SoFi is committed to fighting racism, standing in solidarity with all of our communities, providing space for open dialogue,
as well as taking action as informed allies. We are donating $1 million to organizations that empower people of color and their allies.

SoFi Blog

Tips and news—
for your financial moves.

tools on a table

10 Essential Home Improvement Tools

You’ve binge watched home renovation shows for so long that you’re now ready to embark on your own DIY reno project. Whether you’re sick of looking at the pink tile in your bathroom or want to renovate your home to increase your home’s resale value, you may be eager to get started.

But before you start ripping down walls or removing outdoor siding, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the DIY tools you’ll need to get the job done correctly.

While you might be able to borrow a few of these essential tools from friends or family, if you plan on getting serious about renovating your home, you’ll probably want to add the basic tools on the list below to your tool collection.

Important Home Improvement Tools to Have

1. Hammer

One of the first essential tools for a home renovation project is a hammer. A hammer will be useful when it comes to using or removing nails, prying boards loose, and tearing down drywall.

But don’t just buy the cheapest hammer out there without considering your needs. If you’re going to be hammering in a tight space, you might want to opt for something on the more compact side.

If you’ll be hammering in a lot of big nails, you might want one with a broader head. A comfortable ergonomic grip is also a nice feature, since you’ll probably be using your hammer often. While a hammer seems like a simple tool, not all hammers are created equal so you’ll want to do some research before purchasing.

Typical Cost: Hammers typically range between around $15 and $30.

2. Screwdriver

Like a hammer, a screwdriver might seem like an easy addition to your tool collection. But if you’ll be inserting and removing a lot of screws, you’ll want a screwdriver that will make that easier for you. While you could buy several screwdrivers that will work on the most common screwheads, you could also get a screwdriver with changeable heads.

Some screwdrivers even have a magnetic head so that it will stick to the screws better. Finally, you’ll want to consider a screwdriver that has ratchet action so that you won’t have to keep turning it around but can twist it, regrip, and twist it again.

Typical Cost: Screwdrivers can range in cost from $5 to $30.

3. Adjustable Wrench

Depending on your DIY project, you might have to tighten bolts. In that case, it may make sense to add an adjustable wrench to your DIY tools. This will allow you to grasp many different sizes of nuts. Even with an adjustable wrench, you may find that you need a variety in order to fit into tight spaces.

Typical Cost: A good adjustable wrench will cost you between around $20 and $25.

4. Tape Measure

Future DIY-ers could likely benefit from listening to the old adage “measure twice and cut once.” A measuring tape is a critical part of a tool collection because it helps you figure out how big a space is, where you should hang a painting, or how long you should cut the carpet you’re about to install. A model that locks and retracts could be easier to use.

Typical Cost: A tape measure will range in price from around $5 to $20.

5. Putty Knife

Whether you’re smoothing down spackle or removing wallpaper, a putty knife or scraper is one of the most important essential tools for the home. There are a variety of sizes and a few specialty options. It can be helpful to do a bit of research to find the option that’s wide enough to handle the project you have in mind.

Typical Cost: A putty knife is fairly cheap—around $6 to $7.

6. Level

Whether you’re installing a shelf or hanging a portrait, a level is a critical addition to your DIY tools to make sure that whatever you’re building or installing is, well, level. Levels are fairly inexpensive if you get a plastic or metal one. If you’re looking for a more high-tech option, some levels have lasers that can help you line up your work.

Typical Cost: Plastic and metal ones start around $10 to $25. A laser level can cost between $20 and $100.

7. Stud Finder

If you need to hang something, you’ll want to make sure you don’t just screw it into the drywall. A stud finder will help you locate where the wood is behind the drywall.

An advanced stud finder will also help you locate wires and other things so that you can avoid drilling into them. Some can be fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to the potentially high cost of a DIY-disaster.

Typical Cost: A cheap stud finder is around $10, but if you want an electronic one expect to pay in the $40 to $50 range.

8. Pliers

Pliers are used for grasping things in order to get better leverage. They can even be handy if you run into issues loosening a nut or bolt with a wrench. Pliers can also be used for pinching wires or bending thin metal.

They’re one of the toolbox essentials that people often forget to include—until they need one. Get a pair of locking pliers with a comfortable grip in order to keep your hands from having to apply the pressure.

Typical Cost: Pliers start around $20 to $25.

9. Drill

If you’re going to be doing serious renovating, you’ll need a power drill among your DIY tools. A drill allows you to make holes and insert screws faster. A cordless drill offers a bit more flexibility than one that needs to be plugged in.

Once again, a magnetic drill bit could be quite helpful. You can buy drills that range in voltage, but a 12- or 18-volt drill should be powerful for almost all jobs.

Typical Cost: While drills can range in price significantly, depending on your needs you could find one for $75 to $100.

10. Electric Saw

A circular saw allows you to quickly and easily cut almost anything—from wood to plastic pipes. There are two types of circular saws —sidewinders and worm-drive saws.

The latter has more power and can cut through thicker materials but is generally more expensive. What’s right for you will depend on the type of job. While you can get cordless circular saws, they may not be able to match the power of one that’s corded.

Typical Cost: Sidewinder circular saws cost between $100 and $150. Worm-drive circular saws cost between $140 and $200.

Bonus Tools

We asked our Twitter followers to share their essential home improvement tools. If you want to go above and beyond with your tool upgrade, here’s what they recommend—from easy add-ons to expensive additions.

“I love to use a paint brush because it’s a small tool that creates a big change!” -Carey C

“Mine has to be tape because it can fix almost anything.” -Raquel P

“My fave is the Dremel.” -Rickey

“Pressure washer—that tool has many uses!” -Stayce T

Paying for Your Tool Collection

Now that you have an idea of some of the essential tools you’ll need for your next DIY project, the next step is to actually buy them. Having everything you need before you start your renovation could make the project run more smoothly.

While some renovations may end up increasing the value of your home, the costs can add up quickly. If you need help paying for your tools and your renovations, you might consider taking out a personal loan.

Personal loans allow you to borrow money to cover the cost of things like toolbox essentials or larger amounts of money to cover your whole kitchen renovation.

Depending on the lender and the terms you qualify for, the repayment options can be flexible and generally have lower interest rates than most credit cards.

Learn more about using a SoFi personal loan to help you with your next home improvement project.

Learn More

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.


Read more
couple holding hands on lake

Should Your Partner Help Pay Off Your Student Loans?

The vast majority of college students today graduate with a substantial chunk of debt. Many rack up additional student loans in graduate school.

And the original amount can grow dramatically in size over time as interest accrues, which is one reason why Americans now hold over $1.6 trillion in student loan balances combined.

The widespread burden of student debt means it’s an issue that’s likely to come up in many relationships.

One survey found that 27% of millennials would seriously consider the amount of student loan debt a potential partner had before committing to a long-term relationship. Another survey found that 50% of participants consider credit card debt a red flag when it comes to dating.

If you have a high amount of debt, it makes sense to ask, “Can someone pay my student loans?” There’s no one answer to the question of whether your partner should help with loan payoff.

It can be a smart choice for some, but there are also important risks involved. Whatever you opt for, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly, given that money is the most common source of stress in relationships.

Here’s a few things you may want to consider as a couple when deciding whether paying off your student loans should be a joint endeavor:

The Advantages of Having a Partner Pitch In

There could be several reasons that tackling your student loans as a couple may be an attractive proposition.

One advantage of a situation in which a husband or wife pays off debt for the other is that you could formulate a mutual plan to pay the loan off faster by working together. Loan balances can grow astronomically as interest adds up (you can use this student loan calculator to get an idea of how it works).

For example, say you originally graduated with $50,000 in student debt at a fixed interest rate of 6%. If your loan term is 10 years and you make just the scheduled payments over that time, which would be approximately $555.10 per month, with no additional principal paid, you’d end up paying $66,612 by the time you’re done. Approximately $16,612 of that would be interest.

If your partner can help you pay more each month this could help reduce the principal balance of the loan. This in turn can help reduce both the amount of time it takes to repay the loan, and also the amount of interest that accrues over the life of the loan. Continuing with the example above, say your partner could contribute an additional $100 per month to help pay off your student loan debt. With an additional $100 per month, it’s estimated that repayment could take about 96 months instead of 120 and interest will accrue to just under $13,000 instead of $16,600.

If you and your partner are in a serious relationship, it could make sense to take a team approach to finances, from budgeting to saving for a home or vacation to investing for retirement. Every additional dollar that you spend on student loans is one less dollar available in your monthly cash flow.

If you were to save or invest that dollar, it could have the chance to grow over time thanks to compound interest and favorable market returns.

