Atlanta Consumers Turn to Layaway to Avoid Holiday Shopping Debt

There's a reason that our grandparents weren't thousands of dollars in credit card debt - and now there's a way we can follow in their footsteps.

Most of our financial problems today stem from our tendency to spend money before we have it, say Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys. Grandma and Grandpa, on the other hand, knew not to spend what they couldn't afford. But that didn't mean they had to go without, either. By using layaway instead of credit, people of past generations could make affordable payments towards Christmas gifts and other large purchases without the hassle of interest, fees and growing debt.

For a long time, layaway took a backseat to credit cards - probably because of our got-to-have-it-right-now culture. See, when you put something on layaway, it's like putting it on hold while you save up for it. Instead of paying the full price upfront, you make a number of smaller payments - for instance, one payment each week for six weeks - until you can afford to take the item home. You may also have to pay a nominal fee for the process, but it's a flat, one-time rate.

Modern Americans prefer credit because we like to take our purchases home immediately, whether or not we can afford them. But we pay a much higher price for our impatience. It's not uncommon for credit cards to charge 15% to 20% interest a year - sometimes that jumps to 30% or more if we make a single late payment. By making the minimum monthly payments on our credit card bills, we may not even cover interest. That means our debt grows and grows, and we continue paying for our purchases - sometimes several times more than the sticker price - for years after we bought them.

Yes, you have to wait to get what you want with layaway. But imagine how good it will feel to take your purchases home knowing you won't still be paying interest on them next Christmas and beyond - and that the gifts you buy today won't interfere with your ability to pay the mortgage and keep the electricity on tomorrow.

Layaway is one way to avoid adding to your credit card debt, but it doesn't address how to handle debt you already have. If too much debt is weighing you down, consider getting a fresh start with bankruptcy. By filing for bankruptcy, you can often lower or even discharge debts, so you'll pay less interest and bills over time. Have questions? An Atlanta bankruptcy attorney can answer them for free - and identify a bankruptcy plan that's right for you - when you sign up for a complimentary personal debt analysis.

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