Buy An Older Generation or Last Season’s Product

iPhone 4s buy last generationDon’t want to buy used? I can understand that, even if I don’t always agree. To some people new is the only way to go and there is no convincing them otherwise. If you’re one of these people that’s OK as long as you can afford it. After all, personal finance is personal. That said there are still ways you can save a significant amount of money even if you buy new.

Buy An Older Generation of the Product

This is a great way to save some money whenever you buy technology. Instead of buying the most current version of a product, opt for one that has recently been replaced by a newer model. I personally have done this myself when I negotiated a free Samsung Galaxy SII Skyrocket right before the Samsung Galaxy SIII came out. I managed to save $199 just by buying what was soon to be an older generation of the Samsung smartphone.

You can do the same thing when the iPhone 5 comes out. If you opt for the iPhone 4S you can save $100 or if you opt for the iPhone 4 you can save $200 off of what it would cost you to buy the iPhone 5. If you don’t have to have the newest gadget this will save you a ton of money.

You can do this with all kinds of technology. Laptops, iPads, HDTVs, video games and appliances are all great options. When you are already a generation behind upgrading to the current older generation is still going to be a huge upgrade. I almost never buy the newest top of the line technology because it all goes out of date so fast! There are times where the newest and greatest may be necessary. Just make sure it is a necessity, not a want, if that’s the only way you’re justifying spending the extra cash.

Buy Last Season’s or Last Year’s Product

This is another money saving tip I practice very often. I never buy clothes at full price and rarely even buy them on sale. I most typically buy them when the seasons change and they discount all of the previous season’s clothing to clearance prices. When I had to wear long sleeve dress shirts I often got them for 70% to 80% off just for buying out of season colors. They stayed in the packaging until the next year when I took them out and added them to my closet.

Another place this works wonders is with motorcycle gear. Every year they come out with a new line of helmets, leather jackets, gloves and more that has just a slight tweak from last year’s version. A website I visit buys all of the distributor’s old gear and sells it at a hefty discount just because it is last year’s product and many people always want the newest product available.

I’ve saved over $300 on a leather jacket simply by buying last year’s product and it protects me just the same a current year leather jacket would. No one knows if I bought it when it was a current season model or if I bought it the year after. Who buys a new leather motorcycle jacket every year anyways?

Do you always have to have the newest and best there is or do you stay a generation behind and save a ton of money? Which camp do you fall in?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. It’s also good to buy manufacturer refurbished. With my new computer, we waited a couple of months after the model came out until Apple started including it in the “refurbished” section of their online store. I got the new model (just 2 months old) at a 15% discount, and it still has all the same warranties as if I had bought a brand new one.

    • I heard somewhere some of the refurbished stuff may actually be new… I don’t know if there is any truth to that but it would be a way to move more units at a slightly lower price point.

  2. Jason Clayton | frugal habits says:

    Lance, this is great advice. The majority of the stuff I save money on is either last years model, or sold cheap because it is un-packaged.

    Best Buy sells a lot of stuff cheap, that is missing the packaging, but still works great. I have a flat-screen 3 years old that I bought 1/2 price this way.

  3. My wife and I will be looking to buy a smartphone this January and this is exactly what I plan on doing! Maybe we can get the iPhone 4s or something. How are you liking the Galaxy SII?

  4. Yep, I’m with you, too. Except I broke the rule when the iPad 3 came out. Which just reminded me not to break the rule again! 🙂

  5. Over the years, I have bought lots of used furniture, they call it antiques. I troll for bargains too because I no longer buy retail for almost all of the things I buy. I am still old school and do not have a smartphone.

  6. That’s definitely a great way to save money, and I do this when it comes to clothes (along with coupons/promos and discounts).

  7. I’m always amazed at how many people are not willing to try this. Wasn’t it only 9 months ago that people would have thrown themselves in front of a train for an iPhone 4S? Now they wouldn’t dream of having nothing less than an iPhone 5. We’re still on iPad 1, and it works just fine for everything we want to do. I tend to wait on gadgets and go for the deal.

  8. I used to be the type who wanted the latest and greatest gadgets. At some point I shifted my mentality to no longer caring though. There’s no way I’m going to bother trying to keep up with updating hardware now. I am perfectly content just milking what I have now and putting off upgrading as long as possible. While I know the new technology might improve my life a little bit, I just don’t think it’s enough to justify the big expense. These days I don’t even bother with stuff a year old. I just do without a lot of it altogether.

