The good old days were always better. Life was simpler, roads were clearer and — most of all — things were cheaper. Right?
Kind of. The good old days had their moments, but not everything was better or cheaper.
Some things actually have dropped in price over the years.
The reasons are varied. Some products are easier or cheaper to manufacture. Others face competition, which drives down prices. Or a technology changes the business model, as with streaming video, for example.
If it seems prices are just rising too fast and too high, here are some happy exceptions.
How about a fancy television for viewing that blockbuster film? They are growing more affordable.
Numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, between February 2018 and February 2019, lettuce prices rose 14.5% while the cost of a TV fell 16.8%.
On average, prices in general grew 1.5% over that 12-month period.
Writes CNET, in an article about dwindling demand for 32-inch TVs:
“Larger TVs are getting less expensive too, narrowing the price gap and making bigger sets better values.”
2. Classified ads
Need to sell a couch, buy a used car, find an apartment? In ye olden days, you would peruse the classified ads in your local newspaper for what you needed or place an ad to sell something, meaning you would pay to buy the paper or to place your own want-ad.
Now you have online options that don’t cost a dime, including Craigslist and Indeed.
3. Home delivery
Getting groceries, clothes and other necessities delivered used to be a luxury, reserved for those with lots of cash. Maybe pizza was the only thing regular people splurged on for home delivery.
Then came Amazon, and Amazon Prime‘s free two-day shipping.
Other stores are forced to fight back with delivery deals of their own, although restrictions or a minimum purchase requirement may apply. Just take a look at “26 Retailers That Offer Free Shipping — With No Minimum Purchase.”
4. Long-distance calling
Some of us remember waiting for certain times of day to take advantage of lower prices on long-distance calling.
Try explaining this to a 20-something or teen. Their cellphone plan — and yours — doesn’t care if you call Alaska or Alabama, or what time of day you’re calling.
Google Voice and charges nothing for calls in the U.S., and Skype-to-Skype calls are free anywhere in the world.
5. Amazon Kindle reader
E-readers, such as Amazon Kindle, are a popular way to read most anything, whether a best-seller or comic book. As the technology has improved, prices have dropped.
The Kindle e-reader device that once sold for hundreds of dollars now retails for as little as $90, although the cheapest devices may have sponsored screensavers, special offers and personalized advertising. Refurbished devices go for even less.
Or you can skip the e-reader and read e-books for free. How? Download the Kindle app for your smartphone — no charge.
Here are “11 Sites That Offer Free E-Books.”
6. Ikea Poäng chair
Furniture giant Ikea’s wildly popular Poäng chair, now at $79, costs far less than it once did. Each year consumers buy about 1.5 million of the popular bent-birch chairs, and the Poang celebrates its 45th year in 2021.
The price is about 21% less than when the chair was introduced, Ikea said at the time of the chair’s 40th anniversary.
7. DIY learning
Want to learn how to apply makeup like a pro, change a tire, fix your furnace, speak Spanish? There was a time when you might have turned immediately to a community college extension course or another fee-based class.
While those still are good options, now we often test the waters in a chosen subject for free. For a quick “Do I really want to learn this” or a simple “How do I begin using my Instant Pot,” YouTube is likely to have the answer.
8. Solar panels
Harnessing the power of the sun is getting easier as solar-panel costs come down.
A research study published by MIT in the fall of 2018 takes a deep dive into the reasons. In short, improved manufacturing efficiency and increased plant size have helped drive down prices for the energy alternative.
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