Let’s face it: life happens. Whether it’s due to an unforeseen event, emergency or just short on rent, sometimes a rainy day fund isn’t enough to cover everyday expenses, especially in this economy. There are a variety of reasons as to why many turn to payday loan lenders, even if it equates to paying high interest charges after two to four weeks.
Many state and local governments across the developed world have been attempting to clamp down on payday loan establishments because public officials and the general public feel these businesses are taking advantage of the consumer. Some of the actions being taken are caps on payday loans, a maximum on fees and even banning advertisements to youth.
Why do borrowers take money from payday lenders? Well, an infographic and a poll were released to highlight what American and British consumers use the funds for. The results aren’t too shocking, though.
In October, CFPB released an infographic listing some of the expenses that borrowers use payday loans for. As expected, one-time borrowers will use the funds to pay for unexpected medical bills, replacing a broken down appliance, household repairs, educational expenses and emergency breakdowns of vehicles.
Although consumers are using payday loans for unexpected events, a new trend is growing whereby borrowers allocate their payday loans to pay for regular everyday expenses. In fact, using data from the Pew Charitable Trusts, two-thirds of borrowers use payday loans for their ongoing living expenses, the average borrower takes out a payday loan five months of the year and payday loans are paid back on average 18 days.
With only 16 percent of payday loans now used toward an emergency, the first time a borrower took out a payday loan it covered credit card bills, rent, groceries and food, electricity bills, gas money and other common bills.
The United Kingdom-based Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) recently published the results of its study that also found borrowers use payday loan funds for common, everyday expenses rather than just for emergencies.
“The fact that people are using payday loans to cover predictable expenses shows that it is not a financial planning problem they face but a problem of making ends meet,” said Matthew Lawrence, IPPR Research Fellow, in a statement. “In a worrying new trend, young people are using payday loans to cover everyday expenses like their phone bills and rent, as well as their groceries and utility bills.”
According to the poll, 41 percent of British borrowers paid for their groceries with a payday loan, while less than one-third (32 percent) used a payday loan for a utility bill. Another near one-quarter (22 percent) funded their Christmases with a payday loan. A little more than one-third (35 percent) borrowed funds to cover an emergency.
“We need better alternatives for borrowers that provide more options when it comes to length of loan and repayment options and affordability,” added Lawrence. “People are using payday loans for everyday recurring expenses even more often than one-off emergency expenses, so gradual repayment methods that don’t come with a Scrooge-sized price tag need to be available. We need to do a lot more to promote these affordable alternatives, not just focus on regulating on the payday industry.”
The survey was conducted with 2,003 adults in September of 2013.
What are some of the takeaways? The study authors recommend individuals to take common sense approaches, such as finding efficiencies in their monthly expenses, like cable and phone, bringing lunch to work rather than buying food and shopping at cheaper grocery stores.