CVSing: Don't Take It Too Seriously!

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I still remember my first time. My palms were sweating, my heart was pounding, and my knees trembled. I waited for just the right moment to approach the counter. Attempting a triple transaction was ambitious for a newbie.

I carefully handed the cashier each coupon, trying my hardest not to fumble. She told me my total, and I double checked the screen to be sure. I handed over my precious Extra Care Bucks with shaking hands. The line of people behind me was growing.

Finally, it was over. I walked out of the store clutching 3 bags of stuff, and shaking my head in disbelief. I half-expected the manager to stop me and say that I had not paid enough for my merchandise. Looking over my shoulder, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I sat in my car and carefully studied my receipts. At one point I think I laughed out loud, I was so giddy over such a great deal. The rush was contagious. I even called my Mother with excitement, to share the CVS love. As I looked at my remaining ECBs, I knew I was hooked.

I had to go back. And I did. Several times a week. My confidence grew, and my savings were astounding. I no longer feared the wrath of management. It was okay, I was not stealing, I was using coupons.

But then a new symptom emerged. Greed. I tried each visit to beat my lowest OOP. How low could it go? One time, my total was 2 cents. Two cents! Another time, zero. Obviously, I had reached my personal best that could no longer be beat.

Over the next few weeks, I realized something astounding. If my total was higher than usual, or if I forgot to hand over a coupon, I became terribly upset with myself. My blood pressure would rise, and my heart would pound, but this time it was not my nerves. It was the game. Like the stock market, in a way. Spending just a dollar more than I anticipated would make me cringe.

I finally admitted it: I was taking the whole thing way too seriously. So I did what any self-respecting CVS addict should do… I took a break.

I took some time off from CVSing and did not regret it one bit. It gave me a chance to reflect on the thousands of dollars I had saved and my generous stockpile of toiletries and makeup. And I was truly thankful. My perspective changed entirely.

I recently returned to my CVSing ways. But I no longer hunt down every deal. I do not sweat every penny. The savings are still plentiful. And you know, I really enjoy it now! Instead of grumbling over out-of-stock items, I take extra time to chat with my favorite cashiers. I even helped a fellow couponer the other day with her strategy.

I may even spend up to $5 a week at CVS, and that’s ok! This wonderful ExtraCare Program may not last forever, so for now, I will enjoy it. I appreciate every single deal, big or small. But most of all, I don’t take it too seriously. There will always be more toothpaste!

This post was originally published as a guest post on Coupon Cravings.


  1. BusyMom says

    Been there done that.

    I tracked my savings for the first $100 I spent and it was astounding…something like 98% saved. Now, I have a stockpile and don’t feel a need to go to CVS, unless there is something I need on a deal or I have ECBs expiring. It is weird though to be bummed because something cost a few bucks.

  2. thehorizontalyoyo says

    I got a bit manic when I first started the whole coupon/saving thing, too (although mine was at Walgreens). I’ve since cut back and realized, like you, there will always be more savings/deals.

    Anything that causes that much stress and worry might be considered to some as borderline sin…and that’s definitely not what we want!

  3. Amy says

    Great post- and yes, I’ve been there/ done that, too. A coworker was talking about her husband wanting to stock up on a crazy amount of pickles and how she had to tell him that pickles WILL go on sale again in the future.. and a lightbulb went off in my head. Yes, these are great deals, but there will be deals next week, next month, and next year, too! :)

  4. The Park family says

    I HAD to giggle while reading this! Saving strategies can become an addiction just like any other. I have neglected learning how to do the CVS & Walgreens stuff for that very reason. I want to learn but the description on your 'first time' would SOOOOO BE ME! Hopefully some day I will get up the courgage to jump on the bandwagon and PRAY too that is doesn't become an addiction! :o) Thank you for being 'real'!

  5. naturegirl says

    Since I’ve been laid off from my job, I’ve discovered the world of couponing, which fit right into my new frugal-bare minimum-live below your means lifestyle. I’m single and trying to live on unemployment, plus pay a mortgage. I’ve become so addicted to couponing since reading all the great “mommy blogs” out there. I can relate to your excited feeling of checking out with your coupons. I used to feel that same perspiring excitement when I was gambling at the casino. Couponing is a lot like that. I can get the same feeling when reaping a great bargain at the grocery store. I have no desire to visit a casino any longer. I just love practicing my new hobby – couponing!

  6. SaraBeAn says

    I am currently in a CVS / Walgreens sabatical. I may start up again in a few months, but I found I was buying things just to buy them. Yes I could (and did) donate them…but it had become an addiction.

