10 Things That Are Going Right For Consumers

Kiplinger’s is more optimistic than we are, so they had the cheerful idea to put together a list of 10 things that are going right for consumers — despite the financial apocalypse. Hooray!

Here’s a quick summary of the list:

  1. Oil! Oil prices have dropped 50% in 3 months. Maybe this means that you won’t have to burn your furniture to stay warm.

  2. Car makers are waking up. They’ve realized that you want more fuel efficient cars. Finally. Also, don’t forget about 0% financing. Assuming you have good credit, of course…
  3. Low interest rates. Kiplinger’s says “The interest rate on a traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is averaging 6.5%, the highest it’s been since the summer of ’07, but still not too far from the historic low of 5.8% reached in 2003-05 and 1963-65.”
  4. Real estate is less expensive. If you have the money for a down payment, perhaps a deal can be yours.
  5. Your bank savings are safe. FDIC insurance is now $250,000. FDIC insures small business non-interest bearing accounts, and a temporary program is in place to guarantee Money Market Mutual Funds, says Kiplinger’s.
  6. Stocks are cheap. Bonds are looking good. “Triple-A-rated tax-free bonds, an extraordinarily safe investment, are paying 5%-plus for ten years and 6% for 20. That’s more than the Treasury offers for bonds of the same maturity.”
  7. Technology is awesome and cheap. You can buy a big TV and use it to keep you from crying all the time, apparently.
  8. We grew a lot of stuff. “The fall harvest is shaping up as one of the best ever, despite the destructive weather and floods in the Mississippi River corridor since last spring. Exports of U.S. farm products will increase more than 40% by value this year.”
  9. New government. Whoever wins, it will be someone new.
  10. Holiday bargains. If you still have some money, you can expect some crazy deals. “Both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are gearing up to offer huge discounts to boost sales.” Just try not to get trampled, especially if you have substandard health insurance.

So keep smiling, everyone!

10 Things That Are Going Right [Kiplinger’s]
(Photo: taberandrew )

Comments

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  1. DeleteThisAccount says:

    “New government. Whoever wins, it will be someone new.”

    Well, not so much if its John McSame.

    (Couldn’t help myself).

    • jdhuck says:

      @AngrySicilian: I see what you did there.
      Kind of like if I did a Barack ODrama.

      (I couldn’t help myself either)

      On a Happier note, things are going to be cheaper this year and I think this will relate to lower earnings for retailers. I think the bad news just keeps on coming despite the ‘Hope’.

      • DeleteThisAccount says:

        @jdhuck: Oh yeah, we are screwed, no matter how much anyone talks about hope. We can’t Hope ourself out of this ClusterF*ck.

    • blackmage439 says:

      @AngrySicilian: Hey, it’s all about the facts. And the facts are McCain’s “Joe Plumber” argument is entirely fictitious.

      The lie: Joe Plumber is buying his boss’s business for $250,000. Joe Plumber will have higher taxes under Obama’s tax plan.

      The facts: The real Joe Plumber makes about $40,000 per year. J.P. has no plans to buy his boss’s business. J.P. will actually SAVE about $500 per year under Obama’s plan.

      Lies, deceit, falsehoods, bogus plans, fearmongering, anti-terrorist rants. Palin/McCain (nope, that’s not a typo) in ’08!!!

    • cmdrsass says:

      @AngrySicilian: McCain votes with party leaders 90% of the time and Obama votes with party leaders 100% of the time. Neither candidate offers much change. Oh wait LOLZERS MCSAME

      • tankertodd says:

        @cmdrsass: Sure, Obama is a much better choice. I can’t think of anything better to get America back on its feet than taking money from those who earn it and giving it to the 40% of Americans who don’t pay a dime in income tax.

        Socialism worked so well for Europe, let’s give it a try! I don’t like working anyway.

        • Johann says:

          @tankertodd: If you’re so rich that you’d see your taxes go up under Obama’s proposed tax plan, what are you doing reading the Consumerist? Can’t you hire people to read it for you?

          • smurph0404 says:

            @Johann: How do you go to a site dedicated to helping people improve their own financial situations and have the nerve to berate someone for possibly being ‘rich’?

  2. U-235 says:

    I have to agree with ‘Technology is awesome and cheap’. I’m in the process of building a new computer and the amount of ‘deals’ available have definately increased since my original survey of equipment three months ago. I’m still holding off on buying the more expensive components in hopes that the holidays will bomb prices even more.

