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Money Tips for Moms: Take Advantage of Layaway at Kmart, Sears, TJMAXX, Toys R Us and More…

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Like it or not, Christmas is right around the corner. If your budget is still tight (whose isn’t?), you can still get your family shopping done with a little advance planning and good use of an old friend—the layaway. Check out which stores are offering time-strapped moms easy layaway programs. 


By Tamika Y. Richeson


Layaway programs all but disappeared during the credit happy years. Now that credit is tight and happiness even tighter, many stores have reinstated the layaway program. Here’s what every mom needs to know:

1.Sears and Kmart stores now offer layaway plans both for in-store and online purchases, allowing you to take your time paying for items sold in the stores.  It is in a lot of ways a different form of saving except you have secured the item.  Both stores will allow you to place an item on layaway for a nominal fee of 15% or $5 depending on the cost of the item.  Both stores also offer a Christmas Club Card which allows shoppers to save in advance for holiday purchases before they begin shopping.  When activated between now and October 31st, card members can earn a 3% reward up to a value of $100 depending on their card value.

2. Toys “R” Us now offers layaway plans for high-priced items that require a 20% deposit and a $10 service charge.  Layaway items for Christmas must be paid in full by December 6th this year.  Wal Mart and Target stores also made attempts to appeal to parents this year by offering “$10 toys” to drive traffic to their toy department this holiday season.

3. Other stores that offer layaway plans include, Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s.  TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, owned by TJX Co. already offer name-brand and designer items at a discounted price, however select stores offer layaway plans as well.

The history: Layaway started during the Great Depression, during a period of limited cash and no credit.  Consumers could select their items and pay for them in increments with no interest and instead pay a small nominal fee, allowing them to secure their purchase and make payments until the item was paid in full.  However, during the 1990s stores ended layaway programs for the more profitable credit system that has so many Americans flooded with debt and high interest fees.  It is now 2009 and many consumers express concerns about how to pay for holiday expenses, particularly Christmas gifts.

Finances are a huge concern for American consumers this year as advertisements for the holidays begin earlier and earlier.  According to a recent study conducted by the National Retail Federation, 65.3% of American consumers say that the economy will affect their holiday plans, 70.1% will shop at discount stores, 17.3% will buy joint gifts for their parents and children and 16.7% will be making more gifts.

Shopping Tips: Start saving early. Don’t hesitate to make use of layaway plans or even create your own by establishing a realistic budget and savings plan for holiday gifts, travel, food and décor.  Use the card programs offered by stores and banks that allow you to save specifically for the holidays. 

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