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Helping to Handle Your Holiday Expenses

Do you remember shopping at Sears when you were a kid? I am dating myself now, but I remember shopping for clothes at Sears when I was a child. My mother would put our clothes on ?layaway? until she could pay off the total amount of the bill.

Layaway, for those of you who?ve never heard of it, is somewhat like a reverse credit card. When you buy items on credit, you immediately get the item, but then you must pay back the balance and a hefty fee (interest) for the privilege. Unlike credit purchases, with a layaway account, the store keeps the merchandise until you?ve paid off your account in full. The fees to open an account are minimal, either 15% of the purchase price, or around $5-$15, depending upon the laws in your state.

Several years ago, Walmart stopped layaway accounts, and it was a sad day for many frugal shoppers. I figured that the concept had died for good, kind of like rotary telephones.

While talking with a sales associate at Sears last week, I found out that on November 17, 2008, Sears and Kmart will again have layaway accounts! I was thrilled because our local store had a great sale on winter coats which began on Friday. In addition, I?d found online coupons which I could use at the store to further discount the price of the coats. Even though I didn?t have the money outright to take advantage of the sale, I could use the layaway option and get the sale price. The online coupons I?d found would more than cover the layaway fees too!

This year, many families are dealing with strained budgets, lost jobs, and limited credit. As the holiday season is fast approaching, those budgets could get even more strained. You?ll have to ?do the math? for your particular situation, but a layaway account could help you to manage your holiday expenses.

Have you ever had a layaway account? Will you be using layaway this holiday season when purchasing toys for your family?


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