Open Mic 5/3/12

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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. Mel says

    Does anyone know of a good deal on lodging in the Brainerd lakes area for mid July? I've been watching groupon getaways and livingsocial but haven't seen anything yet. Thanks

  2. Melissa S says

    What is the going rate for babysitting? My daughter was asked to babysit the neighbors toddler and she has no idea how much to ask for.

    • mrl says

      My 13 year old charges $5 an hour. We paid college sitters $10 an hour a few years back when we still needed sitters. I would say depending on your daughter's age somewhere between $5 and $10. Though I'd have to say that more people I talk to pay closer to $10 than $5.

  3. V says

    Has anyone been able to finish the request for the Free Ruffies Color Scents & Scented Trash Bags Sample from the All You site? I tried yesterday and now again this morning….yesterday it said it was overloaded…now today it let me register but kept telling me the code you have to type in was wrong…then eventually told me it was overloaded with requests again…sounds like a bogus link…anyone else have that?

  4. mrl says

    My son is going to start taking Allegra for allergies. It's the medicine his doctor recommended. I know allergy meds are pricey. Does anyone have experience getting deals on this med? Or maybe where to buy the cheapest generic version of the med?

  5. Mary says

    I'll try and keep this short. Hubby, our 2 daughters and I are flying to Arizona in a few months. I used to fly a couple times a year until having kids. I've only flown once in the last ten years (without kids). So kids are first time flyers. Looking for advice on how to make sure our kids get to sit with at least one of us! Doesn't have to be 3 in a row. Fine with 2 and 2. Which airlines will give us the best chance to do this? I know with Southwest I have to check in 24 hours in advance to get in the first seating group. Is Southwest even worth the stress of dealing with their open seating?

    Both girls have a tendancy towards carsickness and one has a moderate peanut allergy (hives, not anaphylaxis). They are 7 and 11, so hopefully people can understand why I don't want them seated by strangers!

  6. says

    My daughter just made $6.71 per hour babysitting 3 kids ages 5 – 9. This is actually less than she usually makes babysitting these kids, but none of these kids need diaper changes or bottles. They are pretty easy to take care of. She has gotten as much as $10 an hour for them when she also watched their older sibling. I don't know if there is any one going rate for baby sitting. For this particular family I think it depends on how much cash the Mom has on hand. She is my sisters friend and my daughter likes the extra income, so she babysits no matter how much or little she may get paid each time. 25 years ago when I babysat on a regular basis, I was making a different amount for each family. It depended on things like the familys income status, how many children, the ages of the children, etc. I would babysit for just about anyone no matter how much they were able to pay me because I felt that the less fortunate needed a break from their kids just as much as the wealthy. I do admit that babysitting for the wealthier people was more fun. I rarely turned anyone down due to how much they could pay me.

  7. mnsotamama says

    I guess I would call the airlines directly and ask them if you would be guaranteed to be seated next to your kids.

  8. Lisa says

    Hi folks,

    The Rainbow foods in Forest Lake (assuming others will also?) will double coupons that say "do not double". Big news!:)

  9. Kb says

    14 of us recently flew to Florida (5 Kids) and we did not pay extra to get seats ahead of time and when we hot there all 14 of us were together on a full plane. You have to put birthdays in when making a reservation so if you book together they will put any minors together automatically…atleast that had always happened with us and we fly 6-10 times a year.

    • Mary says

      That makes me feel better. I have heard horror stories about parents and children being separated on flights.

  10. Lisa says

    Just want to caution fellow "couponers" to really watch your receipts when using multiple coupons at Target. I have missed coupons on several of my transactions there (especially when using both store/manufacturer coupons). I think the cashier has to authorize the coupons as they are ringing and I think (?) some cashiers absentmindedly don't "allow" them to work.

    • Saff says

      I have had this issue many times and always check my receipt before leaving store. A pain but better than figuring it out at home…25 minutes away!

    • JoAnna says

      Target receipt are so, so tricky. I have had coupons not show in the receipt but when I added the precoupon price and deducted the coupons I used the total was correct. For Target I keep track of all the coupons I use when I shop due to this problem.

      • AP says

        Yes, I have had the same problem. Sometimes the coupons show up in odd places on the recipet too. I usually try to calculate the dollar amount before coupons and after coupons prior to shopping so at least I have an idea of what my total should be. I also ask the cashier if I can hand them each coupon and they usually like that because of the quantity and that way none of them stick together. I once had two three dollar coupons stick to another coupon and got into the car to realize they were not deducted, always double check before you leave!

  11. Melissa W. says

    Costco has great prices on generics. Target also has pretty good prices on their store brands.

    • LP says

      We pay about $7.50 or more depending on circumstances for one child, 5 yrs old who is pretty well behaved.

