Layaway or No Way

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I thought EVERYONE knew about layaway. Especially here in the US.

I got a blank stare from the Mr. when I suggested we put a few items on layaway last year when we didn’t have the cash at the moment. He just looked at me and said “what’s that?”

“Seriously?” I said “You don’t know? Wow, I thought growing up in the midwest you would be all over that.”

And I proceeded to explain. Layaway (or Lay-By as I found out it is referred to by Kiwis, Aussies and South Africans) is when you place an item or items on hold at the retailer/store and pay it off in 30 to 60 days.

The advantages? No interest. No need to rack up credit card bills,  you pay in cash and you don’t run the risk of the item selling out. I think layaways disappeared for a while, or went out of fashion, but over the past few years I have seen retailers bringing them back. I for one had blanked it out, but consumers are cutting back on credit cards and let’s face it, times are tough. Disadvantages: you have to wait to take items home with you.

Retailers such as Walmart, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Kmart, Sears, Toys R Us and Burlington Coat Factory offer layaway services. Growing up, my mother would place clothing on layaway for us, pay 10% or a minimum of $10 then pay the remainder at the end of the month – and then we were able to take the items home.

Since working freelance, I don’t have a steady salary and payment schedules can vary month to month. I recently found a pair of Ugg Fabrizia Boots at TJ Maxx, but when I saw the price of $125 they went right back on the shelf – I just didn’t have the cash.

But then I remembered their layaway services and knowing that I had a few payments coming in during the month of January, I thought I would place them on hold until then.

And that’s what I did! I gave them on last look, paid a few dollars and entrusted them in the hands of the lady at the layaway. Last week I paid a bigger part and they should be coming home with me after my next freelance payment due before the end of the month.

This system may not be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, for many years “ghetto financing” (as it was referred to) was embarrassing and only for low income families. I was tormented endlessly after I told a classmate that I had clothing on layaway. Talk about kids being cruel!

Today, it is back by demand and I find it’s a great way to get the items you want without racking up serious bills and sticking to your budget. Especially with baby número dos due in a few weeks, I have had to be extra careful with our budget –  but I can’t wait to bring home the newborn items I have on hold. There are also online shopping layaway options so you don’t have to go into the store for payments, only to pick up the item.

Clearly I am over my childhood traumas, no snobbery here! I have no shame in using layaway, it’s just another option for the budget conscious consumer.

What do you say? LAYAWAY or NO WAY!

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