PHOENIX – Stretching your budget without breaking the bank is something a lot of us try to do during the holiday season.

This year there are more options than ever before when it comes to how you pay, so how can you protect your money.

“It’s kind of a relic of holiday shopping at this point,” said Lisa Rowan, consumer finance expert at Forbes Advisor.

She talks about setting aside. It was available at major retailers, especially during the holidays. You put down a deposit for an item you want to purchase and make payments over time. You brought the item home with you at the end while paying extra charges along the way.

Rowan says overhead has forced many stores to find new alternatives.

“It’s a lot of work for the retailer because you have to store the item while someone is making the payments. You have to facilitate all of those payments at your layaway counter and keep track,” Rowan said.

These new alternatives are known as buy now, pay for services later. In most cases, you find an item, pay 25% of the cost, and get the item now. Then you pay the rest in three installments every two weeks. This is a plus for those who may not have the best credit.

“They automatically log into your bank account,” Rowan said.

For platforms like PayPal, AfterPay, and Klarna, there is often no credit check or interest charged. However, according to Rowan, unlike layaway, you miss a payment and your credit score could be affected.

“It might be harder to get other credit options. And if you have an overdue account or miss more than a few payments, you’re probably going to be cut off from this BNPL platform,” Rowan said.

Which option to use really depends on where you are shopping.

Layaway is limited to one store and often has to be done in person – such as Burlington Layaway Service. You must also pay a service charge of $ 5.00 in addition to the 20% deposit. Additionally, if you decide you no longer want the items, a $ 10 cancellation fee will be charged.

Meanwhile, along with buy now, pay later, sites like Afterpay allow you to shop online or in-store at thousands of retailers. There are no service charges or interest, only an upfront payment of 25% of the purchase price.

Plus, if you return an item, they work with the retailer to make sure you get your money back.

Lots to think about this holiday season.