I want a nice big HDTV so badly, I can almost taste it. Gazing slack-jawed at my parents' new LCD screen last Christmas only whetted my technolust.

But even though I've already saved more than enough money to splurge on the screen of my dreams, I'm waiting till Christmas to buy it. Here's why.

1. I don't actually need it.
My regular old square TV's got nothing wrong with it, and it'll keep working just fine through February 2009, when the government's mandatory switchover from analog to digital broadcasting takes effect. And since I don't use an antenna to get TV signals, I'd still be good until 2012, the deadline for cable providers to stop delivering analog cable broadcasts. (Alas, my patience can't stretch that far. I'm only human!)

Whenever you're about to drop cold hard cash on a purchase, big or small, ask yourself: Do I really need this, or do I just want it? If you're only gratifying your inner gimme gimme gimme, you're probably wasting your money. You'll be amazed what you can live without -- and how much money you'll save.

2. I'll save more.
For more than a year now, I've been banking funds in my savings account for the glorious day I park a reasonably immense new TV set atop my comparatively tiny entertainment center. (Sure, I could earn a greater return in a mutual fund or a well-chosen stock, but those options are generally too risky for a short-term purchase like this.) Though I'll withdraw that chunk of change when I finally do make my purchase, it's earning extra interest for my savings in the interim.

That profit gets even greater when you bring credit cards into the equation. Suppose I saved $85 a month for two years to afford a $2,040 HDTV. Even at a modest 3% interest rate, by the end of that time, I'd have an extra $65. In contrast, if I'd used a credit card to buy the same $2,040 set two years ago, endured the average 13% interest rate for U.S. credit cards, and paid back that same $85 each month, it would have taken me an extra four months to cover the debt -- and cost me more than $330 in interest as well. (See for yourself.)

The cherry on top? By sticking with standard cable for my plain old TV, instead of the digital package (with extra hi-def fees) a new set would require, I'm keeping an extra $30 a month out of my Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) bill. (My apologies to Comcast shareholders, but seriously, have you seen a cable bill lately?)

I used our Motley Fool CAPS service to look for top-rated stocks with strong performance over the past year. If I'd invested the $360 I'm saving on extra cable bills each year -- minus a $10 commission fee from an online broker -- in one of these well-known names, here's what I would have earned in the past year:



Total After
1 Year*

Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI)



Dolby Labs (NYSE:DLB)



McDermott (NYSE:MDR)



Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP)



Foster Wheeler (NASDAQ:FWLT)



*From a $350 initial investment. Data from Motley Fool CAPS as of May 29.

3. I'll get more bang for my buck.
Technology is one of those rare, wondrous areas of the economy where it seems inflation works in reverse. The longer you wait, the cheaper prices get, and the greater your buying power becomes. By delaying my gratification just a bit longer, I'll not only give the gadgetmakers more time to work out any bugs in their systems, I'll be able to afford a larger, fancier, better-looking screen for the exact same price. And waiting until December should let me grab the latest shiny techno-goodies at an even deeper discount than usual.

Tom Petty was right ...
The waiting is the hardest part. For a geek like me, it's not easy to stick with standard-def when it seems everyone else is watching bigger, shinier entertainment than I am. But my good friends Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, and Franklin provide compelling arguments for holding my peace.

Whatever you're longing for  -- a big-screen HDTV, a shiny new car, that awesome pair of astronomically expensive shoes -- see if you can stand to wait a little, and save a little bit more. In the end, your wallet will thank you.

Further high-definition Foolishness: