By Jim Donovan: Brace yourselves, stores have already started rolling out their Christmas items. I saw some at Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts on Monday and wanted to scream, “It’s too early!” but I restrained myself as I didn’t want to cause a scene.

Nonetheless some big box stores are making some layaway policy changes that you may want to be aware of before starting your holiday shopping this year.

Wal-Mart is lowering the fee that you pay to open up a layaway account. That fee will now be $5 instead of $15. The new program starts Sept. 16 and runs through Dec. 14. The program will last a month longer than last year’s layaway plan and will include more items than the toys and electronics featured last year.   Wal-Mart is requiring that each item is priced at $15 or more, and the total layaway purchase must be at least $50.  A down payment of 10 percent or $10, whichever is greater, is required and will be applied to the purchase. If the order is cancelled or not paid in full, the fee is not refunded, but no additional cancellation fee will be charged.

The changes to the Wal-Mart layaway plan comes on the heels of Toys R US announcing that it was waiving the upfront service fee for layaway orders created in stores from Sept. 4 through Oct. 31. After Oct 31, a $5 service fee will apply. Also, there will be no minimum purchase price. Customers have until Dec. 16 to pick up their orders.

That said, layaway isn’t always the best option for many people. In fact the folks at have come up with some interesting reasons on why you may want to think twice about layaway. For more information on that, click:

Watch & Listen LIVE