Posted on Nov 14, 2011 in Bargains, Money & finances
My neighbor said she was using layaway to do her Christmas shopping this year. What exactly is layaway?
Layaway is a fantastic program that some stores offer in order to let you pay for your purchases over a period of time, typically within 8 weeks. The rules vary from store to store but the principle is still the same: Fill your cart with what you want, take it to the layaway department, pay the required down payment, and make weekly (or biweekly payments) so you can take your purchases home!
Aside from being able to make payments, the real plus is that you can put your credit cards away. By using layaway, you are doing pretty much what the credit cards do for you — but you’re cutting out the middleman and the interest fees.
The biggest reason people choose to layaway their items are because they’re buying gifts for Christmas. If you have children, you know that most of them get a big case of the gimmies around the holidays. While you don’t want to go overboard and create a spoiled child, you do want to be able to give them things they truly want for the holidays. I know I cannot afford to go to a store and drop $500 at one time, and I know that many other parents can’t do this either. This is where layaway swoops in and saves our collective behinds from disappointing our children on Christmas morning!
Another reason one might use the layaway program is that someone might want a large item that they just cannot afford to pay for all at once. (Again, most of us cannot walk into Wal-Mart and pay $1000 for a television set.) Layaway to the rescue once again!
Most major retailers have a layaway program and here is a list of some of the top in the industry:
Wal-Mart: This was my favorite place to go Christmas shopping! The prices were good and the layaway was the main attraction for me and many other parents. However, in 2006, Wal-Mart delivered a crushing blow to lower income families by taking away the layaway program. However, seeing that so many people are simply opting not to spend as much due to the decline in the economy, Wal-Mart has decided to reopen layaway for holiday shopping.
Here are the new rules: Items must total $50 or more, only toys and electronics are able to be laid away, each item must be worth at least $15, and customers are required to pay 10% down in addition to a $5 initiation fee. Their program begins in mid-October and ends mid-December, so make sure you have all your goodies paid off in time… or not only will you lose your gifts, but you’ll be charged a $15 cancellation/restock fee. For more on Wal-Mart’s layaway comeback, look here.
Sears: Here layaway is a year ’round perk, and the customer has to make payments (either in person or online) every two weeks in order to keep their layaway active. There is no time limit — so as long as you are paying as scheduled, you are just fine. Sears does require its customers to pay $20 or 20% down (whichever is greater) when beginning the layaway agreement. For more on Sears’ layaway policy, look here.
Kmart: Their program is much the same, except for one small detail. While Sears requires $20 or 20%, Kmart requires $20 or 10% (whichever is greater). For more on Kmart layaway, see their site.
While some stores are recognizing the financial pickle many of us are in, others still opt not to offer layaway programs for their customers. The following stores do not currently have a layaway program:
After searching for some information on JCPenneys, it appears that some of their stores offer this program, while others do not. If you wish to layaway at Penney’s, you must search for the store nearest you that offers this perk.
The holidays are closer then you think, and now that you know what layaway is, go and use it!
Personally, I know that when the middle of October comes, I will be ready and waiting outside of my local stores! Christmas shopping is one of my favorite things to do, and knowing I can be more flexible this year makes it all the more exciting.
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