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Columns: Boomer Bucks
Barbara Mlotek Whelehan   Expert: Barbara Mlotek Whelehan
Boomer Bucks
Saving money is the in thing these days. But some forms of extreme saving can be just plain gross.
Boomer Bucks

Getting the best deal
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So on a subsequent visit, I thumbed through the upcoming specials and learned that these pillows sell for as low as $39.99 each, whether standard size or king. Bottom line: I didn't get the best deal. My feathers were a bit ruffled.

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Recently I was again in the market for two new feather pillows, and since there was no special at Macy's, I looked elsewhere. I found some Serta Soft feather bed pillows ("natural feather filled pillows, perfect for all sleeping positions") on sale at Sears for $15 each. I bought them, thinking that's as cheap as I'll find feather pillows. Are they as good as the Charter Club pillows? Probably not. But they're for the guest bedroom, so who cares?

Then about two weeks later Sears had an advertised special: Buy one pillow, get one free. Oh no! -- I still didn't get the best deal, I thought, chagrined.

I explained to a sales clerk that I had recently purchased two pillows there. "Can I get reimbursed the difference if I produce my receipt?" I asked. Hey, I'm not too proud to ask these questions. The answer was yes. So, on my next visit I produced the receipt. But when the store clerk scanned the bar code in, the return price was $30, but the pillows rang up at $20 each.

Because the second one was free I still got back $10. The clerk got no complaints from me. I got two pillows for $10 a pop, and that, I think, is as cheap as I will find them -- unless I resort to buying them secondhand at a consignment shop. Eeewwww!

Car talk
Earlier this year I bought a used 2005 Honda Accord at the Ed Morse Honda dealership in West Palm Beach, Fla. I had planned on driving my old 1996 Buick Skylark into the ground, or for two more years, whichever came first. But last summer the gauges on the ole Buick started going wacko, twitching erratically from one side to the other. I didn't know how fast I was going, whether my car was overheating or how much gas was in my tank. The speedometer vacillated between 10 mph and 100 mph in rapid succession, as if my car suffered from some mechanical version of hyper bipolar disorder.

Eventually the gauges just stopped working altogether. I drove it like that for about eight months, and finally decided I needed a roadworthy vehicle. Fixing that problem would have cost in excess of $700 -- plus it had some other ailments. My philosophy is this: If a car repair costs more than the car is worth, get another car.

So anyway, I got a coupon in the mail that offered $4 off the regular price of an oil change from the dealership where I bought the Honda Accord after I bought it. Regular price: $28.95, marked down to $24.95. The alternative is to go to the usual quick-oil-change joint down the street from where I live, where it takes 20 to 30 minutes and costs $31.99 plus tax (which comes with a "free" car wash, valued at $8). But you have to endure constant interruptions, with a mechanic coming into the waiting area trying to upsell you a new filter, changed transmission fluid or new windshield wipers (which are designed to last exactly 5,000 miles, when it's time for another oil change).

Next: "I plan to redeem the coupon ..."
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