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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Retro Money Management: Lay-Aways and Bartering

Lay-away and barter -- are these "old-fashioned concepts" back in fashion?

Dr. Elizabeth Warren reports, in the blog Credit Slips, "If we needed evidence of the constriction of consumer credit, here it is. K-Mart is advertising the layaway plan that department stores used for decades before the free flow of credit turned the layaway plan into a relic. "

As she points out, "With Mastercard and Visa cards handed out like cheap candy, layaway plans had nearly disappeared. The old-fashioned method for budgeting--pay a few bucks each week on your purchases--made no sense to millions of customers who could take the goods home and pay a little each month forever after."

Lay-away plans may make sense for many people this holiday season. And, wouldn't it be nice to have your holiday purchases paid for rather than receive large credit card bills in 2009?

With dollars tight, bartering is another option to consider to stretch your dollars.

Family members, including those who don't have a paid job, can contribute to the family's resources by bartering. Be creative. List your skills, talents, and interests. Next, try to match your skills and talents to community needs.

Think about what you'd like help with as well as what you do well. Do you have a bountiful summer garden? Perhaps you can trade fresh flowers and vegetables for help with car maintenance? Are you handy with home repairs, but hate doing taxes. Here's an opportunity to barter.

Over the years, I've bartered for child care, haircuts, bicycle repairs, yard work, and more. What types of things have you bartered for in the past? What could you do now? Click on my name below and let me know if bartering has been successful for you, or not.

For other money-saving tips, go to Plan Well, Retire Well and visit the Start Savings section. Online calculators and ideas for saving money will jumpstart your efforts.

Reply from Becky, Los Gatos, CA: I've done some bartering in my writing circle--as an editor, I feel like I have something to offer other writers. I tend to do critiques of manuscripts in "trade" (or usually thanks!) to another author who's let me pick their brain, who's given me time out of their busy day to braindump with me about marketing or teaching or publishing stuff. I find the best resources are from live people doing what I might want to do. And they never let me buy them lunch, so... :)

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