Things to buy at CVS instead of the grocery store!

Posted on: 29 May 2020

We at Fig believe in financial empowerment, and that includes tricks to help you buy things at the best price. Through my years of frugal living, I’ve discovered secrets that let you get certain things from CVS at Costco-level prices! I’m going to show you how to abuse these tricks so that you can save the most time and money!

The guide to Costco-level prices at CVS:

It’s all about knowing the sweet spot prices for your favorite things and taking advantage of CVS instant coupons you can digitally add to your CVS card. These tricks can be used at any convenient store, but I’m going to focus on CVS because that’s where I’ve found the best savings.

As a grocery shopper, there are a few general rules of thumb that I follow when it comes to getting the best price on my items. I assume that prices are generally the lowest at membership wholesalers like Costco, BJs and Sam’s Club. If I can’t get to a wholesaler or I’m too proud lazy to use my in-law’s membership, I pick stores known for value, like Wal-Mart and grocery stores like H-E-B, Kroger, Publix, Ralphs etc. As a last choice or when I’m in a time crunch, I’ll go to convenience stores like CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens. I know I’m not getting the best price but I don’t have time to go somewhere else.

But, armed with this guide, I’m going to recreate my own little Costco within CVS.

Buying cereal at the magical $1.99 per box (and when it’s 2 for $5)

I’ve been to CVS over 1,000 times and only twice has there been no cereal on sale. Based on my experience, CVS has rotating weekly sales on cereal. This week might be General Mills (e.g., Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and next week it could Kellogs (e.g., Rice Krispies or Special K). Every time I go to CVS I always check to see if my favorite cereals are on sale. Let’s do some quick math with my favorite cereal: Special K Red Berries!

We’re going to compare these using the price per ounce because that’s how we can compare boxes of unequal sizes to see how much cereal we’re really getting per dollar! At Costco, you can get a 43 oz box of Special K Red Berries for $10.49. This comes out to about 24 cents per ounce.

When Special K is on sale at CVS, it gets as low as $1.99 for an 11.2 oz box. That’s only 18 cents per ounce! Normally at CVS, Special K is $5.29 so this sale is almost 40% off the normal price! To compare it another way, if we want the same amount of cereal as a 43 oz Costco box, we would buy 4 CVS boxes for a total of $8.00, compared to $10.49 at Costco!

No matter how you spin out, when cereal is on sale, you can get up to 25% off the Costco price. No coupons needed! Keep in mind this works with just about any cereal box when it’s priced at $1.99. Sometimes CVS will do a 2 for $5 deal on cereal, this brings the price of cereal to 22 cents per ounce, still a 10% discount off of Costco. You can feel good buying at $2.50 a box every day of the week as well!

The mighty 30% off coupon… that comes once a week!

Every week, CVS emails me a 30% off coupon for any 1 item that is not on sale. All you have to do is sign up for emails as a CVS member and you can get these coupons as well. As soon as you get them, you will want to send this directly to your CVS card (push the button in the email). This way they can be applied at checkout! Good store cashiers will ask you if you want to apply your coupon, but sometimes you have to remind them that you have one to use.

So how does this coupon work? It gives you 30% (or 40% once in a while) off of any full-priced, single item at CVS. So this cannot be used on sale items or your entire purchase, it’s just 1 single item. I’ve found the best place to use this is on higher ticket items like face wash, lotion, or even toilet paper.

For this example we’ll use the Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, coming in at $13.49 for 16 ounces. Compared to the Costco 44 ounces for $22. At the surface, you’re paying $0.84 per ounce at CVS vs. $0.45 per ounce at Costco… but who needs 44 ounces of face wash? That’s over a quart of face wash!

Once we apply our 30% coupon to CVS, we’re now at more respectable $0.59 per ounce. This is much closer but still potentially worth going to Costco. However, at 40% coupon, we’re now at $0.50 per ounce! Still a little off Costco, but we’re talking about a savings of $5 off of the CVS retail price and only 80 cents cheaper if you could buy this bottle at Costco prices. To finish the comparison, let’s add the same bottle for sale at H-E-B for $9.81 for the same 16oz bottle. That comes out to $0.61 per ounce… sound familiar? Right around the same price we would get with our 30% off coupon, but we’re still doing a little better at CVS!

The magic behind this coupon is that it can be used for ANYTHING that is full price. Also, the bigger the dollar value of the item the more you can save. Sometimes the coupons are capped at $10, but that still means you can get $10 off a $30 item! Just a week ago, I used my 40% off coupon to save $6 on $15 of toilet paper at my local CVS. I’m willing to pick up change if i see it on the ground, and with even less effort, I saved $6 using my 40% off coupon. Imagine finding $6 on the ground every week, jackpot!

The all powerful ExtraBucks Dollar!

This is the golden ticket of CVS!!!! You get these based on how much you spend, regardless if what you buy is on sale or not. This is extra special because when you use it, it’s applied after your coupons and can be used on sale items as well. For our cereal example, if I buy 1 box of Special K for $1.99, this coupon makes that box of cereal $1! A dollar for a box of brand name cereal is a steal everyday.

How do you get ExtraBucks? Buy stuff at CVS and always enter your ExtraCare phone number / scan your tag. Every so often they print out on your comically long CVS receipt, so keep an eye out for them! If you have them, they are always the first thing right after the receipt and before all the other random coupons. The amount of dollars you get is based on your last season’s total spend, so if you’re regularly nabbing great deals on cereal + using your 40% off coupons, you can look forward to stacking your savings next season! It’s a virtuous cycle of saving money!

Have a secret that helps you save and get the best prices? Let us know and we’ll send you a $50 gift card if we publish it for our blog! Did you score some sweet savings at CVS using this post? Do you want us to cover another store that you go to regularly? Let us know here:, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

(Bonus!) What should I do with Buy one get one and Buy one get one 50% off??

Generally speaking, buy one get one free deals at CVS are worth it. These will on average be at or below supermarket prices! However, buy one get one 50% off are not as clearcut. The buy one get one 50% off is effectively the same as a 25% off coupon for both items. If you need 2, this is ok but not as good as your 30% off coupon. If you don’t want two, I would recommend waiting for your 30% coupon or getting it at the grocery store instead!

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