Part 2: Cons of Layaway

What to know about layaway

Layaway offers convenience and gives you another option for buying your holiday gifts. Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good – layaway has several disadvantages you also need to consider:

What to know about layaway

1. Fees

Layaway fees can be exorbitant, especially for smaller purchases. For example, paying a $10 service fee on a $600 laptop may be acceptable, but paying a $10 service fee for a $50 toaster means adding a preposterous 20% to the total cost. Unless you’re worried about a hot ticket item selling out before the holidays, wait until you have the cash to buy smaller items to avoid service fees.

2. Down Payments

Unlike a credit card, most layaway programs require that you pay a down payment before the store will hold your purchases. Down payment amounts vary by store, but some stores can charge up to 10%, a sizable fee for big-ticket items.

3. Strict Payment Terms

Many layaway programs come with strict payment terms. For example, one retailer may require you to make a payment in-store every two weeks until you pay off the purchases. Under these terms, you’ll have to drive to the store every other week to make a small payment.

Other policies may allow you to pay on your own schedule but require that you make your final payment by a certain date. If you miss that date, you risk losing the items. When you put something on layaway, you have to deal with the retailer for several weeks.

4. Potential Losses

People enter into layaway programs with the best of intentions, but things happen. You may pay off half of your purchase, but then realize you cannot pay for it entirely. Or you might realize that you no longer want the item after making payments for several weeks.

You will not lose the money you paid if you do not complete your layaway agreement, but you will have to pay more fees. Most stores charge a cancellation fee for unhonored or canceled layaway agreements, and some stores charge an additional restocking fee to put the items back on the shelves.

5. Not Available for Every Purchase

Retailers typically put a limit on the type of purchases you can place on layaway. For example, a retailer may only offer layaway for electronics, jewelry, or other big-ticket items, but if you want to use layaway to pay for a popular toy, you may have to go to another retailer.

Other stores may place a minimum dollar limit on their layaway program. In this case, you would not be allowed to put any individual item with a price tag beneath the limit on layaway, even if your total purchase was over the limit.

Final Word

If you need to finance a few of your holiday gifts this year but do not qualify for a credit card or in-store financing, layaway is a great option. The program also works if you want to try to avoid racking up more credit card debt this holiday season.

However, before you put any purchases on layaway, look at your budget and make sure you can cover the full cost of the purchases by the due date. If you cannot make timely payments, the store will charge you fees. They may also cancel your layaway program, keeping your purchases – and your money.

While layaway is a good option to pay for a pricey gift, you can often find a better deal shopping at holiday sales or looking for gently used items. For example, you can find many good deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can also check Craigslist and eBay for gently used or new items at a reduced price.

Have you used layaway before? How was your experience?

Part 1: Pros of Layaway and What to Know

What to know about layaway

The holiday season is usually very profitable and puts retailers in the black. They use all sorts of tactics to increase spending from the consumer. Stores have pulled out all the stops. One area they may target customers is by offering Layaway.

Layaway isn’t always the best option. Every layaway program has pros and cons you must consider before signing on the dotted line.

What to know about layaway

First, What Is Layaway?

Layaway is a purchasing model in which a buyer places a deposit on an item they wish to purchase to “lay it away” for later pick-up. Layaway also lets customers make smaller payments on the item until the purchase is paid in full.

Layaway works differently than shopping with credit cards or using installment billing plans. With layaway you make payments over time, but your purchases stay in the store until you finish paying for them.

While every store has their own rules, most layaway programs follow the same four basic process:

  • You pick out the items you want to put on layaway. Many stores only offer layaway for items in certain departments only, such as toys, jewelry or electronics.
  • You make a down payment. The down payment varies by store. Some stores let you choose the amount, while others charge an amount based on your total purchase price. Usually 10% of purchase price.
  • Depending on the stores policy you make small payments over time. They can be weekly, biweekly, or even monthly payments.
  • You pick up your items once you pay off the total purchase price plus any layaway fees.

What are Layaway Fees?

Beware of the fees. While every store has a slightly different policy, stores can charge some or all of these fees:

  • Service Fee. Typically $5 -$10 The service fee covers the store’s cost of processing multiple payments and holding the item.
  • Cancellation Fee. Most stores charge a cancellation fee if you decide to cancel your layaway plan, or if you cannot make all the payments by the due date.
  • Restocking Fee. Many stores charge a restocking fee if you do not follow through with the Layaway by not making your payments or don’t finish paying for your products by the due date.

