Guest Post: The Do's and Don'ts of Layaway Plans


Andrea Woroch

Would you rather put holiday spending on your credit card or pay for it through a layaway program? Many Americans are opting for the latter, helping retrench these time-honored payment plans.

Walmart, Sears, Best Buy and TJ Maxx are just a few of the major merchants now offering layaway. In fact, Toys 'R Us has expanded its layaway program to include most toys, rather than just the big-ticket items.

Layaway nearly vanished before the recession, as credit card use grew in prominence. Stores preferred we swipe away because it was easier than handling all that paperwork. But with consumers leery of facing too much holiday debt -- and threatening to spend less this year in stores -- retailers began using layaway as a means of luring us back.

While this all sounds well and good, there are problems related to such programs. Here are a few "Do's" and "Don'ts" you should consider before making the leap.

Do Dissect the Fine Print
You'll have to sign a contract or layaway initiation form, which naturally contains a lot of vital information you could easily overlook. Don't let a long line or impatient clerk rush you through checking each detail so you know what to expect.

Do Consider Whether it's Worth the Origination Fee
There's a fair amount of paperwork, processing and labor involved in layaway plans, so stores charge a start-up fee for each order. Consider the amount of that charge is worthwhile compared to the overall total of your purchase.

Do Decide if You Really Need This Item
Should something happen and you decide not to go through with all payments, you'll likely have to pay a fee of roughly 25 to 30 percent of the total price of the layaway plan. That's a hefty fine for changing your mind, so make sure you really want the item before placing it on layaway.

Do Compare all Fees vs. Credit Card Charges
Add up the potential costs and consider whether you'd be better off placing a purchase on a credit card. According to a New York Times op-ed by Cornell professor Louis Hyman, a typical shopper could wind up paying far less interest by using a credit card, even if it has a fairly high APR. Plus, a credit card gives you purchase protection and, with some companies, price protection.

Don't Ignore the Internet
Don't let a sale combined with a layaway plan talk you into buying before researching your options. You'll often find better deals online and it's a lot easier to comparison shop with your mouse. Search for promo codes to use toward your coveted item, and then compare the total cost of the online purchase to what you'd ultimately pay by putting it on layaway.

Don't Neglect Your Expiration Date
There's a limit to how long Walmart will store your stuff. As with other stores, they want to move it before Christmas, so check to ensure you have enough time and cash to pay the entire debt off on time or you'll forfeit everything you've already paid. Mark that date on your calendar and make sure you make all payments before it hits.

Don't Forget About Automatic Withdrawals
Some merchants prefer to set-up automatic checking-account deductions, ostensibly to save you the hassle of coming in to make each payment. In actuality, it's just another way to make sure they get their money. Should one of those payments bounce, however, you'll be socked with a healthy overdraft fee from both the merchant and your bank. Once again, mark on your calendar the date each deduction will be made, so you can double check the balance in your account.

Don't Layway When You Can Pay
It's hard to part with cash during the holidays, when other expenses build up, but the fees you incur with a layaway plan aren't always worth it if you can pay cash now and avoid the hassle.

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc.

Stevie Awards for Women in Business Nov. 11th NYC

For your Business Event Listings, we thought your readers might like to know that the highly anticipated 8thAnnual Stevie Awards for Women in Business ( event will take place at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square on Friday, November 11.

This competition illuminates the accomplishments of outstanding women executives, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they run.   Entrepreneur and star of Bravo’s hit reality show, Real Housewives of New York,Ramona Singer will be amongst the distinguished group of Women in Business to accept a Stevie Award.

8th Annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business
Date:   Friday, November 11, 2011
Time:   5:30PM
Where: Marriott Marquis in Times Square

For a complete list of 2011 finalists by category, visit:
Tickets for the event are on sale now at

Getting to Know (and Like) the Social Mom

Nielsen’s recent Women of Tomorrow study highlighted not only the growing influence women have on purchasing decisions, but also provided insight into their behavior across social media. A key finding from this research illustrates that “social moms” (defined as females with at least one child who actively participate in social networking) are quite influential. A new study by NM Incite and Nielsen provides additional context on social mom’s content trends, shopping tendencies and overall social media engagement.

