Open Mic 11/15/12

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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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Comments

  1. Shannon says

    I am curious how people "balance" their checkbooks/bank accounts with all the online banking and automatic bill pay, etc. My husband and I have a joint account that we use to pay all our bills (mostly auto pay) and we use the same account for all our spending basically. I am having trouble with some of our bills being very unpredictable when they will go through. They are all "due" on a certain date but it still varies with holidays, weekends, etc. Also, Wells Fargo seems to put some things through a few days late and a few things in early. Our nanny sometimes cashes her checks immediately and sometimes not for 3 weeks (and it's a $600 check each time). To top it off, we get paid on Fridays but sometimes the money isn't in there on time, when I planned on it being there. Needless to say, we've had some surprises and have gone overdrawn a few times. Any ideas on using a checkbook register with a spouse and check cards? Other ideas on how to pay bills so we don't get caught off guard with a weird payment schedule that month? Hope this post makes sense…it's hard to explain! Basically I miss the "easy" days of paying bills myself (and I'm only 32!).

    • Therese S. says

      Shannon,

      My husband and I have a joint account, BUT i'm the only one that writes checks. My husband only uses a debit card. This helps a lot having one central location (check register) on how much money is available to us.

      If I write a check I take it out of my available balance, even though the money hasn't cleared the bank…this will help with overdrafts. I consider all money paid out as gone from my account.

      I reconcile my account a couple times a week with debit charges and then monthly when I receive my bank statement.

      • Shannon says

        How do you keep track of your husband's spending with the debit card? I would do fine just using a register for my own, but then I have the register and my hubby doesn't. Does he tell you every day what he's spent? Every couple of days? Or do you just look online? Even online, some things show up immediately and some not for a few days so if he forgets to tell me I'm worried I'll miss it. Thanks!

        • Therese S. says

          Shannon,

          I check my bank account a couple times a week to reconcile any debit charges that my husband may do. His charges are not that big…mostly lunches. He will let me know when he needs to buy gas so I will know that $60-70 will come out. I am the major spender in the family :)

          We bank at Wells Fargo and have not had any issues (we don't do bill pay) with payments not posting within a day of charge. The only exception is buying gas…sometimes $1 will be posted (pending) and the next day the true amount will taken out of the account.

          My husband and I decided to never allow our bank account to dip below a certain dollar amount. Protecting the account for never going negative.

    • Mikey says

      I have never used online banking although family and friends have. I'd recommend you record all transactions in physical checkbook register including auto bill pay ones. I'd pick a day or so before they are actually due then subtract them from checkbook. That way you can be sure the money is in there to pay them and know current balance at a glance by looking at your register. I tell my kids to never trust the bank-they are there to make money off of you so keep a good eye on your checkbook and all transactions. I even tell them to be sure to hang on to their receipts for things until they show up on monthly statements verifying amounts. Better to be safe than sorry. If you get into the habit of deducting amounts from register right away, then the money is gone and not available for other things even if it takes a week or 2 for check to go through.

    • Christine says

      Honestly Shannon, I had that problem with Wells Fargo as well. I just switched banks and haven't had a problem since. I still mail all my beginning of the month bills and do my middle of the month bills online. I always set up payments for our pay days. We have a few bills that are automatic and those are set up to coincide with my pay days as well. I only use my debit card for gas, groceries and anything else such as dinner out is with cash. My hubby goes to the bank every payday and takes out cash, thats all we can spend until the next payday.

      You may need to go to an accounting program such as Quicken to keep track of everything. I have that set up for our business so I remember to pay myself too.

      • Shannon says

        Christine-

        I have seriously debated if it is something Wells Fargo does intentionally, especially with the timing of bill pay items and paychecks. We have to have our mortgage taken out of bill pay 7 days before its due to make sure it goes through on time, even though its a Wells Fargo mortgage and coming out of our Wells Fargo account. We always consider something out of our account when we pay it or when the bill pay is due, but the problem comes in when bill pay doesn't do it when it should. Technically, I haven't "written" the check yet (bill pay) but it's already posted out of the account. But, yet, when they paycheck is posted in there, it's not actually considered in there. We have SO much of our stuff through Wells Fargo that I dread switching but have seriously considered it. It's kind of fishy at times. Thanks for ideas everyone! I'm still looking for more!

