Open Mic 5/17/12

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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. Therese S. says

    My comment is about Freecycle.

    Has anyone had any luck recently with getting rid of stuff? I thought this would be an easy way of getting rid of some heavy furniture, but so far I haven't had any takers.

  2. Sidney says

    For all of you swagbucks users out there….

    I keep getting messages in my swagbucks mailbox about surveys. They say that they pay 60 SB for each one, so I thought I'd give one a try a while back. But, the first thing they asked for was my home mailing address and phone number. I didn't feel comfortable giving out this information, especially before I even know what the survey was for!

    Have any of you done these surveys? If so, are they safe/legit? I'm thinking they're different from the Trusted Surveys since I've never "registered" (is that the right term?!) for those. We just got some really bad malware on our computer so I'm trying to be extra careful about where I go and what I do online!

  3. Marta says

    I need a new printer for printing coupons. Any suggestions for the printer itself or where to go? Thanks much.

  4. Michelle from Maple says

    I would try posting on craigslist for free. I have better luck getting someone to pick up the stuff if I include a photo of the item or items. I also had a bunch of baby stuff (car seats, stroller, carrier, playpen, toys, etc) and said that the person that picked it up had to take it all, not pick through the items. It is very fulfilling to give the stuff to someone who appreciates and is in need of the items. They have all been very thankful and appreciative.

  5. Amanda says

    Brother 2240. It's b/w laser printer. Can't say enough good things about it. No longer have any issues w/ coupons not scanning at register as I did w/ my ink jet because barcodes sometimes got fuzzy. Watch for it to go on sale on Amazon or even office max for about $60. You go through the first toner that it comes w/ in about 3 months (new printers come w/ less toner) but then you replace like once a yr or less I am told. I buy the toners on discount ink sets when they have double cash back through Beatles.

  6. Megan says

    Where can I find Mrs. Meyer's Bar Soap? I am looking to make some homemade hand soap and body wash, but I am not sure where I can find this soap.

    • Mags says

      I found plenty of places online that have it, but I seem to recall seeing some products at Target. Good luck!

  7. TJ says

    Sidney, I used to do the swagbucks surveys and I always got credit for them, so that part was legit… but I used my cell number and as soon as I did that I began getting tons of spam texts. I actually got charged for them from my mobile company, even though I have unlimited texts. It had something to do with them being from 5 digit numbers… anyways, I got the charges reversed and have now had to block all 5 digit texts -which includes Target coupons. So long story short, I do not do the surveys anymore. HTH

    • Cheri A says

      I also got some really bad malware recently, and I'm being really careful. I was really using Swagbucks quite a lot, but I'm scared now. I've never done the surveys,though, in quite some time. They seemed like a waste of time to me to spend all that time and then be told that I didn't qualify.

  8. BG says

    I'm trying to find some guidelines on what is a good price for garage sale items. Particularily baby gear. What would be a great price on like-new items such as infant swings, bouncy seats, highchairs, etc?

    • JoAnna says

      I will watch for responses on this as I am selling baby girl items this summer (from birth to 5)

    • Denise says

      Pricing just depends on how bad you want to get rid of it. As a general rule when I price it I do 10% of what I paid.

    • Shannon S says

      Pricing is all subjective as to a. the item and b. how badly you want to have it gone and c. How much others think it's worth. I agree that the 10% rule is a good guideline and go from there.

    • Korene says

      I would start by searching craigslist to get an idea of prices. I generally find things cheaper at garage sales than on craigslist for baby items.

  9. kris t. says


    Hi folks…Who do you have and how much do you pay, if you don't mind sharing? I have basic tv and internet through Comcast and am dying to dump them. I'm sick of the prices going up.

    We don't have a landline, only a cell and I just want internet only.

    I'm in Eagan. Thanks for all replies. :)

    • Michele says


      I am also in Eagan and we have basic cable and we use Clear for our internet. It is $50.00 per month with a one time up front fee for the modem. We are suppose to be getting city wide internet soon and I do not know how much that will be.

      • suasn says

        I'm in Eagan too and pay $45.00 for the highest speed of internet Comcast offers and basic cable. I suggest you call and ask for the retention department. Last year I switched to Dish ( I think that is the company) and found their service unacceptable and switched back. I though I was weary of Comcast's prices, but found the alternative far worse.

