Open Mic 7/11/13

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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.

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  1. Kris E says

    Prices rising, coupon values lowering. Anyone else noticing how we’re spending more for less? I’ve only been couponing for a couple years now, but I remember getting much more for very little a couple years ago. Maybe it’s that less products are being introducted into the market.

    Paper towels and Tide in particular, P&G just aren’t as easy to find a good deal on anymore. I’m seeing 15 cents per load rather than the .07 I’d prefer and look for.

    I also miss Rainbow’s gas program. For me, Rainbow didn’t do themselves any favor by reminding me how much I’ve spent with them since 4/28 when the Fresh Perks program started. It’s ending the 20th of this month… 1% of $1000=$10. Big whoop LOL I still LOVE how much I save with Rainbow. Just really miss the gas program. Target gives 5% back with their program, wish Rainbow did. I hope Rainbow steps their loyalty program up a bit… Still won’t go anywhere else though… OK getting off my whine box now :)

    • Terri says

      I miss the Fuel Perks too. I could get $10 off a fill up every month. We are lucky that Rainbow doubles coupons though. Stores like Kroger are ending doubling. The doubled coupons are like instant rewards kind of. I also saw a deal on Tide. Tide pods 14ct Alpine Breeze were 50% (reg. $5.28) at Rainbow because they are being discontinued. I don’t know if there are any coupons but it seems like a good deal. I’ve seen them on clearance at multiple locations.

      • Deb says

        I’ve noticed how expensive Tide has gotten also and I don’t understand it. I use whatever is cheapest though I like to keep Tide or my favorite, Era on hand for white loads. I have also been happy with Arm and Hammer. I use the cheapest or my least favorite detergents for towels and sheets.

        • Mandi says

          My mom told me that Aldi has their own brand that’s like Tide, but cheaper. Is she right? Sorry I don’t know the name of it, but the bottle mimics Tide. I haven’t tried it.

      • sheepy says

        Jessica, I used that same site last night to make my own laundry soap, but I did the liquid.

        Instead of doing it exactly as she instructed, I got the 4 cups of water near boiling, added the washing soda and borax to that to dissolve, poured it into the container that already had the rest of the water in it and then poured the two tablespoons of Dawn into it. The water that was in the jug was room temp and the near boiling water was still very warm, so the Dawn swirled around on its own. If it hadn’t, I was going to gently tip the jug a few times so I didn’t get a ton of suds, but it worked great.

        I am afraid to do the one with Fels Naptha because I have a lot of allergies. I do use Fels Naptha to spot stuff, but then I have to wash it twice to be sure I get all the soap out of the garment.

        • Kris L says

          I, too, have been making my own liquid laundry detergent for my front load washer for years. 3 ingredients, plus water….Fels Naptha, Washing Soda and Borax. Super cheap and I am always pleasantly surprised at how well it works! And it doesn’t have a strong smell…just smells clean.

      • Shelly says

        I was hard-core Tide user, but also switched to homemade this year. Less about cost savings than really deciding I wanted to cut down as much as possible with all the chemicals and stuff. I just use the 3 ingredient powder recipe (soap, Borax and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda), and I add a little lavender pure essential oil. I decided to not do the added Oxy, but use Oxy added with extra dirty loads and with towels in the summer. My switch recently was from Fels-Naptha to Ivory bar soap, so it makes a pure white detergent. Really, really happy. I do not grate my soap. I microwave it (quite fun to see the result!), let it cool and then it just crumbles in my hands.

        • Shelly says

          JoAnna, I think I use the same recipe as Kris L above my comment. It’s from the DIY Natural website. 1 cup of borax; 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 1 grated bar of Ivory bar soap or Fels-Naptha laundry soap. Mix together and use 1 – 2 Tb. of the powder per load (and store in a covered container. My Sweet Martha’s cookie bucket from the State Fair works perfect : ) Anyway, I add a few drops of Lavender pure essential oil to my bucket. And it’s much easier to microwave the soap than grate or process. I put on a little plate and start with 1 minute on high and then 30 second increments if necessary. If you have young kids they’ll get a huge kick out of it because it puffs up like microwaving a Peep!! Let it cool and then it will just crumble with your fingers so easily. With the Ivory soap I find I crumble part of it and then have to microwave the remaining part of the soap.

