Tough economic times create a lot of stress for a lot of people, but if you are confident in your job prospects and have financial resources to do so, tough economic times can be a great opportunity to get great bargains. Here are a few examples:
The Stock Market - some view declining stock prices as the time to bail out. Some smart investors with a long investment horizon consider this a stock market sale, an excellent opportunity to buy more stock in anticipation of the inevitable bounce-back. Personally, I have been putting more money into stock on a monthly basis ever since the volatility and declines began last year. So far, it's been mostly down hill, but I am not worried: if it takes 10 years, I am confident in the long term plan.
The Housing Market - many folks found themselves still standing when the music stopped in a game of musical real estate chairs. The bottom fell out of this market, as was inevitable. Many who purchased at the peak. sold and are sitting by the sidelines licking their wounds. Smart investors are now tip-toeing back into the market and are snapping up properties for much discounted prices. My CEO is one of those people - he just bought a new house for $3 million. Yeah, that's a discount. Well... this IS the Bay Area and he IS rich. I am not in that category myself... we'll be renting for a while still...
Cars & Trucks - the other day I heard a story on NPR about how car companies can't move any new trucks off the lot because of high gas prices. If you are still in the market for a gas guzzler (say you need one for work so I don't despise you for polluting the planet), you can get one for a song. A gentleman featured in that NPR story got his new Toyota Tundra for $9,500 below MSRP (you can listen to the segment here). Sounds like a deal to me.
Any Major Purchase - tough economic times give you extra leverage in negotiating a deal for whatever it is you are buying. For one thing, the sales person may be more likely to believe you when you claim that the price is too high for you. For another, stores themselves may be struggling to find business and may be more prepared to offer a discount for your business.
Of course, the trick is being confident enough in your financial position to be willing to make a major purchase, but if you are so inclined, this may be a good time to get some bargains.