    • patchmonkey says:

      @U-235:

      Don’t forget to check out monoprice.com for cables if you need them. ;)

      I just got a Dynex 42″ LCD 1080i HDTV from BestBuy (it’s their store brand) and it seems to be working great. $699 – 10% off coupon + tax = $675. Holy moly!

    • xwildebeestx says:

      @U-235: Crazy how computers get cheaper, but you never see that play out in spellcheck usage.

    • dakotad555 says:

      @U-235: Computers are fantastic. Unless I lose my electricity I will always have endless entertainment all for free. I have a stockpile of 100 games or so, youtube, and a cheap net-flix account. All look fantastic on my HDMI out to my 42″ plat panel. F’ing fantastic.

  3. B says:

    I’m gonna put a dollar down on a gun right now. This is gonna be the best christmas ever.

  4. wiggatron says:

    I’m so with #9 at this point. I almost don’t care who wins, as long as captain useless is out of office.

  5. Darth Obiwan says:

    Heating your home is probably going to be more expensive then last year. Most companies stocked up on oil over the summer. So those record high prices will be passed on.

  6. FijianTribe says:

    And now for reality:

    Oil! Oil prices have dropped 50% in 3 months. So now Opec is meeting to cut supplies and keep prices above $90 a barrel.

    Car makers are waking up. And now they have no money to invest in fuel efficient cars to sell to people who have lost their jobs and don’t have money to replace their car to begin with.

    Low interest rates. In 2003 I was offered 30 year fixed at 4.9% and stupidly I assumed they would drop to atleast 4.5% and turned down the offer… now I have one at 6.37%.

    Real estate is less expensive. Not that anyone has a job to pay for the mortgage…. maybe they will get cheap enough to afford on a wellfare check?

    FDIC insurance is now $250,000. Whahoo… good thing my S-Corp accounts are at Wamu.

    Stocks are cheap. So far the first real positive not that anyone has the balls to invest in the market right now… why do you think bonds are doing so well.

    Technology is awesome and cheap. You can buy a big TV and get into even further debt.

    We grew a lot of stuff. But since the Gov buys up the crops to keep prices high it wont mean any cheaper food for the US.

    New government. Whoever wins, we loose either way.

    Holiday bargains. IF you still have some money, you can expect some crazy deals. Hurry buy stock in the retail section so it no so it can drop 90% when no one buys anything until after the Christmas sales come out… 80% now… 95% after Christmas…

  7. ZukeZuke says:

    Agreed – all these things are pluses!

    I’m especially happy about falling home prices to more realistic levels, allowing LEGITIMATE first-time homebuyers to get into their first house much more reasonably than 3 years ago. Of course, this means I will “lose money” if I try to sell mine in the next year to go bigger, but the overall good is served.

    • SScorpio says:

      @ZukeZuke:

      Of course, this means I will “lose money” if I try to sell mine in the next year to go bigger, but the overall good is served.

      Actually if you can afford it, upgrading to a larger home is almost never a lose right now. If your example you have a starter home you purchased at $150,000 who’s value is now $120,000. That extremely nice $300,000 home that’s available for $240,000 right now is a steal. You’ll lose $30,000 on selling your current home, but you’re saving $60,000 on your new nicer home.

      • dakotad555 says:

        @SScorpio:
        “That extremely nice $300,000 home that’s available for $240,000 right now is a steal. You’ll lose $30,000 on selling your current home, but you’re saving $60,000 on your new nicer home.”

        That only works if you have 30k sitting in your bank, or you have the equity in your home to lose 20% of your value and still be ok. It also only works if values increase back to pre-meltdown levels. There’s a good chance that they might take 7-10 years to regain their 2006 value. In that case you lose double your money if you leave sooner than that.

  8. Canino says:

    Car makers are waking up. They’ve realized that you want more fuel efficient cars.

    Yes, but not at the expense of loss of power, please. Some of us have things to tow, you know.

    As far as cheap real estate, it’s a yes and no. I have a relative who came into some money, so he’s trying to upgrade to a bigger, nicer house. Plenty of great deals from developers with inventory they can’t move. New $400K houses on the market for $280K. The problem? He can’t get anyone to buy his house. Plenty of lookers, no offers, not even lowballers.

