at the bottom of your receipt). The way it works is that if you buy something advertised as a product that will give you back ECBs those ECBs will print at the bottom of your receipt. These printed receipts are your money for you to use on the future at items at CVS. It is critical that you don’t throw out your receipts with ECBs printed on them!

If you buy something advertised as “free after ECBs”, then you will have the money in the form of an ECB coupon as soon as you leave the register. Many couponers *love* this because it means that then you can immediately use those free ECBs in a second “transaction” (purchase). We’ll talk a bit more about that in this week’s assignment, but here’s an example: For instance, I walk into the store to pick up a $4.99 tube of lipstick that is free after ECBs. I purchase the lipstick (making sure they scan my ECB card) and immediately the $4.99 is printed out to me. So I can go back in the aisle, pick up some milk, come back to the cash register, and use the ECB coupons I received in the last transaction to pay, instead of paying with cash. (Had I bought the milk and the lipstick all at one time, I would have paid out money for both, and had more ECB coupons to spend next time I come to CVS.) However, if you have an ECB for $4.99 and you only purchase $4 of stuff with it – you WON’T get a refund! So you want to always buy something worth a little more than the value of the ECBs you have.

Every month, a number of items at CVS are completely free after ECBs. The key to getting your feet wet in the ECB system is to pick up these items first. They are easy as pie and no coupons needed.

First, you need to know how to hear about the CVS deals for the month and the week. You can sign up to get your CVS weekly store circular delivered to your email here. They also come in your Sunday newspaper, and you can also find the circular at the front of the store. Finally, many couponers these days don’t even both to look at the circulars and simply make sure to log into a blog like this one to see the list of deals for that week. Then you can print that blog post and just take it with you to CVS. Simple!

So what are your next steps?

  • Sign up for the CVS Extra Care Buck program at
  • Make sure your card is registered with your email address. You can do this on the original form, at, or call 1-800-SHOP CVS. Eventually they will send you a $4/20 purchase.
  • Start reading the weekly coupon deals at SavingMoneyPlan so that you know what you can get for free or very cheap that week!

Buy One Get One Photo Calendar

If you buy one photo calendar from Photo Works, you can get one free using this offer here.