How to Teach Kids Money Management Skills

How To Teach Your Kids About Money

Money management — how to save, budget, and invest — is a vital life skill that isn’t part of most school curriculums. As a result, it often falls to parents to prepare kids for this aspect of adulthood. The trouble is, talking about things like spending, saving, and taxes with your kids may not come naturally, especially if you were raised in a “don’t talk about money” household.

So when — and how — do you start talking about money with your kids?

Generally, it’s never too early to begin teaching kids about the concept of money. You might start just by normalizing conversations about money, so kids feel comfortable asking questions. Other easy strategies include offering a piggy bank to young kids, to introduce the concept of saving, and providing an allowance to older children, which helps them learn to budget and manage their own money.

Read on to learn more about some of the best ways to teach kids about money and put them on the path towards financial health and independence.

Why It’s Important To Teach Kids About Money Management

Whether it’s the importance of saving or how to open a new bank account, money lessons help ensure that kids will make smart financial decisions in the future.

Children who are introduced to basic financial concepts at an early age are likely to feel more confident about their spending habits and have less financial anxiety when they’re older. Teaching young children simple lessons about money management also makes it easier to impart more complex financial lessons as they get older. This can help set them up for success when they get that first summer job, go off to college, and enter the working world.

Money Management Explained

First, let’s look at the big picture. Helping kids understand the basics of money management is important…but what is money management anyway? Some adults can’t answer that question, let alone explain it to their children.

Simply put, money management refers to how you handle all of your finances. It involves keeping track of what’s coming in and what’s going out (and making sure that latter doesn’t exceed the former), being smart about debt, and setting money aside for both short- and long-term goals.

While adults generally understand that saving money is important, it typically takes an engaging approach to get kids psyched about hoarding their pennies rather than spending them on a video game. With the right strategies, however, teaching kids about money management can wind up being a satisfying and fun experience for the whole family. It might even give you a renewed focus on your own money skills.

Money Management for Kids in 6 Steps

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to boost money management for kids.

1. Start Early

Children as young as three years old can start to grasp the basic concept of “We need dollars to get ice cream.” Talking about money in a positive, or simply neutral, way and being transparent about your own financial life (“I got paid today,” or “I need to pay bills tonight”) begins to ground kids in the ebb and flow of finances. It helps a child learn the value of money.

Parents can use a routine trip to the grocery store to point out price tags and how some things cost more than others. Asking a salesperson or cashier, “How much is this?” can clue children in to a transactional truth: You have to have money to buy something. Paying bills in front of them helps them understand that families also have household expenses.

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Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


2. Provide an Allowance

Offering an allowance can be a great way to teach kids to manage money responsibly. The ground rules for a child’s allowance vary from family to family; some start a child off with an allowance at age five, and others at age 14. How much kids get also varies widely and is entirely up to you. One rule of thumb is to match the number of dollars per week with a child’s age, such as $10 a week for a ten year old. You might also ask around among other parents to get a sense of the “going rate.”

Here’s a look at the two common ways to structure allowance.

•   Chore-based allowance: With this set-up, a child does chores in order to get paid. This system can instill a strong work ethic that will benefit children in the future. Some say a drawback of this method is that it could send a message that household chores are optional. But for many families, it works well.

•   Fixed allowance: Here, you agree to pay your child a set amount of money every week or month no matter what. Separately, they are expected to do their chores and help around the house because they are part of the family. This arrangement allows a child to feel part of a greater whole — to be responsible for the tidiness of their room and offer to help with the dishes because that’s what family members do. Some may argue that paying children an allowance that isn’t chore-based could compromise their work ethic or promote a sense of entitlement, but it’s really up to each family to determine what works best for them.

3. Encourage Saving and Goal-Setting

Just as adults are motivated to save when they want to have enough money for, say, a vacation or new car, your child may be incentivized to save a target amount for a specific purpose. Or, you may have a child who just wants to see how high their savings can go — that’s fine too! You can encourage them to save just to find out how much they can stash.

You might also offer rewards for reaching savings milestones. For example, you could make a deal that if your child saves a certain amount, you’ll kick in a little bit more. This rewards them for exercising restraint, and it’s similar to a vesting or “company match” principle, which you could explain to an older child.

4. Give Them a Place to Stash Their Cash

For younger kids, keeping money close at hand can work well. Having their own piggy bank or child’s safe can also make saving more fun. For older kids, you might want to open a savings account in their name. Many banks offer savings accounts specifically geared toward children and teens. Typically, these are joint or custodial accounts that come with parental controls and tools that teach financial education.

5. Introduce Them to Credit

As teenagers become more independent and start driving themselves around, consider enrolling your child as an authorized user on one of your credit cards. This can not only be helpful in the event of an emergency, like a flat tire, it’s an opportunity to discuss how to be responsible with credit. You can explain how credit cards work differently than debit cards and how interest racks up quickly if you don’t pay off what you charge in full by the end of the billing cycle.

6. Explain Budgeting When They Graduate From College

Once your kids are earning money regularly and responsible for paying their own room and board, it’s a good idea to help them draw up a budget based on their salary and estimated expenses.

There are all kinds of budgeting methods, but they might start with the basic 50/30/20 approach. This involves putting 50% of their earnings toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings (including any money they are putting into a retirement plan offered by their employer). If their employer offers any matching contributions to their retirement contributions, encourage them to take full advantage, since this is essentially free money.