    • Christine says

      We have Century Link and pay $25/month for the highest speed they have. We also use cell phones and don't have a landline.

      • JoAnna says

        That is an amazing price through Centurylink! I have tried to get them to lower my bill (we have landline, dish and DSL with them) but they would not budge (did ask for retention……person). I feel they have gone downhill in service since they took over Qwest, Centurytel…..they have gotten pretty big for their britches. I spent over 15 minutes on the phone with them last night before they could actually locate my account (told me my phone # didn't exist or was new though we have had the same # for 12 yrs).

        • jo says

          Wow Joanna I got them to lower my internet to $19.99 a month. It took a few calls and bill adjustments (would only do it for 12 months). I will have to call again I am sure at the end of thsi 12 months. Keep trying – gonna depend on who answers and how helpful they want to be.

        • Sally says

          I also have had issues since I moved. I was always treated very well by Qwest and now since Centurylink took over I have had problems with them billing me for things I did not order & getting them taken off the bill was a nightmare. I had to call (3) times before a very rude person transferred me to person who had the authority to do something.The customer service has definitly changed and they will have mass exits if it doesn't improve.I have been a customer for 50 years and that doesn't seem to count for anything.

    • Sue says

      I only have internet service with Comcast. I called and spoke with customer service and requested a promo deal – they were able to reduce my monthly bill by about $20 per month for two years. It never hurts to ask!!!

    • kris t. says

      Thanks Michele and Christine. :) We just got Roku so hopefully once I get some rabbit ears for the TV for local channels, I can call Comcast to cancel. We live right near a water tower that Clear has an antenna on, so I was looking at them, but nice to know Century link needs no landline. Christine – do you happen to know the speed? I work from home and need to upload/download things frequently.

    • Shannon S says

      I don't know if you have Charter, but we get Internet only (no budle required which we were told we would need with Century) for $30 a month and we can have many devices downloading/streaming at one time w/o any issues.

  10. Gretchen B says

    We nee to replace the carpet in our familyroom. Anyone know where there are some really good deals right now?

  11. JoAnna says

    t was a home team win on Wednesday night, so everyone wins today!

    Papa John's pizza deal!

    Get 50% Off your Online Order of Regular Menu Price Items, using promo code TWINSWIN today only to celebrate the win.

    Use the promotion code TWINSWIN

    Offer expires 5/17/2012

  12. Kate says

    Anyone have any suggestions for homemade cleaning products for the bathroom – sinks etc. I had some 409 antibacterial cleaner but am now almost out and thought I would try something homemade if it is cheaper etc.

    • Rae P says

      I make and use this for anything that would use 409 for… love that it is non toxic. Found the recipe via a Star Trib article a of years ago… from a woman who was ridding her home of toxic cleaners.

      Wonder Spray (mix in a 32 oz spray bottle — I got mine at Ace Hardware)

      Pour into bottle :

      1 1/4 cup white vinegar

      2 tsp. borax

      Hot water (leaving room for soap to be added)


      1/4 c. Palmolive liquid soap

      20 drops essential oil (lavender or peppermint)

      Stir gently with spray bottle top.

    • says

      I use vinegar for cleaning everything. For areas that require an abrasive cleaner I use baking soda in addition to vinegar. They work great.

  13. scat says

    Sidney — awhile back, Carrie published a list of some survey takers that she found to be reputable. I signed up with three of them — Pine Cone, Opionion Outpost and another whose name I forget. I have had no problems with them and have only given out my phone or address for specific survey or group discussions, but this was after qualifying for the study. If you can find that list, there are many more.

    I am very put off by any site that asks my cell number. They don't need it so it is just for some scam and I just hit delete when that happens.

    I have made over $100 in the short time I have been doing this.

    • jo says

      I do the JDPower surveys and since Jan 1st of this year have cashed in $75.00 worth of points (dollars) for Visa and CVS gift cards – also have $50.00 more pending validation I will be able to cash in soon. I think that's pretty good for a few minutes each nite+ have gotten a couple sample products delivered in conjunction with the surveys.

  14. says

    Hello all!

