Open Mic 2/9/12

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Open Mic is a post every Thursday that is a mini-version of a discussion board. You can leave a comment with whatever coupon, money-saving or debt reduction tips or questions you have and other readers chime in and answer.

When you leave a comment on this post, you’ll be able to choose whether you’d like to be emailed follow-up comments or not. Getting comments via email is a great way to stay connected without having to visit the site a bazillion times (although I don’t mind if you come a bazillion times).

As always, I look forward to hearing the voice of the Pocket Your Dollars community. Read through the Open Mic archives here.

Your turn: Leave a comment with your money-saving, coupon or debt reduction question, thought or suggestion.

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  1. sally says

    Good morning everyone. Does anyone know of a website that a person could do 2010 & previous years taxes online? I don't think you can efile previous years but you could print & mail it. I saw a site last year and cannot remember the name of it. I wish I would have saved it.

    • Kathy says

      Take a look at Taxact , click on link near the bottom that states "Previous Years Taxact Products", cannot e-file per IRS legislation (Oct 15 was the deadline), but you can still print them.

    • jo says

      Any of the free tax sites should have the info for filing previous years taxes. Yes you cannot efile previous years they have to be mailed. It is relatively simple process.

  2. sally says

    I am moving March 1st and have been busy going through all my stuff. Anyway I found quite a few rolls of fax paper that was for a fax that I have since discarded. Anyone have have any ideas for this paper. I was thinking of calling a day care & see if they want it for the kids to make banners etc.Also could use it for wrapping paper, but it's white so that's kind of boring.

  3. Gina says

    Good MorningI am still a little confused by Walgreen's RR. Does the item count need to match the number of coupons or RR used? For instance…Can I purchase a package of Pull Ups and a smaller filler to use my RR and a Pampers coupon together?

  4. Julie R says

    I missed out on the Iams dog food coupon for 3 dollars. I wanted to help out a dog food shelf. I have been looking online, can't find any :(anyone know if it is still online? thanks

    • says

      I wasn't aware that there was a printable coupon. If there was it is most likely out of prints by now. There was a $3 coupon in the 1/29 P&G insert. I think most Target stores are sold out of the trial size right now. I hope they get more. I only want 1.

    • JoAnna says

      Are you looking to buy it from a site that clips and sells coupons? I have never tried that before but I know others here have tried that–ebay has been mentioned.

    • Jessica says

      Try each coupon is 30 centers there. I'm going to buy a few so that I can get the $3 coupon inside which is good until the end of June :)

  5. Cindi says

    Is there somewhere to enter a product name and have it search for a coupon for that item? Example – I'm looking for a Quilted Northern toilet paper coupon and would like to type that name in and be directed to a coupon site that would have, or be told if it's in Smart Source 1/31/12 (just an example)?

    • Kathy says

      Use the grocery coupon database on this site. Listed under toolbox. When searching I suggest just typing in "northern" because it looks for an exact match and if it doesn't find all the terms it may not come up in the search results. The only coupon that came up for northern was a target coupon. Otherwise couponmom has a database too.

  6. Kris L says

    I have not been utlizing the FuelPerks program through Rainbow. I see the "perks" on my receipt each Wednesday, but have no idea how or where to redeem them…of if it's even worth while. Can someone give me the low-down on the program?

    Thanks!!! -Kris

    • Therese S. says

      I thought Rainbow stopped the fuel perks…didn't notice any on my receipt last Saturday.

      I do know that Rainbow is starting another perk program for a free ham. Details were in the Sunday circular.

    • Vickie says

      I use them at BP gas stations. I go inside to redeem the points. They need your Roundy's card first. It deducts the cents off that you have in fuel perks on a per gallon basis. They will use all of the fuel perk that you have built up. You then pay the adjusted amount. It can sometimes take a minute or so for the system to do its calculations but, well worth it! Afterwards, your fuel perk points are at 0 and you start building them up again. I couple the use of the fuel perk points with the coupon doubling that some of the Super America's do. That way, I can build the fuel perk points up for those times when gas takes a jump in price.

      • ella says

        How do you double your fuel perk points at Super America? Do they swipe your Roundy's card and then double whatever points have accumulated?

    • Michele says

      You can redeem them at the pump at BP also! Just scan your Roundy's Rewards card before you scan your credit card. It will adjust the price per gallon of gas regardless of which fuel type you select. Very easy and fun to see the savings.

    • kimm says

      Fuel Perks expire, so pay attention to your Rbow receipt to make sure you use them in time. Also, there is a 20 gallon maximum. If you don't think your car will take 20 gallons, bring your spouse, child, signifcant other, extra gas can, whatever, to get the full benefit. I had .60 per gallon to use by last week. Filled my husband and son's cars for a total savings of $12.00. It really adds up!

