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Save $500 to $5,000 on a new car with a $10 tool

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: December 21, 2014 - 10:57 AM

In Sunday's Your Money column I write about the methods I used to help a friend get a good deal on a new Subaru. No I didn't buy him a new car for the holidays, but people supposedly give new cars as Christmas gifts. December ranks as the top month for U.S. car sales, with about 1 in 10 vehicles sold in December, according to Bloomberg.

And those king sized bows? A Los Angeles company called "King Sized Bows" appropriately enough, said that it sells about 2,500 car toppers each year, with buyers split evenly between consumers and dealerships. So far, I haven't been able to find the king sized bows distributor in Minnesota.

Let's say that you are one of the lucky ones purchasing a new car soon. One important negotiating tool if you're buying a new vehicle for yourself or a loved one is to find out if there are secret dealer incentive programs. Sometimes known as dealer "holdback," these programs are in addition to special low financing rates or manufacturer rebates.

These incentives can be significant--starting at $500 and going as high as $5,500. That is why it is often possible to buy a vehicle far under the invoice price, said Robert Ellis of, a non-profit that includes car buying services. Incentives may increase because a car isn't selling well, dealers are overstocked, or a newer model is coming out soon and the manufacturer wants the old models off the lot.

You can find out which vehicle models currently have dealer incentives at several sources. If you order the Consumer Reports New Car Price Report for $14, it indicates if the model offers dealer incentives, holdbacks or rebates. But if you want to see a list of all vehicles and their holdback amounts, go to CarDeals. For $10 you can get a list that can be printed. The current issue is dated Dec. 19, but the Dec. 9 issue included these secret incentives:

$1,000: BMW 3-series 2015 (excluding 328d)

$2,000 to $2,500: Chevy Cruz 2014, Hyundai Elantra Sport 2014, Mercedes C300 Sport Sedan 2015 4matic, Toyota Prius Liftback 2014 (excludes Prius V, Plug-In and C)

$3,000 to $3,500: Chevy Malibu 2014 or 2015

$4,000 to $5,500: BMW 7-Series 2015 (excludes Alpina), Chrysler 300C 2014 (excludes 300/SRT/300S) and Ford Taurus 2014

This is only a sampling. Many more incentives are listed in the issue. The holdback incentive is not a guarantee that the dealership will pass along the savings to the customer, but it's a powerful tool to take into negotiating.

This is why the buying technique mentioned in the Your Money column is so helpful. Let the dealers bid against each other via email or by phone. The one who can afford to sell you the car for the lowest price will rise to the top.

Not every vehicle will have an added incentive. My friend's Subaru only had low interest financing offer--no holdback, but I was still able to get the vehicle for $250 under invoice.

You may be able to get the holdback incentive programs free from Automotive News or Edmunds, Ellis said, but even paying $10 to potentially save $500 to $5,000 is well worth it.

"How smart people carry beer" is the latest gadget hopeful

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: December 19, 2014 - 2:28 PM

The Australian "Stubby Strip" maybe should have changed its name as it hopped hemispheres. Most Americans probably don't know that a "stubby" is a short, wide beer bottle aka a "steinie."

Nonetheless, the Twin Cities is the first market in the U.S. to be introduced to an easy way to tote a six pack of beer, soda, water and energy drinks or a 4-pack of wine. The beer or wine caddy fits glass, aluminum or plastic bottles and cans up to 1.24 liters. (Two-liter soda bottles are too large to fit).

The lightweight neoprene fabric and velcro enclosure keep drinks cold and secure as you carry them with a simple, comfortable handle.

Franchise owner Korosh Delnawaz said business has been brisk and he's sold nearly 3,000 of them since November. The advantage is that the material is much lighter weight than a cooler and when folded flat it takes up far less space. Delnawaz describes the strip as an easier way to cart drinks to a beach, boat, campsite, sporting event, party or concert. "Think of a cooler as a mother ship," he said. "The Stubby Strip is much more portable."

Delnawaz currently sells two varieties in kiosks in Ridgedale on the second floor near Macy's and in Mall of America on the third floor near Sears. The price is $24.95 for the Original strip that carries 7 regular sized bottles. It's $29.95 for the Vino strip that holds 4 wine bottles. The Original comes in 5 colors and the Vino comes in two.

The company is hoping to land the product in Wal-Mart and Target, but for now it's available online and at the two kiosks in MOA and Ridgedale.

Aldi grocery drops a couple of gifts in consumers' stockings this week

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: December 15, 2014 - 4:59 PM

Aldi supermarkets dropped a couple of gifts in Twin Cities' stockings for the holidays--coupons and credit cards.

The retailer that used to accept only a select number of debit cards is now accepting all credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. "Minnesota and a few stores in Syracuse, New York are the two limited test markets in the country," said Matt Lilla, divisional vice-president of Aldi in Faribault, Minn.

The test began in November and customers and cashiers have both welcomed it enthusiastically, Lilla said.

