Mission Asset Fund (MAF) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that provides 0% interest loans through lending circles to people in need across the country. Not only are these loans 0% interest, MAF also reports your payments to the three major credit reporting agencies.
There is a small caveat though. MAF requires you to take a few short financial literacy courses prior to qualifying for a loan. But if taking those courses could save you 400% on interest over a payday loan, isn’t the extra time worth the wait?
3 – Get a Payday Loan Alternative from a Federal Credit Union
Payday Loan Alternatives (PALs) are small-dollar loans that range from $200-$1,000, with loan terms ranging from 1-6 months. Many credit unions also offer financial counseling at no additional cost to their members.
The catch with this payday loan alternative is you often have to be a member of the credit union for at least one month before taking out this short term loan. To gain access to a PAL, talk to your local credit union or bank.
4 – Get a cosigner on a traditional personal loan
While you might not qualify for a loan on your own if you have poor or no credit history, with a cosigner, you could gain access to a personal loan with better interest rates and build your own credit history while you’re at it.
What is a cosigner exactly? A cosigner is someone you have a close relationship with – like a parent or spouse – who agrees to take full legal and financial responsibility to pay your debt if you can’t or don’t. Ideally, a cosigner should be someone who has great credit.
Just remember, if you don’t pay back the loan, you would not only put the financial burden on your cosigner, you could also damage their credit. (See more about how co-signers affect your credit.) So if you go this route, make sure you will be able to pay off the loan as agreed.
Proactive strategies to help avoid payday loans in future
Since emergencies can happen at any time, the best approach is to prepare as much in advance as you can. That way, if you do experience financial hardship, such as job loss, medical bills, unexpected car repairs, etc., you’ll be able to either borrow the money through a high quality loan product or credit card, or have the money saved to cover what you need.
1 – Plan ahead for emergencies
Make sure part of your future financial plan is to save money for emergencies. Some personal finance experts recommend you set aside 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund. This fund should be a savings account you use only during emergencies, but can access quickly when you need it.
While 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses can sound like an overwhelming amount to try and save if you live on a tight budget, remember that every little bit you set aside helps. For example, if you saved just $5 a week for a full year, by the end of the year you would have over $240. And that’s before you add the interest your money earns in a savings account.
Unlike with money in a checking account, which sometimes charges fees, a savings account can help grow your money by earning interest. The interest on a savings account is known as the Annual Percentage Yield (APY). Be careful not to confuse APY with Annual Percentage Rate (ount of money you get charged for using a financial product.