Is this a recession or opportunity knocking? I’ve seen this question posed all over the media. A lot of the articles are aimed at higher income execs who work the stock markets. But I’m beginning to see front porch lights coming on in businesses everywhere.
Yes, we’re all still feeling the pinch of high unemployment and unstable market values, but gas prices are down and the holiday season is approaching. Businesses want you! They want your money and they’re girding their proverbial loins and preparing to battle for it. Perhaps now more than ever, we the customers are being offered more than just dried up old carrots for bait. We’re getting coffee and cookies too.
Here are a few trends that might be worth cashing in on:
Are you planning on buying a home in the next year or so? Big name, national builders are offering unprecedented discounts and perks. Some border on the extreme, such as offering to pay your mortgage for the first year or giving away a new car. Other incentives make more sense, like free upgrades and discounted prices. One company I read about offers free airline miles. Really? Buy a house and get a half a million airline miles — wow, that’s incentive.
Buy mutual funds. Buy low, sell high. The price is certainly low right now. If you are in it for the long haul, at least 5 years, every expert says to buy now. Even if you can only afford to spend $100, go for it. You could easily see your money sprout wings and fly.
Are you in the market for a new vehicle? Now is a great time to consider purchasing. It’s the end of the year, clean out the car lot and make way for the New Year’s models sale time. Car makers are also having a really tough time now. Many are offering financing with 0% interest. So if you have been saving up to buy a new car and you have a hefty down payment, start shopping around. Dealers are ready to drop their prices and deal.
Is your Adjustable Rate Mortgage about to reset? Now is the time to refinance and get a fixed rate. People with a good credit history are getting mortgages for 6+% for 30 yrs.
Credit card companies are struggling too. Many are offering discounts and lowering interest rates as incentive to pay any delinquent bills, even those that are only 30 days late. Maybe now would be a good time to call your credit card company and negotiate a lower rate. Or take advantage of 0% balance transfer offers-just be sure to pay off and cancel the card before the trial period is up.
Big name retailers are forecasting low holiday sales and they are scared. They are advertising an earlier and longer shopping season with marginally larger discounts. Take advantage of perks like lay-a-way, buy one get one free, early bird sales, coupon days, and of course, Black Friday sales. Don’t forget that many retailers offer special discounts on online purchases and you can also print online coupons to take with you. Also be aware that retailers may not be as heavily stocked this year. If you want a popular or big ticket item, it’s probably best to shop early.
Furniture and appliance stores are advertising 0% interest and no payments for several months. This can be a tricky one for the customer. If you’re in the market for a big ticket item, make sure you read the fine print. What they don’t tell you is that the interest adds up the whole time you are not paying. So, the best thing to do is bargain with cash. They have sales quotas and they want to make that sale.
Banks are in the market for your money too. They are offering everything from free checking to free automatic bill paying online to coffee and cookies while you wait. Interest rates vary widely. You can shop around and get the best value for your cash. Don’t forget to check out the online banks while you are shopping. Speaking of banks, if you haven’t started saving toward your emergency fund, now is the time to do it.
Restaurants are offering more food for your funds as well. I’m seeing a lot more coupons in the papers and all you can eat specials.
I’ve noticed small businesses are getting in on the competition too. Locally they are offering small incentives, like free coffee or 2 liters. A few places are bringing back the punch cards where you buy so many of an item and get the next one free.
I know that specials and sales are nothing new, but I’m glad to see what appears to be a trend to give the customer more attention and value for their hard earned cash. We may or may not be in a recession, but there are definitely more opportunities waiting for you to answer their knock, knock, knocking.