Is it really free?

This is a buyer beware.

We all know we should check the fine print on everything, but we tend not to bother ourselves with the loathsome task. What generally happens when we don’t? Typically, it is more money out of our pocket than planned. It’s been a while since I offered up something so today I want to address a program that is popular this time of the year, and I, for one, never thought there’d be additional fees involved since they are promoted as free. What am I speaking of? Layaway.

It’s that time of the year when holiday shopping layaway begins and items* can be placed on hold until some date in December**. Many retailers do not charge a fee for this service… unless you cancel. That’s what I wanted to bring to mind. If you decide this program works best for you, and it does for many, make sure you do not make lofty plans on paying it off. Should you have to cancel because you were too eager, you may lose money. It’s not major to some, but $10-$25 for nothing is painful during the holidays.

My advice? If you decide to use the program, make sure you are able to make the payment without issue. If you make an—”I think I can pay for it all”—type of plan, you risk failure and the fees you’d hoped to avoid by using the program. Be realistic. If you can’t bring yourself to find an extra, say $20 a week for something necessary in the household, how do you plan to come up with it now? I recommend you layaway what you need and know you can pay, and then start a savings jar for the items you think you might be able to pay for and then buy that item(s) when you have the full funds.

I found this blog article that lists popular retailers who offer layaway and any fees associated. I have not researched it and cannot guarantee this information is correct. You should check before you pay. Enjoy your early holiday shopping!

http://www.retailmenot.com/blog/list-of-stores-with-layaway.html

*Many stores have exclusions on items that may be included in the layaway program.

**Retailers choose a date that items must be paid in full or the buyer may be in breach of the program.

 

Emily Hamilton is a figment of Sheila Kell’s imagination and, as such, is not a legal or financial expert. Neither is Sheila. This is for entertainment purposes only. Please do not use this article, or any links associated with it, as expert advice. Always read the fine print and seek legal or financial advice when necessary.

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