Thursday, October 23, 2008

Making purchases on "Layaway"?

I read a report in USA Today recently that "Layaway" purchases are on the increase. Layaway refers to a practice of putting an item- anything from clothing to appliances- on hold at a department store. You pay a small fee and put some money down (usually 10%) and pay for the items week by week until you pay for it- then you take it home all paid for. No credit card bill coming next month. When I was a kid this was the only way we made purchases. Usually at K-Mart or another discount store. Every fall- new school clothes were picked out on August an put on layaway for a few weeks. Every November same thing with toys for Christmas. I know I didn't have any credit cards until I graduated from college and I got a Macy's-type store card with a $250 limit- that was it! I'm not sure if I would use layaway today because I really wouldn't want to pay the fee- anywhere from $1 to $5. But it's a good alternative to buying things on credit or over-spending. Mostly these days I have to stop and think- do we really need this item? will it make my life better? is there something else I already have that I can use instead?

At the end of the article there is a really troubling statement about today's consumers:

Edgar Dworsky, editor of the Internet consumer resource guide, said layaway teaches good lessons about patience and caution to shoppers. But he doesn't expect it to gain much traction with today's consumer. "Layaway really was a great deal and kind of a way to force people to budget their money," he said. "People don't have the discipline to do that today."

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