Banking 
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comments

Avoid These Three “Short-Term” Loans

Payday Loan StorefrontIn an ideal world, when you needed to borrow some money, you could just walk into your bank and just ask. However, banks are funny in that they generally are willing to give you money when you don’t need it but are less forthcoming when you actually need it. In these harder economic times, those in need of money may be tempted to turn towards other “financial institutions” for short term loans and I’m here to try to dissuade you. These are horrible short-term loans with horrible terms (and their high probability of becoming extremely expensive long term loans) and should be your last resort if you’re in need of cash.

“Refund Anticipation Loans”

These are loans offered by tax preparation firms based on your tax return. They offer them because they know exactly how much of a return you’ll be getting, when you’ll be getting it, and how much money they’ll be making by lending you that money a few weeks early. They’re expensive loans, despite how safe they are, and they’re packed with tons of fees. The industry earned over a billion dollars in 2006, I wonder how many of those dollars were earned from folks who didn’t know they were getting a loan in the first place? Probably more than you’d think.

Payday Loans

Need a few extra bucks to make it through to your next paycheck? How about a little extra scratch so you can get a gift that’s extra special? Payday loans typically have ridiculous high interest rates (think four digits and that’s not counting the decimal places) and their fees are atrocious. The scary part about payday loans is that most people only get one for a few hundred dollars so it doesn’t seem like all that much… then they get socked with fees and then something goes bad and then before you know it you’re going down the mountain with one ski and a prayer.

Credit Card Cash Advances

You might be tempted to stick your credit card into an ATM and simply withdraw some money but take heed. In addition to the interest you may pay by carrying that balance from month to month, cash advances are typically charged an additional fee based on the amount withdrawn. Most credit cards charge 3% of the advance and add that to the amount withdrawn. $100 becomes $103 and, if you carry that from month to month, can have a serious impact. A cash advance is not as bad as a RAL or a payday loan.

Better Sources of Short-Term Money

Need money for the short term? Here are some suggestions, in no particular order, that are better than Payday loans but not exactly ideal themselves:

  • Try the bank – you never know.
  • Cut other expenses so you’re spending less.
  • Ask your employer for your paycheck a little early.
  • Borrow from friends and family.
  • Consider peer-to-peer lending sites like LendingClub or Prosper.
  • Use your credit card for purchases and consider a card with 0% APY on purchases promotion. It’s not ideal but will give you more breathing room.
  • If you owe someone money, try to negotiate a deal. Delayed payment beats bankruptcy.

If you’re in good shape now but on the fringe, consider cutting some expenses so you can bolster up the emergency fund. It’s far easier to get money out of a bank account than it is to get it from anywhere else.

Anyone else have any ideas?

(Photo: andrewbain)


 Banking, Credit, Debt 
8
comments

Pay Day Loans Have Equally Bad Financial Friends

Pay day loan shops (and cash checking and other similar short term loan shops) are often singled out as places that prey on consumers in a tight spot. While I don’t dispute that, I want to point out other places that also prey on consumers in a tight spot that don’t often get the spotlight.

Pay Day Loans Are Bad

Don’t get me wrong, pay day loans are horrible products for consumers because of their high fees, high interest rates, and their propensity to become financial sinkholes. It’s the financial version of someone going in for a routine cavity filling and coming out with a lobotomy. You just need a little extra help to get you to the next pay day but end up paying for years. According to this warning by the FTC, they give an example in which “the cost of the initial loan is a $15 finance charge and 391 percent APR. If you roll-over the loan three times [42 calendar days], the finance charge would climb to $60 to borrow $100.” $15 to start and 391% APR is horrible but let’s compare to some of these other products.

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 Devil's Advocate 
26
comments

Four Reasons You Should Get A Payday Loan

Devils Advocate Logo
This is a Devil's Advocate post.

Payday loans have been in the news a lot lately, for bad reasons, but they need not be always cast in a bad light. Payday loans have also gone by other names like check advance loan, quick cash loan, post-dated check loan, deferred-deposit check loan, etc. but ultimately it comes down to any loan where you can get cash immediately at a higher interest cost in return for that speed and flexibility. Here are some reasons why a payday loan may be right for you:

Get Cash Quickly, Now, and Only What You Need



Where can you turn to if you need a few hundred dollars right now? Your family? Your friends? In that whole group there are probably going to be very few people who can get you that kind of money right this very moment. Also, try to get a short term, small dollar amount loan from your bank. Good luck. They’ll force you through their application process, do all the necessary checks (which invariably will take forever), and by the time they approve it, if they approve it, you’ll likely be in bigger trouble than when you started.

Compare Costs, Payday Loan May Be Lower



So you have a debt that needs to be repaid, compare the cost of getting the short term loan versus the cost of missing a payment on that debt. Is it an auto note? Would you lose your car if you didn’t make the payment? Is it a mortgage payment? Would your lose your house if you didn’t make the payment? The cost of fees in a payday loan is probably lower than the cost of losing your car or your home, in which case the payday loan would make sense. Those are more extreme cases but what about if you mailed off a check and didn’t have the bank funds? Pay a little more in fees to the cash advance shop or get socked with a $45 overdraft fee?

It’s Strictly Business



It’s going to cost you some money at a payday loan store but it’ll cost you more in terms of emotional expenses if you borrow that kind of money from family and friends. With a payday loan company, it’s all business, zero emotion; when you borrow from friends and family, you tax the relationship.

No Credit Check



This is part of the reason why the application process is much shorter, no need to run your credit history and air out your dirty laundry. This also means that the loan won’t ever appear on your credit history unless you fail to pay back the loan. So the net result is that you get a loan, some short term help, and it never appears on your credit history – the best of both worlds.

Okay, Devil’s Advocate post over, I think payday loans are both inherently bad and they prey on unsuspecting customers. They’re bad in that they’re expensive, the fees for everything are exorbitant, and because they feed into the “instant gratification” phenomenon that is fueling a consumption driven country. Money now, responsibility later. Secondly, they prey on customers that are looking for a quick and dirty way out of a bad situation. Debt payment due? Snag a payday loan, no one will have to know, I can fix it next month… except they can’t fix it and then the debt snowball increases and now is rolling down the hill even faster. Do yourself a favor, don’t ever get into a situation where you’d consider a payday loan.


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