Layaway has long been God's gift to the Christmas shopper...unless you run across that odd store that didn't do it or did it in a weird way that wasn't really helpful.

My mother used to start holiday shopping in August. She would just put everything on layaway. Life was simple.

And, as an occasional Walmart shopper, I've appreciated the availability of the retail giant's layaway program even if I haven't used it nearly as much as others. Hey, it's just a great way to shop if you're on a budget, but I don't have to tell YOU that.

What I do have to tell you, perhaps unfortunately, is that Walmart is doing away with seasonal layaway, but they're doing so in favor of what they hope is an equally viable alternative.

But there is a hitch. Unlike layaway, Walmart's new buy now/pay later program--Affirm--operates like a credit card wherein customers will be able to see, at checkout, the amount of interest they'll pay. And while shoppers will see special opportunities from time to time like 0% APR offers, an FAQ section on Walmart's website indicates that 10-30% APR is what most will encounter depending on individual credit status.

Purchases between $144 and $799.99 may be financed for anywhere from 3 to 12 months. If the purchases range from $800 to $2,000, customers may be able to finance from between 12 and 24 months, again, depending on eligibility.

Layaway has been an enormous help to shoppers for nearly a century. As you might have guessed, its origins date back to the Great Depression. And I guess, since my parents were children during that decade and had memories of it, that's why they--and my grandparents--would use the phrase "on time." As in, "Surely, they'll let you pay for it 'on time.'"

Maybe credit cards DID curb the need for layaway as time went on, but members of my family have always taken advantage of it. Here's hoping Walmart's new plan will prove equally beneficial to its patrons.

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[SOURCE: WTHR-Indianapolis]