woman with a suitcase

Ways to be a Frugal Traveler

It is said that there are two types of travelers in the world: those who look for a deal and those who don’t.

They could be on the same flight, staying at the same hotel, eating the same food, and taking the same excursions. But, they might be paying wildly different prices for the exact same experience because one chose to do a little research instead.

Being a frugal traveler doesn’t have to mean missing out. In fact, it could mean you are able to experience even more because you cut costs along the way.

Want to be a more frugal traveler? Consider some of these ideas to find some bargains on your next trip.

Timing Your Trip Right

One of the first steps in becoming a frugal traveler is picking a place where you want to go, and can also afford to go. The good news is that no location is necessarily off-limits, as long as you can be flexible on the timing of your vacation.

While you’re not likely to get a great deal on a hotel on Cape Cod for Fourth of July weekend or a cheap flight to the Caribbean over Christmas, you may be able to score a sweet deal if you decide to go to either of those places during what is referred to as “shoulder season.”

The term shoulder season is used by professional travelers and agents around the world to denote the time in-between busy seasons in any given destination.

It’s typically viewed as a less desirable time to visit by lay travelers, but to the pros, it’s often seen as the ideal time to go, since this is the time you may be able to find better deals on flights, accommodations, and more.

Take Mexico as an example. According to Frommer’s , Mexico’s high season begins around December 20th, peaks over New Year’s, then winds down at the end in April.

If you plan a visit during this time you can expect to pay a premium on just about everything as you’re competing with other travelers for space.

If you opt to visit just prior to this, say in November, or just after, in May or June, and you will likely be able to find better deals. As a bonus, there will likely be fewer people around, meaning you might be able to take excursions with fewer people, get restaurant reservations at highly sought after spots, and may even luck your way into a room upgrade at your hotel for free.

Finding Flight Deals

One of the most expensive parts about traveling is the actual act of travel itself. While driving can sometimes be a cheaper mode of transportation, it might not be an option depending on the destination you have in mind.

But there are still ways you can save. Here are a couple of travel hacks that may help you get better deals on airfare.

Signing up for email alerts. Some good news for busy travelers: There are other people out there willing to look for a good deal for you. And they’ll do it for free so long as you subscribe to their email newsletter.

Next Vacay , for example, is a website where users can input their destination, then simply wait for the site to send them daily emails with flight deals.

You may also want to check out Scott’s Cheap Flights , a newsletter that claims to find tickets up to 90% off, as well as Skyscanner , which allows users to set alerts for price drops so you can strike when the iron is hot.

Some of these services will send you deals for both your destination and others in case you need a little inspiration. You may also want to download a few travel apps that will send you price alerts as well.

Booking at the right time–and for the right day. According to a recent study by CheapAir , the best day to buy airfare is roughly 64 days out from your travel date. Anywhere between 95 to 21 days in advance of your departure day, however, consistently yields the lowest prices for travelers (within 5% of the lowest ticket price).

While the day of the week you book doesn’t appear to make much of any difference, the day of the week you travel can. Mid-week flights typically yield the best value.

In fact, CheapAir found that you can spend, on average, about $82 more to fly on a Sunday, than a Tuesday or Wednesday. For a family of four, that adds up to a savings of nearly $300.

Scoring Deals on Accommodations

Hotels base prices on supply and demand, so when there is less demand (say in shoulder season) prices tend to fall. Beyond the season, you can also try looking into checking in and out on less popular days.

If you can check in on a Monday and out on a Friday, for instance, you may be able to save, since mid-week pricing can be cheaper than weekends.

Even if you’re booking at a travel site, it’s also a good idea to frequently check the website of any hotel you’re interested in staying at. There, they may announce different deals and sales. At the very least, you may be able to spot a free room upgrade or free breakfast.

Entertaining Yourself on a Frugal Vacation

While you’re traveling, you’re likely going to want to participate in activities. And you can likely find ways to save on those also.

In a new place, try googling a few free walking tours, which can give you a wonderful sense of a place without having to spend a dime (though it may be polite to tip your tour guide afterwards).

For cheap or discounted tickets to local attractions, consider checking out sites like Groupon, Airbnb Experiences, and local tourism boards.

You may also want to ask your hotel front desk at check-in for tips on things to do and see. Hotels often have partnerships with area attractions and may be able to provide you with a discount.

