With the holiday season also comes a lot of opportunities to get 0% financing on a variety of high ticket items. While these can be great ways to save money if you were planning to purchase the item anyway, they come with pitfalls for many others. It’s important to remember it isn’t a deal no matter what the price if you really don’t need it.
One of the biggest problems that consumers have when using the 0% financing is that they opt to upgrade the item they’re purchasing – spending more on it than they had planned or budgeted for it. The other is that even though they have the best intentions to pay off the item before the 0% offer expires, they often don’t follow through and end up with a balance that has an interest rate at 20% or more.
Stores offer these 0% deals because they know this will happen. They don’t offer the 0% incentive because they are nice, but because they know that it will earn them money in the long run. They have models that can predict approximately what percentage of the people taking the 0% offer will end up paying interest on the offer because they can’t pay off the amount before the 0% offer expires.
If you do decide to take advantage of one of these offers this season, make sure not to fall into the 0% financing traps. Stick with what you originally planned to purchase and don’t spend more or get something fancier due to the free financing. If you have the money already, stick it in an online bank and don’t use it for other expenses so that it is there when the 0% financing expires. If you don’t have the money, divide the number of months by the price of the item you purchased and make sure to set aside this amount from your budget each month so that you have the full amount to pay off the purchase when the 0% offer expires.
Much like credit cards, these 0% offers can be used to your advantage as long as you take care and make sure that you pay off the purchase in time. If not, you’ll find that your purchase wasn’t near the deal that you thought it was and may cost you hundreds more than you ever expected.