Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CVS 101: How to Figure Totals Before Checking Out

Saved $96 (99%)
I have been asked how to have your CVS deals totals figured out before you head to the cash register.  It is easy to get all the items gathered and the coupons, but then to add using your extra bucks on hand to the best of your advantage and possibly doing more than one transaction can get confusing.  So many things are more easily taught in person (for my way of teaching) than typing up an answer, but I will try my best. I feel I get wordy and complicated when typing instructions.

For the purpose of this CVS 101 lesson I made a Google Document form to fill
out before shopping, make notes while shopping, and use to tally before checking out.  You can see the copy of the CVS Shopping List form and print out a copy for yourself if you'd like.

I filled out the form using my shopping from 1/2 as an example (you can see it below--click on it to see it larger, and forgive my scribbling).

Filling out the form before shopping:

I use both the ad and the match-ups here at Simply CVS when making my shopping list.  I go thru the ad and circle any thing I am interested in and then check for the coupons.  Then I look thru all the coupon match-up posts for the current week and find anything else that is a great deal that I did not circle.

  • Left Boarder:  I make a notation to ask for a rain check for items out of stock.
  • Column 1:  Page number.  I fill this in in case I need to refer to the ad in the store or request a rain check.
  • Column 2:  Item.  I simply list the name of the item.  I put one on each line so my prices will are easier to figure instead of putting multiples of one item on the same line.
  • Column 3:  Size.  I fill this in if I need to know any specifics.
  • Column 4:  Sale Price.  The price that will ring up at the register.
  • Column 5:  Manufacturer coupons.  I list the amount of the coupon I plan to use.
  • Column 6:  CVS coupon.  The total amount of the CVS coupon I am going to use.  If I were to have a $4/20 or other $/$$ coupon I would write it largely above this column as it would be for the full order.
  • Column 7:  Equals Net Cost.  I subtract the manufacturer coupon and the CVS coupon total from the sale price so I know what I actually need to pay for at the register.
  • Column 8:  Extra Buck Earned.  I fill in the total of the extra buck I should receive for the deal.  You can see from the example below that I bracket the items together that make up the extra buck deal.
  • Right Boarder:  I make any notations about the details of the extra buck deal.
Note on the line with the Revlon deal in the example below I have the price columns highlighted as it was a buy two get extra bucks back deal and I did not know the price of the items when I was at home and would need to fill that in for the price column to calculate.  Also, I did not have prices in the Excedrin spaces because I had free coupons and the prices did not matter as I knew they were approximately $5+ and four would equal the $20 I needed and since they were all free I did not need to know the exact price for calculations.

Filling out the form while shopping:

I have a small clip board that holds a piece of paper folded in half.  So I fold this approximately in half so the shopping list part is on top and I shop from this list.  I also have a tiny pen chained to the clipboard for making notes.
  • First thing I do is scan my card at the kiosk to see if I get any coupons for any of the deals on my list.  If so I note those in the CVS coupon file.  In the example below I got the $2/any Bayer Aspirin and I had $1 coupon in my file so I pulled it out and checked the price of that first and saw it would be free so I put it in my cart and noted the deal in the bottom line.  If I had more of these types of deals I would fill in another blank ine.
  • I then start at the top of the form and work my way down filling my cart.  When I pickup the item I will put a small check beside the item name.  This particular day the toilet paper was way too big to keep in my cart & shop so I asked the cashier if she could set it behind the counter for me until I was thru shopping.
  • When I get to an item that is not in stock I circle the page number and right RC for rain check beside it.  I also cross off the price, coupon and net cost amounts.  Then I TRY to remember to ask for one when I check out.
  • When I find out the price of the highlighted areas I fill those in.
Figuring totals for checking out:
  • I total the prices in the "sale price" column, not including the ones crossed out that I did  not get.
  • I total the manufacturer coupons column.
  • I total the CVS coupon column.
  • I total the net cost column--this is the total I will have to use extra bucks or cash for.  To check my total I take the sale price column total and subtract the manufacturer and CVS coupon columns--this should equal the net cost column total (I worked in accounting years ago and still like to use checks and balances in my figuring).
Figuring for multiple transactions.

If I am getting a large quantity of items or high cost items and do not have many extra bucks I will check out two or three times rolling my extra bucks from one transaction to the next.  To do this I often do some "guesstimating" but I will include exact instructions here.
  • I will total each extra buck deal's net cost individually and write it sideways in the Net cost column along the individual prices (for example in the sheet below the Special K total was $6.67).  Circling it helps it to stand out easily when looking over the form. 
  • Then I see how many extra bucks I have in my CVS coupon file and match up which deal totals are closest to the amount I have and check those out first.  I then do the same thing with the remaining extra buck deals once or twice.  At times I need to throw in a filler (an inexpensive item) to use up the full amount of the extra buck.  By figuring closely I can look over the ad and find a sale priced item that I can use rather than find out at the register I need an item and grabbing a candy bar.  Sarah often keeps an item in her cart ready in case she needs a filler.  The following steps may help you in understanding how to figure out the rolling of your extra bucks--especially if you are beginning with none:
    • Figure out how many times you are willing to check out and/or how much cash you want to spend.
    • Find the least expensive out of pocket items first that give extra bucks back.  Check them, or some of them, out and then use the extra bucks earned to buy a few of the next on your list and repeat until you have purchased all of the extra buck items.  If you have an extra buck for a little more than the next items you put together in one of the transactions you can throw in an item or two off your other non-extra buck list to use it up.
    • After buying all of your extra buck items use the last extra bucks you have earned to purchase your non-extra buck items.
I did not do all the filling in as if I were shopping on the example form so you could see where I left things blank in the making of the shopping list.  You can see how my shopping and rolling of extra bucks turned out for this CVS shopping trip.

