Why I recommend shopping at (seemingly) over-priced drug stores like CVS


If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that every Saturday night, I post about the best deals at CVS. I do this because CVS is an essential part of my money-saving strategy.

This may be perplexing to some of you. You might be thinking, “Money saving strategy? At CVS? Whaaaat? Isn’t CVS grossly over-priced?”

Yes, full price at CVS is over-priced. But you’re not going to be paying full price. You probably won’t be paying ANYTHING.

Let me backtrack.

When we make our monthly budget, we have one line item for food and household items. That means we have to cover diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, lightbulbs, etc. out of the same $400 – $500 that pays for our produce, dairy, dry goods and meat.

When your ground beef costs $4.99 a pound, that’s an awful lot of stuff to buy on a rather tight budget.

Which is why I was so excited to learn about CVSing. By combing sales with coupons with store incentives (at CVS, this means Extra Care Bucks), I have managed to accumulate a stash of products that cost me no more than a few pennies for tax. These include:

  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • mouth wash
  • toothbrushes – including electric ones!
  • shampoo & conditioner
  • body wash
  • lotion
  • Band-aids
  • over-the-counter medication and vitamins
  • tissues
  • toilet paper

Plus, you know that I aim to spend no more than $.10 per disposable diaper. All this from shopping at seemingly over-priced drug stores like CVS!

(You can check out the full extent of my stockpile here.)

Aside from it being totally fun to buy stuff for FREE, shopping like this has allowed me to create MARGIN in our financial lives.

The more items that I can get for free – or close to it – the more room there is for things like grated cheese, fresh produce, chicken and beef. On $400, we still can’t afford to eat prime rib every night — but we can splurge on it every great once in a while, thanks to never having to pay to brush our teeth after a meal!

If you are ready to start shopping for FREE at seemingly high priced drug stores, let me recommend that you start by reading my How to Shop at CVS Tutorial. I prefer CVS to Walgreens because they just seem more coupon-friendly, but if you only have a Walgreens in town, you can get similar savings there as well. And if you only have a Rite-Aid? Same deal!

Are you a CVS shopper? Do you also find that it gives you margin in your budget?


  1. So here’s my question… The cardinal rule of saving money is that, if you don’t need/use it in the first place it’s not a deal to buy it cheep, right? What about money-makers/overages at CVS? For example, a couple weeks ago you posted about an electric toothbrush scenario that would net you a couple dollars in ECBs. We don’t need any toothbrushes, let alone electric ones- but would you do the deal simply because you net a couple ECBs? What’s the threshold for it? Would you do this week’s Maalox deal for the $0.44 overage?

    LOVING your blog, thanks 🙂

    • Thanks for the compliment and for reading!

      Yes, when I MAKE money, I do the deals. Even if I don’t “need” more toothbrushes, the overage lets me buy stuff I *do* need at a discount.

      That said, I definitely don’t spend all week long chasing deals. And if I’m well stocked on shampoo, then free shampoo isn’t going to be enough to motivate me to shop at CVS that particular week. But if I’m going anyway, yes, I do pick up the freebies/money-makers as well.

      My husband often says there is no threshold — he encourages me to get even the treif freebies, since those can be donated.

      One caveat: If I lived in a studio apartment with ZERO storage, then my threshold would probably be a 3-6 month supply — basically what I could store and use until the next sale cycle came around.


  2. I live very close to a CVS, so I do drop in regularly. It actually pays to make multiple trips (assuming that you walk over as I do) rather than getting everything in one day to get use of the green bag tag credit. This week I picked up saline solution (I rarely wear my contacts, but it’s good to have the option) for $9.99. – no sales tax! I also got back $9.99 back. Plus this is an FSA qualified purchase (through end of this year only) so I can get the purchase price back from my account. That really pays. But if I didn’t own contacts, I don’t think I would buy it.

  3. Barbara Tatarcuk says

    I really like that you share your knowledge with others. That is a good service that you do. To-da. As far as budgeting for food goes, do you budget a set dollar amount or actually a percentage? What percentage of your income would you recommend others budget for groceries for a family of 5?

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