Dollars & Sense columnist John Ewoldt searches the Twin Cities and beyond for bargains and strategies to spare you time, money and hassles.
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Posts about Coupons

Free next-day shipping on personalized Mother's Day gifts @ Snapfish

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: May 3, 2012 - 4:09 PM


Make Mom's day with a personalized touch. Snapfish is offering free overnight shipping (use code FSOVER25) if you spend $25 or more.

The photo gifts with snapshots you provide include charm bracelets, coasters, necklaces with lockets, photos finished on canvas, mugs, pillow shams, fleece blankets, aprons and tote bags.

To get the overnight shipping, choose "overnight: 1 bus. day + processing time" at checkout by May 7 at 6 p.m. CST.

You can also pick up some orders the same day at Walgreens and Wal-Mart.

Cub Foods changes its expired coupon policy

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 23, 2012 - 4:37 PM


Serious couponers have been spoiled for years by Cub Foods expired coupon policy. The SuperValu stores have accepted coupons up to 90 days past the expiration date. Some cashiers even stretched it to five or six months, according to the Pocket Your Dollars couponing website.

But starting April 15, Cub will only accept coupons up to 30 days past the expiration date, said Cub Foods spokesman Luke Friedrich. "It brings us more closely aligned with manufacturer expectations," he said, explaining the reason for the change. 

The fact that Cub is the only supermarket in the TWin Cities that accepts expired manufacturer coupons has always been a mystery. Retailers are not supposed to accept expired coupons, according to the coupon's terms of compliance, said Charlie Brown of NCH Marketing, an Illinois coupon clearinghouse, There is a time lag between the time of redemption and the time when the coupon gets to clearinghouses, which allows Cub to do it. Apparently, enforcement is not a high priority.

No doubt Cub wants to maintain the advantage that acceptance of expired coupons gives the supermarket. It's competing with Rainbow's double coupon days on Wednesdays and occasionally on Saturdays. But the real competition which makes groceries such a cutthroat business now is discounters such as Target, Wal-Mart, Trader Joe's and Aldi. 

 It's a tough business, but Cub Foods has been the long-time dominant retailer in the Twin Cities for many years, said John Dean, a Twin Cities supermarket analyst. "They're still the dominant retailer by a long shot," said Dean, but their market share has slipped from 37 percent in 2007 to 29 percent this year. 

Will Cub's revised coupon policy affect where you spend your grocery dollars?






Is Tuesday the cheapest day of the week to buy gas?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: March 6, 2012 - 4:35 PM



Tuesdays are one of the better days to save on the price of gasoline but not the best day. Super America and some Holiday stations double coupon amounts on Tuesdays. And some sources claim that Tuesdays are, on average, the cheapest day of the week to purchase gasoline.


But many markets, including the Twin Cities, don't follow the national trend, said TwinCitiesGasPrices petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. We're more of a roller coaster market, he said. Our prices fall by a few pennies at a time and then go up like a shot. We may hate when prices shoot up, but the Twin Cities is one of the cheaper metro areas for gas prices, on average, said DeHaan.

Mondays mornings are the best time. Prices rarely go up on the weekend, so if you fill up before 9 or 10 a.m., you'll beat any price increases that day. After Monday morning, the best days to buy, in order, are Friday and then Tuesday.

Wednesday and Thursday often see price increases because the Department of Energy releases new petroleum status reports on Wednesdays.

Price hikes on Saturday and Sunday are not unheard of but rare.

The best way to track the cheapest gas prices in the Twin Cities is to use a tracker site such as Gas Buddy or Twin Cities Gas Prices. You can also follow their alerts to price increases on Facebook or Twitter.

The cheapest cities to buy gas in the Twin Cities metro, according to DeHaan, are Burnsville, Shakopee, Prior Lake, Shakopee, Coon Rapids and Woodbury. If you're passing through one of those areas soon, you might want to fill up while you're there.

 Need a coupon now for a Tuesday? Here's one from Holiday's site  for 5 cents off a gallon up to 15 gallons. You can also sign up to get additional Holiday offers sent via email.

Today's savings tip: Keep checking for price adjustments

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: December 14, 2011 - 8:49 AM


Here's another reason I love online shopping during the holidays: After I make a purchase I can get a price adjustment with a simple phone call instead of going into a store.


During the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend, I purchased items online at Eddie Bauer and Crate & Barrel. Both were holiday themed items that were 15 to 40 percent off. Since then I have received emails from both companies indicating that holiday merchandise was now discounted 30 to 50 percent.


The Eddie Bauer Pendleton Christmas stockings are now discounted 50 percent, so i called and got a price adjustment saving me about $8 in 10 minutes' time. (Translation: Paying myself about $48 an hour).

The Christmas stocking hooks at Crate & Barrel that were 15 percent off are now discounted 30 percent, a $14 savings for me in about 10 minutes spent checking the price and calling customer service. (Translation: Paying myself about

$84 an hour).


You could argue that waiting until after Christmas I'd save even more but I, ahem, wanted to enjoy them during the holidays.

In general, request a price adjustment within 14 days of purchase, but it doesn't hurt to ask even after two weeks. The exception is that few if any retailers allow price adjustments after Christmas.


If you're wondering about why I included the info about paying myself an hourly wage, it's a trick I learned from Amy Dacyczyn, author of the now defunct Tightwad Gazette. She encouraged people to learn to put their savings in context. A person might say, "I'm only saving $5. Why bother?" But if it takes you only a few minutes to gain $5 in savings, it's the equivalent of paying yourself $100 an hour.


Double your gas coupons at SA and Holiday today and any Tuesday

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: November 8, 2011 - 9:22 AM



If you're going to fill up your gas tank, Tuesdays are the day if you've got gasoline coupons. It doesn't matter where the coupons are from, as long as they're local. All competitors' coupons are accepted at SA and Holiday. Even better, both will double current gas coupons on Tuesdays. (Thanks again, dealspotter Sue Brabeck of Woodbury, for pointing out that Holiday stations also double on Tuesdays.)


Holiday, which has a coupon promo with Cub Foods, will only double one coupon, even though customers can bring in up to three Cub coupons. 

Bottom line: Collect all gas coupons and use them any day at Super America or Holiday, but you'll get the biggest bang on Tuesdays, when they're doubled.


According to Twin Cities Gas Prices, the lowest prices this morning are $3.22 per gallon at many stations in Burnsville, including SA, BP, Sam's Club. Costco and Mobil.

I'm not suggesting that an east side metro person drive to Burnsville, but check the site for the cheapest gas in your area.

Here's another way to save:

If you're a a Costco member and you use your American Express card to pay for gas at a Costco station, you're probably getting an additional 3 percent discount in the form of a rebate check for gas, restaurants, travel etc. I believe the rebate check shows up in your American Express bill in February.


Got a gas saving tip of your own? Share away.


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