Open Mic 4/18/13

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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. V says

    I have a question about some coupons from the coupon network site. Why do they have a coupon that has you click on it like it is a cents off coupon but then says for example:

    Off in future savings when you buy FOUR (4) or more StarKist® Albacore Tuna (5 oz. cans)

    How is that used or is it to know that if I would go to the store I would get a Catalina stating that if I buy that tuna?

    It isn’t worth printing is it?

    • Manda says

      Yep I never print them, it just lets you know about the catalina that will print if you buy that item and what stores are participating.

      • V says


        THANKS!! I never knew that, I looked up zip codes and sure enough I can see where it will apply.


  2. Kris L says

    Good morning. My mortgage company offers a service where you pay bi-weekly rather than once a month. It supposedly saves thousands of dollars in interest and pays off your mortgage a few years early. I know they charge $3 per transaction…I don't see any other fees for this service. I think I'm going to have them set this up for me and was wondering if anyone out this is currently doing this. Pros? Cons?



    • Christine says

      Hi Kris,

      I know this has been discussed, but I can't remember the particulars. The main thing I got out of those discussions is that you should never have to pay extra to make extra payments on a debt.

        • Lori says

          Most mortgages allow you to make extra payments at any time. Just send a check and note that it is to pay principle. In all the time we have paid our mortgage, we have never sent in a "standard" payment.

    • says

      My mortgage company doesn't allow me to do this myself. You have to pay the entire payment by the due date, then can make partial payments after that, but they expect a full payment on the 1st of each month. How do I know? I tried this once and they rejected my partial payment. Maybe things have changed, as that was a few years ago, but check into that.

  3. Kris L says

    Keurig coffee maker died this morning. She was having a hard time the past few weeks and she fought a tough battle. She was probably 3 years old. Any good deals out there for a replacement?

    • Therese S. says


      FIRST – Contact Keurig's customer service. They will ask you questions regarding your machine. Mine "died" and I contacted Keurig and sent back a part of the pod holder and they shipped me a 'new' Keurig.

      Awesome customer service…another reason to register your Keurig after purchase (but if you didn't, you're ok…you will be asked for the serial number which is located on the bottom of the maching)

      good luck!

    • Sarah says

      GASP! We should have a moment of silence :) I was just talking to my hubs this morning about this very thing. Not a fun thing to have happen. I'm going to evoke an emergency preparedness plan for just in case.

      In all seriousness, I hope you can get this fixed soon and Keurig comes through for you!

  4. Jenna says

    We are planning a trip to the Wisconsin Dells the 1st week in June. I have the hotel booked, but I am still in need of some ideas on how to save money on waterparks and other attractions; "must see/do" events while there. I know we would like to spend 1 day at House on the Rock, does anyone know of coupons or coupon books that are available for the Dells area? Thanks in advance for everything!! :)

  5. Sally says

    Has anyone purchased the Rubbermaid power scrubber and the Reveal spray mop? I'm thinking of buying one of each for myself and also a set for my Sister's Birthday in may. Anyone willing to share their opinions of these products?

    • Michelle says

      I have had a Reveal spray mop for several months now. I really like it. I just bought an extra microfiber mopping head so I always have a clean one. I normally use hot water and a little dishsoap as a solution. My 6 yearold daughter also loves mopping the floor with it.

    • Sherry Ekstrom says


      I have had the spray mop for a few months and really like it. I think it's a good purchase.

  6. Jenny says

    I am looking to get some portraits of my 11 mo old this weekend. (We do them every month for the 1st year.) I don't want to pay more than $40 and am really only wanting to get 1-2 pictures out of the deal. (Some of these packages that you can purchase from the studios are way to over priced for me!) Does anyone have any suggestions? I am in the Maplewood area so looking for something on the St. Paul side please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions! Thanks!

