I have tried time and time again to stop playing the CVS ECB game. I know there are hundreds of websites dedicated to telling frugal shoppers how to buy $2000 worth of supplies for $2. A dozen or so well known personal finance bloggers have written about the drugstore games and hundreds of dedicated followers have left comments to explain the zillions of products they’ve purchased for free.
Sure it doesn’t take any time to look through the CVS flier on Sunday mornings and it doesn’t take any time to compare manufacturer’s coupons to the CVS sale items issuing ECBs. Actually if you are too lazy to do either of these two steps yourself Coupon Mom will do it for you. The trouble is this: more often than not I find myself purchasing something I don’t really want or need just because I have an expiring ECB burning a hole in my pocket.
I read a story in which one woman purchased 10 glucose monitor because each one provided 30 ECBs. But the woman didn’t have any family members with diabetes. Who wants to go through the hassle of clipping coupons, driving to the store, and waiting in line for monitors your family doesn’t need. I know that you can donate a lot of these items to charity. I myself donated a bag full of toiletries and other assorted items this spring, but I am not willing to go to CVS every weekend to perpetuate the vicious ECB cycle.
In fact, today I felt compelled to drive to CVS on my way home from work, because I had a $7.99 ECB that was about to expire. Clearly, I didn’t want to waste money, but I didn’t need anything at CVS. We are fully stocked on everything. When I arrived I considered buying art supplies, but of course, art supplies wouldn’t provide me with more ECBs. So I picked up the flyer in the front of the store and started searching for items that would kick out ECBs.
I was kicking myself the whole way through the store. Here I am driving out of my way… to go to a store… that I don’t need to go to… to purchase something I don’t need… all because I have a coupon that is about to expire. As if that isn’t bad enough I find myself wasting time… wandering through the store.. in search of something I don’t need… in order to prevent myself from wasting an $8 coupon.
In the end I found a sale item that provided $9.99 worth of ECBs. I just happened to have a $2.00 manufacturer’s coupon and a $7.99 ECB that made the item only 12 cents after tax. But as soon as the cashier handed me the coupon I felt the dread all over again. I know that I will be at that same store in 30 days, searching for something I don’t need, in order to prevent myself from wasting a $9.99 coupon. Worse yet, I know that any time I could stop the madness and break the cycle. But I can’t seem to convince myself to buy something with an ECB that won’t return an ECB. Now that’s crazy.