For restaurants it can be a bit harder to save, but if there’s one fancy place you’ve simply been dying to try, you can often save a fair amount by going for lunch rather than dinner.

Some restaurants run lunch specials or offer a specific lunch menu, where the entrees are a little smaller but also cheaper than they are on the dinner menu.

Setting a Travel Budget

Establishing a budget, and then starting to save for your vacation, can be a key part of the frugal traveler planning process. That’s because your budget can help determine not only where you can go, but what you can do while you are there.

A travel budget can help you to narrow down your choices, and also make sure that you are able to enjoy your trip without having to worry that you are spending more than you can afford.

Below are some categories you may want to include in your budget:

Transportation costs: When budgeting for a trip, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to fly, drive, or take the train. For driving, consider costs like gas and wear and tear on your car. For flying, you’ll want to be sure to include ticket price, baggage fees, airport parking, and destination car rental or taxi.

Lodging: Accommodation cost can seem clear, but you’ll want to be sure to ask about any resort fees and taxes so you can add it to your budget.

Food: It can be a good idea to come up with a cost for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (including tips) for everyone you’re traveling with. If your hotel offers free breakfasts you can put that cost towards another meal.

Activities: You’ll want to have a budget for daily activities and entertainment for each participant in your group.

Extras: You never know when an emergency, a fun activity, or an unplanned happy hour will arise. Adding a buffer to your vacation budget can help you prepare for these extra expenses.

Once you add up all the costs, you can start saving up for your vacation. You could even create a secondary savings account titled “travel fund” so you’ll be even more excited to save.

The Takeaway

Vacations can be costly, especially if you’re traveling with a family. But with a little bit of research and advance planning, you may be able to significantly reduce the price of your next trip.

Simple frugal traveler tricks, like travelling off peak, signing up for travel newsletters, booking your flight around two months ahead, and pre-scouting free and discounted local activities, can help you reduce costs without having to skimp on fun.

You can also make traveling more affordable by setting a budget, saving up for your trip in advance, and staying as close as possible to your spending plan while you are away.

Ready to start saving for your next getaway? You may want to consider opening up a SoFi Money® cash management account.

With SoFi Money’s special “vaults” feature, you can separate your savings from your spending while earning competitive interest on all of your money.

You can even create a “vacation” vault and set up automatic recurring deposits to help you build your travel fund faster.

Let SoFi Money help you save for your next awesome vacation.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.
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.

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Is it Smart to Buy Your Leased Car_780x440

Is it Smart to Buy Your Leased Car?

When a car lease is expiring, you may need to decide whether to return the car and find a new set of wheels or do a lease buy-out and purchase the car.

Similar to buying a used car, when you purchase a leased car you can likely finance the transaction or pay for it with cash. But how can you know if buying a leased car makes sense?

The decision will depend on your budget, how much you enjoy driving your leased car, the mileage you’ve put on the car, as well as the buyout price.

Below are some key things to know about lease buyouts that can help you make an informed decision.

Recommended: Buying a Car with a Personal Loan

The Advantages of Lease to Buy

One of the most obvious benefits of a lease buyout is that you already know the car’s history, which is something most used car buyers don’t have (even if you get a used vehicle report, it won’t contain every detail).

If you’ve maintained your car meticulously and always kept it garaged, then you know that you would be purchasing a car that is in excellent condition.

On the flip side, if you haven’t cared for the car as well as you could have, a buyout can be an advantage as well.

That’s because most leases include extra fees for unusual wear and tear on a vehicle, which may show up during the inspection. Keeping the car can be a way to stave off that extra expense.

The same goes if you’ve put a lot of mileage on the car. If you’ve gone way over your lease’s mileage limits, a buyout can be more enticing because it allows you to avoid paying penalties for going over your lease’s limits.

Another potential plus to a buyout is that it can get you out of the lease cycle. When it comes to buying vs. leasing, purchasing a car may end up costing you less in the long run.

While buying typically involves higher monthly costs than leasing, you actually own something in the end. With leasing, you may have lower payments, but you can also get stuck in a cycle of never-ending car payments since you’ll never own the car free and clear.

The Downside of a Lease Buyout

One of the nice things about a lease is that you will always experience a relatively new vehicle every time you renew. For many drivers, the potential extra cost of perpetually leasing is worth that peace of mind.

