Open Mic 8/1/13

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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.

About Carrie Rocha

I am passionate about helping people live within their means so they can get out and stay out of debt. I live in Minneapolis, MN with my husband and two little girls.


  1. Looking for ideas for party bags for 8-9 year old girls. Looking for the most inexpensive ideas possible. Willing to order from Amazon or Oriental trading but looking for specific ideas.

    • What about a little manicure set? You could fill a bag with cheap nail polishes, nail files and little lotions.

      • Mary, I don’t know how you feel about candy. But our 3 kids ALWAYS wanted a pinata at their birthday parties, and we stuffed with candy. That made the bulk of the party bags and then I would just watch for good deals on things that weren’t cheapy favors that just go in the trash. One popular one for that age I usually did was the little 80 sheet notebooks that Walgreens forever has on sale this time of year (usually around 25 cents each). I would often use my paint pens and put each kids’ name on with some decorations and then include a fun pencil and pen. The notebooks are called “Memo books” or something like that and are about 6″ x 4″.

        • We are doing the party at a local gymnastics studio so the goodie bag items can’t be incorporated into an activity for the party. I’m probably going to stick with bags of candy but looking for the best deals.

    • My fave are a few pkgs of gum–really do not need a party favor bag but all kiddos love gum :)

    • Mary– We did an English Party one year and I used my good dishes and formal table linens so there was no need to purchase anything. We also played pin the crown on the queen, the tray memory game, and had a formal manors lesson. I made littel finger sandwhiches and bought mini scones and muffins. We had cake, tea and lemonade. The girls all had a great time.

    • Do you have a theme that you’re going with? If not, you could have them decorate cookies or cupcakes and have them take those home as their “parting gift”. Or a jewelry making party, and then the bracelets that they make could be their gift. Also, check out Pinterest – SO many ideas on there!

      • I have made up sugar cookies and let the girls decorate them with various frosting and sprinkles, etc. They get to make one to eat at the party and then make one to take home and make (decorate) one for each person in their family to take home. The girls love that. I also take pictures of them and their creations. I also had them decorate a brown lunch bag with their name in foam letters (I bought a bucket of foam letters years ago and we are still using it) and they used colored markers to decorate it as well as some stickers with a party theme. You can find stickers at the dollar stores like 3 – 4 sheets in a pack and give each girl a sheet of stickers to take home. Chap stick (lip gloss) is a good party bag idea at their age as well. I try to give them things they can use instead of junk. Dollar Tree has 3 plastic bead necklaces (pink, purple, and blue) for $1 and girls usually like those too. Have fun!

    • Mary, I thought of two more party craft/favor things I did with my girls at around that age that were HUGE hits. We bought very cheap white pillow-cases. We used the type of fabric crayons that they draw/write/color on regular white paper (much more control than fabric pens). Then I ironed it onto the pillow cases while they did other stuff. Loved that. The other one involved getting the right sales at Michael’s or a fabric store. But I got lots of that gold twisty shiny wire that has gold stars (can’t think what it’s called). Each girl got 3 strands to fit around her head, and they got all intertwined. Then they got to pick a bunch of thin fabric ribbons that I got 3 spools for $1. The ribbons got doubled and looped onto the “wreath” to make a crown similar to one you would pay $5 – $10 for at the Renaissance Festival. Loved, loved those – huge hit!!

  2. Hi all! I’m one of the few people who is not on Facebook and Twitter (*gasp!*). However I just read somewhere that companies use social media to their advantage with the large audience, therefore placing their best deals and coupons on Facebook, etc. and offering them up when you “like” or “follow” them and then post some on an on-going basis. As a deal-lover, this intrigues me.

    I’m just wondering; what are your thoughts on the deals and coupons posted through Facebook and Twitter? Are they really that much better? What kinds of deals have you gotten before with a coupon or deal found on social media? Is it worth it to make an account to find more deals?

    Thanks and have a lovely day!

    • I’ve had similar conversations before myself. I do find some good coupons on facebook, but I’m not sure that I would consider them good enough to create an account for. Depends what kind of coupons you use I guess. You could always create an account on the high privacy and not add friends. The best deal I got on Facebook was a free 8×8 shutterfly book. Usually I think the grocery coupons are similar in dollar value to other websites/paper coupons, but I have noticed that sometimes they have a coupon on Facebook when they don’t have any paper/web coupons, so it gives you one more option if there is a sale or you really need something. I don’t Twitter, so I don’t know about those. The one that bugs me is the “on your Smartphone only” or “text only” coupons. It doesn’t cost money to sign up for facebook, but I don’t have a smartphone and have to pay per text (which defeats the purpose of the coupon to save money most of the time). But I guess it’s similar to companies offering different to different areas.

