National Payday Loan Blog

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How Spongebob Helped a Generation: Work, Money, and Dealing with Squidwards

4135073_4bfdd2a8e3_oOn July 17, 1999 the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants officially debuted, and the world changed just a little bit. Quickly dismissed by many as just another dumb cartoon, the show was nonetheless an immediate hit. It generated billions in merchandise sales, won an Emmy, spawned a hit movie, lured in famous guest stars, and dominated the afternoon cartoon scene for 15 years.

What we know now, what we didn’t know then, was that Spongebob was not “just another dumb cartoon” it was THE defining dumb cartoon for a generation. Perhaps even two generations. It is STILL the top rated cartoon for children, just as popular as it ever was.

Why is Spongebob so popular? What makes the odd little sea sponge such a phenomenon? Because this cartoon connects with kids and adults alike. Roughly 40% of the shows audience is adult.

Although it is mired in nonsense, Spongebob actually helps prepare children for the real world. Those same aspects of reality that appeal to kids also draw in adults, who are shocked to find that they can relate to the show.

Don’t believe it? (more…)

Pay Now Save Later! 4 Easy Ways to Save Hundreds a Year

2361650006_cb74ac5619_zBuy Now, Pay Later! Says the advertisement. And it’s sure to catch your eye. Be it a car, a phone, or a loan, the chance to get something for nothing – even for a limited time – is a hard offer to pass up.

The problem is, these “special deals” are never special, nor are they deals. By offering consumers something free up front, they get them to sign up for things they don’t need, at prices they never otherwise would have paid.

It may be a hard truth to swallow, but sometimes the best deals come from paying a lot up front.  You can save money in the long term by not making payments or getting a free month, but in coughing up the full price all at once. Financially speaking it may be hard (or even impossible) to do, but it can bring you big savings over months and years.

Instead of Buy Now Pay Later, it’s Pay Now Save Later.

Want some examples? Sure you do! (more…)

“In My Day Movies Cost a Nickel!” The Cost of Things Then and Now

712571702_e122d9eaf1_zThere has been a lot of talk about increasing the minimum wage lately. The state of Minnesota recently voted to increase their minimum wage up to $9.50, a fairly sizable jump from the current Federal minimum of $7.25.

Every decade or so the minimum wage increases, and every time it leads to a lot of public and political debate. Instead of arguing its merits and detriments, let’s take a look at the numbers. What were the cost of things the last time they raised the minimum? And the time before that?

The next time you hear someone say “Back in my day a nickel got you two movies, a cartoon, and a popcorn!” you can use this blog to fact-check them. (more…)

The A-B-Cs of Loans and Fees: A Subprime Rhyme for Our Time

6526907101_27ebe756c4_zThe language of borrowing has many ins and outs, and some of you might be wondering what it’s all about.

So sit back, get comfy, and enjoy this tome. It’s a rhyme to teach you all about loans. (more…)

3 Amazing Cartoons that can Teach You More than Finance Class

2312877891_899bbfe929_zIn the 1970s, Saturday mornings were all about cartoons. There were no 24 hour cartoon channels, not even any VHS tapes, so if you wanted cartoons, Saturday mornings were the only place to get them.

In between the cartoons were short music videos called Schoolhouse Rock. They took topics that bored kids to tears during school, and made them incredible with great music and clever lyrics. It was a great way to sandwich in some learning between Scooby Doo and Daffy Duck.

In the 1990s, Schoolhouse Rock made a comeback, and released a series of videos about money. Money Rock did the impossible – it made finance, loans, banking, and taxes seem interesting.

You don’t have to be a kid to learn from Money Rock. In fact, grown-ups may benefit from these songs more than their children.

If you’ve never seen these before, prepare to have your mind blown. These are our picks for the 3 best Money Rocks tunes. (more…)

A Dark Connection: The Link Between Debt and Depression

902028093_9a5b518310_zAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, between 1999 and 2010 the suicide rate increased by 30 percent.

US household debt has been steadily increasing since 1980. The average debt per household right now is $152,00 for mortgage, $15,000 for credit cards, and $33,000 for student loans. Roughly $200,000 per household.

Millennials, who are growing up with all this debt, have much higher rates of depression compared to other age groups, and other generations. Almost 1 in 5 members of Generation Y reported suffering from depression.

These are not three separate facts, these are three interconnected events that tell the same bleak story. The link between debt, depression, and suicide has long been known. Now that the economy is weak and debt seems overwhelming for a growing number of people, this dark connection is more dangerous than ever. If the people, like the nation itself, are digging deeper and deeper into debt and financial ruin, will more and more people suffer from depression?

You knew the student loan crisis and national debt were hurting people financially, but did you know how deep and dark that hurt can run? (more…)

3 Financial Blogs You Need to Be Reading

8020820411_e1066c8cc7_oWhere do you get your financial advice?

It seems like everybody has an opinion on what you should do with your money.  No longer do you have to make an appointment with a financial planner, or buy a book on budgeting advice. For anyone with a computer, there is an entire world of economic knowledge and monetary insight available at your fingertips.

But where to start? With literally tens of thousands of “experts” vying for your attention, everyone tends to make bold claims to grab your interest. You have to pick and choose your bloggers carefully.

In a perfect world, what you want to find is a blogger not just with knowledge of the subject, but also with personality, writing style, and maybe even a sense of humor. Let’s be honest here – finance is generally not an exciting topic. So its important to find a writer you can connect with; if they can keep you engaged, they can keep your mind focused on your finances. (more…)

Eaten Alive By Debt Zombies! 5 Ways The Walking Dead Makes You Money-Smart

9853530486_0b70b6d3ec_zThe Walking Dead is one of the hottest, most compelling, and most addictive shows that has ever aired on television. Every week it keeps millions of people riveted with tales of a group of survivors navigating the world of the zombie apocalypse.