  12. Julie says

    Does anyone know where I could go to get a bottle of eyeglass cleaner spray for free? I'm out and have no idea where to get more, much less at a good price.

    • JoAnna says


      My hubby always had his refilled for free at Target. You can buy the small bottle in their eyeglass store and then go in for refills. Not sure where you can get the bottle for free too unless you buy new glasses.

    • Vickie says

      My hubby and I get the eyeglass cleaner at WalMart'e eyeglass store. They also refill the bottle for free. Like JoAnna, I don't know where you can get the bottle for free. One thing you might want to watch for…sometimes WalMart has a bottle of eyeglass cleaner as a free sample item. I tried looking today but didn't see it. Also, if I remember correctly, when we bought the bottle of cleaner it was less than $3.00 at WalMart – but don't quote me!

      • ella says

        Menard's sometimes has this item free after rebate- but that offer is not available this week.

  13. Katie says

    Star Tribune's Steals (daily deal site) sometimes has good deals on lodging in northern MN. I've seen Duluth, Brainerd, etc. They have some travel deal today (cannot remember what it is)

  14. Vickie says

    I used to take Allegra for my allergies until it went over-the-counter. My allergist recommended cetrizene (sp?). I have really bad spring allergies and because of that, he said Claritan would not work for me. I needed something stronger. He explained the cetrizene (sp?) is like a generic version of Zyrtec and could be found at Sams Club. I bought some and it works great!

    • Terri says

      Allegra is not yet available in generic form, so you are "stuck" buying the brand name. The cheapest I have found it is at costco. There are lots of coupons in the papers for it and it is regularly on sale at Walgreens. You could try starting with half a tablet–for many years I was on a 60 mg dose and the tablets are for more than double that.

  15. Deb says

    Does anyone have some good ideas where to buy some decent looking annuals at a reasonable price? I have several containers to fill and would like to do some hanging baskets also. This year I can't afford to spend a lot on plants that only last a few months, but I do want to add some life to my patio.

      • AP says

        We have great success with the plants at Lowes. And at our Lowes, in the back of the garden section is a rack with 50%-75% off some of the plants that they want to get rid of because they are bringing other seasonal ones in, or ones that need a little TLC and I have always gotten great deals and they actually do not look that bad. I got 12 tulips and three daffodil plants (I know they are not annuals) but got them for 50% off on that rack. Got them all for $23, that would have originally cost $46, and you know that look just great!

    • V says

      I was also going to suggest Menards…not only are their prices good I have found in the last couple years they have very nice plants that do great for me.

      Also the other tip I was going to pass along for cutting costs on annuals is; I love lots of planters around the house/deck…so the last few years I have started to put in a nice piece of drift wood or garden ornament (you know like a frog or turtle etc…) anything that you are ready to get weathered looks great and it takes up the place of at least one plant…I do that in most of larger planters and LOVE the look and saves me a few bucks every year….I also do that in my flower gardens….a large rock….or find something old and tattered that looks rustic etc…. HTH

      Oh also the nice part about Menards is you can use the rebate checks so no out of pocket if you have some to use.

    • JoAnna says

      I have seen other comments in the past to also check Craig's List and local master gardening sales. I am by no means an expert on gardening!

      • Jennifer says

        There is a big plant sale next weekend and Sunday is 1/3 off everything. It is an experience with lots of people so there is usually a wait to get in but once you're inside, everything moves quickly. You can look at the selection here

    • Amber_Giaco says

      I don't know your location, but Malt O Meal has a plant sale every year in Northfield, right on Highway 3 across from their factory, there are signs, its in a smaller white building. It is usually Mothers Day weekend, this year it starts next Thursday and runs through Sunday. They have really great deals, I have family that come from nearly an hour away to take advantage of their sale. You don't have to work there or know anyone to buy the plants.

  16. Mikey says

    If anyone sees good prices on frozen turkeys, please let me know. I'm in northern suburbs so this end of the cities would be preferred. I saw some Market Pantry or Archer Farms on sale before Easter for like 79 cents/pound. Of course, I waited and now can't find a really good price and some Targets around here don't even have any left. Thanks!

    • AP says

      I bought a couple last week at Target, frozen turkey breasts, for 0.99/lb. Not sure if they are still that price this week?

  17. AP says

    Alright couponers, I have a question for you all. It seems the past few weeks I have been to a couple of stores that I usually shop at and cashiers seem to be questioning my coupons more. I am an honest person and know the coupon policies, know the staff at the stores I shop at and am not one that buys 10 of any item so I should not be pegged as dishonest in terms of printing coupons.

