Tuesday, February 14, 2012

$50 Gift Card Challenge Report ~ Saved $1300+ to Date; $ 71+ CVS Spending Power Balance

Like I have noted before I am not shopping for the next several weeks while I pack and prepare to move so I decided to give an update on my $50 CVS Gift Card Challenge.  I am currently doing a $50 Beginner's CVS Gift Card Challenge seeing how much I can get for a $50 gift card I earned on Swagbucks with a brand new extra care card and no extra bucks.  By utilizing the CVS Extra Buck deals, Cash Card deals, coupons and rebates at times my actual CVS spending power increases and to date it has increased by $ 21.65 to $ 71.65 (see balances below).

The goal of this challenge is to have the least out of pocket expense each week by mainly taking advantage of only the best deals.  You will see that I have used my extra bucks to buy a few necessities (like juice) or gift items
(like the electric razor), but basically I am trying to show by this challenge how someone can shop simply and spend just change out of their budget each week at CVS and have an amazing amount of items for their family and some to share.  And if they earn CVS gift cards online, it takes nothing out of their budget to shop.

I have shopped 25 times to date and have purchased 294 items valued at $ 1325 (see list below--notice how the number of toothbrushes seem to balance nicely with the candy bars and toothpaste with bags of candy).  I have sent in several mail in rebates from items purchased with this challenge and a few I have not received back yet.  They will help increase my CVS spending power when I receive them even while I am not shopping these next several weeks.

How I figure my Challenge balances:

  • I began with a $50 Gift Card Earned Free from Swagbucks and $0 extra bucks.
    • Only this gift card and "money" earned from purchases with this gift card will be used in this challenge.
      • Including:  extra bucks, CVS cash cards and mail in rebates.
  • I will spend the CVS Cash Cards and the mail in rebate monies earned from the challenge before the original gift card.
  • I count the original gift card balance and the balances of all sources earned from it as my total "CVS spending power."  I call it my CVS spending power because the gift cards, cash cards and extra bucks can only be spent at CVS.
  • When the original gift card is empty the challenge will end--even if I have extra bucks left.
    • CVS Extra Bucks cannot be spent in my state without paying tax so will be useless on this challenge.

How I figure my Savings on the Challenge:

  • Each week I take the "you saved $$" amount from the bottom of my receipt.
  • I use an Excel spreadsheet to figure the amount of tax I would have had to pay on the total value of the products and subtract the amount I paid in tax (I pay more tax than just on the sub-total amount).  I count this as savings as I would have had to pay this if I purchased the items at full price.
  • I also figure the value of the products without any tax at all for a reference for others since tax varies by state.
  • For an explanation of what I really consider my CVS savings (about 75% of what the receipt says) check out this post:  Did I Really Save Over $400 in May?

My CVS shopping trip from Black Friday

$50 Beginner's CVS Gift Card Challenge Balances to date:

Total Saved:  $ 1343.57  (including tax)
Total Value of Products Purchased:  $ 1325.88 (without tax)
Current Original Gift Card Balance:  $ 30.56
CVS Cash Cards Earned on CVS Deals Balance: $ 28.98
Extra Buck Balance:  $ .00 (I spent all of my extra bucks in last week's shopping trip so they wouldn't expire before I begin shopping again)
Mail In Rebate Cash Balances: $ 12.11 (this is money earned from rebates of items purchased in GC Challenge--I still have a few I am waiting on the checks from)
Total CVS Spending Power:  $ 71.65 (GC balances, rebate cash and ECB balance combined)

Tally of Purchases to date:

1 bandaids
4 bar soap - 3 pk
1 batteries
4 beauty tools 
1 body wash
8 candy bags
18 candy bars
2 cleaning supplies
2 contact lense solution
1 cookies
8 CVS Gift Card $10 
2 deodorant
4 dish soap
1 dishwasher soap
3 drink--single
1 Electric Razor 
10 fragrance "machines"
1 granola bars -- box 
9 greeting cards
13 gum packs
1 hair products
3 hair spray
2 hand cream
9 juice -- large bottle 
8 lip balm 
19 liquid hand soap
17 make-up
3 meds -- allergy otc
5 meds -- pain (one was Excedrin in the recent recall so I returned it--when I get the check back I will add that in as a rebate received in this challenge)
22 meds -- other and otc health item
2 mouthwash
6 nail polish
3 oral care--misc
2 panty liner - small pk
1 photo - 8 x 10
1 protein bar 
1 razor/refills
7 room spray 
1 sanitary pads
5 seasonal item
10 shampoo/conditioner
15 shave cream
1 snack food
1 tampons
1 tissues 
22 toothbrush
7 toothpaste
10 toys--small
3 trial size beauty
7 vitamins
1 fragrance refills 
2 household item
1 clothing item
1 graph paper

Step by Step CVS Shopping for Beginners

I started a step by step lesson series on how to begin CVS shopping as I began as a "new shopper" with a new card and no extra bucks.  If you are new to CVS shopping check them out.

