Great News!!!! Wal-Mart is cutting its holiday layaway fee from $15 down to $5!!!! AND, if you successfully pay for your layaway item, Wal-Mart will give you your $5 back on a gift card at the end! What a great deal…right?? (Please note the heavy sarcasm)
What is Layaway?
Basically, if there are items you want to buy, but can’t afford to pay for them all upfront, you can put them on “layaway”. This allows you to pay for them over time without putting them on a credit card and potentially paying interest on the items. Many stores (like Wal-Mart) limit you to certain items/departments that are eligible for layaway. For their seasonal (Sept 14 – Dec 14) layaway, Wal-Mart limits items to toys, electronics, small appliances, jewelry, and select sporting goods. It does point out that layaway is available year round in the jewelry department….YAY!!!! (more sarcasm)
Why Would You Use Layaway?
This section intentionally left blank… you wouldn’t! You may ask yourself – “Should I use layaway?” – and the answer to that is a big N-O!!!
Why Should You Avoid Layaway?
As I’m using Wal-Mart as my example, I’ll keep going with that theme. Here’s why you wouldn’t use Wal-Mart’s layaway plan (this applies to most layaway plans):
- You have to pay to put items “on layaway”, and if you don’t successfully pay them off in the specified time frame (by December 14th this year) you lose your $5 – this may not be much money, but if you want to waste $5, why not just send it to me??? I promise I’ll put it to much better use!
- If you put multiple items on layaway it’s an all or nothing deal – you either get everything or nothing
- If you change your mind about a single item within the layaway, you may or may not be able to remove it and could be stuck purchasing it
- If you are using layaway because you can’t afford these items right now, then you most likely won’t (or shouldn’t) be able to afford them within the next three months. You probably need to adjust your budget and shop for cheaper items, second hand items, etc.
What Are My Alternatives?
There are plenty of alternatives to layaway that don’t put you at the mercy of one store and their policies:
- Create your own savings account for gifts that you can use whenever an occasion comes up. My wife and I have a line item in our budget for gifts that we use this way. Anytime we buy gifts for weddings/babies/birthdays/etc the money comes out of here so we can track our spending.
- Make your own gifts – do you have a skill that you can use to create unique, creative, and hopefully inexpensive gifts? Great!! People really do appreciate handmade gifts, as long as it shows that you’ve put some time and effort into them.
- Shop around – if you find the “perfect gift” for someone, you don’t have to buy it right then and there. The internet (Amazon.com) has done a lot to bring down prices, so why wouldn’t you do a little comparison shopping??
- Other – Thrift shops, Craigslist, garage sales, coupon books, etc – there are so many alternatives it would take me forever to list them all here!!!
With the “holiday season” over three months away, why not use this time to come up with some alternate gifts – homemade, cheaper, whatever – there’s no need to overspend just because it’s the holidays. I think your family and friends would prefer you be financially healthier instead of getting some crappy gift that you put on layaway that could be played with for all of 10 minutes…just my $.02.
Readers – what do you think? You you use and love layaway?? Have you been stung by layaway in the past? Let me know!
Image Courtesy of Wal-Mart
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