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Start a year of saving with loyalty rewards

Now is the time to start saving.

Start 2016 by making an effort, even a small one, toward saving on groceries, personal care goods and much more. How? I’d start by using your local stores loyalty programs plus coupons. Saving at least five dollars a week is a great start. When you get comfortable with that, work your way up to saving even more. It is a thrill to leave a store with a deal.

Spend the time to get yourself organized right now. I recommend you write down your deals and separate the coupons that match those deals. Remember to take your coupons with you to the store, or the deals won’t happen.

Check out the following stores loyalty programs along with additional ways to save at each store.

CVS

CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, with approximately 6,200 stores across 38 states. The initials once stood for Consumer Value Stores, but CEO Tom Ryan has said he now considers it to stand for “Convenience, Value and Service.”

I think CVS’s ExtraCareBucks is the most consumer-friendly reward program. Here’s how it works: Request a card online or ask for one at the store. If you request one online, it will take several days to arrive. Some stores have cards available to take. In order to put your information on the card you will need to sign up online with the card number. Make sure you register your card and request to receive emails for additional coupons.

Use your ExtraCare Card every time you go to CVS. You will earn 2 percent back with every in-store and online purchase at CVS/pharmacy and earn 1 Extra Buck for every two prescriptions bought in-store or online. Every three months, your Extra Bucks will print on your store register receipt, or you can visit CVS online to print your Extra Bucks. Also, scanning your card at the store will prompt the cash register to print out coupons.

Sample savings this week: Buy three Aveeno moisturizing bars (3.5 ounces) at $3.79 each. You’ll pay $11.37 and get back $10 in ExtraCareBucks for buying three.

Rite Aid

Plenti is a reward program that allows members to earn and use points for savings at participating companies. It’s not an exclusive Rite Aid program — it was started by American Express — but Rite Aid is a partner.

How does the Plenti program work? Use your Plenti rewards card (the key tag or your phone number, or the unique barcode from the mobile app that is linked to your Plenti card) at qualifying Partners and earn points. You can activate the offers at Plenti.com or on the mobile app to earn more points.

Who are the Plenti Partners? You can see a list of parners at Plenti.com/partners. You can earn points and use points at Rite Aid, AT&T, Exxon Mobile, Macy’s, Nationwide, American Express and Direct Energy, to name a few, and at car rental companies including Enterprise, National and Alamo.

Savings sample this week: Buy two Nexxus Therappe Shampoos, 5.1 ounces for $6.99. Buy one and get one 50 percent off. You’ll pay $10.49 and receive 1,000 ($10) Plenti Points when you buy two (limit two).

Target

Target has a few ways for you to save money.

Go to Target.com to sign up for text messages from Target that will give you mobile coupons on your phone. You also want to check out any Target store coupons at Target.com that can print. Then, add Target’s Cartwheel app to your smartphone. This app will allow you to search for specific items. Click on the offer image and then select the add button. Give your phone to the cashier to scan the bar code to give you savings on all the offers that you loaded with your Cartwheel app.

And the best part is you can use one manufacturer coupon, one Target coupon and one Cartwheel offer for each item you buy at Target. For a bonus, get the Target RedCard, which will give you an additional 5 percent off your purchase and free shipping online. I don’t usually recommend getting a credit card, but using this will save you money. Just be sure to pay off the card each month.

Sample savings this week: A seven-pound bag of Tyson all-natural frozen chicken is regularly priced at $7.99. Load the 50 percent off Tyson Cartwheel offer to your account, and pay just $4 a bag.

You’ll get free El Paso taco seasoning when you buy any two Old El Paso taco shells. Match that with a 10 percent off Old El Paso Hard Shells Target Cartwheel deal to save more.

Save $25 on your bed/bath purchase of $100 or more when you use promotional code REFRESH at checkout. That code also will save you $10 on a bed/bath purchase of $50 or more. Expires Jan. 9.

Other savings

▪ Gap Cash program is back and will give you savings on your purchases at Gap. For every $50 you spend, you will receive $25 in GapCash that you can redeem Feb.16-22 at participating Gap stores and online at Gap.com.

▪ Planning on doing some baby shopping at Babies R Us? Print out a coupon to receive a free Dr. Brown’s Valentine’s Day bottle and pacifier with any baby purchase. http://bit.ly/1PdscWJ.

▪  Order a free printable activity book from Publications.USA.gov, which provides children ages 5-9 with learning tools about fire safety and prevention.

▪ Cleaning out some files in 2016? Get five free pounds of paper shredding with coupon at Office Max/Office Depot. Expires Jan. 23. Not valid for shredding as you wait. http://bit.ly/1S1ThCm

▪ Turbo Tax is offering its Absolute Zero program again this year. Qualifying customers will pay Absolutely Zero dollars to file simple returns. Turbotax.intuit.com

▪ Don’t forget Freebie Friday at Kroger. Download a coupon to your Kroger loyalty card on Friday for a free item. Kroger.com

▪ Head over to Staples after you print a coupon for Staples 8 1/2 by 11 multi-purpose paper. A five-ream case is $1 after rebate and with coupon (regularly $29.99). Expires Jan. 9. Staples.com/coupons/

Deborah Morris’ every-other-week column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get more for less. Go to her website, Fru-gal-friends.com.

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