Are buy-now-pay-later apps helpful assistance or debt traps?

published4 months ago
4 min read

Hey there,

Everyone, this has been a great week. I signed new clients I’m excited to work with, my physical therapist helped me figure out why I roll my foot when running, and I made headway with a pile of paperwork I’ve been ignoring. I hope that all of you have had a great week too - or are heading into a fantastic weekend!


Back when I was a kid, layaway was such a fascinating concept. Put a little money down now, and get a toy at Christmas! I kinda missed the part about the other payments that needed to be made. It was common to see lots of people lining up at layaway counters to stockpile gifts, clothes, major appliances, etc at stores like Sears, KMart, Ames, JCPenney, etc. (You may have noticed...most of these stores don’t exist anymore or are failing miserably.)

Recently, there has been a resurgence of this concept, in the form of ‘buy-now-pay-later’ apps (BNPL for short). If you’d like a bit longer description of how these BNPL apps work, check out this LATimes article. Basically, it’s the same concept: use one of these apps as you checkout from online shopping, make a small down payment, and then owe them 3-4 more payments in the future. The difference is you get your item now vs having to pay it off *before* you get to access it as in the layaway model.

I was surprised to learn that roughly 42% of Americans report using the apps at least once, according to a Feb 2021 Credit Karma survey. The apps indicate that they offer a way to expand access to a credit product for individuals who have bad credit scores or little credit history. And since it’s only for one purchase, it doesn’t damage your credit score and might help you build up good credit history if you make all the payments on-time. There is even one app Octane which caters solely to the ‘passion purchase’ market (namely motorcycles, RVs, boats, and other powersports) and recently raised a $52million Series D round.

It’s a trend that Square wants to capitalize on with their recent purchase of Afterpay for $29billion. The target audience is mainly younger consumers who have been fans of using the BNPL apps. Some of those users claim that credit card companies allow them to rack up huge debt before stepping in, whereas the BNPL apps are used on a per-purchase basis so it’s easier to control spending. And while they can be right, it hasn’t always turned out that way.

What many young consumers are doing is building up a ladder of debt with successive purchases, and getting the immediate gratification of the item purchased and ‘forgetting’ the payments that will come later. US regulators are still gauging the impact, but European and Australian regulators have increased scrutiny. With Square’s recent acquisition, US regulators can’t be far behind. But the U.S. BNPL market is expected to grow by 41.7% on an annual basis to reach over $126 million in 2021 and it’s great for a company’s transaction volume -- so more to come on its impacts on consumer lending/credit cards/etc.

Making the switch to a new job in tech? Let me help you find the tech job of your dreams as I've done for so many others: Check out my Coaching options here.


Last month, I was featured in a 500Startups article along with other women entrepreneurs offering hard-earned negotiation advice. I thought I’d expand a bit more on my snippets.

My Negotiation Hack: Arm yourself with data before any negotiation. Know the questions they will ask and be ready to respond.

  • I am always surprised when I speak with job seekers who wait until the offer stage to gather salary data and prepare for an offer negotiation.
  • You should start earlier in the process. The larger tech firms have hired enough people that the data is often readily available - and now that multiple states ban companies from asking for salary history, many recruiters are asking for salary ranges in screening calls or first-round interviews! Don’t be caught off-guard and anchor yourself lower than you should.
  • Resources to find salary data:

My Advice: Be confident in what you are asking for. They wouldn’t have given you an offer if they didn’t think you had skills and value to add. Ask someone knowledgeable to practice modeling out the various ways the conversation could go.

  • For some candidates, they are confident throughout the entire interview process - and freeze up when the offer negotiation phase begins. You should remember that they gave you an offer because they want YOU to join their organization and bring along your skills and experience to help them achieve their company’s objectives.
  • It’s only logical to then ask for a compensation package that matches your worth. And most tech recruiters also expect negotiation. If you structure the conversation well, everyone wins.
  • PRACTICE the conversation!! Contact me or someone else who is knowledgeable about you, your industry/role, or the specific company to help plan out the conversation. I have modeled negotiation conversations with many clients, forcing them to articulate what comp package components they value most and how to respond if a recruiter says No at any stage. I’ve helped clients get anywhere from $5-25K salary bumps, include advanced promotion cycles in their written offers, added additional bonuses, and more. Reach out if you’d like to chat more!

Have you found this newsletter interesting, valuable, or just fun to read? Forward it to a friend! (If you’re the friend who received this wondrous free gift, click here to subscribe.)



If you have ever dreamed of Star Trek and moving through space at warp speed, the potential of developing time crystals in quantum computing is a big step on the way there.

Send me your questions! Do you have a tech topic you'd like me to explore further? Or maybe a career or job search question you'd like me to address? Hit reply to let me know!

Bye for now,


I respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time