The recession has hurt nearly every corner of the economy. The stock market has tumbled, jobs are scarce and times are tough. Despite the challenges of near double-digit national unemployment rates, 90% of the nation is working and has money to spend. For the overwhelming majority of consumers, that means there are bargains to be had. If you're in a position to make a purchase, here are five great buys that you should consider:
- Deals on Wheels
Hyundia is offering creative financing options that include sending buyers a check every month for six months. Checks vary from $250 to $500, depending on the model purchased and, if you lose your job within a year of making your purchase, you can return the car without damaging your credit. Ford is trying hard to make their products attractive too by offering to make your first three car payments and giving you 0% financing. If you're in the market for a new set of wheels, there may never be a better opportunity to get a great deal. These deals may or may not be extended beyond June 30, 2009, so act fast. (Wheels Of A Future Fortune can help you buy a quality car without driving your expenses through the roof.)
- Home, Cheap Home
The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index shows that the national real estate market is down by more than 19% in the first quarter of 2009 versus the prior year. This record-setting decline is on top of declines in the prior two years, and puts home prices back to 2002 levels. Once-pricey homes are now for more affordable than they have been in decades, especially in Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Francisco, all of which fell more than 30%.
To top it all off, fixed-rate mortgages are available at some of the most attractive levels in years. Even after their recent rebound from the 4%+ area, they are sitting around 6% and are expected to slide back closer to 5%. By comparison, rates were 9% 15 years ago! If you're tired of paying rent, now is the time to buy. If you've got really deep pockets, you can pick up hotel magnate Leona Helmsley's former Greenwich mansion for just $75 million, a $50 million discount from its asking price when it came on the market last year.
- Pandemic Travel Price Reductions
Between the bad economy, the corporate scandals, and the H1N1 virus, the travel industry has taken a serious hit. If taking a vacation sounds like fun to you, book it today. Luxurious resorts in Las Vegas and Mexico are offering some nearly unbelievable deals. For example, in a recent article, CNN reported deals south of the border at 50% off the normal rates. Cruise lines are offering great deals too. CruisePlanners, a travel agency that specializes in crusies, has seven-day trips that start at just $549, excluding taxes and other fees. (Read Stay On Budget With An All-Inclusive Vacation to make your trip an even better bargain. If you book a great deal and want to make your cruise even less expensive, read Cruise Ships: Reining In Vacation Spending.)
- Steals on Stocks
Even with its recent climb, the stock market is way off of its prior peak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for example, is sitting at 8799.26 as of June 12, down from its May 19, 2008 high of 13,136.39. Stocks that sold like wildfire at double or more their present prices can now be had for a pittance. It's an opportunity to practice the discipline of buying when prices are low in hopes of selling later when price are high. It's a perfect opportunity for value investing. (To learn more, check out Stock-Picking Strategies: Value Investing.)
- Buy-Low Bonds
Put the credit crunch to work on your behalf. The difficulty in raising money has caused the federal government to push interest rates lower to encourage lending and borrowing. For investors seeking interest income, low interest rates present a problem. Fortunately, at a time when money market funds are paying out .05% or less, bonds from solid companies like American Express, Northfolk Southern and Verizon are offering yields in the 5.00%-7.00% range. If you are searching for even higher yields and are willing to take on more risk, there are double-digit yields to be had through the purchase of preferred stock from entities such as Fannie Mae. (The Bear On Bonds provides insight into this stable and low-risk way to diversify a portfolio.)
Buying low is a strategy that has served smart investors and consumers quite well since the beginning of time. If you are in the market to make a purchase, tough economic times present an opportunity. Today just might be you opportunity to pick up a bargain.