Few things are more detrimental to your finances than payday loans. As a tool to effectively get paid before an individual receives a paycheck, a payday loan can lead to serious debt.
These loans require repayment of the principal and a fee measured as a fixed dollar amount per $100 borrowed. Military personnel are no less susceptible to these loans than civilian consumers. In 2010, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority report found that 32 percent of enlisted and junior NCO respondents used non-bank borrowing and 11 percent of them had used a payday loan. Of civilian respondents, 9 percent had used a payday loan.
Now a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau white paper examined consumer behavior within the payday loan industry. Take a look at how dangerous this loan option can be for military consumers.
Because of fees, payday loans can nullify your paychecks if used frequently. The combination of borrowing a high principal and paying fees adds up. The best thing to do is avoid payday loans at all costs. What are you doing that requires you to need a cash advance on your paychecks? Stop overspending on luxury items. Start tracking your expenses. Live below your means.
This is what separates payday loans from other borrowing options: they’re short-term. The median loan life is 14 days. Some borrowers close one loan and open another on the same day.
The due date for when a borrower must repay the loan coincides with the borrower’s payday. But this is scary: the median number of days consumers spent indebted to a payday loan lender is 199 days. For 55 percent of the year, those consumers were in debt. How can you be financially healthy when you’re in debt most of the year? Worse yet, 25 percent of borrowers were in debt for 300 days.
Only 12 percent of all borrowers in the CFPB white paper had an annual income of $10,000 or less. Surprisingly, the $10,000 to $20,000 income bracket comprised 31 percent of borrowers. The $20,000 to $30,000 bracket accounted for 25 percent of borrowers. Note that borrowers only report their income when applying for a loan and not the income of their household. Nevertheless, it’s no surprise that the aforementioned income brackets make up 68 percent of payday loan borrowers. The industry depends on low-income consumers. Don’t let it depend on you.
Another startling number from the white paper reveals how often borrowers go back for another payday loan. Of borrowers studied, 48 percent of them had more than 10 transactions with a payday lender in 12 months. That goes to show you that these loans are — for lack of a better word — addictive. It’s not the last payday loan that gets you, it’s the first one. So you’re better off avoiding them altogether. Otherwise, you might find yourself in debt time and time again.