Easy Pay, Payment Plans, and Layaway are Great Options for Families on a Budget

Paper family and one dollar banknoteWith holidays and birthdays quickly approaching and a large family, budgeting and saving can be quite a chore. A number of retailers are making it easier and more convenient than ever to get products, gifts, and services with flexible payment options designed for families.

Using credit cards has gotten quite expensive, interest rates constantly fluctuate, and it is very easy to over spend. One of our financial goals was to eliminate our credit card debt and only spend the money that we have. We have been able to stick to this plan pretty well, but sometimes there are larger purchases or events that just require different ways to pay. Let’s explore some additional options that families and individuals have to making shopping and spending more manageable.

Easy Pay or Flex Pay

Easy Pay or Flex Pay is a great way to be able to immediately get items with flexible payments. Usually these payment plans offer 2-month to up to 6-month equal payment options. The unique opportunity that easy pay and flex pay affords is the ability to get your items right away, usually with no interest and only the first payment required.

For Christmas last year, I was able to get a new Canon DSLR camera on easy pay. These cameras can be quite expensive, but with easy pay, we were able to spread the payments out over 5 equal payments through the Home Shopping Network (HSN). Both HSN and QVC offer these payment options and have a large inventory of products for just about any purchase.

For the dad or Barbecue enthusiast in your life, Traeger Grills offers (update: currently not showing but watch website for special pay options) 3 to 5 pay options on their pellet smoker grills. This makes a great gift and I can attest to the amazing food that can be smoked, cooked, grilled, or baked.

Tower Hobbies offers easy pay on a number of its items like, remote control vehicles, hobby and craft items, as well as a number of other items for kids and adults. I have used their easy pay on a number of gifts for the kids and family members.

If you have a musician in the family Sweetwater offers an easy pay option as well. This is great way to purchase guitars, keyboards, drums, or just about any other musical instrument for your budding artist. I have used Sweetwater’s easy pay option in the past to get music instruments and it was definitely easy and convenient.

Both Easy Pay and Flex Pay usually require either a bank account, credit card, or debit card, to setup the equal payment plan. Some, but not all of the retailers also require a credit check in order to be approved for the plan so be aware of this before planning your purchase. Most of the sites have an FAQ for their payment plan that will provide basic information regarding their rules and expectations.

Easy/Flex Pay Advantages:

  • Get Item Immediately
  • No Interest
  • Flexible Payment options usually 2 to 6 payments
  • Convenient

Easy/Flex Pay Requirements/Disadvantages:

  • Usually Requires Bank account, Credit Card, or Debit Card
  • First Payment
  • Set Monthly Payment
  • Some may require a Credit Check
  • Usually will pay closer to Full Retail Price on Items

Layaway

Layaway is making a big comeback in the retail space. Many of the large retailers are finding Layaway a familiar and popular way to provide flexible payment solutions to their customers.

The biggest differences between layaway and Easy/Flex Pay are, with layaway, you make a down payment; this is typically between 10 and 20%. Then you pay as you wish, whatever amount you would like, until the item/items are paid off. There are sometimes caveats though. For instance, some layaway plans require you pay something at least once a month, while most require that items be paid off within a specified time frame.

Some of the major retailers that are offering layaway for holiday shopping in 2013 are Kmart, Walmart, Sears, and Toys R Us.  Be sure to check each website to get the rules and requirements for each layaway program.

Many local retailers also provide layaway options for many types of goods. I purchased a high-end road bicycle from a local bicycle shop that allowed me 6 months to pay with a small down payment. Though it didn’t give the immediate gratification that most people crave when making a purchase, it provided a goal and sense of accomplishment that may not have otherwise been realized, which makes layaway a great option to teach kids these lessons.

Furniture and appliances are other great options for layaway. I have purchased a number of these items on layaway over the years. Check with individual stores to see if they offer layaway solutions, it is easy to ask, and you may be surprised at how many local businesses provide this as an option.

Layaway Advantages:

  • No Interest
  • Small Down Payment
  • No set Payment Amount (Pay what you can)

Layaway Requirements/Disadvantages:

  • No Instant Gratification
  • Down Payment
  • Time Limit (Must pay off in x amount of time)
  • Some retailers only have Layaway during Holidays

Payment Plans

You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of family entertainment options that provide payment plans. Theme parks such as Disney, Six Flags, and others now offer monthly payment options for their season passes.

Considering the cost of the typical day out to one of the theme parks, these season pass payment plans can provide a significant savings and opportunity to visit multiple times throughout the year. We currently have a Six Flags pass and pay approximately $6 per person per month.

Theme parks aren’t the only entertainment options available to families on a budget. Our family loves to camp, but here in California, campsites can run from $30 to $60 per night that can add up quick especially over a long weekend. A number of years ago we signed up with a campground membership through Thousand Trails. For about the cost of one night per month of camping, or roughly $45 per month, we can camp as often as we want at a number of private resort style campgrounds. This has been a great investment; the sites have events for the kids, swimming pools, mini golf, playgrounds and entertainment for the entire family.

Another entertainment payment solution we have found and subscribe to is MoviePass. Being big movie fans, we would often spend a large chunk of our entertainment budget on frequenting the movie theater on date nights. Ticket prices have significantly gone up over the years and most of the time you end up paying $10 to $15 per ticket. With the MoviePass option, we are able to go to an unlimited amount of movies each month for one monthly fee.

Payment Plan Advantages:

  • Easily Budget Entertainment
  • Unlimited visits
  • Affordable Pricing

Payment Plan Requirements/Disadvantages:

  • Usually Requires Credit or Debit Card
  • Most have yearlong term
  • Many Automatically Renew
  • Not Worth it if you don’t use it

Corporations and businesses are finding it in their best interest to provide multiple ways for families to purchase goods and services. Take advantage of these financing or payment opportunities while they are available, as companies change their offerings and policies often. By utilizing these solutions, you can keep debt to a minimum and provide the things you want for your family.

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