Personal Finance

8 Things That Actually Got Cheaper Last Year

Woman with headphones using her phone while walking outdoors
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The tornado of inflation that whipped prices into a rising frenzy during 2021 came with a silver lining: Prices actually fell for a few key products.

Money Talks News analyzed the final U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index data for 2021 and discovered that a handful of things cost less as we begin 2022 than they did one year prior.

Mind you, those falling prices are clearly the exception. The Consumer Price Index rose by 7% overall between December 2020 and December 2021, according to the BLS. That’s the highest 12-month overall inflation rate in four decades.

But such soaring prices make you truly appreciate the few things that became more affordable. Following is a list of items that were resistant to last year’s widespread sticker shock.

Bank fees

Woman using an automated teller
Andrey Arkusha /

Before we get into the list of items the Consumer Price Index tracks, we want to sneak in one additional example of falling prices. Fees for overdrawing your checking account and other similar mistakes fell at two key banks, Ally and Capital One.

And with 2022 underway, two additional banks — Bank of America and Wells Fargo — have announced similar changes. For more, check out “4 Banks Where Fees are Lower in 2022.”

Video discs and other media

DVDs for sale
TonelsonProductions /

Price decline from December 2020 to December 2021: 2.1%

Movie night became a bit less expensive in 2021, with prices dipping 2.1% for video discs and other media.

Of course, while cheaper entertainment is great, free entertainment is even better. For more, check out “15 Free Streaming Services to Watch at Home.”

Girls’ apparel

Young girl with hands on her hips
Syda Productions /

Price decline from December 2020 to December 2021: 2.5%

Trying to buy clothes for a fussy child or teen is never fun, but at least it’s a bit less costly now. Prices on girls’ apparel dropped 2.5% last year.

To learn more about how to save on apparel, read “10 Clothes Shopping Mistakes That Are Costing You.”

Recreational books

Woman wrapped in a blanket on her sofa
Roman Samborskyi /

Price decline from December 2020 to December 2021: 2.5%

It’s a safe bet that romance novels and mystery tales have gotten more than a few of us through the pandemic. And fortunately, those thrills have come at a discount, with book prices falling 2.5%.

While this category excludes college textbooks, it’s worth noting that college textbooks also got a smidgen cheaper, falling 0.9%.

Computer software and accessories

Male computer programmer or software developer
antoniodiaz /

Price decline from December 2020 to December 2021: 3.4%

The prices of software and computer accessories fell 3.4%, which might not come as a huge surprise. Many things associated with technology seem to get cheaper over time, and that truth held up in 2021 despite wider inflation trends.

Audio equipment

Woman playing a record on a turntable
Alexander Grumeth /

Price decline from December 2020 to December 2021: 5%

This news should leave you whistling a happy tune: The price of audio equipment fell 5% during 2021.

Telephone hardware, calculators and other consumer information items

Happy woman on cellphone
Rido /

Price decline from December 2020 to December 2021: 8.5%

Phones have kept us connected to loved ones during times when the pandemic has done its best to separate us. The price of keeping the lines of connection open — and other consumer information items — fell 8.5% last year.

Even better, smartphones alone prices fell 14.1% last year.

Food at employee sites and schools

Primary school kids eating lunch
Monkey Business Images /

Price decline from December 2020 to December 2021: 49.3%

When prices rise on a product, you can avoid a lot of the financial pain simply by avoiding purchasing it. But you can’t live without food.

So, it’s heartening to find that the price of food at employee sites and schools plunged last year, registering the biggest main category decline — by far — in the CPI last year, at 49.3%.

Prices for food at elementary and secondary schools specifically, a subcategory of this category, fell even more, dropping 63.7%.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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