Personal Finance Round-Up: Layaway for the Holidays?

layaway gift piggyCredit cards are one of those things we have a love-hate relationship with. We love the convenience of being able to pay with plastic, the safety of not carrying around large sums of cash, and the ability to pay online. However, interest fees and credit card company tricks make the decision of using cash or credit much more difficult.

Layaway is making a comeback in lieu of credit this season. Instead of buying something now and paying later or over time, layaway programs allow you to put a down payment on something to hold it in store and then you can return at a later date to pay the remainder of the cost and take your new item home. You aren’t charged any interest in most situations and if you don’t return to pick up your purchase within the allotted amount of time, typically 90 days, your product is put back on the shelves. There is a processing fee in some cases and you’ll need to return to the store to pick up your deposit.

This may sound like a great alternative to credit, especially for the holidays, but some contend that layaway is just another way for retailers to sneak in fees. In this article, Schumer Targets Layaway Charges as Next Credit Fiasco, credit cards and layaway programs are compared and the claims are explained.

Regardless of how you choose to pay, layaway or credit, make sure you carefully read over the fine print. Know your credit card due dates and interest rates so they don’t accidentally cost you money. On the same token, know your layaway programs and make sure they don’t end up costing you more when you’re trying to save during the holidays.

Below are some other great reads in personal finance for the week:

The 6 Pillars of Steve Jobs’ Design Philosophy [MSNBC]
Steve Jobs continues to give lessons in marketing and innovation to future generations even after his death. Here are six lessons in design philosophy.

How to Be Healthy and Lower Your Healthcare Costs [Frugal Toad]
These tips are great for those trying to improve their health this year. Eating healthy usually means spending more for organic food and special diets. These tips come with the added benefit of being cost-conscious too.

Are You Ready to Be a Landlord? [Wall Street Journal]
For years, renting has been a cornerstone of long-term investing ideas for the wealthy and entrepreneurial alike. With housing prices and interest rates at an all time low, many more are looking to real estate as an investment vehicle. If this is you, make sure to cover your bases before signing on the dotted line.

8 Bad Habits to Kick in Your 20s [Learnvest]
The new year is rolling in and we will all start adding goals and resolutions to our list. Some will add ways to improve, but more often than not the plan is to kick an old habit that’s just not working anymore. Here are some you should get rid of while you’re young.

You Gotta Get a Prenup [Thousandaire]
In this music video parody, Kevin McKee sings why you should get a prenup if you’re thinking about getting married.

Dog Walking For Extra Cash [Couple Money]
Want to make some extra money? Check out this trial on dog walking and see if it’s right for you.

Bill Would Keep Credit Card Fees from Cutting Tips []
Waiting tables is a great way to start a career or just make some extra money. You have to put up with very low hourly rates, an exception to minimum wage laws, but you can make a good living through tips. Credit card processing eats into those tips, but that could change with this bill.

Why We Should Not Hate Businesses [Money Reasons]
Is capitalism everything that is wrong with the world? There are arguments for the business world and they should be carefully considered before placing judgement.

3 Types of People to Fire Immediately [Business Week]
Jobs are scarce and if you happen to land one, especially a good one, you should do what you can to keep it. Take a look at this description of types of people companies should fire and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes.

11 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 15 minutes [Perkstreet Blog]
Time is money – so strategies that help improve your money and don’t take a lot of time are gold. Check these out.

  • Frugal Toad

    Always good advice to know the terms of your credit cards. As part of the Credit Card Act of 2009, consumers now have 21 days from the date bills are delivered to make minimum payment. Also I just heard today that Walmart is offering 6 months no interest layaway for holiday shopping. That is a deal too good to pass up! Thanks for the mention, it is appreciated!

  • Money Reasons

    Thanks for the mention!

    This year has flown by! I can’t believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving already!

    It’s funny that your title reminds me of my grandparents and when they had a store and would keep layaways in the back lol…