The Color of Money: Is Layaway Making a Comeback?

Michelle Singletary
Thursday, October 15, 2009; 11:05 AM

"Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet," says a sign at the layaway counter in the Greenbelt, Md. Kmart.

Layaway taught us that if you want something and you don't have all the money, you can wait. It's called delayed gratification, a term which lost its value sometime in the '90s when the economy was chugging along and people began to rely heavily on credit cards. Now, comedian Steve Harvey wants to bring the financial relic back. In her story In Back of the Store, A Return to Patience (Oct. 7), DeNeen L. Brown reports that Harvey recently broadcast his morning radio show from the Maryland Kmart store and addressed how layaway can work in the current recession.

See what Harvey says about debt and layaway and hear from fellow Kmart customers about why they're using the layaway program.

What's your view of layaway and is it better than using credit? Send your comments to Put "Layaway" in the subject line.

Housing and Foreclosures

Buying a new home these days means verifying your annual income - twice. Borrowers now have to fill out IRS Form 4506-T as part of an effort to reduce fraudulent income claims and curtail loan losses.

To a home loan applicant, this form may look like just another sheet of paper in a cumbersome packet of documents. But, Form 4506-T is important. Pay careful attention to the date next to your signature.


Find out the answer from A Form to Take Seriously by The Nation's Housing columnist Kenneth R. Harney (Oct. 10). Harney gives the do's and don'ts.

For My New Wife: A Commode

In India, a commode is a commodity. If eligible bachelors don't furnish future homes with a bathroom, many young women are refusing marriage proposals. And, these women have leverage because suitors outnumber potential brides.

In In India, New Seat of Power for Women, Harpal Sirshwa, 22, who is hoping to marry soon, told Post foreign correspondent Emily Wax, "I will have to work hard to afford a toilet. We won't get any bride if we don't have one now." Having a toilet frees women from the "inconvenience and embarrassment of using community toilets or squatting in fields," reports Post foreign correspondent Emily Wax.

Close Call - Great Depression 2.0

We missed a depression by a small margin, says Christina Romer, the head of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers and Great Depression scholar.

Robert J. Samuelson makes a case for the Great Recession that wasn't in Why There Was No Depression (Oct. 5).

Color of Money Question of the Week

A reader wrote to How to Deal columnist Lily Garcia complaining about a boss who banned cell phone use at work. "No emergency calls from your child's school or your spouse or your elderly parent. Such calls could be directed to the landline at work, but you cannot take personal calls here, either," the reader wrote.

Union employees went to management but were turned away. Garcia advised the person to remind the union and management of the PR fallout this type of situation could incite. As it is, termination for taking an emergency call would be grounds for a lawsuit against the company.

This week's Color of Money Question is: Should employers be able to ban the use of cell phones at work? Please send comments to and put "No Cell Phones" in the subject line.

Charity Brown contributed to this e-letter.

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company