I was speaking with a friend of mine today who's currently in the market for a new HDTV (let's call her/him Jimbo). The problem is, Jimbo doesn't have the cash readily available, and he doesn't want to put the TV on a credit card since it's almost never a good idea to flash the plastic if you can't pay for the item outright...right?
He was shopping at Sears because Sears has some pretty good prices on the latest brands of TVs and they have the option to put items on layaway. Unfortunately every time Jimbo found a TV he was satisfied with, it seemed that particular TV was not layaway eligible. Jimbo was sad, thinking he'd just have to save money the old fashioned way which works for some people, but not for others.
So I came up with an idea for Jimbo. "Jimbo," I said, "why don't you just take a chunk of money every month, the same amout you would put towards your layaway payments, and email yourself an Amazon Gift Card with that money? If you buy a $250 gift card per month, in 4 months you'll have a nice $1000 to spend, and could probably get a TV 46" or bigger!"
"Huh, I never thought about it that way," said Jimbo. Jimbo was back to being happy. He knew that if he just socked away $250 cash each month that he'd probably dig into the cash on days he wanted to get a nice lunch, buy a video game, or order the latest hamburger earmuffs instead of using it towards his ultimate goal - the HDTV. This way it made the money a little less "liquid" and easier to forget about, which would allow him to reach his goal as quickly as possible -- all while not having to pay any fees or worry about losing his hard-earned money.
A happy Jimbo is my kind of Jimbo. Best of luck to you buddy!