Pros of Layaway Plans

Comparative to other methods of financing purchases, layaway may be your best option for the following reasons:

1. Purchasing Interest-Free

There are no interest charges on your purchases. Even with the fees, layaway may cost less than paying for your holiday purchases by charging by credit card.

For example, suppose that in December you charge a $1000 TV to a credit card with interest at 24% APR (annual percentage rate) If you pay the total off in February, you’ll have paid one month’s interest, or $20 This makes the $5 service fee not seem so bad, and in this case layaway is clearly the better option.

2. Gives More Buying Options

For those who do not have a credit card or do not wish to get a store card layaway is a good alternative to pay for purchases. If you have a credit card but would like to make it through the holidays without charging all of your gifts, layaway may be the best option for you.

3. Availability of High-Demand Items

Layaway comes in handy during the busy holiday season when popular electronics and toys can sell out quickly. Putting a popular item on layaway now guarantees you will have it when you need it for Christmas.

4. Available Online

Some retailers even offer layaway through their online stores for your purchases. Online layaway saves you the hassle of waiting in long lines, dealing with crowds of holiday shoppers, or from going to several stores looking for a popular item.

5. Easy Acceptance

Unlike a credit card, layaway programs do not check income or credit checks before approval. To qualify for layaway all you need is proof of identification showing that you are at least 18 years of age and a down payment. Since acceptance policies are generally pretty relaxed, even people with past credit problems can qualify for a layaway program.

General Tips on Limiting Moving Costs, Part 2

tips limiting moving costs

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the tactics you can take to limit the cost of moving. Making a significant move will come with a few unavoidable costs, to be sure, but there are ways you can limit these fairly significantly depending on your budget.

At Utah Money Center, our title loans and signature loans are great formats for those who need a little bit of extra cash for a move or a variety of other purposes. We’ve been providing Utahns with these valuable pieces of assistance since 2005, and we’ll do the same for you. Here are some additional tips on how to limit your moving costs to stay within your budget.
tips limiting moving costs

DIY Packing

While some choose to hire professional movers for their project, you can save significant funds by doing your own packing if this is a realistic option. Movers will charge for not only their time but also the materials being moved – you can search for the best packing rates, something we went over in part one, but even the lowest rates still come with a cost.

In some cases, those moving choose to do the packing on their own, then hire movers just for the purpose of carrying and transporting the boxes. This is a middle-ground option that will be more affordable than full-on moving services.

Friend or Neighbor Assistance

Another great way to get some of the labor involved in your move covered at a cheap cost is asking for assistance from friends, family or even your neighbors. Even if you just involve these folks for a few big-item movement needs, you can save a significant sum you would have otherwise paid to movers. Don’t be a jerk and force a friend or family member to perform your entire move for you, but feel free to lean on this kind of assistance here and there.

Selling Unused Items

A move is a perfect time to go through your belongings and figure out if there are unused or unwanted items you can sell for some additional cash. Whether you choose to sell these using a yard sale on your property or through an online service like Craigslist, this can be a major boon to your budget if you have many such items sitting around. You also reduce the weight and number of items involved in the move, saving you time and costs there as well.

Receipts and Tax Deductions

Finally, did you realize that many or all moving expenses can be deducted from your taxes? When you fill out a Form 1040 during tax season, many moving costs are eligible for full deductions from taxable income, so be sure to save all your moving receipts and document any additional costs.

For more on how to save money during a move, or to learn about any of our short-term loans and how they might assist you, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.

General Tips on Limiting Moving Costs, Part 1

tips limiting moving costs

At Utah Money Center, we’re happy to provide a variety of solutions for those looking for some quick cash, including affordable title loans and quality signature loans. Our cash loan types are often used for those in need of a little assistance before a significant expense, and a common expense found here is the cost of moving.

Depending on the size of the spaces involved, the number of people and the quantity of items, moving can range from a relatively simple and inexpensive process to a large-scale operation that comes with some significant costs. In addition to our excellent loan products that will help you cover any tough cost areas, this two-part blog series will dig into some general tips on reducing your overall moving costs without impacting the quality of the move itself.

tips limiting moving costs


Boxes can often make up a significant portion of a move’s expenses, but there are also several potential sources of free boxes to consider. Businesses like grocery stores, liquor stores, department stores and many chains will sometimes give away their used boxes for free, and local recycling centers may as well.

In addition, there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with driving behind a local strip mall area to collect intact boxes thrown out by businesses. You can also check online sources for boxes, such as Craigslist, KSL or others.

Limiting Clutter

The time before a move is a great chance to organize and de-clutter the home, including getting rid of wide range of items that might waste your time during the move. This is particularly important if you’re using a moving company – they tend to charge based on shipment weight, so reducing the overall haul will directly save you money (we’ll discuss moving companies more in a moment).

