13 Things to Buy Online While the Dollar Is Still Strong
Experts advise on what to buy now, given the strong U.S. dollar—while it lasts. You might end up spending a whole lot more next year.
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What is a "strong dollar," anyway?
The term "strong dollar" means that the U.S. dollar is more valuable relative to other countries' currencies, allowing American shoppers to buy more for the same price. "When the dollar is strong, we should consider purchasing any type of goods and products that are imported," according to Jill Gonzalez, a financial analyst at WalletHub. "This is because a strengthening of our currency makes imported goods cheaper for us." To cash in while the dollar is strong, experts recommend purchasing the following items sooner rather than later, as well as knowing how to get great deals on everything.
How do I know I'm getting the best price?
Truthfully, "no one can say for sure exactly how much or when" a product's price will change, says Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet. But shoppers would be smart to watch for telltale signs of future price increases, such as new tariffs on imported products or changing exchange rates. To make sure you always find the best deal while shopping online, Palmer suggests comparing prices by using tools like CamelCamelCamel, Honey, or the ShopSavvy app. You should also learn the 50 insider secrets to save money at your favorite stores.
If you're thinking about upgrading your smartphone or smartwatch soon, you might want to purchase it now rather than waiting until next year. Doing so could make a huge difference for your wallet, analysts say. New tariffs on products manufactured in China—scheduled to take effect on December 15—could raise the price of an iPhone XS by about 20 percent, J.P. Morgan estimates. According to Palmer, the cost of smartwatches like the FitBit Versa are also expected to increase after December's tariffs. What else should you get? These 15 smart home devices that are worth every penny.
Attention, parents: Stock up on baby products ASAP. Starting December 15, the cost of baby products, many of which are made in China, will see an increase due to the December round of tariffs. Baby products are "already on the pricey side, especially if you have to buy them often, so stocking up before they increase is a wise move," says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst at DealNews.com. New and expecting parents should also steer clear of these common baby products that are seriously unsafe.
Americans are already purchasing washing machines that are priced 125 to 225 percent higher than last year—and soon, prices might rise even more. Recent tariffs have raised the costs of imported washing machine brands such as Samsung and LG, prompting some domestic brands like Whirlpool to boost their prices, too. As a result, something like this Whirlpool top-load washer will likely be affected, so if you're in the market for a new washer or dryer, don't delay. Some other household appliances, including microwaves and food processors, will also be affected by the December tariffs, according to the government's official list. For a truly smart purchase, you might want to choose one of these 13 appliances that will last 10 years or more.
Holiday cards and decorations
'Tis the season for decking your halls, but while you shop, you may want to stock up for the future when it comes to things like tinsel, ornaments, lights, and other festive decor. New tariffs are expected to hit many holiday items. Note: According to Ramhold, the best time to purchase holiday decor is at the end of December, when it all goes on sale. Bargain hunters need to know the best time of year to buy these 43 cheap finds, too.
Refreshing your wardrobe? Shop now to save big. Not only are many stores offering holiday sales, but tariffs will soon raise prices on brand-name apparel like Levi's jeans, according to experts. "If you see a great discount, stock up while you can, in case prices go even higher," Palmer says. For those traveling abroad soon, Gonzalez recommends researching where your favorite designers are based. You could get a better deal on designer products by purchasing them in the countries where they are made, instead of back home in the United States. For when you're on a budget freeze, try these simple fashion upgrades that will make you look like you spent a fortune (when you totally didn't).
With the holidays just around the corner, many restaurants and retailers are offering two-for-one deals on gift cards. Ramhold recommends snagging them now while the price is right. "Not only are these great to buy when the dollar is strong, but also right now your money goes even further because of these bonus deals," she says. Gift cards make for good presents year-round, so it can't hurt to replenish your stockpile now before they get more costly. While you're shopping, consider these gift cards people actually want for the holidays.
As a general rule of thumb, consumer analysts advise buying personal-care items in bulk while the dollar is strong and storing them away for periods when the dollar's value drops. Now, thanks to the new wave of tariffs, you have even more motivation to stock up. Products that make a regular appearance in your daily hygiene routine—including Chinese-made goods like Gillette razors—could eat up a larger chunk of your paycheck come December. But buyers, beware: Buying in bulk is not always better, especially when it comes to these nine purchases.
Santa and his elves might want to get a head start on next year's Christmas shopping. Popular children's toys that are imported from China, including Fisher-Price baby blocks, are on the list of products that will face new tariffs. "There is often a lag between tariff implementation and price increases, consumers are unlikely to feel an immediate effect," Palmer says. If you're a parent, your priority might be to snag this year's hottest Christmas toys now before they sell out.
Get this: An estimated 99 percent of shoes in the United States are imported, according to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA). Imported shoes are more susceptible to changes in the dollar's value, and this upcoming round of tariffs could hit your favorite brands particularly hard. Expect higher prices on running shoes from popular retailers like Nike and New Balance next year. If you were planning to hit the gym as part of your New Year's resolutions, Ramhold suggests purchasing those new kicks now while the dollar is strong. Speaking of those New Year's resolutions, here's the secret to keeping them, according to science.
Savvy shoppers will purchase their tech gear while exchange rates favor the U.S. dollar. "Electronics are always a good purchase when the dollar is strong, as long as they are manufactured in a different country," Gonzalez says. That's not the only reason to buy electronics sooner rather than later. With the cost of Chinese imports set to rise, tech items like Sony flat-screen TVs—which have parts imported from China—could see a major price hike when the December tariffs hit. By the way, here's what your TV salesperson won't tell you.
Keep a close eye on the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar when you travel overseas. If the dollar is strong compared to the currency of the country you are visiting, Gonzalez suggests splurging on pricier products like jewelry and gemstones. Your money will stretch further in foreign countries when the U.S. dollar is strong, leading to substantial savings—not to mention bragging rights. Stick to gems that aren't as common or widely available in the United States, such as sapphires, for the best deal. Don't have a trip planned anytime soon? Change all that with one of these last-minute, cheap winter vacation deals to book for the new year.
Wine and liquor
Maximize your savings while traveling abroad (and bring home a one-of-a-kind souvenir!) by spending your strong U.S. dollar on a high-end bottle of wine or liquor. To get the most bang for your buck, experts suggest shopping at the upper end of your price range and hunting for bottles that aren't sold stateside. It's also a good idea to snag some wine glasses before the tariffs on Chinese imports hit. Here's another savings secret: Liquor is also one of the best duty-free deals you can find at the airport.
There's no better way to cash in on a strong U.S. dollar than by investing, according to financial advisers. As the dollar shoots up in value, stock markets tend to follow suit. Forbes investment analyst Michael Foster suggests opting for a fund like the Vanguard Value ETF, which he predicts will increase the most as the U.S. dollar does. While you're at it, pick up a book about the stock market for more advice on investing while the dollar is strong, and avoid these common mistakes that first-time investors often make. Trust us—your retirement fund will thank you.