Friday, May 30, 2008

Chief Family Officer's Third Anniversary Celebration

CFO Reviews is only a few months old, but mama blog Chief Family Officer will be turning three next Saturday! The week-long celebration will kick off on Monday with the first giveaway, so don't forget to stop by. Here's a sneak peek at some of the prizes:

Thank you to Kaboost!

Thank you to Johnson & Johnson!

This is just a taste - there will be other fun prizes too! Why not subscribe to CFO via RSS or email so you don't miss anything?

Today's Walgreens Trip

See my update on using the $10 off $30 coupon for today at Chief Family Officer.

I wasn't sure if a trip to Walgreens would be worth it, since I can generally do better at CVS. But I had some time to kill this morning, so I headed over to Walgreen with all of my coupons. There are two things I wish I'd done differently: (1) printed out coupons from the June EasySaver booklet, since the store didn't have those out yet; and (2) tried to use the $10 off $30 coupon on a purchase that was just over $30 before all coupons. I assumed that my purchase had to total $30 after store coupons, but if I could have used store coupons in conjunction with the $10 off $30, I would have had an entirely different transaction and probably would have saved another $5 to $10.

As it was, I'm moderately pleased with the transaction below. My goal was to pay less than the list price for the special anti-dandruff shampoo that my dermatologist instructed me to use. The shampoo was $14.99. I paid $13.49 for the following:

Nizarol shampoo - $14.99
Huggies wipes - $2.50 (used 50-cent manufacturer coupon)
2 Chex mix - 99 cents each (used 1 $1 and 1 50-cent manufacturer coupon)
1 Schick Quattro for women razor - $9.99 (used $3 store coupon and $4 manufacturer coupon)
2 Fiber One bars - $1 each

Total: $31.46
Less coupons: - $10 off coupon & $9 in other coupons
Total paid: $13.49

I had another Huggies wipes in there for a total of $30.96 after store coupons, but my coupon for the wipes wouldn't scan. I had the cashier take the second box of wipes off my purchase, which fortunately didn't make the $10 off coupon reset. Because of that, I think I could have used the $10 coupon without accounting for store coupons, but oh well. I did get the shampoo for less than the shelf price, and all of the other stuff along with it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Drugstore Game: Walgreens Coupon + Tips

Cross-posted at Chief Family Officer.

This printable Walgreens coupon was in my inbox this morning: Get $10 off an in-store purchase of $30 or more on Friday, May 30, only.

Here are a few tips for using the coupon:

  • Combine it with manufacturer and store coupons. You can find printable store coupons in their online weekly ad. (It's the same as the circular in the Sunday newspaper.)
  • Have the $10 off $30 purchase coupon scanned first. The total needs to be over $30 in order for the computer to accept the coupon, so start with this coupon.
  • Make sure you have as many items as you do coupons. In other words, you can't buy 5 items and use 10 coupons. If you have more coupons than items, you can either put some items back or buy some inexpensive "fillers" like gum.
  • Chex Mix is on sale for 99 cents this week. Or at least that's many people are saying. I couldn't find it at the Walgreens nearest me, but it's a smaller Walgreens that doesn't carry everything. There are quite a few Chex Mix coupons out there, so you could get this very inexpensively. In fact, in Sunday's LA Times, there was one sheet of General Mills coupons that included one for $1 off two snacks, including Chex Mix.
If you're heading to Walgreens tomorrow, have fun and good luck! And come back and leave a comment on this post letting me know how you did. I love reading about everyone's successful shopping trips!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Win cash from Everyday Finance

Everyday Finance is giving away a $100 first prize and a $25 second prize via PayPal. If you're a blogger or have something to advertise, you can also enter to win a post all about you or your company or a one-month text link ad. To enter, comment on the contest post and pick of the four options for entering (ranging from subscribing to Everyday Finance's RSS feed to posting about the contest on forums). Good luck!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Win Bob the Builder: The Three Musketrucks from Seven Dogs & a Baby

Seven Dogs & a Baby is giving away four copies of a Bob the Builder DVD, The Three Musketrucks. To enter, just head over to their site and leave a comment with your favorite current HIT Entertainment release. Good luck!

Friday, May 23, 2008

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a Wii!

5 Minutes for Mom is hosting the Nestlé "The Kid in You" Photo Contest. The grand prize is a Nintendo Wii, which is very cool. But the second place is equally cool (at least in my book): a piñata filled with Nestlé goodies.

You have until June 2 to enter. And your chances of winning a Wii just got better since I won't be entering this contest ;)

Curiosity: How many giveaway prizes aren't received by the winner?

