Why should you trust the information on this web page?

Beware of pay day loans, quick loans, cash advances, etc.
How to stop being a slave to debt
(and how to win your freedom!)
credits and disclaimer

Here's a secret about pay day loans, quick loans, cash advances, rent-to-own places, and car leasing:

They are rip offs. They want to KEEP you in debt, because that's how they make money - and they make many, many millions of dollars every year. They have NO interest in helping you get out of debt - they want to keep you IN debt!

Interest rates on loans from any of these services can range from 30 percent upwards to 150 percent of the loan or cost amount. That means, for a $400 loan, you have to pay back $520 to $820!! In addition to high interest rates, there are also numerous additional fees that are often included with loan repayment conditions.

Want to know the truth about the payday loan industry? Check out from your local library, or read at your local library, the book Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. – How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin. 

I have nothing to sell you in regards to pay day loans, quick loans, cash advances, etc. Nothing. I'm writing this page because I want to try to counter all those awful commercials and web sites by companies that are getting rich by pushing people farther into debt. Reverend DeForest Soaries calls debt "the new slavery," and I agree - and I want people to throw off those chains (note: The 2010 CNN documentary Almighty Debt focuses on the efforts of Soaries, who created a program called defree designed to "liberate" people from debt; if you cannot afford the book, check it out from your local library).

Stay away from all the services that promise quick cash, rapid cash, no-money-down, rent-to-own appliances, pay day loans - whatever. They will cost you even more money and put you into even more debt. These companies prey on desperate people in desperate situations and make things even more desperate for you, while they rake in MILLIONS of dollars. They will trap you even further into debt for years and years. To use them is to throw money away. Do not listen to Montel Williams or any other D-list celebrity shilling for these services - stay away from these companies!

Also, stay away from companies that will give you a lump sum of money for an annuity from a settlement, inheritance, whatever. They also rip you off. You will lose many thousands of dollars if you use these companies!


If you are in debt, the first thing you need to do is to determine exactly how much money you owe and to whom. You have to write it all down on paper or in a spread sheet on a computre. You have to have a handle on your debts - otherwise, you may pay money to collection companies for debts that are not yours.

If you need cash right now, go meet face-to-face with family and friends about what work you could do for them to raise that money immediately:
  • taking in and doing their laundry once a week for the next four weeks (or four months, whatever),
  • spending a day cleaning out their garage or basement,
  • child care for the next 14, 30 or 60 days,
  • dog walking,
  • house cleaning,
  • driving someone to doctor's appointments, hair appointments, etc.
  • putting together a garage sale, taking care of every aspect of marketing (posting to Craigslist, putting up signs), setup, tear-down and staffing the event, in return for half of all money raised
Do whatever you can think of that is an activity they really need and would be willing to pay for. Write out the terms of your work - what you are agreeing to do, for how long, how much you will be paid, by what date you will be paid, and what would constitute that person NOT paying you (unsatisfactory work, uncompleted work, etc.). Both of you should sign this document and have a copy. You are NOT asking for a loan - do not go there! You are already in debt - you will lose family and friends if you ask for a loan. You are WORKING for that money!

You are better off visiting every restaurant within walking distance of your home and finding out if they would pay you in cash for busing tables and/or washing dishes than calling any of these payday loan companies. You could make $500 a week if you live in an area with a lot of restaurants and are willing to work very hard, particularly outside of regular business hours - very late at night or very early in the morning, and on weekends.

You also need to stop as many expenses so you can save money: cancel your cable, Direct TV, NetFlix, etc. (you can restart them when you are out of debt), do not pay for any pay-per-view anything, no buying ready-made coffee drinks outside of your home (make your own!), make your own lunch, do not go out for breakfast or supper, do not go out to the movies for six months or a year, and for any trip within three miles of your house, you have to walk, ride a bike or take mass transit. If you did that for just three months you would save HUNDREDS of dollars - that's money you can use to pay off debts.

Downgrade your cell phone plan. You want the absolute cheapest cell phone plan you can get. If you have an iPhone or Android or other highend smart phone AND a laptop computer, you do NOT need both of these: sell the iPhone and buy a Tracfone. That will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in a year.

If you have a bank account, move your money to a credit union. Banks are for-profit companies; their purpose is to make money, through charging you fees and interest. Credit unions are non-profit companies; their purpose is to help you keep as much of your money as possible. Once you move your money, do not use any ATM that is not on the credit union system, so that you never, ever pay ATM fees.

Do not buy any new books; used books or books from the library ONLY. And you can rent movies from the library for free as well!

Pay for everything by cash whenever possible. If you cannot afford to pay for something in cash, you can't afford it. Period.

