With the holiday shopping season in full effect, many Americans will need some layaway tips.
Layaway plans are often considered by many shoppers who are in a financial crunch -- and why not? There's no interest, since there's no money borrowed, and you get to pay for your purchases over a set period of time.
However, layaway may not be the best plan for you. Before you turn to a layaway plan this year, here are the top five layaway tips for the holidays:
Understand what a layaway plan is. Know what you are getting yourself into. A layaway is an installment purchase plan that allows the buyer to pay a chunk of his purchase as a down payment, and then make weekly payments. However, there are additional fees, and you may need to research those before you dive into the layaway option.
Know the store or company's policy. Much like with returns and refunds, each store may have a different layaway policy. If you're shopping at different stores, don't assume that they're all the same.
Get the terms of the layaway plan in writing. Make sure you get the terms of the layaway agreement in writing. This will be key in resolving any future disputes regarding payments that might arise. Also make sure that you don't sign anything without fully understanding what the terms are.
Check for additional fees. Layaway plans may come with hidden additional fees -- for example, storage fees while your item is being held and paid for. Be sure that you know what you're going to incur and that you can still afford it.
Do the math. Compare the cost of layaway with your other payment options. It just might not be worth it in the end. Sometimes, putting some last-minute items on your credit card -- as long as you remember pay them off in time -- may be a better option.
Holiday shopping doesn't have to be stressful. Regardless of what payment plan you opt into, remember that it's important to be prepared.