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July 11: Payday lending, achieving financial freedom

Posted - Jul. 11, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.



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In this Sunday Edition, KSL's Bruce Lindsay explores the practice of payday lending with Art Sutherland, from the Coalition of Religious Communities, and Frank Pignanelli, from the Utah Consumer Lending Association. Also, KSL Newsradio's Amanda Dickson and Zions Bank Senior Vice President Cece Mitchell give financial tips and explain Deseret Media Companies' new campaign to help women gain financial freedom, "Imagine a Happier You."

Segment 1: Payday Lending

Last month Ogden became the latest city in Utah to weigh in on payday lending. It put a cap on the number of payday lending offices it will allow to operate in the city. Many jurisdictions have taken steps to regulate payday lenders and their controversial business model.

The conversation about payday lending and financial responsibility begins with Frank Pignanelli, an attorney and lobbyist representing the trade association of payday lenders in Utah, the Utah Consumer Lending Association, and Art Sutherland, chairman of the steering committee of the Coalition of Religious Communities, which has campaigned against payday lending.

Arizona recently shut down all payday lenders. But Sutherland says that is not the Coalition of Religious Communities' goal.

"We would like to see interest rates come down so that they are reasonable, so that they don't trap people," explains Sutherland. "Reasonable is 100 percent or less."

Pignanelli says that the interest rates are reasonable. "You hear about the 500 percent but that's based upon a year, that's based upon a loan taken out for a whole year," Pignanelli explains. "Under Utah law no payday loan can go past 10 weeks."

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But according to Sutherland, although a loan can not be made for more than 10 weeks, people often get caught in a cycle of taking out loans to pay off others.

There are people who take out several payday loans, admits Pignanelli, but he says payday lenders are against it because they are not getting paid.

The two guests do not agree on the effect of regulation on the payday loan industry.

"Under Utah law payday lenders are very, very well regulated, there's the surprise audit that goes on. As a matter of fact, when you walk into a a payday lender store you have the name, the address and the phone number of the regulators. So if you have a problem you can call that person," describes Pignanelli. "There's a big chart explaining the rates and everything like that. Then there's a brochure that's put out by the Department of Financial Institutions saying 'Make sure you know what you're getting into.' There's no other industry that has that."

Sutherland does not feel that this is real regulation.

"We don't consider this to be a regulation. They are not regulated, they are registered. They are registered by the state," says Sutherland. "They have a minimum number of requirements."

Pignanelli says that there are few complaints about payday lenders. But Sutherland says, "You have to consider the kinds of people who are taking these loans, they are not the kinds of people who write letters. They're people who hold three jobs at the same time, they are people who don't like to be in the public eye. They are not going to be writing letters, they don't know who to write them to."

Segment 2: Achieving Financial Freedom

Reliable statistics suggest that at some point in their lives, nine out of ten women will be solely responsible for their finances. And 87 percent of poverty-stricken elderly Americans are women. Deseret Media Companies, the parent corporation of KSL, has just launched "Imagine A Happier You," an initiative geared to helping women achieve financial freedom. Cece Mitchell, head of Womens Financial Group at Zions Bank, and Amanda Dickson, of KSL Radio represent the campaign.

The campaign focuses on women because women try to take care of everything alone, not that men handle money more responsibly.

"We want to take care of everything ourselves instead of asking for help or asking someone else to find out if there is a better way to do something," Mitchell explains.

Dickson says that women from all financial situations worry about money and that women from all kinds of income levels can get into trouble.

Mitchell says the first thing to do is figure out a budget and determine how much money is coming in and how much is going out. Then come up with a plan to control your spending and find a way to save.

When faced with a crisis Mitchell recommends finding something to sell rather than running to the payday lender. "Is there something that you have in your house that you could do without, that you could possibly sell?" Mitchell explains. "Sometimes just having a good old fashioned garage sale can get you through a crisis and it cleans out the basement, too."

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