CVS ECBs Are Driving Me Crazy

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.

6 thoughts on “CVS ECBs Are Driving Me Crazy”

  1. Wow. … Really? I haven’t come up against an ECB deadline yet – primarily because I use each week’s ECBs the very next week…

    Perhaps when I’ve played for longer and built up a stockpile of the Stuff We Need, I’ll feel differently. Right now, though, I just can’t understand waiting a full month to go back.

  2. I love RiteAid and Walgreens rebates. More money up front, but it’s a check or a gift card you can use anytime. Too bad CVS is closer to my house though. When we had kids in diapers they had some incredible ECB deals. I was really into it then. Those expiration dates bug me too. But then I can’t imagine paying more than tax for toothpaste!

  3. Oh man, I used to do the same thing. For about 3 months, I was driving all over creation trying to find a CVS that wasn’t out of something ECB-related that I wanted to buy…or to find a CVS cashier that understood how the game was played. (SO many cashiers refused to believe that I had a valid coupon or ECB deal, it was rediculous!).

    I ended up giving away alot of toiletries. After about 2 months, I had a 2+ year supply of toothpaste and body wash, advil, and many other items. It was insane–that last month of ECB-ing was all for nothing but the ‘fun’ of getting a deal. Which some of the time, was NOT so fun!

    Finally, I was moving out of my rental house (and away from the CVS across the street), and I needed caulk and other moving-out supplies, so i ended up blowing most of the ECB money I’d built up for that. it stopped the cycle right there.

    I suggest going in and buying a gift or donation items using the leftover ECB’s. If you don’t need anymore ‘stuff,’ you are just wasting time and money chasing these deals.

  4. I did this for a while this past spring, but I’ve decided that, at least most of the time, it’s not worth my while. I’d rather learn how to use less of the kinds of things I buy at CVS(like shampooing less often), or learn to make my own(like laundry detergent). And yeah, I hate the way they expire…at least with Walgreens and Rite Aid, you have no pressure to go back soon.

  5. @rini — If you just started playing the CVS game… give it some time… once your cupboards are filled to the brim you'll understand exactly where I'm coming from.

    @renee, sense, & kristen — I'm so glad you left comments on this post. I was beginning to think I was all alone on this one. Eventually I know I'm bound to follow Sense's advice. Sooner or later I need to spend the ECBs on something that won't return ECBs. It seems that's the only way to stop the madness!

  6. Yup, there's a point when you know you have a problem.
    I realized I needed to get a grip when I came home with 10 bags of M&Ms which after a series of coupons and ECB juggling, were about $5 for the lot. After plowing through three bags in less than a week, I had to get them out of the house.
    I still watch the ads, but I have to ignore those great $5off$10 candy deals.


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