    I still coupon and save (a lot) when I am grocery shopping, but it isn’t to the extreme that I had taken my CVS / Walgreens.

    I have flipped through the CVS ad in my paper and thought about it, but decided there wasn’t anything I needed or couldnt live without, so I put it down.

  7. Anonymous says

    Ahhhh alyssa!! i have been there and sometimes i even revisit. I have never really taken too much of a break over the last 2 years. but I have meditated on what i am doing and why and regained healthy perspective on it. it is easy to get caught up. this week i am having a walgreens mania going on. and next week i know i will be in a panic over all the RR i have on hand that NOW WHAT DO I DO?!! sigh.

    and yes, how well i remember my first time. except for me the very first time i had a horrible cashier who said nasty things to me. but i stuck it out! LOL i WAS literally shaking at the knees when i LEFT!! LOL it was crazy!


  8. Tanyetta says

    I got hooked real quick fast and in a hurry when CVS first came out with the mega deals on the energizer batteries (free tote bag offer), the lotion and the wipes. I WENT CRAZY!!!

    After that, I needed a break, it became so addicting that my 4 year would ask if we were going to cvs today! haha ;)

  9. GRTL Youth Impact Committee says

    Wow, these comments are great to read. I think it’s hilarious how we all have that desire to be so conscious of what we spend, that we almost punish ourselves if we don’t do it right. It’s like we’ve become the overachievers of couponing. Atleast for me anyway. I just started couponing this past year when I got married and the reality of how much everything really costs came to play. I got to the point where I was saving so much with coupons that I felt bad if I accidently left a coupon at home.

    However, I am learning the balance also. Praise God for his grace and joy that we can learn to enjoy life and give ourselves grace along the way.

    I have given myself a few CVS breaks already, and am learning to not just buy something because it has an amazing ECB. However, I must say I love my CVS time it is sort of a destresser now. Thanks Alyssa for the great post and this blog you are such a blessing. I am also grateful for the CVS rewards because I have been able to bless others with what I buy. Each time I think, wow there are so many ways we can be a blessing to people and show Christ love even if you don’t have a lot of extra money at the end of the month.


  10. Coupon Artist says

    I had the same experience- I would feel terrible if I missed a deal. Once, I even went out in the middle of a blizzard because I didn’t want to miss the Free After ECB items (my DBF at the time drove me and we got the car stuck in a snow bank and he had to shovel it out- needless to say, he wasn’t too happy with that one!) I still feel a residual sense of guilt if I miss out on a deal entirely, but I’m trying to be better about it and remind myself another deal will come along.

  11. Jackie says


    Thanks for sharing this! I LOVE the deals at CVS. With a family of 7, I love getting the everyday things we use, like toothpaste, and use up quickly, for pennies or free. When I first starting CVSing, I was obsessed with getting every single deal. I, too, would get upset over wasted coupons or missed deals. I took a break; wasn’t even that long. Just long enough to realize the same deals will come up again, more than likely before I run out of my stock pile. Thanks for reminding us to step back and enjoy the bargain shopping!


  12. Melissa O. says

    Lol, that is totally funny. I have been like that before. I left a coupon in my printer that would have saved me $1 and I was so darn upset! I had to give myself a reality check. haha

  13. Ashley says

    Oh my goodness, that sounds just like I used to be. I have gotten mad at myself on more than one occasion when I didn’t do the deal just right. (Actually the trip I just got back from just came to mind. I didn’t give the cashier the q in the ad for the campbell’s soup.) I even wrote a bit about it on my blog. Thanks for sharing Alyssa!!

  14. Anonymous says

    well is true but when you do not have the money for groceries is also an ugly feeling i been sale the things at the real cost or sale price i make some money to pay the electricity and also the water my husband loves mi deals and he help me sale it

  15. davinadelong2 says

    I am new at learning all the ins and outs of CVSing and other store programs. But in the few last months that I have been working at it, I too feel that I have out done it somewhat. Especially, when my husband asks me if I am going to open my own store !!! Uuhh Oohh!!! But how do you turn your back on free items??? Maybe we need to have a support group for us to sign-up for??? HE HE !!!!!

  16. Sandra Dee says

    I’m so glad someone wrote a post like this. I really enjoyed reading your post about the first time you did three transactions. I am a CVS newbie (I used to spend SO much money there making small, convenience trips). I have yet to do more than one transaction because I am too nervous. I also get worried that my coupons won’t work or that the cashier will give me trouble. Your post is very encouraging. Thank you!

