Summer 2008

Note: This was written in the summer of 2008 during my unemployment “vacation”.  Look at the end of the article for up to date information on deals you can score at CVS this week to start your own Drugstore Game!

The exchange rate has been against the favor of Americans for quite some time now. Those smart and foreboding investors who have their money in Euros, or British Pounds are doing exceptionally well with 1USD only worth 0.63Euros and 0.50Pounds. On top of our money devaluing, prices of products such as food, gasoline, and even laundry detergent continue to increase. Our dollar both is worth less abroad, and at home.

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While close to maxing out my budget last week, I thought about the idea of tapping into a lucrative exchange rate and getting more for my US money than I have been. What if I don’t need to leave the country but can make my money exchanges right down the street? I could even take it a step further. What if I don’t actually “pay” for products over the next month, at least in the conventional sense where I trade green paper with number denominations and ex-presidents for purchases? And do it legally?

I introduce to you to my experiment, which I will be conducting at CVS over the next month. CVS has an ExtraCare® Rewards program that gives you Extra Bucks on certain purchases that you can use like money towards other CVS purchases. Each week they feature discounts and specials on certain products that, along with gaining ExtraCare® Bucks (ECBs), make these products an excellent deal. I want to take it even further than that. I want to roll my ECBs each week, essentially using them as my form of currency to purchase items the next week that will also gain me more ECBs. For this experiment, I will need some start-up USD for exchange, a good source of coupons (which I still have not secured), my CVS card, and the weekly CVS flyer.

My goal this week is to build a bank of ECBs to spend over the next month instead of money. From my coupon ‘capade of last week I snagged two $1.00-off coupons for All detergent. On my first trip to the store, using the monthly CVS deals and this week’s particular specials I was able to snatch-up one Listerine, one shampoo bottle of Aussie, one Colgate toothpaste, and 64 loads worth of detergent for the start-up cost of $10.24. Still expensive, right? Well, I also walked out with 7.49ECBs currency for future purchases. In essence my seed money was only $2.71, which I gladly handed over because I knew it was a guaranteed investment with a rate of return somewhere around 370% on the first trip alone, something Wall Street has yet to offer.

On my second trip (just four hours later), I felt like a child in an arcade with my CVS currency in hand. But instead of rubber balls, stickers and action figures, I gleefully yelled out for “Listerine! Toothpaste! Toothbrushes!” like a little kid picking out his prizes on the store shelves. Bringing all of my purchases to the front, I get the same clerk, who looks at me quizzically as I march back up to the counter with nearly the same set of products as before. Mental Note: disperse my store visits throughout the city to keep suspicions low. I spend another $4.00 out of pocket, and leave with one Listerine, two Colgate toothpastes, and two Colgate toothbrushes. In return, I am given 11.49ECBs for future purchases.

In less than four hours, two CVS store visits, and with just $14.24 out of pocket, I have managed to snag two Listerines, three Colgate toothpastes, two Colgate toothbrushes, one Aussie shampoo and two All detergents. My exchange rate into CVS dollars has been favorable at a 1USD:1.34ECB. I am hooked.

As for securing more coupons, I put a box near my mailboxes with a sign asking people for unwanted coupons, and will be stopping in at the local recycling center next Monday morning before heading out for another round of CVS.

Current CVS Deals to start your own Drugstore Game (Week of May 3-May 9, 2009):

First, sign up for a CVS Extracare Card, and make sure to include your email address on your application–CVS typically sends out $4 off of $20 purchase coupons through email every few months!

Make sure to scan in this card everytime you make purchases at CVS. Not only will you get your ECB deals of the week, but also you will be given ECBs at the end of each season as a percentage of the money you have spent at the store.

Buy $20 worth of Coke Products, Get $10 ECBs (Limit 1)

Buy 1 Adidas Deodorant at $3.99, Get $3 ECBs (Limit 3)
Use $1/1 coupon from the 4/5 RedPlum insert

Buy 1 Zantrex 3 at $4.99, Get $4.99 ECBs (Limit 1)

Buy 1 Colgate Max Fresh or Max White at $2.99, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $1/1 or $0.75/1 coupon from the 4/26 SmartSource insert

Buy 3 select Kellogg’s Cereals (on sale 3 for $10), Get $5 ECBs
Use 3 $1/1 coupons here

Come back to read my upcoming blogs on how I spent my ECBs, and how you can spend yours.