Monday, September 19, 2016

Well, Well . . . Some Prices Fell

We fully mature adults living primarily on pensions are acutely aware of price increases, some of them enormous, for things we increasingly need such as medical and dental care. Any cost of living increases included in our incomes haven't come close to covering our expenses for some time. And any interest on risk-free savings has dropped 50 percent or more in the past few years. Sometimes it seems if we live long enough we are destined to wind up joining the ranks of the poor.

But some prices have fallen. Basic clothing prices have declined for years as the U.S. textile industry moved to countries with low wages. Gas prices are about half of what they were a year ago thanks to a glut in world oil supplies.

Last week, I was surprised to discover another area in which prices have dropped dramatically. The revelation started when my computer screen went black for no apparent reason. A visit to the Geek Squad provided a temporary fix, but when the problem returned after everything possible had been adjusted it became obvious a new monitor was needed.

My monitor was eight years old. I dimly remembered paying a fairly hefty price for it at a major electronics store. My recollection was correct; the old receipt for $319.00, including speakers and tax, turned up in a file. Considering eight years of inflation, I expected a heavy hit.

A bit of research showed the best price for a monitor of the same size and brand (Hewlett Packard) with new speakers, and again including tax, came to $192.00. And lady luck helped. The day I
Hey, geezers. "Old fashioned" electronics got cheaper.
headed out to make the purchase, the local Best Buy store ran a big sale. I bought precisely the monitor I wanted for $132.00.

Wasn't the quality lower as well as the price?  Heck no. The flatscreen LED picture is brighter and clearer than what my old monitor provided when new. The styling is far superior, making my office space more attractive. The sound from the new speakers has better range and can be controlled more precisely. The new monitor is better than the old one ever was in every respect.

How in the world can a store sell a superior product for less than half the price it would have received eight years earlier for a piece of equipment that performed the same functions?

Sometimes, "supply and demand" works to the advantage of consumers, and in the case of electronics I think that is just what is happening. Many companies jumped into the personal computer market as demand skyrocketed. That market now is saturated, both because of a higher production total by the competing firms and because laptops and smart phones are now all the rage among electronic gadgets. A lot of competition for fewer and fewer buyers of towers and separate monitors has driven prices down, and probably will continue to do so.

So, fellow geezers, take heart. When the kiddos chuckle at your old-fashioned computer setup, smile and secretly resolve not to change your ways. Staying electronically challenged may be saving you a bundle of cash you can use to pay some of that next dental bill. And your "computer" will never fall out of your pocket and break or be lost as you travel to your next doctor appointment.


DDD said...

So true.
My husband cell fell out of his pocket and never hound. $20
My cell went to the washer. $20
My smart phone got wet and broke. $160
My first iPad fell to the floor and broke. $535
Not to mention the aggression of lost phone numbers and other data.

DDD said...

never found
My son lost at least two iPhones.

Tom Sightings said...

Thanks for pointing out the silver lining to our financial situation. Everything will be fine, as long as I don't have to go to the doctor.

Celia said...

Managing, but hope the van doesn't give up before my driving days do ;-)

Rummuser said...

Congratulations! I wish that I could say the same things about prices here!

PiedType said...

It depends so much on the product. Tech gear drops drastically in price as soon as the next version is released. A blessing for those of us addicted to all things electronic/digital, etc.

As for the price of clothing, I'd not noticed it dropping. It seems to me to have remained about the same, while the quality has dropped through the floor! Foreign labor and materials are so much cheaper, so the companies are raking in the savings rather than passing it on to us. I've mailed ordered my clothes for years from the likes of LL Bean, Lands End, etc. They keep selling what looks like the same product, with the same name and at the same price, and yet when you get it it's two sizes too small, the fabric is thinner, cheaper, and skimpier, the seams irregular, etc. I'd rather pay more and know I'll get the same sizing and quality I got last year.

Sorry. You inadvetantly pushed one of my buttons -- the quality of foreign made merchandise.

Dick Klade said...

Pied . . .Some clothing providers, such as Bean and Lands End, which we also patronize, have indeed kept prices about the same for a long time, which means there has been a net decline in cost to consumers considering inflation rates over the same time span. Shoppers content with lesser known labels can buy clothing off the rack in many stores where it is priced below levels of five to ten years ago.

I agree there have been reductions in clothing quality with most of the manufacturing done in other countries. However, many electronic items are produced overseas and it appears the quality has not diminished and probably has improved. Although I prefer autos assembled in the U.S. by U.S. firms (we recently replaced our old Pontiac with a Chevy), many Americans prefer foreign brands and lots of statistics show their quality has been superior for much of recent history.

We are in complete agreement that cost analyses vary by product.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed some of the services we pay for in the Washinton DC metro area have increased. David buys the food, and he pays attention to those items. We will never replace a car again. I too use Lands End. Dental prices are outrageous. My SIL who owns a roofing business says business is steady if not spectacular.

joared said...

Yes, it is nice that electronic prices do come down which works fine for me as I'm not compelled to have the newest product the minute it's released. I share the reader's lament over the general poor quality and sizing of much women's clothing that's no longer made in the U.S.A. I don't buy as much as I once did so am not so impacted as years ago. L.L. Bean and Land's End are favorites of mine, too.

Kay said...

Almost everything is still pretty expensive here in Hawaii because they have to be shipped in. Gas is down though which is lovely even with our Prius.

Alan Ginocchio said...

I tell you Dick, some of the prices nowadays are somewhat mind-boggling to me, especially the electronic prices. Computers are so cheap and so much more powerful than 15 years ago it makes you want to go out and buy one, even if you don't need one. It's the same with audio equipment also which I have bought a lot of over the years. And yes, televisions. I have a 42" Panasonic I purchased for $1400 some 10 years ago which still works great and I checked, to move up to a 50" Samsung would cost me $600. But sometimes I'm too loyal for my own good, I can't forsake my Panasonic and go get a new television.

Dick Klade said...

Yes, Alan. We've found the same thing with TVs. Have a small one from the old kitchen we remodeled. Can replace it with a much bigger, better flat screen for less than the little one originally cost. By the way, good to see you in the blogosphere again.

Alan Ginocchio said...

Heh, Heh... Me and blogging definitely have a love/hate relationship. We have a chain of gas stations down here named 'Kum & Go'. That might be a very appropriate name for my blog!!

Dick Klade said...

Keep those posts kumming!