Open Mic 4/5/12

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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.

Two tips: 1) If you are reading this via email or an RSS feed, click on the title “Open Mic” to come back to the site and leave a comment and 2) If you are concerned about your privacy, just reference yourself by your initials and know that I will not share your email address with anyone else.


  1. Mary says

    Does anyone know the website where I can find the P & G rebate form that was advertised a few weeks ago?

  2. Janell says

    I'm sure this has been covered in the past on open mic, but we are going to the MN zoo tomorrow. It will cost our family $72 just for tickets, not counting parking, tax, gas (we live an hour away), any food we don't pack ourselves, and Imax tickets if we do that. I already checked at my library and they don't have any of the free passes. SO….how can I do this cheaper?? Help!

    • Tonia says

      Wow that is pricey… I was thinking of taking my two girls there this summer but I may need to rethink that. There are so many neat places in the Twin Cities to go to with kids, but honestly the price keeps me from most of them. I can't justify spending upwards of $75 on tickets for an afternoon (or less). I don't know how families do it!

      I know it's not as grand as the MN Zoo, but have you ever been to the Como Zoo? We go a couple times a year and it's always a wonderful time for us… and they run by voluntary donations so it can be very reasonable budget wise!

    • Theresa says


      Have you tried other libraries? I live in Carver Co but can check out in Hennepin too. We went to the MN Zoo 2 weeks ago and I called around to various libraries the night before to see if any passes would be available the following day. I found 1 near us, since they can't hold them for you, we got to the library right when they opened and were able to get the pass. Hope you come across one!

      • Janell says

        Our system of libraries down here in Southern MN doesn't do the zoo or museum passes at all. Thanks for all your ideas. We usually only go to the zoo once a year because of the expense, but maybe I will have to do a season's pass this year and just go more often. I wish they would make it more affordable.

        Thanks again.

    • Therese S. says

      have to agree with a membership…best deal with a group of yours.

      i would also recommend googling mn zoo deals, there are coupons online that you can print off that will save you some money on tickets.

    • Mary says

      I worked out the math. If you go twice in one year, the membership will more than pay for itself. Plus the membership can usually get you half off at other zoos. We bought a membership last year and got into the Milwaukee County Zoo for half off with the MN Zoo membership.

    • kris T, says

      It might be worth a call to the Eagan Convention & Visitors Bureau | 651-675-5546. I seem to remember they have a ton of brochures for local activities (much like a hotel has in their lobby). They might be able to help you and it's a quick drive from there to the zoo.

      You can also, if you get desperate, go to different hotels in Eagan/BV, Apple Valley and see if they offer any kind of discount coupons.

      To save on (parking, and you did not hear this from me) in a pinch, there are some churches and schools that aren't too far away that you *might* be able to park at and walk to the zoo.

      Hope this helps!

  3. says

    Military families and veterans should make sure to check the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Website for frequent offers of free tickets to events, area attractions and various community dinners. Several metro communities in Minnesota also have Facebook pages where you can learn more about local deals and activities. (Mine is Brooklyn Park Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Network)

    Here is the link to the state BTYR site:

  4. Theresa says

    I have 2 Gerber formula coupons – the "check" kind. I've never used one before as I've never used formula, but am assuming anyone could use it. They're for $3 and $12 and ex 7/1/12. I'd be happy to mail them to someone who could use them! If you need them email me – :)

    • Sue says

      I thought I saw coupons at Subway for Underwater World. They were located in brochure holders that are on top of the trash reciptical.

    • mrl says

      I think there were some for Underwater World in a recent newspaper coupon insert. I don't have access to my coupons right now or I would be able to tell you which one – sorry.

    • SC says


      Check out the the Blommington Convention and Visitors Bureau here:

      Click on the coupon box in the middle of the page. It is a PDF document that you can print that has coupons for attractions in and around the Mall of America. There is a coupon for Underwater World or Sea Life Minneapolis Aquarium as it is now called.

    • David says

      We did went to MOA about a week ago. First to Underwater World, then to Rainforest Cafe. When we sat down at Rainforest to look at the kid's menu, there a coupon for a free child admission to Underwater World!

  5. Sue says

    My adult son is in need of some guidance on how to repair his credit. Any suggestions on who he should meet with or where we begin ?

    • Jae says

      There are books out there that can provide guidance on how to repair is credit. I would look into that first before meeting with someone

    • says

      PYD has posted about Credit Karma & I myself have really liked it. It is free and my favorite part is that it gives you a credit "report card" so you can figure out what areas you need improvement in. It won't give you a breakdown of when you opened which accounts, but it gives you an idea of the average age of credit lines, etc. It is a great starting point for understanding the whole credit tangle. The nice thing is that if you check it once a month it creates a graph with a point for each update so you can monitor your own progress. It does verify the last four of your social but when it checks your credit it is not a hard pull so it doesn't hurt your score.

