Layaway makes comeback, beware of pitfalls

It's only the second week in September. So, why am I talking about holiday layaway plans today?

Because the big marketing push for layaway is already underway.

Layaway is an old-fashioned idea that's been growing in popularity; buy something you want without going into debt.

Consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky, founder of, says if you decided to use layaway, you've got to know the rules - and there are lots of them.

"What categories of goods are covered? What's the minimum amount that you have to put on layaway? What is the payment schedule? What is the deadline to pick it up? Are there cancellation fees? It's just not simple anymore," Dworsky says.

Even so, it's still a valuable service for people who don't have the money now and don't want to go into debt - especially if you can put something on layaway when it's on sale.

Wal-mart is making a big splash with its new "free layaway" program - with no opening fee. Dworsky points out that there is a $10 charge if you cancel.