Time of Year

While you can’t always dictate the time of year you move during, it’s best to avoid peak moving season if you have any control over this factor. Peak season is considered to be the range between May and August, and things like truck rentals or professional movers tend to be most expensive during this period. If you can target something outside this range, you’d be surprised just how much you can save.

Moving Company Considerations

If you’re thinking about using a moving company, whether for an in-state or out-of-state move, you should solicit bids from at least three quality moving companies before making your final decision. Get these estimates in person, not over the phone, and be as precise as you can. Also consider reviews and recommendations when hiring movers, as quality can vary widely within this field.

For more on how to save money during a move, or to learn about any of our signature or title loans, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.

Budgeting Areas for Planning Summer Vacations, Part 2

budgeting planning summer vacations

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some general budgeting tips for planning a summer or fall vacation. Planning such trips is often a matter of proper advanced planning and controlling your spending, and with the right attention to detail you can take a great family vacation without a major cost incurred.

At Utah Money Center, we’re proud of the way our various installment loan programs, from vehicle title loans to signature loans and many options in between, help clients with budgeting and small financial hiccups. Let’s look at a few other ways you can be smart about your money leading up to a trip, allowing for a fun time for you and the entire family without breaking the bank.
budgeting planning summer vacations

Item Cleanout and Sale

Can you look around your home and identify all sorts of items you haven’t used or even looked at in decades? Do you have an entire attic full of these kinds of things, even? If so, take a weekend to clean and organize all these items – and then look for any profits you can gain off them.

Whether this is through a neighborhood garage sale, online listings or some combination of the two, you might be surprised how you can bolster your budget this way. And once you have these additional funds, which you never expected to have to begin with, they can boost your vacation planning fund right away.

Part-Time Work

Another way to build up a little cash, at least for those whose schedules allow them to do so, is picking up a small side-hustle for a few months. If you can accomplish this without making major changes to your lifestyle, it can be a great, low-stress way to add to your vacation budget. Many such opportunities don’t require a long-term commitment, either.

Group Trips

If you’re looking into a particular location that might be a bit too pricy for you or the family alone, consider linking up with a group rental. There are several such options out there, from splitting a weekly rental as a group to attending separately but paying together. You can also save additional money by cooking together as a group rather than going out to expensive restaurants on your trip.

Transportation Format

Finally, consider the destination of your planned trip: Is it close enough that you could consider a road trip instead of more expensive plane flights? The larger your group is, the more you save by traveling via the road rather than ponying up for a plane ticket for each individual.

For more on how to properly budget and save for an upcoming vacation, or to learn about how any of our signature or title loans benefit you in several budgeting areas, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.

Budgeting Areas for Planning Summer Vacations, Part 1

budgeting planning summer vacations

At Utah Money Center, it’s our continuous goal to assist our clients with any area of expense they may have. Our car and truck title loans, signature loans and other affordable cash loans are great for everything from emergencies to temporary funding needs, and are used by clients for a wide variety of purposes.

One area you may need a few additional dollars for this summer: Your family or personal vacation. In addition to our assistance, this two-part blog will dig into several ways you can save money here – both in advance of the trip for planning purposes, and during the trip so you aren’t left short on cash when you return. Here are some areas to consider.

budgeting planning summer vacations

Advanced Planning

For starters, establish a budget for your trip in advance and begin figuring out how you will save the required money. Lay out your monthly income and expenses next to each other, giving you a basic idea of how much you might be able to put aside for the upcoming trip.

From here, consider the possible expenses that will be in play for the trip you want to take – airfare, lodging expenses, food and other important areas. Then, combine these areas for a comprehensive plan.

Cutting Expenses

If you’re coming up a bit short on the funds you need, look for little ways to cut your expenses for a few months leading up to the trip. Cut down on your meals out, for instance, or limit your recreational spending for a couple months knowing you’ll get a big reward at the end in the form of a fantastic trip.

Vacation Savings Account

We all like to think we’re perfectly disciplined with our money, but the reality is this: When money is available, it’s more likely to be spent. For this reason, we recommend setting up a vacation savings account that separates funds you’ve earmarked for the trip. Your bank should offer a simple automatic transfer service that allows this, which you can use however often you prefer.

Limit Impulse Spending

While you’re preparing for your trip, spend money only in areas of true need. When you go to the grocery store, for instance, make a specific list of items you need and don’t deviate from it, even if you see something that looks highly appetizing. Taking this same theme across several spending areas could leave you with a nice windfall of additional cash.

