Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 63%, report living from paycheck to paycheck.
Here in Utah, many workers face the harsh reality of not being able to keep up with a surprisingly high energy bill during the winter months, or pay for the financial obligations of a vacation, or to support a family member who lost hours – maybe even a job – during the pandemic.
I know this anxiety all too well.
I was once one of those workers living paycheck to paycheck, while caring for a new baby who had increased medical needs as an infant. My firstborn had to stay in the hospital for three extended months. My daughter was born prematurely due to severe preeclampsia and we had thousands of dollars in medical bills. During this difficult time, I racked up more bills and re-entered the workforce after my longer than expected maternity leave with colossal financial obligations.
If I had to wait for my bi-monthly paycheck for the hours I had already worked, my bills would have been late and I would have faced late fees, sending me into a vicious cycle of debt.
Fortunately, I discovered a company called Earnin, which offers a financial tool called Cash Out used by over 2 million Americans, in all 50 states. The financial app allows workers to get paid for work they’ve already done earlier in the payroll cycle, rather than waiting for paychecks once or twice a month. This simple concept is called “access to earned wages” and allows workers to be paid the same day they work.
American workers have been paid the same for over two centuries. But how – and when – they pay their bills has changed dramatically. For workers living within their means and trying to meet their financial obligations, their bills don’t hang on their wages. This reality has historically forced many workers to turn to predatory lending or face high overdraft fees.
It is not fair. And that doesn’t make sense.
Access to earned wages solves this problem by empowering workers – freeing them from the payment cycles of their employers. This tool gives them access to the money they have already earned without waiting two to four weeks for their salary.
Workers have access to the paycheck they’ve already earned this month without any loans, which means no fees, no interest, and no APRs. They have access to their income without recourse, which means no collection agent, no fines and no reporting to credit companies.
In Utah, more than 8,000 workers in a cross-section of industries, including transportation, retail, restaurant, health care, legal services, state and local governments, the U.S. military and much more, use the Earnin app to access the money they have earned in real time.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, along with the financial anxiety it has produced for many, I hope more workers in our state and beyond will address access to earned wages, this who helped me pay my bills on time, with the money I had. already won.
Gabriela Cazier is Legal Secretary for the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office and a mother of two.