14 Tips for Saving Money on a Low Income

If you have a low income and sometimes struggle to make ends meet, you are hardly alone. As of now, 64% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, meaning almost two out of every three people are feeling somewhat strapped.
Factors that can make saving money challenging include inflation (the cost of living has been rising steeply) and heavy debt loads, with the average person carrying $6,000+ on their credit card balance.

These two forces can quickly eat away income, making it feel impossible to save. Thankfully, there’s a way forward—with a little strategizing.

Here, learn 14 smart tips for how to save money on a low income. They can help boost your financial wellness.

Smart Ways to Save Money with Low Income

1. Finding a Budget Method That Suits You

A budget is a way for you to track your income, help you make good financial decisions, and plan towards goals.
It paints a picture of how much money you have coming in and going out and how you are allocating funds, which you can use to identify areas for improvement. A budget also will help you see what resources you have available to cover your living expenses. With it, you can see how to make money stretch further.

There are a wide range of budget methods to choose from. A traditional approach is building a line item budget, which involves tracking your expenses in a spreadsheet. You can build a spreadsheet from scratch, or use a template.

Google Sheets has a free template that’s great for beginners, and you can also create a budget in Excel.

Apps are an automated form of budgeting—they track all the expenses for you. If you prefer keeping track by hand, you can find budget-ready notebooks.

Whatever style or programs you use, it’s essential to find one that works for you, helps you save, and can assist in your progress towards a financial goal. Decide what technique works best for you.

2. Watching Money Spent on Food and Drink

If you’re thinking about how to save money with a low income, one wise move can be dining in. That may mean opting for pasta at home instead of the cute Italian place nearby.

Making meals at home is typically cheaper than eating out. And the gap has widened: In 2021, meals at home increased 2% in price. The cost of eating out, however, increased 9% that same year!

Cooking at home is cheap as long as your grocery bill is sensible. Look for budget-friendly recipes that are simple and use all the ingredients in your pantry. Search online for affordable recipes, including recipes under $10. You’ll likely find many options.

Choose more affordable proteins like eggs, beans, chicken, fish, and quinoa over beef and lamb. Red meats typically cost more than other proteins. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that ground beef, a less expensive cut, ranged from $4.10 to $5.90 per pound in May 2021. Any cut of chicken, on the other hand, ranged from $1.50 to $3.40 per pound.

Finally, you might want to trade wine for beer…or go on a dry spell. Alcohol is a costlier commodity than other beverages. Consider looking for alternatives like antioxidant-packed teas, juice, or reliable tap water. You might decide to save alcoholic drinks for special occasions like celebrations for a while to cut costs.

3. Getting Rid of Debt One Step at a Time

Studies show that debt can cause stress and negatively impact mental and even physical health. Paying off debt can be a major motivation to save money. It’s one less bill to pay at the end of the month, and the freedom is empowering.

How to approach debt reduction? Always be sure to pay at least the minimum amount due. Then consider these two techniques that can help you be financially stable with a low income:

•   In the snowball method, you use extra funds to pay off the smallest debt first, giving you a sense of accomplishment for wiping out a balance. Then you move on to the next smallest debt.

•   In the avalanche method, you use extra funds to pay off high-interest accounts first, regardless of the balance. That can be a wise move since this is the kind of debt that often keeps people owing money for a long period of time. Credit card debt, which currently has interest rates of 15% to 19%, is a common example of high-interest debt.

You also can combine your debts into one account with a debt consolidation loan. These personal loans typically have a significantly lower APR (annual percentage rate) which can save you considerable money in the long run.

4. Finding Ways to Get Rid of Non-essentials

Look at your budget, and separate your list of basic living expenses from non-essentials.

Essential expenses will include housing, food and drink, transportation, utility bills, and more. An example of transportation costs might be car payments, car insurance, gas, monthly train passes, and so forth.

Non-essentials usually include wants vs. needs (items like clothing you like but don’t require, and entertainment). If you’re a sneakerhead or handbag collector, it may be time to pause shopping. But if you need fresh clothes and shoes for work, set a target amount you can afford to spend that month. Make your dollars stretch with sales racks at stores or second-hand steals.

Love video games and eating out? Look at alternatives. Consider investing in cheaper board games and hosting game nights. Or, make friends with video console owners!

5. Changing to a Cheaper Entertainment Subscription Model

Can’t live without Netflix? What about Netflix, HBO, Disney, and Hulu? Combined, those streaming services can quickly total $35 per month before taxes. In one year, that’ll set you back $420.

While it’s important to unwind, sometimes cutting entertainment is worth the savings. Consider free entertainment on your TV or computer. There are plenty of apps that offer free on-demand and live streaming services. You can also get classic TV antennas that pick up free national channels.

Finally, try the library. Most carry more than just books—movies too. You just need a library card.

6. Cutting Back on Larger Expenses

Looking for other ways to save money on a low income? You can also find cheaper options for large bills in your budget to save money when you have a lower income.

Your biggest expense will probably be housing, so start there. Several factors affect rent or mortgages, like location and amenities. Consider living in a cheaper neighborhood temporarily. Also, a home with fewer amenities like a patio or pool are typically cheaper.

Consider getting roommates to split housing costs or even going rent-free. If you have family nearby—it might be worth asking to live with them for a low fee or even rent-free, provided you have a plan to get on your feet or can contribute to the household (say, by cooking or cleaning).

Transportation is another large cost. If your job is a safe and reasonable distance to bike to, try it out. Bikes are low-cost maintenance—with the benefit of staying fit and going green.

7. Saving What You Can

Try to cut habits that add up. A $5 fancy coffee once a week costs $260 a year. On a smaller income, that can eat away your earnings. If you can save $5 or $10 a week—that’s a good start. It’s better than saving zero dollars. But, developing a financial plan is a key step to saving anything you can.