      • Therese S. says

        Christine,

        When Wells Fargo started their online bill pay I thought it would be great. I tried it once to pay my lawn service company and learned that Wells Fargo's online checks are sent out in a way that may look like junk mail. In fact, the online check I sent was never cashed and had to reissue the payment.

        After that I stopped doing online bill pay. I find most companies have their own online payment system (Comcast, AT&T, Xcel Energey, for example) and pay directly to the company than through my bank's service.

    • Nate says

      I use Mint.com to track my account and budgets, and I like it a lot. Automatically downloading transactions from your bank's website is easier than trying to keep track of everything by hand in my book. But some people don't like all their info being online even though it's fairly secure.

      If you can afford to keep a buffer of $1000 or so in your checking account, that might make life a lot easier. This will only work if you're not tempted to spend it. Perhaps not even including it in your checkbook register would help. It's not like savings accounts are paying much interest these days, so you wouldn't be missing out much there.

      If that's not an option due to your financial situation, it will take a lot more vigilance. If you get paid on the 1st and 15th of the month, subtract regular expenses at those times. If you know your mortgage or rent payment will go through around the 10th, subtract it from your balance on the 1st after your paycheck gets deposited. If you know the cable bill goes through on the 20th, subtract it on the 15th, etc.

    • Sally says

      Shannon, Here's what I do & it works great. I opened a seperate account a couple of years ago just for the "hard" costs. I define "hard" costs as any bill that I pay each month ie, house payment, car payment, lights,heat, cable etc. It's important that your utilities are on a budget so the payment is the same each month. I then put that amount in that account up front & then take 1/2 that amount out of each check. I always have one months bills in that account & it doesn't matter when they take it out of the account because the money is there. As far as the ATM your husband uses, I would just have him take out of the other account "soft" costs I would have him get enough on Monday for the whole week. This would cut down on any surprises in that account. I define "soft" costs as things like groceries, gas, clothes etc. These are the only costs that can be manipulated. Hope that helps.

  2. Penny says

    First i want to say thank you to Carrie for telling us about her book, i plan to pre-order it this week! Also, yesterday i was able to purchase $101 of groceries for only $61!!! i love that!

    Pocketeers….. i have a question…. do you think we will be able to shop online for the same deals as you can get on Black Friday or Thursday? i would much rather do that then be out in the stores late at night….

    • Christine says

      I have gone onto Kohls.com and ordered items on Thanksgiving for black friday. I was still able to get the deals and bonus cash back. It was nice, no standing in lines, staying up half the night, and free shipping straight to my house. I bought a Kitchen-Aid mixer for $200 off. Its about 45 pounds so I was relieved I didn't have to carry that through the store and stand in line.

      • JoAnna says

        A lot of Black Friday deals are available online Thursday–a great way to get a deal but not leave home, wait in line…. .www.bfads.net has many Black Friday ads up to see (and I like that they take them down if the store has asked them to do so) and they said they are working on a list of the deals available online Thursday.

    • says

      Last year about 70% of the Black Friday deals available in-store were available online. We will be working double and triple time to bring you all the best online deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Black Friday sales start online on WEDNESDAY with Kohls.com launching their online sales at 12:01 am on Wednesday.

  3. Mikey says

    There is a coupon good thru today for $50 off a $100 purchase at herbergers. Anyone know if it can be used on keurig coffee makers? I see there are several restrictions but if I can get a good deal I'd love to get a keurig for a gift for someone on my list. I only saw online prices so don't even know how in store prices compare. Wish I knew if they will be a black Friday special somewhere on them. Anyone have feedback on mini ones?

    • JoAnna says

      The $50 off $100 excludes small electrics. I'm guessing that means the Keurig as a regular coffee makes is considered a small electric. You should check the Black Friday ads that are already posted on http://www.bfads.net for Keurig deals.

  4. steve says

    I would greatly appreciate some peoples thoughst on this subject. I currently have cable with comcast. I am looking to cancel it at the end of the year. I know some inviduals do netflix to watch everything. Can someone tell me how it works and if they have been satisfied.

  5. Nate says

    We use Hulu and CBS.com for all of our TV watching and love it. Every major network show is on there as well as a lot of cable shows (though cable shows tend to be older episodes, so it may take several months before they catch up to what you've seen). We have an old computer hooked up to our TV and watch everything through that. We don't use Netflix simply because it costs money and so far haven't seen a need for it.