          When I do a cold wash, I put my T. of powder detergent in a large plastic cup and dissolve it in hot water first and then add to wash. I’ve been very happy with that detergent. HOWEVER, my son isn’t playing baseball anymore, so I don’t have those tough stains anymore, and his football pants are washed for him at school. I still use my Oxy powder and Oxy spray on stains.

      • says

        I dont know where I have been over the years but homemade laundry soap sounds like music to my ears and money in my pockets. I have to pre-teen boys and a newborn and it seems like there is always something that needs to be washed. We are going through detergent regularly and sports havent started back up yet. Thanks for the link Jessica

        • Shelly says

          I also switched to homemade tooth powder when I started making laundry detergent.. Not to save money, but to use a more natural product. It took me a few days to get used to it, but now I can’t imagine using anything else. It keeps my mouth feeling fresh far longer than any commercial toothpaste I have used. And it has whitened my teeth some. The only thing I added to the recipe from DIY natural is that I prefer to grind it in a small electric grinder that doesn’t get used for coffee beans. That makes it ultra powdery and then you don’t have little sage leaves in there! It costs very little to make (I get the bentonite clay, the zylitol and the sage in the bulk section of Linden Hills coop. I usually buy my essential oils online)

    • tag says

      I have been hemming & hawing about trying homemade laundry detergent. You guys have inspired me to give it a go. LOVE PYD!

  2. mikey says

    I have to agree with you! I really watch for the deals much more closely now too. Unfortunately, some of my family members are very brand loyal on a couple things and of course they are the more expensive items. I stock up on those when I can and hope the savings in the other areas help balance it out. Everything seems to be going up but my income!!! I am thankful for a job and the means to provide the things we need but it seems to be getting much more difficult to do these days. On occasion, I have even made my own laundry detergent to get us by until I find a great buy on Tide. I check out lots of other money saving mom sites as well for hints, tips recipes, etc. Always something more to learn.

    • JoAnna says

      Very true–costs are rising and coupon values are going down. The situation makes me even more thankful for the help that PYD provides!!

  3. Sara Dotty says

    Anybody have great tips on holding a garage sale. I am planning on holding my first one on the first weekend in August. I am a little nervous and really not sure how to price everything.


    • JoAnna says

      They are a lot of work but can be worth the time if you are organized. Price every item, if possible have the sale go until at least 6 if a weekday to accommodate working people, watch your items as people do steal, have others help with the garage sale so free time (lunch, bathroom….), organize items by type (by size and gender for clothing), if selling items from other people know what their bottom line price is for when people make a lower offer

      • Bouboo says

        Have lots of tables to put things on, people don’t like to bend over, borrow cardtables, picnic tables, any tables. Make sure clothing is on hangers and on a rack or put a rod through two ladders because they sell quicker than on a table stacked up. List your sale on craigslist, they will come. Thursday is your biggest draw day because they are really out then. Signs…signs…more signs! with the dates, many won’t follow a sign without a date as they think it is an old sign and not going to go out of the way. Good luck!

      • Deb says

        I second having help and watching your stuff. If you are very busy it helps if one person can watch the sale while one checks out customers. I hold sales with 2 friends and we have still had things stolen and have had people switch tags (we put a brief description on our tags now). A clean, organized sale will always be most successful. I appreciate people who mark
        sizes on their clothing tags especially jeans. Make sure to have bags and packing material (newspaper) handy for fragile items. Advertising on Craigslist is free but you should still have signs with arrows on them. There are a lot of sales this weekend, you might want to go to a few and see what you like or don’t like about them. Have fun!

    • helperlady says

      As a regular garage sale shopper, I find that the signs are vital. No info other than GARAGE SALE and a large black arrow. Do not expect people to drive more than 4 blocks without another sign encouraging them that they are still on the right path. When the sale is done, please!!!! take down the signs immediately.

    • Susan says

      I would suggest for pricing, marking everything in 25 cent increments. For example, $3.00 instead of $2.95. That way it is much easier for getting and making change! Anything you feel that is worth less than 25 cents, put in a free box!

    • Kari Mc says

      It worked well for us to have a “FREE” box with items for children. It would keep them occupied while their parents were shopping! Most families let their child choose 1-2 things from the box. We also sold bottled water on warm days. Not sure if our sales were really big money makers, but it would force us to sort our stuff !!

