Sunday, 15 August 2021 14:42

WHEN LIFE THROWS YOU A FINANCIAL CURVEBALL

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More than three years ago Affinity Credit Union officially launched the Restart Loan – a unique, made-in-Saskatchewan lending product that has both social and financial benefits.

Traditional payday loans often attract clientele with interest rates that appear affordable – for example 17% over a two-week period. When calculated on an annual basis, however, the interest rate can become a staggering 442%. The Restart Loan was designed to assist those who are struggling with unexpected expenses or emergencies and are vulnerable to getting trapped in the payday loan debt cycle. 

DODGING THAT FINANCIAL CURVEBALL

An unforeseen bill or an emergency car repair can sometimes throw even the most carefully planned budget into disarray. “Payday loans seem to offer a quick and easy solution to those in urgent need of cash,” said Cecilia Zerr, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Affinity Credit Union.

The Restart Loan provides individuals with an affordable alternative - so they can avoid using a payday loan in the first place or as an exit strategy to get out of an existing payday loan.

Restart Loan applicants can borrow between $200- $2,000 at an interest rate of 17.99% (lower than most credit card’s cash advance rates). There are no additional fees and repayment is flexible with repayment periods between two to 24 months.

  

HELPING TO BUILD A STRONG FINANCIAL FUTURE

Unlike traditional loans, credit history and credit scores are not the most important criteria when applying for a Restart Loan. The process is straightforward and applicants get the money the same day. Payback schedules are manageable and can help individuals build a solid credit history.

Additionally, the application process allows Affinity advisors to work with you on improving your financial health and literacy. Staff frequently take a loan applicant through budgeting exercises or explain what a healthy credit history is.

 

ASSISTING THE “UNDERBANKED”

The Restart Loan is an affordable, flexible, convenient and less stressful borrowing option than payday loans. And it’s available for everyone. Extensive training was developed and delivered to Affinity’s staff to ensure members felt comfortable asking questions or discussing their finances without judgement.

More than 2,860 people have been served with Restart Loans totalling $4.58 million since the program’s pilot phase, which launched in November 2017. While Affinity has done advertising, much of the success of the Restart Loan program comes from referrals.

Creating the Restart Loan and providing services to the “underbanked” is directly aligned with Affinity’s values and the co-operative principles.

“Our motivation is not to make a profit on this product. Instead, we want to meet people where they are at in their financial journey and support them in achieving their goals,” Zerr says. “The Restart Loan program attempts to bring social benefits, such as reducing stress, providing education, developing new relationships and contributing towards an overall healthy local economy.”

 

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS

Affinity’s Restart Loan is helping break the cycle of payday loans. The Restart Loan is a clear demonstration of “people before profits” and is what makes financial co-operatives, like Affinity, different.

Visit the Affinity Credit Union website to learn more. 

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Last modified on Friday, 27 August 2021 17:39