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Answer Man: Know what you're getting into with layaways

Dear Answer Man, what's the downside to buying something on "layaway?" I assume there are pros and cons to layaway plans.

There are pros and cons to everything. There may even be pros and cons to reading this column, though I haven't come up with any of the latter.

There are definitely pros and cons to layaway plans, and it all depends on the store and how badly you need the item. Generally, there's a service fee, which might be a flat $5 to $10. Depending on the purchase, that may be ridiculous. At least one big retailer has a service fee of 5 percent of the total purchase, which is better than most credit cards on an annual basis but still steep.

You'll also need to make a downpayment, and often, there are cancellation and restocking fees if you have to back out.

If you don't have a credit card or have other credit issues, though, layaway might be the best option. Just make sure you do the math and have a plan.


Dear Answer Man, here we go again. I hear that Casey's General Store has bought property in front of the Shopko Hometown store in Kasson. Have you heard that?

No, but I hear from a reliable source that Casey's may be checking out properties and/or offering to buy houses in the area to build a store. That's a pretty common bit of gossip along Mantorville Avenue in Kasson. I have a call in to Casey's home office in Ankeny, Iowa, to see if they're interested in commenting.

Casey's has stores in Mantorville and Dodge Center but not Kasson. The company said in its rosy second-quarter financial report a few weeks ago that it plans to open or buy up to 108 stores this year, and it's about halfway to that goal. It also has about 35 more on the drawing board, so if Kasson is going to make the cut this fiscal year, it had better hurry.

Dear Answerer of All Questions, I know you are excited about the U of M Gophers going to the Citrus Bowl, and I am sure the P-B has already reserved the company jet for you to attend. I just heard a player being interviewed, and he was very excited about the gift bags the players will be receiving at this bowl. Are these bags similar to the bags that are given out at the Oscars? This must not be a NCAA violation? -— Sporty Girl

The company jet is busy on New Year's Day, but otherwise yes, I was hoping to attend and maybe get a gift bag, too. I can see why that Gophers player is excited — it's like Santa offers second helpings when you go to a bowl game. The loot can total up to $550 without violating NCAA rules.

At the 2014 BCS Bowl game, the bag included a Fossil watch, a New Era 59Fifty hat, an Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack, and a "gift suite," which sounds enticing. "Swag bags" at other bowl games last season included Tourneau watches and $300 Visa gift cards.

Top-tier college athletes and coaches are treated like kings, thanks to fans like us.

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