    One disadvantage about Netflix is that TV shows generally don't show up until the DVDs of the season are available, generaly at the start of the next season. If you're a person who loves ot chat about the latest episode of Big Bang Theory or whatever shows you watch, Netflix may not be for you. Hulu may be better since episodes go up the day after they air on regular TV.

    If you want to watch either of these options on your TV you're going to need a computer hooked up to it or a box like AppleTV or Roku or a gaming console like XBox. You're also going to need a high speed internet connection.

    I highly suggest giving this a shot. We've been doing it for a year and a half and wis we would have done it sooner. Worst case, you can sign up for cable again after a couple months if you don't like it.

  6. Aubrey says

    A couple years ago someone posted a cute little poem they use when giving presents to their kids for Christmas. It went something like…"Something to read, something to wear. Something to ????, something to ?share?" Does anybody remember this – or do something similar at Christmas. Our son is old enough this Christmas to understand the whole gift-giving thing, so we want to start some sort of tradition around gifts.

    Also, anybody have advice for how to talk with relatives (mostly grandparents) who overindulge with gifts? Or shoud I just let them, and our son, enjoy the piles of gifts they're sure to want to give him? :)

    • Kristen B. says

      I've switched to Pack N Plays. When I was relicensed this summer, I was told that small portable cribs would no longer fit the new guidelines, but play yards still would. I don't have room for full-sized cribs, so I went with the Pack N Plays because they fit, and they are much less expensive.

  7. Lori says

    Has anyone had trouble getting store credit for a return at Kohl's when they purchase something and pay for it with Kohl's cash? The Burnsville location told me I lose the Kohl's cash but the receipt specifically says you get store credit for the portion you paid with Kohl's cash.(not to be confused with losing your Kohl's cash if you are now under the theshold for having earned it on a return) Anyway I called the corporate office and was told the store was incorrect in not giving me store credit and they would look into it. It has been a week and still no credit posted to my account. (Have to say, Kohl's cash has too many rules if the store workers can't even keep them straight)

    • JoAnna says

      I had the same issue at Chaska Kohls a few wks ago. I said that I was to get the Kohls cash back in store credit but they said the policy changed–I was speaking with the customer service manager. They said I could find an item in the store to exchange with in order to not lose the Kohls cash but didn't have time to look around. And, I have seen discussion of this same problem on Hip2Save when a Kohl's deal has been posted.

  8. Christina says

    Can anyone recommend someone for granite for a kitchen countertop? Where can I get the best price? Does anyone have experience with using Home Depot?

    • Lauri says

      We used Home Depot and I would NOT recommend them. They sell it, but a vender provides it and Home Depot doesn't stand behind it, just refers you back to the vender. We had an issue with the center island not having the "shine" it should. The vender removed it twice to reshine and then finally replaced it but it was a big hassle. We used Credit River Granite in Savage for our bathroom countertops. Pricing was the same as Menard's but theirs included coming out to measure and install. They install throughout the metro.

    • Beth says

      We used Astonia Stone Artisans in Rogers. We shopped around at a few different locations and found them to offer the best bang for our buck & service!! They are a local family owned company as well so I really liked that!

      Home depot ended up being way more expensive because you had to keep adding things on to what the actual cost of the granite was (sealing, edging, instalation……). It would have also taken a lot longer to get it installed.

      • Mikey says

        Maybe try Kitchens Made Simple. They are off of 35 near Roseville/St. Anthony area. They had some very good prices on granite. etc when we remodeled our kitchen. I will never go through Lowe's again after they lied to me for weeks about where my countertops were–they were arguing with contracted installer about price even though we'd paid for them weeks and weeks before!

    • Heather says

      I loved Ultimate granite and marble. Dmitrity Perepechkin 612-481-8842

      My friend found him on craisgslist. Many friends in our group have used him. Most people chose granite, we had him install quartz, and everyone is happy with his work. From what I have seen he is the price of those discount granite places, but with him you get the samples delivered to your house. Super work and super nice guy!

  9. Sheri says

    I know this isn't exactly a response to what you've asked however this is what we do. My husband and I have seperate checking accounts. However it is at the same bank and we both have access to all checking and savings accounts. We do this because I get paid every two weeks and am responsible for fluidic bills like groceries, electricity, water. (Fluidic may be the wrong word, meaning ever changing amounts, not set amounts) He is responsible for set bills like the mortgage, security system, etc. When we buy more than a certain amount on "entertainment" things such as going out or video games, etc we let eachother know OR talk to each other before buying those things. It is still "our" money so if one is low the other transfers extra money into their account.