Pay With Cash

Both on your trip and in advance, do your best to pay with cash whenever you can. Studies have shown that those who use debit or credit are more likely to spend a higher amount – the plastic card makes many people feel like they have unlimited funds, where cash in your wallet is visible and you can see it leaving your possession. This subtle psychological change could save you more than you may have ever considered.

For more on how to save for a summer vacation, or to learn about any of our affordable cash loans for additional assistance, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.

Factors and Weights in Credit Score Calculation

weights credit score calculation

For virtually any type of loan out there, credit score is an important factor to at least some degree. It’s often the determining factor between whether you can or can’t qualify for certain standard loan programs, and is also important for the kinds of lending thresholds you can qualify for within signature loans and other personal loan options.

At Utah Money Center, we offer several affordable cash loan solutions for those who require a brief financial boost for one of several reasons. Understanding your credit score and what goes into it can often help you secure the best possible terms for our loan types and many others – with this in mind, here are some basics on the factors that contribute to your credit score, how they’re weighted, and what your final number is telling you about your credit.

weights credit score calculation

Credit Score Weights

When using the FICO credit score, by far the most common type today, weights for credit score are relatively simple. While the precise formula used here is not public, FICO has published the primary factors that contribute to obtaining your final credit score:

  • Payment history (35 percent of your score’s weight): Simply put, how well have you repaid various lines of credit in the past? If you’ve missed payments or have several late payments on your record, this will ding your score, as will payments made under the minimum amount required.
  • Credit limit used (30 percent): Total up all your credit accounts and their combined credit limits – what percentage of this limit are you currently using? If possible, keeping this number at or below 30 percent will keep your credit score in good shape. If this number rises above 40 percent, on the other hand, it will ding your score.
  • Credit history (15 percent): In this case, history refers to the length of time your accounts have been in active use. The longer a history you can provide, the better it will reflect on your score.
  • Credit mix (10 percent): Are you using more than one credit account type?
  • New credit accounts (10 percent): While it’s good to have both older and newer credit accounts that show diversity, you should avoid opening too many new accounts – doing this will raise red flags and possibly lower your score.

Credit Score Ranges

So how do you tell if you have a good credit score? FICO scores range from 300 at the low end to 850 maximum, and this is a general range for how scores are evaluated by lenders:

  • 800+: Excellent
  • 740-799: Very good
  • 670-739: Average
  • 580-669: Fair
  • Under 580: Poor

If you’re wondering how credit score impacts your ability to get certain signature or title loans, or if you’re interested in any of our programs, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.

Responsible Behavior When Utilizing Signature Loans

responsible utilizing signature loans

Within any loan borrowing situation, whether we’re talking a jumbo mortgage loan all the way to a car title loan, responsibility on the part of the borrower is important. This refers to paying back the loan amount in the required period of time, of course, but also refers to other areas, such as how the loan balance is applied and the approach you take to using it to benefit you.

At Utah Money Center, we’re proud to offer several options for those in a quick financial bind, including car title loans and signature loans. While these loans are often meant to help you make ends meet for a temporary period before being paid back, it’s still vital to borrow responsibly and take an intelligent approach to your application of loan funds. Here are a few important areas we can offer advice in when it comes to being responsible with your loan.

responsible utilizing signature loans

Purpose for Loan

For starters, especially when it comes to signature or car title loans that come with relatively quick repayment periods, it’s essential to have a distinct purpose for the loan amount. These are not the kinds of loans that should be taken out on a whim – they should be in response to some specific event or set of events that leaves you in need of some quick cash.

You should be able to identify exactly what the cash will be used for, and you should do your best to create a legitimate estimate of the funds needed for this purpose so you don’t borrow more or less than you actually need. This will prevent you from risking default or being forced to take out another separate loan.

Strategy You’re Taking

Not only should you have a purpose in mind for the money you’re borrowing, you should have a specific plan for how the funds will be utilized once you receive them. If you’re planning to apply the money in multiple areas, such as to cover bills or expenses, write out an itemized list including the exact amounts for each and when they’re due. From here, be sure to check them off when they are completed.

Example Areas

A few basic examples of areas where borrowers apply and utilize funds from signature or title loans:

  • Consolidating balances: If you have several outstanding debts, one of these loan types can allow you to pay off several of them while consolidating them. Many of these loan types will come with lower interest rates than credit cards.
  • Home investments: Another common purpose for signature or title loans is a home remodel or rebuilding project, such as a new roof, a new landscaping element or a finished basement.
  • Credit score: In other cases, borrowers utilize these loans to help bolster their credit score. Taking such a loan and they repaying it on time can both establish a payment history and work toward improving your score for the future.

