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Tips for an Affordable Holiday Season

November 7, 2017 12:16 am

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Have you started your holiday shopping yet? The season of giving is approaching fast, so you’re probably wishing for way to lighten the financial burden that buying for the whole family can bring

Layaway plans can be a useful solution for this time of year, especially if you start now for next year.  If you’ve been considering one but are unsure of how to proceed, or even if you’ve never heard of them, this guide to holiday layaway loans can help you head into the New Year with less financial stress.

Understand Layaways

Layaways work differently than credit cards or installment plans—you make payments over time, but your purchases stay in the store until you finish paying for them. You’ll be required to pay a certain amount down and then make small payments over a certain period of time. Once you pay off the total purchase price (plus fees), you can take your purchases home.

You should also be aware of any fees before starting your layaway process. Potential fees include service fees, cancellation fees, and restocking fees. Discuss any extra fees prior to starting your layaway, so you can add them into your budget calculations.

The Pros of Layaways

While layaway plans usually include fees, you won’t be charged interest. If you buy a TV with a layaway plan, you’ll probably end up saving more in the long run than you would if you used a credit card and then paid the total off over time. Layaway can also be useful if you’re looking at a “high demand” item, but don’t have a credit card and can’t afford to buy it outright. If you put the item on layaway, you don’t have to worry about your gift being sold out before you have the money to pay for it.

Unlike credit cards, layaways do not rely on your credit score. If you are currently working on raising your score, it may be smarter to use layaways rather than high-interest credit cards for your holiday shopping.

The Cons of Layaways

Paying the layaway fees on expensive holiday items (like a TV) may make sense, but paying them when you are buying a doll for your child doesn’t. Since many stores charge a flat service fee of $5-$5-$10, you would end up adding 20% to the cost of a $25-50 gift by using layaway. While you won’t be charged interest, you still need to be prepared to make a down payment to hold your gifts. You will also be at the mercy of a store’s payment plans, which may mean driving to the store every one to two weeks to make a payment.

Make a List (and check it twice!)

Sit down and write out a list of what you’d like to purchase for the holidays. This will help you visualize how much money you need during the holiday season. You may also find that a layaway plan isn’t the best option for you. Shop around and review different stores’ layaway programs to find the store that carries your needs and has limited fees.

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone but by using layaway ahead of time, you can get your gifts sorted before everyone else has even started. How relaxing would your Christmas be next year if that was the case?

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