Inside My Wallet is a series where we talk to Salary Finance members about their journey moving out of debt and into saving. Today we’re talking to Aubrey, a Retail Manager from Lawrence, Kansas. Over the past year, Aubrey has made strides to greatly improve her financial situation — paying down debt, improving her credit score by over 200 points, and building up her emergency fund. She never thought she’d need a loan, but when she was faced with a large, unexpected expense, the flexibility of taking out a low-interest loan though Salary Finance gave her peace of mind. She shares more about her experience, and tips for those struggling financially during COVID-19.
How did you feel when you heard that your employer was going to introduce Salary Finance?
When I first heard about the benefit, I thought it was great, but that it wasn’t really from me. I immediately thought it was perfect for a friend of mine who also works for my employer. She was looking for a loan, and doesn’t have the best credit – so I sent the information to her and told her it would be a great way to pay down all the debt she had in collections now, and just pay a small amount back with each paycheck.
It wasn’t until I purchased a new car, and the taxes were much higher than I thought they would be, that I considered Salary Finance. I thought I would never need a loan, but when I did Salary Finance was there and the process was very easy.
When you realized that the taxes on your new car were higher than you anticipated, did you consider other credit options?
I did look around at different banks to see what options were available, but the interest rate I received from Salary Finance was much lower, and the total repayment would be much less than any of the other options I looked into. I also like the fact that my repayment comes directly out of my paycheck, I’ve never seen an option like that before, and prefer it over adding another monthly payment.
How were you feeling about your finances during that time?
Well, about a year ago I started being really aware and focused on my credit. I’m currently 26, and when I was 24, I realized I had a little bit of debt, and decided I really needed to pay it off in order to be able to buy a house, and a car, and all of the other things I wanted for myself and my family.
I had a $100 bill that ended up in collections, and a couple of other small debts here and there. In a matter of six months, I really buckled down and made a plan to save, and pay down everything little by little. My credit score jumped from 480 to 690, and after that I was able to buy my first house and first car. I was finally able to use my finances as a tool to make things easier on myself, rather than a burden that I was ignoring and pushing off to the side.
So this time, when I was considering taking out a loan to help pay the taxes on my new car, it was easier for me to think through all of the considerations. I know how important it is to only take a loan that I feel 100% confident that I can pay off, instead of taking out a loan and thinking about it later.
How has the Salary Finance employee loan helped you, and what is the biggest difference it has made for you personally?
Well, the reason my car taxes were higher than I thought was because I bought a new car, and then shortly after moved out of state. When I went to get the tag on my car switched over in my new state, I needed to pay the car taxes from the other state, which ended up being close to $3,000. When I realized that, I was really kind of scared because that was a lot of money due at once, in addition to what I had already saved to put down.
Knowing that I would be able to take care of that expense with my Salary Finance loan, and just pay back a small repayment each month from my paycheck, was like a breath of fresh air. I was really excited to have that kind of platform available that was able to help me when I needed it.
Has the repayment coming out of your paycheck helped you with any areas of your finances?
Yes, it helps with budgeting in the sense that I don’t even really think about having to pay it. Whenever I think about the other bills I have to pay, I think about utilities, my mortgage, and my car payments – I never think about this because it comes out of my paycheck, so I know on pay day I have already paid it. I never feel like I’m missing that money from my paycheck, and it is one less thing to think about when figuring out my budget.
Would you consider your employer an employer who cares about their employees in all senses of the word?
Yes, I’ve had a great experience with my employer and their benefits offerings. In addition to this, they have a great Employee Assistance Program. Prior to getting my new car, I got rear-ended and my car was completely totalled. The money I was going to be able to get from insurance would not be able to cover a new car, and I was pregnant at the time and due in a few weeks so I was really scared. As part of the Employee Assistance Program I was able to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer to understand my options, and get directed to resources to support me. I was really young, and didn’t have a lot of family to help me to work through that situation, so I was grateful to have that benefit through my employer.
How does having this benefit available through your employer impact how you feel about working for them?
Salary Finance is one of many great things my company does for its employees. I used to work as a bartender, and coming from an environment like that where I felt like just a number, to my current employer is a big change.
They really invest in us, both with training and benefits. I’d say they have more of an appreciation for their employees than any other job I’ve had, which makes me much more loyal to them.
You mentioned you recommended Salary Finance to a friend when you first heard about the benefit, now that you’re a member would you still recommend Salary Finance to other friends or colleagues?
Yes, I’ve actually referred a lot of people, and a few of my coworkers have applied. They are in college, and have less experience with their finances, so it was helpful to be able to share my experience with them.
How are you coping financially during this time, given the COVID-19 pandemic?
We’re fortunate to be in a pretty good situation right now. I was furloughed, so we have less money coming into our house right now, but my husband is still employed so we have some income. My daughter is nine months old right now, and since she was born we’ve been really building up our savings and cutting back on spending so I feel like we were very prepared.
Do you have any advice for people who may be struggling financially during this time?
I feel like a lot of companies are stepping up and offering support during this time; for example. my car insurance company is delaying payments for a month, since we wouldn’t be driving as much.
There are also a lot of normal everyday costs you can cut back on too while at home. For us that’s daycare and gas, we’re instead putting that into savings in case I can’t go back to work for more than a few months.
I feel like everyone realizes it’s a pandemic and we’re in this together, so whether it is companies you’re a customer of, your friends, or neighbors – there are lots of people willing to help. I know there are a lot of people struggling right now, so my best advice would be to not be afraid to ask for help, because it’s available.