  9. I stay multiple generations behind. I didn’t get a smart phone until this year, and many people teased me for at least a year before that that I did not yet have one. Same with tvs, I buy the flatscreens now because they are a decent price. I do not have an ipad or anything similar, and will not until they are super cheap or I have a real need for the product.
    And I LOVE buying things on sale at the end of the season. That’s how I get a lot of my things, especially classic pieces that won’t be out of style by the next year.

    • I bought a flat screen about halfway between the really expensive and cheap times. The only reason I bought when I did was because my 15 year old TV died out on me 🙁

  10. Another benefit of buying used; it’s time tested! If you buy the newest, next-gen thing, it may just be a lemon, or have bugs for 6 months before they release a fix. I love buying time-tested products, from electronics to cars. Saves me a ton of heartache….AND CASH!

  11. I think I’m going to keep my IP4 until it breaks. Things work fine and I’d like Apple to get any kinks out the first three months first.

    • Early adopters definitely deal with a lot of the unexpected kinks and miss the small tweaks made in the beginning of each product’s life cycle.

  12. I definitely fall in the saving money camp, especially when it comes to anything electronic. Technology changes so quickly that it makes no sense to buy the latest and greatest. I’d rather wait a few months or so and save money in the long run.

  13. I did this when I got my first iphone, the 3gs, because I wanted to save money; I definitely did save as I think my phone cost me about $100. The only problem has been that Apple updated the operating system, so I was forced to choose from fewer and fewer apps that worked on my old operating system, or update. I chose to update, but the operating system wasn’t designed for my old phone, so my phone started being ridiculously slow.

    I’m going with the 5 this time (which I pre-ordered last week — I was due for an upgrade with AT&T, so I saved some).

  14. MB @ 12 Year Career says:

    Oh boy… I’m probably at least 5 generations behind! Tech gadgets don’t really do it for me, but I am all about buying used! And don’t be too proud to accept hand-me-downs. I’ve gotten my last two phones that way when relatives have upgraded.

  15. Justin @ The Family Finances says:

    We bought our first smartphones last year. The iPhone 4S had just come out, so we were able to get the old iPhone 3GS for free. I was all that.

  16. We always try to buy demo equipment at work. It has been used maybe at a trade show or training, so is basically new, but saves thousands. If you can guess your kid’s upcoming size, end of season sales are a great time to buy winter coats and boots. (N/A for Florida I guess) We also always buy last season’s sporting goods. Tons of savings!

  17. Since I keep stuff forever, when I buy I tend to get the newest versions. BUT if it were easier to find the prior generation (how do you do it?) I would look into it.

  18. This post is so timely. I was just on the phone this week with my cell provider about upgrades and we were talking about the last generation of the iphone. It is way cheaper and offers almost as much as the new one. Upgrading to the previous version is definitely something I am considering.

  19. I have to admit; I lust after the latest gadget! And if anything, I don’t buy the latest because I am waiting for something even better :). Then again, we probably the only gousehold around that still has big gong of a TV – it works and I am not inclined to change it before this is necessary.

  20. Like Maria, I lust after the new gadgets, but that’s because I’m like you! The sooner they bring out the new one, the quicker I can get the older model. Who needs the latest?

    I’ve always done this with computers. There seems to be a definite line between the “hot” PC parts and the “works super well AND much cheaper” parts. I ride that line constantly.

    • Haha that is one way to look at it Joe! I always waited for video games to get in the greatest hit list then paid $20 for them instead of $50 or $60!

  21. It’s funny how a few weeks back the latest iPhone was perfectly fine but now it is substandard. I don’t need one, but if I were buying one for my wife or something, I’d totally buy her a 4 and save a bundle.

  22. Yes that how I am still having free iPhone 3GS, time to upgrade now to 4 as AT&T offering it for free with contract now. Good simple advice

  23. I love buying last year’s model haha. This technique works well with literally everything, especially electronics. Most gadgets will be outdated within a few months anyways so who cares? I mean look at the iphone 5, all that technology was on android/samsung phones 2 years ago, haha

  24. I totally agree. I’ve done this too. It is sad how short the technology life cycle is. It is easy to get disillusioned with reality :-); your old gadget is likely just fine, just as you said. If it isn’t, such as due to poor craftsmanship, then perhaps you don’t even want to take a chance on the latest model until you know they have done a better job with the latest model.

    Oh well, I love the topic! Great advice.

  25. I usually buy older generation technology because I can’t stand the thought of paying so much money for something just because it is the latest and greatest. My son feels like he has to stay on the cutting edge on various things and so usually I buy his older model when he upgrades. Especially with your example of the leather jacket, who would ever know except you?

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