  6. JoAnna says

    Just read this on Office Max's website :)


    Effective 4/1/12, as a member of MaxPerks Rewards, simply bring in any visibly undamaged, originally manufactured, ink/toner cartridges to an OfficeMax retail store location and earn a $2 reward per qualified cartridge, with a maximum reward of $20 per calendar month per member (or 10 cartridges per calendar month per member.)

  7. V says

    I used to be able to print coupons from Coupon Network but for the last few weeks after I pick out the coupon I wanted it says "Processing, Please wait" and never moves from that page…it looks like it is trying to send it but it never gets to my printer. I have left it in that mode for hours thinking eventually it will connect and send them to my printer but it never does. Anyone have any ideas what went wrong and what I can do to fix it?


  8. V says

    I used to be able to print coupons from Coupon Network; but for the last few weeks it will never print them. I can pick out the coupon I want and click to print it and it will get stuck on the page that says; "Processing, Please wait". It looks like it will eventually sent it to my printer but never does. I have left it sit for hours like that and it won't print. Any ideas on what happened and what I can do to fix it? TIA

  9. V says

    Carrie- I don't know why this site will do this…but I wrote the first post about Coupon Network and it brought me to a page saying it isn't working or something…so I got completely out of Open Mic/PYD and opened PYD up in a new page…I checked and my comment wasn't there so I typed it again and now it posted it twice??? Why and how can it do that?

  10. Brita says

    Where's a good place near the Twin Cities or the northern suburbs to donate all the toiletry items us couponers tend to accumulate?

    • Jean says

      The Alexander house is for abused women they take donations like that. I know the Police stations have conections to them and will take the donations. Just call the non emergency police number and tell them you want to donate and they should give you to the right person.

    • lisa f says

      I've donated new toiletries and cleaning products to VEAP in Bloomington – Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (I think). They might have other locations that may be more convenient for you.

  11. Jean says

    Does any one know the going rate for babysitters? My granddaughters will be up for the summer and we need daycare for 7 weeks in the mornings. I do not even know how much or where to start.

  12. says

    I really have no clue when it comes to retirement. However, I have a 401 (k), and I would like to leave money for my daughter when I pass. Does anyone have recommendations of were to find basic information about funding retirement? And does anyone know if when my daughter inherits that money it will be taxed? (I don't plan on retiring ever if I can help it but if I do I would like to have some money to get me through so I always think of how that money will transfer to my daughter.) Thanks :)

  13. Carol says

    College students are a good place to try. I'd suggest either Northwestern College or Bethel College here in the No. Suburbs of Mpls/St Paul. I'm assuming they have a "bulletin board" type thing for such job openings.

  14. Susan says

    If you are a member to a Credit Union, they sometimes have discount coupons for the MN Zoo. They are usually $5.00 – $10.00 off per person.

  15. scat says


    You can and should do some basic research on the internet. Be sure to be looking at sources that deal with the laws in the state of residence. There are a lot of variations from state to state.

    Become familiar with some of the basic terms and provisions and then find a good lawyer who specializes in estate planning. Since you may or may not retire and would want your assets to go to your daughter upon your death, you need a plan with some flexibility. Do not try to cut costs by going to any of these s0-called financial advisors. If you do some basic research beforehand, you will save money by not requiring an attorney to explain the fundamentals to you. You can give your daughter a sum of money each year without any tax consequences. But it has to be before you are on your deathbed. You also have to consider the possibility that you may need money if you become disabled. And you also need to consider the possibility that your daughter may precede you in death.

    It's clearly not a simple situation,but if you get a good plan in place, both you and your daughter will not have to worry about a lot of contingencies. I have a mother and daughter as neighbors. The mother just turned 90. They had a good plan in place before the father died and have been able to live comfortably for many years without any worries.

  16. Kris says

    We need to re-carpet the whole upstairs of our townhome. We've cleaned the carpet several times & now that it's almost 10 years old, we feel it's time to replace. Does anyone have any recommendations of where it may be the most afforable to buy carpet from and have it put in? Also any recommendation on brands in regards to durability, wear, etc. We don't want to buy too cheap of carpet & just have to keep replacing it or cleaning it, yet we don't want to spend top dollar either.

    Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.