How Social Moms Access Content
The social mom is highly active in accessing social networks via mobile devices. Fifty percent of all moms actively participating in social media access platforms via mobile devices, in comparison to 39 percent of females overall, and 37 percent of the overall population in general.
How Social Moms Shop
Social moms tend to be cost-conscious, being 56 percent more likely to download coupons than the general population. They are also more likely to shop online for CPG products than other product categories, with the research showing that 86 percent are more likely to shop online for cosmetics than the general public, as well as skincare products (85%), hair care goods (74%) and fragrances (68%).
Social Moms: Likes and Dislikes
The growing influence of women and moms is increasingly apparent, and so too is their level of activity in social media. Moms who actively participate in social media are 81 percent more likely to become a fan of or follow a brand online, 86 percent more likely to post a status update, and 84 percent more likely to comment or post content than the general population. The research also shows that social moms definitely aren’t shy in sharing their advice and reviews of products with others. This segment is 85 percent more likely than the general population to share frequent advice about beauty and cosmetic products, 28 percent more likely to provide frequent advice about online shopping/e-commerce and 6% more likely to post a product review online.

Women & Diversity at OWS

Reporter, Sarah Seltzer, spent five days observing working group meetings, sitting in on GAs, and interviewing women on their role in the movement, sexism they've experienced and how the movement has dealt with it and the issue of diversity and inclusion. It's really strong original reporting on an issue that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. To read more about it, click here.

Enter Pillsbury's Rookie Bake Off!

Grab your aprons and start your ovens! Pillsbury´s first-everRookie Bake-Off® Challengehas just begun!

The Rookie Bake-Off® Challenge consists of six weekly challenges, each providing you with a chance to win $500, 5 doable new recipes to vote on and use each week, and even inspiration from guest bloggers!

To enter for your chance to win each week, visit to check out the weekly challenge and submit your entry! Just keep in mind...
  • The whole shebang! Submit a recipe, story, and photo.
  • A quick fix! Prep time in 30 minutes or less.
  • A lot for a little! Five ingredients, including at least one Pillsbury refrigerated dough product.
  • All that and more! Keep in mind creativity, consumer appeal, appearance, and include an inspiring story.
To find more information and contest rules, visit

Resource: The Must Have Breast Cancer Apps- Appitalism

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month coming to a close, I wanted to point out some apps  surrounding this great cause.

With a little help from technology and folks over at, the mobile app superstore, here are the most helpful apps that are free to download on your iPhone.

Below are Appitalism’s top 5 Breast Cancer Awareness apps that every woman should have to help stay update on everything associated with Breast Cancer.

 Keep a Breast (Free on iPhone)
This app is designed to help you prevent breast cancer. It teaches you how to give yourself a breast exam at home and set up an automatic exam reminder. It also helps you educate yourself on facts of breast cancer.

Breast Health GPS (Free on iPhone)
This app uses your GPS signal and locates the nearest certified mammogram screening center. It also includes access to their website with more information, advice, and phone wallpapers.

Your Man Reminder (Free on iPhone)
This app is similar to “Keep a Breast,” except that it’s designed to have an attractive man tell you to check your breasts. This is more of a fun way to remind you about breast cancer prevention, as well as including instructions and information.

 Breast Cancer: Beyond the Shock (Free on iPhone)
This is a resource, first and foremost, designed to provide more information for those who were diagnosed with breast cancer or have a loved one who was. This is a resource for information, as well as inspirational thoughts and stories if you need a boost.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis Guide (Free on iPhone)
This app is designed with those who have breast cancer in mind. It has medical illustrations, personalized articles, and other helpful information. It walks you through the reports and the tests, so you’ll know what’s going on.
I hope these apps are very useful to your readership! For any additional information or if you would like to speak with Simon Buckingham, CEO of Appitalism, please feel free to contact me at 646-278-0759 or I’d be more than happy to arrange and coordinate an interview.'s DIY Style Week & Contest! Oct. 24-28, the online home of America’s No. 1 morning program, kicked off TODAY DIY Style Week (October 24-28) today with creative do-it-yourself projects from leading style experts, including TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas.  TODAY DIY Style Week showcases the rise of DIY style and offers viewers “how to” tutorials for making their own jewelry, fashion and technology accessories.  

