Payday Lending, Part I: if you have to do it, how to do it

Admitting that I took out a payday lending loan isn't exactly something I'm proud of. I imagine it ranks down there with confessing to friends that you took your sister to the prom.

But since I'm admitting I became a payday loan customer earlier this year, I thought I'd give everyone a sense of what to expect if you find yourself in a similar situation. Hopefully what I'm about to tell you will help you know what you're in for.

How to know where to go: I'm not an expert on this, having only gone to one place, but I simply looked through an online phone book and picked out a national payday lending establishment that had a branch within a few miles of my house. I know that there are online payday lenders with no brick and mortar stores, but I know nothing about them, and I figured if I was going to wade into the sleaze, let's make it the most reputable, nationally-known sleaze possible.

What you need to bring: Well, photo ID for starters. I'd call ahead first and ask, since every establishment is different, but chances are, you'll just need your driver's license and some recent pay stubs to show that you're gainfully employed. If you're self-employed, it's more difficult to borrow but still possible. Again, you need proof of income, quite a bit more proof than an employee with a boss and a W-2.