Unexpected expenses are a fact of life. Whether it’s the washing machine suddenly breaking down or the car needing new tires, surprise bills hit us all. For those who are financially fragile – living from paycheck to paycheck and with little or no savings and credit – these expenses can be difficult to cover.

All this uncertainty about paying the bills is adding up to stress. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that 52 percent of employees are stressed out about dealing with their financial situation. It appears to be hardest on the younger workers, with 64 percent of millennials saying they are stressed by their finances. Alok Deshpande, the founder of SmartPath Financial Education, warns that 30 percent of employees are less productive than their peers because of acute financial issues like bad debt.

So, when the washing machine breaks down or the car needs new tires – and your employees don’t have the cash to handle it – what options do they have? There are many different financing options available to pay for both expected and unexpected expenses, but many of them can lead to a debt spiral and getting out of it can be difficult. Paying cash for a major purchase helps to avoid exorbitant fees and prevent credit dings from missed payments, but cash may not always be readily available. That’s why it’s so important for employees to be ‘credit educated’ – to understand hidden costs and fees associated with high-risk credit options and avoid making financial mistakes that can hound them months, even years, later.

Buying items on sub-prime credit or through high-interest vehicles like payday or title loans can be risky propositions, particularly if a person already has a low credit score. Ideally, understanding the options can help ensure employees make the best choice to meet their short-term needs without compromising long-term finances. Those options include:

  • Credit cards. Chances are, even with a shaky financial history, consumers can find a creditor willing to offer a line of credit in exchange for a steep annual percentage rate that accrues each month. Furthermore, if the borrower is unable to repay more than the monthly minimum, he or she could end up carrying that debt for years before it’s fully paid down.
  • Rent to own. With rent-to-own products, consumers pay a monthly principal amount plus service fees and taxes for a period of time, up to completing the rental agreement and owning the item outright. While the monthly rate makes items like appliances and furniture immediately accessible, be wary of the long-term cost. Renters can end up paying as much as three times the retail value of an item before satisfying the terms of ownership.
  • Payday/Title loans. Essentially, these loans function as a loan against a future paycheck or a personally-owned vehicle. They often come with high percentage rates and fees, as well as extremely short repayment schedules. They should only be relied upon if the borrower is certain he can cover the entire loan and associated fees by the designated due date. Employee purchase programs. Many employers offer an employee purchase program, which allows an employee to buy items through automatic paycheck deductions over a 12-month period.

There’s no credit check, zero interest and no hidden fees. The employee can manage his budget more easily through these programs, as the payments never rise or change.

Read the rest of the article at http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/economics/credit-reality-check-employee-wellness-extends-financial-health/