  7. Sarah says

    Hello! I was wondering if anyone could recommend a reasonable landscaper. We have NOTHING going on in our front yard and need some help (edging, plants, etc.). We are do-it-yourselfers so we would be willing to do the manual labor (when it turns to spring!), just need some help with the design part. We live in the NW suburbs. Also, anyone have any experience of the fees associated with it?

    • Mikey says

      I would make a trip to the library for some good books on this first and try to figure out what you like or are interested in. Many yrs ago we pulled up and had to redo our landscaping. We replaced rocks and plants. Granted the space was already defined, but we went with all new shrubs, etc. Make sure not to put them too close to sides of house under eaves so they still get rainfall and not good to have big bushes close to house for security reasons. For the sides and back of our yard, I asked a few neighbors for hardy perennials that would do well in certain soil areas. Also, you could ask on free cycle for plants. We got lots of great rhubarb plants that way.

    • Kim says

      Garden Centers use to offer a service where you put a deposit down, met with a landscape designer at your home and he/she drew up plans then you used the deposit as credit in the store.

    • Sherry Ekstrom says


      When we built our home a few years back, we used the Better Homes & Gardens website. You can design landscaping, a garden, yard, patio etc. (You can also design every room in your home if you want too.) Once we came up with a design, we watched for sales on flowers, plants and bushes. We spent two very long weekends doing a lot of physical labor. It turned out even better than we imagined, and we saved so much money doing it ourselves. Good luck!

  8. Leah T says

    Hello! Does anyone have any recommendations on a good place to get your bike tuned up at? We haven't had ours done in a few years and am thinking that we should (well if it ever becomes spring that is). I'm looking somewhere in the NW suburbs if at all possible. Thanks!

  9. Leah T says

    ello! Does anyone know a good and reasonably priced place to get our bicycles tuned up at? We haven't done it for a few years and I'm thinking that we should this year (well that's if spring ever comes)! We live in the NW suburbs so were hoping for someplace around there. Thanks!

  10. says

    My husband, myself and almost 9 year old son would like to rent a cabin for one weekend this summer that has access to a Pontoon for rent or with the cabin and also a swimming area. It does not have to be a big lake nor a big population. Just nice and comfortable!

    We are looking for this on a budget. We also don't want to drive super far.

    Any suggestions on Lakes and places?

    Thanks so much!

    • RHONDA says

      Try White Iron Beach Resort in Ely. Watch the website in June they have 50% any cabins not already rented out. It may not be on there now, but will appear by mid-May.

      • SAK says

        I asked a similar question a few months back and was given a few ideas and did some research myself. See the list below. Not sure if they fit your budget but many locations have discounts for last minute bookings if a cabin is available.

        Clamshell Beach Resort near (Nisswa, MN)

        Geneva Beach Resort (Alexandria, MN)

        Waldheim Resorts (Finlayson, MN)

        Riverside Resort (Richmond, MN)

        Bug-Bee Hive Lodge Resort and Retreat Center (Paynesville, MN)

  11. JoAnna says

    You can get a 1 yr subscription to All You for From RecycleBank right now for 400 points. The coupons have not been so great lately but for a basically free subscription it is worth it.

  12. angie says

    I know I am totally behind in trying to sign my kid up for preschool but I'm working on it. Does anyone have any suggestions for quality preschool near Robbinsdale? I'd like to keep it under $200 and a Christian center would be my preference but I'm open to anything. Thanks for the suggestions.

  13. bouboo says

    Anyone have any good experience with an upholstery shop to redo a really good functioning lazy boy. Needs new fabric and padding but mechanics are great. St Paul or the surrounding area?

  14. Mary says

    I am looking for recommendations for carpet cleaners that are reasonable in price. I live in the Northwest Suburbs. Thanks.

  15. Talonda says

    Just curious: Does anyone know how the coupon redemption process works? I mean do the stores send in receipts used with the coupons or do they just mail in a stack of coupons?

    • jo says

      The stores consolidate them at their home offices and submit thru a clearing house which reimburses them face value + normally around 8 cents each. It is a very tedious and time consuming bookkeeping process for the merchant.

