I don’t really show when I’m stressed out. People think I’m so calm. I’m sure I look that way on the outside, but inside I’m thinking:
When am I going to be paid?
Do we have enough money to get groceries?
We have to make sure we get everything the baby needs.
Can we get dog food today, too?
Every day, I’m rolling through these questions in my mind. I mean, I’m relieved my girlfriend and I make enough money to get by, and I’m glad I know that if I’ve planned right and make all the right moves, we’ll get through the month. But it’s never, ever easy. I’m constantly planning, juggling, working it out.
If I put off the electric bill for a few days, I can make the car payment.
I can buy my daughter a new pair of shoes, but we’ll have to wait on the phone bill.
If we have any money left after everything’s paid, I put it into savings, even when I’m dying to have a cheap dinner out with my girlfriend. Working two jobs apiece and caring for four-year-old Angella doesn’t leave us much time to spend with each other. But there’s always a more urgent expense for us to deal with, and so we’re caught in a never-ending cycle, always trying to catch up. I know it’s hard for lots of people these days, but sometimes I wonder if it’s my fault this keeps happening to us.
Why can’t I fix this?
Am I making bad decisions?
What’s wrong with me?
It gets heavy sometimes. I try to keep the stress tucked deep inside, so my family won’t feel it, too. But sometimes my anxious inner dialogue gets the better of me. Like at Christmas time. I tried. I really did. I’d been calculating since September, putting gifts on layaway and paying for them over time so I’d be ready for the big day. I could already see Angella’s face when she spied the doll she’d been begging for sitting under the tree, waiting for her.
But life has a way, doesn’t it? Two days before Christmas, when I went to pick up the gifts, I was $50 short. And my inner dialogue kicked in.
Okay, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe Angella is too young to care about presents.
No way is that true. She asked Santa for this doll. She’ll be so disappointed.
And the restocking fee! I can’t afford that any more than the gifts themselves.
But we are lucky. We have enough food for a nice Christmas dinner.
Man, it’s been a long, stressful year, though. I was hoping for more.
Here we go again.
The picture of a joyful Christmas morning moment I’d been imagining for weeks quickly faded. I tried to put on a brave face, but my girlfriend saw through it like she does every time. She got me to spill my worries.
Then she helped me turn things around.
“Didn’t you mention a new program at work?” she asked. “Like you can get your pay early or something?”
“Oh yeah!” I said. What was it called again? I searched through emails on my phone for clues. PayActiv. That was it. Now I remembered. They called it Earned Wage Access. It meant I could get hold of my money before payday if I needed to.
It worked pretty slick. I downloaded the app, put in all my information, and the next day, I was able to collect my earned wages in cash from a Walmart nearby. On Christmas Eve, I bailed Angella’s doll and other gifts out of layaway jail, avoiding restocking fees, overdraft fees, and hikes on the interest rate on the credit card I was trying to pay down.
By Christmas morning, the stress I had been feeling melted away. As I watched Angela open her presents, I breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing it was all paid for, thanks to PayActiv and Earned Wage Access. For the first time in a long time, I was free to focus on my family, including our newest member—Angella’s doll she instantly named Chrissy. For once, we had everything we needed and a little bit of joy, too. And we had room at the table for Chrissy.
PayActiv is a holistic financial wellness benefit that provides Earned Wage Access (EWA) to one million workers every month. The PayActiv membership model comes at no cost to employers and a minor cost to workers. With a membership structure of $5 per two-week pay cycle, $3 per one-week pay cycle, or $1 for a day pass (charged only when they use it), users can make unlimited draws on up to 50 percent of their earned wages; utilize the PayActiv bill pay service and automatic savings features; access financial counseling and resources; and order an Uber or purchase products through Amazon—all using their already earned yet unpaid wages. Over one thousand companies across twenty thousand locations currently offer their employees the PayActiv benefit, which moved more than $2.5 billion in 2019 and saved users an estimated $240 million in late fees and interest. There are no hidden fees or additional fine print. PayActiv strives to support workers’ financial security and to strengthen the partnership between employers and employees.
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