    • Melissa says

      If it is really hot out have a fan in the garage to help air circulation. Have background music playing. Turn the garage lights on even if it is in the middle of the day. ORGANIZE!!! Group similar things together and price everything! Have a kids/toys table out in front of the garage – that way the kids can be out of the garage and still “shop.” Have lots of bags ready. Have a tool table and advertise it. Hanging clothes is a good strategy. Furniture should be out in your driveway. We had a garage sale last summer and had a great turn-out. It was alot of work but we were able to see alot of stuff. Good luck!

    • ella says

      We had some trees removed and one pruned last winter. We got 3 quotes and did not go with the cheapest quote, but rather with the company that seemed most eager and was able to do most of what we wanted within our budget- they even brought down the price a bit when we asked. Hayden’s Ridge was the tree service we hired, and were mostly happy with their work. There was heavy snow at the time and they said they’d come back to clean up anything they missed after the snow melted if necessary. Later I saw a Groupon offer for their service, don’t know if it’s still available.

    • Bouboo says

      what area are you in? I know they try to combine trips when they cut trees down and St Paul/Roseville/ Shoreview had alot of tree businesses in town and we just stopped and asked one and they came over because they were in town. Maybe if you had any storm damage you will have some around too you could ask.

    • Jo says

      KB Tree Care 612.226.9042 out of Pierz, MN but services the twin cities. Very good prices and great work. Owner name is Keith Boser

    • ella says

      Make sure the tree care company can give you a time frame for when they can do the work, work with you about exactly what they will do as far as the work itself plus clean-up (and give you a written copy), and can present evidence of insurance coverage too.

    • AZ says

      We used Xtreme Tree Climbing a couple yrs ago to remove a medium sized pine tree & have the stump ground for about $250. That was almost 50% less than the other estimates we received. They were very quick, professional & easy to work with. N

  4. Darrick says

    Does anyone know of a good CPA in the minneapolis/northwest suburbs area? My husband and I want to incorporate our small business and the person we were planning to use hasn’t returned any of our calls for at least a month now. It’s time to finally get someone new. We’d need someone to help us with the incorporating and then figuring out the tax information.

      • Patti Wieseler says

        I work at CSI Accounting and Guardian Payroll in St Louis Park. We specialize in small business. Our Accountants are a great resource for advice and info. 952-927-4011. My name is Patti, I am the friendly voice who answers the phone!

      • MIchele says

        We also use McLaughlin. Mom my used them for years before she passed away too. They work all hours day and night during tax time but they have summer hours with shorter days. I’ve recommended the company to two others.

  5. Sally says

    I agree on the lower value of coupons. What I can’t get in my head is why people would even use “Tide” laundry detergent. It’s like the BMW of laundry detergent. LOL. I only see coupons for $.40 for tide. Unless you have clothes that require a high price detergent I’m not seeing it.
    Also has anyone received the P & G $15 rebate yet? I mailed mine on May 7th.

  6. Bouboo says

    I had stayed away from this open mic for a while because I was having so many problems with the new app. So glad to see the old one back! So does anyone know about this black friday with target this week. Any sneak peeks at the deals?

  7. Kristina says

    My son’s daycare used to have an ice cream man visit during July. He is no longer available. Does anyone know of an ice cream truck that would go to a smaller daycare in the Prior Lake/Savage area? One said they would only come if the sales were $100 or more. There are about 10 kids. Thanks!

  8. Sally says

    A couple of weeks ago I suggested a category for ” urgent” posts. Just wondering if Carrie has considered this?

    • JoAnna says

      I’m sure Laura will comment with more info regarding your question but I know Carrie is on a well deserved almost 3 wk vacation.

  9. Kb says

    I’m hoping to find some really cheap patio furniture on clearance. I don’t need it til next spring, but don’t want to pay full price. Some blogs listed target at 70% off, but I have not seen that in NW metro and there is almost nothing left. Anyone have any suggestion on where and when to buy?!?!

    • ella says

      Try Craig’s list, and garage sales or estate or moving sales for used furniture, especially toward end of summer when folks would rather get rid of it than have to store it over the winter. Also try Ikea, By the Yard, Gerten’s, Bachman’s, stores that sell wicker furniture, maybe Pier 1? for end of season sales. We found some decent wicker pieces to put on our covered porch at a thrift shop a few years ago.

  10. Sara says

    Turnstyle Consignment is having their annual 50% off summer clothes/items. It started yesterday, but I went today got a bunch of deal. I think it goes through the end of the weekend.

