Layaway is here again this year. Last year Sears and K-Mart brought back layaway, and now for the 2009 holidays, many other companies have joined in such as Walmart (jewelery only), Costco, Target, TJ Max, Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us (bikes, televisions, strollers)especially for high ticket items.
In case you don't remember layaway from your childhood, layaway is a way to purchase an item without paying the full price upfront. Instead of taking the item home and paying with a credit card or some other installment plan, the customer does not take the item home until all payments are completed. The customer pays a non-refundable fee upfront and has a payment plan to pay the amount due. It the customer does not pay all the installments, generally, the customer still gets a refund of payments made minus the nonrefundable fee and the item goes back on the shelf.
Layaway goes way back. People bought farm equipment and sewing machines on layaway. It was also popular after the Great Depression in the 1920's and 1930's. Some stores continued the tradition, but it had lost favor, probably because we have become a nation of people who want instant gratification and don't want to wait to actually get the item to take home. They would rather just use a credit card and get it over with.
But Layaway has made a comeback. Because so many holiday buyers are cash-strapped and can't get credit cards, many stores are bringing the concept of layaway back and many people are discovering it again. There are even some modern twists to it. There are now websites like elayaway.com where you can pick out your item, sign up for a layaway plan, and when you are finished paying, your item will be sent to you.
What are the pros and cons of the layaway system?
1. You can reserve an item that may go out of stock such as popular Christmas toys. 2. You can avoid high credit card interest. 3. You won't have that holiday hangover with big payments after the holidays. 4. If you change your mind and don't pay all installments, you get your money back, minus fees. 5. You can shop early, but pay later.
1. Even with layaway, you still might not be able to really afford the item. 2. There is delayed gratification; this is more important to some than others. 3. If you pay your installments by credit card, you may still have high interest payments. 4. Maybe you could have gotten the item cheaper with post-holiday sales.
As in any transaction, Let the Buyer Beware. Ask yourself these questions:
1. With the present economy, can I really afford this item? 2. Can I get it cheaper elsewhere? 3. Can I wait and pay in full and not incur any fees? 4. Will I really get my money back if I don't make all the payments? Check the fine print on anything you sign. 5. Are you paying installments on credit cards and defeating the purpose of the layaway? 6. How much are the fees? Can I afford to lose them?
If used wisely, layaway can be a viable alternative for holiday shopping.
Mary Greenwood, Mediator, Attorney and Author of How To Negotiate LIke A Pro: 41 Rules for Resolving Disputes, Winner of six book awards Best How To Book, DIY Festival Runner Up, New York Book Festival, E-Book and Self-Help Category Finalist ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards Finalist, Best National Book Awards, Self-Help Category Honorable Mention, London Book Festival How To Mediate Like A Pro: 42 Rules for Mediating Disputes Winner of five book awards Best National Book AWard, Law Category Best E-Book, New York Book Festival Best How To Book, Beach Book Festival Best E-Book, Indie Excellence Awards Spirit AWard, South Florida Writers Association Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.marygreenwood.com
How To Negotiate With Your Family During the Holidays
Ever notice that when you get together with your family for the holidays that the same arguments and resentments bubble up through the good cheer year after year. Despite your best efforts not to let your siblings' comments bother you, you end up playing the same role in your family that you had in junior high. Here are some tips for getting along with your family this holiday season.
1. Concentrate on having a great holiday and don't get distracted by your emotions.
During this stressful holiday season, it is important to check your emotions at the door. Emotions such as anger or resentments lead to lack of control. You need to get past this stage if you are going to have a happy holiday. If you are the one who is angry or upset, you need to concentrate on what you what to accomplish (such as no scenes or confrontations) and not let anything stand in your way. It does not matter if you don't like a member of your family. Even if someone is rude, insulting, or even baiting you, don't give him or her the satisfaction that he or she has gotten to you.
2. Look Forward Not Back. The Past Is Called The Past For A Reason.
Don't try to settle old scores during the holidays. Remember your goal is to get through the holidays without any flare-ups. Even if one of your siblings did something to you in the past that still makes you mad, get beyond that and try to live in the moment and be happy. No matter how sophisticated and worldly we have become, somehow those same roles we had in high school show through and the same old pecking order manifests itself. In this situation, déjà vu is not a good thing.
3. Be Willing To apologize.
If you are estranged from a relative, maybe this is the year you will make the first move to reconcile. Be prepared to shoulder some of the blame even if you don't remember what the original argument was. Don't say, "I did not do anything wrong." or "It is against my principles to apologize!" That is beside the point. When considering whether to make the first move, keep in mind that people do make mistakes. Also consider that your first move may be rejected and don't be upset by that. At least you know that you made the effort and tried to take the high ground. A sincere apology, and I mean sincere, can go a long way.
4. Beware And Be Aware.
Be aware and don't let your guard down. Even if you think the holidays are going smoothly, don't be lulled into complacency. Be careful what you say and how you say it. One well-placed comment or zinger by you or someone else can spoil the whole holiday mood. Be alert to others' feelings. It is only a couple of days and you can get through it.
Be thankful for being able to share the holidays with your family. Remember that some of them may not be around next year or the year after and those very maddening habits you dislike now, you might even miss when they are gone. Try to remember all the good things and accentuate the positive. As my mother says, "If you can't say something nice, don't say something at all." Try saying something nice and see where it takes you. Happy Holidays.
Mary Greenwood, Mediator, Attorney and Author of How To Mediate Like A Pro: 42 Rules for Mediating Disputes Winner of ten book awards Best National Book Award Winner, Law Category Pinnacle Book Award Winner, How To Category Winner, How To Category, Readers View Book Awards Finalist ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards Best How To Book, Beach Book Festival Best E-Book, New York Book Festival Best E-Book, Indie Excellence Award Spirit Award, South Florida Writers Association Honorable Mention, London Book Festival How To Negotiate Like A Pro Winner if six book awards Best How To Book, DIY Festival Runner Up, E-Book and Self-Help Category, New York Book Festival Finalist Best National Book Awards, Self-Help Category Finalist ForeWord Magazine, Self-Help Category Honorable Mention, London Book Festival
Best National Book Award, Law Category
Best E-Book, New York Book Festival Best How To Book, Beach Book Festival Best E-Book, Indie Excellence Awards Spirit AWard, South Florida Writers Association Email: email@example.com www.marygreenwood.com
I am an attorney, mediator and author of three award-winning books: How to Negotiate Like a Pro, Third Edition, winner of nine book awards; How to Interview Like a Pro, winner of 12 book awards, and How To Mediate Like A Pro: 42 Rules for Resolving Disputes, which has won 12 book awards;