If you opt to end the lease cycle and buy your car, one downside is that you’ll no longer be driving a new car. In determining the cost of ownership, you will likely also want to factor in the cost (and hassle) of car repairs as the car gets older.

Your monthly expenses might also go up. If you buy out your lease and don’t make a new down payment, your monthly payments will likely be more expensive than your current lease payment.

Another potential downside to buying your leased car is that you may not be getting the best possible price for a used car.

When you get the option to buy a leased car, the vehicle is typically just a few years old and its residual value can be pretty high. It’s possible you could get a better deal by saving up for a car and buying a similar used vehicle on the open market.

Is Buying Your Leased Car a Good Deal?

Before deciding whether to buy your leased car, you may want to compare the buyback price from your lease to the current resale value of the car.

The price of a lease buyout will be based on the car’s residual value, which is the purchase amount set at lease signing, based on the predicted value of the vehicle at the end of the lease.

You can often find this number–it may be called the “buyout amount”, “residual amount,” or “purchase option price”–on your lease contract. If you make your payment online, you may be able to find it by logging onto your account or by calling the bank that holds your lease.

Once you’ve got this number, you can use one of the many online car appraisal tools–such as Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, or the National Automobile Dealers Association–to help you calculate the trade-in, buyback, and new car fair purchase price of your leased car.

To get the most reliable numbers, you’ll want to be as accurate as you can when you plug in the information about your car, including the manufacturer, options, and current condition.

If your buyout amount is considerably less than the average retail price, and you like the car, buying your car from the leasing company could indeed be a good deal.

Even if it looks like you would end up slightly overpaying, you may not want to dismiss the buyout option altogether.

Buying your leased car may still be a good idea if you’re going to get hit with pricey mileage charges when you return the car. This could end up making the buyout price a better deal than buying a similar used car on the open market.

Negotiating a Good Price for a Lease to Buy

It can be tricky to try to haggle the price of a buyout, since dealerships typically don’t net a profit from selling you a leased car.

One technique that might motivate the dealer to help you is to agree to get your financing from the dealership.

Since dealers often have a number of lenders to choose from, they may also be able to get you a lower interest rate for the buyout loan than you might be able to get from your own bank or credit union.

It can still be a good idea to get a preapproved car loan from your bank or credit union before you go to the dealer so you know what rate you can qualify for. You can then decide later if you want to go with the dealer’s financing.

Recommended: Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

The Takeaway

Deciding what to do with your leased vehicle when the contract is up can require a little bit of research, and also some math.

It can be a good idea to compare the buyback price to what the car would go for on the open market. You may also want to factor in any additional charges, such as mileage fees, that could make buying out the lease more attractive.

Should you decide to buy the car (or to purchase a different car) and would need to take out a loan to do so, it can also be important to consider what kind of price, down payment, loan term, and interest rate you can afford.

Looking to start saving to buy out your lease, or purchase a different car? SoFi Money® may be able to help.

SoFi Money is a cash management account that allows you to separate your savings from your spending while earning competitive interest on all your money.

Start saving up for your next ride with SoFi Money.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.
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.

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7 Steps That Can Help Get Your Financial House in Order_780x440

7 Steps That Can Help Get Your Financial House in Order

Just like having your home in order can help make life easier and less stressful, having your financial house in order can save you time and worry. It can also help you spend less, save more, and work more effectively towards your financial goals

Your “financial house” refers to all the aspects that go into your financial wellness, including the information found on your financial statements, any debt you have, your budget, and your retirement planning and accounts.

Getting your financial house in order typically involves taking stock of what you have, getting rid of things (or accounts) you don’t need, creating a budget, and setting up a few systems to make it easy to achieve your financial goals.

Below is a simple step-by-step for doing a financial clean-up.

1. Taking Stock

A person can’t organize what they don’t know they have, so a good first step to organizing your finances is to track down all of your financial statements and accounts, or access them online.

If the password or log-in is long forgotten, you can reset your accounts or call customer service lines to get access.

You can then make a master list organized by category. This might include:

•   Assets: This includes bank accounts, retirement savings, and other investments.
•   Liabilities: These are loans, such as mortgages, credit card debt, student loans, or other forms of personal debt.
•   Income: This would include all sources of income, such as salary, investments, and alimony.
•   Fixed expenses: These are bills you pay every month, such as rent, mortgage, and utilities.

This step can help people discover unpaid bills, as well as savings accounts or retirement accounts they may have forgotten about.

2. Going Paperless

Electing to go paperless on bills and bank statements can not only be good for the planet, but can also help you keep your finances in order by creating less physical mess.

Getting bills in the mail and seeing them pile up can also evoke a sense of dread. When you go paperless, you can designate a day for tackling monthly expenses.

Then, on that day only, you can open those emails and pay them. If you prefer a paper trail, you can print out your receipts and file them away.

Some banks even offer benefits to customers who sign up for paperless billing.

3. Consolidating Accounts

Having abandoned 401(k) accounts or multiple saving accounts across different banks can be confusing and hard to keep track of. If this is the case, it might be time to consolidate and simplify.

You can move old savings into more frequently used accounts by transferring money from one account to another.

You may also be able to roll over your 401(k) from a former employer into a new employer’s retirement plan.

While this step isn’t necessary, tidying up accounts can save you the hassle of dealing with statements and notifications from several different financial institutions.

Recommended: How to Transfer Money From One Bank to Another

4. Tackling Debt

Once you’ve taken stock of your overall financial picture, you will likely have a better sense of how much money you owe. This can feel overwhelming, but also empowering. Once you know the numbers, you can deal with them head on, and come up with a debt reduction plan.

You may want to first determine good debt, such as student loans and mortgages vs. bad debt, like high-interest credit card debt and personal loans. When paying off debt, it can be a good idea to prioritize bad debt first.

There are a number of different ways to make paying off debt feel manageable, such as the snowball method or avalanche method. The key is to find an approach you feel you can stick with and to simply get started.

As you knock off debts, you’ll have fewer minimum payments to juggle. What’s more, you’ll be able to funnel the money you once spent on interest towards your financial goals.

5. Creating a Budget

After you’ve taken stock of all of your accounts and bills, you may want to go one step further and set up a monthly budget.

To do this, it can be helpful to pull out the last three months or so of your bank statements. You can then use them to figure out how much is coming in each month (your average monthly income after taxes are taken out) and how much is going out each month (your average monthly spending).

If the numbers are tight (meaning there’s little or nothing left over to put into savings), or you see you are actually going backwards, you may next want to create a plan to cut your spending.

This might include getting rid of certain monthly bills, such as streaming services you no longer really care about or quitting the gym and working out at home.

You may also want to set monthly spending targets, such as how much you will spend on nonessential categories, such as clothing, eating out, and entertainment, each month.

6. Setting Goals

Setting some financial goals can help motivate you to stick to your budget and put money into savings each month.

If you’re saving up for something fun (like, say, a vacation), you might be more inclined to cook at home instead of ordering in. Money goals can function like a compass that guides the direction of spending.

Not sure of a goal? Here are some common financial goals you may want to consider working toward:

•   Creating an emergency fund.
•   Paying down debt.
•   Increasing retirement savings.
•   Saving for a downpayment on a home.
•   Putting money towards something fun, like a vacation or new wardrobe.

Goals won’t always look the same person to person, but having one (or two) can help guide your financial plan, making it easier to spend and save with confidence.

7. Automating

Saving, spending, and paying bills doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel every month. You can significantly reduce the amount of work involved in money management simply by relying more on automation.

One of the benefits of automating your finances is always paying your bills on time. This can save you money by avoiding late fees. Having a history of on-time payments can also help boost your credit score.

In addition to setting up autopay for your regular bills, you may also want to automate savings. This means having a portion of your paycheck (and it’s fine to start small) automatically transferred from your checking account into your savings or retirement account after you get paid.

This ensures that saving will happen each and every month, since the money will be taken out before you have a chance to see it–or spend it.

Automation won’t take all the work out of keeping your financial house in order, but it can eliminate many of the chores–and many of the choices–you have to deal with each month.

Setting and forgetting bills and transfers can make money moves less hectic each month.

The Takeaway

Getting your financial house in order isn’t as complicated or time consuming as many people assume. And, you don’t have to do it all at once.

You may want to set aside an hour or so one day a week to focus on financial house-cleaning, and just take it one step at a time.

Tidying up your financial home can take work, but you don’t have to go at it alone. A cash management account like SoFi Money® can make the complicated a little easier.