    • sheepy says

      Not all BPs take it. I usually check for prices on BP, then call the ones in my area to be sure they take the Roundy's card.

      I was at the Rainbow in St Louis Park yesterday and while waiting in line at customer service, I noticed on the dry erase board next to customer service, there is a note that fuel perks have been extended indefinately.

  7. Brenda says

    Does anyone have a "recipe" for kids bubble bath? The store brands seem expensive to me, and the bubbles don't last very long. My kids LOVE bubbles! Thanks!!

    • JoAnna says

      There are a ton of ideas when you google it–but maybe you are looking for someone to give you a tried and true recipe.

  8. Sarah says

    I have a budget question for you all. Our family has a commission based income, so the highs are high and the lows are low. We are taking steps to set aside a bigger emergency fund so we can "salary" ourselves to even things out. My question is, how do you know when you have "extra" in the budget? Do you wait until you get a certain dollar amount over your savings or wait a couple of months to see if you did ok. I know it's seems silly, but I'm afraid to take the extra for something and then have the emergency fund be dipped into the following month. Maybe I'm missing something so obvious, but thought I'd throw it out to this group who seems to have a ton of knowledge!

    • V says

      Good question/comment Sarah- We have always had a similar situation. I don't know the facts and figures answer to that question, but from expericence on most things; go with your gut. If you don't know if you have enough, you probably don't. If you don't know if you should buy something, you probably shouldn't. At least that is how it has been for us. It seems now days it takes A LOT more of an emergency fund to feel comfortable about it than it used to.

    • Therese S. says


      I use budget feature. You can enter in your monthly bills that you know you have each month (mortage, utilities, etc.) and then plug in other monthly bills that fluctuate each month such as gasoline, groceries, etc.

      This will give you a great start to know what your monthly expenses are and what you can expect for "extra money"

    • Sarah says


      I have been using YNAB for a few months now and I know many folks who use it for just the situation that you described. I think they also have a months free trial and you can extend it for a while-since your income is varied. Its not expensive to buy either.

    • Michele says

      Sarah – Consider creating 2 levels of savings – a cash reserve and then an emergency fund. Your cash reserve (CR) should be your cash flow account. The amount in your reserves is dependent on your average monthly expenses and should consider the amount of time between comission checks (less any draw). A standard rule of thumb is CR equal to 3 months living expenses. Also consider that there will be some months that you use more of your CR than others such as the months where property taxes or car insurance are due, Christmas, paying for summer camp, etc. You will soon see a pattern of how much you actually need in your CR fund.

      Once you have your CR well established then move on to setting up your emergency fund/ tier 2 cash reserves. This fund is where you will accumulate funds for emergencies and intermediate term purchases (i.e. new car, braces in 3 years).

      You can fund the tier 2 account several ways. You can systematically add to it monthly, you can "sweep" excess funds into it from your CR or you can do a combination of both. If you consider yourself more of a "spender" consider monthly systematic savings. If you are disciplined, the sweep method can be helpful especially considering you are just starting out and it sounds like you may be a bit uncertain about how much extra you have on a consistent basis.

      My personal experience was that it was easier to "sweep" funds early on but it wasn't long before we had an excellent handle on how much really was extra over a period of time and were able to switch to systematic monthly savings which, for us, is really convenient.

      • Michele says

        BTW, the amount your add to your tier 2 accont is the accumulated excess in the CR. For example, if your CR need is $10,000 and you have $13,000 in it (and it is not earmarked for a short term expense) then it is the amount you put into your emergency fund. If you notice you have an extra $3,000 every 3 months then you could systematically save $1,000/month. Hope that makes sense.

  9. Amanda says

    Planning a short trip to Chicago just my husband and me for a couple of days this summer; first get-away without of 4 kids in over 4 years. We've never been their before. What are your favorite restaurants, places to go, and of course ways to save money? Thanks!

    • JoAnna says

      Watch the daily deal sites for hotel and food discounts–subscribe to the Chicago deals. We loved touring Frank Lloyd Wright houses when we were there.

    • V says

      Amanda, on GMA this morning they had an offer on their deals and steals segment that for $5 bucks you can input info about where you want to travel and this site will mail you specific places to go to and coupons to use.

  10. Jenny says

    We are looking to buy a twin mattress for our little one who is outgrowing her crib. Does anyone know of any deals or places to shop? We want a nice one but don't want to spend $400! We just need the mattress, not the box spring, etc because it will be used in a bunk bed. Thanks!