The blogosphere makes it so easy to enter giveaways that I've entered quite a few, and I've actually won a few times. It's really rather shocking, given that I'm the person who only wins a door prize if everyone is getting one.

But I've won two giveaways now where I never received my prize, and emails to the host site have been ignored. No, I won't name names, even though I am tempted! It's made me wonder, though, how often this happens.

In both cases, I responded as required. If I'd done something incorrectly and my prize was forfeited, I can accept that. It's the dead silence in response to my inquiring email that makes me, let's be frank, suspicious that these sites are not holding giveaways on the up and up.

So I'm curious:

Have you won a giveaway and not received your prize? Do you think there are sites out there holding giveaways without real prizes?

Monday, May 19, 2008

About Align (a new probiotic supplement) + a free sample

This giveaway has ended.

Align is a new probiotic daily dietary supplement that may relieve common digestive upsets such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, urgency, gas, and bloating. Align is recommended only for people who have mild to moderate digestion issues. If you don't have any symptoms, Align probably won't do much for you. Watch this video for more information or visit their web site.

If you're interested in a free three-week sample, all you have to do is be the first person to send me an email at cfoblog [at] gmail [dot] com with your name and address. I'll pass that information along to their public relations firm, which will send your sample directly to you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Free vitamin samples from Nature Made

Lisa at Nature Made wanted me to let you know that you can get a free 14-day vitamin sample of any of the six new soft gel vitamins. Just visit Nature Made and choose your sample!

Thanks, Lisa!

Monday, May 12, 2008

How to find the best deals in The Drugstore Game

As I mentioned a couple of months ago in my original post about The Drugstore Game, I've known for years now that drugstores like Walgreens and Rite-Aid offer free items. (CVS is relatively new in my area, so I didn't know anything about it until much more recently.)

It was probably toward the end of 2007 that I discovered the forums at Slickdeals and FatWallet frequently list the free items and suggest coupons to use. At about the same time, I discovered that there are blogs that do the same thing, but in much more detail. Since then, I've developed a pretty good list of resources and a system that works for me to help me find the best deals and know what I'm shopping for before I head out to the stores. I thought it would be nice to share that information with you, so here goes:

If you look at only one web site for drugstore deals, it should be MoneySavingMom. The information is comprehensive and sufficient to get you started and keep you going. There is also a robust community of commenters who share additional information about the latest deals.

But there are many more sites that will help you find the best deals. Here are the ones I read, in alphabetical order:

These sites will not only report the best deals, but they pair the deals up with coupons and link to printable coupons if any are out there. They are repetitive to some degree, but since I read them in Google Reader, it's easy to skim and skip. And the scenarios that each site provides are usually different, which means I can skim them to find the ones that work for me. (By which I mean deals that contain items I want and that I have coupons for.)

If you're just starting out, be prepared to make a few mistakes. The calculations can get really tricky, and it takes some time to get the hang of it. In fact, I've been shopping at CVS for two months now and I still don't completely get it. But I'm getting better and I've saved money in the process. I hope this post helps you do the same.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More drugstore success - this time at Walgreens!

I did five total transactions at Walgreens this week, in two trips. They had an amazing P&G Register Rewards deal going on - if you bought a certain number of qualifying products, you got a corresponding amount in Register Rewards. I went for the big one: buy 9 products and get 2 $10 rewards. But the first Walgreens I went to didn't have 9 qualifying products that I wanted to buy, so I ended up buying 5 and getting $10. That first purchase went like this:

I bought:

  • five tubes Crest ProHealth toothpaste
  • two 20 ft. boxes of aluminum foil
  • and one small bottle of Dawn
With coupons, my total was $6.76 and I got $10 in Register Rewards. A few days later, I headed to a different Walgreens, and did four separate transactions. The first one went like this:
  • one Venus Embrace razor
  • one package of 3-oz. paper cups
I used a $4 coupon for the razor and the $10 Register Rewards, paid $1.48 out of pocket, and got $6 in Register Rewards (from buying the razor). Then I did the P&G deal again so I could roll the razor Register Rewards (note: you can't use Register Rewards on the same deal, i.e., I couldn't have bought more P&G products, used the $10 RR and received more RRs). So here's how the second transaction went:
  • five tubes Crest ProHealth toothpaste
  • three bottles Cascade dishwashing detergent
  • one box of 2 Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
After coupons and the $6 Register Rewards, my total out of pocket was $6.36. I also got two $10 Register Rewards. If I'd been thinking straight, I would have bought only four tubes of toothpaste and gotten one $10 Register Rewards, although with coupons, I think the toothpaste was only 50 cents per tube. I used one of the $10 Register Rewards coupon for the following, my third transaction:
  • one Oral B toothbrush
  • one tube of Blistex
  • another package of 3-oz. paper cups
I used a $1 coupon for the toothbrush and the $10 RR and paid 98 cents out of pocket. (The toothbrush is one of May's free after rebate items, so I'll get $4.99 plus 10% back on my Walgreens giftcard.) I then took the last $10 Register Rewards and bought:
  • four cans of Spaghetti O's
  • three cans of Campbells condensed soup
  • one can of tomato paste
  • and one box of cereal
I donated all of the food to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Thanks to Mercedes at Common Sense with Money for the idea of using a RR to buy food to donate.