For more on borrowing responsibly in a signature or title loan situation, or to learn about any of our title or signature loan services, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.

Tips on Avoiding Harmful Identity Theft Risks, Part 2

avoiding identity theft risks

In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some basic areas for avoiding the risks of identity theft. This kind of unsavory behavior continues to rise each year in modern times, and it can present major financial and personal hardship if you don’t protect yourself.

At Utah Money Center, we can provide title loans, signature loans and other forms of temporary financial assistance for those harmed by past identity theft – or those requiring a bit of help for a variety of other reasons. Here are some additional protection areas we can recommend for avoiding identity theft to begin with, however.

avoiding identity theft risks

Check Credit Report

In previous decades, it would have cost you money and potentially lowered your score to check your credit report. Today, though, more recent laws allow everyone to view their credit report at least once a year for free and with no penalty.

You should be taking advantage of this ability for several reasons, one of which is to help avoid identity theft. Thoroughly go over your yearly credit report to check for accuracy, plus to ensure no charges come up that aren’t connected to you. Look for any suspicious behavior or evidence that your identity may have been compromised.

Mailing Bills

If you’re still paying bills using direct mail formats rather than using online resources or automated payments, we have one important suggestion for you to avoid identity theft: Don’t mail these kinds of bills directly out of your own mailbox.

Unfortunately, one of the simplest forms of identity theft remains thieves who raid mailboxes and gain personal information this way. If you must mail bills or any sensitive financial information at all, do so at the post office or in a certified drop box that you know is secure.

Protecting SSN

Another vital element to protecting your identity is your social security number, which you should keep safe at all times. For starters, do not carry this card on you on a daily basis – keep it in a file at home or even in a safety-deposit box at a bank. You should have this number memorized if you ever need to use it.

In addition, never use your SSN or any part of it as a password, username or any other online identifier. Never give it out over the phone or via email.

Credit Monitoring

On top of checking your own credit score, you can utilize one of many services that helps track things here for you year-round. Many banks and other financial institutions include credit and fraud monitoring as parts of certain accounts or programs, and there are many standalone services here as well if yours does not.

For more on protecting yourself from identity theft, or to learn about any of our signature loans, title loans or other assistance services, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.

Tips on Avoiding Harmful Identity Theft Risks

avoiding identity theft risks

At Utah Money Center, we’re proud to assist people who are in brief financial binds and need some quick cash. Through our programs like title loans, signature loans and others, we’re able to get you the funds you need quickly and with limited hassle so you can stay on track with your overall finances.

We’re also here, however, to help clients with general financial literacy and improving their savviness here. One common reason why folks are sometimes looking to our programs for quick cash is due to a recent identity theft issue that hurt their finances – this two-part blog will go over several tips we can offer on avoiding identity theft before you’re ever at risk.

avoiding identity theft risks

“Check ID” on Cards

When you get a new credit card, you’ll have the option to place your signature on the back side of it in a little box area. This is ostensibly to prove your identity.

However, we recommend avoiding this box – it’s not really as secure as you might think. Instead of using your signature here, we advise writing the words “Check ID” in this space, which will prompt clerks and other people who might be taking your card to verify your signature or card use with a photo ID like a driver’s license. This means that in any case where your card happens to be stolen, the person trying to use it will not be able to.

Checking Statements

You should receive monthly statements from your bank, whether these come in the mail or you’ve switched to electronic statements. Many people simply discard these each month unless they have something specific to check, but we recommend you pay a bit closer attention – just check the report against your basic records for the month and ensure everything matches. One quick way to spot identity theft is by noting purchases you did not make.

Avoiding Paper Trail

If you do receive paper statements, or any other form of paper documentation of your finances, be sure to shred or burn these when discarding them. This will stop identity thieves who go diving in dumpsters to find old receipts and card information, which can be the beginning of your identity being compromised.

Keep Your PIN Private

No matter where you are, whether it’s your local ATM or giving bank information over the phone, be careful with your bank PIN and other password information. Cover keypads when out in public, and if needed while on the phone, move to a private location where no one around you can hear your information while you talk.

Limit Info on Checks

Similar to our note above about signatures on cards, we recommend limiting the personal information on your checks as well. Your name is fine, but we recommend avoiding address, driver’s license information or other information. Many people even choose to abbreviate their first name, and we encourage this as well if you’re considering it. This is all to protect you in a case where a check or group of checks is stolen.

For more on protecting yourself from identity theft, or to learn about any of our title or signature loan options, speak to the staff at Utah Money Center today.