TODAY DIY Style Week features the following DIY tutorials on

·         Monday: Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor. See how to make foiled fashion.
·         Tuesday:  Eric Domesek, PS I Made This.  Learn how to make an iPad cover.
·         Wednesday: Geneva Vanderzeil, A Pair and A Spare.  Find out the simple steps for making a scarf watch.
·         Thursday: Kristen Turner, Glitter ‘n Glue.  Get the scoop on how to make a faux fur collar.
·         Friday: Jenni Radosevich, I Spy DIY.  See the simple steps for making rhinestone earrings. is searching for the next DIY star.  Viewers can enter the TODAY DIY Style Week Challenge now through Friday, October 28, 2011 at 5 p.m. (ET).  Viewers can submit photos and videos of their best DIY fashions and related accessories by going to  The best submission will win a DIY prize from TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas and a DIY tutorial on  The winner will be announced on on Tuesday, November 1.

"Style is the way you speak to the world without words," said Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor. “This modern view of self-expression encourages everyone to not only be unique, but resourceful. The mantra, rethink, reuse, and reinvent is great not only for the environment, but your bank account. Why wouldn’t you want to DIY?”

“We’re very excited to host such a talented lineup of DIY style bloggers,” said Rina Raphael, style editor. “We hope to inspire readers to get creative and share their unique, personal projects with our online community.”

In addition to the DIY tutorials and DIY style slideshows, consumers can share information about the series using the hashtag: #DIYWeekTODAY as well as through the TODAY Facebook page, TODAY Style Pinterest, and TODAY Tumblr pages.

The week-long series of DIY tutorials, photos, videos and more can be found at as well as TODAY's Facebook andTwitter pages. Consumers can find complete details on and enter the TODAY DIY Style Week Challenge by visiting 

Six Free Fall Products from Vistaprint

Resource: ShopSanity

Are you someone that shops online and is always digging through your emails to find shopping receipts to make returns or shipment confirmations to see when packages will arrive? Do you ever make purchases and think maybe I should have waited until this item went on sale? If so, ShopSanity has come out with a great new tool that will make shopping easier - and guess what moms… it’s FREE and the sign could not be easier (just 2 clicks)! Sign up for now to: 

See all of your purchases in one location so you can:
  • See when a package will arrive
  • Lookup details about any purchase
  • Print a receipt for a return
  • Save money by receiving alerts such as price changes (notifies you when purchases you have made go on sale so you can contact the retailer about getting cash back), shipment changes (including backorders and delays)
  • And much more! Get started now!

Save 15% Off Any Holiday Gift Set on Community Coffee

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays on! Get 15% off any order that contains a gift set now through Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. Use promo code GIFTSET to take advantage of this limited time offer.

Coupon Sherpa: 5 Practical Lessons from "Extreme Couponing" Season 2

With all the hoopla about TLC's first season of "Extreme Couponing," it's no wonder Season Two is eagerly awaited by many fans. Starting Wednesday, the maniacs of the supermarket aisles take to American TV screens once again to show shoppers how it's done.
Thanks to a bit of a sneak peak, Coupon Sherpa offers practical advice based on a selection of Season Two topics.

1. Shelf Clearing
No matter what the extremists say, clearing a shelf of every item is just plain rude. Sure it's okay to go for big bargains, but it's also important to remember the lesson we all learned about "sharing" in nursery school.

2. Teach Your Children
Another couponer teaches her college-bound son a few tricks of the trade. What a great way to ensure the next generation learns frugal lessons before it's too late! If you want to extend this courtesy to your children, make it relevant by encouraging use of both print and online coupons.

3. Building on a Dream
Do you get the feeling TLC learned the public wasn't too crazy about the hoarding aspects of couponing? This season focuses on more than filling your home with endless boxes of toothpaste. One segment in Season Two tells of a couponer with the worthy goal of building a dream home with coupon savings.

4. Feeding the Masses
Is it possible to feed 280 wedding guests on just $150? Apparently one woman is giving it a shot this season, but thankfully your family's food requirements are likely more manageable. In addition to using coupons for groceries, avoid paying too much by reading 8 Overpriced Grocery Items to Skipfrom

5. Share the Savings
A featured couponer this season feeds both her family of seven and 200 fellow parishioners on just $100 a month. Now there's a good lesson. Extreme couponers often get a bad rap, but most of these thrifty consumers donate part of what they purchase. Read up on these rockstars to renew your faith in the practice.

You're invited to Poetically Speaking--A Night of Poetry!

You don't want to miss this!  Poetically Speaking is an annual event that showcases the poetic and spoken word skills of teen girls in and around the Boston area. 

You're Invited!