Fun Ways To Teach Kids Money Management

To make financial literacy fun and engaging, try one of these four money activities for kids.

Go Thrifting

Buying second-hand clothes can be a great way to teach kids how to be smart spenders. You might first go to a regular clothing store and look at the price tags on new clothing, then head to a local thrift store and compare prices. Consider giving your child a set amount they can spend on second-hand clothing. You can then enjoy watching them try to get as much as they can for their money.

Encourage Some Sibling Rivalry

If you’re teaching more than one child about money, consider setting up a competition to see which sibling can save more by a certain date. You might set a goal, such as saving a specific amount or towards a specific item, then offer a reward to the winner.

Set Up a Lemonade Stand

Letting kids set up and run a lemonade stand can help them learn valuable lessons about money, including earning income and entrepreneurship. It can also help them build confidence, resilience, and management skills. Plus, it’s fun. Just be aware that many states require kids to have a permit to operate a lemonade stand, so the first step is doing a bit of research.

Play Financial Board Games

Classic board games like Monopoly and Payday can also be great money activities for children. In Monopoly, for example, players buy and trade properties, develop them, and collect rent. There is even Monopoly Jr. for younger kids. Other fun money board games for your next family game night: the Game of Life, the Allowance Game, the Stock Exchange Game, and the Sub Shop Board Game.

Recommended: 52 Week Savings Challenge (2024 Edition)

The Takeaway

Teaching kids about money and how to manage it can prepare them to be financially responsible adults. By offering an allowance or payment for doing extra chores, kids can learn the value of money and rewards of saving and delayed gratification. Helping older kids learn how to budget and set up a bank account can instill a sense of confidence and independence, not to mention pride.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

When should you start teaching kids money management?

Children as young as three years old can begin to understand the concept of paying for something and saving money in a piggy bank. Some parents start giving kids an allowance between the ages of five and seven, which can help them learn basic financial literacy concepts like saving, spending, and sharing. As kids get older, you can gradually introduce more complex concepts like budgeting, investing, and “good” vs. “bad” debt.

What are the benefits of teaching kids money management?

Teaching kids about money has numerous benefits. It instills financial responsibility, fosters good habits early on, and prepares them for real-world financial challenges. It also encourages critical thinking, goal-setting, and independence in making financial decisions.

How do you teach kids the value of money?

You can teach the value of money through hands-on experiences and age-appropriate activities. Encourage earning money through chores or tasks, involve them in family budgeting discussions, and demonstrate the consequences of spending choices. Emphasize the importance of saving for goals and how to differentiate between needs and wants.

How do you organize your kids’ money?

You can organize a kid’s money by helping them establish savings goals, allocate their money into different categories (such as saving, spending, and giving), and track their progress regularly. Consider using tools like jars, envelopes, or savings accounts to physically or digitally separate their money.

What is the 3 piggy bank system?

The “three piggy bank” system involves dividing money into three categories: saving, spending, and sharing. Each piggy bank represents a different purpose, teaching kids to allocate their money wisely. They learn the importance of saving for future goals, budgeting for everyday expenses, and contributing to charitable causes or sharing with others. This system helps instill foundational money management skills in a simple and practical way.


Photo credit: iStock/kate_sept2004

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Having a Savings Accounts on Social Security Disability

Are You Allowed to Have a Savings Account While on Social Security Disability?

If someone is applying for disability benefits, they may be relieved to learn that, yes, you can have a savings account while on Social Security disability. While there are certain financial factors that can disqualify someone from Social Security eligibility, having a savings account is not one of those factors.

But of course, there are some subtleties to be aware of with any benefits matter, so it’s important to take a closer look. Among the points to learn are the difference between SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income), who is eligible for Social Security disability benefits, and what the guidelines are for having a savings account while receiving benefits.

What Is Social Security?

There’s a reason the Social Security program is so well known: It has been providing financial support to Americans for many decades. Social Security benefits are designed to help maintain the basic well-being and protection of the American people. These benefits have been around since the 1930’s in response to the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression.

Today, one in five Americans currently receive some form of Social Security benefits — one third of those are disabled, dependents, or survivors of deceased workers. More than 10 million Americans are either disabled workers or their dependents.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

Can I Get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income with a Savings Account?

You may be thinking you can’t have that kind of asset if you want to qualify for Social Security Disability funds. However, it is indeed possible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security income if you have a checking or a savings account.

Even better, it doesn’t matter how much money is held in that account. There are other program requirements that must be met to qualify for SSDI, but how much money someone has or doesn’t have in the bank isn’t one of them.

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Eligibility for SSDI

In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, the individual must have worked in a job or jobs that were covered by Social Security and have a current medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. Generally, this program can benefit those who are unable to work for a year or more due to a disability.

It provides monthly benefits until the individual is able to work again on a regular basis. If someone reaches full retirement age while receiving SSDI benefits, those benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits maintaining the same amount of financial support.

Eligibility for SSI

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), however, there is a limit on how much you can have in savings. SSI is a federal support program that receives funding from the type of taxes known as general tax revenue, not Social Security taxes.

This program provides financial support to help recipients cover basic needs such as clothing, shelter, and food. It provides aid to those who are aged (65 or older), blind, and disabled people who have little or no income (or limited resources). To qualify, participants must be a U.S. citizen or national, or qualify as one of certain categories of noncitizens.

