7 things that will be cheaper in 2012

Woman's Day

While it's true that prices usually go up, not down, 2012 does have quite a few deals in store for you.

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Thanks to a slow economy, a surplus of inventory and plenty of competition between brands, everything from used cars to eReaders will be cheaper than they were in years past. Read on to find out how to save on seven big-ticket items.

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In the market for a new house? This year may be the time to take the plunge.

“Housing is an area that will continue to favor buyers in 2012,” says Jim Sloan, wealth manager and author of The Financially Informed Woman. Thanks to historically low interest rates and a depressed market, Sloan says it will be “much cheaper than normal to purchase a home.” And according to Andrew Schrage, consumer expert at the personal finance blog Money Crashers Personal Finance, rampant foreclosures mean that banks will be willing “to let go of properties for less than market value.” This trend is solid across the board: “Whether the house costs $50,000 or $3 million, the buyer is in control,” says Sloan. 

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Used cars

If you’re buying a car in 2012, consider getting a used one, suggests Sarah Lee Marks, automotive consumer advocate and founder of car-buying guide MyCarLady.com.

As new cars and money for auto loans become more accessible, people will be dumping their current cars. This will cause the used car market to spike by 20%, says Marks—and the extra inventory will drive down prices. But beware of used cars that seem much cheaper than similar models on the pre-owned market—if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, warns Marks. And always ask to see the car’s original title; if the seller is hesitant to show you it could reveal that the car is re-salvaged or a buy-back, both of which mean that there’s a problem with the vehicle. It’s also a red flag if the seller won’t let you take the car to an independent inspector, which is something you should always do as a prospective buyer.

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Depending on where you’re headed, 2012 can provide plenty of flight and hotel deals.

Though warm-weather destinations like Florida and California will remain popular and unaffected by price drops, getting to and staying in other locales will become more affordable, says Subodh Karnik, Chief Commercial Officer of CheapOair.com.

“The economic woes in Southern Europe—think Spain, Greece and Portugal—will likely drive a lot of deals,” he explains. “Even Italian and French wine country may have less sticker shock than last year!” Also, because many airlines have expanded their service to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, there are more flights and seats to fill—which ups the chances of last-minute fare sales.

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Your favorite bottle of red or white may cost you less green for two main reasons.

“Competition in the wine market is huge at the moment, and since wine aficionados are spending less due to the lagging economy, inventory needs to be moved,” says Schrage. Proof that significant discounts exist: Schrage, a wine connoisseur, ordered 24 bottles of wine for $96 from ZagatWine.com. “The retail value on each of these is usually closer to $15 or $20 a bottle!”

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Flat-Screen TVs

Extra inventory is also why once-pricey TVs became about 30 to 40 percent cheaper in 2010 and 2011—and the trend is expected to continue into 2012, according to Yung Trang, president of TechBargains.com.

“Retailers overestimated the TV demand for the past holiday season, forcing them to sell many models at clearance prices,” explains Schrage, who took advantage of the situation. He bought a 46-inch LCD TV for $250, and it wasn’t even Black Friday! The model could have gone for between $1,000 and $1,200 as little as six months earlier. LED TV sales have been sluggish, and people are still deciding if smart TVs (those with wireless capability) are here to stay or just a passing fad, so prices will keep plummeting.

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Amazon started a massive trend with their Kindle eReader, and now the market is flooded with options.

“Just about every company out there is getting in the eReader game, which has pushed down prices across the board,” says Schrage. “

Another Kindle upgrade is expected in 2012, which will lower prices on some of the earlier generation eReaders,” he adds. But, Schrage urges, it’s important to do ample research so you buy the best eReader for your lifestyle, since they vary “considerably” in capabilities.

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The iPad isn’t the only tablet in town anymore. With competition from Dell, Lenovo and even Amazon (the newest eReader, the Kindle Fire, is technically a tablet), all tablet prices are decreasing.

Trang expects prices for the iPad 2 to drop 20%—from $499 to $399 once the iPad 3 is introduced this year. Though features on the latest iPad haven’t yet been announced, Trang suspects that they will include a higher resolution camera, better video recording, and Siri, the electronic personal assistant that’s available on the iPhone 4. And for many consumers, “the iPad 3 features won’t be necessary, so the 20% savings will really be a deal,” he says.


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