  11. JoAnna says

    Find a Davanni's billboard, take a pic and send it via email with your name and address to them (by March 10th) and they will mail you a coupon for a free solo pizza.Also, they have a coupon at the above link for 50% off a solo cheese pizza when you spend $5.

  12. Sheila says

    Depending on what you're looking to do in Chicago, you might call the chamber of commerce or the visitors bureau. I did that when we were planning a family trip to San Diego and Anaheim. Also, they were very willing to share all kinds of places to see and things to do with kids. They did send out a bunch of info, I think I paid a small price to have it shipped, but worth it.

  13. says

    I need some advice. In November, I bought two Oral B Vitality electric toothbrushes for my husband and I. Ever since we started using it, our gums have bled after each brush. Then, at the dentist yesterday, my husband's dentist told him that he has literally worn down one of his fillings. Not only that, but it is polished to a shine. He has to now have it replaced. The dentist said the mechanical electric toothbrushes (the non-sonic types) are terrible for one's teeth. Now we have to pay for a filling. I am so upset that a product that is supposed to help my health and my husbands health has actually taken from it. I am not one to sue a company, but I want money from Oral B to pay for this filling. Is this not practical? What should I say to them? I'm at a frustrating loss.

  14. SPS says

    I've heard that there's currently an MIR out there for $8 off 2 DiGiorno frozen pizzas. Another commenter mentioned she found the rebate form on a tearpad at WalMart last week. I've looked at two Walmarts and haven't found a form– has anyone else found the rebate form, and if so, where (in the Twin Cities metro area)? Anyone have an extra they'd be willing to trade for? Thanks!

  15. Vickie says

    Sorry! I don't use the fuel perks at Super America (I don't think you can). I get gas at SA when my fuel perks are less than $0.25. In that way, I get a discount on my gas either through using coupons (not fuel perks) at SA or using the fuel perks at BP. I use $0.25 as my low fuel perks because of the doubling that many SA's do on Tuesdays. Does that make sense?

    • Vickie says

      Hi Ella: Most SA's will take competitors coupons. I have been able to redeem Holiday gas coupons from Holiday's website and the Holiday gas coupons you get at Cub at SA. And on Tuesdays, they will double these coupons. Some SA's will even allow up to three of the Cub coupons and double that amount. I have found one SA in out-state MN that did not do this so be sure to check the SA near you to find out if they are participating or not. Hope that helps!

    • JoAnna says

      The Star Trib usually has Holiday and Kwik Trip inserts on the first Wednesday of each month. The inserts have gas coupons, car wash coupons and food coupons :) My Holiday will also double gas coupons each Tuesday (when you ask). They also have the same price for low and medium grade gas.

  16. Kathy says

    My husband and I have been using Oral B electric toothbrushes for more than 10 years now. I remember when switching my gums would bleed some, but that is because it is doing a better job cleaning and keeping your mouth healthy. Bleeding should stop in a few days after switching unless you have periodontal disease. Anyways, my dentist has never said the Oral B ones are bad versus the Sonic ones. I don't think they are terrible for your teeth. I would be concerned that your dentist actually used the wrong tool for a cleaning and now wants to replace the filling for $. Get a second opinion.

  17. Katie says

    Bummer about the toothbrush problems! Finding one that works well for you can be tough. I've never heard of such problems with an electric toothbrush.

    My mom was in dental for over 25 years and never heard of that.

    Are you guys sure he isn't grinding his teeth at night? That could cause wear. Also… why would you keep using a toothbrush if it made your gums bleed?

    Not pointing fingers, just curious. I've used an electric toothbrush for years and I've never had any issues.

    • SPS says

      I've stayed at the Best Western Soldier's Field before and thought it was fine– it's within walking distance to downtown and most of the Mayo Clinic buildings, if that's important to you. They also had a free shuttle for guests, free breakfast and an indoor pool.

    • Denise says

      If you don't mind tiny, the Micro Tel is nice. Stayed there a couple of years ago for work. Very clean, and reasonably priced, just small.

    • debster says

      I've stayed at the Comfort Suites, 4141 Maine Avenue SE, Rochester, MN, US, 55904 several times, nice pool area, nice fitness room…. cheaper if you have a AAA membership.

  18. Sarah says

    Thanks everyone for your comments! I should clarify that the ER fund I mentioned above was really ER fund + slush fund (or CR fund). Makes sense to break it out. Maybe this will help if I have more designated buckets up front.

  19. Lynn says

    When I went to Chicago about 10 yrs ago, and there were certain days of the week that some museums had free days for kids. So, think about what museums you want to see and check them out to plan a schedule for the trip.

