Get the Best Spend LessKiplinger — Volkswagen Carat

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Get the Best, Spend Less

You go wrong with our picks, no how much you want to spend.

By Editors, April 2010


The contenders may more room to grow

. (symbol AMZN ) . At the king of online merchants for a rich 41 times estimated earnings.

VALUE . eBay ) . At $22, the electronic flea-market sells for just 13 times earnings.

TRADE-OFF . eBay matched Amazon’s explosive

GOLD . Berkshire Hathaway ) . True, you can now buy the recently split B shares for $77. And at 1.3 times value, Berkshire is well though not a super bargain.

. Alleghany (Y ) . Considered a mini this holding company has exposure to the insurance industry at $263, trades for 0.9 times value.

TRADE-OFF . No Warren

GOLD . Google (GOOG ) . At one share of the search giant as much as a new computer.

VALUE . (YHOO ) . At $15, one share of the industry’s runner-up costs than a decent bottle of

TRADE-OFF . Yahoo has struggled to the bleeding of its market share to

GOLD . Apple (AAPL ) . pay $200 per share, or 17 times fiscal 2010 earnings, to in the purveyor of iPhones, iPods and

VALUE . Research In Motion ) . Shares of the BlackBerry maker go for or 14 times estimated fiscal earnings.

TRADE-OFF . Research In has no history of groundbreaking innovation.


Better performance comes down to fees

. Vanguard 500 Index (VFINX ) . The index fund for the mass 500 has an admirable history of matching the of Standard Poor’s 500-stock No more, no less.

VALUE . SP 500 Index (IVV ) . Sorry, but the iShares exchange-traded fund is cheaper than your charging just 0.09% in expenses compared with the fund’s 0.16% expense

TRADE-OFF . Without an online with Fidelity, you pay commissions you trade the ETF.

GOLD . Total Return A (PTTAX ) . To in the Class A shares of Total run by star bond picker Gross, you pay a 3.75% sales and 0.90% in annual fees.

. Harbor Bond Institutional ) . Same Bill Gross, fees. You’ll pay no load and 0.57% a year.

TRADE-OFF . to see any.

GOLD . Royce (RYVFX ) . Royce is a shop specializes in the stocks of small, companies, and lead manager George has produced an outstanding

VALUE . Royce Focus (FUND ) . It isn’t a perfect but you get George’s investment expertise at closed-end fund. At a mid-February of about $6, it traded at a 13% discount to the of its underlying assets.

TRADE-OFF . Closed-end funds are and discounts to asset value can get


Commodities are a for your portfolio

GOLD . (naturally). The yellow metal as an insurance policy against a in the dollar, as well as against and economic uncertainty. To invest, buy an fund such as SPDR Shares (GLD ).

VALUE . . Like platinum, this is used in catalytic converters. To buy ETFS Physical Palladium (PALL ).

TRADE-OFF . Palladium is than gold on a per-ounce but more volatile. For broader to commodities, we like PowerShares DB Index Tracking (DBC ), an


Lesser-known offer cut-rate commissions

. Fidelity and Charles Schwab a good balance between and service. Both give scads of investment options and tools. And both recently cut

VALUE . Just2Trade charges per online trade, SogoTrade $3 and TradeKing . $4.95. Zecco, charges $4.50, allows ten online transactions if you trade at 25 times per month or have an balance of $25,000 or more.

. You sacrifice the depth of research and of investment options at Fidelity and



You pay a premium for the and for buying new

GOLD . Mercedes-Benz ($57,175). It has Benz’s classic plus sharper handling and gas mileage.

VALUE . Hyundai 4.6 ($40,300). A smaller engine slightly better fuel than the E-class, and it has standard and a better warranty.

TRADE-OFF . the Hyundai, you give up the cachet of luxe and such innovative as Attention Assist, which drivers for drowsiness.

GOLD . RX 350 ($38,500). The redesigned RX boasts a new that improves handling and cargo space.

VALUE . Edge SEL ($31,195). It has more and rear legroom than the and five years of roadside (versus four years for the

TRADE-OFF . The Ford has a shorter and resale value is 43% after years, versus 58% for the Lexus.

. Audi A6 3.0 Quattro ($51,025). lines and classy interiors are signature, but the A6 goes further high-tech safety features as blind-spot monitoring.

VALUE . CC VR6 4Motion ($41,220). The A6’s cousin also offers driving dynamics, with rear legroom and a five-year warranty (one year than for Audis).

TRADE-OFF . The VW only four, has less space than the Audi, and is fuel-thirsty.


GOLD . 2010 BMW 328i

VALUE . 2007 BMW 328i used, $24,442).

TRADE-OFF . styling and just one year of BMW’s four years of maintenance — but buying extends the four-year warranty by two

GOLD . 2010 Acura MDX

VALUE . 2007 Acura MDX used, $31,207).

TRADE-OFF . The model has a tad worse mileage and such high-tech options as monitoring and adaptive cruise Buying certified extends the warranty by one year.

