You typically had to leave a deposit of 10 to 25%. You paid the rest over weeks or even months. The store held onto your purchase until you were all paid up. And the biggest bonus: NO INTEREST! Yah, you had to defer your gratification until you had paid in full. But you never ended up paying more than the original price.
The advent of easy credit in the 1980’s made layaway all but obsolete. Then credit dried up – or consumers got smarter? – and now layaway is making a comeback.
If you’ve been a put-it-on-credit kinda shopper, no doubt you’re getting those credit card statements warning you that it’ll take you 32 years to pay off your balance if you keep making the minimum payment. (How old will you be in 32 years?) Whenever I urge people to only buy what they have the money to pay for, one of the whines I get back is that if they wait to save the money, the item they want will be long gone. Hey, not if you use layaway!
Even some big-name stores are getting back into the biz of layaway. Sears U.S. introduced a layaway program for the holidays that proved so popular they’ve decided to extend it indefinitely. The head cheerleader on the “easy shopping” front is getting into the game; internet shoppers can use layaway at a number of sites now. eLayaway.com is a Florida-based company whose users can buy goods and services on layaway from over 600 retailers
Layaway used to appeal to people who had lower incomes. It’s perfect for students and the just-getting-started crowd who are figuring out how to balance their limited incomes with all the nice and shiny things shouting, “buy me!”
If you see something you want to buy and don’t have the money sitting in your account, don’t whip out your credit card. Ask about layaway options even if the store doesn’t seem to have a program in place. If it’s a slow sales day, you might be surprised at who will help you buy their stuff without you racking up a penny in interest costs.