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April, 2009


In these days of shrinking nest eggs, reduced home equity, job layoffs, and fewer paid work hours, it behooves us to hunt for the best bargains for our hard earned bucks. Indeed, even if our regular budgets were not diminished, it would be a great idea to save more for that proverbial rainy day, or perhaps to be able to retire a bit sooner, pay off our bills faster, or take a long sought super vacation. The sites featured here will likely help with such goals, and I can heartily endorse them. They have both already benefited us.

"BillShrink" is a free website service that provides personalized lower cost credit cards with rewards programs, wireless phone agreements that meet your needs and cost less, and gasoline stations near you or your worksite that have lower gas. prices. Together, these offerings may save you a bundle every year. With some of the gains, you and a friend or spouse might go out on the town every couple months and still have money left over!

"Angie's List" costs about $40 a year (or $30 a year for multiple years), but is well worth it if, like most of us, you use contractors, dentists, and doctors. Before we had access to the thousands of Angie's List reviews of contractors and medical or dental professionals in our area, choosing a new person to do work at our house, repairs on our appliances, care for our teeth, or even treatment for our bodies was too often a hit and miss affair. Some were good. Some were terrible. Most were OK, but their costs were often too high. They might not fix what they had messed up, or do the whole job, etc. In some cases, they were just way across town, and we would waste time and gasoline getting to and from their offices.

Now those sorts of problems are almost in the past. We start our selection of a new worker or professional at "Angie's List" by indicating the specialty (i.e. mower repair, computers, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning, dentists, internal medicine doctors, etc.) and within how many miles of our house we want the search made. Then we ask for the best rated contractors or professionals in the needed category. Normally we get back numerous choices, the first listed of which are fairly close to us and have the highest ("A") ratings from other members. A final search gives us the customer or patient reviews submitted on our top candidates by other Angie's List members. These are frequently very detailed and most helpful. Typically, we then choose those in our category with "Honor Roll" designations (the best of the best among the "A" ratings), jot down their hours, phone numbers, etc., and we are in business.

In just the last couple or three years, we have used several "Angie's List" recommended contractors and have selected our current dentist through this service. We have yet to be disappointed and figure we have, conservatively, saved not only much frustration but also many hundreds of dollars. The difference between our experiences with contractors before and after "Angie's List" are so significant that in appreciation we are always conscientious about completing our own reviews. It is evident that a lot of other members feel the same way.


Larry is not a professional. Don't take him seriously!

Actually, the investment article provided here is for general information only and should not be considered as professional advice, a solicitation to buy or sell any security, or the Word of God. Investors are encouraged to do their own research while considering their personal goals and circumstances, or consult their own professional financial advisors, before making investment decisions. Neither Larry nor LARVALBUG will be liable for any losses sustained by any visitor to this site.

(Disclosure statement: Larry and Val have holdings in some of the suggested assets but do not "make a market" in any of them and do not derive any direct benefit from recommending them, except perhaps for a bit of smug self-satisfaction.)

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