    Let me give you an example. I was at a grocery store recently and had two coupons for the Ocean Spray BOGO cherry juice coupon from When I got the the checkout I had bought two Cran-Apple Juices for 2.99 and then bought two Cherry juices for 3.39 each (which with the coupon were free). The coupon also stated redeemable at Walmart. As I gave the coupons to the cashier, I always state how many coupons I have and if I have any free item coupons, BOGO or expired I mention and point them out in advance. The cashier scanned my first BOGO and it took off 3.29 then she scanned the second one and it only took off 2.99. She then stated my grand total, and I mentioned to her that the second coupon should have taken off 3.29 for the price of the free cherry juice. She said no, you bought one cherry juice you get one free, you bought one cran-apple you get one free. I said, I think the coupon states that I get free cherry juices. She said well the register is only taking off 2.99 when I swipe the coupon so that is all that this coupon allows. She looked at the coupon and called over one the the customer service managers, she got there and the cashier explained the situation and then at the end the cashier also said to the manager, "the coupon also states redeemable at Walmart, so should I even be taking them?" (kind of in a rude way) The manager then had to call the manager of the store to come down and look at the coupons and then adjust the register to deduct the the correct price that should have been taken off. They did not apologize, say sorry to keep you waiting and the cashier treated me like I should not have caused a problem. I felt as though I had to explain myself to the cashier and manager as too where I got the coupons, etc. I am appreciative that I did get the money off my bill that is not my point, everything did work out.

    I guess I am wondering what happened to good customer service, as well as training on the part of the stores. I felt in this situation the store was coming down on me for my coupons, but I was educating them on coupons. If you are going to draw a hard line educate your employees. I had to explain the the cashier that even though my coupon stated redeemable at Walmart, it is still a manufacture coupon and can be used at any store, just like the coupons that come out of your register after I pay and get my receipt.

    I share this story NOT to have you all share you couponing horror stories with me but more to get some suggestions as to how to deal with these tense situations or how some of you have dealt with them in the past. What is proper etiquette for us coupners and is this questioning, just a trend that we are going to see now that couponing is becoming more popular?

    Thank you all in advance!!!

    • Ayla says

      As a cashier at Cub, I can tell you, AP, that your expiriance is a common on. My mentalitly on coupons is, "well, if .40 cents is enough for the customer to be happy and come back and spend another $50, well its a win-win… Whatever, no big deal…." BUT, I've noticed stores have been cracking down on coupons, and couponers. Maybe it wasent the cashier's fault, the registers are also cracking down. Rude people is another problem… :( To me, whats .40? But I think customer service is more important!

      Here's a queston: When shopping, do you think its the customer's, or the cashier's responsibility to have coupons? Store coupons, i mean. Sometimes, a customer will buy a product that has a coupon, but then when the coupon question comes up, they say "No!" …… Do people appriciate a few cents off?

        • JoAnna says

          I think she means the in-ad Cub coupons and Cub coupon booklet coupons. I am guessing some customers do not cut out the in-ad Cub coupon but expect that the cashier will have the coupon to scan. I would say it is the customer's responsibility to have the coupon with them.

  18. sally says

    I have a Kuerig coffee maker and would like to try some of their other flavors. They do have a sample pack but it's very expensive. I wish one of the Stores would sell them individually so I could try the ones I want.

    • amy says

      Try going to Bed, Bath and Beyond. I have seen a few sample packs of like 3 k-ups each there. It is not a big selection, but that is the only place I have seen that sells them in 3 packs.

  19. Chanda says

    Does anyone know of a great, reasonably priced, place in MN for a family reunion? We are a group of about 30 (8 of those are children) and we all want to stay together or very near eachother for a weekend in September. Thoughts?

    • AJM says

      We had a family reunion a few years ago and held it at a camp (it was a Christian camp that we had a connection with). I just now Googled "Minnesota camps for family reunions" and some interesting options popped up. The advantage is camps are usually very reasonably priced, there might be children's activities (we paid extra one day for a lifeguard so the kids could swim), no TVs to distract the kids, gathering spaces, we even hired them to do our meals. Some camps might be more rustic than others, but that's part of the fun! Be sure the camp is ACA accredited. You can search on the ACA's website for Minnesota camps. Good luck!

    • sally says

      Breezy Point used to have a huge house with lots of bedrooms. I always thought that would be great for a reunion.

  20. BP says

    I purchased a home fairly recently and I need to put gutters on. Any ideas where to get the best deal on quality gutters?

    • AZ says

      We got our gutters from Home Depot Home Services. We priced a couple of companies and HD was the most reasonable and the most reputable. I would highly recommend HD.

  21. Chanda says

    Another question….We recently bought a new home and it came with a trash compactor. I know this will be a money saving thing as we will be able to get the smallest trash bin possible! What I don't know is where to find trash compactor bags reasonably priced, how long can the trash stay in the compactor, and is it best to leave "organics" (food leftovers/packaging) out or can those be tossed in there as well?

