CLEVELAND, MISS. — It was such an easy trap to fall into.
All Jennifer Williams needed was an extra $100 to make it to her next paycheck. Back in 2006, she had just started teaching at the local high school and money was tight.
The then-24-year-old knew no bank would give her money because of her spending habits in college. “If there was a textbook for doing everything wrong, well, I did it and messed up my credit,” she explained.
She asked a fellow teacher how she managed to make ends meet and was pointed to one of those bright yellow buildings with a blinking “CASH” sign out front, which gave her the loan she needed.
“I originally borrowed $400. I had to pay an $87-a-month fee to pay it back,” Williams said.
She couldn’t afford the fees. Three years later, she owed nearly $5,000 to nine different payday lenders, at nine different locations, and was totally overwhelmed.
“I kept getting loans from other places because I could never catch up,” she said. “I felt like I was suffocating. Like I had no way out. I was paying this one to pay that one to pay the other one, so I could ultimately make it paycheck to paycheck. That is no way to live.”
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