    Hope that helps!

    • Jenna says

      What we do here is we each have our own register to keep track of what we spend, and then once or twice a week we transfer those amounts into 1 register, it is a lot of work, but it does keep us on track on where the money is going and how much we have in our account. I always minus out our bills from the main register 5 days before they are due that way I know the money is there when it goes through. I only use the on-line amount when we have an emergency or things are going to be short. That way if it is already minused out of my register, I think it is gone, and that money will be there when the bill is due.

      I hope that made sense :) Like you said it is hard to explain!

    • Meredith says

      Jen, thank you for posting the blog ‘The 7 bank accounts every family should have’

      I think that's what my husband and I need to do! Very much appreciated. :)

    • Shannon says

      Thanks for the site! We used to have 8 accounts and decided that was ridiculous so we downsized…and now that I think about it, it was easier then! Thanks!

  10. kris t. says

    Hi Steve, this is what we use:

    TV rabbit ear antenna for local

    Roku for random things

    Netflix for movies (streams through Roku)

    The Roku box was about $60. Netflix is something you sign up for separately and has a monthly fee. So far we've been VERY HAPPY to cut cable. We still have comcast, but only for internet.

    I like that we can watch Netflix on each of our tv sets (we have two, and the other is hooked up to playstation 3). We can also watch Netflix on our computers. I can tell though that if all 4 of are watching something different, it's slow…our internet connection isn't the $$ high speed type.

    There's websites out there that list new Netflix streaming releases (every Friday), which I peek at, as well as doing a manual search by letter. For us, it's perfect. We're so busy that the nights we do have free to watch a movie, it's so easy to flop on the couch and zip through what's available. We have a million titles stored in our queue too, just waiting. :)

  11. Cookie says

    I considered using the $50 off $100 purchase on the Keurig at Herbergers yesterday but didn't attempt it due to the small electrics exclusion. I did however purchase a Keurig yesterday at Target. They are $149 and result in getting a $30 Target gift card. I checked the online prices at Herbergers and they were over priced compared to other stores. Target had the best deal. Included in the Target one is a 12 pack of K-cups with various flavors. Sure was great to have a nice cup of coffee this morning. Oh and they had another model for $179 that came with a $35 gift card. The only difference that I could tell was it has a larger water reservoir.

  12. kris t. says

    By chance are either of you in the military or have a parent who is? I can't speak highly enough about USAA. Their billpay is a breeze.

    • Lisa says

      We don't use our debit cards. We put everything on a rewards credit card without an annual fee. We ALWAYS pay it off every month. We are a 1 income family (I am a SAHM), so we only need 1 checking account (when I worked, we had 2). I have most of our bills paid automatically (these bills are emailed to me anywhere from 2-4 weeks before they are withdrawn) and some I go directly to the companies website to pay. We do not use bill pay through our bank. I have a calendar that I write all of our bills on. When I receive an email, I write it on my calendar the day it will be withdrawn. The Wed before payday (paid every other Fri), I sit down with my calendar and mark all the bills that will be coming out in the next 2 weeks in our register and pay any that I need to go to the companies website directly. If a bill will be coming out the same day or day after payday, I include that one just in case. To ensure I don't miss any bills, I have a master list that lists all of our bills and the approximate date the bill is due/withdrawal date. I then balance my register to the bank online. Since we don't have any debit card purchases and do not write any checks, it makes it very easy to balance. We have never paid a fee or overdraft at our bank either. HTH!

    • Cris says

      This won't help you now, but I'd recommend making your own. I put a handful of sliced almonds in a jar and fill it to the top with vodka. Keep it in a cool, dark place and shake it every week or so. The flavors will be fully developed after 2-3 months.

      You can make other flavors as well. It's a huge money saver!

  13. Beth says

    I volunteer for a non-profit in Wright County and we are currently searching for little items to put in Christmas stockings for children ages newborn to 12 years. Items could include toothbrushes, toothpaste, chapsticks, pencils, boxes of crayons, trinkets & sm. toys, snacks…. ya know the usual stocking stuffer type things! They are also looking for new PJs too!

    I thought I might reach out to my fellow Wright County couponers who might have a stockpile of items they are looking to downsize a bit on or others who would like to donate!!