You won’t know how much money you have until you have a budget in place. Once you have a picture of your money, look at where you can cut costs. It may be in categories like groceries, shopping, or entertainment, which are flexible costs.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning up to 2.00% APY on your cash!


8. Separating Money for Yourself From Other Expenses

Though you pay utility companies, the landlord, and your debt, remember to pay yourself. One technique: Save whatever change you have leftover from bills. Put it in a jar, and deposit it into a savings account regularly.

Living within your means or spending less of what you earn on living expenses can help you keep more of your earnings. If you have a significant amount of money leftover at the end of each month, create new savings goals like a home purchase fund or a retirement fund.

9. Turning On Alerts for Bill Payments

Get reminders for your bills. This will help you avoid late fees, which can eat up your funds.

When you open an online bank account, you can sign up for alerts on upcoming bills. Some banks offer a feature on mobile and browser programs that allows you to create alerts for your bills. You can add any type of upcoming bill you have, like your internet or electricity bill due dates, and get reminders via text, email, or phone notifications that a bill is due soon.

10. Spending Less on Your Car

A car can be expensive. Some tips to make it more affordable:

•   Buy a car—don’t lease. You get more value paying off a car compared to leasing a car. A lease also comes with more restrictions and costly penalties. It’s also more expensive in the long run than buying pre-owned.

•   Buy used. Used cars are cheaper. And, because they’re used, the insurance tends to be cheaper as well. Buying a pre-owned car means it won’t lose value as quickly as a new car. Some estimates say that a new car loses 40% of its value in the first year.

•   Aim to get a car that gets great gas mileage. An SUV or truck can easily cost $75 for a full tank. If you’re paying for a gas guzzler, it might be worth downsizing to a car that gets better gas mileage.

11. Finding Ways to Cut Entertainment Costs

Reading, listening to music, and tuning into your favorite program has its health benefits. From reducing stress and pain to improving memory—it’s important to have a little fun.

Instead of booking concert tickets for your favorite band, consider listening to their tunes on free apps (YouTube, for instance). Also check listings and see which local bands are playing; that could be a good way to discover some new favorites.

If you enjoy a good show, check out free TV streaming apps like Tubi or Pluto TV. Both have a great selection of movies and shows on demand or live.

12. Eliminating Your Bad Habits

When asking yourself, “How can I improve my financial situation?” look at your good and bad spending habits.
Do you buy groceries at the gourmet deli instead of a cheaper supermarket? Do you tend to eat out because you didn’t pack a lunch? Do you leave the AC running in your apartment while you’re out all day?

These are all costly habits you can change. Find a cheaper grocery store. You’ll find your dollar can stretch a lot further with cheaper prices. Try meal prepping on weekends so you can pack lunches for work each week. Lastly, run electricity only when you need it—and compare bills. You’ll likely see a difference.

13. Committing to a Month of No Spending

A no-spend challenge can be a fun way to save.

A no spend-challenge means that you avoid discretionary spending altogether, except for necessities like rent and groceries. That means not spending money on movie theater tickets, clothes, or even chocolate.

Write down a list of your non-essential expenses, like buying a cup of coffee each morning or eating out with friends on the weekend. Try alternatives like making coffee at home or taking a walk in a park instead of brunch with your friends. Let them know you’re doing the challenge—they might even join.

14. Getting Help if You Need It

If you find yourself still living paycheck to paycheck, there’s help.

If you have substantial debt, consider getting free debt and credit counseling from the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). The sessions take place over the phone or online. Call or fill out an online form to get started.

Also, cities, states, and the federal government provide help in the form of subsidized housing, discounted healthcare and free groceries. Simply call the 211 network 24/7 to share your situation and get connected to the right people.

You can also use the government’s benefit finder that can match you with the right programs.

15. Automating Your Savings

Once you have a budget in place, it’s easier to know how much to save a month.

To simplify saving (as mentioned briefly above), try automating transfers, a feature many banks offer that moves money from your checking account to your savings account on a certain date. For example, if you’re paid every Friday, you can set up an automatic transfer of the desired amount to your savings or investment accounts.

If you put away just $50 each week, you’ll have $2600 at the end of the year.

Why Saving Money With a Low Income Is Possible

No matter what your income, it’s tempting to live like a rock star or just try to keep up with your higher-earning friends. Or you might feel like your smaller earnings are not worth saving, and you’ll wait till you make more. But it’s possible to save more than you think even on a lower income.

If you make savings a priority and adjust your lifestyle to your income, it can pay off and help you increase your financial wellbeing. Simple changes like learning to budget, shopping at cheaper grocery stores, trading in your car for a greener one, or buying second hand can all help you take control. These moves can also help you pay down any debt you may have, build your rainy-day savings, and achieve longer-term financial goals.

The Takeaway

Whether you earn a lot or a little, living within your means always pays off.

Budgeting is the first step to getting your finances organized. It’ll help you see how much money you have to cover your monthly expenses and how much you have leftover for savings. You’ll also see a clearer picture of your spending habits.

Once you have a sense of your spending habits, find ways to spend smarter. That means finding cheaper options for necessities and cutting non-essential spending.

Finally, set attainable savings goals and put your cash away in a high-yield account. SoFi can help you here: When you open an online bank account with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive interest rate, pay zero account fees, and have tools to track your expenses, set up bill payments, and automate savings.

With no account fees and up to 2.00% APY, you’ll earn more interest in one week with SoFi Checking and Savings than you would in one year in a big bank’s checking or savings account—so you can get the most out of your money.

FAQ

Why is saving money so hard?

Saving can often be hard because of our mindset. We don’t focus on creating and sticking to a budget and instead spend feely, in the moment. If you are following a budget but find it hard to free up cash to save, you might take on a side hustle to help bring in more income.