    • Sandi says

      I'm a big fan of the Frommers guides. You can check out their website for free! I've never been to Chicago, but I'd grab a Frommers Guide first!

  20. SS says

    My 4 year old wants to take dance classes… my husband and I are unwilling to spend an arm or a leg and we also have an infant who will I'm sure want to follow in her big sister's footsteps. We live in the north metro-any ideas for an afforable studio? We've done the community ed route, which she LOVED, but wanted to continue going after the 4-5 week sessions were over. I'd so appreciate any sugegstions/advice! Thanks so much!!

    • JoAnna says

      The least expensive I have found in my area (sw metro) has been Just for Kix. It is still $27.00 per month (when you pay all of it ahead of time–otherwise it is $28 per month) and the uniform was $92 (with shoes) but she will wear it for 2 yrs. The other dance studios were around $40 per month and had 2 costumes to buy for about $80 each (per yr).

    • ella says

      At that age I would also recommend gymnastics as a fun alternative. It is an all around developer of balance, coordination and muscle development, and provides a good base to move on to other types of sport or dance. If your daughter is dead set on dance then try to find a studio within a convenient distance that offers a range of styles (ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip hop, etc.) and set a budget for the class instruction, dance wear, performance outfits, special events, etc. etc. Dance can become very expensive as they get more involved,especially ballet, Irish, etc. Sorry I can't help with a specific studio, but finding a good teacher that fits your expectations and can work well with your daughter is key. Studios may let you sit in on their classes to check them out if you call ahead. Usually beginner classes for kids that age are low key and focus on having fun. Besides community ed programs in your own area, you might also check out local community centers, YMCA, or check adjacent school district continuing ed programs.

    • Kae says

      Brooklyn Park dance program is great – goes for the whole school year and has a recital at the end. Always well done and affordable.

      • Amy says

        Dido what Kay said, my girls have down the year long Brooklyn Park one for 8 years and the director, Sherry is FANTASTIC and the rest of the staff are wonderful as well. You do not need to be a resident to do the program, there are girls who travel to come to our dance program because of the great program.

    • Leslie says

      I second Just for Kix. My daughter (7th grade) is in it this year and it's been fabulous. Great value for the money. She's been to other dance studios (Metro) and we paid so much more and got so much less. Plus our instructor at JFK is wonderful – very energetic! The uniform (costume) is very age appropriate and reasonably priced.

  21. says

    Hello again. Just want to clarify a few points:

    – We didn't realize that both of our gums were bleeding until we talked about it yesterday. I figured it was because I don't floss regularly and my spouse thought he wasn't being careful enough around his gums. We do not have any dental diseases.

    – We use the head that came with the brush, called the floss action brush. It can be viewed here:… Yesterday, when we used a manual toothbrush for the first time in months, we could not believe how soft it was compared to the electric. Maybe it is the head, not the actual brush.

    – Our dentist is a man of integrity. He has given us breaks on our charges and goes multiple times a year to third world countries and gives free dental care. He would NEVER try to screw us. He said that the mechanical brushes act much like an orbital sander.

    -My husband's filling is on the front of his tooth, so no way could it be from tooth grinding. I looked at it yesterday and I couldn't believe the groove that is worn away.

    I think I need to just cut our losses. I will write Oral B, but only to tell them our experience. I don't want anyone to go through this again.

    Has anyone had a similar experience with this particular brush head?

    • Katie says

      That is the most bizarre looking brush head. Mine looks like a normal toothbrush. Maybe just try buying a different style head and see if that helps :)

    • Kathy says

      I am glad that you feel your dentist is a man of integrity. Just wanted to give you some thoughts on that idea, since you were ready to blame the manufacturer of the brush and there may be other reasons that are causing the issue.

      I disagree with your dentist because my gums & mouth are much healthier in my opinion since I started using my oral b electric toothbrush. Your dentist may have a different opinion on this subject, that is why I am suggesting asking another dentist about their feelings on the Oral B brush. It may also be the technique you are using brushing. Bleeding gums with brushing can be a sign of gum disease. See link:

      Katie gave some good points on the discussion too. Grinding teeth can cause grooves too even on the front of the tooth since you are stressing the material of the tooth. If you really think it is the brush, discontinue use and see what results.

    • Amy says

      Our dentist warned us when we switched to eletric toothbrush to let the toothbrush do the work, you do not need to "scrub" your teeth like you would with a manual toothbrush. Also, my gums use to bleed, but I had a deep cleaning done to get rid of access plaque and that got rid of the bleeding gums problem.

