Tyler Perry Talks Pay Day Loans and Pawn Shops In New Documentary

June 14, 2014  |  


It’s easy to take for granted direct deposit or hitting up the ATM for some quick cash, but there are thousands of Americans who rely on a fragile system of money orders, payday loans and pawn shops when it comes to maintaining their finances. Tyler Perry narrates the new documentary “Spent Looking For Change” which debuted last week, and reveals some alarming statistics regarding how many Americans are handling their personal finances.

“Spent: Looking For Change” looks at the lives of four families who represent the 70 million Americans who rely on alternative banking services such as money orders and pay day lenders. The difference with this documentary is it just doesn’t discuss Americans living off of social services, it tells the story of hardworking Americans whose options have been limited by financial setbacks. Tyler Perry recalls his own struggles before he became financially secure and how he relied on services that basically exploited his situation by charging him large amounts of money to access the very little money he was making:

“I cashed all my checks at the quick cash and I was always upset about how much it cost to cash the check.”

“I had to do a lot of wiring. My mother was always pissed at how much it would cost, the check wouldn’t be but $20 and it would cost her $15.”

Perry hopes this documentary will educate and motivate people experiencing similar setbacks.

In an interview with Essence, Perry explains what he means when he uses the phrase, “It’s very expensive to be poor.”:

“Eighty-nine billion dollars is spent in these services. When you’re poor, you can’t just go to a bank if you don’t have the credit to open up a bank account. You have to rely on these services. If you go to a check cashing service, you have to pay for that. If you use one of these pre-paid cards, you have to pay for that instead of having a regular credit card. So it’s very expensive to be poor.”

He also commented on why he chose to narrate the project, sponsored by American Express:

“I applaud American Express for doing this because the truth is that nobody knows. When I put this on my Facebook page, everybody was saying, ‘Oh people just need to stop living above their means’ But people aren’t living above their means; they’re living by any means necessary. These are hardworking people who are not trying to take welfare and who are not trying to be in social systems, they are trying to work. This woman in the documentary, Tiffany, she’s a single mother, she’s a nurse, she has all these different degrees and then her mom gets cancer. Sometimes things just happen and it’s difficult to move through. So that’s why I wanted to be a part of it and show all of America that 99% of the time people aren’t making these choices, these choices are being made for them.”

Financial literacy is something that is all too often overlooked in our communities. So many people are working hard to avoid being on welfare that they end up being taken advantage of in the process. To view “Spent: Looking For Change” visit Spent Movie.

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