  17. mrl says

    Can you use a manufacturers coupon if you order something from If so, how do you use it. Do you have to take your receipt and the coupon in to the store and have them apply it? Thanks.

    • JoAnna says

      I have never heard of a person trying to do that at Target before. I just did a quick check of their policy and a Google search but did not see that situation specified.

  18. Meghan says

    Does anyone know of a website or place to sell a male business suit – that would give a decent amount? The retail value of the suit is $600 when it was purchased a few years ago, it no longer fits my boyfriend and is in great shape – worn less than five times. Any suggestions?

  19. mrl says

    Does anyone have a free shipping code for My total comes to more than $50 (it's for two faux leather ottomans), but the items don't qualify for the free shipping deal Target has listed on their website. I've tried googling free codes but haven't come up with one yet that works. Thanks!

    • JoAnna says

      If you sign up for their card (can even be debit card for your checking acct) you will always have free shipping and save an additional 5% every time you shop. Or, find a friend/relative who has their card to order it for you.

    • sally says

      Just to any register and bring a check from your account with. It takes less than a minute and ask if you can use it right away online. They will give you a coupon for 5% off in the store until you get the Target debit card. I always use mine and I love the free shipping when you buy online. Target is the only store that has the 5% off/debit card/free shipping.

      • mrl says

        Thanks. I'm not a big Target shopper (only because there's too much good stuff, so it's too tempting). I had no idea their card offered free shipping. I guess I need to get the card.

  20. Carol says

    I've sometimes had that issue, but it was usually because I clicked the back arrow after waiting for the post, so now I just re-direct as if I'm going to the PYD site again & my post usually comes up.

  21. Carol says

    I like to donate some to my church's common shelf or put a variety of "freebies" in a gallon ziploc to give to transients begging by the road – no $ or mouthwash, just some snacks & toiletries they can use or trade.

  22. cynthia says

    Has anyone used zerorez and what did you think of the quality for the price. We need to clean our carpet and I want a good job done at a resonable proce. Thanks

    • Theresa says


      We used Zerorez last year and I didn't/don't have any comlaints. My son has bad eczema and so we wanted to try something more natural. However this spring we're just going to buy our own carpet cleaner and use a more natural/organic soap – thought it'd be less expensive in the long run.

      • Rochelle says

        We used Zerorez in Bloomington, MN a couple of weeks ago. We had three rooms, a hallway and a flight of stairs. We have two dogs and a 3year old and the carpets were professionally cleaned two years ago. I thought the $139 special was a great price, figuring I would need to pay for the extra room, the amount would come to around $200. The total bill came to $550 because of the extra charges of having pets and a few stains from spilled drinks, etc. They do an upsell by telling you need this protection and that service or else it won't be worth it that they even came out to clean the carpets. They do this by saying it will be $50 for this and $30 for that, so you don't realize that they are charging PER room. All and all, the carpets are cleaned and look fine, but it was way overpriced. We will not use them again and will not recommend them to others.

  23. Joy says

    I never pay for parking when I go. They just ask if I drove and parked and I just lie and tell them I got dropped off. They never check or give you a ticket to put on your car. I learned this trick from a frequent volunteer. I know, I know, not the right thing to do. But somehow I reason in my mind that since they get some of my tax money it is justified. Again, I know wrong but oh-well.

  24. Joy says

    It is cheapest to buy your tickets online. Online price is $9.95 per person regardless of age. Just print and go.

  25. nancyk says

    Suggestion for carpet: we bought through Costco and got great carpet. The lady who came out and measured and priced it have various business cards in her binder from Gabberts and Macys. I shopped around, got several estimates and Costco was a bit cheaper but the quality is excellent and the pad was several pounds heavier which makes the carpet feel better and wear longer.

    Selling a man's suit: go to Turnstyle Consignment store–various Twin Cities locations and consign it.

  26. amyg says

    First make sure all or your retirement accounts have current and complete beneficiary information. Also if you have non retirement variable or fixed annuities they also have benes. Secondly make a will. You do not need to spend a ton of money to do this. Check your local city's community education for Will making classes. I know Edina has a class quarterly and you will walk out of the 2 day class with a valid will! Once you have those basics down, you can start researching and setting up your financial picture to meet your needs and to start your estate planning. One of the first things I would research is Roth IRA's. If you qualify to own one and to contribute to one it is a no brainer. As part of your Roth research see if it makes economic sense for you to convert some of your traditional IRA's to Roths…. If you want to consult with a professional Money Manager I HIGHLY recommend finding one that does Financial Consulting as well as tax advice or even better tax preparation. They are far and few between but definitely worth it!

