Lynn-Ann emailed in a great question this morning:
As I’ve received your e-mail updates, I’ve been a bit frustrated about the ECB/RR stuff. I will share with you what I mean: in the April 4, 2011 e-mail you share the following:
Buy 1 Colgate Maxfresh, MaxWhite or MaxClean Toothpaste at $2.99, Get $3 Register Rewards
Use $0.35/1 coupon from the 4/3 SmartSource insert
Free plus overage after coupon and Register Rewards
I get so excited when I see FREE. But basically it isn’t free when I go to the register and check out is it? Since I still have to pay for the toothpaste at $2.99 and of course I can use the $0.35/1 coupon, but I basically pay the difference, because I don’t even get the Register Rewards til after my purchase is complete. Correct?
-Lynn-Ann, Kansas City, KS
Many times, it’s a little confusing when you first begin the drugstore game because you have to outlay cash in order to start getting free groceries and household items. However, once you invest $10 or so and start building up some Register Rewards or ECBs, then you can just use these instead of cash to pay for your groceries/household items. And you just keep rolling these and rolling these and rolling these! Meaning, you pay for your order with the ECBs or Register Rewards you earned from the last transaction instead of paying with cash.
Yes, you usually can’t get your order total down completely to $0.00 — though I’ve done it before! — but you can get it pretty close. Back when we lived where there was a CVS store, I was able to get thousands of dollars worth of groceries and household items over the course of two years and spent less than $75 out-of-pocket for everything. I typically paid around $3 out of pocket for every $100 worth of purchases because I was rolling ECB’s from my previous transaction.
For example, this week at CVS, you could do something like this:
Buy 2 GUM Eez-Thru Flossers (75-150 ct) at $2, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use 2 $0.75/1 printable
You’ll spend $2.50 plus tax after the coupon and you’ll have $4 in ECBs to spend on your next transaction.
Take that $4 in ECBs and use it to do a second transaction.
Buy 2 Oral-B Manual Toothbrush (1 ct) at $2.99
Buy 1 Crest or Oral-B Pro-Health at $3.49
Use $1/1 Crest coupon from the 4/3 P&G insert
Use 2 $2/1 Oral-B coupons from the 4/3 P&G insert
Use $4 ECBs earned from Transaction #1
You’ll spend only $0.47 plus tax out of pocket and you’ll then get back $4.48 in ECBs.
So, for an initial monetary invstment of $3 plus tax, you’ll have purchased five items and have $4.48 in ECBs leftover.
You can do another transaction to purchase ECB deals you’ve still not done for the week yet (like a second Oral-B — it’s a limit of two — or the Complete Contact Solution). Or, you can just hang onto the $4.48 in ECBs and use them for the ECB deals next week.
Walgreens is a bit more complicated, in my opinion, and it’s harder to get your totals down to under $1 — especially with the tax we have here in Kansas! But you can still significantly lower your totals by using Register Rewards from previous transactions to take off most of what you owe.