    It feels great to make it to an Open Mic with school done and work not conflicting! I was hoping some of you might have pointers for me during my search for a good carpet/upholstery cleaner. I almost bought any variety of the Bissel Spot Bot but I read reviews on Amazon that it leaves rings of dirt where you set it to work.

    My carpet is in need of recuperation from dealing with a 4-year-old and an 1-and-a-half-year-old =D I hope to find something that also works in cars, but I would like any reviews/feedback about all types of carpet and upholstery cleaners. Thanks :)

    • Sally says

      Has anyone ever cleaned their carpet in the car? If so how did you do it? I can't afford to take it somewhere and it is gross.TIA

      • Carol says

        We have a "spot cleaner" for carpet and I used that. I took out the "carpet mats" and scrubbed them with water under the faucet. Then hung them outside to dry….took a couple days. Clean as new.

  15. Marie says

    Wondering if there's been a post yet about fun and frugal things to do this summer. I will admit that since the new website layout I come here less frequently because I just can't seem to navigate and find what I once used to very easily. But I was hoping that open mic might help me with ideas of things to do this summer like summer programs at the library, free movies etc. And if I just had someone show me the new format I'm sure I would figure it out.

    • Shannon S says

      Look for summer rec programs at local parks. I know that St michael has reading at the park and we loved that as the kids got a free book! There are also low cost/free movies. I am not sure if Mueller will be doing those again, but if they are we have loved going. It's second run movies but the kids loved them!

    • Chris says

      Marie – just wanted to comment on how you said that you don't come here as often. I felt/feel the same way, but I just got signed up for PYD email updates and it gets me the info the way I appreciate. I liked coming and browsing the site once a day, a few times a week, whatever; to see what new posts were there that I might be interested in. Now I haven't found a cronicalogical listing of ALL the posts that I can just browse until I reach the ones I saw the last time I was on the site. With the emails, PYD gives a list of links of the posts for the day. Then I can click those links regardless of whether it fits under shopping lists, freebies, or is more than 4 posts deep on the front page. Being able to just look through everything is really why I liked this site so much and finds me more deals than I knew to look for.

    • tag says

      We have kept busy going to Vacation Bible School (VBS) at various churches in our community. Some VBSs are during the day and some are in the evening, all are 4 to 5 days in duration and are loads of family friendly fun. Some cost $, some are free. My kids have always had a great (non-denominational) time.

    • JoAnna says

      Community ed through local school districts, classes through rec centers, often time cities have free movies or concerts in the park. Laura usually does a post every wk about free wknd events.

      A great way to follow PYD and all your favorite websites that post often is to subscribe to their RSS feed. I subscribe to many deal sites' rss feed and view all their updates in order through my Google reader (on the computer and through the Android ap on my phone). Then I never miss seeing a deal.

  16. Kathy says

    Any ideas on how to get towels soft again? Ours feel like sandpaper, maybe they have just reached their useful life.

    I have tried minimal amounts of detergent, extra rinse cycle, rinse with vinegar…but none of that seemed to help much. Any ideas?

  17. Cassie says

    any thoughts in starting a list for kmart as they now double coupons every day? i just got some AMAZING deals this week on olay, bounty, free bbq sauce, free toothpaste, free soda…just a thought. thanks for all that pyd does!

    • Caryn says

      I have been really scoring at Kmart as well. The Proctor and Gamble Catalina is rolling and amazing!

  18. Caryn says

    Has anyone used the Starbucks Refresher Beverage coupon? It is for a free can. I live in the sticks so unfortunately I haven't been able to find a place that sells them. Anyone?

  19. Crystal says

    Just saw a commercial for Kmart shop your ways reward customers that talks about doubling coupons. Anybody tried it or know more about it?

  20. says

    Okay, I know this subject comes up frequently so I have to apologize for bringing it up again. I haven't had a child in diapers for over a decade so I usually don't pay attention, but I have a co-worker who is pregnant and we are doing a diaper and wet wipe party for her. SO, what is a reasonable price for brand name diapers and wet wipes? I don't need the rock bottom price, just what is a reasonable price to pay per diaper/wet wipe. Thanks in advance for humoring me.

  21. Christine says

    We the the 40MB speed. My hubby is a gamer so anything less is unacceptable to him. We also use a Roku and have no problem with buffering. We typically run 2 computers at a time on the wireless with no problems.

