If your finances are still in reasonable shape, now could be the time to take advantage of some recession bargains. In this, the final of four posts, the folks from Consumer Reports Money Adviser recommend products and services that are great buys now, along with strategies that will help you save the most. But before you shop, heed another lesson the recession has taught us: Charge only if you know you can pay the bill right away.
Between the summers of 2007 and 2008, grill sales dropped from 10.3 to 9.6 million, the lowest since 2005. Very good deals should be available this year around Memorial Day and July Fourth.
Size up your needs. It doesn’t pay to get a grill that’s too big. Buy one whose cooking area is appropriate for the number of people you typically feed.
Look over construction materials. No-rust painted steel or porcelain-coated steel models are easier to maintain than stainless steel. Grates made of porcelain-coated cast iron or stainless steel should outlast ones made from other materials.
Don’t get burned up. Burners are prone to repairs, so look for a 10-year or lifetime burner warranty.
Click here for more advice from Consumer Reports on buying and maintaining gas grills.
If you need a new computer, you’ll probably get the best discounts on desktop models, the only category so far with sagging sales. Between 2007 and 2008, the average price dropped from $575 to $475, says Steve Kidera, an analyst at the Consumer Electronics Association.
Timing matters. Look for deals on older models in early fall or right after the December holidays.
Deal for extras. See if you can get the monitor free or at a reduced cost. Dell, for example, bundled a 20-inch monitor with a computer for a savings of $200.
Shop online to customize. You might save money by configuring a system yourself on the manufacturer’s Web site.
Click here for more advice from Consumer Reports on buying desktop computers.
Last year both treadmill and elliptical sales dropped by 10 percent, the first time there have been declining sales since 1990, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association.
Consider the cost. We’ve found in recent tests that you have to spend at least $2,000 to get a treadmill designed for serious runners, though lower-priced models are fine for walkers. High-end ellipticals are also better for hard-core exercisers.
Decide which features you’ll use. Some features, such as exercise programs, can make a workout more varied. But don’t pay for frills that you don’t need.
Beware of trials. A 30-day guarantee sounds good, but you might have to pay return shipping, which could cost $90 or more for large products.