  27. JL says

    Looking for suggestions on replacing window blinds for living room area. I've looked at Home Depot and JCPenney, but thought there may be some less expensive online options.

  28. Jessica says

    Definately agree that the Alexandra House is a great place to donate items. If you are near Coon Rapids High School they are having a Walk-A-Thon for the Alexandra House April 15th at noon, you could bring your items there if it's closer.

  29. Bree says

    I recently began following a vegan diet. Anyone in the twin cities have restaurant recommendations? I am doing well so far, but when it comes to ordering at restaurants it seems options are SO few! Also – any good websites to obtain vegan recipes/ideas? THANKS!!!!

  30. Angela says

    This ticks me off (in a humorous way). I JUST took 8 toners into Office Depot on Monday because Office Max didn't take toners. I don't have an Office Depot as convenient

    to me as Office Max, but I wanted to clear out the old toners that had piled up.

  31. sally says

    FYI Staples is paying $6 per cartridge ( 5 max) if you buy $50 in ink for this week and next week. I might have to make the trip for this.

  32. Elizabeth says

    I am in the process of building a house so money is tight but there are still big projects to done once the house is built. Does anyone know an affordable place to buy sod, we have friends that are willing to lay it after we purchase it. Or even what a decent price for sod is? I am also wondering about black chainlink fencing, if there is an affordable place to get this?

    • Kate says

      This is the first year we've ever bought sod and we only needed one roll, so we didn't shop around at all on prices. We paid $4 for a full roll that we picked up in Osseo – seemed decent to us!

    • Sarah says

      Do you have to buy sod? I know some developments require it. But seeding is WAY cheaper! My old boss's husband was a landscaper and he always recommended seeding it…takes some time, but you end up with a better lawn in the end.

      • Elizabeth says

        We have to have it completed within 60 days of closing so we don't have enough time to do seed. We are only required to do the front and side yard within 60 days and the backyard is on our terms.

  33. says

    Thanks to a suggestion in last week's open mic, I bought my first lawn mower. I was wanting to purchase a battery operated one, but the cheapest one I found was $250. I was willing to spend the money if it meant the difference between having to maintain a gas mower and the convenience of a battery mower. Emily Rinke (thank you) suggested getting a push reel lawn mower. I have heard that they are hard to push. Even my Dad told me that they are very hard to push, but then admitted the last time he ever used one was when he was 8 because that year gas mowers went on the market. He said it took 2 kids to push one. After further encouragement from my daughter, I decided to purchase one. I had nothing to lose. It costed me $80 before tax and if I didn't like it I could just return it and spend the extra money on a battery mower – even though I couldn't really afford it. I've only used it once, but I can't say enough about how wonderful it is. No gas, no oil change, no battery to charge, no power cord to run over, no noise to speak of, no rocks and twigs shooting out at me at 50 mph, the only maintenance that I can see is keeping the bolts tight on the handle and sharpening the blades when necessary, which according to my Dad, should be done on every kind of mower. Oh, and no, it is not hard to push. It does require pushing, which may sound bad if you have a self propelled lawn mower, but it is not physically demanding work. If your OCD about how your lawn looks, then it may not be the right choice for you because it doesn't cut as pretty as a gas mower. I don't happen to care. It does the job at a minimal cost and with minimal maintenance. I love it!

    • says

      Yay! I LOVE hearing stories about how this community helps one another save money in ways that fit each person's unique lifestyle and preferences. That's so cool!

    • tag says

      We had a push reel mower for many years before we moved to a much larger yard. It was really nice to have a long lush quiet yard. Hmm… wonderful memories..

      If you don't plan on sharpening the blades yourself, I'd like to suggest a really good time of the year to do it is in January/February. The hardware stores (we had our done at the Ace in St. Cloud) are between the mad rush for snowblower repair and spring lawn care.

      As my lawn guru neighbor says: Mow high. Water deep. Relax more!

    • Melissa W. says

      We had a reel mower for years as well. I loved it because I could still hear my kids while I was mowing. Also they are a lot safer around kids because they don't throw rocks, and as soon as you stop they stop. You do have to keep them oiled a little bit or they can rust and stick.

      • says

        Where exactly do you put the oil? I'm guessing where the blades spin. What kind of oil did you use? Another great tip. I probably would not have figured that out until I started to have trouble.

    • Emily Rinke says

      I'm so glad to hear! I have been helped so many times from people on PYD, it is great knowing I paid it forward! :)

  34. bouboo says

    Renolds wrap on sale at Target, Walmart and Rainbow. Also stove top on sale at two and then the pineapple on sale everywhere it seemed. Without going through all the sites do you have a best buy list for the week? We are lucky to have all the stores within 10 minutes so I look at all but then I have to go back and compare. PYD is great because the list print is such a time saver!