What happens if you don’t save money?

Not having savings puts you in a precarious position. Having money in savings is a safety net for unexpected expenses like a medical bill or job loss. Without one, you may find yourself unable to pay for bills, which could cause you to take on high-interest debt and/or pull you closer towards poverty. It’s wise to have at least three to six months’ of living expenses stored away in case of emergency.

How do I get the motivation to save when I do not make much?

With social media in today’s culture, it might seem like everyone has what they want (except you). So it’s important to put on blinders, and focus on your journey. Delete apps that encourage you to overspend, and ask trusted friends or mentors to navigate this territory together. Save whatever amount you can: Don’t get discouraged by comparing yourself to others’ savings plans.

Photo credit: iStock/Rocco-Herrmann

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SOBK0622023

Read more
What Are the Tax Benefits of Marriage?

What Are the Tax Benefits of Marriage?

The tax benefits of marriage may not be a top consideration when someone is deciding whether to get hitched or stay single. Still, married couples can sometimes qualify for extra savings when it comes to their income tax rate and certain credits, exemptions, exclusions, and deductions.

It isn’t all roses and rainbows, however. Couples may also lose some tax breaks when they change their filing status. But with careful planning, spouses may find there are tax benefits to being married vs. staying single.

Here’s a look at some of the tax bonuses (and penalties) couples can expect when they wed.

Tax Benefits of Marriage, Explained

Spouses have two basic options when filing their income tax returns: They can combine all their information on one return with the status of “married filing jointly,” or they can file two returns as “married filing separately.” (Even couples who were married at the very end of the tax year can no longer file as single.)

The decision to file separately can make more sense sometimes, depending on each spouse’s income and other factors. But the IRS says that when it comes to money and marriage, the joint filing status usually has more benefits for couples.

Advantages of filing jointly can include:

Your Tax Bracket as a Couple Could Be Lower

In the past, combining incomes on a joint tax return often bumped one or both spouses into a higher tax bracket with a higher tax rate than when they were single.

Recent tax reform, however, has made this so-called “marriage penalty” less likely. When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) took effect in 2018, the income levels for joint filers in all but the highest tax brackets were doubled, reducing the chances that married couples would be penalized.

Some high-income couples still may land in a higher bracket after marriage. But with the TCJA’s equalized brackets, more spouses can expect to find themselves in the same or even a lower tax bracket than they had when they were single.

Check your score with SoFi Relay

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Federal Estate and Gift Tax Limits Are Higher

Although people generally are referring to higher or lower tax brackets when discussing the pros and cons of filing jointly, marriage also can affect couples who plan to gift assets to their heirs.

Couples who wish to transfer wealth to loved ones during their lifetime or upon their death may be able to give twice as much as single filers without being taxed. Here’s what that looks like for 2022:

•   The IRS set the annual gift tax exclusion for individuals at $16,000 per recipient (children, grandchildren, etc.) for 2022. That means this year, married couples can give $32,000 per recipient tax-free without using a portion of their lifetime gift tax exemption.

•   The lifetime estate and gift tax exemption for individuals was set at $12.06 million for 2022. So while a single person can protect $12.06 million for 2022 without having to pay federal estate or gift tax, a married couple can shield a total of $24.12 million.

Other Gift and Estate Tax Advantages

Besides the tax advantages mentioned above, marriage also can allow spouses who are both U.S. citizens to transfer or leave unlimited amounts of money to each other without paying taxes. Any assets exceeding the couple’s estate tax exemption won’t be taxed until the surviving spouse dies.

Taxes on Social Security Benefits

Many people aren’t aware that a portion of their Social Security benefits can be taxed if their income is above a certain threshold. This is true whether you’re single or married, but the IRS thresholds are a bit higher (although not doubled) for married couples.

Here’s how it breaks down based on what the IRS refers to as “combined income.” (Your adjustable gross income + nontaxable interest + ½ of your Social Security benefits = your combined income.):

•   If you file as single and your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your Social Security benefits.

•   If you’re married filing jointly and your combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits may be taxable.

•   If you file as single and your combined income is more than $34,000, up to 85% percent of your benefits may be taxable.

•   If you’re married filing jointly and your combined income is more than $44,000, you may have to pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.

•   You don’t have to pay any taxes on your benefits if you fall below these thresholds.

If you’re married or expect to marry someday, you may want to keep taxes on Social Security in mind as you and your spouse plan your retirement together.

Earned Income Credit and Other Credits

When you’re married, you must file jointly to qualify for the Earned Income Credit (EIC). You generally can’t file separately and claim the credit. And that can be good news and bad news for couples.

The EIC is meant to help low- to moderate-income workers and families save on their income taxes. To be eligible for the credit, you must have earned income; but there are limits on how much you can earn and still qualify based on family size.

Here are a couple of examples of how marriage can result in a penalty or bonus when it comes to the EIC.

•   Penalty: The income thresholds are higher for joint filers than they are for single filers, but they aren’t doubled. If both spouses are working and both earn a moderate income, together they might exceed the limit for their family size before a single filer earning a moderate income would.

•   Bonus: On the other hand, if one spouse works and the other doesn’t, as a couple they might qualify for the EIC based on the working spouse’s earned income. A single person who doesn’t have any income can’t take the credit.

Other credits and deductions that can be affected by a change in your filing status include the child and dependent care credit, the student loan payment interest deduction, the savers credit, and the American opportunity credit. Generally, married couples who file separately can’t claim these on a return.

Personal Residence Exclusion

The principal residence exclusion allows homeowners who meet certain criteria to shield all or a portion of the profit they make on the sale of their home from capital gains tax. Single filers can exclude up to $250,000, but couples who are married filing jointly can exclude twice that — up to $500,000.