    • backbroken says:

      @Canino: I’d like to point out that if the $400K house is on the market for $280K, then it is not a $400K house. It is a $280K house.

      The only folks who will benefit from the falling house prices are the first time buyers. And perhaps that is as it should be. If you need to sell a house in order to buy a house, then good luck with that.

      • Canino says:

        @backbroken: Well, that’s true, but the point is that it was previously a $400K house. In any case, it’s a much better house than a $280K house was a few years ago.

        Actually there are others who benefit from falling house prices. I’m one of them. I’m not going to move any time soon, so my current real estate value is irrelevant to me. But, my tax valuation is relevant to me, and it’s going down, which means my taxes are going down. And this year I protested my tax valuation and got it reduced further, and I plan to do that again next year.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @Canino: Well, there’s still a nice glut of overpowered pickups out there you could buy, but for those of us buying more economical vehicles, I think a pretty decent power reduction is in order. I’m sick of people buying 200 – 300 hp cars so that they don’t have to rev over 2000 rpm under normal driving circumstances. Americans by and large don’t use the HP they’re buying.

      • Canino says:

        @nataku83: Americans by and large don’t use the HP they’re buying.

        I don’t disagree. I would love to have a truck that shut down cylinders when I don’t need them or had similar gas-saving features. But I do need that horsepower for towing, I can’t turn the horsepower down when I’m not towing, and I’m not going to buy another vehicle just to have one for towing and one for other times (although I have thought about it, I can’t justify the insurance expense).

        I did get a good deal on a truck not long ago, though. You’re right, there is a glut of them.

  9. postnocomments says:

    #9- Eight years of epic fail are coming to an end.

  10. EyeHeartPie says:

    #9 Can this election truly be said to be between Obama and McCain? Every time I watch a debate on TV, I just get hit with the realization that McCain is really really old, and that if he dies, Palin will replace him. 1 in 5 chance that Palin becomes the President over the next 4 years. And say what you will about Obama, Palin is much less qualified to be President than Obama. And her views literally scare me. Like, “Oh God that car is about to hit us”.

    • akacrash says:

      @EyeHeartPie: She’s like Bush, but without the Y chromosome.
      Every time one of them says ‘new-cue-lar’, god kills a puppy.

      I’m happiest about #1, low oil costs. And I don’t even drive. But I can’t imagine how much worse the economic state of affairs would be if all this was going on, and gas was $4.25/gal.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @EyeHeartPie: I think a lot of people are ignoring the level of stress that comes with the presidential office. Look at Bush, he hasn’t taken the presidency seriously and yet he has really aged a lot in the last 8 years. McCain has a short temper and gets stressed pretty easily – I’d say at least 50% odds he’d die in office, and Palin would then get her chance to make Dubya look like the pinnacle of competence.

      • dakotad555 says:

        @nataku83:

        yeah, because surviving a Vietnam concentration camp and then serving in the senate for 20+ years isn’t stressful at all. Say what you want about the man, he’s lived through more than 99.9% of the people in this country, and frankly I would place pretty good odds on him out living most people anywhere close to his age. The man’s tough.

        • Landru says:

          @dakotad555: Yeah, except for all the cancer stuff. And Bush is quickly dismantling consumer rights on his way out the door. McCain isn’t likely put them back, and darn sure a President Palin (ick) wouldn’t.

        • trujunglist says:

          @dakotad555:

          Not that I’m a McCain fan, but I read on CNN that some sort of model was run based upon what he’s already survived and what not and it found that he is likely to live until he’s 84 years old. Part of the model implemented the fact that the older you get, the likelihood of survival goes up, because you’re already past the phase where you’d have heart failure, strokes, etc. if those were in your genes. The cancer thing doesn’t look too promising though…
          Personally, I think it is highly likely that he dies within the next 4 years, probably of heartbreak right after he loses the election to Obama.

    • Ninjanice says:

      @EyeHeartPie: And she says “nucular” instead of “nuclear” like W. I was hoping to not have to hear that for another 4 years (unless it’s Homer Simpson)…

  11. proskills says:

    I think it should be noted that it is actually very dangerous and toxic to burn your furniture.

