Readers have asked me to do detailed accounts of how I manage to create my moneymaker scenarios. This is a moneymaker deal I did on 7/3/2010 at CVS

I received an email from for a coupon for $4.00 off a $20.00 purchase (if you have a CVS near you, it is well worth the few minutes it takes to sign up as these type of coupons come on a fairly regular basis):

cvs coupon

As soon as I saw that, I immediately went to work to see if I could get $16.00 worth of things for free (or nearly free) so that I could use the last $4.00 to purchase anything I wanted. Here are the basic steps I took:

1. I looked through the CVS weekly advertising circular to see if there were any potential free food items (I want to use food if possible where I am now because there is no tax on it so I can use more of the $4.00 overage toward things I want instead of toward paying tax). On the front page, an ad for buy one get one free Twix and M&M Pretzels caught my eye:

cvs mm ad

2. I went to the Coupon Database an input M&M's Pretzel. I clicked on the link which told me that a coupon for a buy one get one free M&M's pretzel coupon was in the 6/27 RedPlum Sunday coupon insert (I also input Twix which told me that all coupons for Twix had already expired).

3. I went to my shelf where I keep all my coupon inserts:

coupon inserts

4. I pulled the RedPlum 6/27 coupon insert:

redplum 6-27

5. I flipped through the pages and found the coupon on page four:

mm get one free

6. I cut out the coupons from all of the inserts that I had which happened to be 16 (not all shown)

mm coupons

7. I input other deals I saw to see if available coupons would make them free / nearly free. I found a buy one get one free Stayfree tampons ad:

cvs stayfree ad

8. Using the Coupon database again search for “stayfree” told me that there was a buy one get one free Stayfree coupon good up to $4.49 in the same RedPlum 6/27 Sunday coupon insert.

9. Flipping further through the RedPlum coupon insert I found the Stayfree coupon:

stayfree get one free

10. I cut out the coupons from all of the inserts that I had which happened to be 16 (not all shown):

stayfree coupons

11. I did the same steps with “Betty Crocker Warm Delights” (on sale for $0.88) which told me that the 6/27 Smartsource Sunday coupon insert had a $0.75 off 1 coupon, but when I looked in my, I couldn't find the coupon (meaning it must be regional which is always very disappointing). Instead. I printed off two $0.50 off 1 coupons from

betty croker war delights coupon

Note: While this is how you find deals on your own, luckily there is no need for you to do any of this work for CVS since we already list the weekly CVS best deals here on the blog. You can see this week's CVS deal here (7/4 – 7/10).

12. Once I know I can make the deal work, it's simply a matter of figuring out the best deal. Since I want to avoid sales tax, my best scenario is to use at least 9 buy one get one free M&M's Pretzel coupons which will get me 18 candy packages at $0.89 each which equals $16.02 with no tax due. Then I can use $3.98 on anything else to reach the $20 mark so I can use the $4.00 off $20.00 purchase coupon making the $3.98 in whatever I want free.

13. I head to the store with my best case scenario in hand.

14. Upon arriving the first thing I do is scan my CVS card into the self-help machine to see if I get any good coupons. Luck is on my side. I get a $0.50 Extra Bucks coupon meaning I have $0.50 more to spend for free:

cvs extra bucks bonus

15. I look for the M&M's Pretzels. Unfortunately, luck quickly runs out when I find that they are sold out:

pretzel mm sold-out

16. I go to the service counter and ask for a raincheck (this is important because even though I can't use the Pretzel M&M's to help me reach $16.00 this week, the raincheck will allow me to do it in the future if I can find another $4.00 off $20.00 coupon – the manager said there was a limit of 10 for the raincheck and that is why I didn't get 16 for all the coupons I had):

cvs raincheck

17. With no M&M's to get me to $16.00, I check out the prices of Stayfree products (it seems that the shopping gods have determined that I will have to buy tampons to get free food). There are buy one get one free Stayfree maxi pads for $3.99 each. I grab 4 and put them into my basket for a total of $15.96.

18. I add a Betty Crocker Warm Delights (0.88) to make sure I am well above the $16.00 goal.

19. I am down to my last slice of bread and last egg, so I decide to spend the $4.00 to get whole wheat bread and eggs. Unfortunately, eggs turn out not to be an option:

cvs no dairy

20. I add a package of Penne Rigate pasta to replace the eggs I was planning to get.

21. I head to the cash register.

22. I hand the items to the cashier and tell her specifically not to hit total after scanning everything (this is important in this scenario because if the cashier doesn't hit total, then the total individual full prices of all the items I purchased are all added up on the computer ($22.04) which is above $20 allowing me to use my $4.00 off $20.00 coupon. If the cashier hits total on the machine before taking my coupons, the CVS buy one get one free deals and other specials will register bringing the total below $20.00 ($12.06) and the $4.00 off $20.00 coupon won't work)

23. The cashier scans all the items and my CVS card, but does not hit total on the computer. The total reads $22.04. I hand her the $4.00 off $20.00 purchase which scans in without a problem.

24. I give 2 buy one get one free Stayfree coupons which each take another $3.99 off the total.

25. I hand over the $0.50 off 1 Betty Crocker Warm Delights coupon.

26. The cashier hits total and all the CVS deals from the CVS card get input and the total comes to a negative $0.12, but since there is $0.50 in sales tax (the Stayfree pads aren't food), I owe $0.38:

cvs receipt

27. Since I did not have to use the $0.50 Extra Bucks I received in step 14 (and I am calculating a zero sum game with Extra Bucks for this challenge), I actually come out ahead $0.12 (although I need to spend another $0.50 of my total amount I can spend in the challenge in the future at CVS).

28. For getting paid $0.12, I get 4 packages of Stayfree pads (will be donated to charity), 1 loaf of whole wheat bread, 1 package of pasta and 1 brownie bowl:

day 64 cvs

29. Plus I have a raincheck to get 20 M&M's Pretzels free (with coupons) that I can use to create another money maker scenario.

If there is anything that you didn't follow in this scenario, just leave a comment and I will do my best to explain it in even further detail.

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Goal: 100 days eating on $1 a day
Current Money Spent: $39.89
Money Left to Spend: $60.11 ($5.54 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1194.18


The Beginning ::: Day 64: Cooking Is By far The Biggest Challenge


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