    • bree says

      I have actually used the trash compactor bags specifically made for them, and then put a regular white garbage bag inside of it (so it's doubled up), and that works GREAT!!! I then just change the regular white plastic garbage bag and end up only having to change the trash compactor bag every few months which will end up saving a TON of money!!!The regular garbage bag is nearly a perfect fit, too! Try that!!!

      • Chanda says

        I had no idea you could do that, Thanks! Are you able to compact it repetitively if you use a regular trash bag, or would you then just compact once and put a new bag in??

        • bree says

          I've had no problem compacting it several times! i've never had one of the bags rip on the bottom or anything. Good luck!!

  22. BP says

    I am interested in redoing my master walk-in closet to something that looks nice like California closets, but I'm hoping to avoid that kind of price tag. I know Home depot/menards type stores have a do it yourself type project, has anyone had any luck with this? Anyone know where I can get the best deal ?! Also, how much did it cost you approximately? Thanks!!!!!!

  23. Chanda says

    We've always had good results with simply asking the gate person to make sure our seats are together (even if it is just my husband and I flying), and if that fails we've always been able to trade with someone next to us–I find just about everyone has a generous spirit, and if not a generous spirit they atleast don't want to be "responsible" for someone else's child so they are willing to move around.

  24. sheepy says

    I am trying to downsize my mother's stuff as she is preparing to move into assisted living. A few years ago I sold some clothes at the Clothes Mentor and TurnStyle. I found I got more money at TurnStyle–has anyone else sold somewhere else? Is there a better area to sell? When I sold mine I went to Highland Park because they were all newer designer clothes and I thought the stuff would be priced higher there. True?

    Also, we will be selling dishes (Dansk), artwork, tablecoths, limited furniture and assorted household stuff. Where should we take it?

    I thought about having an estate sale, but it might be too stressful for my mom to see her stuff being sold and I don't have anywhere else for her to go the day of the sale. I don't mind taking stuff to different consignment places to get the most money for her that I can.


    • Kari says

      Clothes Mentor is very picky about things and has gotten increasingly so in the past few years. They want current styles ( within the last year or so) and popular name brands. I would try doing a garage sale.

      • sheepy says

        A garage sale isn't really an option. She is in an apartment right now in a building that has a lot of rules.

        I guess I'll go to turnstyle for the clothes.

        Some of the dishes i might be able to sell on Ebay, just not crazy right now about having to pack up stuff.

    • Lucy says

      You can find free packing material on Craigslist. You can try listing furniture on Craigslist. I have not had any luck there with furniture sale. There is a store in Edina that will sell items for you on ebay, so you don't have to do it yourself. It's by Southdale's Cub food.

  25. Mikey says

    I have a couple grocery bags of items I really need to shred this weekend. Anyone know of any of those free shredding events in the metro area (prefer north metro) this weekend? I'd greatly appreciate any info on them. Thanks a bunch!

    • Shelly says

      If you happen to be a Citizen's Bank customer, they are doing it this Saturday for their customers from 9 – noon. Our suburb (St. Louis Park) has a free day of shredding once per year, I imagine other suburbs do as well.

    • Kari says

      The Postal Credit Union in Hugo is doing a shredding event on Saturday but I don't know if it's just for customers or not.

  26. Sofi says

    Outdoor experts we are looking for suggestions ,best parks to camp with the family any ideas as to buy a tent or not and what to pack besides food we bought the annual state park pass (MN) and cannot wait to adventure with the family hubby , 3 girls from 2 -14 yrs. old and me anything that you can share is helpful this is our first time we are very excited anything would be helpful thanks.

    • JoAnna says

      I am not an expert! We bought a camper last fall and will start our adventures this summer :) For MN state parks I highly recommend reserving a spot (… as soon as you know when you can go. Make sure to pack for a rainy day (gear and indoor games), outdoor games (state parks cost less to stay at but also have less amenities than private campgrounds), first aid kit, radio, patience, smiles :) Have fun. I am excited to start a tradition with my hubby and 6 yr old that I hope she loves so much she will do the same with her family.

  27. Janna says

    Does anyone know a place with good prices on used blue 55 gallon plastic barrels? I want to make my own rain barrels for watering veggies, so need barrels that were originally used for food or soap (not anything potentially hazardous).

    Some places are so expensive I may as well just buy a ready made rain barrel!

    Western Container in New Hope sells barrels for $25, but unfortunately they are only open M-F 7 am to 3:30 pm, so I can't get there from St. Paul without taking time off work, which I'd like to avoid.

  28. Shelly says

    Just wanted to say that I got my $5 Target gift card today from deal recently mentioned on PYD. It was through Real Simple and was a $5 rebate for purchasing Starbucks coffee beans. The envelope didn't stand out, and I just about stuck it in recycling thinking it was just an advertisement. If you're waiting for that rebate, watch your envelopes!