      • I only use facebook for coupons and deals. I don’t post personal stuff online. I have only have a few friends (online) and the ones I have I have told them that I’m only using facebook for deals and coupons. So when you do a deal the company will ask you if they can have access your friends list? If I can opt out and still get the deal, I do opt out. If I can’t opt out I don’t feel bad, because I have told my friends about my page and the reason behind it. As far as the coupons out there, Coborns and Cashwise has really stated offering high value coupons. Last week They had free kemps ice cream with a five dollar purchase. I have found that It is worth your time setting up a page just for this purpose. FYI I use a graphics for my pics so my page doesn’t look so boring. I will post comments when I get good deals.

    • M,
      I did not have a facebook account before either. Then when I got going with PYD it did seem to me many deals are ones where you have to sign “Like” them on facebook. For me it is has been totally worth it. I only use facebook for my couponing and have done that for a couple years now; so far I see no downside at all…so why not set up an account and give it a try?

      • That’s what I’ve been thinking about. I forgot to mention this too in my first post: the big things I’m watching out for are natural/organic foods and diapers (Pampers, specifically). Has anyone seen good deals on social media for things like that?? I think that would be a big deciding factor for me. Love all the advice from everyone!

  3. This is a long shot… does anyone happen to have an extra glucose monitor (like the ones that Walgreen’s often has ‘free’)? My husband was just diagnosed as pre-diabetic so I’d love to be able to have him check his blood sugar as we try to get him from “pre” to “none” by changing his diet and upping his exercise. Thanks in advance!

    • Brenda,
      With 3 type 1 diabetics in our home we do not have extra glucose meters available. You can go online and Google “free glucose meters”. There you will find several companies that pre-qualify you for their free device. However, the test strips are the expensive aspect of glucose testing. Most likely they will not be covered by insurance since your spouse is not on oral medication or insulin. Best wishes in your spouses journey. It’s all about portion control.

    • Brenda, I have a Bayer one, that I got free a few years ago. I think it may have “expired” as in the testing strips may no longer be good. It’s in it’s box still… where do you live? I’d be happy to give it to you. I live in Brooklyn Park.

      • Brenda G says:

        Marne – If you wouldn’t mind letting me check to see if I can find one closer to me (Oakdale) before I say yes or no. Would that be ok?

        • Brenda – that would be fine! Maybe Kristine is closer to you? And hers would also be newer.

    • Kristine says:

      Hi Brenda,
      I just purchased an Accu Check Nano at Walgreens to donate to someone in need.
      Let me know if you are interested

    • Check with your insurance company and also ask your doctor if they have a program that might help you. Or the American Diabetes Association. Also check what the test strips will cost, it might be better to pay for a meter, or buy a cheaper meter, than to get one free and have to spend $1 per test strip.

      Sometimes there are deals on Ebay. When I was first diagnosed, I had a limit of 4 strips per day on my insurance and I was so concerned about it I was checking far more often than that. I bought some on Ebay to hold me over until my insurance could determine if I needed more or not.

  4. Curious about savings/prices between Cub or Rainbow and Coborns. We have Cub and Rainbow in town and I’ve shopped there most of the time (usually Rainbow’s double coupon days) and while I don’t usually make the 75% savings goal, I often reach my goal of 50% (including meats, lots of fresh produce, etc). Anyway…. I’ve been getting busy and finding time to go to the grocery store is sometimes a crunch, so I was contemplating the Coborns Delivers option. There is a Coborns in the neighboring town, although I haven’t been to it. But if I can save a bunch of time once in a while it might be worth it. Does Coborns usually have decent sales? Has anyone used their delivery service? If so, do you like it?

    • Korene – So sorry for the belated response; I was on vacation at the beginning of August and am just catching up on reading comments now.

      Anyway, I think 50% savings is a great goal to shoot for. 75% is nice for some things (health & beauty items, snacks, etc.) but for most of your grocery shopping 50% is absolutely reasonable.

      One thing to note about Coborn’s Delivers is that their deals are *not* tied to the in-store deals at Coborn’s. It’s an entirely separate sales cycle with different deals (check their website for more information: I did use their service a couple of years ago when they were just starting out as I had a coupon but I haven’t used it since. I did like it when I used it, though.

  5. My Grandson is going to College soon and needs to buy a lot of tools. He really like craftsmen at Sears. Does anyone know where there is a coupon for tools at Sears. He has to buy approx. $4-5k worth of stuff so any savings would be huge. also is there a coupon in happenings book?