What You Have to Tell SS about Your Assets if You Want Benefits

There are certain assets (in this case, they’re known as resources) that must be disclosed in order to qualify for benefits through the SSI program. Typically, to receive benefits, one can’t own more than $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple in what the SSA deems “countable resources.” However, there aren’t any such limits in place for the SSDI program.

The value of someone’s resources (aka their financial assets) can help determine if they are eligible for Social Security benefits. If a recipient has more resources than allowed by the limit at the beginning of the month (when resources are counted), they won’t receive benefits for that month. They can be eligible again the next month if they use up or sell enough resources to fall below the limit.

Eligible resources can include:

•   Cash

•   Bank accounts (checking account, regular savings account, growth savings account; whatever you have)

•   Stocks, mutual funds, and U.S. savings bonds

•   Land

•   Life insurance

•   Personal property

•   Vehicles

•   Anything that can be changed to cash (and can be used for food and shelter)

•   Deemed resources

The term “deemed resources” refers to the resources of a spouse, parent, parent’s spouse, sponsor of a noncitizen, or sponsor’s spouse of the Social Security benefits applicant.

A certain amount of these deemed resources are subtracted from the overall limit. For example, if a child under 18 lives with only one parent, $2,000 worth of deemed resources won’t count towards the limit. If they live with two parents, that amount rises to $3,000.

Recommended: What are the Different Types of Savings Accounts?

How Much Can I Have in My Savings Account and Receive SSI or SSDI?

For the SSI program, the total resource limit (which includes what’s in a checking account) can not be more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. Again, there are no asset limits when it comes to the SSDI program. If someone is applying for the SSDI program, they can surpass that $3,000 limit, and it won’t matter as it doesn’t apply to them.

SSA Exceptions and Programs

Not every asset someone owns will count towards the SSI resource limit (remember, there is no such limit for the SSDI program). For the SSI program, there are some exceptions regarding what counts as a resource. The following assets aren’t taken into consideration:

•   The home the applicant lives in and the land they live on

•   One vehicle—regardless of value—if the applicant or a member of their household use it for transportation

•   Household goods and personal effects

•   Life insurance policies (with a combined face value of $1,500 or less)

•   Burial spaces for them or their immediate family

•   Burial funds for them and their spouse (each valued at $1,500 or less)

•   Property they or their spouse use in a trade or business or to do their job

•   If blind or disabled, any money they set aside under a Plan to Achieve Self-Support

•   Up to $100,000 of funds in an Achieving a Better Life Experience account established through a State ABLE program

The Takeaway

When applying for Social Security benefits, having a savings account may or may not impact your eligibility. It depends on which program you are applying for. It is possible to have a savings account while receiving SSDI benefits. It’s also possible to have a savings account while receiving SSI, but there are limits regarding how much the value of the applicant’s assets (including what’s in their savings accounts) can be worth to qualify for support.

If you happen to be in the market for a savings account, take a look at your options.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How much money can I have in a savings account while on Social Security?

Personal assets aren’t taken into account, including savings, when applying for the SSDI program. For SSI, however, countable resources (including savings accounts) are capped at $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.

Does Social Security look at your bank account?

That depends. If someone is applying for Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) benefits, their personal assets are taken into consideration when it comes to eligibility. With Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), applicant assets aren’t taken into consideration.

What happens if you have more than $2,000 in the bank on SSI?

If you have more than $2,000 in the bank and are on SSI as an individual (more than $3,000 if you are part of a couple), you will not receive benefits for that month. Your finances will be evaluated the following month to see if your assets have fallen and you therefore qualify.

Does Social Security check your bank account every month?

Money in the bank doesn’t affect Social Security disability benefits. However, there is a $2,000 to $3,000 limit (varies by household) for the SSI program.


Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

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.

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Opening a Business Bank Account

Opening a Business Bank Account: How Business Bank Accounts Work

Business bank accounts can help owners keep professional transactions separate from personal banking and aid in their business cash management. These accounts often come with special conditions and requirements, and they may have various fees.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at these accounts, their pros and cons, and what it takes to open one. Read on to dive into the details about business bank accounts.

What Is a Business Bank Account?

There are three main types of business banking accounts: checking accounts for everyday use, savings accounts for intermediate and long-term savings, and merchant accounts for accepting debit and credit card payments. In this article, you’ll learn about business checking and savings accounts, available from both online and brick-and-mortar banks.

What Is a Business Checking Account?

A business checking account works much the same way a personal checking account does. You use it to deposit payments and make withdrawals, usually an unlimited amount. Like personal checking accounts, business checking accounts typically pay low to no interest on your balance.

What Is a Business Savings Account?

A business savings account will pay more interest than a checking account, so it can be a good place to park cash on an interim basis. You will likely be limited on how many transactions you can make per month without a penalty (typically six), and there may be a monthly minimum balance to maintain. Many business owners find using both a business checking and savings account can meet their banking needs.

How Long Does Opening a Business Bank Account Take?

If you open up a bank account — whether it’s checking, savings, or both — the time commitment needed is usually similar to that of opening a personal checking and savings account. It will likely take just a matter of minutes if you have the necessary information on hand.

•   You will need to provide some details about yourself, your business, and any additional business owners involved in your enterprise.

•   You’ll deposit funds.