    If anyone has anything or would like more information about the organization please email me at e l c 2 2. 10 at gmail . com (no spaces!!) Thank you!

  14. Patty says

    My brother in law just sprung on us that he is getting married in 3 WEEKS in Florida!! Our family has been in the process of planning a Disney vacation. Maybe we should push it up & go to the wedding & WDW. Any thoughts on getting a good deal? We are debating on site or renting a condo. Any reputable sites I can find a condo? HELP!!

    • Cassie says

      I do have to say that the Disney hotels are by far the best hotels that there are. The staff is hands down the best, the services, amenities, etc. We have not stayed at an offsite condo before, but friends of ours have and say there are some really nice ones. Condos can definitely be the most cost efffective way to go if you have a larger family, as the Disney family suites tend to get a little pricey. I would try http://www.allstarvacationhomes.com/ That is what I use when booking places to stay. HTH!

  15. Julie says

    I have a wedding to go to this weekend in duluth. I am having a hard time finding deals on hotels that allow dogs. Anybody know of some good deals? thanks

  16. Shannon says

    We've never had cable and have always just watched regular TV. Since the switch to all digital, a lot of stations no longer come in for us even with the converter box. We've looked at a lot of other options and have found that it really depends on WHAT you want to watch. If you want TV shows, Hulu or HuluPlus are the best but they don't have every show and the more we've had our Hulu Plus subscription, the less we like it. It's great for kids TV and it has some of our favorite shows but not all. The episodes are usually only delayed a day or so. We watch Hulu Plus through a Roku player, which overall, I would not necessarily recommend. It doesn't work with general internet, only "channels" so you can't watch regular Hulu through it, only Hulu Plus (which you pay for and still doesn't have all the shows). The other "channels" on the Roku have pretty old stuff or not very mainstream stuff to watch. On the flip side, the bonus about the Roku is how easy and quick it is to use and way better than having to hook up a computer to the TV (which we used to do). Also, you can get Pandora through Roku and its great to have. Netflix is best if you want to watch a lot of movies, or as someone else stated, full seasons of TV shows, awhile after they've aired. Overall, I would much prefer just a very basic cable package to allow us just to watch the big networks, but since we do City of Minneapolis internet, even basic cable is a lot. You could see if Comcast has the basic cable package that's just $10 a month.

  17. Shannon says

    I think this is a version of what we need to do. We used to do something like this but for some reason decided it would be simpler to have it all together. Thanks!

  18. Shannon says

    We actually use Mint.com and like it a fair amount. It's pretty tedious to have to go in and change so much (versus when I just did it by hand) but I like that it adds everything for me. We're actually very good about staying on budget and I check mint.com to make sure throughout the month. The problem is with the timing of things. I'm thinking we'll have to start keeping more in our account but we'd have to have well more than $1000 to cover all the bill pay/auto pay things that go in and out and so far the dates have been so off that I can't rely on it anymore. I've always been leery of having too much in our account at a time but I'll have to rethink it. We have enough in our savings to cover everything so it's ridiculous to go overdrawn just because they put the payments through a week early! Thanks for insight!

    • Nate says

      If you're having that much trouble with online bill pay, perhaps you should drop it and go back to the old fashioned way of writing checks. You have a lot more control that way.

  19. scat says

    If you go to the sears website you can sign up to start your black friday shopping on this coming Sunday. I have only gotten up in the early AM once to stand out in the cold in line, and I don't want to do it again. IT turned out that the item I wanted was not very popular and I could have waited til noon and still would have gotten it.

  20. scat says

    It would be considered a small electric and it is usually excluded on those kinds of promotions. IF you can read the fine print, look to see if it excludes small electrics.

  21. Zera says

    I am looking to sign up my kids (ages 3 and 7) for swimming lessons. Any suggestions on where's a good place to go? I've looked at Foss Swim schools, community centers (Maplewood), and at the Y and can't make up my mind where to go. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Cathi says

      Do you have any community education programs in your area? We are able to get swimming lessons through a community ed program here in Eagan/Dakota County. They run about $70 for 8 lessons. The lessons are done in groups of about 6 kids. They are usually held at one of the local schools. We've done this with our daughter from the start and we are very satisfied. The cost is signifcantly lower than Foss or other places like that. We usually get a catalog in mail a few times a year that lists all the community education classes available. I'm not sure if our program is run through the county or the school district. I know the registration process is on our school district's website (dist. 196). Maybe try searching the websites for your county, city or school district to see if you have any programs like this.

