Three Ways Layaway Is the Best Friend of the Budget-Conscious
Layaway isn't a widely-used retail tool anymore, but it can be fantastic for budget-friendly holiday shopping. Most layaway plans are cheaper than the interest charged for credit card purchases, so you won't have to reconcile your debt at the beginning of the New Year. Here are three tips for making the most out of layaway.
Make a List
One obvious benefit is that you can hold popular items until you can complete the payment without worrying that they'll go out of stock. Create a holiday shopping list of specific items you'd like to get and for whom. Also, look up sale items and hold them, so you can pay the discounted price on your own timeline.
Don't Use Layaway for Impulse Items
Don't let your enthusiasm get the better of you; just because a store has a layaway option doesn't mean it should be used for any and everything. If you find an item that isn't on your list, don't hold it. If you decide midway through your payment plan that you don't want it, or if you forget about it, you will have wasted money. Remember: Layaway plans charge fees for failure to complete the purchase.
Read the Terms
Some Layaway plans are better than others. Many stores–brick and mortar or online–have complex networks of various fees, which can totally offset their benefits. Standard fees include service fees, cancellation fees, and restocking fees. Make sure you do your research and find the most favorable rates and reasonable time frames. The idea is to save money and stay out of debt, so weigh the cost of fees against saving money over time and then going on one big shopping trip instead of using Layaway if needed.
Start investigating different stores' layaway plans now before the holiday season is in full swing. While layaway plans certainly aren't an invitation to purchase luxury items with wild abandon, they are great tools for those with a plan and a budget.
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