Working in tandem to reduce and eventually eliminate debt means you might better be able to achieve your dreams together. So even though your student loans are your own, tackling them together could make good financial sense in the long term.

Another reason some couples choose to attack loans together is out of a sense of fairness and commitment. When you commit to marriage or a long-term partnership, you jointly choose a lifestyle together.

When one partner is spending a big chunk of income on loan payments, he or she has less left over to spend on things like restaurants, trips, or housing. That can feel like an uneven burden if remaining expenses are split 50/50, especially if the partner with debt also makes less money.

Beyond fairness, some couples can see combining finances as a symbol of their emotional commitment. That could mean opening things like joint accounts and credit cards, buying a home together, and saving for life goals.

But many understand that it also means accepting a partner’s debts along with the assets and tackling the challenge, just like any other, as a team. A partner’s offer to help with loans could be a way of expressing love and support and deepening the couple’s bond.

Should You Think Twice Before Having a Partner Pay Your Loans?

While having a partner help pay your loans has its benefits, it’s not always the best course of action. For one thing, it can be hard to figure out what to do if the relationship ends.

Would your partner then demand that you pay back the investment, or would you feel obligated to do so? This type of situation could create an acute financial burden or lasting animosity.

Even if you don’t break up, having a significant other contributing to your loans can create friction in a relationship. The person who is spending money for a degree he or she didn’t earn might bring up feelings of resentment, especially if they made the concerted decision not to take on their own educational debt.

Although it’s not common, there’s a chance that your partner can use the contributions as a way to guilt trip you or pressure you to make certain decisions.

On the flip side, you could start feeling guilty for relying on your significant other in this way. While these situations are not true of every couple, it is something you might want to keep in mind.

There are also practical risks in having your partner pay bills in your name. Remember, the loan is in your name, so agreements or repayment plans you made with your partner aren’t officially reflected with the lender. If you are relying on someone else to make the required minimum monthly payments on your loans, any late or missed payments would be reflected in your credit history.

If your partner tends to be irresponsible with money or forget to pay bills, you might want to follow up and be sure the bill is paid on time each month or think twice before counting on them for your monthly payments.

If your partner was added as a cosigner on your student loan, however, then your partner will also be responsible for loan repayment and would likely also be impacted by late payments.

Things to Keep in Mind

You may be wondering, Is a spouse responsible for student loan debt if you aren’t able to pay it? The answer is—that depends. If your husband or wife is a cosigner on the loan, he or she is equally responsible for the full amount.

So if you stop making payments, your spouse is on the hook as well. If you took out your loan before you got married, then your spouse isn’t required to pay it during the marriage or if you get divorced. However, if you took out the loan while you were already married, judges in some states can hold your partner responsible if you default.

If you decide to move forward with joint repayment, a good starting point could be open and honest communication about your plans. One idea is to come up with a written and signed agreement outlining the terms and responsibilities of each partner.

That could help you make sure that you’re on the same page and avoid future squabbles. If you want to go the extra mile, you could have a lawyer draw up the agreement so that it becomes official. Then it could come in handy if you end up figuring the dispute out in court.

When to Consider Student Loan Refinancing

Whether or not your partner is pitching in to help you with repaying your student loans, there are steps you can take as an individual to help streamline your student loan repayment. One option that could be worth considering is student loan refinancing.

Refinancing your student loans can be an effective way to help you reduce your educational debt burden. When refinancing a loan, the loan would generally remain in your name, but you could choose to add your partner as a cosigner on the loan. This could potentially help secure a more competitive interest rate, but would also mean that your partner is officially on the line for the debt.

You can refinance federal or private loans, or a mix of both, with many traditional and private lenders, including SoFi. The lender will review your personal details, such as credit, and employment history if you decide to apply for refinancing. When applying for a loan with a cosigner, their credit history will also generally be reviewed to inform the rate and terms for the loan.

You may be eligible for more favorable terms on new financing such as a lower interest rate than you’re currently paying, or you may be looking for a longer term that could result in lower monthly payments.

When you refinance with SoFi, you won’t pay any fees for filing an application or refinancing, and no prepayment penalties apply just in case you’re able to pay the loan off faster than expected.

It takes just two minutes to get pre-qualified online. Reducing how much you owe on your loans is generally considered to be a smart move, whether or not you’re flying solo.

Whether you’re going it alone or making a team effort, see if refinancing your student loans with SoFi can save you money.

Learn More

SoFi Student Loan Refinance

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender