As I said before, there's no sense in my replicating the good detail work that others have done talking about getting freebies from CVS.
Here are the top pointers I've got, based on what I've experienced so far:
1) I like to have lots of small ECBs, between $2 and $6, instead of one big one for $20. To do this I do several small check-outs each time. Let's say I'm "buying" three deodorants, three toothbrushes, and three aspirins and they're all going to generate $5 each in ECBs. If I buy all three aspirins together then I'll end up with one ECB worth $15. If I buy all three aspirins and all three deodorants together, I'll end up with two ECBs worth $15 each.
BUT - if I buy one deodorant, one toothbrush, and one aspirin in my first transaction, I'll end up with three ECB coupons each worth $5. See?
2) Relevant to point one - I like to go to the CVS stores that have self-checkout. It's a lot less stressful and embarrassing to do several small check-outs and I can take my time.
3) Relevant to point two - I like to go in the evening when it's a lot less crowded and I don't have to rush around or feel like I'm holding people up.
4) I don't go to the store without a list. It's really easy to get confused without one.
5) They don't often put out the yellow sale tags on the items that are discounted, so it's helpful to pick up the monthly deal brochure (usually up front with the weekly add) and carry it around with you so you can make sure you're buying the exact right thing. The brochure has photos of each item in it.
6) I keep an envelope with my coupons, my Extra Care card, my ECBs from previous transactions, and my shopping list. Simple and easy to keep in my diaper bag in case I walk by a CVS and stop in.
7) Brandy asked about giving out my information online to get coupons. Almost every registration page will ask you to fill in your information, but there's no reason you have to tell them the truth. Usually you just have to fill in SOMETHING and then it lets you through to the page with the coupons.
8) To clarify the "free" point - you WILL have to spend out of pocket the first time you start doing this. But once you've "invested" that money, you'll be able to use the ECBs that you earn on one trip to purchase the items on your next trip, which will generate more ECBs that you'll use to purchase the items on your next trip, and so on.
9) This is NOT a CVS pointer, just a general money-saving thing I do: if there are grocery items that you buy over and over, don't forget to buy coupons on eBay or an online coupon store like The Coupon Clippers. I eat a lot of Campbell's Select Soups, so I make sure to buy a bunch of coupons every month and I usually save at least $.50/can. That absolutely adds up. I do not generally clip coupons from my Sunday paper - I don't think the time I expend is worth it. Buy buying 20 coupons for shelf-stable items that I can stock up on is definitely worth it to me.
Please let me know if you have any other questions, general or specific to the week!