  22. AsUntoTheLord says

    I haven't had my eyes examined in YEARS and both hubby and I need new glasses badly. We don't have insurance and I know I can get good deals/free glasses once I get a prescription. My question is does anyone know of a cheap (or free :-) way to get an exam? I would need it to be a place that would actually give me the prescription info…not sure if that is pretty standard or not. I think I'd need my pupil distance too for the best deals, I'm assuming most can get that as well??? I'm in the Milwaukee, WI area. Thanks! :-)

    • AsUntoTheLord says

      Ok, update, after calling around the cheapest exam I've found is $42 (Stein Optical). When I asked about getting the PD (pupil distance), most said they usually only do that when you're actually getting glasses there (though most were will to do it free, even if I didn't). I know Carrie, you've mentioned PD is needed for the glasses at Coastal Contacts. Have you ever had problems with not getting it just right? Several of the places I spoke with said it can vary depending on a number of factors and that it isn't good to have them do it and then order online, better to do it with the specific frames/face/prescription. Is that just a ploy to get you to buy their glasses???

      • scat says

        You can get your pd measurement online at one of the sites that sell glasses. I don't remember which one I used, but the big ones are Zenni, googles4u, Eyebuy. They have a clever way of measuring it. I have ordered several pairs of glasses online and they are all just fine. Actually I got 6 pair for less than $100. I got both distance glasses and bifocals and a pair of sunglasses. It may take a little time doing it on the internet, but even if you pay for an eye exam you will save money.

  23. Julie S says

    We are moving to a different (very old) house, and I'd like to get a Culligan water system (like the big 5 gallon jug water dispenser). The house has a lead pipe, so I'd rather be safe than sorry! If you use a different company, I'd like to know which one. I'd also like to know the average cost for the cooler rental and the water delivery. Thanks!

  24. amyg says

    Check the Three Rivers Park District web site they have great stuff. We LOVE to go to the swimming ponds. They are man made swimming "holes" that are filtered and mildly chlorinated. They do charge a fee, but if you live close to one it is well worth the cost of the season pass. On hot days I love getting there right at 9 when it opens and then leaving in time to get home for lunch. Elm Creek and Lake Minnetonka are the 2 locations on the West side of the metro. The Lake Elmo Park Reserve also has one.

    How old are the kids? Edina has great free outdoor concerts at the Edinborough amphitheater on T and Th at noon for the younger crowd. I believe the Bloomington amphitheater also does free concerts. "google" free outdoor movies. They play all over the twin cities at dusk. We love Chutes and Ladders at Highland Park Reserve in Bloomington, Bryant Lake Beach in EP for swimming, riding the trolley from the station in Linden Hills, getting free museum passes at the library: Mill City, History, etc; Como Zoo, open skating @ Braemar. Have fun!

  25. Cassie says

    Yes Crystal, I shop Kmart only for this reason! With your SYWR card, they will double 5 coupons up to $1.00 with any qualifying $25 purchase. It is essentially the same way that double daze at Rainbow works. Every once in a while, they will have special double days where they will double up to $2.00 coupons or double 10 coupons per transaction. Not only that, but if you register your SYWR card online, you have access to a special free product coupon every week with each $25 transaction. For example, this week's free deal is 12 packs of soda, last week was free cookies, next week is free bbq sauce. If you go by tomorrow, they are having an awesome deal on P&G products (if you don't receive their Sunday ad, check out the back page online) with a rolling cat for $10 off your next purchase with a $30 P&G purchase. Pair that with coupons that double and the $10 MIR that is going on for qualifying P&G products and you have yourself one heck of a deal! Also this week I have gotten free bbq sauce and free toothpaste with sale price and doubled coupons. HTH

  26. Cassie says

    you definitely can get wipes on sale with coupons for .02 per wipe pretty much anytime. i aim for .01-.015 per wipe unless i am out and really need them. diaper prices seem to have gone up some in the past months. my personal price point is less than .15 per diaper, but i aim for closer to .10 per diaper which is definitely doable with coupons and sales.

    right now target has a huggies wipe deal going on:

    buy 2 huggies refill boxes, get $5 giftcard

    512 count box – $12.49 – buy 2

    $1 off huggies wipes target coupon at target website – use 2 (my target in blaine allows me to use more than one of the same target q per transaction)

    total cost for 2 boxes of wipes after coupons and giftcard – $17.98 (which is .018 per wipe)


  27. JoAnna says

    The Walgreen's I shop at did not have any left and no spot on the shelf at Cub. Thanks to kris t. I looked at Holiday and was able to use my coupons–thanks :) Anywhere you go is supposed to charge you tax on the item.