      I hope this helps! :o)

  22. Paige says

    Does anyone know how the pioneer press deal works on living social? I bought it, but it says it’s a voucher, and it says purchase pending? I have never bought anything from there before, so I don’t know how it works.

  23. says

    I just noticed that my last Star Trib (my current cheap subscription)

    will be delivered on Sunday. Of course the renewal rate is more than I have been paying. I really want the Thanksgiving paper with all the ads. After that I don't care if I get it or not. Any suggestions?

    • scat says

      Have you gotten a bill for a renewal yet? When I got mine, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were continuing mu subscription at the old bargain price for another year. I live in St. Paul.

  24. Heather says

    My exhaust went out on my car on the way home today. Does anyone have any suggestions for a very reasonably priced repair buisness (preferably in the NW suburbs)?

  25. Kristina says

    Does anyone know of stores/restaurants in the twin cities area-south of the river- that offer kids something for good grades? I thought some restaurants, etc. gave kids deals or freebies if they brought in their report cards. Thanks!

  26. says

    Saveology headache.

    I signed up for the deal when ITunes gift card for new members was posted. What a headache! I received an voucher that I had to call up to redeem an then they mailed me my iTunes card but the headache came when I called. The sales gal pushed a dining card worth $100 for only $5 and so I relented after a few no's. She said I'd get a free magazine with the offer. I told her I didn't want. Well lo and behold, she signed me up for 3 magazines and since I didn't cancel within 30 days, was charged $39.99. I haven't rec'd any magazines and finally got thru on their number today to cancel. I didn't want any magazines to begin with and was very deceptive how they got me. And the dining card was an off shoot of Entertainment and the coupons were no better then what comes in the free ads in the mail. ripoff!

  27. Mary says

    Last year the Target website had the Black Friday deals online on Thanksgiving morning. Managed to get my daughter's ipod with the Black Friday deal without standing outside at midnight, got 5% off with my Target card and free shipping.

  28. Britt says

    I am looking to purchase a new sectional sofa. Does anyone have advice on the best time of the year to score good deals? I found one that I like at HOM and it is around $1200.

  29. Britt says

    I would like to adopt a family for Christmas this year, but I have never done it before. Does anyone know of an organization to connect with?

    Also, I don't have kids, so I don't have any experience purchasing toys. Ideally, I would like to try to find some good deals so that I can give the most generously that I can on my small budget.

    Thanks! God Bless.

  30. Colleen says

    Does anyone know if there is a way to see a preview of Rainbow's Weekly circular the week ahead? (Like you can with CVS and Walgreens?)

    I've not seen anything like that, but would love a little more heads up if some of my favorites are going on sale.

    Thanks!!

  31. jennifer k says

    I am part of a frg (family readiness group) for a national guard unit that is currently deployed. There are a few families with children that could use some extra holiday cheer. Let me know if your interested. Jennifer.keehn@gmail.com

  32. Crystal says

    They tried to sell me the same. I said no over and over again and then asked if they'd send me an email about it and the discounted deal so I could look it over first. When they told me they couldn't send me an email unless it was with a password and I signed up. At that point I knew it wasn't a great deal and more than likely a rip off and said nope one last time. Got my gift card in the mail just fine and no extra fees.

  33. Christine says

    Shannon,

    I had one more though about your nanny. Why don't you pay her with a cashiers check. That way you know the money is out of you account. Then she can cash it whenever she needs to.

  34. Christine says

    I do this for vanilla as well. Just buy the type of vanilla you want, Amazon has the best price, stick a couple beans in rum or vodka and in a couple months you have vanilla.

  35. LIsa says

    Sorry about that…

    I don't know what area you are in, but I have been a part of an organization in Hudson, WI through my former employer. Operation Help: http://www.operationhelpstcroix.org/christmas-cam

    Also, churches usually adopt families and hang tags on trees. I have noticed Rosedale Mall doing the same. You look through the tags and see which item(s) you would like to purchase, take the tag, return with the item to the tree and tag attached.

  36. Terri says

    Hi Colleen – I live in Osseo and most every Saturday we get a mini paper (I don't know who it is from or how we get it) but in this mini paper we get Rainbow, Aldi's, and a few others for sales starting on Sunday. I will look at the mini paper to see who supplies them and how to get a copy. Stayed tuned hopefully tomorrow we won't be missed. Thanks

  37. says

    I got my renewal bill and price comes to 1.65 a week (I'm Sunday only). I originally signed up at 1.00/week and got a gift card. Usually I just quit until another offer comes along, but I don't want to miss out on the Thanksgiving edition. I may call and renew for a shorter time period. I see they have an 8 week option.

  38. Cindy says

    I believe Walmart will match. Have the ad ready for the cashier. But it is strict. It is only allowed during the times printed. For examle, if Target has an ipod on sale for 100.00 from 9-10pm only, then that is the only time Walmart will honor it, so if you are in line and it gets past 10pm, they probably can't do it. I would grab those time sensitive items and rush up in line right away.

    Remember, each Walmart has its right to "tweak" its policy. I know some that take expired coupons and some that don't. Others match online prices and some don't. Call ahead of time to the Walmart you are shopping at to see what deals they take!

  39. Michele says

    All American granite is a new company in Burnsville. We worked with the owner, Mike, when he was at his previous company. He went above and beyond what we expected every step of the way. His installers also went above and beyond what was required. He offers guarantees that ensure your investment will be protected. He also offers discounts to veterans and active military. We highly recommend him! Oh, and you will get a lot more for your money than at Home Depot!

  40. Therese S. says

    I'm new to the Eagan area…does anyone know if there is a discount movie theater in this area?

    I miss the Hopkins movie theater on Main Street and hope I can find a discount movie theater on the East side of town!

    • Shannon says

      There is a discount theater in South Minneapolis called the Riverview Theater. I LOVE it! Best popcorn, good prices, good neighborhood and recently remodeled. It may be worth the drive from Eagan, depending where you live.

    • Christine says

      If you dont mind the 15 minute drive, Woodbury Theater is very cost effective. Friday and Saturday nights are $6 otherwise its $4. Then $5.50 for medium pop and popcorn.

    • brendaw says

      The Apple Valley Carmike has first run movies and there is usually one hour a day (4-5p IIRC) that they call their "bonus hour" where movies are significantly less. The Regal Eagan Cinema did have a day (or days?) with cheaper movies during the week. Also the Rosemount Theater sometimes is less expensive.

      We usually check out what we want to see & then price compare for the best deal.

  41. Rochelle says

    Foss swim school's classes are taught in a warm pool. The classes are 3-4 kids at a time. Fr one of my son's classes it was just him and another little boy. I grew up in the community swimming program. I would highly recommend Foss! My son loved it! Warm pool and lots of one on one teaching. If you can afford it…go Foss.

    • dj says

      I take my kids to the Yin Redwing. They charge 35 dollars for non members for 6 sessions. The pool is warm and they only have 4 or less kids in a class. In two of my kids classes (they are the same level) they are the only twp and my 4 year old only has three kids in his class. I am sure Foss is very good but EXPENSIVE. I have nothing but good things to say about the redwing Y lessons. Maybe other Y's are the same.

  42. Sarah says

    Check out http://www.playon.tv – Playon is a service that can be used in conjunction with a Roku box (or other streaming device) to get more channels (Hulu for example). You can buy a lifetime subscription and get a free Roku box for $59.99. I learned about this on this site a while back but haven't done it yet. We just upgraded our internet so it's fast enough to use it so this may be our Christmas present this year:) If anyone else has experience with this, I'd love to hear about it.

    • Merry says

      You could also check out the libraries. Suprisingly, they have a lot of newer movies and season of TV shows. You can put things on hold so that when it becomes available, the library will put it aside for you. Works great!

  43. Amy says

    I am looking to start my outdoor decorating. Anyone know of an inexpensive place to get spruce tips/tree tops to make your own holiday barrels? I have seen pre made baskets at Cub but they are asking almost $30.

    • scat says

      I usually find a lot of stray greens at the Christmas tree lots. Sometimes they are free and sometimes you have to pay a small amount.

  44. Amy says

    My kids took lessons through the Y (Elk River) this last summer of 2012 and we were extremely impressed. I had debated between the Y and Foss and had recommendations from friends for both. We decided to go with the Y and hands down it was the best experience for both kids. We are not members but the price was 1/2 of Foss and I feel we got excellent lessons. It was fantastic and they had $10 off if you signed up before they started. We liked that there was only a few other lessons going on at the same time and the MAX was 4 students to the 1 teacher. My son ended up with "private" lessons for the same price because the other child dropped out. My children are 3 and 5. We are already planning to do the next lesson this spring through the Y again. I have "seen" the lessons through our local community center in Monticello and I was overwhelmed by the number of lessons that were going on at the same time & the student/teacher ratio was 6:1. I thought it looked a little chaotic and distracting with the number of lessons that were going on at the same time.

  45. Sheepy says

    If you want a first run movie, the Regal is the best. Monday – Thursday it is $6 all day per person. Sign up for the Crown Club card and you get points. Monday you can get candy for $2, Tuesday is popcorn for $2.

  46. says

    Aubrey – You could ask your relatives to give experiences rather than gifts – things like museum passes, movie tickets, etc. That way they can still give but it won't clutter up your home.

    Or let them continue to give as they do (people love to give!) and have your son go through his toys that he already has and donate to someone who may not have as many toys.

  47. says

    JD and Crystal – Thank you for sharing your experience with Saveology. We have decided to no longer promote them since other readers have reported similar issues with redeeming their offers.

    JD, I'm going to pass your information on to Carrie so that she can help ensure that you're taken care of.

  48. says

    Colleen – You can purchase the early edition newspaper on Saturday to see the ads starting on Sunday (most of the time they're in there), but that's the earliest I've seen.

  49. Emily says

    Does anyone know if the JCPenney Black Friday deals will be online? Mainly the small kitchen appliances for $8. I actually noticed that some of the ones that werewthere last week have been pulled. Would love not o have to drive an hour to find out that they are sold out! Thanks.

  50. Barb says

    I am looking for a good dentist in the Maple Grove or close area. I prefer not to got to a larger operation, but am open to recommendations from you all. Thanks.

  51. Jen Schuler says

    Patty,

    We own a couple of Marriott Timeshares…they have beautiful properties near Disney…email me if you are interested…I could check availability and would be willing to sell a week for a great deal!

  52. Melissa says

    I would highly recommend Dr Hannon and Sandlers office in Robbinsdale (they have other locations but I've not used other locations). I border MG and it's still convenient for me. Small town feel, no frills office and very HONEST. Dr Sandler has always been very helpful – - even when my hubby tried a new office (hubby wanted a more convenient location) and was immediately told he needed TWO root canals even though he wasn't having any issues. He went back to Sandler who agreed that he did not need any work done. He does flouride, even for adults, even when your insurance doesn't cover it and he doesn't charge for it! He says everyone needs it and just includes it. I had a filling that didn't sit quite right and he took it out and refilled it for free. I've never felt like he was trying to say I needed something that I didn't need.

  53. Barb says

    Thank you both for the dental recomendations. I checked out one and will check out the other. Evening appointments seem to be a challenge. The dentist I had been seeing for a few years denied me my hygiene appointment when I declined routine xrays. I have done some research and did not feel comfortable with so many routine xrays. I know the reasons why they say that they are needed, but still I feel it should be my decision. I am suspecting that they contributed to my low thyroid issue that I now have to take pills for. Never once was I given a lead apron that covered my thyroid. Sorry for the rant and I do appreciate the referrals.

  54. kris t. says

    Carrie – just caught you on KSTC-45..you did awesome as usual! My daughter said, "Hey mom, that's your money lady!"

    Thanks for continuing to educate people. :)

  55. linda says

    Don't know if anyone will see this but I couldnt wait till Thursdays new Open Mic discussion…I just got my first internet capable phone and was wondering if we have a list somewhere of coupon/shopping aps that people here like and use. I'm interested in one that does price comparing and any others that you guys have found helpful. thanks for any replies!

  56. Sara says

    Anyone have any suggestions for places to get an inexpensive but good quality fresh Christmas tree in the south metro (near Prior Lake, specifically)? Looking for something about 6' with short needles.

  57. linda says

    ty Carrie! i dl'd red laser. I scanned some stuff at home and it identified items fine so far but gave me no local comparisons :( The reviews on shop savvy said they did an update and its not working well now so i'll wait on that one. Guess Ill keep searching for a better scanner/comparison app. Another q site mentioned Ibotta app…has anyone used this? feedback?

  58. kris t. says

    We always do the 'cut your own' at Hampton Hills. I like supporting a family business. We paid $30 something for a good-sized frasier. Their website has a coupon for $3 off.

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