"... payday lending services extend small amounts of uncollateralized credit to high-risk borrowers, and provide loans to poor households when other financial institutions will not. Throughout the past decade, this "democratization of credit" has made small loans available to mass sectors of the population, and particularly the poor, that would not have had access to credit of any kind in the past."
Payday loans can be very costly. Loan amounts generally range from $50 to $1,000, depending on state laws. Fees also depend on state laws, but the structure might be something like $15 per $100 borrowed, and some states may cap how high the fee goes. Because the loans have such short terms, the cost of borrowing is generally high. A typical payday loan with a two-week term and a $15 per $100 fee has an annual percentage rate (APR) of nearly 400%, according to the CFPB. (Here’s a primer on how interest rates work.)
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According to a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts, "Most payday loan borrowers [in the United States] are white, female, and are 25 to 44 years old. However, after controlling for other characteristics, there are five groups that have higher odds of having used a payday loan: those without a four-year college degree; home renters; African Americans; those earning below $40,000 annually; and those who are separated or divorced." Most borrowers use payday loans to cover ordinary living expenses over the course of months, not unexpected emergencies over the course of weeks. The average borrower is indebted about five months of the year.
Spending less than you earn is key to staying afloat financially, yet many of us rely on credit cards to fund our lifestyles. With more than $16,000 in credit card debt per household in America, many of us struggle to understand what we can and cannot afford. Successful savers are very clear on that point and often live a frugal lifestyle despite having an income that can afford some luxuries. Warren Buffett, for example, still resides in the home he purchased for just $31,500 nearly 60 years ago, despite being one of the wealthiest people on the planet. Take it from Buffett: Maintaining a frugal lifestyle while your income continues to grow will help you reach your financial goals sooner.
People who set goals for a purchase – whether it's a car, television or family vacation – are more apt to reduce unnecessary spending in pursuit of that goal. While other consumers use credit cards to purchase items they can't afford, effective savers rarely spend money they don't have. The next time you decide to invest in a big purchase, review your budget to see where you can make cuts to allocate more funds toward that goal. You can also boost your income to reach your savings goals quicker by taking on side jobs, such as freelance writing, dog walking or another gig that takes advantage of your marketable skills.
To inquire about an advance on your paycheck, either talk to your boss directly or go to your human resources department. While ideally, your employer wouldn’t be too involved in your private life, it’s best to be prepared with an explanation as to what the money's for and why you need it so urgently. Otherwise, your boss is left to wonder if there’s an underlying personal issue that could someday impact your work performance, such as a gambling addiction.
As for federal regulation, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) specific authority to regulate all payday lenders, regardless of size. Also, the Military Lending Act imposes a 36% rate cap on tax refund loans and certain payday and auto title loans made to active duty armed forces members and their covered dependents, and prohibits certain terms in such loans.
In the more recent innovation of online payday loans, consumers complete the loan application online (or in some instances via fax, especially where documentation is required). The funds are then transferred by direct deposit to the borrower's account, and the loan repayment and/or the finance charge is electronically withdrawn on the borrower's next payday.
Payday lenders have made effective use of the sovereign status of Native American reservations, often forming partnerships with members of a tribe to offer loans over the Internet which evade state law. However, the Federal Trade Commission has begun the aggressively monitor these lenders as well. While some tribal lenders are operated by Native Americans, there is also evidence many are simply a creation of so-called "rent-a-tribe" schemes, where a non-Native company sets up operations on tribal land.
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Even with these protections, payday loans can be costly, especially if you roll-over the loan. You instead may be able to obtain financial assistance from military aid societies, such as the Army Emergency Relief, Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, or Coast Guard Mutual Aid. You may be able to borrow from families or friends, or get an advance on your paycheck from your employer. If you still need credit, loans from a credit union, bank, or a small loan company may offer you lower rates and costs. They may have special offers for military applicants, and may help you start a savings account. A cash advance on your credit card may be possible, but it could be costly. Find out the terms for any credit before you sign. You may request free legal advice about a credit application from a service legal assistance office, or financial counseling from a consumer credit counselor, including about deferring your payments.
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