CVSing with a friend: “Got change for a quarter?”

This weekend featured much drama from houseguests — and I don’t even mean the truck driver! A friend of my sister’s is spending 2 weeks exploring the mid-Atlantic and New England with her quasi-boyfriend, he threw in an extra friend, and they all ended up here for Friday and Saturday nights. I stayed Friday night, spectated upon some of the craziness at 4:30am, and ended up taking my sister’s friend down to visit my mother for some perspective on the man situation (everyone listens to my mom). She had a rental car, and when we pulled off the Garden State Parkway, I wasn’t sure where I was and neither did my mother via cell phone. Well what do you know, there was a CVS…I could not resist the siren song of free shaving supplies and sweetly suggested stopping in “for directions”. Mwah ha ha…

I loaded up on two orders (to best utilize the $5-off-$30 email coupon) of Schick Intuition razors and cartridges plus some free-after-ECB Skintimate shave gel, and she watched the first batch whittle down from $50 to $.23 thanks to a BOGO sale, a stack of $4 coupons, that $5/$30 purchase coupon, and a few ECBs that I earned right back. Her jaw dropped, and I caught her on the phone later with my sister (who apologized for not warning her about my drug store coupon obsession) saying, “It was like, do you have change for a quarter??” For her tolerance of my bizarre shopping habits, I gave her a Schick Intuition Plus razor system plus a box of replacement cartridges. Then she saw me throw in a pack of Wrigley’s gum to make that $30 minimum on one of the orders and pull out a “free pack” coupon, and blurted, “so that’s why you have that huge stack of gum in your apartment”. Um, yup, I introduced her to the concept of fillers. She was a quick study. Not that there’s much point for her – she lives in Colorado, a state without a single CVS.

Since the drama queen had gotten about 3 hours sleep total in the last 2 nights, Mom and I left her to nap (or, more likely, text that bad-boy quasi-boyfriend) and ran a couple of coupon errands. I taught her how to do ShopRite right by dividing up the orders so that all the coupons doubled, and snagged 6 bottles of assorted French’s mustard, 10 Ban deodorants, a block of Great Lakes cheddar, 2 boxes of Artisan Wheat Thins and 2 lbs of Land O’ Lakes butter for…wait for it…$1.39. It should have been $1 more than that, but the cashier deducted the full price rather than the sale price on my BOGO coupon. The cheese, one butter, one box of crackers and one mustard are for me, the rest is for donation – that teen shelter I patronize never has any condiments, but one of the few meats they can occasionally get from the food bank is bulk packs of hot dogs. I can’t imagine eating a hot dog with nothing on it, blech. Heck, I put as much mustard on the bun as I do dog! My second CVS trip involved a bit of couponing for a basket of baby supplies for my mom’s co-worker, who will be bedridden for another 4-8 weeks after her near-death childbirth experience. CVS had a deal on some Huggies and Johnson & Johnson stuff – buy $25 worth, get a $10 ECB. We put it against my $5/$30 purchase coupon, added some stuff to the order, I had $3 worth of coupons towards her order…so while I totally benefitted from the $10 ECB, I still made sure that the pot of collected gift money from my mom’s office got a respectable deal (came to $21.40). And I really appreciated the $10 ECB because I made a mistake or two recently and depleted my supply.

I didn’t get a chance to do a Sunday round of CVSing in the burbs, much to my great disappointment. The drama queen had to drive back to NYC around 11am in order to pick up the loser guy and make the last Nantucket ferry, and she needed a direction-giver or she’d never even make it to the Parkway. However, I was able to arrange enough of the very limited Manhattan deals to use a $15-off-$75 purchase as long as I used the self-checkout machine which let’s me offset that coupon against the full item price, not the sale price, e.g. Kellogg’s cereal is normally $4.49 a box, but on sale for $2 – and $4.49 counts toward that $75 target. It doesn’t work that way with the regular registers in Manhattan, but sometimes it does in the ‘burbs so I’m pretty sure I’m not doing anything wrong. My $82 “original” total translated to a true total of $51 (and included such non-sale/coupon things as milk and Arizona iced tea). I paid with $33 in coupons, $14.49 in ECBs and $3.44 cash and got back $16.48 in ECBs. Oh, and I’m taking back a $7.99 item because it’s going to be on BOGO next week. This will give me a net “profit” of $6.50. And the real fun was had trying to bag everything. The self-checkout senses the appropriate weight of the item, and the computerized voice doesn’t like it if you take too long and yells at you. It also doesn’t like if you remove a bag before the transaction is completed – which made piling 3 bags’ worth of items into one bag without everything spilling all over the place quite a feat of consumer engineering.

To summarize:  Based on sales prices and anticipated item return, the net result of this weekend’s Adventures in Couponing total $186.50 for a profit of $10. This includes $159 of goodies from CVS – Schick razors + blades, Skintimate shave gel, Skin Effects enzyme face scrub, Vitamin Water, 4 Kellogg’s cereal, Softscrub bodywash, Pantene shampoo + conditioner, Aviva blood glucose monitor, NutraTrim gum, Kotex pads, Glade air freshener, milk, iced tea, Wheat Thins, etc. – for a net profit of $11.50 and $27.50 worth of goodies at ShopRite for $1.39. Is it pathetic that I get a rush from this?


5 Responses

  1. It is not pathetic and boy do you make me want to learn how to do this. Is it really as complicated as it sounds?

  2. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as I make it – all the pharmacies have some fairly easy deals anyone could pull together. Like you could just go to Walgreens or Rite Aid and get their “free after rebate” items, with or without coupons to make the deal supersweet.

    Some supermarkets have fiddly policies about how many coupons are allowed to double on a single transaction, so you need to know stuff like that in order to get it right. There are also a few websites with forums where others discuss putting deals together, and you can just ride along on the coattails of their research. Those sites also have how-to info for novices. Just start with one, and if you find it exasperating rather than strangely exhilirating, you can always just stop.

  3. No its not pathetic.

    I found 7 sets of fleece Gloves, hats, and scarves, you know the sets that come packaged together in the same color, on 90% clearance today, I bought every last one at .79$ a pop. I figure I can either, donate them, put them aside for stocking stuffers, and we’re having a garage sale this weekend, sell that for a dollar or two more than I paid for them.

    Also they had fleece baby blankets for .49$ a piece, green, purple, and blue with a small animal embroidered on them.

    Woo hoo!

  4. God.Damned.Nin.ja.

  5. aladyinred – the ‘burbs get all the good clearance deals! City pharmacies don’t stock anything more “useful” than holiday-themed socks.

    CF – Totally taking that as a green-eyed compliment!

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