Campus Connection: Layaway for College Students

With the holidays approaching in a still-struggling economy, one word you might be hearing a lot more lately is “layaway.” But what exactly is layaway, and how can it make Christmas shopping easier for cash-strapped college students?

While growing up, I thought the word “layaway” was synonymous with “restrooms,” since the two shared a section in most stores where my mom would take me shopping. It wasn’t until much later that I learned layaway is actually a kind of payment plan for stuff you want to buy but can’t afford right away.

Both Kmart and Sears offer layaway, and how it works is simple. Instead of going deeper into debt on your credit card, you can pick out the item you want to buy, and the store will “hold” it for you while you pay off the balance a little bit at a time.

At Sears, it costs just $5 to put an item on layaway, and the initial payment is only $15, or 20% of its price, whichever is greater. Then, over the course of 8 weeks (longer for pricier items), you pay off a quarter of the balance every two weeks. Once you’ve made the last payment, the item is yours to take home! Best of all, you’ve budgeted your money to avoid a week of having to live off free food events ;-) .

Layaway is available for most items at Sears, including jewelry, electronics, video games and apparel. And, last year we introduced Online Layaway, so you can now put items in your virtual shopping cart on layaway, to be pickup in a store near you. Of course, Online Layaway also lets you make payments online instead of in person.

One thing to keep in mind with layaway is that you do have to agree to an official contract. So, if you can’t keep up with your payments (though there is a 7 day grace period), your item will be put back on the shelf, and you must pay a $10 cancellation fee.

With about seven more weeks until Christmas, now’s a great time to start a layaway plan on your big-ticket holiday gifts. And if you still have questions after reading this post, just leave them in the comments below.


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  1. Layaway it is!


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