Make a budget. In addition to identifying your debts, you need to know your regular expenses. For each month, each quarter and each year, you have to identify all of these costs (and you need to cut them as much as you can):
  • Housing - rent or mortgage payments (would it be cheaper to move to a smaller, cheaper apartment? Do you really need a house with two bathrooms and four bedrooms and a huge yard?)
  • Telephone - landline (good idea to get rid of this if you have a cell phone or smart phone)
  • Telephone - smart phone or cell phone
  • Water (you don't need to take a shower or wash your hair every day, you really don't; you shouldn't run water while you are brushing your teeth; and, you don't need to water your lawn once every week)
  • Electricity (be vigilant about turning the lights off every time you leave a room, and unplug your TV or use a power strip and turn it off every time you leave your home; most appliances suck a bit of electricity even when they are off)
  • Gas for transportation (walk or ride your bike whenever possible, certainly for any trip within a mile of your house)
  • Garbage (could you downgrade to a smaller garbage can? Also, start a compost heap to further reduce the amount of garbage the city needs to pick up and that you have to pay for)
  • Lawn maintenance (could you mow your lawn less and save on gas? or turn more of your yard into food-growing, which uses less water than a lawn?)
  • Health Insurance (if you don't have this, you should still be saving at least $100 a month into a savings account only to help pay for health costs that might arise)
  • Health costs not covered by insurance
  • Car payment
  • Car insurance
  • Car maintenance (oil changes, etc.)
  • Debt payments (credit cards, loans)
  • Tuition (for yourself and any other family members)
  • Student Fees (for yourself and any other family members)
  • Books
  • Meal Plan
  • Parking Permit
  • Groceries
  • Transportation (gas, repairs, tolls, bus, etc.)
  • Laundry (if done outside the home)
  • Unplanned / emergency expenses: new tire, roof repairs, etc.
  • Payment into your Roth IRA or other retirement (the maximum contribution into this each year is $5500, and it is an essential expense, not an extraneous one)
Things to cut or put on hold for a few months, maybe even a full year:
  • Professionally-done haircuts (if you are doing these every month, make it every other month, at least)
  • Professional manicures or pedicures
  • Cable TV, Direct TV, NetFlix, etc.
  • Dining Out
  • Ornamental gardening
  • New clothes
  • Jewelry
  • New electronics (new computer, new TV, new appliances, etc.)
  • New car (and when you are in a position to get a car, go for used, not new)
  • MP3 players
  • DVD rentals or purchases (borrow from friends)

More advice:

  • Cut up your credit cards. Don't use them until you are completely out of debt and, once you are out of debt, you can have ONE card. Only one.
  • Have a yard sale. Have them regularly.
  • Sell your books at a place that buys used books.
  • When you go to the grocery, look for cheaper alternatives for toilet paper, paper towels, dishwashing liquid, or any bulk food items (rice, noodles, coffee, etc.). Go with generic brands of anything whenever possible. You could save at least $50 a month that way -  more if you have a large family.

Follow all of that advice, and you will have at least $1000 more every year - probably a few thousand dollars more. That's thousands of dollars you don't have to pay back to anyone, that you get to use to pay off your debt. 

In case you were wondering: I was in more than $50,000 in debt in 1998, all to credit card companies. I was getting killed on interest rates. Using a lot of the strategies above, including going car-less for four years, I was out of it by 2002. It meant saying "No" a lot to friends. But it also meant I re-learned how to enjoy myself by reading, hiking, and playing with my dogs, and spending time with people I care about in much more meaningful ways - all of us cooking together, or watching a TV show or movie together, sharing a pizza together. When I did budget a movie or a dinner out or a concert into a month, I ended up cherishing those experiences so much more. All that got me out of debt, and I have stayed out of debt, but I still live in a lot of the same ways I did when I was in debt, and life is SO much better!

Recommended books:

There are a lot of free resources online that can help you get out of debt and learn to better manage your money. Buying books is still a great investment, providing far more detailed information and there even if your Internet access is down or computer is broken. You could make your own coffee, bring your own lunch, and not go out to supper for a month or two and you could afford to buy one of these books.

But if you truly don't want to buy, then get a library card at your local public library and check out any of these books, for free.

And remember: you have to actually READ the books for them to do you any good. You do have time to do this: just turn your TV to the OFF position.

dfree: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery by DeForest B. Soaries

Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. – How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin

Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times: 250+ Ways to Buy Smarter, Spend Smarter, and Save Money by Clark Howard

Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

The Financial Peace Planner: A Step-by-Step Guide to Restoring Your Family's Financial Health by
Dave Ramsey

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Out of Debt by Ken Clark

The Everything Guide To Personal Finance For Single Mothers Book: A Step-by-step Plan for Achieving Financial Independence (Everything (Business & Personal Finance) by Susan Reynolds

250 Personal Finance Questions for Single Mothers: Make and Keep a Budget, Get Out of Debt, Establish Savings, Plan for College, Secure Insurance by Susan Reynolds and Robert Bexton

Web sites that offer free info to help you with debt, as well as preparing a budget:

Feed the Pig
Sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Ad Council, this site helps young adults take control of their personal finances.

A personal finance blog by a college student who got into debt and worked his way out. Fun, easy-to-read, gives lots of money saving strategies and tips.

And get your children and teens involved in JumpStart financial literacy activities, so that they never end up in debt. 

This web page of information for teens regarding taxes, which includes a long list of links to other sites with information, is from a company that prepares taxes. It's one of the best curated lists anywhere of financial information for teens.

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2010-17 by Jayne Cravens, all rights reserved. No part of this material can be reproduced in print or in electronic form without express written permission by Jayne Cravens.

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