•  Keep in mind it can take up to seven business days for final approval before you can actually access funds.


💡 Quick Tip: Banish bank fees. Open a new bank account with SoFi and you’ll pay no overdraft, minimum balance, or any monthly fees.

What Is Needed to Open a Business Bank Account?

Whether you open your bank account online or in person, you’ll need documentation of several personal and business details. Different banks may have their own verification requirements, depending on the type of business you own and the type of account you’re looking to open.

Here is a general list of what you might need to open a bank account for your business:

•   Your name, birthdate, and Social Security number

•   Mailing address and all contact information

•   What percentage you own of the business (anyone who owns 25% of the business or more will likely have to disclose personal details and identification)

•   A government-issued photo ID, such as driver’s license or passport

•   Business name and DBA (“doing business as” name) or trade name, if applicable

•   Business address and employer identification number (EIN) (Note: sometimes Social Security numbers suffice)

•   Industry/type of business

Depending on the type of business you own, you may be asked for the following documents:

•   Sole proprietorships may need the business name registration certificate and the business license.

•   Partnerships may need the partnership agreement, business name registration certificate, business license, and the state certificate of partnership.

•   Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) may need the articles of organization, LLC operating agreement, and business license.

•   Corporations may need articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws, and business licenses.

Recommended: Business Cash Management: Tips for Managing Cash

What to Look for in a Business Banking Account

Traditional banks, online banks, and credit unions all offer business bank accounts. All have different fee structures and provide different services. There are many fees and restrictions to consider when choosing a business banking account. But consider this overarching factor: online accounts are usually best for businesses that don’t need to make bank deposits.

Here’s what to compare when you’re looking for an account:

•   Monthly fees, such as account maintenance

•   Any minimum balance requirements

•   No-fee transactions

•   ATM access (for deposits and withdrawals)

•   Transfer, wiring, and payment capabilities

•   Incidental fees (such as, stop payment, overdraft, and nonsufficient funds)

•   Online and mobile banking tools

•   Additional features, such as invoicing, bill pay, or integrations with other business tools (especially tax reporting software)

Benefits of Opening a Business Banking Account

A business account can be a smart tool for a variety of reasons. Business owners may need to keep their personal and business accounts separate for tax and liability reasons. A business bank account also helps you establish a banking relationship that you can draw on in the future for lending or other services that may help your business grow. You will also establish a financial record that can come in handy when it comes time to file taxes and help your concern establish a good credit rating.

Recommended: How to Open a Business Checking Account

Cons of Opening a Business Banking Account

There are very few cases when a business banking account is a bad idea. Some very small sole proprietors may find they don’t need the extra fees and bookkeeping involved. But for most business owners, a separate account can be an efficient tool.

That said, one of the potential drawbacks of a business account is the cost of bank fees. High fees that you may not have anticipated can eat into your business profits. Some fees to look out for include:

•   Monthly fees

•   Transaction fees

•   Monthly balance transfer fees

•   Cash deposit fees

•   ATM fees

•   Wire transfer fees.

These fees add up fast. Be sure to check thoroughly what fees are involved and compare from one financial institution to another.

Pros of a Business Bank Account

Cons of a Business Bank Account

Keeps professional finances separate from personal May involve additional fees
Establishes a business relationship with a financial institution May involve more bookkeeping
Creates a financial record that can be useful for tax or credit-rating purposes

Choosing a Business Bank Account

Now that you’ve looked at fees, here are some other considerations as you choose your business bank account:

•   Banking online: Business bank accounts with online-only banks can be great for virtual businesses or any business that is not handling daily cash transactions. Many online banks do not require a monthly minimum balance.

•   Network: If you’re banking in person, be sure there is a conveniently located branch near your business. Also, find out how many no-fee ATMs are available in your area.

•   Electronic services: Check if online bill pay, electronic fund transfers, and other electronic services that can support your business are available for low or no fees.

•   Electronic payments: Does your bank accept Zelle and Venmo? If so, are there additional fees involved? How long will it take for transactions to post? Electronic payments are increasingly becoming the lifeblood of many businesses.

•   Software compatibility: Is the bank account you’re considering compatible with the bookkeeping software you use? That can make life easier when you need to track or get access to cash flow, outstanding receivables, and other items each month.

Other support: Does the bank offer small business loans, lines of credit, business credit cards, and other financial support for entrepreneurs that you may need in the future?

The Takeaway

While we’re on the topic of bank accounts, have you reviewed your personal accounts lately?

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://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.

Our account fee policy is subject to change at any time.

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How to Save for Retirement

Between paying for your regular expenses including groceries, rent or mortgage, student loans, and bills, it can seem nearly impossible to find a few dollars left over for saving for retirement — especially when that might be decades away. However, building up a nest egg isn’t just important, it’s urgent. The sooner you start, the more financially secure you should be by the time retirement rolls around.

So, how to save for retirement? Finding a solid retirement plan to suit your needs may be easier than you think. Here are 10 ways to save for retirement to help make those golden years feel, well, golden.

This article is part of SoFi’s Retirement Planning Guide, our coverage of all the steps you need to create a successful retirement plan.


money management guide for beginners

Assess Your Retirement Goals and Needs

When it comes to saving for retirement, first do an inventory of your current financial situation. This includes your income, savings, and investments, as well as your expenses and debts. That way you’ll know how much you have now.