In Sunday's Star Tribune (Dec. 14), Aldi also included a single glossy sheet (shown) with a $5 off coupon off a $30 purchase. The coupon offers are a first for Aldi this year, with a similar one running around Thanksgiving."We're hoping to attract shoppers who may be looking for a new grocery store after Rainbow closed," said Lilla.

The offer comes as somewhat of a surprise considering that Aldi does not accept manufactuers' coupons. Until this season, I never saw sit offer store coupons either.

No-mall option for Black Fri. early birds. Museum at 6 a.m.?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: November 26, 2014 - 12:05 PM

 Sometimes swimming against the tide is easier than floating along with the crowds. Like the shoppers who head out to malls during Vikings games. Fewer people, shorter lines, relaxing experience.

Some of you won't be caught anywhere near a mall on Thanksgiving evening or Black Friday morning. But if sleeping late isn't your thing, Minneapolis Institute of Arts will be doing its third annual Black Friday alternative from 6 A.M. to 7 A.M. Get a free ticket to  “Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945” with admittance varying between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Friday. Then get 20 percent off all purchases in the gift shop. including  one-of-kind and vintage Italian clothing, accessories, and objects, from Fendi, Missoni, Prada and other brands. Receive a free gift on purchases of $125 or more all day. Free coffee and treats are also served early in the day.

An MIA rep who answered the phone Wednesday said that crowds have been moderate for the early bird event in past years, although there is usually a line at 6 a.m. when the museum opens.

Here's another example of not following the crowds--going to the grocery store when your fridge is bulging with Thanksgiving leftovers. Lunds/Byerly's offers a one day Black Friday sale with 7 deals worth a visit:

Norwegian salmon fillets for $7/lb (reg. $19/lb),]

Cuties seedless clementines $3/3 lbs (reg. $7)

Deli salad bar $5/lb (reg. $7)

Store brand spring water $1/15 pk (reg $3)

Cottonelle double roll TP $4/12 count (reg. $10.60)

Brew Pub pizza $4/12-inch (reg. $10)

Caribou coffee $5 (reg. $9.80--limit two).

Eyeglass frames for $59 this weekend, regularly $259 and up

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: November 21, 2014 - 10:58 AM

Still got some bucks left in your healthcare flexible spending account? The Spectacle Shoppe (2001 Burnsville Center, Burnsville, 952-892-6666) is selling about 5,000 eyeglass frames for $59 each from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 22-23).

Brands include Morel, Koali, Iyoko Inyake, John Varvatos, J.F. Rey, and Betsey Johnson. SS's other popular brands such as Oliver People's, Judith Lieber and David Yurman are not included in this sale. The $59 frames were originally priced from $259 to $559, said Spectacle Shoppe owner David Ulrich.

Frames buyers are not required to purchase lenses from Spectacle Shoppe, which can be pricey. Ulrich is discounting lenses slightly. Prescription progressive lenses normally priced $300 to $600 will be $100 off, non-glare anti-reflective coating regularly $150 extra will be $99. Single-vision lenses without the progression are $109 during the sale, regularly $159.

Compare the lens prices with your own optician or optometrist. Costco members, for example pay a lot less than SS's lens prices. Progressive, digital lenses are $130 to $200, including the anti-reflective coating. Single-vision lenses are $74 to $110. Costco reserves the right to refuse to supply lenses for a frame not purchased from them. If a frame is accepted, Costco charges an additional $18. Consumer Reports has given high marks to the quality of Costco Optical in the past. The store topped the list of eyeglass retailers for overall satisfaction in Consumer Reports' 2012 survey of nearly 19,500 readers.

Does anyone still repair holes in sweaters?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: November 20, 2014 - 7:56 AM

Cold weather has me bringing sweaters out of storage and noticing holes that must have developed over the summer. Rather than toss, donate or wear only around the house, I got them repaired at a tailor shop. It's more difficult to find tailors who still offer the service but some do.

Sweaters can be re-woven with extra yarn from the same sweater (often included in a small plastic pouch at the time of purchase) or sewn with needle and thread. It generally costs more to re-weave a sweater because of the extra labor, said Bernadette St. Amant of White Bear Lake, who does repairs and knits sweaters by request.

Here are several local sources that repair sweaters.

Tom's Tailors (672 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-222-5953; 783 Radio Dr., Woodbury, 651-739-1664) charges about $12 and up.

Tailors on Blake (5706 W. 36th St., St. Louis Park, 952-933-6585) charges about $6 to $25 for stitched repairs. Re-knit repairs start at $29.

Perfect Fit by Marina (597 N. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-646-0111 ) is an alterations shop that also repairs small and large holes. Prices range from $12 to $50.

Bernadette St. Amant of White Bear Lake has been knitting for more than 30 years and repairs Dale of Norway sweaters for a store in Rochester, Minn.. She charges a minimum of $15 for small holes and more for larger ones. Call 651-341-5853. Sweaters can be dropped off or mailed.


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