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Dave Says: 'Why not just budget and save for holidays?'

Dear Dave,

I've never heard you talk about store layaway programs. With Christmas coming, I wanted to ask your opinion of using layaway for buying gifts.


Dear Meg,

If you know me, you probably have a good idea what's coming next. I'm not a huge fan of layaway programs, because they're not the answer to a problem. I mean, Christmas comes at the same time every year. It's not like it snuck up on you. What's wrong with just saving up money for Christmas ahead of time?

Here's a good rule of thumb: if you don't have the money on hand, you can't afford it. Now, sometimes there are instances when certain popular items are on sale, and you can take advantage of them through layaway if you don't have enough cash at that very moment. I don't have a huge problem with this sort of thing, as long as it's not habitual behavior, and you're already saving money and living on a budget. Still, I would never, ever recommend using a layaway plan with fees attached.

It may be too late to budget for this Christmas, but I want you to make plans to start living on a written, monthly budget in January. Make it a resolution! Give every dollar a name, on paper, before the upcoming month begins. You can include Christmas spending in those monthly budgets, too. If you set aside a little bit each month from January until next December, you won't have to worry about layaways or Christmas debt.

Remember, Christmas is about God and it's about love. There are many, many ways to bless people and make them happy without overextending yourself financially!


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