    • sally says

      Shelly, I got mine last week and it was in an envelope that looked like junk mail. I always fel the envelopes if I'm waiting for a gift card. Also I got my pants & top today from monteray Bay. I paid a total of $3.44. what a deal.

  29. V says

    I need some printer help/advice on what to buy for mostly coupon printing? I bought a HP Photosmart one a few years ago and WHAT A BIG MISTAKE!!! It SUCKS the ink…not only that…it will refuse to print at times saying there isn't enough ink levels…after a few times of replacing it I realized there is plenty of ink it just says there isn't enough. And it always making me print an alignment page every time I mess with the ink…the dang thing is just programmed to use ink! I would love to get a plain old black one and just have the dang thing print coupons without all the running around this so called "good" one is doing for me.


    • sheepy says

      Ooh, too bad you didn't enter the class action suit against HP last year.

      I didn't know until after I purchased my HP that they are notorious for using ink. They did program them to give low ink warnings early. I bypass that and can get as many as 100 more pages. The printer itself works well, but when I need a new one I'm avoiding HP.

    • mrl says

      I would be very interested in hearing recommendations for a B&W only printer, too. One that I can use exclusively for coupons.

      • Sarah says

        I'd keep an eye on deal websites for listings of cheap laser printers. I bought mine-a multi function because of the faxing I did then- now I use it for coupon printing. even with the ton of coupons I print, I don't have to change the toner often-maybe once in 8-12 months. Its well worth it.

    • betty chevalier says

      I have a Brother HL2240 Laser printer, which I use mostly for printing coupons. I love it and it's worked very well!! I got it @ Office Depot for $59, the printer cartridge is spendy, but it 's good for over 3 – 6 months depending on how much printing you do!!

  30. Lucy says

    On Saturday 5/5/2012

    -There are events in St. Paul for Cinco de Mayo

    -Ikea is having a re-model celebration. They just re-did 19 vignettes. Plus, the food market place is suppose to be updated.

    -at 1:30PM Central Library in downtown Mpls is having Japanese drumming performance for Asian Pacific Heritage month

    -Walker Art museum free 10-3PM

    -A bird education demo 9-1PM at 3815 American East Ave, Bloomington. 952-854-5900

    -First day of Richfield Farmers Market


    1-3Pm at the Landmark Center, St. Paul they are having an event about Liberia.

  31. Jen A. says

    Any experience trading in games/electronics? I have kids who have outgrown their Nintendo DS' and would like to trade in somewhere or sell them for cash. They'd also like to upgrade their Kindle Touch for Kindle Fire. Any ideas?? TIA :)

    • Betty says

      Try selling on Craigslist. I just purchased some DS games on there and the woman I purchased from had sold some that i wished to purchase so people do buy them on Craigslist. She was selling DS games for $10. each.

  32. Michele says

    We camp every year at Lake Elmo Park reserve. It is a Washington county Park. You can make reservations and we highly recommend it. We have had our camper for 24 years and still enjoy going every summer. We like to go someplace fairly close so we can enjoy camping and not traveling. The park has two large playgrounds, a sand bottom filtered swimming hole, fishing trails for walking and biking, etc. It is a great place for families. We used to camp at Baker Park (Three Rivers District) but there were too many groups drinking and staying up late and being LOUD, not an ideal situation for families with children.

  33. Beth says

    We are moving next week and are rethinking our TV/Internet/Phone situation. We are currently paying 4 legs and 6 arms for our bundle and need to get that fixed ASAP!

    I tried calling Charter today (our current provider) to see if they would be willing to lower the price since we could go with a different provider for $50+ less/month. I talked to 2 different people who seemed to give me the run around and wouldn't do anything to help lower the price….. always seem to be my luck! We would like to avoid switching to a dish, but not sure what else to do???

    Any suggestions on lowering the price or saving $$ on our TV/Internet/Phone bill each month??? Thanks so much for any help you can offer!

    • Judy says

      We use charter and always have better customer service and excellent explanations on different options available and have been able to get decent prices by going in person to our local office. Don't know if thats an option for you. We live in the Lakeville/Rosemount area and the office is only a couple of miles from us.

      • Beth says

        How do you like Magic Jack? I've been looking into vonage, but magic jack had also sparked my interest!! Is the service reliable?

    • Jen says

      We use Magic Jack for our phone- we pay $10 a year on a 5 year plan. We use Clear for our internet. We pay around $40 a month for it. And we went to Netflix for $10 a month, Hulu Plus for $10 a month and a digital antenna for $ 30 (one time). Saved us a fortune over Comcast internet, phone and Dish. Hope this helps you.