    • sheepy says

      Are you asking if the store has to prove the item was purchased? If so, the answer is possibly, yes. I worked in a grocery store that was part of a large chain for six years. Our store was audited by the chain because of suspicious coupon activity, and after the investigation showed fraudulent coupon use, the chain had to offer a settlement to avoid a huge legal action. In most cases the investigation found that the actual products were carried in the store (although there were also plenty of coupons for things we never carried–try explaining that!) it was more often coupons being rung in mass amounts, sometimes without a purchase. I know a lot of couponers think cashiers are just too picky, but it is fraud for a store to take a coupon that isn't used correctly.

      And remember glass bottle deposits? The same store had an issue with employees giving deposit refunds without collecting the bottles. About a year after that started, it caught up with the store during an audit.

  16. Mary Kay says

    Thanks Rhonda, I will check it out. I was hoping for someplace closer to the Cities.

    I was thinking either someplace off of I35 or Alexandria or West Wisconsin.

    But I know that Ely has a very fun Blueberry Festival I have always wanted to go to one year!

  17. Sue says

    We had Stanley Steemer out last week and I was quite impressed with their service, and the job that they did. I called them for the special that was advertised on the radio – 2 rooms and a hallway for $99. I also appreciate the fact that the carpets are clean but there is not a strong chemical smell.

    • Manda says

      If you don't mind doing the work yourself, you can rent a Rug Doctor for about a third of the price of hiring a service. I rent one at least 3 times a year and I have never had any problems with it.

  18. Tina says

    I did this with my car payment. It was an outside service though working with the loan company. It was a bad move. Found out later that they held my payment and paid only once a month. Then when there was an extra week in a month, instead of paying out the extra amount, they saved it up 'til it made a full payment (after paying themselves a portion for their service). It costs me hundreds for their service plus transaction fees (which started at $3 and shot up to $7 per transaction.) It didn't save anything.

    So read the fine print carefully, do the homework and find out exactly how much it saves you before you sign. Ignore the sales person's enthusiasm and claims.

    I learned my lesson. Hope this is helpful as you research your choices.

  19. M says

    Has anyone ever used Gain detergent? I'm curious to try it… what kind of a deal can you find for it (sale+coupon(s))? And, which scent do you think smells good?

    • V says

      I have used Gain and many other detergents and to me they are all good or good enough. Sure if Tide was the cheapest out there I would love it; I do like Tide the best but I rarely use it as it is usually too high priced for me. You can smell Gain when you purchase it. I used up my coupons but I am certain the coupons I just used that were for Gain were coupons for $1.00 off each bottle of detergent. I never used them on the Gain as the coupon was also for Era and this past week our local stores put Ear on sale for $2.49 for 50 oz so with that coupon I got them for $1.49 each; which is a super good buy in my terms. I doubt you will get Gain for that price I have always found it about $4.00 more per bottle. I do like Gain detergent.

      • Deb says

        I like Gain but Era is my favorite. Era is also great for pre-treating stains. I agree, smell the detergent in the store. Some have very strong scents. I use bargain detergents for towels and sheets and save my Era or Tide for bright clothing.

  20. M says

    Has anyone ever seen the large refill containers of Mrs. Meyer's hand soap anywhere? I know they are online but I would prefer to just buy it at a store locally.

  21. Sarah says

    Check out Holy Trinity in New Hope (right off of Gettysburg and Rockford Rd./CR 42)

    Here's there web site: and click on preschool

    I think they have a morning and afternoon option.

    We go to the Kindergarten and L-O-V-E it.

  22. Kae says

    Devils Lake State Park is worth the drive for a day trip – beautiful hiking and a couple of beaches to swim at. Pack a picnic – inexpensive day.

    • Mary says

      Devils Lake is incredible. My best memories of camping are there, mostly because of the gorgeous scenery. It's only a few miles from Baraboo where the Circus World Museum is located.

