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Holiday Layaway: Friend or Foe this Shopping Season?

For the frugal shopper looking to save money, layaway has always been a good option. It’s easy and doesn’t require much forethought on the consumer’s part; they just head to the store, pick the item, and start making payments. No big deal, right?

Maybe. Admittedly, making a budget and heading out into the rush to find a few key items is a really smart way to do business. If you have the willpower to figure out exactly what you need, go get it and then resist buying anything more, then you deserve an award. In this case, the system will work well for you: you’re not only thinking ahead, you’re making sure you don’t end up buried in a pile of debt at the end of the expensive holiday season.

There are, however, a few caveats you should consider before signing up for these programs, and they are not always well explained by the businesses offering them. PennySaverUSA.com is here to help explain the advantages and disadvantages of using layaway this Holiday season.

Remember the Fee

Layaway Shopping this Holiday Season
The whole point of layaway is to plan ahead and save money, and in many cases doing so in a thoughtful, frugal manner will get you there. However, you shouldn’t forget that there are fees attached just like credit cards. Should you go through with your purchase, according to the Wall Street Journal, the fee is usually small. Should you, on the other hand, not end up making the purchase, you can often expect larger fees.

Consider That You Might Miss Sales

Using this program also often means that you will miss out on sales and promotions when they come around. Because you will presumably pick your purchases earlier in the season, you likely won’t be eligible for many of the discounts that occur later on, such as Black Friday. This might be worth it to you, but it’s best to be aware.

Be Prepared for Gift Card Rebates

According to TIME Business and Money, one of the biggest promoters of layaway – Walmart – returns your refundable fee after a successfully completed purchase in the form of a gift card. While the money itself is valid, this often means that you have to make another trip to the store, where you will likely end up paying more than the amount of the gift card. That is if you don’t forget it entirely.

Pay Attention to Payment Structure

Though payment structures are generally both reasonable and expected, make sure you are apprised of them ahead of time. For instance Toys “R” Us, has a fairly elaborate one that could trip you up if you aren’t careful. The key to successfully using this program is preparation.

So this holiday season, do yourself a favor and think long and hard before signing up. Sure, it’s an awesome way to stay out of debt and put presents under the tree, but it isn’t always as consumer-friendly as it seems. Keep these tips in mind, though, and you should come through just fine.

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