Next, figure out what you want your retirement to look like. Are you wondering how to retire early? Do you plan to travel? Move to a different location? Pursue hobbies like tennis, golf, or biking? Go back to school? Start a business?

You may not be able to answer these questions quickly or easily, but it’s important to think about them to determine your retirement goals. Deciding what you want your lifestyle to look like is key because it will affect how much money you’ll need for retirement saving.

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening an investment account, know your investment objectives, time horizon, and risk tolerance. These fundamentals will help keep your strategy on track and with the aim of meeting your goals.

Boost your retirement contributions with a 1% match.

SoFi IRAs now get a 1% match on every dollar you deposit, up to the annual contribution limits. Open an account today and get started.


Only offers made via ACH are eligible for the match. ACATs, wires, and rollovers are not included.

Determine How Much You’ll Need to Retire

Now the big question: How much money will it take for you to retire comfortably? You may also be wondering, when can I retire? There are several retirement savings formulas that can help you estimate the amount of your nest egg. And there are various calculators that can help generate an estimate as well.

While using a ballpark figure may not sound scientific, it’s a good exercise that can help lay the foundation for the amount you want to save. And it may inspire you to save more, or rethink your investment strategy thus far.

As an example, you can use the following basic formula to gauge the amount you might need to save, assuming your retirement expenses are similar to your present ones. Start with your current annual income, subtract your estimated annual Social Security benefits, and divide by 0.04.

Example

Let’s say your income today is $100,000, and you went on the Social Security website using your MySSA account (the digital dashboard for benefits) to find out what your monthly benefits are likely to be when you retire: $2,000 per month, or $24,000 per year.

$100,000 – $24,000 = $76,000 / 0.04 = $1.9 million

That’s the target amount of retirement savings you would need, theoretically, to cover your expenses based on current levels. Bear in mind, however, that you may not need to replace 100% of your current income, as your expenses in retirement could be lower. And you may even be contemplating working after retirement. But this is one way to start doing the math.

10 Ways to Save For Retirement

So, how to save money for retirement? Consider the following 10 options part of your retirement savings toolkit.

1. Leverage the Power of Time

Giving your money as much time to grow as you possibly can is one of the most important ways to boost retirement savings. The reason: Compounding returns.

Let’s say you invest $500 in a mutual fund in your retirement account, and in a year the fund gained 5%. Now you would have $525 (minus any investment or account fees). While there are no guarantees that the money would continue to gain 5% every year — investments can also lose money — historically, the average stock market return of the S&P 500 is about 10% per year.

That might mean 0% one year, 10% another year, 3% the year after, and so on. But over time your principal would likely continue to grow, and the earnings on that principal would also grow. That’s compound growth.

2. Create and Stick to a Budget

Another important step in saving for retirement is to create a budget and stick to it. Calculating your own monthly budget can be simple — just follow these steps.

•   Gather your documents. Gather up all your bills including credit cards, loans, mortgage or rent, so that you can document every penny coming out of your pocket each month.

•   List all of your income. Find your pay stubs and add up any extra cash you make on the side using your after-tax take-home pay.

•   List all of your current savings. From here, you can see how far you have to go until you reach your retirement goals.

•   Calculate your retirement spending. Decide how much money you need to live comfortably in retirement so that you can establish a retirement budget. If you’re unsure of what your ideal retirement number is, plug your numbers into the formula mentioned above, or use a retirement calculator to get a better idea of what your retirement budget will be.

•   Adjust accordingly. Every few months take a look at your budget and make sure you’re staying on track. If a new bill comes up, an expensive life event occurs, or if you gain new income, adjust your budgets and keep saving what you can.

3. Take Advantage of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

Preparing for retirement should begin the moment you start your first job — or any job that offers a company retirement plan. There are many advantages to contributing to a 401(k) program (if you work at a for-profit company) or a 403(b) plan (if you work for a nonprofit), or a 457(b) plan (if you work for the government).

In many cases, your employer can automatically deduct your contributions from your paycheck, so you don’t have to think about it. This can help you save more, effortlessly. And in some cases your employer may offer a matching contribution: e.g. up to 3% of the amount you save.

Starting a 401(k) savings program early in life can really add up in the future thanks to compound growth over time. In addition, starting earlier can help your portfolio weather changes in the market.

On the other hand, if you happen to start your retirement savings plan later in life, you can always take advantage of catch-up contributions that go beyond the 2024 annual contribution limit of $23,000 and 2023 annual contribution limit of $22,500. Individuals 50 and older are allowed to contribute an additional $7,500 a year to a 401(k), to help them save a bit more before hitting retirement age.

If you have a 403(b) retirement plan, it’s similar to a 401(k) in terms of the contribution limit and automatic deductions from your paycheck. Your employer may or may not match your contributions. However, the range of investment options you have to choose from may be more limited than those offered in a 401(k).

With a 457(b) plan, the contribution limit is similar to that of a 403(b). But employers don’t have to provide matching contributions for a 457(b) plan, and again, the investment options may be narrower than the options in a 401(k).

4. Add an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to the Mix

Another strategy for how to save for retirement, especially if you’re one of the many freelancers or contract workers in the American workforce, is to open an IRA account.

Like a 401(k), an IRA allows you to put away money for your retirement. However, for 2024 the maximum contribution you can put into your IRA caps at $7,000 ($8,000 for those 50 and older). For 2023 the maximum contribution you can put into your IRA caps at $6,500 ($7,500 for those 50 and older).