Food and


Springing for gourmet? You have to pay an arm and a leg

GOLD . Whole market . We priced a tasty basket of shrimp, pizza Gruyere cheese, boneless steaks, balsamic vinegar, chicken thighs, free-range dark-chocolate hearts, ground and a tray of California rolls. $72.10.

VALUE . Trader . Same basket of goodies, two exceptions: stuffed chicken instead of thighs and chocolate-covered instead of chocolate hearts. Tab by the ounce, in sizes comparable to Foods’ sizes): $55.50.

. Trader Joe’s lacks the displays of produce and Whole lavish range of choices. TJ’s provides a cheery and plenty of fun food.


The to savings is booking lunch of dinner

GOLD . Almond-crusted dinner entree at Legal . $23.95.

VALUE . Grilled lunch entree . $15.95.

. With dinner, you get a fancy butter sauce, plus ravioli and spinach. With you get the more casual cucumber sauce with orzo and chips.

GOLD . Dry-aged steak dinner entree at the Grille . a steakhouse chain:

VALUE . Dry-aged sirloin lunch entree . $24.

. At lunch you get a 10-ounce steak for the price, instead of a 14-ounce at dinner.


Other wines come close to

GOLD . Henriot Blanc Brut ($37). Steve editor and publisher of Stephen International Wine Cellar . this complex champagne a toasty aroma, wonderful and long finish.

VALUE . Marcal Brut Reserva 2006 ($14). This sparkling wine, made in the method, is a blend of chardonnay and two grapes. The bubbly wine is but dry with citrus flavors.

. Chateau Leoville Barton St. 2006 ($55). Tanzer this red a quintessential Left Bordeaux — chewy, and of superb concentration.

VALUE . Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Sauvignon 2007 ($19). in Chile by the same French that distills France’s Grand Marnier liqueur. It has a of ripe red currant, a hint of and a long, sweet finish. Try it beef.

GOLD . Leeuwin Chardonnay Art Series Margaret 2005 ($75). This winery produces some of the chardonnay wines in the world.

VALUE . Rustenberg Stellen-bosch 2008 ($17). South is producing wines of finesse often taste more Old than New. This lightly oaked chardonnay flavors of apricot and orange is produced just outside Town, but it tastes Burgundian.

. You give up status and some

Real Estate and Home


Three to give your housing a break

GOLD . The Miele La II dishwasher (G2832) sets the at $2,508.

VALUE . The Whirlpool (GU3600) is $899 in white or or $999 in stainless steel. the Miele, it has a steel interior, it almost as many place (14 versus Miele’s 16), and it has best sound-dampening package.

. A bit less energy-efficient than the but uses less water per

GOLD . Slab granite for will run you about $50 to $80 per square but rare colors and exotics can much more.

VALUE . 180fx replicates the look and of exotic granites in nine for $15 to $22 per square foot installed, the edge finish.

TRADE-OFF . You put hot pots on Formica, and it will

GOLD . A stone driveway flagstone or granite Belgian set in concrete) provides natural for a minimum of $15 per square foot

VALUE . Stick with a or asphalt driveway, but border or it with stone (or brick or pavers). Bordering two sides of a driveway would cost $1,500 — one-sixth of a redo.

TRADE-OFF . Strictly



a classy outfit for a special Try renting one

GOLD . Designer . A fashion-forward look with an back and layered ruffle the asymmetric dress in silk georgette from Brian is as perfect for a black-tie affair as it is for night. Retail price: Perhaps Herve Leger’s Bandage dress ($1,250) is your style, or Christian Fanciful Floral ($1,450).

. . Rent the asymmetric from RTR for $200 plus for shipping. Or choose another from over 40 designers for as as $50. A standard rental is four days. Reserve in or request next-day shipping for occasions. Your rental come in two sizes to ensure a fit.

TRADE-OFF . Like when your time’s up, the dress is gone.


way, you’ll always what time it is

GOLD . Oyster Perpetual Datejust . calls it The Classic Watch, a two-tone, steel-and-yellow-gold case and The case, 31mm in diameter, the date, and the watch is waterproof up to 330 Cost: $7,875.

VALUE . Bracelet Watch (model . It doesn’t say R-O-L-E-X, but this is handsome — with a two-tone design (all and date display. Bulova is a company, and its timepieces carry a warranty — one year than the Rolex. Cost: ($100 on Amazon).

TRADE-OFF . A Rolex defines and it keeps its value.

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your appraiser knows for

GOLD . Diamonds by the Yard at Tiffany’s . designed by Elsa with six diamonds on a platinum $1,550.

VALUE . The $625 — same store, designer, same design, but version has five diamonds and a chain.