    • Sheila says

      If you don't mind dropping cable tv you can save a lot by suggestions given already or using an antenna. Ours was 65.00 and works very well.

      After years of dial-up, we just went with a Charter package called duo which is not a contract and stays the same price (at least for a while). It is for unlimited phone and 15mbs Express Internet for $50.00 a month (more like 63.00 with taxes)

      If you can talk with someone local that is the way to go. I got free install plus $50.00 credit.


    • Heather says

      Check out the article in the newest consumer reports. IF no one you know gets it it should be at your local library. They have a large article about just this option. There was a lot of options like downloading free apps for your ipad to watch cable or stream tv that I never new about.

  34. KB says

    I'm a pharmacist, there are many brands of generic allegra out there. Just ask a pharmacist if you can't find it. Generic name is Fexofenadine

  35. Mickey says

    Target is getting horrible. The take products off the shelf so they don't have to deal with the coupons. I've been told this by a Target employee. Also using a coupon that does not state excludes travel/ trial sizes. Coupon had no restrictions but the mgr said that's not the intent of the coupon. Intent??? It's becoming more like I'm trying to prove I'm not a criminal. I'm not a shelf clearer, most I've used is 4. I think extreme couponers ruined it for all of us.

  36. Jennifer says

    I think that other passengers will switch with you. To be honest (and I'm sure your children are very nice and well-behaved) but people are not going to want to sit by an unattended child. They will switch with you to avoid having to do that. Good luck!

  37. Korene says

    We are going camping this weekend! I second both Washington county parks and MN state parks. That is what we usually do. William O Brien state park is nice and really close. Best to make reservations at MN state parks between memorial and labor day. Before and after isn't as big of a deal. The Washington county parks have nature programs every saturday night and Lake Elmo has a great beach! We go camping two or three weekends a month in the summer with our two daughters to feel free to ask questions! Kolefor @ hotmail . com

      • Stacy says

        We usually camp at private camp grounds. Our fav for the kids is St Croix Haven (near Hinkley), Pete's Retreat near Mille Lacs and for county campgrounds we camp at Bunker Hills in Anoka. It has the best water park!

  38. Brenda says

    Dickersons Resort on Lake Florida is a quaint family-owned and run mom and pop resort. Bob and Connie Dickerson are the sweetest people! We've stayed there in the past. They have some older, smaller cabins but have in recent years built some GORGEOUS really large ones. Some are much nicer than my current house! Each cabin/house is right on the lake.

    Also, check… there are lots of options there… just a matter of finding the area you want and a house with enough bedrooms for you.

  39. Linda says

    Does anyone like to dogsit or know anyone who does? We want to go on vacation this summer but have 2 dogs that will need a place to go. And kennels are way beyond our budget. Any other ideas would be helpful too.

    • Shelly says

      Linda- I'm not sure what you'd pay for dog-sitting, but just want to mention one of the Twins Cities oldest dog boarding places is still in business and still such a kind staff. It is Kingdale Kennels in Eden Prairie near the Hopkins Border. They are not a "spa" type place like many of the newer dog boarding places. We are boarding 3 dogs (our 1 and our daughter's 2) for 1 week this summer, and for the 3 of them it will cost less than 1 dog at many of the fancy places. You can e-mail me if you want any more information. shelly dot houghton at

    • Mary says

      I don't know what you pay for dog sitting but we go to King's Kennels in Collegeville in Stearns County. $17 a day (which I think is reasonable) and they get outdoor playtime with other dogs (of similar size) four times a day.

    • says

      Linda, what area do you live in? I own my home and have a dog, 3 cats, 2 ferrets, a rabbit, and 4 guinea pigs. I have a fenced in back yard and my 3 kids (ages 16, 18, 20) and I have wanted to foster animals, but there just aren't any opportunities near us. Maybe dog sitting can be equally as rewarding. If you are still looking or are interested in talking more, let me know and I will post my email.

      • Linda says

        Thank you all. NN, I am very interested in talking with you. You can email me at himynameislinda2 AT yahoo dot com and I'll reply or call you. THanks!

  40. Sheila says

    I just bought a Brother MFC 7360N from BBuy. Staples had it at 199.99, BBuy 125.00 ordered online and shipped to store free. Printer/scanner/fax.

    Super happy with it. Using low toner setting and the print quality is very high. Every coupon I have used scanned great at various stores. It is only black and white but our library will print on a color laser for 30 cents so I just do that if I need a color copy.

    Read reviews and check toner cartridge replacement costs. Some of the lasers are cheaper but their toner is expensive.

  41. Amanda says

    I second the Brother HL 2240. Love mine. Used to have issues w/ coupons scanning with my ink jet printer, but no more. Prints nice and clear. As for ink toner, I wait for a deal through 4ink jets w/ extra cash back through Beatles you can usually get 3 toners for around $60.

