Cash

Borrowed trouble: My 30 days inside a payday loan office

The cursor blinks and a man hovers over my computer. American flag t-shirt, sleeves off — he coughs into his hands and rubs them together. He’s nervous. On my desk lies his bank statement, three pay stubs and a driver’s license. They are the only items he has in the world.

“You can do $200?” he asks. “All I need is $200.”

“I can do $200,” I say, but I’m falsely distracted: I’m typing — clicks and clacks without regard to timing or rhythm. The store is stuffy today. I’m thinking about going home. Or crawling under my desk, holding my knees and rocking. I’m feeling loansome: i.e., the mental weight from a month’s work of digging irresponsible borrowers under insurmountable debt.

“Yeah,” he says, “that all?”

Sam, who sits next to me, swivels over. She reaches to tap my computer screen, making the monitor shake, her chubby finger with a fat force. Where she taps it reads,

TOTAL LOAN AMOUNT APPROVED: ………………. $750.00

Sam turns her head, smiling at me, nodding, as if to say, “Go ahead, Kevin, you got this. I believe in you.” So I swallow. I have to find my voice again, like a shy 12 year old being forced to sing the National Anthem in front of his friends; it’s in there, but it doesn’t want to come out.

Below my computer screen is a motivational sign:

GOAL: 100% of TLA

Next to the letters is a picture of a steaming coffee cup with a pastry.

The man, waiting, now growing impatient to my silence, stretches. He looks to his right, at the signage hanging on the wall. Big, beautiful green letters,

BE A RESPONSIBLE BORROWER, TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.

“You’re approved for $750,” I say.

He pretends to think about it: “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll take it. All of it.” (more…)

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How To Be a Debt-Free College Samurai (5 Musts)

Or, “Debtxer: How I Serial Killed My School Debt”

It is a social norm to borrow money; students carry loans like backpacks. They’re everywhere. Weighing us down with a guiding hand. With loans, students study without having jobs or attend class without worrying of bills or can afford their outrageous price-gauging textbooks. Students think nothing of it because their loans are wrapped in pretty packages, bundled with the free financial aid; they wave, smile. The numbers show us their boobs. “LOOK AT ME,” she says.

I returned to college when all my high-school friends were graduating with degrees. I’m now 27 and am finishing my junior year as an undergrad. It feels like it’s taking forever because it is. Still, I’m excited because—although I’m tired of school and feel too old all the time—I’m studying exactly what I want to study, and I’ve remained debtless throughout my academic journey.

I’m no Dave Ramsey diehard freak, nor do I only carry cash, nor do I have a clean credit card; regardless, when it comes to student loans, I believe you should borrow as little of it as possible or, if you can avoid it, none at all. Don’t be a dumb college student. Be an awesome samurai. Samurais earn their way. Samurais serve with nobility and never borrow. Samurais think ahead.

But Kevvvinnnn, howwwww??? I need my mocchhhaaaaaazz (dumb college girl voice). (more…)