  17. Armywife2005 says

    I am an admitted “deal” addict. I started the Walgreen’s shopping this past January. I am still stock-piling. Now I am teaching my can be very addicting, for sure! It’s a rush to get the VERY best deal possible. I also get very upset if I make a mistake; so much so that I have returned EVERYTHING b/c I got so upset. Even had panic attacks! It’s, maybe, out of control at this point? Whatcha think….

  18. Misty says

    I love this! I did the same thing, I was super into CVS’ing the beginning of this year, and now I haven’t gone in about a month. I feels good, and I still haven’t depleted my stock pile (except for toilet paper!) :)

    I really enjoy your blog, so much that I put it in a meme on my blog for my readers to come find you. I know you’re super busy, so you probably won’t participate, but here’s the link to my post in case you want to ;)

  19. Anonymous says

    I enjoyed reading your story. We have all been there and some even continue to go get that extra revolving deal from CVS or Walgreens. However, there is always a point where you need to enjoy the family and life infront of you versus trying to get a total under $5. Great post.

  20. Keri Lyn @ She Saved says

    I LOVE this (even linked to it tonight) … how perfectly you summed up the cycle of a couponer! The peace of mind that comes from saving WITHOUT loosing your sanity is priceless ;)…I am finally there!
    Thanks & Blessings!! KL

  21. Anonymous says

    I’m so glad you used the word Greed. The last couple of times I was there I had to ask myself, “Do I really need more body wash?” Your right it seems that the more deals I got the more deals I expected.

  22. esther says

    thanks for sharing…i do take cvs too seriously…just this morning…i realized I have a cvs ensure $2 off coupon…but the thing is I just bought ensure last night without realizing the coupon…thought that I could have used that $2 saving to buy something else instead…I even often dream about calculating the cost and ECBs too…scary

  23. Virginia says

    Great post and thank you for the timely wise words. I realized earlier this week that blessings become curses when we focus more on the blessing and less on the One giving the blessing!

  24. Candi says

    Yes, you are right, greed can become the next problem in the coupon game. I have recently done the same thing you wrote about. My husband said,”How many tubes of toothpaste do we need???!!” Then I realized, hey, you don’t have to buy it…but I still cringe when the coupon expires so maybe I need to take a break, but not until after I spend the ECBs from last week :) Ahhh, it’s a never ending cycle sometimes.

  25. RoxyRocks says

    I’m taking a break from Walgreens(I’m almost happy on some level we dont have a CVS here in Colorado) after I had a mini mental breakdown when I didnt get a RR print out for some shaving cream b/c I used a coupon or something like that(I’m still sort of confused!) Well I started to argue with the cashier(who had always been super nice to me and all my q’s) and demanded to talk to a manager and then almosted started to cry I was so mad at myself for messing up the transaction in my car

    Great Post :)

  26. Amy @ Amy Loves It! says

    Great post, Alyssa. I remember reading it on Coupon Cravings.

    This is a great reminder on how we can take lots of our frugal ways too seriously. I am always in need of a good reminder that my focus should ultimately be on the King and not the stuff.

  27. Anonymous says

    This is hirious and describes me to a "T"! I beat myself up so much over a couple of dollars. And I started at one point to feel that GREED coming on to…I gotta have 20! No, 30! No, ALL OF THEM!

    That mindsight it exhausting & sooo not right. Now I limit myself and I don't spend a dime (no matter what it is) if I don't need it or won't be able to gift/give it away.

    I'm a work in a progress…but I'm getting there!

  28. Anonymous says

    I understand the CVSing, mostly, but not Walgreens. Do they have some type of point system or ECBs?

  29. darcie says

    oh. my. WORD. I could have written this post myself! I will never forgive myself for the day I forgot to hand over my colgate coupons – even though they were FREE after EB anyway – I still cringe just thinking about that! What a great post!

  30. Anonymous says

    I love this post! I think you really touched on something there. I was doing the “couponing” so much, that I have not shopped for over a month (except perishables… milk, eggs, etc). I STILL have a freezer filled with food and an empty freezer in the garage. I am so thankful that I overcame that need to hit EVERY DEAL. Now I am seeing true savings (money, time and stress).

  31. CJ says

    Last week I was bummed I “only” got 3 free Nivea body washes at Walgreens before they sold out. This week I’ve forgotten about Nivea and am interested in other freebies. That’s how it goes, there’s usually something good the next week too so no sense obsessing on one thing. I don’t like to drive in the rain, but twice now I’ve driven in the rain to Kmart for double coupon day! Couldn’t pass it up, got great deals and I gained some confidence driving in rain. So couponing can be a positive thing!

  32. says

    oh it was time for me to read this post!! my hubby just told me this during dinner “you do not have to get every sale just because just OOP is less that $1″ and he is right. This is a wonderful post! thank you for sharing

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