    • A couple options may exist. A credit worthy adult can open a Sears Visa/MasterCard and receive a discount. Plus they will receive points for cash rewards. Go to Northern Tool in Burnsville to see what they might have for products and financing. Craislist is another possiblility; though buyer beware. There are coupons online line for Craftsman products. Just Google Sears Craftsman Coupons. Here’s one link for you:

    • Check with employee discounts. My husband does not work at sears but does get a discount on their gift cards, appliances and I’m not sure what else.

    • Also be sure he has a Shop Your Way Rewards because he can earn points when he shops. Sign up here:

    • Also – I see that a handful of Craftsman things are 50% off right now and starting tomorrow some other items will be 50% off. And, use code SAVE15 to get $15 off $75 tool purchase through end of August. Maybe he could buy his stuff in $75 increments and use the code multiple times?

      Like this 309-pc mechanics tool set is 50% off tomorrow and Saturday (my referral link)

    • Craftsman has a clue which offers member deals

    • When my husband was in Tech school, a few sales reps came and offered huge discounts by purchasing through them. The instructors were also able to steer him into a gradual purchase and thus not having a huge sticker shock up front. And at that time his school allowed him to get a student loan through the school to purchase them. Also, check Craiglist for someone wanting to sell their tools. Most manufactures still offer lifetime replacement regardless if you purchase them used. It’s been 20+ years and we still have those Snap On tools!

  6. I know this isn’t really the place to ask this but thought it is worth a shot. Now that the height of produce season is here I eat mostly salsas but I am still dipping it with corn chips from the bag…not so healthy. Does anyone have a super healthy recipe or idea on how to make some? I have tried all the ideas of like use cucumbers, carrots or jicama slices instead of the corn chip but I want a chip! ;) I would be willing to make them or use some healthy soft taco shell and cut them up and bake them. So I am looking for a recipe or site to get a recipe or a brand name of something to buy that is actually good and good for you.

    • Christine says:

      What about using a Pita Chip. I believe those are healthier for you. I have purchased corn tortillas and fried them myself. I don’t know if they are any healthier, but they certainly have less salt.

    • Treev,
      I’m like you – it’s just not chips and salsa without the chips! :)
      I’d check out Pinterest for recipe ideas. I did a quick search and found some delicious looking ones! (I’d write some out but I’m just heading out the door)
      If you’re in the mood to buy some I’ve found that the Wild Harvest ones at Cub (found in the natural foods section) are DELICIOUS! They taste delicious on their own…and even more amazing with salsa.
      Or…something I’ve done in the past is dip Triscuits in salsa; good chance to get in some fiber and whole grains and you don’t miss out on that crunch factor!

      Good luck, and if you find a good recipe I’d be curious to know too! :)

      • I bake flour tortillas. No salt (I have gone so long with limited salt that chips taste too salty to me). I do sometimes spray some olive oil on the sheet before I bake them.

        I prefer using salsa as a salad dressing or on an omelette, but if you must have chips I would say ration them and eat them. Substituting Triscuits or other crackers are just as bad.

        • Chips and salsa are my nemesis, so I’d love an answer to this. Sometimes I put a flour tortilla in the toaster and it crisps up enough to make it work. We also just realized that an open bag of chips can go in the freezer, making it easier to manage portions and keep it “out of sight, out of mind” for a complete addict like me. Just my two cents… Good luck!

    • What about kale chips? You can even make your own (I haven’t tried this, but it seems easy.)

  7. Kristine says:

    I have 10 expired full coupon inserts (SS and RP) from 3/17/2013.
    Can I drop these off somewhere so they can get to military families- they can use expired coupons still, right? I don’t want to ship the inserts, I would rather drop them off somewhere.
    Looking for a place to donate them every week when inserts expire. I do not cut out all coupons- only ones I use.
    Thanks for your ideas

    • Hi kristine..sorry I didn’t reply to your post correctly yesterday. I have 2 families that I send coupons to overseas.. Would be happy to send them for you. Email me at allison426 @ (no spaces).

  8. We just bought our first house and it needs a lot of fixing up. My question is, where can i buy cheap interior paint,carpeting/ tiling and any other fixer up things?

    • Helperlady says:

      Check the Habitat for Humanity store called Restore.

    • Ace Hardware is doing Free Paint Saturday this weekend where you can get a free quart (looks like it’s paint and primer in one). Though it’s small those little buggers sure can help out with projects…plus it’s free!

      I second the Habitat for Humanity Restore! Paint might go on sale at the usual stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) around Labor Day too (if the project can wait).

