Extreme Couponing Class: Week 2 (July 4, 2011)

Welcome to Week 2 of the Extreme Couponing Class!

This week we’ll be looking at matching up different coupons, or “coupon match-ups” at CVS. Although it’s not an amazing week at the drugstores, there are some quality freebies we can pick up.

First, let’s look at what a coupon match-up is. 

What are Coupon Match Ups?

Coupon match-ups are when you match up different types of coupons. There are two main types of coupons:

  • manufacturer’s coupons
  • store coupons

Manufacturer’s coupons are the coupons that come in the Sunday newspapers, or perhaps in a magazine you are reading or at a website you are looking at (printable internet coupons), or inside the box of a product you buy. They are made by the manufacturer of the product and say so on the coupon.

Store coupons are coupons that a particular store puts out. Walgreens, for example, has a weekly flier with weekly deals inside and Walgreens coupons you can use for that week. CVS also has a weekly flier. The key to saving big money and getting hundreds in free toiletries and household items every month is in matching up these two coupons and combining them with ECBS at CVS, for instance.

How to Match up Coupons:

1. To succeed at matching up coupons you need a stash of manufacturer’s coupons. Every Sunday, you should be collecting the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper and putting them in a drawer or box devoted to this class and your coupons. There is no need to cut them yet.

2. Then, once a week you should come to a blog like Saving Money Plan that gives you a list of how the manufacturer’s coupons you have been stashing away in your coupon drawer match up with the weekly coupons and other deals going at various drugstores (Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, etc.)

3. Print out that list from a blog like Saving Money Plan

4. Then go to your coupon drawer and find the coupons you need that you have stashed away (blogs like mine will list the inserts by the date of that Sunday paper, so while you’re learning I recommend not cutting any of your coupons and keeping the inserts intact so you can easily go back to that dated insert to find the coupon mentioned) and then use them.

5. Get any other coupons that that blog post says you need (sometimes there are links to new internet printable coupons, and sometimes the store deals are actual coupons that you need to cut out from the weekly store flier) Write a list of what you will be purchasing and how much it should cost (or follow one of the lists on a blog like this letter-by-letter). Take your calculator to the store.

6. Make your purchases! Ready to try?

This week we’ll be shopping at CVS. First, let’s take a step back to see how CVS works differently than Walgreens (where we were last week):

The CVS Extra Care Bucks (“ECB”) 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). 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. Thus, 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 later assignments, but here’s an example:

For instance, I walk into the store to pick up a $4.99 tube of lipstick that is advertised as “free after ECBs”. I purchase the lipstick (making sure they scan my ECB card) and immediately the $4.99 is printed out. 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.

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.


This week, the first thing you will need to do is sign up for the CVS Extra Care Buck program. Although you can do this online, I recommend going into your store to do so, because you will get your card immediately, and won’t have to wait a few weeks for it to get sent to you. Ask for an application at the register if you don’t see one out.

Make sure your card is registered with your email address. You can do this on the original form, at CVS.com, or call 1-800-SHOP CVS. Eventually they will send you a $4/20 purchase coupon.

Now that you have your ECB card, you can start making your purchases. This week, I want you to go into your store and buy the following three items.

Here are the deals below I want you to do at CVS using the premise of coupon matchups.
The Deals:

Buy 1 Oral-B Advantage or Cross Action Toothbrush at $3, Get $1 ECB (Limit 2)
Use $2/1 coupon from the 7/3 Proctor and Gamble insert

Buy 1 Oral-B Pulsar Toothbrush (1 pack) at $5.99, Get $3 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $2/1 coupon from the 7/3 Proctor and Gamble insert
= $.99

Just For Men or Touch of Gray Hair Color $6.99
Submit for the Try Me Free Rebate

If you have some past Sunday papers, see if you have last month’s coupons to do these great bonus deals:

Buy 1 Listerine or Reach Select Products at $3.69, Get $1 ECB (Limit 2)
Use $2/1 coupon from the 5/8 SmartSource insert
= $0.69

Tampax Pearl Tampons 18 to 20 ct. or Always Infinity Pads 14 to 18 ct. $3.99
Earn $2 ECB (Limit 1)
Use $1.50/2 Tampax Products 6/5/2011 Proctor & Gamble Insert (exp 7/31/2011)
= $.59

So let’s review the steps this week:

    1. Go to your local CVS to sign up for your ECB card.
    2. Pick up the deals above.
    3. Make sure the cashier scans your ECB card before ringing you up.
    4. If you buy all the items and have all the coupons, your total will be $16.50 + tax Out Of Pocket (“OOP”). In return, you will get $7 in Extra Care Bucks printed and a $7 rebate that you have to mail in. Great deal, no?

If you have any questions at all about anything, make sure to email me at savingmoneyplan (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment on the blog and I’ll be sure to get back to you. I’m so looking forward to hearing your stories – the good stuff and the challenges – about how this worked for you this week!