  11. Jessica says

    My husband and I are traveling from Wisconsin to Maine in September for our 10th anniversary. We are looking for some decent, but also decently priced, places to stay and things to do in the Finger Lakes region of NY, mid-coastal Maine, and the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. We are outdoorsy people, so we plan to do some hiking and sightseeing, but any ideas on how we can save money other ways and still have a good time would be appreciated. Thanks!

      • Jessica says

        Thanks! That was the main reason we planned to stop for 2 nights in NY instead of driving straight through to Maine. Glad to hear we’re making the right decision :)

  12. Jennifer says

    Need recommendation for fence company in the East Metro (Woodbury). Has anyone used Midwest Fence because they have a deal going on now. Thanks!!

  13. Beth Anderson says

    We are a family of seven and are looking into visiting disney world in September. I am looking for any tips that will help us save money on our trip. We do plan to drive. We also need to stay somewhere we can bring our own food, our two year old has major allergies. We are obiviously looking for family friendly ideas. We will be traveling with a seven, four and two year old and twin 6 month olds!

    • Mags says

      Beth, try I thought the Disney Trip planning books were worth getting from your library. We went in January. It was. Package deal and we stayed on the property in a cabin in camp wilderness. We were 3 adults, a 5 YO, 4 YO, 2 YO, and 5 month old. Was a FABULOUS place to stay. No rental car. Transportation from the airport to the park included. There is a kitchen in the cabin and I preordered food from a local grocer who delivers to the park (check mouse savers for rwcommendations). The food was in our kitchen and fridge when we arrived. We did the absolute basic quick service meal plan and I was frankly shocked at how much food we got. Each meal includes entree, drink, and dessert. Best tip was that you don’t have to order a kids meal for a kid. We were able to split adult meals between little kids and bank the extragalactic for later. Was a fun trip. The one thing I will say is to be prepared for the kids to be tired early in the day. Stating j Crüe park was nice because we could go back to the pool for a whole, get in a nap and snack and head back later with the older kids. Remember that the airlines will gate check your stroller and car seats for FREE! So glad we brought our double stroller!! Have fun!

      • Mags says

        So much for auto correct. It was a package deal. Bank the extra meals for later. Staying in the park was so nice. Yikes!

    • Lee Ann says

      Try VRBO is Vacation Rentals by Owner. We have used VRBO several times and have been very happy with the rentals we had.

    • brendaw says

      We’ve gone down a few times and always consult mousesavers first. She has more than just Disney on her site.

      A few years ago we stayed at the Blue Heron Resort and had a good experience. It seemed like they wanted to be a condo community but the economy tanked & so did they so they started renting out units. The best part (IMO) besides a full kitchen was having a washer & dryer in the until. We found it much cheaper than staying on site at Disney AND we were closer to everything else. It overlooks a lake so we had a balcony to watch the sunrise daily. Outdoor pool was big too.

      We were at SeaWorld in June. Prior to going I checked their site for ticket prices. When they cookied me, I started seeing an ad for the free all day dining program. Basically, gate price was $92 IIRC. Online price was $82. Daily dining was $32 per adult. However, with promo code PLAYANDDINE you could get a ticket plus daily dining for $92 online. Totally worth it for $10. Bottled water alone was almost $3. Each time through a line (not each visit to a restaurant so you can go back up constantly) we got 1 entree, 1 side (fries, fruit, dessert) and 1 non alcoholic beverage. In water alone, we came out ahead.

      • Cassie says

        Look for Disney tickets on ebay. Sometimes you can find some great deals if you have the patience to check every day. We ended up getting our (3) 3 day park hoppers for $600 total, when they cost over $1000 from the Disney website. If you are planning on Sea World, I agree with brendaw – look for ticket/meal deals together. Sea World is actually the best when it comes to their meals. There is a ton of selection and you can go to all of the restaurants as many times as you would like. You could even bring some baggies or containers to save any food you don’t finish and save for a snack/meal later and grab a meal for everyone before you leave the park. But I agree – the meal thing pays for itself in water alone, unless you plan to make multiple trips to the car. Have fun!

        • Cassie says

          One last thing…look into making/purchasing any kind of special surprises ahead of time. If you are planning on doing autographs – make the book instead of spending that $15 a piece down there. You can also get iron-ons and make character shirts, etc. For your older kids, also look into ‘pin trading’ I haven’t done it, but I’ve heard it is really neat and am planning on doing it next time we go down.

