Layaway, Cash Can Save Money on Holiday Shopping

Forget the jack-o-lanterns. Visit almost any retail store right now, and you'll notice that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

With just a bit more than two months until Dec. 25, stores are already decking their shelves in red and green. In my opinion, it's an annoyance. And not just because I'd like to celebrate Halloween before I start hearing Jingle Bells.

Christmastime makes me think of friends and family - no problem there. But then I think of the gifts I'll need to buy friends and family. Which reminds me that gifts cost money - which, in turn, reminds me that I don't have very much money to spare. And I'm not alone. Millions of Americans nationwide are wondering how they'll manage their annual holiday shopping spree on this year's tight budget.

But there might be a way to save money this season. See, the way you pay can dictate how much you pay.

Most people today put Christmas gifts on credit. With credit, you can take your purchase home today and pay tomorrow - but in exchange, you have to pay interest. The smaller your monthly payments, the longer you pay - and the more interest you'll owe. For instance, if you spend $500 on gifts and make a $25 payment per month, it would take two years - and an extra $100 - to pay off your balance. Plastic might be convenient, but it's the fast track to an ever-bigger debt burden and the poor credit score that goes with it.

Your cheapest choice is cash. You pay exactly what's on the price sticker - and nothing more - and you know you won't overdo it because you can't spend money you don't have. But if cash isn't realistic, consider paying the way your grandma might have paid - with layaway. With money tighter than ever, more stores are allowing customers to put items on layaway - meaning you pay a little bit every week or month until your purchase is complete and you can take your item home. Unlike credit, there's no interest (usually just a small layaway fee), you can't hurt your credit score and you don't have to spend the next few decades paying for something you bought today.

Of course, if you're buried in debt, worried about foreclosure and/or have creditors calling you day and night, Christmas shopping might be the least of your worries. Why not give yourself the ultimate gift this year? Financial relief. A bankruptcy plan can stop creditor actions like foreclosure while affording you a realistic way to pay down your debts over time. To find out more about bankruptcy, give our free personal debt analysis a try. Our Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys will address your questions and concerns about bankruptcy and debt while identifying a plan that meets your needs - at no charge and no obligation. Now that's the Christmas spirit.

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