Have you ever loaned money to a friend or relative?

If you answered "yes", then it's possible you might be a loan shark.

Yes, I know it might sound like a stretch since you probably don't have any ties to the mafia and have purposely never put a hotel on Boardwalk when playing Monopoly, but a recent study by QuestionPro commissioned by BadCredit.org has revealed that over 1 in 5 (23% of) benefactors who have extended financial assistance to someone they know did so under egregious terms, including 21% of those surveyed in Washington State.

So what exactly defines "egregious" in terms of terms?

Well, the study results didn't provide any well-detailed particulars, but in general they largely amounted to those which included unwarranted interest rates or excessively-stringent timeframes for repayment. Although I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that at least a handful of these overkill advances came with terms affixed to vehicle pink slips, property titles, and first-born children as default collateral.

In my book (which by the way, probably has one of the shortest chapters ever on anything to do with banking), it's unthinkable to attach terms of interest or indemnity when loaning money to a friend or family member. Granted, I haven't loaned money to very many people in my life, since my fiscal motto has always been to spend all your cash before anyone has the chance to ask. But on the few occasions when I have forwarded a few bucks to a familiar, I pretty much anchored in the shallowest of expectations by assuming I just wouldn't be getting it back. That's never happened to my recollection, but then again if it had, I no doubt wouldn't remember it for that very reason.

As for borrowing money from those in my circle, I haven't done much of that in my life either, since I find it much easier to live with stiffing the cold and uncharitable institutions of formal lending than risk creating a schism with someone I love over nothing more than a bunch of printed numbers and powdered wigs on a piece of paper if I can't pay them back.

I'm honestly quite shocked to learn that so many friends and family would sink so low as to put their ilk and kin in the same bind that a heartless banker would by gouging them for 35% interest on a couple of hot dogs and a Big Gulp. At the same time, I'm also outraged to learn that anyone would consider themselves in a desperate enough pinch to willfully accept such outrageous terms.

No matter what your stance is on lending or borrowing from your homies, it's clear that the world is not at all lacking in matriculating misers, blossoming beancounters, and would-be Shylocks who will never pass up the opportunity to act like Daffy Duck bargaining with a pre-epiphanal Ebenezer Scrooge over hundredths of percentage rates on everything under heaven. I just hope for your sake there aren't any living under your family's money tree.

I guess all this sort of undoes that old conciliatory remark your mother used to feed you after a break up. Indeed there do appear to be plenty of fish in the sea, but it seems about a quarter of them are loan sharks who'll require you to need a bigger boat.

Incidentally, the states with the least instances of familial loan sharking were Arizona and Iowa at just 7%, while Rhode Island came in as the Mr. Burns of the survey with a whopping rate of 26%...which by the way, is higher than the interest rate on any of my many credit cards.

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Causes of Credit Card Debt

Credit Card debt in America sits at a record $986 billion. And 35% of American adults carry some kind of credit card balance. Developing good financial habits, such as budgeting, saving, and understanding credit card terms, can help prevent or manage credit card debt effectively. It's important to note that each individual's situation is unique, and a combination of these factors or other personal circumstances can contribute to credit card debt. Here are some of those factors

Gallery Credit: Dr. T