10 Things To Buy Before The Economy Improves

The deals you're seeing on everything from houses and cars to televisions and furniture won't last forever. As the economy improves in coming months, they'll evaporate. Luckily, for a host of goods and services, the sale of the century (literally) is still on. A look at 10 things you may want to buy while they buying's good. [via forbes]

1. A House
Housing prices finally seem to be bottoming out in most regions. There are also some great buys available due to short sales and foreclosures, which accounted for 40%-45% of purchases in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. Falling interest rates (under 5% for a 30-year mortgage) and government incentives ($8,000 first-time home buyer's credit) aren't bad either.

2. A Car
With the auto industry suffering, manufacturers are offering huge incentives on their swelling inventories of new cars. Buyers with good credit can get 0% financing on most types of cars and some cash rebates can be upward of $6,000. Don't rule out a used car either: The February 2009 Consumer Price Index shows a 10% decrease in used car prices from a year ago.

3. A Vacation
Need a break? Now's the time to take one. According to Expedia.com research, average hotel prices in many desirable destinations have plummeted. For example, hotel prices in Las Vegas are down 34% from a year ago. Average Caribbean cruise prices have fallen 8% compared with the first quarter of 2008. Several travel agents also bragged about booking week-long Alaskan summer cruises for as low as $1,000 per person, including airfare and taxes.

4. Toys
Parents can breathe a sigh of relief: More affordable toys are on their way for the holidays. According to the Toy Industry Association, Inc., toy manufacturers are responding to the economic climate by developing low-cost toys. One toymaker, Wild Planet, has priced their entire 2009 line under $25. Look for lower-priced toys starting to hit stores this summer.

5. High-Dividend Stocks
The S&P 500 is down 40% from a year ago and could fall further, but for those willing to brave the market and wait, deals abound. Inflation could make it an even better time to buy. Washington's bailouts and ballooning budgets may make stocks with a history of high dividends a good option--they take advantage of today's low stock prices and implicitly protect investors from future inflation through regular dividend payments.

6. A Laptop
Paul Ryder, vice president of consumer electronics for Amazon.com, says laptop prices have dropped thanks to the interest in netbooks. Although the Consumer Price Index does not break out laptop computers from others, it seems to broadly support this claim, with personal computer prices falling 13% in February from a year earlier.

7. Diamonds
Don't wait for the economy to improve before popping the question. Diane Irvine, chief executive officer of leading online diamond retailer bluenile.com, says that the recession has quashed demand for diamonds, creating deals. According to Ken Gassman of the Jewelry Research Institute, prices for polished diamonds are down 14%, on average, from their highs last summer.

8. Women's Clothing
According to the Consumer Price Index, women's outerwear, shoes and accessories have all seen lower prices in February compared with a year ago. Recently, women have begun flocking to "value" retailers, according to Piper Jaffray retail clothing analyst Jeffrey Klinefelter. That means less expensive clothing stores can lower their prices through lower production costs, and more expensive clothing stores will be forced to have more sales and clearance racks.

9. A Television
Each year it seems as though TVs get cheaper and cheaper, but this year those decreases are starting to make larger flat-panel TVs far more affordable. The radio/television category in February's Consumer Price Index was down 9% from a year ago as more manufacturers get into the flat-panel business, driving prices down.

10. Furniture
With fewer people buying houses, fewer people are buying new furniture. Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman for Macy's, says furniture demand across the industry has noticeably decreased over the past year. That's driven many furniture retailers out of business, according to John Baugh, an analyst who covers the furniture industry at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc. Retailers still in the market have to respond to those liquidation sales with price-cuts and clearance items of their own. Baugh also noted that consumers with good credit can also often obtain very attractive financing.

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