I got back last night from 10 days in Texas with Companion, which included four trips to CVS. I guess that sounds like a lot of CVS trips, but they are always within a stone’s throw down there (including one down the street from Companions’ parents’ house). Nonethless, companion says he will be happy not to go to CVS again for a while, even though he only went on two of my four CVS jaunts. He likes it when I get free pens for his classroom, but he does not like to deal with coupons, figuring out and following rules (for coupons or other things), or buying things before he needs them.
Our first visit to CVS was with my friend Polo, whom I hadn’t seen in three years, and she thought it was all very entertaining, especially since I was able to get her contact lens solution and Breathe Right strips for nothing. I was also able to get beef jerky for companion and feminine hygiene products for me, and my total was $0.00, including tax. It was awesome.
The reason I didn’t have to pay tax out of pocket is that CVS allows you to use manufacturer’s coupons toward tax. You can’t use CVS coupons or Extra Bucks (their instant rebate/store credit system, also known as EBs) toward tax, though. So the way to get your bill down to $0.00 is to figure out the amount of money you have in manufacturer’s coupons before you go to the register.
Say you have $8.25 in manufacturers’ coupons, a $5 off of $25 purchase coupon from the CVS coupon machine, and $19 in Extra Bucks of various denominations. and you get to the register and your total with tax rings up as $25.07 before tax and $26.62 after tax. You need to do some quick math in your head by subtracting the value of the manufacturers’ coupons from the post-tax total. That gets you $18.37. So you need to pay that $18.37 in CVS coupons and Extra Bucks. In this case, I would use the $5 off of $25 coupon first, then hand over Extra Bucks that total as close to $13.37 as I can get – for example, an $8, $2 and $3 EB for $13, or a $2.50, $6 and $5 for $13.50. At the end, I would give the cashier my manufacturers’ coupons and pay nothing (if I gave him/her $13.50 in EB) or $0.13 (if I have him/her $13 in EB).
This doesn’t always work perfectly, since sometimes your taxes get readjusted after you hand over CVS coupons. But since I started doing this four CVS trips ago, it has always resulted in me paying less cash than the total sales tax owed on the bill. (And don’t worry; the state and county still get their money – it just gets paid by the manufacturers, not by me.)