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Web sites tailor bargains to fit

Chicago Tribune (via Tribune News Service)

February 7, 2010 | By Greg Karp

Any frugalista knows information can mean big-time savings, and the Internet is the best source of quick-and-easy information. But keeping up with all the useful Web sites could be a full-time job.

Here are a few spending-smart sites you might not know about: You probably know about product reviews on And maybe you've seen the compilation and analysis of reviews on is similar but different. It reviews only low-priced products in a category. The idea is not to feature the best-quality products, whether laptop computers, mattresses or treadmills, but low-priced products that have the features, functionality and reliability you're likely to need, said co-founder Max Levitte. If all the low-priced products in a category stink, they won't recommend any, he said. Early termination fees have always been an expensive annoyance for wireless phone customers who want to get out of their contracts. While the major wireless carriers will prorate your termination fee based on how far into the contract you are, it can still cost hundreds of dollars. For example, Verizon Wireless in December doubled its smart phone early termination fee to $350. If you can't find your wireless contract for information on these fees, go to It has a simple-to-use fee calculator for the four major carriers. Even if you have to pay an early termination fee, it could be worth switching to, say, a prepaid phone, which could save many consumers hundreds of dollars per year. Paying insurance premiums monthly often costs more than paying annually or semi-annually. If you're a bit math-challenged and want to see, try the calculator at It will translate the extra you're paying into an annual percentage rate, similar to credit card interest. You could be paying as much as 29.7 percent "interest" by choosing the monthly option, AccuQuote says. is also good for comparing rates on term life insurance, which is recommended if you got your policy many years ago. Premiums have plummeted. Also for the math-challenged, features more than 350 no-cost money calculators. Shopping and coupon Web sites abound online. You might know about and for bargains or and for price comparisons. offers a couple of different services. One is a personal shopper service. Plug in what you want to buy, preferably with a model number, what you want to pay and your e-mail address, and ShoppingDudes will let you know when it finds the item at the price you want. Another service is Coupons to Your Inbox, which sends coupon codes only from retailers you choose. If you don't have dental insurance, a discount plan might be right for you. outlines plans in your area. Savings vary. For example, a family discount plan might cost about $150 to $200 per year. But you might save $20 per six-month checkup and $350 on a root canal. Plans vary widely in price and coverage, so find one that fits your anticipated expenses. You also can use a discount plan with dental insurance.

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