How to Take Advantage of Falling Prices

Now's the time to buy food, gas, and hotel rooms.

By + More

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest Consumer Price Index figures, which show us how much cheaper -- or more expensive -- typical purchases have become. For the first time in 50 years, the index has declined over a 12-month period. While economists generally see such drops as bad news for the nation's economy, it's also partly good news for those of us who are trying to buy food, clothes, or cars.

Some items have fallen more than others, so if you want to take advantage of the deflation, you have to know where to look. Here are some of the top items that have dropped in price:

  • The food we eat at home, which includes everything from pasta to cereal to olive oil, fell by 0.4 percent in March. In particular, meat, poultry, and fish became cheaper. The price of eggs, which had been going up last year, also fell. (Meanwhile, food eaten away from home and alcoholic drinks went up in price.) Sounds like it's a good time for a dinner frittata. (But consider leaving out the fresh veggies, as they became pricier.)
    • Hotel prices are down, as are airfares -- so book that out-of-town trip.
      • Expenditures related to transportation, from car purchases to gas, saw the biggest decline in price of any category, dropping just over 13 percent. The price of gas drove much of that plunge. Now is the time to fill up the tank, or go on that road trip, since many economists don't expect the price of gas to stay this low for long. Used cars and trucks also dropped in price, while new vehicles cost more.