This is definitely the most success I've ever had at Walgreens. I spent a total of $16.54 and ended up with way more toothpaste than we will use in a year (I'll give some away), plenty of dishwashing detergent, food to give away, and more. And that doesn't even take the toothbrush rebate into account. The funny thing is, this is all it takes to make me feel rich! :)

Friday, May 09, 2008

A CVS triumph!

So now that I've been playing The Drugstore Game for two months, I've finally come to understand that the real pros make it work by combining things they need with things they don't need that give them ECBs. I still don't get how they do all the calculations so that they're only spending a couple of bucks each week, but I am apparently getting better at it.

I felt so triumphant when I left CVS today. I walked out with a package of Bounty Basic paper towels, which were on sale for $4.99 for 8 rolls, a Venus Embrace razor, and a tube of Aquafresh toothpaste, which was free after ECBs. I used a $3 off $15 purchase coupon, a 25-cent coupon for the paper towels, a $4 coupon for the razor, and a $1.50 coupon for the toothpaste. I also forked over $7.98 in ECBs and paid $1.81 out of pocket. I got $5 in ECBs for the razor and $2.99 in ECBs for the toothpaste. So for once, I got things I actually needed, paid only $1.81 out of pocket, and still have the same amount of ECBs as when I started.

I walked out of CVS a little stunned and more than a little pleased that I had actually managed to play the game at the highest level, so to speak. (Well, the second highest level, anyway. A true expert wouldn't have spent more than a dollar.)

I only wish this transaction had been accompanied by a magical epiphany enabling me to calculate all deals in a similar fashion from now on. Alas, the deepest secrets of playing the Drugstore Game at CVS still elude me ...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Free Iced Coffee Day at Dunkin' Donuts - May 15

Next Thursday is Free Iced Coffee Day at Dunkin' Donuts. Unfortunately, there isn't a single Dunkin' Donuts location near my home or office. Believe me, I checked their store locator to be sure. Bummer!

But, for those of you who are lucky enough to be able to swing by a Dunkin' Donuts, you should know that you can pop in between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on May 15 and choose between the regular or Berry Berry flavors. Be prepared for a line, though - they're expecting to give away more than four million iced coffees! For more information, visit

Finally, here's some Free Iced Coffee Day trivia:

  • Dunkin' Donuts will use more than 88 million ice cubes on Free Iced Coffee Day, and will pour approximately 31,250 gallons of cream.
  • You could fill seven Olympic-size swimming pools with the amount of coffee that will be used on Free Iced Coffee Day.
  • If you lined up each cup of iced coffee served on Free Iced Coffee Day lid-to-lid, the line would stretch for more than 236 miles.
  • If you stacked up each cup of iced coffee served on Free Iced Coffee Day, it would reach nearly 300 miles into the sky, the vantage point of a typical space shuttle orbit.
  • Dunkin' Donuts is partnering with the nonprofit National Police Athletic League, which supports underprivileged youth. Dunkin' Donuts will donate $80,000, broken up in increments of $5,000 over 16 individual markets, to help fund National PAL's Youth Leadership Program.
Cross-posted at CFO.

Monday, May 05, 2008

GoodyBlog Mother's Day Blog Party

Parents is one of my two favorite magazines and I love GoodyBlog, which is written by editors of the magazine. (For the record, Cooking Light is my other fave.) One of the reasons I love GoodyBlog is their awesome giveaways, even though I've never won (hopefully that's about to change!).

In their own words, "Mother's Day is like the GoodyBlog equivalent of the Superbowl!" And they've got awesome giveaways to prove it. So head over to GoodyBlog's Mother's Day Blog Party, and enter to win prizes like a pink laptop and a $500 shopping spree - not to mention a chance to win $500 for your favorite charity! What are you waiting for?

CVS: Why roll over ECBs?