      • Lorraine says:

        check your countys website for a household hazardous waste drop off facility for free paint and household products (paint, stains, cleaners, herbicides, pesticides, etc.) that ppl dont
        want to put in the landfills or down the drain. I know stearns county has one.

        • Lorraine says:

          Menards has a shelf of paint/stains that are returns. I have bought good quality gallons of paint for $5 and quarts for $1

    • Keep a close eye on Menards ads. With their rebate program, you can get a lot of stuff free. I have 10 gallons of paint that I got free with a rebate. I have figured out that I get about $1,000 worth of household things free each year this way.

      • I second Menards rebate program. I also would recommend online. Since Home Depot does price match, if you find something cheaper online you can get them to price match it. If you are doing it online, go through their “chat” feature with an online rep and they can verify the lower price and give you that price.

        I also have been re-doing a 1955 home that have never been updated. I have used floor and decor online, which does price matching on flooring and tiles. Same concept.

        For HVAC I used theACoutlet. Price matching, plus you can get 2% off if you buy a system and pay with money order or cashier check.

        Craigslist is good too, but you must be very precise in your measurements since you cannot return.

  9. Margaret says:

    I have an older relative who needs new hearing aids. They are so expensive. The insurance pays only a small portion. Anyone have favorite companies/clinics/docs who sell good hearing aids. Thanks.

    • UnitedHealthCare buys hearing aids for their members at a large discount and has now started offering them at that price to the general public. Veterans receive and additional discount. Worth looking into:

      • Veterans can get hearing aids and batteries FREE by going through the VA. The aids are high tech. My dad can answer his cell phone with his and a mic/necklace!

  10. Margaret, I can’t recommend a specific place, but I worked in the hearing aid industry for a few years. When people tell me they are bringing their parents someplace for hearing aids, I usually tell them this:

    You do not need the completely in the ear canal aids. They are the most expensive and they have the highest failure rate. The best, if the person will use them, are the behind the ear type. They are less expensive and they are much easier to fix.

    Be very realistic about the ability of the user to take care of them. They will have to clean them, make sure their ears are dry, not use hair spray or hair products after the device is in place, possibly put them in a dry kit every night. They also might need to visit an ENT regularly to have their ears cleaned. NOT with cotton swabs.

    If they throw them in a drawer for six months and then wonder why they don’t work when they try them the day before Thanksgiving, it is because they threw them in a drawer for six months.

    If you do get a device that is not a behind the ear, if you lose or gain weight, you might need to have them fit again (reshelled). There is a charge for that. If they are the behind the ear type, they might need to have the mold redone. Because we didn’t work in the field, I don’t have any idea how much that would cost, but because there is no technology in the ear mold, it should not be horribly expensive.

    Be sure to get in writing the return policy and refund policy. Ask exactly what is included and what the restock fee would be.

    There is no hearing aid that will restore hearing. Nobody can hear at age 70 the way they heard when they were 12. However, if someone does get a hearing aid, they should wear it every day without skipping days. It can help to retrain the way the person hears and also get them used to hearing in a different way.

  11. Two questions in 1 post. Got mustard stain on a favorite top. Treated and cold water washed it. Didn’t remove stain so it is air drying. Any suggestions on a really good stain remover to try on it? Tried stain spray and good old Fels Naptha bar rubbed on it.

    Next question-looking for a birthday book. Binder type book with a pocket for each month to hold greeting cards and a sheet for each month to write in birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Wanting to find a replacement book cheap. Any idea if dollar type stores or someplace reasonable in north metro area would carry something like this?

    • Sometimes I have luck using Dawn on a stain. I have a soft sponge and I dab the garment with that so it doesn’t wear the fibers in one spot.

    • There’s a good stain remover that I have found (I know Walmart carries it around $2). It’s called Carbona. They are formulated for the specific stain, so there are about 6-8 bottles to choose from. They get out 98% of my kiddos stains. They are in a small yellow bottle. If you lift the back flap, you’ll see “mustard” and then use that specific one.

  12. Christine says:

    I am wondering if anyone has a suggestion for a marriage counselor. Our insurance will only cover individual counseling, and not couples. Hopefully someone who can work on a sliding scale.

    • United Way should be able to refer you to an agency that will work on a sliding scale.

    • If you go to church you may want to talk to them about people them recommend. I would not just use anyone. You are talking about the future of your marriage.

  13. I will post this on the Target list when it gets posted. I’m wondering if anyone has the $3 off coupons for Playtex tampons? (no longer available). My daughter just lost her job and I’m trying to help her out as much as I can. She uses a lot of these and they are expensive. If you have them you can email me at

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