 Thursday, November 10, 2011 
6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Bill Bordy Auditorium, Emerson College
216 Tremont St., Boston, MA


Admission is FREE. Please RSVP by emailing Saun Green at your name, address, and school.  If you are coming with more than 10 people or an organization, please send the names of all attendees and/or the name of your organization, and the staff person who will be attending with you.  

Space is limited and the event sells out fast  so please RSVP by November 8, 2011!

10 Retailers That Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Andrea Woroch

If every month of the year was assigned a color, then pink would surely belong to October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month turns even the manliest organizations (think National Football League) into pink-laden landscapes, all in support of breast cancer research.

One way consumers can show their support is by shopping for the cause. Many popular retailers and brands are currently offering products with some or all of the proceeds going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For a more comprehensive list of participants, consult the organization's Corporate Partners page.

1. Yoplait
As the National Series Presenting Sponsor of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Yoplait's signature pink lids are one of the most visible reminders of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With their Save Lids to Save Lives campaign, the yogurt manufacturer will donate 10 cents for each pink lid received.

2. Belk
Belk is one of Susan G. Komen for the Cure's nine highest-level sponsors and have committed to donating $3 million in three years. One of their featured brands, Ralph Lauren, also contributes 10 percent of the proceeds from their Pink Pony line to breast cancer awareness.

3. Dallas Cowboys
Speaking of the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys show their support by sporting pink accessories such as gloves and shoes during October games. Their "I Promise" campaign encourages players, fans and others to raise awareness and donate funds to the fight against breast cancer. The cause is especially dear to linebacker Bradie James, who lost his mother to the disease in 2001.

4. Ford
The all-American car manufacturer shows its softer side with the Warriors in Pink campaign. Launched in 2006 as a 365-day commitment to the cause, the campaign contributes to Ford's national sponsorship of Race for the Cure. Apparel and accessories are available to women, men and kids, with 100 percent of net proceeds going to the cause.

5. Kitchenaid
This year, Kitchenaid celebrates 10 years of fundraising for Susan G. Komen, having already raised over $8 million with itsCook for the Cure campaign. In addition to their Pink Product Collection, Kitchenaid has a special 10th Anniversary stand mixer for the compassionate cook.

6. Mobile Edge
Through their Caring Case Collection, Mobile Edge offers stylish laptop totes with pink accents, including the symbolic breast cancer ribbon. Ten percent of the Collection's sales go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This month, Mobile Edge is offering a free shipping code and complimentary water bottle with each Caring Case Collection purchase.

7. Nordstrom
As part of the Nordstrom Fits America campaign, the high-end retailer provides complimentary bra fittings from certified experts for women nationwide. Nordstrom will also donate $1 of every bra purchased at fittings, with participating bra manufacturers also pitching-in $1.

8. American Airlines
American Airlines' commitment to the fight against breast cancer is exemplified by its 23-year partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Their AA Komen Gift Cards, Miles for the Cure, Fly for the Cure and AA Celebrity Golf and Tennis Weekend are just some of the programs offered by the airline.

9. Sephora
Sephora's Beauty That Gives Back campaign offers pink-ribbon products from several brands, each committed to donating a portion of proceeds to raising awareness for breast cancer. Some of the top brands participating include Clinique, Shiseido and Ole Henriksen. Pay nothing for delivery when you spend over $50 and use Sephora free shipping codes from sites like

10. Caribou Coffee
Roastmaster Amy Erickson, who died at the age of 33 from breast cancer, is the inspiration behind Caribou Coffee's Amy's Blend Collection. Ten percent of retail sales from the Collection's gourmet coffee and tea, as well as mugs and other accessories, go directly to the cause.

Win $15K in Prizes from the THQ uDraw Your City Art Contest!

From historic Beacon Hill, the ageless Green Monster at Fenway Park, fall leaves in vibrant colors, and to crew boats gliding through the Charles River, Boston brims with landmarks that define it.  In fact, unique inspiration can be found in every community, all over the country. 

Inspired by this, uDraw Your City has launched a nationwide art contest, in which young artists  ages 6 to 17 years old have the opportunity to share what they love most about their city through art.  Contestants can use a uDraw GameTablet to illustrate what they love most about their city - though entries may also be created in traditional print formats using any artistic medium. 

THQ and uDraw invite kids to embrace their artistic inspiration and to share "what your city, your town, or your community means to you." Maybe it's the silhouette of your favorite building, a drawing of your friends at the park, or a stencil of your favorite local athlete. 