Disclosure: Links in this post may be Simply CVS affiliate partners or personal referrals.


Sunny Simple Life said...

Wow. Thanks for this. Very helpful.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Oh, Sunny, thanks for the encouragement. It is hard for me to put into words, I am much better having someone sitting beside me and I can get my hands on things to explain.

dot said...

Thanks so much. I know that must have taken a lot of time and I really do appreciate it. I'm going to print the post so I can study on it.

Kimberly said...

Cheryl that is great. I do the SAME thing. Only I have another box that says where to use the ECB's from that transaction. I also list my deals in somewhat of an order. Today the cashier said, "Wow, you plan your trip really well." I'll tell you though, if one transaction doesn't go right. I'm mush!

By the way, your scribbling is better then mine.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Great, Dot, come back and ask questions. I am sure you will tweak it to fit your own style, but hopefully it will give you an idea as a jumping off spot.

Don't worry about the time--I just feel bad it took me so long to get it all together for you. And it will be here forever for other shoppers.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Really helpful, Thanks...
There's a post at dealseekingmom about the Lysol Free Touch System, Have you check it out!? It's a little confusing:)

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

You are welcome, and no, I haven't seen that--will check it out.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Kimberly, I gave up figuring too closely ahead of time, because I am like you--if a transaction goes awry or they are out of something I have to start all over. But I hate it when I check out and my figures don't add up. But by figuring ahead I can at least know that there may be a problem.

Anonymous said...

I tried doing this last time I went to cvs but my first deal didn't work and ended up spending more out of pocket I didn't realise that the coupon at CVS take off the full value(Had a coupon for B1G1 and it took off 5.99 not the 5.00 value of the item I was buying messed up the whole deal)

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Anon, they can get messed up that's for sure. Usually it asks for the amount and the cashier enters the price that rang up--they must have entered what it said, or it was one coded to be $5.99 not really "free." Sort of strange.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all of your work! I appreciate it.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

You are very welcome, Anon.

CJ said...

I generally just try to group my items together to fit an ECB that I have. Like if I have a $5 ECB I'll put item(s) totalling around $5 on one side of the cart and put the ECB with it. And then do the same for the rest. I dont do separate transactions though, I just roll my ECBs from one week to the next.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

I didn't used to do separate transactions, CJ, until my extra bucks got so low and I just can't bring myself to pay out of pocket if I don't have to. I think I need to just invest $20 or so and take the leap and build them back up. But often Sarah is making pictures while I finish up so there is no hurry and I can easily spend the time doing separate transactions.

I'm a cart sorter, too. I like to put my qs with each item.

Marnie said...

Awesome Cheryl. My list isn't as neatly typed as yours. I thought about doing that, but I am always so busy to do it. I have improved on my rollover bucks because of your site. In the last few I spent $2.33. That was tax. I am hoping to get as good as you!!

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Great, Marnie, that you have learned to use the same bucks over and over again! That tax will kill you. I have to laugh, though, because my extra bucks have dwindled and as I wrote earlier I actually have plans to spend more this year. lol

Pharmdog said...

This helps so much!! Thanks for all you do. You have helped me save so much money :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. This answers some of the questions I have had. You're the best :)

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Great to hear, Pharmdog, about your great savings. Glad you found this article helpful.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

You are welcome, Anon, thanks for letting me know it helped.

Paula & Skip said...

I am so very happy to have found your page! I am new to the USA and new to couponing as we do not have such a system in Europe. Obviously I was overwhelmed and decide I will concentrate on two shops. CVS and Harris Teeter. I so very much appreciate the very simple way to explain all. Gives me the feeling you take this foreigner to CVS for shopping and truly helping along. Thanks so much. Paula

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Welcome to the USA and to CVSing! And of course to Simply CVS, Paula. If you ever have a question just ask and I will do my best to answer it. Best wishes on your savings, and you have picked my two favorite stores to start with.

Becky said...

I can't even tell you how helpful this post has been! I'm new to the coupon world (and what a beautiful and money-saving world it is!!) ~ and new to CVS as well. I've been doing well on my deals each week, but maximizing/rolling the extra care bucks was confusing me! Your chart and explanation are immensely appreciated! Thank you!

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Oh, I am so glad, Becky, thanks for letting me know. Sometimes I think I get a bit too detailed oriented and confusing in my explanations :-).

Tricia said...

Cheryl, I agree with everyone's posts, you are fabulous! I'm a newbie and am truly enjoying shopping at CVS. I look for your Facebook postings all the time. You are very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to help so many people. I'm also thankful for my CVS. I complimented the manager on her friendly staff. Some stores (even grocery stores) seem annoyed by couponers.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thank you for the kind words, Tricia, and welcome aboard. Great to give compliments--they always hear complaints. You can call 800shopcvs and brag on your staff as well--it means a lot to them and corporate to hear. CVS takes customer service very seriously and compliments on stores help them. If you ever get the survey at the bottom of your receipt and you can honestly give all 5's (meaning the best service) do it--they depend on this. But even one 4 means they get a poor score and often it is only unsatisfied customers who take the surveys.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this has been addressed, but I like to take advantage of my $5 off $25 coupons to make my deal even better. This sounds dumb, but is that amount before or after tax. I've always played it safe and made sure it was before tax and coupons, but now I'm kind of wondering. Thanks.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Yes, we have discussed the $5/25's, too. And yes, it is the sub-total before tax and coupons.