While those numbers may have seemed generous just a few years ago, with the recent rapid rise in what homes are worth, tax consequences from a home sale may be more likely these days. The $500,000 exclusion married homeowners are allowed still may not be enough to protect their entire profit when they sell a home, but it can give them a little more breathing room than singles can count on.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

IRA for Jobless Spouse

Usually, under IRS rules, you can’t contribute to an individual retirement account (IRA) unless you earn an income in that year. But there’s a work-around that can benefit some married couples who file jointly.

If one spouse earns income and the other does not, and the couple files jointly on their taxes, the spouse who works can contribute to a “spousal IRA” that’s in the name of the spouse who isn’t working.

This allows couples to maximize their retirement savings — even if one spouse takes some time away from work, perhaps to care for their small children or elderly parents. And depending on what works better for your circumstances, you can use a Roth or traditional IRA as a spousal IRA.

The rules regarding annual contributions and tax deductions are the same for spousal IRAs as they are for traditional IRAs. If you have questions, you can ask your financial advisor or tax preparer, or go to the IRS website for information.

You Can Use Your Spouse as a Tax Shelter

If you or your spouse owns a business, you’re both probably hoping it’s a success. But if it isn’t, it could end up being a tax benefit — if you can claim those losses as a write-off on your joint return.

If it looks as though this strategy might be useful — especially in the first year or so of the business — you may want to ensure personal and business transactions stay separate by opening a business bank account. Or you can just keep better track of your income and spending with a free budget app.

Higher Deduction for Charitable Contributions

These days, nearly 9 out of 10 taxpayers take the higher standard deduction put in place by the TCJA — and that means they can’t claim a tax break for charitable contributions on their federal return.

But if you do end up itemizing on your return, being married could help you maximize the tax deduction you get for charitable giving. Although your maximum deduction is limited to a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income (usually no more than 60%), if you file jointly, the deduction is based on your combined AGI. That means you may be able to donate more in a particular year than a single filer.

Couples Can “Shop” for Tax-Friendly Benefits

Unless they’re both with the same company, a working couple may be able to pick and choose from their employers’ different benefits packages to take advantage of certain tax breaks. A couple of those benefit options might include:

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

If one spouse’s employer offers an FSA, you may be able to use it to pay for qualifying medical, vision, and dental costs for your family, or for qualifying dependent-care programs. The amount you contribute to the account will be deducted from your salary pre-tax, which can help cut your income tax bill.

Health Spending Account (HSA)

If one employer offers a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) and you choose that health insurance option, your family can benefit from opening an HSA to save for future medical expenses.

Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, and distributions are tax-free when used for qualified medical expenses. Unlike the use-it-or-lose-it funds in an FSA, you can keep the money in the account as long as you like. And any growth in your HSA from interest and/or investment returns is also tax-free.

Filing One Return Instead of Two

Spouses who file jointly have to worry about completing only one income tax return. And if your financial lives already are intertwined (you do your budgeting as a couple and have a joint a bank account vs. separate accounts), it may be easier to file jointly than to separate everything for two returns.

It also could make it easier to get your return done by the tax deadline — or maybe even early, so you can get your tax refund faster. And if you hire a professional to prepare one return instead of two, it could save you some money.

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Could Affect Future Taxes

The clock may be ticking on several of the tax benefits and penalties married couples can experience under the TCJA (some of which are listed above). Many of its provisions are set to expire at the end of 2025, including changes to:

•   Income tax brackets and rates

•   Standard deduction

•   Personal exemptions

•   Limits on deductions for mortgage and home equity loan interest

•   Limits on charitable contributions

•   Estate and gift tax exemption

If Congress doesn’t act to keep them, these provisions may lapse on Dec. 31, 2025, which could affect married couples’ taxes going forward. Keep this in mind as you do any tax planning for the future.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

Tax Downsides to Marriage To Consider

Besides the potential penalties already mentioned throughout this post, there can be other downsides to marriage when it comes to taxes, including:

•   When you sign a joint return, the IRS holds both spouses responsible for the validity of everything that’s on it. Even if one spouse manages the money in your marriage (paying the bills, investing, and doing the taxes), it’s a good idea to go over the return carefully together before you both sign.

•   If one spouse defaults on a federal student loan after you marry or owes back child support, your joint refund could be delayed or garnished to pay the debt.

•   If you’re a high-earning couple, you might have to pay the net investment income tax and/or the Medicare surtax. The threshold on these taxes is $200,000 for single filers, and only goes up to $250,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

The Takeaway

Marriage can impact just about every aspect of your life — including the taxes you pay. There are tax benefits and penalties to consider as you plan your future and your finances together. Some potential benefits include a lower tax bracket, estate tax advantages, the Earned Income Credit, and the Personal Residence Exemption, among others. But watch out for the net investment income tax and the Medicare surtax. According to the IRS, overall most couples benefit from filing jointly.

Keeping track of your combined spending, saving, and investing can make it easier to manage your money throughout the year, and to work on your taxes when it’s time. And the SoFi Relay money tracker app can help you do it all in one place — with credit score monitoring, spending breakdowns, financial insights, and more.

Say “I do” to better financial management today with help from SoFi Relay.

FAQ

Is there a tax advantage to marriage?

While every couple’s situation is different, spouses who file jointly may enjoy some advantages when it comes to certain tax exclusions, exemptions, deductions, and credits.

Do you get a bigger refund if you’re married?

If your filing status is married filing jointly and you make the most of the many credits and deductions available to you as a couple, you may see a bigger refund.

Do you pay less taxes if you are married?

You won’t automatically pay less taxes because you’re married. But with careful planning, you may be able to take advantage of your marital status to save money on your income taxes.


