Black Friday: Buying on store plans - is it worth it?

Shoppers at Kmart look at layaway plan items
Shoppers at Kmart look at layaway plan items

I'm old enough to remember when credit wasn't so easy to get. The only child of a single mother in the 1960s-1970s, things like credit cards or even apartment leases, were hard won in our experience. So when my mother qualified for a Sears' credit card, it was a pretty big day. At the time it was among the most difficult to qualify for, and its arrival meant my mother had finally established a credit history and attained a high rating. It was a big financial achievement.

Forty-five years later, wallets have become easily stuffed with plastic, and our collective debt has nudged many Americans toward financial ruin. Sears still issues a credit card, and while it no longer has the same cache, it -- and credit in general -- is a little harder to come by thanks to recent events. As retailers head into the critical holiday selling season, it's critical to find ways to get people shopping. One such method, issuing store payment plans, is once again gaining favor.