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Is layaway a good option this holiday season?
A familiar purchase method is making a comeback – make sure you examine all the angles


By Renee McGruder, MMI Communications Coordinator

Wow! Where has the year gone? I can’t believe the holiday season is right around the corner. And, of course, that means the holiday shopping season has already begun. For many Americans these are still financially trying times, and many people are looking to have a festive holiday with a frugal budget.

Recently, an old acquaintance has come back into the holiday shopping mix. Layaway is a payment plan option for buying big ticket items in installments without using a credit card. Many retailers offer layaway plans throughout the holiday shopping season, including department, jewelry, appliance, and electronic stores. If you are considering using a layaway plan consider these tips.

Know what you can afford

Before entering into a layaway plan decide how much you can afford to spend and develop a budget. Don’t purchase an item on a layaway plan without shopping around for the best price. Make sure the item is affordable and you can pay it off within a reasonable time frame.

Read the fine print

Understand the terms and conditions of the layaway plan before signing on the dotted line. Make sure you understand the length of the payment plan, interest rates, and what happens if you fail to pay.

Understand the store’s return policy

You may buy something and decide you don’t want it half way through the layaway plan. Understanding the merchant’s return policy is crucial when paying for something over time. Do you get all or some of your money back? Will the merchant only offer store credit? Is the item even returnable once a layaway plan is set up? What if you need to make an exchange? These are questions to consider.

Consider other payment options

Often, as consumers we will buy items as an instant gratification – especially when there is a “buy now, pay later” option available. Instead try saving for a major purchase. This way you won’t have to use in-store financing or a credit card.

For more helpful tips on layaways, read the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Alert called Layaway: Another Way to Buy, and check us out at Should Layaway Go Away?


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Avoid holiday scams, shams, and flimflams!

Can you tell a fake charity from a real one? 



Con artists work year-round, but the holiday season is when they kick into high gear. Old tricks, new tricks – watch MMI’s “Avoiding Holiday Scams” video and learn how to spot them. Money reporter Stacy Johnson has tips on how to avoid being a victim. 

Watch the Avoiding Holiday Scams video 











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All in the family

Don't let financial strain break your bonds

While stress caused by financial worries can be detrimental to your physical health – it can also be detrimental to the health of your relationships.

According to a Money Management International (MMI) study on debt, 27 percent of Americans indicated the area of their lives they felt is most impacted by financial worries is their marriage. And, in a 2010 study on love and money, 56 percent of married couples who were unhappy indicated financial issues as the source of their dissatisfaction.

So it’s no secret that financial worries can negatively impact your family life. But the good news is there are steps you can take to build a stronger and more financially secure future for your family:

Open the lines of communication. Having an open and honest discussion about your financial past and future is vital to your family’s financial success. Approaching money issues honestly and openly gives you a much better chance at a strong, healthy financial relationship.

Appoint a family CFO. The family CFO is the family member who is responsible for the family finances – paying the bills, tracking the budget, and managing savings. While most families have one person who is in charge of the family budget, it’s essential that all family members understand the financial situation of the family, as well as the short-term and long-term financial goals.

Establish goals. Setting goals and keeping them are two different matters. It’s important to create goals that are both specific and achievable. Make sure your goals are equally rewarding so that you’re both working towards the same goal. Depend on each other for support, and encourage one another to stay focused and committed.

Spend quality time. Schedule a time to meet each month to discuss your financial goals and expectations. Review your budget regularly in order to identify problem areas. Don’t be discouraged by the occasional setback. Make adjustments as often as needed to ensure financial success.

Don’t be afraid to admit you may need help. In some cases you may find that your financial situation is beyond what you can handle. In this instance it might be beneficial to seek a third party, such as a credit counselor, who can help you review your spending and budget and give you options you can discuss with your family.

With such far-reaching impacts, tackling debt can feel overwhelming – especially when it’s affecting your family relationships. This is why MMI wants to make the process as easy as possible by offering consumers free debt and budget counseling. Because we know that getting out of debt does more than improve your finances – it improves your life.

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Tips for Success

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Update your account balances online. When you receive your monthly statement from your creditors, login to your MMI account and update your balances. It is important that we have the most accurate balance information possible on file. 

If you would like more information about signing up for a Debt Management Plan through Money Management International, visit

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
866.530.9869 or visit

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