Saturday, June 27, 2015

Considering Applying for A Payday Loan Think Again


Payday loans are promoted all day long - on the radio, television, the Internet, postal mail, email and social media. Payday loans are also known as also known as cash advances, title loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit loans. Allan Jones founder of Check into Cash invented the payday loan industry in 1993. Wells Fargo is the largest lender that offers payday loans. Payday lenders target minority communities and low-income consumers. Payday lenders are less reputable than commercial banks.

If an unexpected emergency arises that has to be paid immediately and you don’t have any savings or a credit card many consumers resort to using payday loans. Payday loans can be obtained for $50 up to $1,000 or higher depending upon specific requirements. To receive a payday loan you are required to write a post-dated check for the amount you wish to borrow plus any fees for using the payday loan.  The money minus the fee is provided immediately into the consumer’s bank account the next day. The next time the consumer gets paid the lender accesses their bank account to process the post-dated check and withdraws the amount owed plus the fee.

Payday loans are attractive to consumers due to aggressive advertising, lack of education and knowledge about the consequences of using payday loans. Payday loans users think they are getting ahead but they are really getting further behind. If you don’t have the money to pay your bills, you also don’t have money to repay the payday loan. Many consumers choose to use payday loans because they have or had access to credit but are unable to get approval for a loan or credit card and have little to no savings. Payday loans do not require a credit check or other forms of verification.

Payday loans are banned in the following states: Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington DC and West Virginia. However, you may still see commercial for payday loans in these states. In some states, the high interest rates charged by payday loan companies are illegal. If the primary residence of an individual is in one of those states, the consumer may not have to pay back the balance of the loan because it was originally offered illegally.

Payday loans are structured to keep consumers in debt because they have high fees, short term due dates, balloon payments, and have access to a borrower’s checking account. This results in consumers borrowing additional money to pay back payday loans. Some payday loan lenders offer no-cost loans to new borrowers although they know that most borrowers will not be able to repay loan and will be charged a default fee. Payday loans lenders operate as collection agencies and must adhere to the Fair Debt Practices Collection Act (FDPCA) when collecting on a debt, unfortunately most do not.

The consequences of payday loans are:
  1. If you don’t have the money in your account on payday you will be charged additional fees including bank fees.
  2. You will be at risk for writing a fraudulent check if your check bounces which is a federal crime.
  3. Banks may cash checks prior to the post-date on a check.
  4. Security and fraud risks may occur because payday loans companies are not regulated.
  5. Some payday loan lenders report to the credit bureaus.
  6. Your payday loan account may be sold to a collection agency.
  7. If you default on a payday loan you may be sued by the payday loan lender. If the lender wins the lender may put a lien on your property, seize your checking account, real estate, or personal property to satisfy the judgment.
  8. The payday lender may not be licensed in every state and may make false threats such as taking you to jail or taking you to court which is illegal. 
  9. Ninety-percent of online payday loans companies are not licensed.
  10. Payment arrangements are available but are not offered to eligible consumers so payday loan lenders can make more money.
  11. The default payment plan for most payday lenders is setup for consumers to pay the finance charge only which does not reduce the loan principal.
  12. Once a payday loan company has a consumers’ bank account information they can access their account for repayment at any time without the consumers’ permission and may cause multiple overdraft charges.
Here are 13 alternatives to obtaining a payday loan:

  1. Contact the payday lender’s headquarters office to setup payment arrangements.
  2. Notify your bank and the payday lender by providing specific instructions in writing on when or how your account should be accessed when writing a post-dated check.
  3. Contact your family, friends, your church, social, government or civic organizations to receive emergency financial assistance.
  4. Create an emergency fund to cover your monthly bills and expenses for 9-12 months.
  5. Maintain good credit.
  6. Create a budget and stick to it.
  7. Contac the lender immediately to setup a payment plan if you are unable to repay the payday loan.
  8. Repay the payday loan or time or prior to the due date
  9. Contact other funding sources such as peer to peer lending companies such as Prosper or Zopa.
  10. Contact a consumer credit counseling company or financial coach to help you examine your spending and develop a plan to repay your debt.
  11. Work overtime.
  12. Get a part-time job.
  13. Reduce spending by 30% by downgrading or downsizing your lifestyle.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why You Should Consider Donating To Charities


Do you donate to a charity? Do you know why you donate to a specific charity? Do you make anonymous contributions or like to receive recognition? Whom do you give to, and why? Do you donate to small charities or larger ones? Do you donate only to tax deductible charities? If you don’t donate to charities what is your reason?

Google executive Sheryl Sandburg states that less than 1/3 of the money that individuals gave to nonprofits in 2005 reached the poor. A study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University showed that only 8% of charitable donations provide basic necessities, food and shelter. Sandberg names two possible explanations for this “charity gap”: (1) It is easier to give to those in our own communities than to the truly economically disadvantaged who are outside our immediate circles of relationships; and (2) donors do not fully understand where their contributions are going.

Sandburg encourages Americans to consider the disconnect between their desires to do help the poor and the destination of their money.  Americans donate the most to religious groups, education, foundations, health care organizations, human services and arts and humanity groups.

The US average for donating to charities is 2% or $76. The wealthy spend 3% of their monthly spending towards charity.   Most charitable states are: Delaware, Washington, DC , Kansas, Oklahoma is the top state, and Washington. The United States is in the lower half of the top 20 of all countries that donate to charities. Approximately 86% of professional athletes donate to charities.  

People give based on their identity: who they are and how they view themselves. The degree to which identities are flexible, involve a willingness to act, and help make sense of the world has significant implications determining whether and how much people give.  

Benefits of Donating
Individuals who donate to charity may deduct contributions on their federal tax returns. Contributions must be made to legitimate charity to receive a deduction; contributions to a specific person may not be deducted. Keep careful records of money given through bank records or written communication from the charity, which includes the name of the organization, the date a contribution was given, and the amount. 

For a deduction of $250 or more, individuals need written confirmation from the charity proving that the donation was contributed and if the charity provided any goods or services in exchange for the donation. Donating to charities provides a way for you to help others. 

You can donate to charities in several ways: through money, non-cash donations or time.  Now more than ever charities need your help. There are so many people suffering in the United States and across the world but they need your help. Here are 6 things to consider when donating to charities:

1.      Is the charity recognized as a non-profit by the IRS? It’s necessary in order to write the donation off.
2.      What percentage of my donation will go to the charities? Should be 75%+
3.      How long have they been in operation? 5+ years, a proven track record is key
4.      Have you been reducing services? If yes, that could be a red flag.
5.      Do you have a year’s worth of operating capital? If yes, then it shows staying power.
6.      Remember to get and store your receipt!

Here are 4 tips on donating to charities:

1. Charitable Organization. The organization must be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Verify status by checking and 
2. Keep receipts.  If you donate a cash gift greater than $250, the charity must acknowledge the gift in writing. If less, you’ll need a receipt, canceled check, or credit card statement. If you do payroll deduction, you need the pay stub or W-2 and they’ll provide acknowledgement saying this deduction was a charitable contribution. For non-cash gifts, request a receipt with the name and location of the nonprofit, date of the donation, and description of the item.
3. Give appreciated assets.  Appreciated assets include stocks and real estate. By donating an appreciated asset, you can get the tax deduction based on the current value, not the lower value of the property when it was obtained.
4. Volunteer work deduction. Out-of-pocket expenses related to the volunteer work, can be deducted.