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The Simple Dollar

Want the newest iPhone? Wait six months.

Newly released products are exciting, but having the patience to wait for a markdown will pay off big in the long run.

By Guest blogger / May 16, 2012

In this 2011file photo, a customer holds an iPhone at the Apple store on New York's Upper West Side. Hamm argues that having the patience to wait a few months for new products is worth the money.

Richard Drew/AP/File

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For many consumer goods, the price that you’ll pay right now for that item is higher than the price you’ll pay six months down the road. There are a lot of reasons for that.

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The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.

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The big one is that many companies issue products in cycles. Every so often, they replace the version of the product currently on the market with a new one that’s usually just a fairly small tweak on the old one.

There’s also the simple “new” factor, which pops up on things like video games and DVDs. When they’re new, companies charge a premium price for those items. When they’re not new, the price begins to sink.

My solution for taking advantage of both of these factors is to simply decide on the product I’m going to buy, then putting that decision aside for a while. The time can vary based on how much you “need” the product.

Cell phones are a perfect example of this phenomenon.

Like many people, my cell phone eventually gets beat up with heavy use. Whenever my cell phone contract is up, I typically replace my phone with a new one, usually a very low cost or free one that comes with the contract.

The thing is that many of the models that the company carries go through a pricing cycle. They start off with a fairly high price, but when they’re replaced by newer cell phones with just a few more bells and whistles (that, in all honesty, you’ll barely use), they tend to see their price drop pretty steeply. Eventually, they’re replaced.

The thing is, most of those slightly outdated phones do everything I want a cell phone to do.

So, what I often do is look at the models a few months before I’m going to be upgrading my phone. I figure out the one that works for me and then walk away.

A few months later, when my contract is up, I stroll in and, most of the time, the phone I decided on is still there, often at a lower price. Sometimes, it’s a recently discontinued model that’s free with the contract.

Want another example? Whenever a new computer game is released that I want, I simply add it to a list and wait until the following December. There’s a good chance that the game will be available at 75% off or better at some online sale or another. I’ve been doing this very thing for years.

Patience saves you money. If you don’t need the thing, wait a few months. You’ll save some money in the process and won’t lose any of the quality of the item you desire.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on www.thesimpledollar.com.

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