Both the traditional IRA and 401(k) offer tax-deductible contributions. Roth IRAs are another option: With a Roth IRA, your contributions are taxed, which means your withdrawals in retirement will be tax free.

You control your IRA, not a larger company, so you can decide which financial institution you want to go with, how much you want to contribute each month, how to invest your money, and if you want to go Roth or traditional.

For those who can afford to invest money in both an IRA and a 401(k), and who meet the necessary criteria, that’s also an option that can boost retirement savings.

5. Deal With Debt

Should you save for retirement or pay off debt? And, more specifically, if you’re dealing with student loans, you may be wondering, should I save for retirement or pay off student loans? That is a financial conundrum for modern times. A good solution to this problem is to do both.

Just as it can be helpful to create a budget and stick to it, it can be helpful to create a loan repayment plan as well. Add those payments to your monthly budgeting expenses and if you still have dollars left over after accounting for all your bills, start socking that away for retirement.

If your student loan debt feels out of control, as it does for many Americans, you may want to look into student loan refinancing. By refinancing your student loan, you could significantly lower your interest rate and potentially pay off your debt faster. Once the loan is paid off, you will be able to reallocate that money to save for retirement.

6. Add Income With a Side Hustle

Working a side gig in your spare time can seriously pay off in the future, especially when you consider that the average side hustle can bring in several hundred dollars a month, according to one survey.

There are several things to consider when thinking of adding an extra job to your résumé, including evaluating what you’re willing to give up in order to make time for more work. But, if you can put your skills to use — such as copy editing, photography, design, or consulting — you can think about this as less of a side hustle and more of a way to hone your client list.

A side hustle should be one way to save for retirement that you’ll enjoy doing. And it could help if you find yourself dealing with a higher cost of living and retirement at some point.

7. Consider Putting Your Money in the Market

There’s no one best way to save for retirement — sometimes a multi-pronged approach can work best. If you already have a budget and an emergency savings account, and you’re maxing out your contributions to your 401(k), 403(b), 457, or IRA, then investing in the market could be another way to diversify your portfolio and potentially help build your nest egg. For instance, historically, stocks have been proven to be one of the best ways to help build wealth.

Putting your money in the market means you’ll have a variety of options to choose from. There are stocks, of course, but also mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and even real estate investment trusts (REITs), which pool investor assets to purchase or finance a portfolio of properties.

However, investing in any of these assets, and in the market in general, comes with risk. So you’ll want to keep that in mind as you choose what to invest in. Consider what your risk tolerance is, how much you’re investing, when you’ll need the money, and how you might diversify your portfolio. Carefully weighing your priorities, needs, and comfort level, can help you make informed selections.

Once you have your asset allocation, be sure to evaluate it, and possibly rebalance it, to stay in line with your goals each year.

8. Automate Your Savings

Setting up automated savings accounts takes the thought and effort out of saving your money because it happens automatically. It could also help you hit your financial goals faster, because you don’t have to decide to save (or agonize over giving in to a spending temptation) and then do the manual work of putting the money into an account. It just happens like clockwork.

Enrolling in a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 at work is one way to automate savings for retirement. Another way to do it is to set up direct deposit for your paychecks. You could even choose to have a portion of your pay deposited into a high-interest savings account to help increase your returns.

9. Downsize and Cut Costs

To help save more and spend less, pull out that monthly budget you created. When you look at your current bills vs. income, how much is left over for retirement savings? Are there areas you can be spending less, such as getting rid of an expensive gym membership or streaming service, dialing back your takeout habit, or shopping a bit less?

This is when you need to be very honest with yourself and decide what you’re willing to give up to help you hit that target retirement number. Finding little ways to save for retirement can have a big impact down the road.

10. Take Advantage of Catch-Up Contributions

If you’re getting closer to retirement and you haven’t started saving yet, it’s not too late! In fact, the government allows catch-up contributions for those age 50 and older.
A catch-up contribution is a contribution to a retirement savings account that is made beyond the regular contribution maximum. Catch-up contributions can be made on either a pre-tax or after-tax basis.

For 2023 and 2024, catch-up contributions of up to $7,500 are permitted on a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b).

💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

Common Retirement Savings Mistakes to Avoid

These are some of the biggest retirement pitfalls to watch out for.

•   Not having a retirement plan in place. Neglecting to make any kind of plan means you’ll likely be unprepared for retirement and won’t have enough money for your golden years.

•   Failing to take advantage of employer-sponsored plans. If you haven’t enrolled in one of these plans, you’re potentially leaving free money on the table. Sign up for a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) to tap into employer-matching contributions, when available.

•   Underestimating how much money you’ll need for retirement. Financial specialists typically advise having enough savings to last you for 25 to 30 years after you retire.

•   Accumulating too much debt. Try to avoid taking on too much debt as you get closer to retirement. And work on paying down the debt you do have so you won’t be saddled with it when you retire.

•   Taking Social Security too early. It’s possible to file for Social Security at age 62, but the longer you wait (up until age 70), the higher your benefit will be — approximately 32% higher, in fact.

The Takeaway

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. And there are many ways to start saving, and set up a system so that you’re saving steadily over time. You can contribute to a retirement plan that your employer offers; you can set up your own retirement plan (e.g. an IRA); and you can choose your own investments.

