;Lower-income consumers use a growing number of financial services including pawn shops, rent-to- own programs, check-cashing outlets, and rapid-refund tax services as alternatives to traditional financial services. These services constitute the Alternative Financial Sector (AFS). Compared to the traditional financial sector, AFS services are very expensive. This article describes services offered through the AFS, appeals utilized to attract customers, and the cost of using the AFS. The article provides financial counselors with information to help them work with AFS users. KEY WORDS: alternative financial sector, lower-income consumers, pawn shops, rent to own

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