The layaway plan

It is unreasonable to think that we can earn rewards without being willing to pay their true price.
55 – 135 A.D.

Do you remember when buying bigger, more expensive items on layaway was a common thing? At one time, most department stores offered a layaway plan. While a few stores still offer these plans, for the most part, they’re a thing of the past. The widespread availability of credit cards has greatly diminished the need for layaway plans.

I don’t think I mind the layaway plan fading away, but I’m troubled by the shift in mindset that’s come with credit cards. With the layaway plan, you paid for the article over time with no interest. The store would hold the goods until you’d fully paid for them, so you paid the cost before you got the item.

Contrast that with what goes on with the credit card. Now, you simply swipe your plastic and walk out with the merchandise. You get the benefit immediately and delay the cost until later. And then you pay and pay, sometimes with exorbitant interest. Often you’re still paying for something long after you’ve forgotten what you purchased. And at times, what you purchased is not only forgotten, but long gone.

I think there’s been a gradual but significant shift in the way we think about things. In the past, we only expected to get things after we’d fully paid the price; purchasing an automobile or a house were the main exceptions. But with the widespread use of credit cards, we’ve developed a totally different mindset. We’ve come to accept the “buy now, pay later” mentality as a way of life.

This attitude is troublesome because it carries over to many other areas of our lives. We’ve come to expect instant gratification. We want the benefit now, with little or no regard to when and how we bear the cost.

We enter into unhealthy relationships which make us feel good at the moment but can have disastrous effects on our lives. We engage in “retail therapy,” buying unnecessary things to soothe some emotional need. We eat unhealthy foods for instant pleasure and seem surprised when the results start showing up in our weight and our cholesterol levels. We put off until tomorrow the things we should do today. And we let urgent tasks keep us from doing the important things in life.

We need to get back on a layaway plan where we pay the price first and delay the benefits. Education, exercise, dieting and savings are all real life examples of paying first and reaping the benefits later. There is no one thing that will yield greater benefit in your life than developing the habit of paying first.

It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.
Aesop’s Fables
c. 550 B.C.

Copyright © 2017 John Chancellor


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