SoFi Money allows you to earn, spend, and save–all in one account. With SoFi Money’s “vaults” feature, you can separate your savings from your spending and also set up recurring transfers to help you meet your savings goals faster.

Check out everything a SoFi Money cash management account has to offer today.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.
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
.

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9 Cheapest Pets to Own_780x440

9 Cheapest Pets to Own

Pets can bring love, companionship, stimulation, and fun into your life. But they can also bring a lot of added expenses.

In fact, the lifetime cost of owning a dog is estimated to run around $15,000. Cats are not far behind, ringing up at roughly $12,000 over the course of their lives.

If you’re yearning for a furry companion, but the high cost of owning a pet gives you worry, you don’t necessarily have to give up on the idea. There are actually a number of cheap pet options out there, and many are also low maintenance and adapt quickly to their new homes.

From small birds to bunny rabbits, here are nine cheap, easy-to-care-for pets you may want to consider adding to the family.

Recommended: How Much Is Pet Insurance?

Guinea Pigs

If you’re looking for something cuddly that’s easier on the wallet than a puppy, you may want to consider a guinea pig. These entertaining creatures live about five to seven years, so they also typically require less of a time commitment than a cat or a dog.

A guinea pig can cost anywhere from $10 and $70. If you go for an exotic guinea pig from a local breeder, you can pay up to $120.

In addition to the guinea pig, owners will need to make sure they have a cage that has enough room for it to move around and some bedding that will get changed fairly often.

Guinea pig food is relatively cheap– less than $10 for a bag. But these affordable pets can also live off leftover vegetable and fruit scraps.

Guinea pigs thrive as social creatures, so you may want to purchase more than one guinea pig or ensure you’re spending ample time with your furry companion.

Hermit Crabs

While hermit crabs aren’t cuddly, they can make great pets if you’re looking for a low-key companion that doesn’t require much supervision.

The cost of owning a hermit crab is pretty low (a crab runs around $6 at pet stores). Owners will also need to get a tank with a vented lid, drinking and humidity sponges, a water dish, climbing wood and a humidity gauge.

Once crabs have outgrown one shell you’ll need to buy their next, larger shell, which is a small cost.

Hermit crabs need humidity levels between 70 and 80 percent, which means owners will need to mist their pets and their tanks at least once a day to keep these creatures happy and healthy. It’s also important to clean their quarters and change their water often.

Being small creatures, crabs don’t cost much to feed. You can feed these little cheap pets vegetable scraps, fruit, or pellet food.

Sea Monkeys

Sea Monkeys are a novelty pet marketed as “instant pets.” They’re actually a type of brine shrimp sold in kits, usually targeted to children.

Developed in a lab in the 1950s, sea monkeys are sold as packets of eggs that hatch when you add water. These small pets will hatch in a few days and stay alive for about two years. They also reproduce, so you could have a steady supply for some time.

Sea monkey kits, which include the eggs and an aquarium, only run around $28. To keep your Sea Monkeys alive, all you need to do is to top up water levels occasionally and feed them once a week (a bag of food costs about $6).

Dwarf Frogs

African dwarf frogs are small, completely aquatic, and among the easiest types of frogs to keep as pets. This species can be a good beginner frog for owners who are content to look only–handling them is not a good idea.

Dwarf frogs grow to around one-and-a-half inches and live up to five years with good care. They can live in an aquarium alongside docile fish like tetras if you want to own a few creatures.

Besides the frog, which typically only costs a few dollars, owners of these low-cost pets will need to purchase a tank with a tight-fitting lid (which you may be able to find second hand), gravel or sand for the bottom, and some decorative hiding spots, such as live or silk plants and small terra cotta plant pots placed on their sides.

Keeping dwarf frogs healthy is really just a matter of making sure that their aquarium water is clean and offering them a proper dwarf frog diet–they like to munch on frozen mysis shrimp, bloodworms, food pellets, and brine shrimp.

Goldfish

Goldfish can add interest to any room, are fun to watch, and pretty low maintenance. The fish themselves usually only run a couple of dollars.

While you may picture this fish living in a classic goldfish bowl, these days many experts recommend investing in a filtered tank in order to keep their habitat clean.

While aquariums aren’t cheap, the only additional cost after that is the food. Purchasing fish pellets or flakes will set you back a few bucks.

