smart spending

8 essential things to know about layaway

What if I miss a payment?
What if I miss a payment? | Corepics VOF/Shutterstock.com

What if I miss a payment?

Ask what happens to your money and your item if you can't make the payments or you change your mind.

"Find out what the fees are and whether there are penalties for late or missed payments," says Samter. "What happens to your contract?"

Also ask about returns. "Some stores have different return policies for layaway merchandise," she says.

Be sure to find out what happens if you make the payments but your items aren't there when you go to pick them up -- or worse, when it's crunch time. In those cases, it's reasonable to expect the retailer to make it right, for example, by giving you a refund or getting the item from another store location.

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