    • sara says

      Sorry this is late, but hopefully helpful. My in-laws went this winter with their son who also has several food allergies. They sang praises about how disney had it figured out as far as allergies and eating out. I know you want to save money, but they did say pretty much every where they went in disney could accomadate his needs.

    • Michele says

      Another late reply but I hope it helps Check with Dismey or your travel agent, but they usually offer free meal plans in the fall. Also, you can upgrade to the meal plan that includes sit down dinners for a very reasonable price. Lastly, it can be very cost effective to stay on site during the fall do don’t rule it out. Disney is awesome at accommodating allergies!

  14. helperlady says

    My husband & I want to go to Mt Rushmore area. We are not hikers….in our late 60’s. Any recommendations?

    • brendaw says

      We took our kids there when they were too young to walk far. It all depends on what you want to do. There is a small walking trail around Mt Rushmore that isn’t too hard to traverse (you could prob do it in flip flops from what I remember). We went to Jewel Cave, Sturgis, Deadwood and a few other stops. Along the way we stopped at the Corn Palace, Wall Drug & 1880’s Town. In Lead there is an old mine that is now being used for some physics/black hole type thing (dh was excited about that). The whole area reminded me of Wisconsin Dells — there are tons of things to do and there’s not enough time to do them all so it’s easy to pick & choose as you travel.

      We stayed 1 night in Deadwood at the Bullock Hotel. It’s over 100 yrs old and pretty cool. There are small casinos all over the area that were fun to pull a few slots in.

    • tag says

      You don’t really need to hike at Mt. Rushmore. There is a museum to browse and an amphitheater to sit in to see the faces. Most of the place is handicap accessible. It’s amazing.

      *** Make sure you are there for the closing ceremony at sundown. Bring tissues. Wow.***

      There is a parking fee ($10 three years ago) but no admission fee. No, there is no place to park outside the monument. The roads are carved into the surrounding mountains. Tiny shoulders. Pay the fee, if I remember correctly, it’s good for a year.

  15. Shelly says

    Does anyone know the best place to get Wild bird seed for the best price? Costco has a huge bag of high quality seed for a great price, but sometimes I purchase just Nyjer seed for my finch feeder and they don’t carry that. And it’s expensive. Looking for southwestern Mpls, St. Louis Park, Edina, Hopkins area places. Thanks!!

    • Rene S says

      Shelly, I’m in Wisconsin, but I know there are locations in MN too. Do you have a Pet Supplies Plus near you? I often buy their nyjer seed in bulk from their bins. It’s the best price I’ve found. For black oil sunflower or safflower, try either Menards or a farm supply store like Fleet Farm. A tip: if you feed cracked corn, buy a bag of “all species” cracked corn from the livestock area at FF. It is MUCH cheaper than in the bird seed area.

      • Shelly says

        Thanks, Rene. I’ve not heard of that place before, so I don’t think we have one near. It is specifically nyjer seed I’d like to find for a better price. The last place I went that used to carry it bulk said they don’t anymore because they were getting to many moths/bugs. I’ll keep checking though. Thanks!

  16. E Howey says


    I am wondering if anyone has Internet recommendations. We aren’t currently looking to bundle with anything, just simply high-speed Internet. We’ve had Century Link for the last couple of years and have always had a decent rate – However, now our latest 6 month promotional period is up and they want to bump us to $45/month. This seems high to us and the gentleman we talked to earlier was not willing to bring the price down any lower than $45.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for the Twin Cities (specifically St. Paul)?

    Thanks so much!!

  17. Jessica says

    At Walgreens right now there is a bogo half off of pantene. And I have coupons for bogo free. Can these be used together? For instance one would be free and the other half off? New to this so wanted to check. Thanks!

    • mary says

      You should be able to do that, but I’m not sure if you’d get the 1/2 price item for free or the full price one. It probably depends on the cashier.

  18. christine says

    I have an upright piano that I’m looking to donate to an organization. Does anyone have any suggestions on organizations that may want a piano?

  19. tag says

    Does anyone know what the policy at OfficeMax is when the item you purchased last week goes on sale this week? I looked on their website and couldn’t find the information.

  20. marcy d says

    If anyone is looking for ways to save money at the drugstore I suggest They have many manufacturer drug coupons for otc and prescription meds. Plus, they have a freebie friday blog that has free health samples, free medication trial offers and you can quite often find some beauty freebies too-

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