  22. Betty says

    A few years ago when visiting Chicago a friend suggested taking a harbor tour. We signed on for one that talked about the unique architecture of Chicago's skyline. I wondered before we boarded if it might be a rather boring tour–it turned out to be terrific and not something that I would have done without someone suggesting it. If they still offer a tour that tells about the unique buildings of Chicago as you see them from the water, it is worth it to take the tour.

  23. Amanda says

    Anyone have any suggestions for small gifts to give for Valentine's Day? My daughter is 15 months old and several of the other children at her daycare are around the same age so I am not sure what would be appropriate.

    • JoAnna says

      You could easily skip Valentine's gifts for the kiddos at that young age. Give the provider a nice thank you note and a little treat (or fruit).

    • Mary says

      I like to buy those seasonal activity pads and stickers from Walgreens when they go on sale 3/$1. 14 mon may be on the young end, but my son is 18 mon and he likes to scribble in them…or possibly the snack size bags of goldfish or animal crackers, with some heart stickers?

    • Christine says

      How about making some red jello jigglers for a treat and getting heart cookie cutters and letting them cut our their own treat.

    • Joy says

      My toddler's teacher suggested Archer Farms Organic Fruit Strips. I found them back in the Bodega section at Target Roseville. You get 25 for 5.99 and they are all fruit and fruit juice. I tried one last night, and they are really good. Most schools will only accept packaged food, and I decided to get the individual size so that parent's can decide if they want to give to their children.

    • Jessica says

      Kids at that age really like little board books, not sure how much they'd be or if there are any Valentine type books.

  24. kimm says

    Millenium Park and Navy Pier are free. You can walk the Miracle Mile (free). Last time I was there for work, I took the boat tour out to lake Michigan. I think it was around $25 for one person. I enjoyed it. I think most of the restaurants are a bit pricey — especially the steak houses. However, they have Houlihan's, PF Chang, etc (some that we'd have around here) that are affordable. I'd make sure you find a place to have Chicago Pizza. I think I went to Giordanno's….deep dish…very good.

  25. Dave says

    We've used the oral-b for almost 10 years without bleeding issues. I do notice that if I don't floss for about a week, when I restart flossing, my gums will bleed after flossing, but not brushing. Maybe you're pressing too hard?

  26. Andrea says

    Amanda, when my husband and I go to Chicago, we usually take the Megabus (the hotels we've stayed at charge at least $12 a day to park your car!). We also stay out by O'Hare airport, its a lot less expensive than downtown. If you do, look for a hotel that offers free shuttle rides to and from the airport — from the airport you can catch the train downtown. We also order transit passes from the CTA website, they offer them for unlimited bus/train rides. We definitely get our money's worth out of those. Order those in advance, they mail them to your home.

  27. Mary says

    Definitely a good idea. Also if you have a membership to the MN Science Museum with reciprocity, it will get you into the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum for free.

  28. Diane says

    Coborns is doing a magic coupon week next week…any coupons under $1 will automatically round up to a dollar! Check it out on their blog!

  29. says

    I was at AV South yesterday and they were out. They go fast when they're free! Usually when South is out North is out too, but I did not go to North.

  30. Sarah says

    Are the current Catalina deals posted somewhere? There is some talk about an Activia catalina? Anyone know anything about it?

  31. Diane says

    Coborns is doing a magic coupon week next week…any coupons under $1 will automatically round up to a dollar! Check it out on their blog!

  32. Marne says

    If you still have some left after wrapping dishes/breakables, donate it to a school or day care! They can always use paper for various projects! :)

  33. Denise says

    We did Spirited feet with our daughter. I think you can just google them to find a location. We did ours in Eagan. They are a Christian company, the girls learn ballet and tap. They dance to ktis type music. They don't do the whole costume thing…which we liked. I think it was around $90 for two months of classes.

  34. val says

    I stayed at the Hostel last year and recommend it. It is about $40 per night and well worth it. It is right downtown walking distance from the Art Institute.

  35. Heather says

    Hello does anybody know where I can find shopkos coupon policy? Today I found some cover girl on clearance that I had coupons for making it free. I've found similar deals before at other shopkos & never had an issue but today OMG you would of thought I was a criminal the way the service desk guy talked to me. I've found one blog that has their policy from a couple years ago and it says they don't accept coupons that exceed item price but that's it. If that is the case then I understand I was in the wrong but being as 3 other shopkos have allowed me to use coupons making items free seems a little odd to me. Thanks for any help you can give me

  36. says

    I'm fairly certain Shopko doesn't currently have a coupon policy. I've had similar experiences to yours shopping at their store and have since gave up on any couponing there. It's just impossible.

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