Last week, I shared my shopping trips to CVS and Walgreens, which prompted Dayna to ask some very good questions:

What does "rolling over ECBs" mean, exactly? Is it using ECBs to buy other items that generate ECBs? And is this done because the ECBs expire and you want to keep them going, as it were?
I thought the question deserved its own answer, so here we go:

"ECBs" stands for "ExtraCare Bucks" and is a coupon that CVS prints out at the end of a receipt if you've made a qualifying purchase. For example, this past week, I bought 2 Aquafresh toothpastes for $2.99 each. They were free after ECBs, meaning that at the end of my receipt, there was a CVS coupon for $5.98 that I can use on a future CVS purchase.

As I understand (and use the terminology), rolling over ECBs means that you use ECBs to buy items that generate more ECBs, such that you never run out of them. ECBs do have an expiration date, but they are valid for a month (I think - I've never had the problem of expiring ECBs). So rolling them over to avoid losing them to expiration is not really a concern.

The real purpose of rolling over ECBs is to minimize out of pocket expenses. The real pros, like Money Saving Mom, have built up a substantial stash of ECBs and plan out their purchases so that they pay only $1 or $2 out of pocket and leave the store with at least as many ECBs as they came in with.

The trick is to find a balance between buying what you need, and buying what you don't need simply because they are money-makers after ECBs. For example, I used $2.50 in coupons when I bought the Aquafresh toothpaste I mentioned earlier. But I got $5.98 in ECBs. If I had paid in ECBs (and not bought anything else), I would have spent $3.48 in ECBs and gotten $5.98 in ECBs back - a profit of $2.50 in ECBs, which is simply more money I can spend on my next purchase.

Of course, everyone needs toothpaste, so that deal was a no-brainer. I've had much more trouble wrapping my mind around the idea of buying things I don't need. But two weeks ago, I bought a box of Alavert allergy medication simply because it yielded a $1 profit in ECBs (after coupon). I had no need for the medication, but my brother-in-law did, so I happily passed it on.

As I get more experienced at The Drugstore Game, it's easier to understand how the deals work and how to maximize the ECBs. In this regard, I think it also helps greatly to keep a price book, because you'll recognize a good sale at CVS even if it doesn't generate ECBs. You can then maximize your ECBs by buying something you need at a good price, and then round out your purchase with ECB-generating items.

Stay tuned: Next week, I'll share with you the ways in which I stay on top of the CVS deals and learn from the pros.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

CentsAble Shopper Show & Tell: A CVS trip that didn't work out right

The bad news is that my planned CVS trip was foiled by the computer's refusal to accept some of my coupons, and my own foolish choice to head for self-checkout because the regular checkout line was rather long (the cashier probably could have entered some of the coupons manually).

The good news is that even with the coupon problems, I paid about the same that I would have paid at Target for the same items, and I got a couple extra things to boot.

So here's what I bought:

  • 3 CVS brand sanitary pads (on sale for buy two get one free - the ultra thin is my favorite pad)
  • one box of CVS brand tissue (so I could use a $3 off $10 CVS purchase)
  • one CVS brand hand sanitizer spray pen (grabbed at checkout when I realized I was a little short of a $10 CVS purchase)
  • two Aquafresh toothpaste (these are free after ECBs this month with a limit of three; I bought two since I had $1.50 and $1 coupons - I'm hoping another coupon will come out sometime this month that I can use to pick up the last tube)
  • two bottles of All HE detergent (on sale for buy one get one free, and I used a $1 off coupon)
  • one Just for Men (I have no use for this, but it's free after ECBs, and there's a mail-in rebate (pdf))
My undiscounted total was over $40, but for some reason, the computer wouldn't accept my $5 off $30 purchase coupon, which still irks me. However, it did accept my $3 off $15 coupon. The computer accepted my $4 ECB but not my $11.97 ECB - the manager said that I had reached the coupon limit. So instead of paying about $4, I ended up having to shell out $17.44 - which is about the same as what I would have paid at Target, and maybe even a little bit less (for only the stuff I would have bought anyway; at Target, I wouldn't have bought the tissue, hand sanitizer or Just for Men). So I'm not overly upset, since I still have the $11.97 ECB, plus $7.99 and $5.98 ECBs from the above transaction.

I did ask the manager to explain how the coupon limit works - only to be told that it varies according to each purchase. I'm inferring that there's some unspecified algorithm in the computer that takes into account the total amount of the purchase, the total amount of coupons, the total number of coupons, and maybe additional factors.

Head over to BeCentsAble and check out the deals everyone else got this week!

Dayna asked a great question on my post about last week's drugstore deals: Why roll over the ECBs? I'll be answering that question on Monday!