  42. mark says

    CUB : I got a couple good deals at Cub today. I received a $5 off your next order when I bought (4) Dr. Pepper 2 liters ( 4x $1.50 = $6-5 = $1 ) ( Ends up costing 25 cents a 2 liter ) . I received a $4 off your next order when I bought (4) Klondike multi-packs ( Unilever promotion ) , which are BOGO right now ( $9.50 – $4= $5 for 4 multi-packs , about $1.25 a package ) .

  43. Merlene says

    Over the last few months I have had a couple of estate sales and have been selling things on eBay for different people trying to break into that business. I would be happy to take a look at what you have to see if I could help. You can email suchjunque at My seller name on eBay is suchjunque so you can see what I have listed. I know how hard it is for people to part with their collections. I've found that when they talk to me about what they are selling it help's them let go. My goal is to find new homes for your treasures and junque.

  44. Mikey says

    We used to go camping with our kids every other weekend when they were younger. We tent camped. Make sure to bring along things in case of rain. We brought games, coloring books, cards, toys, etc. in case we were stuck inside in the rain. It was always such a great time. We especially enjoyed McCarthy Beach state park up by Hibbing and Whitewater state park near Rochester. The state parks do a very nice job of maintaining the grounds and bathroom/shower facilities. Another place we went to years ago was Kamp Dells near Waterville, MN. It was a private campground but had a ton of kids stuff–activites, pony rides, etc. Enjoy the camping. They grow up way too fast. Maybe I can talk my hubby and kids into going again this summer some time!

  45. Mikey says

    I did a little more digging and there's a community shred-it calendar at this link:

    It lists some events this Saturday from 9-noon at a few northern locations- for Cub foods. HarMar, Maplewood West, Midway, a Blaine location, etc. In case anyone besides me needs to shred some stuff see the link above. There's a 2 bag per person limit and food donations are welcomed according to the link above.

  46. MT says

    I hate Target's "hidden" coupons and how their receipts can't be totalled by simply adding item prices listed and subtracting listed coupons! Some coupons show up as line items but are already subtracted. And their "packages" would be impossible to follow the math as well if they weren't grouped. So confusing for us and guest services, although they can pull up a straightforward log of everything rung in, in the order in which is was scanned, to double check coupons for you.

  47. Sheila says

    Wondering about a good day camp for kids! My son, age 9 brought home the form again this year for Camp Invention and it's at the local school. Wondering if anyone has experience- good or bad with these camps. Every year the form comes home and it might be the year to look into it. Any feedback would be appreciated. (By the way, we're in Farmington- it appears that different sites run programs differently)

  48. kris t. says

    I know Carrie wrote about this earlier, but I finally made my own Greek yogurt – instructions here:

    I bought some industrial sized BUNN coffee filters and a big fry basket (for restaurants) and it worked perfectly!

    1 gallon of milk = about 3-4 cups of yogurt (this amount of Fage is about $5-6).

    The gallon of whole milk was about a buck from Kwik trip.

    SERIOUSLY EASY and I love that it costs so little! I eat a lot of it so this is a real cost and timesaver to me. :)

  49. Christa says

    Where is the most reasonable place to buy helium filled balloons (both latex and foil) for a birthday party? I called Party City and their latex balloons are $1.49 each.

    • Mags says

      Christa, I use the Dollar Tree for balloons. I'm not sure they have latex, but the foil are only $1 per balloon and I think they last as long as from anywhere else. The might be willing to blow up latex if you bring them in for a nominal charge. Can't hurd to ask. Heck, even if they charge you a dollar it's still less than Party City.

  50. Mags says

    I was curious about Lowe's too. When you go to the sign up page, there are never any in the Twin Cities. So I picked up the phone and called my local Lowe's (Robert Street). The woman there laughed and said, "you don't need to register. Just show up and have fun!" If, when you go to register, you can't find a local store, I recommend giving them a call. I was glad I did.

  51. JoAnna says

    That's good to know, thanks Mags! I was able to register for the May 26th workshop but the May 12th one was not available for our closest location. Will have to call and check.

  52. Carol says

    If you held it during the summer, college campuses are perfect. We held ours at St John's north of St Cloud and they were so helpful. The campus was beautiful and we had one meal catered. A beautiful dining room!!!

  53. says

    Lisa – Yes, many Roundy's stores will still double "do not double" coupons, but the official coupon policy is that they don't, so we list them as not doubling in the list. Consider it a bonus! :)

    • Erin says

      Apparently there are different nozzles for latex and Mylar balloons – Party City has both, but Dollar Tree only has the Mylar nozzle. :(

  54. Sarah says

    Check your local natural food store. The one we go to (Anoka) carries it, or another all-natural bar soap.

