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It is officially fall, and with its arrival we are well aware that winter and the holidays are just around the corner. What will our budget be? Do we have money to spend? What will we get our children? The list goes on and on. Mental calculation of funds commence, and before we know it – we are in a full tizzy about our holiday shopping, stalking websites for leaked Black Friday deals.

A few retailers announced last week that they were willing to take the holiday shopping pressure off by offering layaway. My mother was the layaway queen. From school clothes and supplies to kitchen wares, nothing was immune from being stored away at the store for 90 days and picked up when payment was complete.

In more recent years layaway options have been looked down upon in exchange for cash/credit and carry. The fees often attached to layaway’s have come under fire. They have been touted as the reason why people should wait until they have the cash instead of putting the service fee in the pockets of America’s big box retailers.

Good news! Retailers were listening and when one stepped up – the ante by offering free layaways prompted others to join the bandwagon. Currently Kmart, and Toys R Us are offering free layaway options, free meaning no service fee to open the layaway. Kmart is even offering the ability to set up a layaway online without a minimum purchase. Sears is set to follow suit within the next month and Walmart has reduced their fee from $15 to $5 and upon receipt of the last payment Walmart will refund the $5 in the form of a store gift card.

I plan to utilize the option in the next week to put away a few of the electronics I would like to get my children. I am not prepared to pay for or store them right now, so with no service fees I plan to take advantage of the opportunity. There are certain dates that must be adhered to regarding these layaway options, so check with the retailer for more detailed information.

While this doesn’t eliminate the desire for people to spend what they don’t have, it is a viable contender in the retail market if utilized properly. It doesn’t offer the instant gratification of going home with the product, but is cheaper than rolling over a balance on a credit card and paying the finance charges.

Words By: Mimi Scarlett
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