To save some money, you may want to search for used equipment at yard sales, thrift stores, or websites such as Craigslist or Offer Up. One you’ve invested in a tank and the decorative bits, these items will last indefinitely and can be re-used for future fish..

Leopard Geckos

These tiny lizards are friendly and fun to have around, and don’t require a lot of upkeep. As with goldfish, the biggest cost is likely to be a habitat. You may be able to save here by buying one-second hand from an online marketplace.

The cost of a leopard gecko runs anywhere from $20 to $70. In addition to the tank, leopard gecko owners will need to get some type of lighting (with an incandescent bulb), a hide-out, and possibly a heat pad, depending on temperatures in your home.

Other than that, you’ll need to regularly feed them a diet of insects, including crickets and waxworms, as well as fresh vegetables and clean water.

Ants

If you’re looking for one of the cheapest pets, that is also low-maintenance, an ant farm may fit the bill. While ants don’t provide bonding or cuddling opportunities, it can be fun and fascinating to watch an ant farm grow, particularly for kids.

Depending on the kit, ant farms will set you back less than $40 and some include ants (you can also purchase live ants online or at your local pet store).

While kits have traditionally been made from sand, modern ant farms are now often made with a clear, edible gel that lets you watch your ants tunnel much more closely.

After you get the farm and the ants, there isn’t much to do other than making sure you provide water and the occasional bits of food.

Canaries

Canaries can be great pets that offer companionship and melodies, and can even learn to do little tricks like playing with a ball or stepping onto your hand. These types of birds live around 10 years and aren’t as expensive as more exotic breeds.

Costs include a cage, small toys, food, and the occasional veterinary visit (if they’re sick). You can purchase canaries from pet stores or breeders — the latter may offer more options depending on where you live.

You could pay as much anywhere from $100 to $400 for a bird, so it’s not necessarily the cheapest pet on the list. However, it’s still considered a low-cost pet compared to a dog or cat.

Rabbit

While rabbits are as large as some cat and dog breeds, they qualify as a cheap, low-maintenance pet. You can expect to pay only around $25 for a non-pedigreed rabbit. You may even be able to adopt a rescue through the Humane Society or ASPCA.

Rabbits also have a small appetite–owners will typically only need to buy a large bag of food every few months (around $20). These fluffy companions will also need a rabbit hutch, but you may be able to find one cheaply through a second-hand marketplace. Or, you can build one yourself.

Rabbits are happy to live outside or in (they can actually be potty trained). If you opt for indoors, you may want to keep in mind that they can chew on wires and furniture legs if allowed to roam free. Some breeds, such as angora rabbits, also require grooming.

These furry friends live about seven to 10 years.

Recommended: Should You Consider Pet Insurance?

The Takeaway

Whether furry, feathered or reptilian, owning a pet doesn’t need to cost a small fortune. As you can see from the list here, there are plenty of cheap pets that are easy to care for and waiting for you to take them home.

Before you make a commitment to a pet, however, you may want to make sure your little companion will fit into your lifestyle and that you have time to take care of it.

And, since even an Inexpensive pet will add to your household expenses, you may also want to make sure that the start-up costs for the animal and equipment, as well as on-going expenses involved in the care and feeding of your new pet will fit into your budget comfortably.

Want to start setting some money aside for a new pet? Consider opening a SoFi Money® cash management account.

SoFi Money offers a special “vaults” feature where you separate your savings from your spending, while still earning competitive interest on all your money. You can even set up a vault for your future little companion.

Start saving up for a new pet with SoFi Money.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.

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9 Cheap Birthday Party Ideas_780x440

9 Cheap Birthday Party Ideas

From hiring a video arcade on wheels to treating 10 little princesses to a spa day, today’s birthday parties have gone next level. You could easily drop $300 to $500-plus on your kid’s next shindig.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. It’s possible to host a fun and memorable birthday celebration for friends and family without breaking the bank.

Here are some inexpensive party ideas to consider when planning your next birthday bash:

1. Being Selective with the Guest List

As tempting as it might be to invite everyone in your child’s class or the whole soccer team, limiting the guest count is a simple way to save money on a birthday party.

Less people means less food, less party supplies, and fewer favors–but not necessarily less fun. It’s possible to have a close knit vibe at a birthday party that gets people talking to each other and enjoying themselves even more than they would have at a big event.