TRADE-OFF . Not only are fewer diamonds, but they’re smaller, at a weight of 0.15 rather than 0.31. The material makes a difference, too sterling silver tarnishes, platinum does not. As for the to the little blue box:

Financial Services


Consider an a la carte approach

. A fee-only financial adviser can a comprehensive plan and manage investments for long-term goals (to one, go to Many set minimums of $250,000 or more and 1% per year of assets under

VALUE . Garrett Planning members ( typically $180 to $210 per hour on an basis, without annual or asset minimums.

TRADE-OFF . A approach to your finances may be efficient, but at least you’ll be on to accomplish specific goals.

Use a free site and give budget a boost

GOLD . For a Quicken ( has been the of choice to record income and generate budgets and pay bills. The costs $60 for the basic version and $90 for the which has more bells and

VALUE . The free budgeting — now owned by parent Intuit — your passwords to grab information from your credit cards and other providers. It produces clean pie detailing your spending and you to attractive rates on savings and credit cards. Plus, it tools such as projected which forecasts how reining in now will help you reach savings goals later.

. With Mint there’s no feature, so you have to pay via your for example, and then download the to Mint. Quicken will pay and record the expenses simultaneously for a month. The service isn’t but it’s convenient.


Get even more rewards for a lower annual fee

GOLD . the new American Express Premier Gold charge card a charge card, you pay the balance month), earn three for every dollar spent on tickets, two points for gas and groceries, and one for everything else. The $175 fee is waived for the first year. You can points to 18 frequent-flier accounts. no earnings cap on points and they expire.

VALUE . With the PenFed Travel Rewards American credit card (, you five points for each spent on airline tickets, points for hotel and dining in 2010, and one point on all other The $50 annual fee is waived the first

TRADE-OFF . To get the PenFed card, you be a member of the Pentagon Federal union, which you can join for You cannot transfer points to a program, and points expire in years.


You may not the cadillac of credit monitoring

. Fair Isaac (, the of the FICO score, offers the and Equifax scores, which are likely to use, for $15.95 per You also get access to the FICO Simulator to estimate the effect of on your score.

VALUE . Karma ( offers one score, a credit report explaining factors that up your score and access to its simulator — all for free.

. Credit Karma gives you TransRisk score, which quite the same as the one lenders use but has a 97% to 98%


You can get full for less

GOLD . Full-service agents generally charge 6% of home’s sale price for negotiating with buyers and the deal.

VALUE . You can negotiate agents to accept a lower or consider agents with . who charge one percentage point than the going rate in area from the get-go or a of $2,000. ZipRealty agents 36 metro areas, primarily in Florida, Texas and the Northeast.

. None, as long as you don’t cut the of the commission — usually 3% promised to the buyer’s agent to that agents will their buyers.


does the trick for most

GOLD . A certified public or enrolled agent will $400 to $500 or more to your return, depending on

VALUE . Use tax-preparation software as TurboTax, TaxACT or HR Block at Answer the interview-style questions your job, family and and the program will automatically in the correct tax forms. The programs can import income and investment directly from most and financial institutions, reducing Prices range from to about $50 for the most popular tax programs, plus extra for state returns. Go to to see program will work for you.

TRADE-OFF . A few hours of time and the guts to try something But in most cases you’re on own if you’re audited by the IRS. If tax situation is really complicated you invested in real estate or stock options, for example then stick with a



We destinations that rival dream vacation but without the price tag

GOLD . Fiji . to the South Pacific island Washington, D.C. costs for two round-trip tickets. Luxurious bungalows at the five-star Likuliku Resort run $1,286 a night for including all meals.

VALUE . . Head to the Caribbean at the four-star Caracol, in Bocas del Toro. bungalows start at $344 a including some meals and The flight from D.C. to City is less than round-trip for two. Panama to Bocas del Toro: $240 for two.

TRADE-OFF . Panama is on the scale of exotica.

GOLD . Vienna ‘s coffeehouses, and architecture with a $2,325 from Orbitz, including flights from New York and a six-night stay for two in May at the four-star Bellevue.

VALUE . Budapest . Aim east for Old World European — for $1,908. The Orbitz includes round-trip flights NYC and six nights for two at the four-star Danubius Flamenco.

TRADE-OFF . You will the palaces of the Hofburg and Schonbrunn in But Budapest has castles.

GOLD . Valley is the U.S. hot spot for Yountville, a Napa hub, luxury lodging at rates from $285 to $884 a Expect $10 to $50 tasting fees at

VALUE . Sierra Foothills . The side of California offers wine country. Lodging in Creek starts at $99 a night at House Inn. Plus, area wineries don’t a tasting fee.

TRADE-OFF . Napa’s upscale appeal and to San Francisco.


Two for a Paris sojourn

GOLD . Residence Foch . Among Travelers’ Choice top picks for hotels in Europe, the three-star in the Champs-Elysees area offers a of three a weeklong stay in May for $2,381.

VALUE . Rental . One Montmartre studio listed on has a spectacular view of Sacre-Coeur. ideal for two but can sleep three and free international calls and a kitchen for $963 a week in

TRADE-OFF . Montmartre is a little off the path for tourists.

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