Create Your Own Layaway Plan.

Recently, I have seen a bunch of ads on TV for layaway plans at big box stores. I had no idea that layaway even still existed, as I only remember it from when I was a small child at our local Kmart – and have not seen it since then. Layaway plans are great for people who do not want to charge items they need to credit cards and who have the time to make weekly/monthly payments until said items are paid off. They offer an interest-free way of buying products without going into debt, which can be especially useful for some families. And really, they did wonders to teach people discipline about spending – you couldn’t have what you wanted until you had paid for it in full! The easy availability of credit has taken much of that discipline away, and people end up paying a lot of interest on every day purchases, which is not a good way to live. To help you get back on track with your spending, you can do the layaway plans at your favorite store (if they offer it) – or you can create your own layaway plan right at home.

Shopping with the Israeloffs
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nick Shine

With layaway plans, you don’t get to take your items home until they are paid off. So really, why not just start to put money aside a few months in advance of your need, and then take that money to the store to pay for your shopping? For example, you could start setting aside a few dollars a week at the end of the school year, so that come August and back to school time, you have the money ready to buy the stuff your kids need for school. Shopping on a budget is much easier when you plan in advance like this! It removes some of the stress from things like back to school shopping while also helping you to learn to budget and use your money more effectively.

Too often, families fail to do any planning in advance for the necessities in life – which leads to them falling behind on debt payments. While layaway plans can help, they are not available everywhere like they used to be. Learning to create your own layaway plans for the things that you want helps you really understand the value of your dollar – something that is sorely missing in today’s consumer-driven world. Take the time to budget and have respect for how your money is spent!


Sunday Money Roundup – Weeds, Weeds, Weeds Edition.

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours doing yard work at my house. The ragweed had taken over my lawn while I was on vacation, so I came back to what looked like a patch of rainforest in South America – and it took me that long to try to pull all of it out and ready it for burning! While I take it easy today with some reading and a few beers, here are some articles that caught my eye over the past week. Enjoy!

Money Ning answers the question “How to Determine Whether an Alternative is Good Enough“.

Cash Money Life, who just added a baby to their family, talks about the unexpected ways having a baby changed their budget. Congrats again Patrick!

Generation X Finance advises you Not to Waste Money Financing a Car for More Than 3-5 Years. 5 years is the max I would ever go for sure!

Debt Free Adventure has some great advice for paying off debt while saving an emergency fund called The Balanced 75/25 Method.

Being Frugal wrote the kind of post I truly love, about looking at the big picture. A must read.

Consumerism Commentary discusses the Take Back The Beep Campaign. Never heard of it? You should.

Frugal Dad tells you about some places for you to Save Birthday Money For Kids.

Moolanomy reminds us all that the best way to save money is to make it automatic. I have money sent from my checking to my savings account every week!

Free Money Finance had a guest post on the site titled “Your Job, Your Investments, and Total Diversification“. It’s a very good read and one you shouldn’t miss.

Almost Frugal wants you to rethink your shopping patterns. Is this something you need to do?


Money Quote Friday – If It Were Doubled Edition.

You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” –Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Ain’t that the truth. Have a great weekend everyone!


Using Cash For Clunkers, But Against The Stimulus?

Yesterday on Twitter I was having a conversation with someone who asked a very interesting question – “I wonder how many people who were always against the stimulus are now turning in their clunker for a $4,500 gift from the government?“. I think it’s an important question to ask, as if you are against stimulus money, why would you take some of it? After all, the less you take, the less the debt might be from it. The Governors of Texas and Louisiana, at one point, said they weren’t going to take the stimulus money – but then Gov. Bobby Jindal (Lousiana) proceeded to present a check for slightly over $500,000 in grants to Vernon Parish. Jindal made no mention of the source of the money during his presentation. Instead, the large ceremonial check proclaimed the source of the funds to be “The State Of Louisiana, Office Of The Governor.” He took the stimulus money he had been railing against just a few days before and presented it to this parish, on TV, as if it was from the Governor himself. Isn’t there something seriously wrong with this picture? I mean, this is exactly the kind of question I am asking about this cash for clunkers deal; is it OK to constantly try to derail and put down the stimulus, but then take advantage of it and add to any possible deficit that comes from it? How about being for the bailout of big banks, but not for car makers or the unemployed?

I think it’s one thing to be adamantly against the stimulus package based on your own principles and political leanings; that’s perfectly fine and dandy. In fact, I totally respect it if you stick to that and don’t take a dime of stimulus money where you can help it – either from unemployment checks, the tax break in your paycheck, or the cash for clunkers program. If you truly believe that the stimulus won’t work and that it will only lead to higher deficits, then by all means – don’t take advantage of it! But what about those that put it down – yet still use it? Isn’t that just a tad hypocritical? Taking stimulus money, through the cash for clunkers program or some other means, even though it could lead to higher deficits in your opinion, just seems plain wrong. How can you say something is a bad idea, but then take full advantage of it to either A. increase the money you take home each week, or buy a new car with the government’s help, or collect unemployment checks for a full 9 months instead of 6?

What do you think? I am interested in hearing from both sides on this, as I want to get different perspectives than my own. You know how I feel – how do you feel?


How Is Stimulus Money Being Used In Your Town?

As you probably know, I just got back from a cross-country and back road trip. I drove all the way to the east coast from New Mexico, with each way taking about 3.5 days. On the way east I took I-80 all the way to upstate New York, where I jumped on I-90, and on the way west I took I-70 (just for some different scenery!) – and I hit a lot of construction on all 3 highways…most of which was being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. How did I know this? Because at every construction site, on every closed lane, and for every bridge closed for repairs (including the Mississippi), I came across the signs telling me so. They look like this:

From right outside Denver and all the way to Boston and back to Denver, I must have seen at least 30-40 different construction zones, all with many, many workers digging, paving, restructuring, disassembling, etc – and I was happy to see it. Sure, it occasionally slowed down my trip, but I was psyched that all these people were at work earning a living. Agree or disagree with the stimulus, (I agree – nice to see govt money helping people instead of banks, if its going to be used), it is putting some people to work across the country rebuilding our infrastructure. And if they are doing all this work (and the other projects being talked about) with only 14% of the stimulus money being handed out so far, there should be a lot more work being done in the coming months. Which leads me to the reason for this post – Are you seeing stimulus money being spent in your town? Here in Taos, we got our dilapidated street in the center of town repaved and repainted – much to the excitement of the locals. But what about where you live and/or travel? Are you seeing projects funded by the stimulus? I really am curious to see where and how the money is being spent in different areas, after seeing all the construction on our nation’s highways!

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