If your child is willing to invite only one or two friends, you might consider skipping a party altogether and opting for an experience. Going bowling or spending a couple of hours at a play space, zoo, or museum can suddenly become an affordable option.

2. Sharing the Party with a Friend

If your child’s birthday falls around the same time as one of their close friends, you might want to consider teaming up and having a dual birthday party.

This enables you to share the costs and responsibilities with another family and, if the kids have a similar friend group, it would not necessarily have to be a much larger party.

It can be a good idea, however, to make sure each child gets their own cake and presents.

3. Choosing a Cheap (or Free) Venue

While hosting a party at a local climbing gym or other entertainment venue can be appealing, you can end up dropping as much as $300 just for the space.

One way to throw a birthday party on a budget is have the party at home. That said, you may want to keep in mind that the wear and tear on your floors and furnishings might not be worth the savings.

In good weather, a backyard party can be a great, low-cost option. Or, you might consider having the party in a local park or garden.

If your child’s birthday lands in a cold weather season, you can save money on a venue by limiting the guest list and going with the most basic package (such as just food and drinks for each child), and providing your own cake and goody bags.

You can also check deal websites for discounts and promotions or ask the venue about a discount for having the party at an off-peak time or day.

4. Sending Digital Invites

Skipping the paper and going with digital invitations can be kinder to the environment and also cut down on birthday party costs.

You can design your own digital invitation and send via email or text, or you may want to take advantage of one of the many online (and free) e-invitation sites.

5. Getting Creative With Decorations

One of the best things about the internet is that somebody’s probably already created precisely what you need. Rather than drop a chunk of money at the party store on themed decor, you may want to check out Pinterest for free printables.

You can also find ideas for DIY decorations on Pinterest (along with many other sites) using low cost supplies, possibly even things you already have on hand. Dollar stores can also be great places to shop for decorations and supplies.

If you do hit the party store, you may want to consider going with just one or two premium themed items and keeping the rest of the decor colorful and fun.

6. Making a Semi-Homemade Birthday Cake

Custom bakery cakes can run from $3.50 to $5.50 per slice, according to Thumbtack , a company that connects customers with local professionals. If you multiply that by 15 guests, you could easily drop $50 to $80 on the birthday cake alone.

A cheaper option is to buy a cake mix, then make it look and taste homemade with a few simple baking hacks, such as swapping butter for oil and milk for water, adding an extra egg, and making your own buttercream frosting.

To make cupcakes that look like they came from a bakery, you can pipe icing on top using a ziplock bag with a tiny hole snipped in the corner.

7. Timing the Party Right

If the party takes place during lunch or dinner time, there’s a good chance people will expect to be fed a meal.

Choosing an off-time to celebrate–such as 10:30am or 2:30pm–means you can steer the party away from heartier fare (like freshly delivered pizzas or a sandwich platter) and stick to serving finger foods and snacks instead.

8. Buying in Bulk for Gift Bags

If you’ll be giving each guest a swag bag, consider buying toys and trinkets in bulk sets and then dividing them up. This can be a real cost saver when compared to purchasing items individually (even at the dollar store).

Fun items like paper airplanes, wooden yoyos, squishy toys, stampers, fidget spinners and Slinkys can often be purchased in packs at stores as well as online.

9. Playing Some Free Games

You don’t necessarily have to rent a bouncy house or hire live entertainment to keep a birthday party lively and fun. There are a number of inexpensive ways to make sure there is plenty of action, activity, and laughter. Here are a few fun, free games you might consider:

•   Duck Duck Goose
•   Charades
•   Musical Chairs
•   Red Rover
•   Rock Paper Scissor Tournaments
•   Three Legged Races
•   Marco Polo (you can even play on land)
•   Hot Potato
•   Simon Says

Recommended: Money Tips for Teenagers

The Takeaway

It can be tempting–and easy–to spend a lot creating a memorable birthday party.

But with just a few cost-cutting strategies, such as trimming your guestlist, shifting the time of the party, choosing an inexpensive venue, and organizing some free games, you can throw a festive birthday bash without breaking the bank.

You can also make birthday celebrations more affordable by setting a budget and saving up in advance.

If you’re looking to start saving, opening a SoFi Money® cash management account can be a good option. With SoFi Money’s “vaults” feature, you can separate your savings from your spending while earning competitive interest on all of your money.

Start saving for your next big celebration with SoFi Money.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.
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.

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