The Return of Layaway An alternative to using credit this holiday season
Layaway may sound like an old-school concept, especially in today’s “buy now, pay later” society. But the idea of setting aside products to pay off gradually is making a comeback, and is a great alternative to using credit cards this upcoming holiday season.
“The credit card allows shoppers to buy on impulse without the immediate worry of how to pay for their purchases,” said Dorothy Guzek, GreenPath Financial Counselor. “Unfortunately, when the credit card bill comes due, consumers are left with a surprise balance they can’t afford to pay, because they forgot to keep track of each purchase.”
Layaway may be the answer for those of us who can’t afford to pay all at once or who simply want to avoid using credit cards. Layaway also helps keep purchases away from curious present-seekers during the holiday season. Stores such as K-Mart and Sears cater to this need by offering layaway.
“Our customers are looking for ways to better manage their spending, while still getting the items they need and want,” said Salima Yala, Divisional Vice President of Financial Services for Sears Holdings. “Layaway is a financial tool, much like an interest-free payment plan, that allows them to pay over a set period of time.”
In addition to traditional in-store layaway, stores like K-Mart and Sears are offering online layaway programs. Online layaway lets you browse and shop for items on the web, pay over time just as you would with traditional layaway, and then pick up the merchandise in-store.
“Layaway provides customers with innovative ways to shop – and with the launch of online layaway, the younger generation of online shoppers are able to manage their budgets and shopping needs in a smarter way,” said Yala.
GreenPath offers the following tips for buying on layaway:
Other stores offering layaway this holiday season include T.J. Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls and Toys R Us. You many find more stores by searching the Web.
“Regardless of how you decide to shop this holiday season” said Guzek, “make a budget in advance, shop from a list, track your expenses and stick with your original plan.”
Tips for Shopping on a Budget
For those of you who are planning on shopping on a budget this year, here are a few tips from the National Retail Federation (www.nrf.com) to help you shop smart this holiday season.
GreenPath Brings Home Two National Awards 2010 NFCC awards for Outstanding Counselor and Graduate Client of the Year
GreenPath Debt Solutions was recently recognized by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) with two national awards: The 2010 Professional Achievement and Counseling Excellence (PACE) Outstanding Individual Counselor and the Graduate Client of the Year.
Both awards were announced during the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) Annual Recognition dinner in October as part of the NFCC Annual Leaders Conference. This was the first time any NFCC member agency had ever won two awards. ELLEN BERNARDS – MESSAGE OF FINANCIAL HOPE Though there are more than 3,000 NFCC counselors, only one is selected each year as the Outstanding Individual Counselor. This year’s winner is Ellen Bernards, a counselor from GreenPath’s Madison, Wisconsin office. She is a prime example of how a counselor needs to adapt in our ever changing economy. As the financial crisis escalated, so did Bernards’ determination to assist the consumers she serves. She took a very hands-on approach with her clients, particularly when it came to navigating the foreclosure mitigation process. Connecting clients with solutions was her goal. Bernards also expanded her involvement in the community by creating an on-site counseling program for a Hispanic community center, obtaining funding for additional foreclosure mitigation programming and assisting Spanish and Hmong individuals with personal finances, among others. “Ellen’s tireless efforts to help others through financial counseling and education set the bar high, and that’s exactly where it should be,” said Jane McNamara, president and CEO of GreenPath Debt Solutions. “Consumers deserve quality credit and housing counseling, and Ellen represents that standard at its best.” THE CARROLL’S STORY – DETERMINATION Carole and Don Carroll of New York, who had been counseled by GreenPath in New York City, received the Graduate Client of the Year Award. When the Carrolls were first married, they brought along financial baggage, including credit cards bills, medical bills, child support payments and past due car payments. As the years passed, the Carrolls found themselves relying more on credit, while sinking deeper in debt.
Eventually, as their credit card balances increased, so did their Annual Percentage Rates, thus making meeting even the minimum monthly payments difficult. The Carrolls woke up one day to realize they were $88,000 in debt. Each literally on the verge of a nervous breakdown, they reached out to GreenPath for help.
“GreenPath organized our finances, and we actually had more cash in hand each month after paying our bills,” said Don Carroll. “Three and one-half years later, we’re now both in our 50s and are debt free, and intend to remain that way.” “The Carrolls were ideal clients,” said McNamara. “They were willing to do what it takes to reach their financial goals, and had a positive attitude throughout the program. “ A five-minute video highlighting the Carroll’s efforts in paying off their debt is available on GreenPath’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/greenpathdebt.
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