Payday Loans | Teaching Me the Value of Money
Something for nothing? Not in the real world
Payday loans weren’t around when I first learned how to handle money. If they had been (and had I been eligible to apply for them), I’m sure I would have learned very quickly that in the real world you simply don’t get something for nothing.
Many of you have been in this situation before. When you were a child — and I know that you were a child at some point — you may have received an allowance each week. What an exciting time that was! All the hard work keeping up with chores, schoolwork and doing those extra-special things had finally come to fruition. Would you save all your pennies in the robot piggy bank on your dresser? Or would you run down to the local store with that fresh wad of dollar bills and spend it on that toy you’d been eyeballing for some time?
The possibilities were endless
Now, if you were like me, you were a spender. Even when you were at the store purchasing something like those new action figures, toy guns or robots, you had your eye on the next deal. Money was a fluid thing, and you saw no value in holding onto it just so that you could know that you were saving for a rainy day. Let that river run. Grab a tube, hop on and float your way toward some sort of buyers’ paradise.
Unfortunately it didn’t take much to get my parents to give me money. I was an only child, so I didn’t have to share their resources with brothers and sisters. Couple that with the fact that my father was often away from home as a requirement of his job. He felt guilty about that, and that guilt translated into a bit more of a willingness to buy me things if I needled him. Looking back, I truly am ashamed at some of the things that I did — the pouting, the kicking and screaming — but my parents also failed to take control of the situation. Thus, the lesson I learned was that if I needed money, all I had to do was come crying to mom or dad.
They’d give me something for nothing
Essentially, I could get something for nothing. I say nothing because all of the bellyaching and pleading wasn’t even worth its weight in feathers. I never had to pay mom and dad back. If I had, perhaps I would’ve learned something. If the bank of mom and dad operated the way payday loans do, it would have been quite clear that in two weeks the loan was going to be repaid. Not only that, but the fee for applying for the payday loans would’ve been spelled out up front.
But back to the spender I was then. I had no real conception of the value of money. Once I moved out of the house, had a job and had to make payments on rent and utilities, I began to understand that money didn’t exactly grow on trees or out of my father’s wallet. I was a man and I had to take care of not only myself, but my growing family. I would say that there were still occasional times when I went to my parents when I was in a desperate financial situation. They would oblige, but the weight of lessons lost became more palpable each time I rang them in search of quick cash. I knew that the ways of the past would no longer work for me as a mature person, yet old habits were hard to break.
Hiding from creditors wasn’t the answer
So I resolved to handle those little financial snafus myself. That in itself is a noble idea, but in practice all I did was dig myself a hole. Rather than budgeting better and saving more, I entered the world of credit cards. It’s a magical place at first, and I even made my payments on time regularly. But a period of unemployment and medical bills left me in a deep hole when it came to credit cards. Collections notices and calls flew fast and furious, but in my infinite wisdom I decided that I would never have to engage them in any kind of conversation. I was hiding from reality. By ignoring the problem and sending payments when I was able to, I felt that that would be enough. But since I had waited too long to speak with my creditors about forming a reasonable payment plan, they weren’t interested in my occasional payments.
I filed for bankruptcy
It was discharged a number of years ago. Since then, my spending habits have been rather different. I think more in terms of long-term goals than short-term gratification. Oh, I do splurge now and again, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be. The most obvious reminder to me of the way I used to spend money is my music collection. It began in junior high and today I have several hundred compact discs to show for it. I used to spend almost everything I earned on new music.
Today, I make a budget and stick to it. I make sure that I have what I need, and more importantly, that my family has what it needs. When I get involved in anything that deals with money, I refer to my records. It’s nice that way because having documentation of your spending habits paints a very clear picture. You know where your money is going and you know what areas may be cause for concern.
With payday loans, I knew when repayment would occur
That kind of documentation has also been key in the choice I’ve made now and again to apply for payday loans. I remember when I needed to put a security deposit down on my family’s first apartment. I was earning enough money to pay the rent and take care of our other expenses, but the deposit happened to come at a difficult time. It was a very desirable apartment and I needed to put the deposit down quickly in order to secure it. Applying for payday loans to bridge that gap helped me get that brand new apartment. The terms were very easy to understand. All I had to pay was $15 for every $100 borrowed. This amounted to $345 ($300 payday loan plus $45 as the solitary fee). I knew the exact date on which the payment for my loan would be deducted from my checking account, which made it very easy to plan my budget.