As the recession took hold a few years ago, some retailers brought back the popular layaway payment option. Simply pay a small fee and a down payment and you could pay for your holiday purchases over time. While that was a traditional use of the layaway system, Sears is trying something different: vacations on layaway. The retailer just launched the Sears Vacations
website, and the company is advertising a layaway program front and center on the site’s home page.
Although taking a vacation on layaway sounds like a great plan for cash-strapped families, I’d caution against it. I understand that not everyone has $1,000 to plop down on a vacation, but if you’re planning on making payments towards a layaway plan over the course of several months, skip the “strings attached” plan and create your own layaway system.
Simply determine how much your vacation is going to cost and the date that you’ll need to have the money saved up and create your own weekly or monthly savings plan. Put the money in a savings account and maintain complete control over the funds as you save for your vacation.
If something financially catastrophic happens, for instance a job loss, you can convert the vacation savings into an additional emergency fund and keep your head above water. If you were taking advantage of the flexible layaway option provided by Sears, you may not be able to recoup all of the money you’ve paid in. Even if you were able to receive a complete refund, it is unlikely that you’d receive it in as timely a manner as you need.
Would you use a layaway program for a vacation purchase?