The Return of Layaway

I remember posting a while back on a comment on the problems our nation was facing (almost ready like an idyllic past now, I said ALMOST) that there was this thing called “layaway” that people who didn’t have credit could use to buy halfway-expensive stuff they needed.

Well, guess what: It’s back!

The first I heard of the comeback I was sitting in my work van (driving people to and from their doctor’s appointments) when I heard a K-Mart commercial extolling the benefits of Layaway. I smiled, but thought nothing about it.

Until this Monday (October 27, 2008), when I was hanging out at the local Borders (suburban location, you take what you can and are thankful for it) and heard a couple of women gushing about the return of Layaway. They were a bit old, of course, but still I heard the approval in their voices.

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So, at the risk of making myself redundant, here’s the idea of Layaway: You put some money down to set an item aside. Over the next few weeks/months you put more money down onto the item, and when it’s paid off you get the item. You may end up with a now out-of-date item, but it’s yours and you’re not paying 10-25% interest on what is owed.

The trick is, you gotta want what you want enough to spend the next few weeks/months paying for something you don’t have yet. You gotta do without the stuff that money would get you, and you gotta be able to put money down on a regular basis.

And the best thing about Layaway? No interest rate while you’re paying off the item. Yes, you’ll pay some extra for the privilege, but credit cards can cost more (especially since the item in question won’t be affordable with this month’s paycheck; otherwise you’d buy it on the card and pay it off).

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Obviously some things make better sense on layaway than other stuff. Coats and winter clothing work well on layaway (buy the good stuff when it’s still warm, get it when you start to need it). Computers may work, but you’ll have to expect that your computer will be slightly obsolete (not state-of-the-art) by the time you get it. Furniture would work out well by layaway as well. Same for your iPod, but then you could spend the extra months reripping your MP3s in a higher format (who really listens to 120GB of 128kbps music? I can hardly get up to 30GB, and that’s with lots of stuff up to 320kbps bit rate).

I wouldn’t get rims. Or rare CDs. Or MVP Haircuts at SportsClips.

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