This post is was originally published on The Penny Hoarder
So many of us are familiar with the anxiety of living paycheck to paycheck and the frustration of having to wait a whole two weeks until that next paycheck rolls around.
Now Walmart is trying to ease that pain — and provide additional financial assistance — for its more than 1.4 million workers.
The major retailer collaborated with financial tech startups Even and PayActiv to provide employees with access to the Even app, which will allow workers to obtain a portion of their earnings before their paychecks are distributed, the company announced Wednesday.
Workers will be able to use the “Instapay” feature up to eight times a year at no cost. Any more than that and they’ll face a charge, which Walmart will subsidize, the company said.
An Even Plus subscription — which includes the Instapay feature — costs $6 a month, according to the frequently asked questions on Even’s site.
Walmart did not disclose exactly what portion of their checks employees will be able to receive in advance, but the money accessed prior to payroll’s end will be deducted from the upcoming paycheck.
Walmart’s partnership with Even will also allow workers to take advantage of other financial tools. A money management function within the app tells users how much they can safely spend before their next paycheck without jeopardizing anticipated bills.
A Potential Solution to Financial Woes
For years, the Center for Financial Services Innovation has researched income volatility and the struggles workers face when it comes to budgeting and planning. Even’s cofounders were among the first professionals to be a part of CFSI’s Financial Solutions Lab, a program that seeks to find innovations to improve financial health in America.
John Thompson, CFSI’s senior vice president, told The Penny Hoarder workers are faced too often with having to forgo making payments or with turning to high-risk borrowing in order to juggle bills and other financial responsibilities.
He said it’s a great thing to see the marketplace acknowledge the fact that better solutions to these struggles are needed.
“We’re excited to see that type of innovation happen,” Thompson said of the services Even will provide for Walmart. However, he also mentioned the right guardrails would have to be in place so workers don’t struggle to manage their finances, given this new opportunity to access their earnings.
Michael Best, director of advocacy outreach for the Consumer Federation of America, echoed that sentiment. “The only caveat is whether this creates other problems, and are there unintended consequences where workers find themselves turning to loans at the end of the month,” he told Bloomberg.
The New York Times also reported on Walmart’s new financial offerings and didn’t shy away from the fact that the company’s minimum starting wage — at $9 an hour — is lower than similar big box retailers, including Costco and Target.
That leaves some wondering whether Walmart should instead place more focus on higher wages or give workers enough hours to take home larger paychecks whenever they get paid.
Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.