  35. Sheila says

    I was just at our Kwik Trip, in Farmington, to get a dozen eggs to color and they had their butter for sale at $1.69. This is even cheaper than Aldi. Just thought with all the cooking going on for Easter, it might be worth checking out this weekend!

    • Jen says

      Sheila, which Kwik Trip in Farmington? I should stop in and get some eggs, but would stock up on butter as well (even though they have had it for $1.99 over the past few weeks)! Thanks.

  36. Melissa W. says

    Oil the blades at the end of the season with WD-40. Also you will want to oil any of the other moving parts once and a while with the same stuff. There is a gear mechanism by the wheels that turns the blades, just squirt it with a little of the WD-40 once in a while also. If it seems to not be pushing as easily, you probably want to lube it.

  37. Nichole says

    I have one that I don't need. I also have the $3 mail in rebate form if you buy it between 3/21 & 5/9 if you want that too…email me your address and I'll drop it/them in the mail on Monday. :)

  38. Addelynn says

    We used and are very happy! We've gotten window coverings for our whole home when we built last year and loved the selection, ease in ordering, and the quality! The price cannot be beat! We went to JC Penny to get an idea of what we wanted and found it online at a much better price.

  39. sally says

    I need some suggestions. I have a $20 coupon for the purchase of a Holmes Air Purifier $50 & up. Walmart sells them online and I checked the Store here in Forest Lake but they didn't have any. If I order it to pick up at the store is there any way to use the coupon?

  40. Beth says

    We are also in search of sod! We lucked out and our builder was able to get it for us at an exceptional price, but we did call around and the best price was $1/roll and that was at a sod farm in Elk River. We priced out hydroseeding as well it was a few hundred less maybe, but we really wouldn't have a yard all summer and we also have to meet requirements for the city. Best of luck!

  41. Carol says

    It just happened again when a post didn't come up I submitted, but this time, the site claimed to be down temporarily, so I restarted my computer when the above solution didn't work.

  42. Jackie M. says

    Can you tell me more about this Credit Karma? I am a financial counselor and yet have never heard of this site! I am wondering how you know that the credit check is not a hard pull? Also, are the credit scores that are provided the FICO scores? A lot of consumers don't know this but a lot of the credit score providers out there do not provide FICO scores, which are the scores just about every lender uses. While the other scores are generally in the ballpark of the FICO scores, sometimes even just a few points makes a difference in whether or not you have good/great credit.

    I'd definately like to learn more about this Credit Karma!

  43. Sarah says

    Compare prices with Menards. We found some we like at Menards for ~$1.69 sq/ft and then something similar at a local place for >$3/sq ft (both by Mohawk, mid range quality). We asked at the local place about the quality of the two and they learned from their rep that it was the same carpet. They were able to go down to $1.89 so we went with them to support the local business and we also didn't have to arrange installation separately (it was $0.89/sq ft.)

    • mnsotamama says

      We just installed carpet from Home Depot. They offer one low price of $99 for installation and that covers the whole house. Doesnt matter how many rooms.

  44. Sarah says

    Try checking the lobby of a hotel close to the mall. I used to stay near the MOA before we reloacted here and there were always tons of coupons in the lobby of where ever I was staying. I've been known to duck into a hotel near the mall to grab coupons and have always found something useful.

    While you are at the Rainforest Cafe, sign up for their card thingie. You get prefered seating and either a free appatizer or a discount each time you go.

  45. Sarah says

    Try Qcumbers in Edina. Their recipes are on their website. It's a buffet style place so there is something for everyone.

  46. V says

    Nichole- I know this is late and probably won't get to you but just in case; where did you get the rebate form from?? I bought some of the Lysol dispensers and would like to send in for rebate.

  47. Diana says

    So does anyone know if CVS is changing their coupon policy or if individual stores are deciding to enforce an existing policy. I was told a week or so ago that they would take an expiring extra bucks after expiration (I was waiting on a raincheck item), the only thing they wouldn't take expired was the % off store coupons. Yesterday I was told that there was a new policy, they had just received a big packet of new information and they could not take ANY kind of expired coupons including CVS extra bucks so the $10 I had wasn't good any more. I may try today with a different clerk or store manager.

  48. Lindsey says

    Hi all,

    I found out from a co-worker that if you purchase an annual pass to the zoo it is fully tax deductible. It would go on your 1040 as a charitable donation!

    Good luck!

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