If you carry only credit cards for day-to-day spending, you could find yourself in a pinch when confronted with a cash-only situation, such as buying lunch from a street vendor, veggies at a farmers market or a sandwich at a mom-and-pop deli. In that case, a cash advance might be tempting. Some people also turn to credit card cash advances when they need paper money but don’t have enough in their bank account.
Paying bills on time is crucial to financial management, but what about paying yourself as part of that commitment? People who consider their future selves just as important as their monthly mortgage are more effective at building savings accounts. To build up your savings on a consistent basis, start "paying yourself first" by setting aside a certain amount each pay period for your savings account. Treat this account just like you would a recurring bill and, if possible, make it automatic. You can also download a tool like Digit, which reviews your spending and finds unused funds to transfer into an FDIC-insured savings account.
Ask yourself if it really is an emergency. Payday loans can be helpful for one-time emergency costs such as medical fees, but are not a good idea for funding unnecessary expenses. Is it possible to wait to repair your car or pay your bills until you receive your next paycheck? A late fee on a bill may be cheaper than a finance charge for a payday loan. Think about other ways to borrow money, keeping in mind they’ll have different fees and pros and cons.
To prevent usury (unreasonable and excessive rates of interest), some jurisdictions limit the annual percentage rate (APR) that any lender, including payday lenders, can charge. Some jurisdictions outlaw payday lending entirely, and some have very few restrictions on payday lenders. In the United States, the rates of these loans used to be restricted in most states by the Uniform Small Loan Laws (USLL), with 36–40% APR generally the norm.
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.
When you receive a raise, it's tempting to spend more money on things and experiences that make you happy. However, the "hedonic treadmill" theory suggests that even though an income boost can make us feel like we've earned an uptick in spending, our newfound windfall will eventually leave us as unsatisfied as we were prior to the raise because our needs don't disappear – they just get grander. Savvy savers know to avoid lifestyle inflation during periods of income growth and invest in themselves instead. This can mean upping retirement contributions or diverting the difference into a savings account, emergency fund or toward some other financial goal.
Make a realistic budget, including your monthly and daily expenditures, and plan, plan, plan. Try to avoid unnecessary purchases: the costs of small, every-day items like a cup of coffee add up. At the same time, try to build some savings: small deposits do help. A savings plan — however modest — can help you avoid borrowing for emergencies. Saving the fee on a $300 payday loan for six months, for example, can help you create a buffer against financial emergencies.
A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that, "We ... test whether payday lending fits our definition of predatory. We find that in states with higher payday loan limits, less educated households and households with uncertain income are less likely to be denied credit, but are not more likely to miss a debt payment. Absent higher delinquency, the extra credit from payday lenders does not fit our definition of predatory." The caveat to this is that with a term of under 30 days there are no payments, and the lender is more than willing to roll the loan over at the end of the period upon payment of another fee. The report goes on to note that payday loans are extremely expensive, and borrowers who take a payday loan are at a disadvantage in comparison to the lender, a reversal of the normal consumer lending information asymmetry, where the lender must underwrite the loan to assess creditworthiness.
It is crucial that you repay a payday loan as soon as possible. Many people get into trouble with these types of loans when they are unable to quickly repay the debt. If you can’t repay the loan at the end of the term, you’ll be charged expensive additional fees. It is very costly to be stuck in a payday loan cycle for a long time and can lead to larger financial problems.
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