Dos and Don’ts for Using Lay-Away to Buy Holiday Gifts
The holidays are expensive, there is no escaping it. But there are some simple things you can do to save money or, at least, to spread the cost out over the course of a few weeks instead of paying it all at once. Many stores offer lay-away programs that help make the holidays just a little bit easier.
Things to Think About Before Using Lay-Away
Taking advantage of lay-away programs is definitely something to consider if you are worried about holiday costs. While not all stores offer lay-away, many do and it is generally easy to use them. Before you start using lay-away, however, there are a few things you should think about:
- How much time does the store give you to pay for the items? Different stores have different lay-away programs – some last as little as 30 days while others give you up to 90 days to pay off your purchase.
- How often do you need to make payments? The way lay-away works is that you spread out the cost of the purchase over the course of several weeks or months but that means that you have to make regular payments. Find out if store requires weekly or monthly payments and whether those payments are due on a specific day.
- How much money do you have to put down? Most lay-away programs require you to put some money down to save the items – it could be as little as $5 or it could be a percentage of the purchase.
- Are there any hidden fees to worry about? Some stores charge storage fees, service plan fees, or other fees that can actually make it more expensive to use lay-away – ask about fees before you use lay-away.
In addition these questions, you should also ask about the store’s policy regarding sale items. If you put an item on lay-away at regular price, will the store offer you a discount if the item later goes on sale? And what happens if you change your mind about the item after you’ve made a few payments – will the store give you a refund or offer you store credit?
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Lay-Away
Though lay-away is a great option if you want to spread the cost of the holidays out over the course of several weeks or months, there are some pitfalls that you may encounter if you aren’t careful. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using lay-away.
- Some stores offer financing of purchases through a line of credit rather than an actual lay-away program – make sure you know exactly what you are signing up for.
- Find out ahead of time how often payments are due and when they are do – if you miss a payment or you pay late you may be subject to hefty fines.
- While lay away programs are common in big box stores and major chains, don’t forget to ask around at local retailers about lay-away programs – they may offer better deals.
- Some stores offer customers up to 90 days to pay off their purchases – don’t wait until December to do all of your shopping!
- Don’t use lay-away as an excuse to buy things you don’t really need – just because the cost is spread out doesn’t mean that you aren’t still paying for the item. Try to avoid impulse buys.
If you are worried about paying for gifts and other holiday necessities all at one time, think about using a lay-away program at some of your favorite stores. There are pros and cons to using lay-away, so do your research before you buy.