  28. tag says

    Chronological order of articles:

    From the top of the webpage: TOOLBOX —> (drop down menu) click on 'All Posts by Date'

    From the bottom of the webpage: 3rd column TOOLBOX —> 'All Posts by Date'

    Warning: You will not be able to go from one article to the next like you could on the old site.

    Hit the BACKSPACE button on your computer. It will take you back to the All Posts by Date page (the last page you visited).

    If I could still do cartwheels, I would have been out in the yard making the neighbors laugh I was so happy when I discovered the 'by Date' page!!! It's a bummer that we can't go from one article to the next anymore but my kids clued me in on the 'backspace' button so it's not too bad. HTH

  29. BG says

    Thanks for your help! I'm acutally looking to buy, not sell (sorry if that wasn't clear). I just want to avoid buying something that I think is a great deal only to find out later that I overpaid.

  30. Katie says

    When I bought my house, I had the unpleasant surprise of trashed carpet when I closed. Needless to say, I had to tear it out. I was on a budget (first time homebuyer) but I also wanted something quality that would last. I did A LOT of pricing and I ended up going with a carpet I found at Lowe's (the name of it is called Eagle's Trace). It was one of their "special value" carpets. Had a nice length and twist (ask your carpet people for more info on that stuff) and the price was amazing. I had my Livingroom, Dining room and two bedrooms done in this carpet (in 2 different colors). We were so pleased that my parents also had a room carpeted with it as well as my brother and sister in law. We have all been VERY happy with the product. I'd definitely recommend checking out Lowe's (and staying far, far away from Home Depot). A note about Lowe's, they'll take competitor's coupons so if you can get your hands on a 10% off Home Depot purchase coupon… you're golden! :) Good luck!

  31. sheepy says

    I only do the swagbuck surveys that are on the survey page. I don't answer any of the emails or try for the surveys listed on the main page.

  32. says

    Cassie (and Caryn) – We don't get the Kmart ad in our newspaper subscription so it's not a store that's high on our radar. We've been asked about Kmart before and we don't have the capacity to add it to our workload right now, but we'll consider it in the future. Thanks for asking!

  33. kris t. says

    Piggybacking on my post above regarding cable.

    I got an antenna from Radio Shack. I was doubtful. However, now I get even more channels coming in than basic cable from Comcast. The picture is completely clear.

    I was OVERJOYED to unscrew that ^#$#$ cable from the wall – FINALLY!!!!!!!

    Give it a shot – if the antenna doesn't work, you can return it.

  34. Ab says

    Anybody know where to buy Good N Natural bars besides CVS? I have some coupons I would like to use. Thanks.

    • kris t. says

      I've been perplexed – no other store seems to have them and my CVS has an empty space where they used to be. ;(

  35. says

    Walmart is supposed to have them, but I didn't even see a spot for them. Just keep looking at CVS. I just got their last 5 at one of my CVS's. I think you just need to find out when they get orders in and visit frequently.

  36. Alicia says

    I found this on PInterest and it really works!

    Run towels through the wash once with hot water and a cup of vinegar, then again with hot water and a half-cup of baking soda. It strips the residue and leaves them smelling fresh.

  37. Erin says

    I have had really good luck with Lloyd's fibercare- they will do an area rug free when they do the rest of your carpet and they have always been super reliable.

  38. wtfci says

    Comcast has an unadvertised package of Basic Cable with 12mbps broadband for $62 + tax per month.

  39. wtfci says

    Vinegar plus a few drops of essential oil will drown out the smell of vinegar.

    You can also just mash the zest of a leman with a mortar and pestel. Then squeeze the lemon juice in the bowl. Then add that to a spray bottle with vinegar, baking soda and water. Shake and spray. You may want to strain the zest so it doesn't get stuck in the spray bottle.

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