Readers' Gift Card Challenges

If you haven't joined us in the Simply CVS gift card challenge we'd love to have you do so.  Check out the details in this introductory post:  Join the Simply CVS Gift Card Challenge.  If you have joined already, leave a comment below with your most recent trip and/or totals.  If you blog about your challenge trip leave a link directly to your challenge shopping trip each week in the "Share Your CVS Shopping Trip" post.  I would love it if you would add the Challenge button like the one here in your post or on your blog so your readers can join us and see what everyone is doing on their challenge (the code can be found in the right hand side bar).

Earn CVS Gift Cards Online

If you haven't worked on earning free CVS gift cards online yet check out this earlier post on Swagbucks.


Anonymous said...


I know I post the same thing here all the time, but I am just fascinated by how much you have saved. Can't wait to share with my hubby!

Best of luck with the move. I hope you are relatively pain free during this stressful time.


Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks so much, Jenny, for the well wishes! And keep commenting--I love to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is unbelievable! I hope I can be that good on saving money some day! (It might never happen... lol...) Good luck on your move and please take care of yourself!

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Naomi. And one day you will be. I kept reading what others bought and how they paid and eventually with practice I was able to save a lot.

Miz Monie said...

wow I'm so jealous. I'm doing the challenge but I'm lazy to keep updates online, only when I feel like writing everything down then i'll do so. So far though I haven't spent a penny from my pocket shopping at CVS. I've been using the $50 GC from swagbucks.

According to my spreadsheet total sale value of the items I bought so far is $325.17 (105 items) and I still have $26.00 left and I'm very happy. I started Jan 1,12 and I've spent half of my GC already. Though I have MIR's I haven't received those yet. I love your blog. I'm glad I found your blog when I was trying to figure out how these couponing works few months ago.

I get all excited about all the shampoos and conditioners and toothpaste and juices and paper goods and other stuff we do need and we never had so much of these stuff ever in our life until now. Just looking at my stockpile makes me want to dance hahahaha

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Miz Monie, sounds like you are a quick learner! you are doing great. It is amazing how many items you absolutely need to have do have great deals and then there are those items that you could (or would) never spend money on that you can get, too. My daughter enjoys all the special hair products and make up and skin care items that would not be purchased regularly without the CVS deals. Once your rebates come back you'll have more to spend without any "out of budget spending" and your numbers will keep going up.

callmary said...

I just started a $50 challenge feb 13, so far I saved over $111.72. I still have $32 cash, $10 gift card, $5 extra bucks and will get $5 beauty bucks when I go to the store again. this sounded so interesting and fun, I recently moved to florida and had never shopped at cvs, now i buy almost everything there. never thought I'd shop at a place like this with the prices so high. I am in the process of teaching someone else how to shop there. Also, I donate most of the stuff I buy. thanks for all your updates.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Callmary, I was the same way--who would ever think of shopping at CVS for everyday needs. How great you can get lots to donate, too, I think that is as fun as what I can get for my own family. Keep me updated on how it is going--I love to hear other people's challenges.

peg42 said...

Wow. This is amazing. I too love shopping at cvs & think I do pretty well, but not anywhere as well as you do.
Best wishes on your move.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Peg42. The goal of this challenge is to see just how far this can go--so I always look for the best deals and only occasionally grab something that isn't almost free after ecbs & coupons. So that helps it go further. Later I will do other challenges--that won't go so far: like groceries, baby, donations, beauty, household, etc.

Dee said...

Still not sure about the $50 challenge - still learning the about the deals but hope to soon. Maybe a $25 CVS card as I have almost enough Swagbucks.

Thanks for the matchups!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm still learning everything, but I think I've done ok in the past. Thank you for sharing the great tips! I learned about a couple of new websites that I hadn't heard of. I'm excited to check them out! Reading this has made me want to get back into all of those money making sites. Thank you for the inspiration!