Photo credit: iStock/simpson33

SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the Rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SORL0722002

Read more
How to Reduce Taxable Income for High Earners

How to Reduce Taxable Income for High Earners

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of income tax you’ll need to pay, there are numerous strategies to consider. Familiar moves include contributing to tax deferred retirement and health-spending accounts, deducting certain taxes and interest, and making charitable donations. More complex maneuvers include timing investments to offset gains with losses.

Because each person’s situation is unique, be sure to check with your tax accountant to find out how a potential strategy might work for you. Note that some of the strategies included in this guide have income limits.

Keep reading to see how many of these 25 tactics you can implement.

25 Ways to Lower Your Taxable Income

As you look through this list of 25 ideas on how to pay less in taxes, you’ll note that some are broad, advising how to reduce either W2 taxable income or self-employment income. Meanwhile, others are more targeted — for instance, applying only to the self-employed. Keep track of ideas that pertain to your situation, so you can explore them further.

1. Contribute to a Retirement Account

Many IRA contributions are tax deductible. If you’re covered by a plan at work, you can contribute up to $20,500 to a 401(k) plan in 2022, and an additional $6,500 if you’re over 50. You can also contribute $6,000 to an IRA ($7,000 if you’re over 50), though your deduction may be limited depending on income and other factors.

Self-employed individuals can contribute between 25% and 100% of net earnings from self-employment, up to $61,000 for 2022. Plans available to the self-employed include the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan, solo-401(k), and Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA).

Check your score with SoFi Relay

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

2. Open a Health Savings Account

A health savings account (HSA) allows you to deposit money on a pre-tax basis. Contribution limits depend on your health plan, age, and other factors, but most individuals can contribute $3,650 for 2022.

Funds can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses or rolled over year to year. You must have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) to contribute to an HSA.

3. Check for Flexible Spending Accounts at Work

In lieu of an HSA, you can contribute up to $2,850 in pre-tax dollars to a flexible spending account (FSA). FSAs allow people with a health plan at work to deposit money and then use it to pay for qualifying health care costs. Unlike HSAs, FSAs don’t require an HDHP to qualify. The downside: Only a small portion of funds may be rolled over to the following year.

4. Business Tax Deductions

The IRS guidelines around business deductions change frequently, so it’s wise to watch out for their announcements throughout the year. In 2022, there’s an enhanced meal deduction and updates to the home office deduction (described next). Some business expenses apply only to self-employed people.

5. Home Office Deduction

When a self-employed person regularly uses a specific area of their home for business purposes, they may qualify to deduct costs associated with that part of the house. The home office deduction can be calculated in two ways (regular or simplified) up to the current gross income limitation. For more information, search for “IRS publication 587.”

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

6. Rent Out Your Home for Business Meetings

If you’re self-employed, you can also rent out your home for business events and meetings, collect the income — and not have to pay income taxes on that rental income. To learn specifics, visit https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-13-13.pdf.

7. Write Off Business Travel Expenses

Travel expenses, as defined by the IRS, are the “ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job. You can’t deduct expenses that are lavish or extravagant, or that are for personal purposes.” For IRS guidance for both W-2 employees and the self-employed, go to https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc511.

8. Deduct Half of Your Self-Employment Taxes

When calculating your adjusted gross income (AGI) as a self-employed person, using Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, you can deduct half the amount of your self-employment tax. The 2022 self-employment tax rate is 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare, based on your net earnings.

9. Get a Credit for Higher Education

This tax credit can go up to $2,500 based on tuition costs along with what you paid in certain fees and for course materials. As a first step, income tax owed is reduced dollar for dollar up to your limit. Then, if your tax credit is more than what you owe, you may be able to get up to $1,000 in a refund.

10. Itemize State Sales Tax

Currently, you can deduct a total of $10,000 for itemized state and local income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes when you use Form 1040 or 1040-SR. If married but filing separately, the total is $5,000 per person. The IRS provides a calculator that you can use to figure out your deduction at https://apps.irs.gov/app/stdc/.

11. Make Charitable Donations

A taxpayer can typically deduct up to 60% of their AGI to qualified charities. But starting with contributions made in 2020, the IRS implemented a temporary suspension on limits. This means that a person can make qualified charitable contributions up to 100% of their AGI.

12. Adjust Your Basis for Capital Gains Tax

If you sell an asset, including but not limited to investments, a capital gains tax is levied on the difference between the purchase price and what it sells for. The adjusted basis also takes into account the costs of capital improvements made, minus decreases such as casualty losses. For more on the topic when selling a home, search for “IRS publication 523.”

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

13. Avoid Capital Gains Tax by Donating Stock

You may be able to avoid paying capital gains tax if you transfer the ownership of your appreciated stock (held for more than one year). This is something that needs to be handled in exactly the right way; your tax accountant can help.

14. Invest in Qualified Opportunity Funds

If you invest in property through a Qualified Opportunity Fund, the IRS states that you can temporarily defer paying taxes on the gains. Taxes can be deferred (not reduced or canceled) up until December 31, 2026, or until an inclusion event occurs earlier than that date. This is a complex strategy and, again, you may want to get professional advice.

Recommended: A Guide to Tax-Efficient Investing

15. Claim Deductions for Military Members

You may be able to deduct moving expenses if you’re a member of the military on active duty who relocated because of a military order and permanent change of location. In this case, you can potentially deduct your unreimbursed moving expenses as well as those for your spouse and dependents. You can calculate relevant expenses on “IRS form 3903, Moving Expenses.”

16. Enroll in an Employee Stock Purchasing Program

In an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP), an employee who works at a company that offers this program can buy company stock at a discount. The company takes out money through payroll deductions and, on the designated purchase date, buys stock for participating employees. Note that only qualified plans have potential tax benefits.