  55. wtfci says

    I don't think it is about a few cents. I think it's about the accuracy of the promotions and the store/manu coupons a customer submits.

    We don't want to feel like we're being interrogated about the use of coupons. It's insulting.

    If the coupon I submit will not be accepted, just tell me why and move on. In my view, the explanations I receive about why a coupon will not be accepted is usually wrong. The explanation is literally just made up on the spot.

  56. wtfci says

    Will the electricity usage cost be less than or equivalent to the savings from a smaller bin?

    If you can, try composting the organic materials. They will stink up your trash anyway and compacting them won't reduce the smell.

    If you cannot compost, what I do is save some resealable bags from frozen foods and then use those for organic materials I cannot compost. You can seal in a lot of the smells for maybe an extra day or two in your kitchen.

  57. wtfci says

    I'm finding prices online at $55 shipped.

    At $25 and a drive from St Paul to New Hope of 48 miles roundtrip at a cost of $0.55 per mile(average cost per mile to drive a car) plus the time it takes you to not work during that one hour adds up to roughly $60.

    • Janna says

      Thanks for the response. I was planning to get 3 barrels, so buying in person @ $25 rather than having them shipped @ $55 would save $90, minus drive expense and inconvenience of having to make up time at work.

      But then my husband got to leave work early on Friday and picked up the barrels as a surprise for me, so now I'm all set :-)

  58. wtfci says

    I recommend Canon and Epson inkjet models. They have the lowest cost for ink replacement.

    I bought myself a Canon MX340 all in one model from Amazon when it went on sale for $60 shipped. It works great. Ink is about $12 shipped for B&W and that is all I use for printing coupons.

  59. wtfci says

    Craigslist is the best option to get the most money back. However, you have to deal with the buyers directly. Gamestop and other vendors offer lower prices for your games since they handle all that buyer hassle.

  60. wtfci says

    Ask to speak with "Retentions". They have more authority to make concessions to keep you as a customer.

  61. AP says

    Ayla you bring up some good points. I usually keep my cool in these situations and and not rude to the cashier, knowing that sometimes it is not their fault. I worked in the corporate world for a while and know that sometimes decisions are made at corporate and not always communicated to all employees as well as training/info, etc… I just see a trend of more and more stores cracking down on coupons and couponers and drawing a hard line with their policies at some of my shopping trips and sometimes they do not on some of my trips. I am simply looking for some tips and tricks on how to justify my coupons and items to the stores even while I am keeping in line with the coupon policies. In terms of clipping coupons it is definitely the customers responsibility to have them. Thanks again for your perspective, maybe I just need to pick my battles:)!

  62. Chantal says

    He have flown with airtran and delta before with our children and they have had our seats all over not seated with our children we talked to the gate person and they fixed things for us

    and the flight was over booked. So now we check in early and make sure the seats are all together. I would just dbl check when you check -in. They will do everything to keep you together!

  63. Brit says

    I've worked for Camp Invention the past 2 summers. It's an outside company not related to the individual schools. Camp Invention rents the school space. All the teachers are licensed. I've worked at camps all over the Twin Cities area but teach in Forest Lake during the school year. I think it's priced close to what most camps are and you child is being taught by a professional. Most kids love it, especially those that have an interest in science. The curriculum is quality and pretty hands on. Your child does come home with a lot of projects that make out of recyclables.

  64. Salome says

    I'm not sure if anyone has posted about this before. If so, sorry for the duplicate conversation.

    Has anyone been receiving their Smart Source coupons in the mail? I haven't seen them in a long time. I know you can get them in the newspaper but I would also receive them in the mail.

  65. says

    Help: Can you think of an advertisement, TV show or other popular media (magazine, song, etc.) that make consumerism look glamorous/desirable? I need examples for my book.

    I'm defining consumerism as the act of consuming an increasing amount of goods or services. Or, it can be displays of wealth intended to boost self-esteem or perceived social status.

    • Salome says

      Any of the Housewives shows, Basketball Wives, shows aimed at teens on MTV and BET all glorify consumerism. Magazines like Elle/Vogue/Lucky that advertise products with price tags that are clearly beyond the reach of the average consumer.

        • Salome says

          Wow. Is this advertised on network/cable television? I don't have kids but I can only imagine how much harder it must be to teach them about delayed gratification and fiscal responsibility. Granted, we've always had shows and commercials that encouraged people to live beyond their means. However, it seems worse now. To take something that is vital to a lot of people in their day to day transactions (the credit card) and trivialize it is so irresponsible. Especially to children. It makes money seem unreal. And that's the worst message that can be sent in this economy.

  66. Salome says

    That's too bad. I looked forward to it. Sure, I can print stuff off online but I used to share my coupons too with friends. Oh well. To the internet! ;-)

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