The submission period runs through October 31, and the grand prize winner will receive a package worth more than $15,000, including a uDraw, and a $10,000 cash prize that the winner can choose to apply toward a college scholarship.  Additionally, THQ will donate $10,000 to the winner's school of choice to help support its art program. Entries are judged on artistic merit (based on age group), creativity, and adherence to the overall city theme.
Click here to learn more and enter! 

Resource: Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame is a 100% free personal finance credit and debt management tool with no credit card required or trial period. Credit Sesame makes managing personal credit online, owing less in interest and saving on mortgage, loan and credit card payments easy!  Credit Sesame makes managing personal credit online, owing less in interest and saving on mortgage, loan and credit card payments easy!  It gives an instant view of consumer's credit, including Experian credit score, refreshed monthly for free, and  debt analysis with personalized offers tailored to consumer’s credit profile

Catalyst Study Explodes Myths About Why Women’s Careers Lag Men’s

Common wisdom about advancing in the workplace is straightforward: let your boss know you’re ready for that challenging assignment. Make your career ambitions and willingness to put in the requisite time and effort clear. Don’t just build a relationship with your boss; make sure to build one with your boss’ boss as well.

Sounds like good advice. But according to Catalyst’s latest report, The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?, men benefit from these strategies far more than women.

In fact, this report, which studied high potentials in the executive pipeline, reveals that while “doing all the right things” to get ahead works well for men, being proactive did not provide as great an advantage for women.

“This study busts the myth that ‘Women don't ask.’ In fact, they do! But it doesn't get them very far. Men, by contrast, don't have to ask. What's wrong with this picture?” said Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO, Catalyst.

According to the report, which studied commonly used career strategies, the strategies adopted by high-potential women had little bearing on the rate at which they advanced to leadership. Conversely, men who applied the most proactive career strategies advanced further than other men.

Regardless of chosen career strategy, the study shows that men outpace women in rate of advancement and compensation growth—starting with a $4,600 gap in their first post-MBA jobs which widens to $31,258 mid-career, according to Catalyst’s 2008 survey. Key findings include:
  • Women seem to be paid for proven performance—women who changed jobs two or more times post-MBA earned $53,472 less than women who rose through the ranks at their first job.
  • In contrast, men seem to be paid for potential—men who had moved on from their first post-MBA job earned $13,743 more than those who stayed with their first employer.
  • Across all career profiles, men were more likely to reach senior executive/CEO positions than women; in the most proactive category, 21% of men advanced to leadership compared with 11% of women.
The report effectively explodes persistent gender gap myths that continue to hold women back:
  • Women DO “ask,” but asking doesn’t close the gender pay or position gap. After their first post-MBA jobs, there were no gender differences in whether or not high potentials negotiated for greater compensation (63% of women vs. 54% of men) or for a higher position when beginning their current job (19% of women vs. 17% of men). Even though these women negotiate for more when they change jobs, our research shows that women’s compensation growth was faster when they remained with the same employer, where they had proven performance, than when they started with a new employer, who paid based on potential.
  • Women are not seeking out slower career tracks. According to the study findings, women are less satisfied than men with their career growth. If women were intentionally seeking slower tracks, we would expect them to be as satisfied as men despite their slower advancement.
  • The same strategies don’t work equally well for men and women. Women must adopt strategies different from their male colleagues’ to advance their careers. When women were proactive in making their achievements known, they advanced further, increased their compensation growth, and were more satisfied with their careers. They also advanced further when they proactively networked with influential others. Making their achievements known did not impact men’s careers. Rather, gaining access to influential others also helped men advance, and indicating a willingness to work long hours and conducting external scans for other opportunities helped men increase their salaries.
Catalyst suggests that corporate leaders ask: To what extent are employees in our organizations advanced and compensated based on strategic career tactics versus skills and performance? How are people being coached to get ahead? Are assumptions being made that what worked for men in the past will work for women? And when women and men apply the same career strategies, are they being reacted to and evaluated differently?

According to Ms. Lang, “Just as individuals need to manage their careers effectively or risk lagging behind their peers, organizations must learn how to attract, develop, and retain high-potential women—or risk losing out to their competitors.”

Chevron Corporation and Deutsche Bank AG sponsored The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead? at the Mentor Circle level.


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