17. Deduct the Student Loan Interest You’ve Paid

You may qualify to deduct student loan interest. Annual deduction amounts are the lesser between the amount of interest paid and $2,500. This deduction is lowered and eliminated when your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) reaches a certain limit based on your filing status.

18. Sell Your Losing Stocks to Claim Capital Loss Carryover

If you sell stock at less than the purchase price, you’ve experienced a capital loss. You can use that loss to offset any capital gains that year. If you’ve lost more than you’ve gained, this can reduce your taxable income, which could reduce what you owe up to $3,000 for individuals and married couples, and $1,500 for someone married who filed separately.

Recommended: Tax Loss Carryforward

19. Deduct Mortgage Interest

You can deduct the money you paid on mortgage interest on the first $750,000 (or $375,000 if married, filing separately) of mortgage debt you owe. Higher limits exist ($1,000,000/$500,000) if the debt was taken on before December 16, 2017.

20. Deduct Medical Expenses

Under certain circumstances, you can deduct medical and dental expenses for yourself, your spouse, and dependents. You’ll need to itemize on your tax return and can only deduct qualifying expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI.

21. Delay IRA Withdrawal Upon Retirement

You can delay IRA withdrawals so that you don’t have more taxable income when you’re a high earner. For example, if you reach the age of 70 ½ in 2020 or later, you can wait until April 1 after you reach the age of 72.

22. Ask Your Employer to Defer Income

You pay income tax in the year the income is received. Although there are reasons why employers typically can’t postpone providing paychecks, they may be able to delay a bonus to the following year as long as this is standard practice for them. If self-employed, you can delay sending your end-of-year invoices to bump December payments to the following calendar year.

23. Open a 529 Plan for Education

A 529 plan allows you to save for future educational expenses. Although the contributions themselves aren’t deductible, interest that accrues in the account is tax-free, federally, as well as being tax-free in many states. In other words, when the money is withdrawn to pay college expenses, it is not taxed.

24. Buy Tax-Exempt Bonds

Interest you receive on muni bonds, for example, is not federally taxed (although there may be state and/or local taxes). These are typically very safe investments, although the interest rates may not be what you want.

25. Time Your Investment Gains or Losses

Known as tax loss harvesting, this strategy takes planning because you’ll want to ensure that any investment gains can be offset, as much as possible, by tax losses. So you may decide, as just one example, to hold on to a stock that’s lost significant value — selling it at a time when it can offset a stock sale with a sizable gain.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

The Takeaway

High earners looking to reduce taxable income have many avenues to explore — some you’ve likely heard of, with others perhaps new to you. For instance, investors may be able to take advantage of tax loss harvesting, tax loss carryover, or tax efficient investing. Explore strategies of interest with SoFi Relay’s free budgeting app, and consult your tax accountant about your specific situation.

To take advantage of tax reduction opportunities, it’s important to keep careful track of your financial transactions. SoFi Relay’s money tracker app can help track all of your money, all in one place. You’ll benefit from spending breakdowns, financial insights, and more.

Track your money like a champion at no cost

FAQ

How can I lower my taxable income?

If you’re wondering how to reduce your taxable income, there are numerous strategies that might work for your situation. A good place to start: Contribute to a retirement account, open a health savings account, and learn which taxes and interest you can deduct. Talk to your tax accountant about specific questions you may have.

What are the tax loopholes for the rich?

If you’re looking to reduce your taxable income, consider making charitable donations and investigating investment strategies that offset gains with losses.

Do 401(k) contributions reduce taxable income?

Said another way, are IRA contributions tax deductible? Retirements typically offer some tax benefits with specifics varying based on the type of retirement account. Traditional IRAs have different rules, for example, than Roth IRAs.


Photo credit: iStock/Petar Chernaev

SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the Rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SORL0822001

Read more
How Much is My Truck Worth on Trade In Within the Next 5 Years?

How Much Is My Truck Worth on Trade-In Within the Next 5 Years?

The trade-in value of a truck is the amount a dealer is willing to give you to put toward the purchase of a new vehicle. Cars depreciate in value the moment you drive them off the lot, so over time, trade-in values tend to decrease as well. They are also impacted by a variety of factors, such as make and model, age, condition, and mileage.

Here’s a look at what your truck might be worth over the first five years of ownership, and the factors that impact that value.

Average Trade-In Value of a Truck After 5 Years of Ownership

The trade-in value of a truck is based on its market value, which is the amount a person is willing to pay based on the truck’s make, model, age, condition, etc. However, when saving up for a new car, it’s important to realize that what a dealer might offer for a trade-in is likely less than the market value. That’s because when the dealer eventually sells your vehicle, they will need to turn a profit. And their profit will be the difference between market value and trade-in value.

Cars, trucks, and other vehicles depreciate, meaning their market value decreases each year. Luckily for truck owners, trucks tend to depreciate more slowly than cars and SUVs.

Average five-year depreciation for compact pick-up trucks is 21.4%, according to a 2021 study by iSeeCars. Average five-year depreciation for full-size pick-ups is 31.8%. Compare that to an average five-year depreciation rate of 36.3% for small cars, and 39.9% for midsize SUVs.

Depreciation is also an important factor to understand when leasing a vehicle, as your lease payment will cover the cost of depreciation to the lessor.

Supply chain issues, component shortgages, and increased demand for vehicles has driven up the price of new and used cars and trucks in recent years. This has had an impact on how fast vehicles depreciate. In 2021, the average five-year depreciation was 40.1%, compared to 49.1% in 2020.

Check your score with SoFi Relay

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Recommended: What Credit Score Do You Need to Lease a Car?