The most important thing to remember is that you have more control than you think. While your retirement vision may change over time, starting to save and invest your nest egg now will give you a head start.

Ready to invest for your retirement? It’s easy to get started when you open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Easily manage your retirement savings with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

What is the fastest way to save for retirement?

Take a two-pronged approach: First, invest as much as you can in your employer-sponsored retirement account like a 401(k). You’ll likely get some matching contributions from your employer, as well as tax advantages. You can invest up to $23,000 in a 401(k) in 2024 and $22,500 in a 401(k) in 2023, plus an extra $7,500 if you are 50 or older.

Second, if you qualify you can also set up and invest in a Roth IRA. You can contribute $7,000 in a Roth IRA in 2024 and $6,500 in a Roth IRA in 2023 ($7,500 if you’re 50 or older).

Having these two accounts could really help you start building up your retirement savings.

How much do I need to save for retirement?

To estimate how much you need to save for retirement, use this retirement savings formula: Start with your current income, subtract your estimated Social Security benefits, and divide by 0.04. That’s the approximate amount of total retirement savings you’ll need, based on your current income and expenses. You can try other calculators or formulas that might indicate that you’ll need less in retirement. It all depends.

Financial professionals typically advise having enough savings for 25 to 30 years’ worth of retirement.

How do I save for retirement without a 401(k)?

If you don’t have a 401(k), you can set up another type of tax-advantaged account for retirement, such as a traditional IRA and/or a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, the money grows tax free and is taxed when you withdraw it during retirement.

A Roth IRA, on the other hand, doesn’t provide a tax break upfront, but the funds you withdraw after age 59 ½ are tax free, as long as you’ve had the Roth IRA account for at least five years. You can contribute up to $7,000 to both types of IRAs for 2024 and $6,500 to both types of IRAs for 2023 ($7,500 if you’re 50 or older).

What is the average monthly income for a person who is retired?

The average monthly retirement income for a person who is retired, adjusted for inflation, is $4,381, according to a 2022 U.S. Census report.

How do taxes affect retirement income?

You will need to pay taxes on any withdrawals you make from tax-deferred investments like a 401(k) or traditional IRA. You will also have to pay federal taxes on a pension, if you have one. At the state level, some states tax pensions and some don’t. Additionally, you might have to pay tax on a portion of your Social Security benefits, depending on your overall income.

How can I supplement my income in retirement?

In addition to any retirement plans and pensions you have plus Social Security, you can supplement your retirement income with such strategies as: making investments generally considered to be safe, like investing in CDs (certificate of deposit), getting a part-time job or starting a small business, or renting out any additional property you might own, such as a vacation cabin, to make some extra money.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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.

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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Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


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If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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Top Spending Categories to Cut When You’re Trying to Save Money

If you’re trying to save some money, trimming some discretionary spending categories from your budget can be a good way to start.

But it isn’t necessarily the only or best way to save — especially if reducing or removing things like streaming services, concerts, or monthly massages from your budget makes it harder to stick to your plan.

Instead, it may make sense to track where your money is going for a few weeks and then take a look at all your spending categories to determine which cuts could have the biggest impact.

What Are Spending Categories?

Spending categories can help you group similar expenses together to better organize your budget. They can come in handy when you’re laying out your spending priorities, deciding how much money to allot toward various wants and needs, and determining whether an expense is essential or nonessential.

Many of the budgets you’ll see online use pretty much the same spending categories, such as housing, transportation, utilities, food, childcare, and entertainment. But you may find it’s more useful to track your spending for a while with a money tracker, and then create some of your own categories. You may choose to drill down to specific bills or go broader, breaking down your budget into just the basics.

By personalizing your spending categories, you may be able to put together a budget that’s more manageable — and, therefore, one you’re more likely to stay with.

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How Do Spending Categories Work?

To customize your spending categories, it can help to gather as much information as possible about where your money is actually going.

You can start by looking at old bank and credit card statements to get a good picture of past spending. Your bigger spending categories should be easier to figure out. Those bills are often due on the same day every month and are usually about the same amount. But you’ll also want to keep an eye out for expenses that come just once or a few times a year (such as taxes, vet bills, etc.). And, if you use cash frequently, you’ll want to determine where that money went, too.

A tracking app can help you grasp the hard truth about your spending as you move forward. That cute plant you bought for your windowsill? Pitching in for a co-worker’s going-away gift? Those little splurges can add up before you know it.

Once your spending picture comes into focus, you can divide your expenses into useful personal budget categories, and start thinking about what you might be able to trim or cut out altogether.


💡 Quick Tip: When you have questions about what you can and can’t afford, a spending tracker app can show you the answer. With no guilt trip or hourly fee.

Examples of Spending Categories

Although it can be effective to organize your spending categories in a way that’s unique to you, there are a few basic classifications that can work for most households when making a budget: They include:

Essential Spending

•   Housing: This category could include your rent or mortgage payment, property taxes, homeowners or renters insurance, HOA fees, etc.

•   Utilities: You could limit this to basic services like gas, electricity, and water, or you might decide to include your cell phone service, cable, and WiFi costs.

•   Food: This amount could be limited to what you spend on groceries every month, or it could include your at-home and away-from-home food costs.

