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Wait and Save

Buying the first flashy new cutting-edge product off the shelf may make you feel like the king of the world. But it'll also cost you.

As Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) rolls out its iPhone, plenty of fans are already planning to pick up the $500 and $600 models as soon as they're available. In fact, Apple has predicted that initial supplies may not be enough to satisfy demand. Predictably, at least some buyers are hoping to flip their iPhones on eBay for a quick profit, with asking prices going as high as $2,000.

Deja vu all over again
It's reminiscent of past runs on popular products. Last Thanksgiving, it was the long-awaited release of Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) PlayStation 3. Popular toys have also created big demand, including Mattel's (NYSE: MAT  ) Tickle Me Elmo and the Cabbage Patch Kids, currently produced by the Play Along division of Jakks Pacific (Nasdaq: JAKK  ) . Hordes of customers combined with limited supplies have led to all sorts of unfortunate incidents, ranging from trampling injuries and fistfights in stores to fatal stabbings and shootings.

Yet in most cases, all it takes to get a much better deal is a bit of patience. Just months after its release, the PlayStation 3 can be bought at significantly less than its original price. And you won't have to wait in long lines for the toys your kids want.

In addition, with the quick advancements in technology, waiting can give you access to products with more features. For instance, the first top-model iPod cost about $500 and had 10 gigabytes of memory. When the 20 GB model came out, the price of the 10 GB model fell to about $300. Now, that same $300 gets you three times as much space for songs and video.

But I can't wait!
Of course, sometimes waiting isn't an easy option. With the timing of many new releases around Christmas, kids won't want to take a rain check on getting their favorite toy. But by reining in their expectations, you can overcome marketing strategies and advertising that are based on building as much hype as possible about new products. In the end, that'll mean that you'll be able to afford things that you never could have bought during the initial rush of interest.

So if you're not planning on braving the lines or paying top dollar to be the first on your block to have an iPhone, don't let anyone make you feel bad. Be proud of your patience, and if you decide to pick one up later, enjoy your savings.

Saving the Foolish way
Saving money easily and painlessly is what the Motley Fool Green Light personal-finance newsletter service is all about. Foolish experts Dayana Yochim and Shannon Zimmerman constantly search for ways you can keep more of your hard-earned cash. From tips on surfing for savings to telling you how to make your first investment, Green Light can put you on the road to financial success. And with the Fool's 30-day free trial, you can take a look at everything Green Light has to offer with no obligation.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger waited a whole year back in 1990 before buying his biggest extravagance: a first-year Mazda Miata. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Mattel is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy never makes you wait.


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Dan Caplinger
TMFGalagan

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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