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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Maybe the best freebie of 2013 happens Saturday in St. Paul

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Financial Planners Updated: October 4, 2013 - 10:22 AM

It may be the best deal that you encounter all year.

In today's business section, I write about a free financial planning event happening at the Wilder Center in St. Paul Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The vast majority of Americans (79 percent) do not currently work with a financial planner, according to a Franklin Templeton survey in 2012. But nearly half of Americans not working with an advisor said that they would consider it.

What's holding them back? It's often too little or too much money. Some people who make big bucks manage it poorly and are too embarrassed to admit it to a professional. Those having difficulty making ends meet may think any attempt to save is futile.

Organizers at the event say that there is no situation that they won't try to help and they'll do it free. They can't magically fund a college savings plan or erase someone's $50,000 in credit card debt, but resources there can take the first step toward such a goal.

In addition to certified financial planners offering free one-on-one advice sessions, there will also be representatives from Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood House, Family Means, AccountAbility MN, Goodwill Easter Seals, and the City of St. Paul mortgage foreclosure dept.

For more details, click on the link above. If you want help with refinancing, budgeting, retirement savings or choosing between a Roth 401(k) or a regular 401(k), no question is too small. Take a step to clean out the cobwebs from your financial house. 

And let me know if you don't find it worthwhile, but I think you will. I'll be there too.

$25 tickets available for each "Wicked" performance at the Orpheum

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Tickets Updated: September 18, 2013 - 4:23 PM

Even though regular ticket prices range from $49 to $169 (plus fees) for the Broadway musical "Wicked," bargain hunters willing to take their chances on a nightly lottery can score them for $25.

Now through Oct. 27, (a prodigious 6-week run), ticket buyers can line up about 2 1/2 hours before showtime for a day-of-performance lottery. Two hours before the show starts at 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m., depending on the day, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats.

Each person whose name is drawn can buy up to two tickets, cash only. A valid photo ID must be provided if chosen. Unlike previous promotions, ticket buyers do not have to be students or educators. Anyone is eligible, unless you're unlucky enough to have walked away temporarily while your name was called. In other words, you must be present to win... the opportunity to pay for a $25 ticket.

"Wicked, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Disney’s Enchanted and Academy Award-winner for Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt) and book by Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “Once And Again” and “thirtysomething”) is based on the 1995 best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire. The musical is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Vagina Monologues) and features musical staging by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who’s Tommy, How To Succeed…). Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz, is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone," according to Hennepin Theatre Trust .

At $1.50 per gallon, you can't beat these milk prices

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Food and drink Updated: June 17, 2013 - 3:28 PM



You could pay $6 for a 2-gallon pack of milk at Holiday in Edina, but if you go to any Circle K station by June 30, you can get 2-gallons of any Schroeder milk for $2.99. It's the best deal in the Twin Cities on milk as Circle K franchisees try to establish themselves in the Twin Cities.


Go outside of Circle K, and the lowest prices will be on store brands. On Monday, June 17, Costco in St. Louis Park was $2.43 per gallon and Aldi on Lake St. in Minneapolis was $2.49 for skim or 2 percent. Most other stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Cub and Rainbow are charging between $2.80 and $2.89 for store brands on Monday in their Minneapolis stores.

One more good deal Circle K through the end of the month? Hot dogs for 49 cents each, no limit. Neither the milk nor the hot dog price requires a coupon, although the milk is a 2 gallon limit per customer per visit.

Most of the 13 locations in the Twin Cities have only been Circle K's since last year, although the locations may still be co-branded as a Mobil, Exxon or BP station.


Participating locations include Albertville at 94 and Labeaux, 763-497-4333; Blaine at Radisson and Cloud, 763-784-8071, and Central and 129th, 763-757-9655; Champlin at 169 and Elm Creek, 763-323-9642; Elk River at 169 and Main, 763-441-3810, and 169 and 197th, 763-241-9490; Mahtomedi, 694 and Century, 651-777-7417; New Brighton at 35W and E2, 651-633-2371, and Silver Lake and 45th, 651-636-3998; Rogers at 94 and 101, 763-426-9070; Roseville at 36 and Dale, 651-489-8359; Shoreview at 694 and Lexington, 651-483-1219 and 35W and J/85th, 651-784-3369.

You must buy two gallons to get the discount.

How cheap can we get for Father's Day?

Posted by: John Ewoldt under Holiday shopping Updated: June 13, 2013 - 9:30 AM


You probably know that Americans will spend less on Father's Day than Mother's Day. About 40 percent less, according to the National Retail Federation. We plan to spend about $120 this year on Dad compared to $168 for Mom last month.


But have you noticed how much lower the bar is set for dad? Pawn America is running television ads with owner Brad Rixmann suggesting that everything Dad likes can be found second hand at a pawn shop.


Local blogger Carrie Rocha of Pocket Your Dollars suggests a whole bunch of freebies and deals to take advantage of for Father's Day. Pottery Barn Kids and American Girl let kids make their own Father's Day cards. Ikea offers a free breakfast and TCBY a free yogurt.

if it's used or free, it's got Dad's name written all over it.



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