This is the 6th guest blog post in a series of 10 by Leah Gonzalez, a master's degree student in social work at the University of Texas in Austin and a graduate of Howard Payne University.
I've been doing a lot of talking about the issues surrounding payday and auto title loans. I've read articles, academic studies and just about anything related to the lenders and the consumers affected. I've done this research because I'm not able to give you a first-hand account of what it is like to be entrapped by a payday or auto title loan.
I want to provide the facts of what these lending practices entail, and practical ways individuals can avoid getting into this kind of debt. While the statistics are shocking, statistics don't often cause change. We like knowing statistics to back our beliefs, but when do they explain our actions?
The holidays are in full swing, so maybe this story is something to which you can relate:
It's Thanksgiving night, and I just spent the day with my family gathered at my parents' home in San Antonio. The food was delicious and plentiful. Now, though, it's midnight and most everyone is asleep, except me. I'm in the living room watching television, and I remember the blueberry pie from earlier in the day. I know eating that piece of pie at midnight has no benefit for me, it's actually damaging. Knowing how many calories and grams of sugar are in that pie probably won't stop me either. The truth is that slice of pie looks really good, it satisfies something in me, and after all, it is the holidays.
So if it's not the facts, what makes us change? In my experience, it is just that, experience. When first-hand experience isn't possible, putting a face to these issues can help to give us a better handle on the problems these loans can cause. I'm not suggesting you go out and become indebted to a lender, but I am asking you to listen to these stories of people who have experienced the payday and auto title loan cycle of debt.
AARPTexas. (2010, March). This is The Story of Preston White. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBhcew61XtA.
CRLvideos. (2009, May). Payday Lending- A 400% Interest Debt Trap. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzO7lFAiF4Q&feature=player_embedded#!.