  12. nicemarmot617 says:

    I wouldn’t buy anything that depended on a rating from one of the ratings agencies right now, safe bonds or no. These are companies that essentially caused our current crisis by failing to note that subprime mortgages were bad investments – for YEARS. They kept rating them AAA when they should have rated them as highly risky. Why would I trust their word on bonds?

  13. stanner says:

    Forget the price of oil – I can walk to work. The real question is if alcohol is cheaper – so I can afford to drink to the demise of my 401k.

  14. Swizzler121 says:

    I’m actually afraid of McCain supporters, they seem to be filled with a unknown hate… I’m afraid of what will happen if either of them get elected… what will happen to Obama if he gets elected, or where all that built up hate will go if McCain is elected. If McCain doesn’t stop this hate train… People could be in SERIOUS danger. Don’t believe me? look at the McCain “hate” mob:

  15. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I am all for Holiday bargains. It’s our first Christmas as a married couple, and we have exactly 1 tree, lots of lights, and no christmas ornaments. I’m trying to go classy with my decoration, but I can’t possibly wait until after Christmas to decorate my tree.

    Anyone know where the best deals are based on cost and durability? Even at 90% off, it’d be a pain to have to buy new ornaments every year.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @IHaveAFreezeRay: I would go to yard sales and bag sales as much as possible, if it seems tacky to you its the only place to find quality vintage Christmas decorations that won’t fall apart on you. Most holiday decoration stuff in retail is terrible these days, my family prefers to re-use vintage decorations that have charm year after year. I guarantee you that you will find Xmas decorations at 90% of the yard sales you go to and that they will be very very cheap. Some people might even give it to you for free so they don’t have to pack it up since no one wants this stuff around here at least. If you want the modern stuff, sometimes you can even find brand new holiday stuff in the package the same as if it came right from a store at yard sales and for a lot less $ too!

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Outrun1986: I’ve been trying to look at yard sales, but with the weather getting colder, it’s hard for people to set up tables. And I’ve put a query on my local freecycle group, but it’s a stretch to call what most people in the world have as vintage.

        I just found a set of 9 porcelain ornaments for $13 at Target. To me, that’s not a terrible price… I know I’m going to have to buy ornaments at some point, and I wasn’t planning on being able to find 30 cent ornaments, and I’m still not counting on it.

        Thanks for the tip!

      • Landru says:

        @Outrun1986: I get my best ornament bargains at school or church rummage sales – and there may still be time for them before Christmas.

    • the_wiggle says:

      @IHaveAFreezeRay: the 1st few christmases my son & i had post divorce, we made our ornaments – paper crayons markers yarn. still have’m too.

  16. Japheaux says:

    The hate starts with obammy’s socialism….he hates to see anyone succeed. Look at all the sheeple licking lollipops along the rivers flowing with chocolate, and marshmallows growing wildly in the fields.

  17. dakotad555 says:

    Stocks ARE cheap. I’ve just taken a couple grand from savings and put it into a hand full of stocks that I believe in. I got AMD at 3.70 a share which is a bargain considering their assets. I also picked up some Office Max, whose total share price is less than their value if they liquidated their assets. I think both will pay off in the next 12 months or so.

  18. angielouwhos says:

    I wonder if “companionship” services will start to make a big resurgence during this downturn. I can recall my grandmother telling me with that it was quite surprising who would resort to those types of economic activities in the first great depression.

  19. INsano says:

    “Bonds are looking good. “Triple-A-rated tax-free bonds, an extraordinarily safe investment….”

    Really? Maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading the articles on this site, Reuters, the NYT…I guess every news source that has been covering the inevitable mortgage/housing collapse that led to the financial crisis that lead to the credit crisis, but I’m pretty sure it was becuase a bunch of SHIT was rated AAA.

  20. bvita says:

    The sad part is that now that things seem to be correcting themselves, whomever is elected will take credit.

    • smurph0404 says:

      @bvita: Exactly. The President has very little control over the economy. The whole idea of a free market is that nobody really has control. Yet when it goes south, it’s the President’s fault and he needs to fix it. When it’s going well it’s because the President is so darn good.

  21. CreativeLinks says:

    “New government. Whoever wins, it will be someone new.”

    If I may quote THE WHO:

    “Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.”

    –The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again

  22. no.no.notorious says:

    to comment on #7, i hope cheaper doesn’t mean crappier quality…because i don’t mind paying more if it means that it will last decades more, and is a plus if manufactured with fair wages!