•   Transportation: Your car payment could go in this category, along with fuel costs, parking fees, car maintenance, car insurance, public transportation, and DMV fees. You could also include the cost of Uber rides.

•   Childcare: If you need childcare while you work, this cost would be considered necessary spending. If it’s for a night out, you may want to move it to the entertainment or personal care category.

•   Medical Costs and Health Care: This could include your health insurance premiums, insurance co-pays and prescription costs, vision and dental care, etc.

•   Clothing: Clothing is a must-have, of course, but with limits. You may want to put impulse items in a separate category as a nonessential or discretionary expense.

Non-essential Spending

•   Travel: This category would be for any travel that isn’t work-related, whether it’s a road trip or a vacation in Paris.

•   Entertainment: You could get pretty broad in this category, but anything from streaming services and videogames to concerts and plays could go here.

•   Personal: This might be your category for things like salon visits, your gym membership, and clothes and accessories that are more of a want than a need.

•   Gifts: If you’re a generous gift-giver, you may find you need a separate category for these expenses.

Other Spending

•   Savings and investments: Though it isn’t “essential” for day-to-day life, putting money aside for long- and short-term goals is a must for most budgets.

•   Emergency fund: This will be your go-to for unexpected car repairs, home repairs, or medical bills.

•   Debt repayment: Student loan payments, credit card debt, and other balances you’re trying to pay off could fit in this category.

Pros and Cons of Spending Categories

The idea of making a budget can be daunting, particularly if you’re trying to fit your needs and wants into spending categories that aren’t suited to how you live. Here are some pros and cons to using categories for spending that might keep you motivated and help you avoid potential budgeting pitfalls.

Pros

•   More control: Creating a budget with spending categories that match your lifestyle can help you put your money toward things that really matter to you.

•   Less stress: If you’re living paycheck to paycheck even though you know your income is sufficient to cover your needs, a budget with realistic spending categories can help you see where your money is going.

•   Better planning: Whether you’re trying to save for a vacation, wedding, house, retirement, or all of the above, including those goals in your spending categories will help ensure they get your attention.

Cons

•   May feel limiting: Working with a budget can feel restrictive, especially if you’ve been winging it for a while or aren’t including enough discretionary spending.

•   Time consuming: It might take some trial and error to find a budget system that works for you. And if you’re budgeting as a couple, you’ll likely have to work out some compromises when determining your spending categories.

•   Requires maintenance: Budgeting isn’t a one and done. You’ll be more likely to succeed if you consistently track your spending to make sure you’re hitting your goals.

Common Spending Categories to Cut First

Often when you see or hear budgeting advice, it tends to focus on cutting back on small extras — $6 daily lattes at your favorite café, for example, or those weekly Happy Meals for the kids. Some other top spending categories that traditionally are among the first to hit the chopping block include:

•   Gym memberships

•   Dining out

•   Subscription services you don’t use anymore

•   Cable

•   Personal care services you can do at home for less, such as manicures and pedicures

•   Alcoholic beverages

•   Cigarettes and vaping products

•   Vacations

But it can also be useful to review, and potentially cut back on, how much you’re budgeting for basic living expenses, such as:

•   Clothing and shoes

•   Utility bills

•   Groceries

•   Insurance

•   Cars

•   Cellphones and computers

•   Rent

Tips for Customizing Your Spending Categories

As you create your spending plan, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s. If you track your expenses and use that information to create your personalized budget, you may have a better chance of building a plan you can stick with.

Here are some more steps to consider as you get started:

•   Be realistic. It may take a while to get to your goal, but doing even a little bit consistently can make a difference. Know yourself and do what you can.

•   Don’t forget irregular expenses. Bills that you pay every month can be easy to remember. (You might even put them on autopay to make things more convenient.) But infrequent expenses such as tax bills can get away from you if you don’t include them in your spending categories.

•   Avoid spending more than you have. Knowing how much you’ll have left after taxes each month is an important part of successful planning. An emergency fund can help you stay on track when unexpected expenses pop up.

•   Leave room for fun. Eliminating date nights and small splurges completely could make it much harder to stay with your plan.

•   Pay yourself. Make saving and investing goals a separate spending category.

•   Find a budgeting method that works for you. Whether it’s the popular 50/30/20 budget — which divides your after-tax income into needs, wants, and savings — or a detailed spending breakdown with multiple categories, try various budgeting methods until you find one that motivates you.



💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

The Takeaway

Want to save some money but know you need to make some changes? Monitoring where your money is going every month can help you create a spending plan with categories that are customized to your needs, wants, and goals. A plan that’s realistic, but not too restrictive, can give you the kind of control and motivation you need to get and stay on track financially.

Take control of your finances with SoFi. With our financial insights and credit score monitoring tools, you can view all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

With SoFi, you can keep tabs on how your money comes and goes.

FAQ

What are the four main categories in a budget?

The four main spending categories for most budgets are housing, food, utilities, and transportation. Once you’ve established how much you’ll need to cover these costs, you can move on to planning for other expenses.

What is the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting?

The 50/30/20 rule is a budgeting method that allocates your take-home income to three main spending categories: needs or essentials (50%), wants or nonessentials (30%), and saving or financial goals (20%).

What are the four characteristics of a successful budget?

A successful budget usually includes accurate income and spending projections, realistic and personalized spending categories, consistent and frequent check-ins, and solid savings goals.


Photo credit: iStock/mapodile

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