But underneath the thrills, chills, and heart-breaking drama, The Walking Dead also has something else to offer us – financial life lessons.

That doesn’t mean that Rick Grimes, the Governor, Daryl Dixon, or Michonne actually teach us about money or debt. (What a boring show that would be!) But it does mean that watching the show unfold can demonstrate a few important principles that will put you on more sound financial footing. (more…)

4 Fool-Proof Steps to Avoid the Debt Trap

10746285606_aa8b7a7469_zThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued a new report on the business of payday lending and cash advances. Like their last report, the results are not pretty.

The CFPB has some strong warnings for people to avoid “the debt trap.” Their report claims that 62% of all payday borrowers end up paying more in fees than the amount they originally borrowed. It also says that 80% of loans are “rolled over” or followed up with another loan within two weeks.

Bare in mind, it’s never good to believe everything you read. The polling results on payday loans were collected by the Pew Research Foundation, which keeps all its research data private, so we sort of have to take them at their word.

But that doesn’t mean the CFPB doesn’t raise some valid questions. So let’s take a closer look, from an insider perspective, and break down exactly how to keep this from happening to you.

Avoid the debt trap in ? easy steps. Anyone can do it! (more…)

Bitcoins for Dummies

10306171483_92bc65323e_zWhen Mt. Gox lost $460 million worth of Bitcoins, it caused a lot of headlines and generated a lot of discussion. Are Bitcoins really here to stay, are they even a legitimate form of currency? Should they be taxed or subject to government oversight?

These are all good questions, but they are also moderate to advanced level questions. For a majority of people — perhaps even you – these news stories never start from the basics. No doubt you understand the idea of what a Bitcoin is, but do you know exactly what a Bitcoin is? Do you know where they come from, or how you spend them?

You’re not alone. The Wall Street Journal reported that 76% of Americans don’t understand the basics of Bitcoins, or how they work. In the last 5 years, the value of Bitcoin has risen over 6000% and despite a series of scandals and thefts, they are still growing in value. So even if you never use a Bitcoin, now is a good time to learn about them… just in case.

What Exactly are These Things?

Bitcoins are a digital “cryptocurrency” that do not have the backing of any bank, government, or financial institution. They exist on the world wide web, where they can be exchanged for goods and services with no middle man.

One of the most notable aspects of this currency is that since it is unregulated, any buyer and seller can exchange Bitcoins without oversight, and without a third party charging fees or taxes.

Bitcoin is the money equivalent of E-mail. Emails exist only in the digital medium, and are sent directly between mailboxes. We do not need a poster carrier to deliver a message, nor do we need a phone company to get us an open line to talk – email is direct, instantaneous, and has no physical properties. Bitcoins apply the same principles to money.

Instead of being a coin made of metal, or a bill made of paper, a Bitcoin is a piece of computer code. Since each piece of code is unique, they are easy to track. The process for buying and selling Bitcoins allows the buyer and seller to remain anonymous if they so choose, but the travels of each Bitcoin are cataloged in a public record called the Blockchain. The blockchain keeps everyone honest by making sure codes are duplicated or re-used.

Limited Time Only!

There are a finite number of Bitcoins. There will only ever be 21 million of them in existence. Currently, there are 12.3 million of them in circulation, which means there is still a lot of growth for the market.

That said, there is a limited amount of growth. Unlike paper money, which can be printed at will, there will never be more Bitcoins. This is part of the reason they have become some coveted – since they are not tied to any country’s currency, they are free from inflation and the fluctuations of the stock market. The value of Bitcoins is based entirely on supply and demand.

10924828373_d49ca0b373_zAnyone Can Use Bitcoins, Anytime

Interested in playing with this new currency? Well, there is nothing to stop you. Although the “mining” and creation of Bitcoins is steeped in insider speak and riddles of code, the usage of Bitcoins is surprisingly simple.

Install a Bitcoin Wallet – You can do this on you home computer, your tablet, or your smart phone. Your best bet it to put the Wallet on your phone, where it is easiest to access and use.

Buy Bitcoins – It’s time to fill up your wallet. You will need to go to a “Bitcoin Exchange” website, and use your country’s currency to buy Bitcoins from someone who has them. There are over a hundred exchanges online, as well as a private sellers. It only takes a few minutes to use your money to purchase Bitcoins, which are put into your Wallet.

Spend Bitcoins – Once upon a time it was hard to find a business that accepted Bitcoin for payment, but those days are long gone. Not only do thousands of websites accept BTC for payment (including Amazon and Overstock), but now even some major retailers do as well, like Home Depot, CVS, and Kmart. If you have the Bitcoin Wallet app on your Android you can purchase with your phone on the spot!

So although the concept of Bitcoins may be complex, their usage is not. It is a currency designed for simplicity and convenience, and may very well be signaling a change in the global economy, and how we view money.

After all, Bitcoins aren’t the only digital cryptocurrency on the block any more, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Namecoin, Tonal Bitcoin, and IxCoin (and many more) are all looking to make a name for themselves.

Should You Care?

That’s a question on you can answer for yourself. Even though tens of thousands of Bitcoin transactions happen every day, the vast majority of people have no involvement with them. And they don’t need to be involved. Bitcoins definitely have a purpose, and a bright future, but they won’t be replacing cash anytime soon.

But for businessmen and investors, or for forward-thinking people who don’t trust currency, Bitcoins may be just what you’ve been looking for.

Bitcoins have no tangible qualities (like precious metals or jewels) that make them valuable, and they are not backed by a country or bank. Basically, they have value because people believe they have value. If that sounds scary, remember that the United States is no longer on the gold standard, and our currency has value because we all believe it has value. Which makes it not that different from Bitcoin.