There are less than 100 days until Christmas.
That may seem like plenty of time to get your shopping done, but if you're a smart consumer, you've been buying gifts throughout the year or saving money in a holiday fund so you will not have to put your presents on credit.
If you haven't done either of these things, layaway is an option for you. Layaway programs have been around since the Great Depression and are now having a jump in popularity as shoppers look for ways to make the holiday shopping season more affordable.
Most layaway programs make you put down a deposit, usually determined by the total value of your purchase. Then you make payments to pay off before a deadline. It's important to know what the store layaway policy is before you use it. Layaway sounds wonderful, but you can get penalized if you do not make payments on your account.
Be realistic when determining if this is how you should purchase your holiday gifts.
Here's some more layaway information:
■ Walmart's layaway policy is at: Walmart.com/cp/Layaway/1088466 Walmart does not ask for any fee to open a layaway account, but you need to put a deposit of $10 or 10 percent, whichever is greater. Final payment needs to be made on or before December 15 at the same store where the layaway was initiated. If the account is canceled, items will be returned to inventory and your down payment and your payments made will be refunded minus a $10 cancellation fee.
■ Kmart's layaway policy is at: Kmart.com/ue/home/Kmart_Layaway.pdf Kmart has an eight-week layaway or a 12-week layaway. If you decide on the eight-week layaway, you can do it online or in-store and the service fee is $5 with a cancellation fee of $10. The down payment is $15 or 10 percent of the cost of the item or whichever is greater. You are required to make four biweekly payments.
With the 12-week layaway, your only option is in-store layaway and a total purchase of $300 or more. There is a service fee of $10 and a $20 cancellation fee. The down payment is $30 or 10 percent, whichever is greater. You are required to make six biweekly payments. Receive five percent off your layaway purchases when you become a member of, or show your card for, the Kmart loyalty program.
■ Toys R Us or Babies R Us have two layaway policies: an online policy which can be found at http://bit.ly/1mJhFut and an in-store policy which can be found at http://bit.ly/1riwXVL.
In store layaways require a $5 service fee with 10 percent down payment. Online layaways do not require any service fee. Just deposit 10 percent of the total order. Choose to get either free store pickup or ship to home and make payments online or in any store. If you cancel there is a $10 cancelation fee.
If you use layaway at any store, be careful and mindful of all it costs. Also, be disciplined enough to make the payments. Layaway can be a budget-minded way to not overspend this holiday season and prevent you from using your credit cards.
Other savings opportunities
■ Order a large pizza online at PizzaHut.com and pay with VISA checkout to receive a coupon good for a free pizza the next time you order. Coupon must be redeemed within 14 days of your original order. Order.pizzahut.com/visabogo
■ Sign up to receive exclusive offers and surprises from Bath and Body Works through a program called First Look.http://bit.ly/1tX3GSI
■ Stop at McDonald's for a free small coffee with no other purchase necessary. Expires Sept. 29.
■ Sign up on Halo Pet's Facebook page for an email newsletter to get two free cans of Vigor dog food or four free cans of Vigor or Impulse Cat food via rebate through Sept. 30. (up to $8.10 value).
■ Free single-serve entrée at Panda Express. Build a meal through the a la carte menu and apply the promotional code NoLine at checkout. http://bit.ly/1vciEmi