Factors That Impact Truck Value Over Time

As we mentioned above, the moment your car leaves the lot, it starts to lose value. (For that reason, savvy consumers often believe it’s better to buy a used car over a new one.) What happens to the car will have a big impact on value as well, from wear and tear to how much it’s driven and its accident history. As a result, depreciation and trade-in values will vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Age and Condition

Age and condition are two of the biggest factors that will affect your truck’s trade-in value. The older a vehicle is, the less value it tends to maintain (unless it’s a desirable vintage vehicle). The reason: It’s assumed that the older a car is, the more it will have been driven and the more wear and tear it will have experienced.

All sorts of factors big and small can go into determining condition, from dents and scratches to major repairs made after an accident. Only cars in pristine condition will fetch top market values and trade-in prices.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

Mileage

How much a truck has been driven will also have an impact on trade-in value. The more you drive your truck, the more wear and tear you may be putting on the engine and other parts. As a result, trucks with lower numbers on their odometers tend to fetch higher trade-in values.

Make and Model

A truck’s make and model refer to the company that makes the vehicle and the specific product, respectively. For example, Ford is a make while the F-150 is a model of truck. Some makes and models are more popular than others, which can increase trade-in value. This may be for a variety of reasons. For example, some may get better gas mileage or have roomier interiors that make them more appealing to used truck buyers.

Recommended: What Should Your Average Car Payment Be?

Trim Level

The trim level of a vehicle refers to the optional features it has. For example, higher trim levels may offer more equipment or luxury materials, such as leather seats. Automotive technology, such as back-up cameras and navigation systems are in high demand. Higher trim levels can translate into higher trade-in values.

Accident History

Even if a car shows no outward signs of damage after an accident, vehicles that have been involved in a major accident or a natural disaster, such as a flood, will usually fetch lower trade-in values.

According to experts, any accident will remove $500 from the value of a car, on average, while a major accident can cost as much as $2,100 in lost value.

Local Market Demand

Where you resell your truck can have an affect on its market value. For example, if you live in an urban area, there may be less local demand for trucks than if you live in a suburban or rural location.

Geography can have other impacts on the value of your truck. For example, a truck that’s been through a number of harsh northeast winters might be in worse condition than one from a warmer, dryer climate.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Increase Your Truck’s Trade-In Value

Bring your truck up to the best condition to increase its trade-in value. Repair whatever damage you can, such as scratches, chips in the windshield, or minor engine repairs. Have your truck cleaned and detailed before an appraisal by a dealer.

It’s worth noting that your credit score will also impact the deal you get on your new car. That’s because a higher credit score gets buyers a lower interest rate on car loans.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

Monitor Your Vehicle’s Value With Relay

How much a truck is worth is calculated based on many factors, including make, model, age, mileage, and condition. The trade-in value will be less than the market value. Understanding your vehicle’s potential trade-in value is an important consideration when budgeting and saving for the purchase of a new or used truck. If you think you may trade it in for a newer model in the future, research vehicles that are likely to hold their value better.

Monitor your vehicle’s resale value with Auto Tracker in SoFi Relay. The money tracker app can help you better understand your net worth and determine when it’s a good time to sell. SoFi Relay has all sorts of great tools like that, from the budget planner app to investment portfolio summaries.

New from SoFi Relay: Track the value of your car using Auto Tracker.

FAQ

What is the trade-in value of a truck?

The trade-in value of a truck is how much money a dealer is willing to give you toward the purchase of a new vehicle in exchange for your old one.

Because dealers want to turn a profit when they resell your vehicle, trade-in values tend to be lower than fair market values.

How is trade-in value calculated?

Your truck’s trade-in value is based on a variety of factors, including make, model, age, mileage, and condition of the vehicle. Your truck’s value will depreciate every year, until it no longer has a resale value.

How do I find the fair trade value of my car?

A number of online tools can help you find the fair trade-in value of your car. For example, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds offer very good online tools. Enter your vehicle identification number, license plate number, or the year, make, model, and mileage of your truck to get an idea of what it may be worth.


Photo credit: iStock/freemixer

SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the Rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.
SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. Vehicle Identification Number is confirmed by LexisNexis and car values are provided by J.D. Power. Auto Tracker is provided on an “as-is, as-available” basis with all faults and defects, with no warranty, express or implied. The values shown on this page are a rough estimate based on your car’s year, make, and model, but don’t take into account things such as your mileage, accident history, or car condition.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
SORL0622006

Read more
52 Week Savings Challenge (2022 Edition)

52 Week Savings Challenge (2022 Edition)

Many experts recommend having an emergency savings fund. The money is intended to cover bills or living expenses due to a job loss, medical issue, or unexpected repairs. But finding money to put aside on a regular basis can be challenging. The 52-week Savings Challenge will get you there in the simplest way possible.

Learn how this savings challenge works and who will benefit the most from it.

What Is the 52 Week Money Challenge?

The 52-week Savings Challenge is a straightforward way to set aside a little money every week. The plan can help you save more than you might expect over the course of a year. The goal is to have a healthy emergency fund that you can dip into to cover unexpected expenses — like car repairs or a trip to the ER — without blowing your monthly budget.

Although some people like to start these types of challenges on Jan. 1, you can start today, or the first week of next month, or anytime you like. The result will be the same.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car

Check your score with SoFi Relay

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


How Much You’ll Save After Completing the Challenge

Follow our basic guidelines, and you’ll save $1,378 in a year’s time. If you deposit the money in a high-interest savings account, interest will accumulate, increasing the amount you’ve saved.

Recommended: 15 Ways to Save Money on Food

How the 52-Week Money Challenge Works

The challenge’s structure is simple. In week one, put $1 in savings. Week two, $2. Week three, $3, and so forth for 52 weeks in a row. You can tuck the money into an envelope or put it in a piggy bank — but only if you won’t be tempted to withdraw cash before the challenge ends.