  23. Mary says

    I would recommend Riverside Resort in Richmond also. Family oriented and they do have a pontoon for rent. Highly recommend Cabin #18!

  24. Melissa says

    If you have a Costco membership or know someone who does, the Keurig there is a good value. It comes with lots of starter Kcups for you to try. Costco also honors an additional one year warranty above the mfg one so if yours dies they will give you a new one for two years. My friend had hers die after a year and a half and come home that day with a new one from Costco.

    • Terri says

      I've returned mine twice to costco and got a replacement. They let me keep the K-cups even. They have great customer service. If you are interested in a Keurig Vue coffee maker there is a promo code for the v-500 version. HP-V500-3 It expires on the 31st of May and is only valid a it brings down the total from $169.99 to $127.49.

  25. Jessica says

    Lee Upholstry on Arcade in St Paul. I didn't get a whole piece done, I just wanted to clean and fluff up some 'vintage' cusions in a handmedown sofa/futon thing. I was very satisfied with the service I got!

  26. crystal says

    My uncle rents out a cabin on a lake in pine city. He also has a pontoon but not sure if he includes that when he rents out. He usually lists on craigslist otherwise I could probably connect you with him. Not sure what he charges.

  27. Cyndi says

    A great tip I learned several years ago was to divide you house payment by 12 and add that amount in with your monthly payment. You end up making an extra house payment a year and shaving off about 5 years off the life of your loan.

    • Sally says

      I was a Broker/Realtor for 35 years +. All the Mortgage Companies told me to always send in any extra principal payments in a seperate check and mark in the memo portion of the check principal payment and make sure to keep all checks. Everytime you reduce the principal amount you need to run a new ammortization schedule. If you send in even $1 it changes your ammortization. If I was advising anyone I would say to send the extra payment at the beginning of the year to maxamize interest saving for the year. HTH

  28. Heather says

    I know that good websites for dance letards have been mentioned in open mick before, but I can't find those conversations. Does anyone have any recommendations?

    THank you

  29. Terri says

    I've returned mine twice to costco and got a replacement because it was broken. They let me keep the K-cups even. They have great customer service. If you are interested in a Keurig Vue coffee maker there is a promo code for the v-500 version. HP-V500-3 It expires on the 31st of May and is only valid a it brings down the total from $169.99 to $127.49.

  30. Kris L says

    We've had Stanley Steemer a couple of years ago and we rent the rug doctor about once a year. In all seriousness….NOTHING compares to how great our 13 year old carpets look after we had zerorez come in a couple of weeks ago. Simply amazing. They usually run specials for 3 rooms for $139 or 149 and they offer a neighborhood discount in you get some neighbors to have theirs done on the same day. Worth every penny.


  31. Sue says


    A tour on the Ducks(boats that travel on land and in water) are fun. I have some coupons for this and a few other things that I'd gladly pass on to you.

    • Jenna says

      Sue that would be wonderful! If you want to email me at vogt @ midwestinfo .net I can send you my address. Thanks!!

  32. Melissa says

    I have 6 care packages I would like to send directly to a soldier or troop overseas. In need of an address to send to. Having a difficult time finding one on any website. Help or a contact would be great! Thank you!!

  33. says

    Geliene – Carrie did a price comparison of diapers a couple of years ago:

    Your price point will vary depending on brand and size (if you're brand-loyal). I personally shoot for $5 or less for a jumbo pack of diapers (Aldi diapers for $4.99/pack is my default if I can't find a deal elsewhere) and $1 or less for a pack of wipes (Aldi has wipes for $0.99/72 ct).

    If I can find a deal elsewhere for less than this, I stock up as I know they'll get used eventually. :)

  34. Ann says

    I have not been going to garage sales for a few years and feel pretty out of the loop. I am holding my first sale in a few weeks, and it will be big. But I don't really know where to start on pricing items? Any guidelines or websites you can suggest? I expecially have lots of brand name kids clothes – hanna andersen, gymboree, polo, etc. Thanks!

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