This post is dedicated to Alicia Pappas.

The worst time to start a spending moratorium is when your cupboards are bare, specifically your personal care cupboard. We were out of soap, toothpaste and shampoo, just to name a few. So, I spent $171 at CVS.

My kindred spirit in cost cutting measures, Alicia, recently explained her methods for using CVS ExtraCare Bucks to get toilet paper for free. I am not an expert with Alicia’s system, but you can earn ExtraCare Bucks a variety of ways. There are quarterly returns based on the amount of money you spend. But the easiest way to earn ExtraCare Bucks is by purchasing items that are on promotion for ExtraCare bucks that week. You get about a month to use your bucks before they expire and only one “buck” coupon can be used per transaction.

All of this works only if you have an ExtraCare rewards card/account. To be honest, the families Mc/Johnson have not been big CVS shoppers in the past. Rite Aid was always the closer pharmacy in our neighborhood until a CVS opened right outside the Metro station. But my office is sandwiched between two CVS stores that my coworkers and I enjoy popping into for candy or a new nail polish. At home in Texas, the preferred store is Walgreens. I noticed myself spending more time inside a CVS shopping, especially when visitors were in town. Mum, Dad and I went to the CVS on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park twice when they visited last spring.

I spent Monday, Presidents Day, looking for coupons and setting up a CVS account that uses the FloMo home phone number. Then I set out to shop.

CVS haul

If you click on the photo, I old school Flickr’d it. You can read notes about the items on Flickr.

Missing in that shot:
Josh’s shampoo & conditioner (2/$12; had to go to a second CVS to purchase that)
2 Neutrogena SPF 55 Sunscreens (Still on BOGO; buy one get one half off)
Revlon Highlighting palette in bronze (I’m almost out of my standard bronzer and doesn’t this Revlon look like a Bobbi Brown shimmer brick?)
Jug of CVS brand hand soap
Eucerin lip balm
Josh’s razor blades
Jillian’s disposable razors

Total of all that: $171.80

Number of CVS stores visited: 2

Number of ExtraCare bucks earned:
1 – $4
1 – $8
3 – $10

Number of ExtraCare bucks left to use by the end of March:
1 – $8
1 – $10

This is where I failed in the Alicia Pappas system: she would have used all the ExtraCare Bucks in one shopping trip by making multiple, strategic purchases. I know there are more items we need, like soap which is on sale this week and wasn’t last week. So I was ok with stretching my Bucks out.

It should be noted that everything above would have been purchased at Target previously. I felt like Target has the best prices on household items. I would just walk into Target and buy whatever was the best price on their shelves. But now, I’m avoiding Target. (Not necessarily boycotting, though with the recent security scandal, it would be understandable.) I never looked for coupons in the past, because I like throwing away money, apparently. I know I have thrown away CVS ExtraCare Bucks before. THAT IS LITERALLY THROWING AWAY MONEY!!!

Now, we should be good for the next few months. Except, I am all out of my hair care products that are NOT sold at CVS. BUT, I just found out that you can purchase DevaCurl at Nordstrom, and it’s gift with purchase time! Plus Ebates! Just like using ExtraCare Bucks!

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