Temptation and interest are two good reasons to deposit the money into a bank account. Or you can set up automatic transfers so that your financial institution will move the money to the savings account that you designated for this challenge.

52 Week Savings Schedule

Week Number

Weekly Deposit

Total Saved

1 $1 $1
2 $2 $3
3 $3 $6
4 $4 $10
5 $5 $15
6 $6 $21
7 $7 $28
8 $8 $36
9 $9 $45
10 $10 $55
11 $11 $66
12 $12 $78
13 $13 $91
14 $14 $105
15 $15 $120
16 $16 $136
17 $17 $153
18 $18 $171
19 $19 $190
20 $20 $210
21 $21 $231
22 $22 $253
23 $23 $276
24 $24 $300
25 $25 $325
26 $26 $351
27 $27 $378
28 $28 $406
29 $29 $435
30 $30 $465
31 $31 $496
32 $32 $528
33 $33 $561
34 $34 $595
35 $35 $630
36 $36 $666
37 $37 $703
38 $38 $741
39 $39 $780
40 $40 $820
41 $41 $861
42 $42 $903
43 $43 $946
44 $44 $990
45 $45 $1,035
46 $46 $1,081
47 $47 $1,128
48 $48 $1,176
49 $49 $1,225
50 $50 $1,275
51 $51 $1,326
52 $52 $1,378

Enhancing the Challenge

Perhaps you’re looking ahead to Christmas or another time of year when you know that money will be especially tight. You can decide to pay ahead so that, if needed, you can skip saving during the weeks in December. That’s the beauty of this challenge: You can customize it to meet your needs.

When December rolls around, if you don’t have extra cash, no worries. You’ve already made those deposits (which are earning interest more quickly). If you can keep depositing money throughout December, do so, and you’ll reap even more benefits at the end of 52 weeks.

Here’s another possibility. As you start to save money in this way, you might find that you can save even more. If so, up the ante, perhaps by doubling the amount you’ll deposit each week, so that you can save money fast.

Pros and Cons of the 52-Week Money Challenge

First, the benefits:

•   You’ll be saving money. That, all by itself, is a good thing.

•   You can gain confidence in your ability to budget, and to “pay yourself first.” For extra help, here is a budget planner app that’s easy to use.

•   As the dollars add up, use the momentum to continue the challenge into 2023.

•   Let this challenge motivate you to focus more on your financial goals — and improve your financial situation in new ways.

•   You can participate in this challenge with friends and family members, which can motivate you to keep going.

•   As your savings muscles get stronger, you can create a plan to save for other goals: a new car, for example, or a trip with your family.

Next, the challenges:

•   If the money is too easy to access, it can be tempting to use the funds before the year is up. To prevent this from happening, it may help to put the money in a bank account where you don’t have a debit card.

•   Because the deposit amounts are relatively small, it can be easy to forget to make your deposit or lose track of which week you’re on. Try marking amounts on a calendar, or use a buddy system where you and a friend remind each other.

•   If you start this challenge at the beginning of the year, the biggest deposits will be scheduled for the holiday season when you may have more expenses. In that case, start with $52 on Jan. 1, when the challenge is fresh and new, and then deposit a dollar less each week. This has the added benefit of getting more money into the account more quickly, which gives you more motivation early on. Plus, you’ll benefit from more interest more quickly.

•   If you find that you can’t make the deposit during one week, don’t get too down about it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You can catch up.

Who the 52 Week Money Challenge Is Best For

First, if you’re enthusiastic about the idea, then it’s definitely for you. This idea can be adjusted for all ages, too. If, for example, you have young children and want to teach them good saving habits, start them with cents instead of dollars.

If you’d like to turn the savings process into a game, then this challenge is tailor made. You can, for example, make a chart that contains all of the dollar amounts that will be saved ($1-$52) and then cut the page into 52 individual squares — one dollar amount per square.

Put the slips of paper in a hat or box, and select a square each week. That’s the amount you’ll save this week. If you need more advance notice of your savings target, pull the slips out of the container at the beginning of the challenge, one by one, and mark them on a calendar. The first slip drawn goes on week one, the second on week two and so forth.

Search for “52-week savings challenge printable,” and you’ll find plenty of other ways to keep track of and enjoy participating in the challenge.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax

The Takeaway

The 52-week Savings Challenge is a straightforward way of saving a relatively small amount of money each week to build up an emergency savings fund. In Week One, you save $1. Week Two, save $2. The most you’ll have to save in a week is $52, at the end of the challenge. Simple as it is, it’s also quite flexible and easy to customize in whatever way will work best for you.

SoFi Relay is a free money tracker app that can help you manage your savings and spending all in one place. Plus you get credit score monitoring, financial insights, and more — at no cost.

Try SoFi Relay to track your money like a champion.

FAQ

Is the 52 week savings challenge worth it?

If you stick with the plan for a year, you’ll save $1,378 — plus interest if you deposit the funds into an interest-bearing account. This challenge can help you strengthen your savings skills and serve as a springboard for accomplishing other financial goals.

What is the $10,000 challenge?

This challenge is structured in the same way as the 52-week one. In week one, though, you’ll start with $125. Each week, you’ll add another $25 to the amount you save. The result: $10,000 plus any interest earned.

What is the no-spend challenge?

In this challenge, you’ll commit to spend money only on essentials, such as housing, gas, groceries, and utilities. You can set a timeframe for this challenge to build up your savings account. And you can customize the rules however you like — perhaps limiting the challenge to no-spend weekends.


Photo credit: iStock/Jose carlos Cerdeno

SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
*Terms and conditions apply. (Must click on the link to be eligible.) This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the Rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed into SoFi accounts such as cash in SoFi Checking and Savings or loan balances, Stock Bits, fractional shares and cryptocurrency subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SORL0522043

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender