A Complete Guide to Ordering Checks

Ordering Checks – A Complete Guide

You may not write checks very often, but a checkbook can still be a useful thing to have.

There may be times when you need to pay for something with a check. Checks also serve other important functions, such as verifying your bank account information, offering proof of address, and providing purchase protection you may not get with an electronic transaction.

While you may have received some complimentary checks when you first opened a bank account, you will likely need to buy additional checks at some point.

Your bank probably offers this service, but it may not be the most cost-effective option.

Read on to learn how and where you can safely (and cheaply) order new checks for your account.

Why Do You Need Checks?

Some transactions still require a check. It’s not uncommon, for instance, for some landlords to require a check for a security deposit or for some smaller businesses to prefer cash or check payment. In a tap and app world, checks may seem like a byproduct of a past era.

While your parents or grandparents may have regularly broken out their checkbooks to pay for everyday purchases, you may have rarely or never used a check.

But checkbooks can still be useful.Checks can also protect your money. A transfer can be misdirected with a typo, and cash can get lost or stolen. A check made out to the recipient is challenging to cash if it gets into the wrong hands.

If a check is lost, you can stop payment on the check and reissue a new one. Plus, a check provides a paper record of payments made.

Checks can also be a way to verify identity. A voided check (a check you pull from your checkbook and write VOID so no one can cash it) can be necessary to set up autopay or direct deposit, or as a way to verify your address for certain services.

Of course, checks have their drawbacks too. There can be a significant delay between the day you write a check and the day it gets processed, which could cause you to accidentally overdraw your account if you don’t keep careful records.

And, checks can sometimes get lost in transit or stolen. Since a check is good for six months, it can be a good idea to cancel any checks that don’t get to the intended recipient in a timely fashion.

Checks can also come with fees (such as when cashing a check) and other costs (like having to buy checks).

Fortunately, there are ways to cash a check without a fee. And, if you look beyond your bank when it comes to re-ordering checks, you can often pay significantly less.

The Best Places to Order Checks

Many people will order checks through their bank simply because it’s convenient. However, you don’t have to buy your checks at your bank.

There are numerous online vendors, such as Checks In The Mail and Carousel Checks, as well as big box retailers (such as Costco and Walmart) that offer customized personal checks that include the same security features as bank checks.

But how do you choose the best vendor? Because you need to input sensitive information, such as your bank account number and the routing information for your bank, it can be a good idea to make sure you choose a vendor that takes security measures seriously–and also that the checks you buy are secure.

Some actions that can help maximize security:

•   Making sure the site where you buy checks is secure. A lock image in the address bar of your browser indicates a secure connection and that any information transmitted, such as your bank account info, will be done in a secure manner.
•   Choosing a reputable seller. It can be a good idea to vet any company you are considering buying checks from by taking a look at their Better Business Bureau ratings and reviews.
•   Considering security features. Some check printing companies offer enhanced security features, including watermarks, hard-to-copy microprint, hologram foil, and thermochromic ink (ink that disappears with heat). These features can add to the cost of your checks, but can make your check payments even more secure.

How to Order Checks Online

To order checks online, you’ll need some key information at the ready. This typically includes:

•   Your personal information. This is your name (or the name of your company) and address.
•   Bank information. This includes the name and address of your bank, which you can find on your existing checks.
•   Your checking account number. You can find this at the bottom of your existing checks or on your bank statement. Of the three listed numbers along the bottom of your check, your account number will be the second number from the left.
•   Your bank routing number. Also known as an ABA number, this number serves as an address so the banking system knows which bank will pay the check. You’ll want to look for the nine-digit number on the bottom left of your checks.
•   Check number. To keep your finances organized, it’s a good idea to have your new checks start with the next number in your checkbook series. For instance, if the last check in your last checkbook is 199, consider starting the new set with check number 200.

When ordering checks, you may want to keep in mind that, depending on the company, production time may take a few weeks. That’s why It can be a good idea to order checks well before you may need them.

Other Types of Checks

There may be times when you are asked for a cashier’s check or a certified check and wonder what these are and how they differ from the checks in your checkbook (known as personal checks).

Cashier’s Check

Sometimes also called a bank check or official check, this is a secure payment used to make significant purchases.

A cashier’s check requires a teller to withdraw funds from your personal account and then cut a check from the bank to pay the recipient on your behalf.

With these checks, the bank is guaranteeing payment, so there is no chance the check will bounce. There is typically a fee for getting a cashier’s check.


Certified Check

A certified check is a type of personal check that the bank guarantees. When you write the check, the bank verifies you have enough money in your checking account to cover the amount, and may place a hold on that money until the check clears.

The bank will typically then stamp or print “certified” on the check. Fees vary depending on which bank you use and the size of the check.

The Takeaway

If you’re like many Americans, you probably don’t use checks as often these days. But checks are still with us and it can be a good idea to always have checks on hand for those times when you need, or want, to pay by check.

Buying checks from the bank can be pricey though. Fortunately, it’s fine to search the web for cheaper options, provided you take some basic precautions.

Prefer to get all of your checks for free? SoFi Money® offers paper checks at no cost with your cash management account.

Check out all the benefits of signing up for SoFi Money 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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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.

SOMN21017

Read more

What is a Financial Coach?

A financial coach works with clients to help them better manage their money and to develop healthy, long-lasting, finance-related habits.

If you need help getting your finances organized or setting up a plan to effectively work towards your financial goals, you might benefit from the help of a financial coach.

These professionals can help clients pay off debt, create an emergency savings fund, stabilize their finances, and develop an overall plan to reach their financial goals.

Unlike financial advisors, financial coaches spend more time helping their clients understand the fundamentals of finances, rather than recommending investments and managing their investment portfolios.

Read on to learn more about financial coaches, what they do, how much they cost, and how to find one.

What Does a Financial Coach Do?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a financial coach is a trained professional who collaborates with and guides their clients to reach their financial goals, including:

•   Better money management skills
•   Improved savings, debt levels, and credit scores
•   More financial confidence
•   Increased goal attainment

Financial coaches typically individualize their approach based on the needs of each client, with the goal of helping them make progress in the area of their financial life that they identify as most important.

A financial coach can help you reach your financial goals by teaching you money management skills, such as how to build savings, avoid overspending, or pay down debt.

Financial coaches also often assist their clients with the behavioral and emotional components of managing money. A coach can help you uncover what drives your financial decisions, so you can create a healthier attitude that leads to better money habits.

Coaches often work with their clients over the period of several weeks to several months and may meet weekly or biweekly to provide advice and check on progress.

The full coaching process typically consists of a series of steps that may include: building awareness around spending habits (usually by tracking daily, weekly, and monthly spending), defining the client’s financial goals, and developing a budget and a financial plan to achieve those goals.

Accountability is typically built into the process—so, rather than managing a client’s person’s finances, a financial coach gives clients the tools to help make informed and responsible financial decisions.

What a financial coach can’t do: offer investment recommendations or help clients manage their investment portfolios.

While coaches can provide basic advice on the concept of investing, they are not licensed to provide financial advice like financial advisors are, and therefore cannot provide specific product recommendations.

How Much Does a Financial Coach Cost?

Coaching rates typically run between $100 to $300 an hour. But because of the wide range of fees charged by coaches, it’s a good idea to ask about costs upfront.

Unlike financial advisors, who typically charge their fees based on a percentage of the assets under management, financial coaches generally work on a fee-only basis

Some may charge a flat fee based on how long you plan to work together (such as three or six months), while others might charge per session.

Recommended: How Much Does a Financial Advisor Cost?

How do I Find a Financial Coach?

While there is no required coursework or license, and there are no certifications to become a financial coach, there are training programs run by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) .

You can begin looking for financial coaches in your area through the AFCPE website. It’s also a good idea to ask for personal referrals from friends and family, as well as other financial professionals you know or work with (such as an accountant or financial advisor).

Before selecting a coach, it can help to consider specifically what you are looking for in a financial mentor. This can involve thinking about your own financial strengths and weaknesses, and what your goals are.

Are you, for example, struggling to save enough money for a down payment on a house? Or, do your credit card balances keep going up? Identifying your needs can help you suss out the best coach for your situation.

Once you have a list of financial coaches, you may want to reach out to each candidate to get a sense of their personality, methods, and coaching style.

Some questions to consider asking:

•   How long have you been a coach?
•   What’s your business specialty?
•   How long do you typically work with clients?
•   What’s your plan to help me reach my goals?
•   What is your availability?
•   What are your fees?

The Takeaway

Maybe you’ve tried to make a budget but just can’t stick to it. Or, perhaps you’ve run up so much debt between credit cards and loans that you don’t know the best way to pay it off.

A financial coach can help you structure your budget, build a financial plan, and hold you accountable throughout the process.

Financial coaches can also help clients understand and work through deep-seated emotions around money that may be preventing them from reaching their financial goals.

If you’re looking to better manage your money or simplify your finances on your own (or before meeting with a financial coach), SoFi Money® can help.

SoFi Money is a cash management fund that allows you to earn, spend, and save–all in one place.

Using the SoFi app, you can easily track your spending and saving, and even create separate savings “vaults” for specific financial goals.

Learn how SoFi Money can help you manage your finances 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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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.

SOMN19083

Read more
What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1%_780x440

What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1%?

Being in the top 1% for net wealth depends on where you live. In ritzy Monaco, you’d need $7.9 million, according to the Knight Frank 2021 Wealth Report , In Switzerland, you’d need a net wealth of $5.1 million.

In the U.S.—the third highest on the list—it takes a net worth of $4.4 million to land you in that elite group.

For most people, the 1% might seem like a pipe dream or a headline in the news. Or perhaps it’s not as steep as you’d imagined, considering the spate of billionaires who occupy the highest net worth percentiles (more like the top 0.01%).

In early 2021, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos held the title of the richest man in the world, with a net worth of $185 billion.

What Does it Mean to be in the Top 1%?

While many people might think “top 1%” and immediately imagine a CEO whose salary is in the tens of millions, the top 1% in terms of net worth aren’t necessarily the people who earn the most.

Net worth refers to the value of the assets a person owns (which includes checking and savings account balances, the value of securities such as stocks or bonds, real property value, the market value of automobiles, etc), minus the liabilities (or debt, like mortgages,loans, credit card balances) they owe.

A deeper view of the top 1% indicates that this wealth accumulation is spurred by more than one source: Income, investments, tax breaks that help the wealthiest keep more of their money, property, and more. All of these help make up the resources a household or individual has socked away as net worth.

The Income and Savings of the 1%

Income and wealth do correlate, although researchers say it’s not as close a correlation in the U.S. as it may be in other countries.

Earning more may mean you can spend more or live a more lavish lifestyle—but it can also contribute to saving more. The top 1% of wage earners in the US earned on average $758,434 in 2019, according to the Economic Policy Institute .

The same year, the average US income was $57,535. The top 1% of wage earners brought in just over 13 times as much as the average American household.

The average savings rate in the US hovers around 7.7%. (The saving rate shot up to 33% in April 2020 due to the pandemic, but is now trending back down toward pre-pandemic levels) If the average American saves just under 8% of their income and earns, on average, $57,535, they are putting away about $4,400 per year.

If the top 1% of wage earners saved at the same rate, they would sock away about $58,400 annually—more than the average worker earns in a year.

But research shows that the top 1% of earners save, on average, a whopping 38% of their income–an astounding $288,200 per year.

Is There a Formula for Becoming Part of the 1%?

There’s no one formula for joining the 1%, but several factors appear to play a role in the rise of many one-percenters. These include:

•   Saving. Many people who save through traditional 401(k)s and other vehicles tend to save up to, say, a match from an employer. That can be as little as 3% or 4%. Saving more—the max allowed in a 401k and additional after-tax contributions—builds net worth faster.

•   Starting early. The earlier you start saving and investing, the more you stand to gain due to compound earnings, which is when any returns you earn are reinvested to earn additional returns. This “interest on interest” can help your wealth snowball over time.

•   Income consistency and growth. Imagine graduating from college and earning $200,000 per year—not including bonus or incentive pay—from the start? That’s not uncommon at tech firms. Or, consider investment banks, which pay first-year analysts
$150,000 to $170,000 (including bonuses)—with earnings potential that rises exponentially over the years. The more you earn and the more that grows over time, the more likely your household will be to enter the top 1% of wage earnings.

•   Frugality. You’ve heard that Warren Buffett wears outdated suits and lives in a house he paid $31,500 for in 1958. He’s worth $96.6 billion. He also buys reduced-price cars, doesn’t spend big on expensive hobbies and he even clips coupons. Not all 1% are spending lavishly on yachts and third and fourth homes. If you want to be a part of the 1% and you didn’t invent the best thing since sliced bread, it may be helpful to prioritize saving money overspending.

•   Family history/Luck. Having a head start can certainly help. However, research indicates more than 60 percent of 1%-ers are self-made. Finding the right solution for a big problem at the right moment can lead to a big windfall in a new company, or, starting the next Facebook or Amazon is a little bit luck, a little bit skill.

Recommended: Investing vs. Saving: How to Best Grow Your Money

Moving Towards the 1%

Thomas Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door, identified the seven characteristics of people who become big accumulators of wealth—and thus have a chance to build the wealth it takes to be in the top 1%. These common traits include:

1. They live below their means.
2. They allocate their money, energy, and time in ways that contribute to building wealth.
3. They believe that financial independence itself is more important than appearing to have a high social status.
4. Their parents did not provide money for their basics in adulthood.
5. Their adult children are self-sufficient economically.
6. They understand how to target economic opportunities.
7. They choose the right occupation.

Not all of these are factors one can fully control—and not everyone has a knack for targeting economic opportunities. In addition, many people choose an occupation around a passion, not around wealth-building. That doesn’t mean you can’t get there—or get close.

The Takeaway

Being part of the 1% appears to take a combination of luck, talent, hard work, and determination. Being diligent about saving is also a key way to grow your net worth over time. The more you can sock away, the better off you will likely be in the future.

Looking to start saving? SoFi Money® is a cash management account where you can earn a competitive interest rate, 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 deposits to help you reach your savings goals faster.

Check out how SoFi Money can help you manage your spending and saving 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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.

SOMN21002

Read more
25 Things to Know When Renting Out an Airbnb

25 Things to Know When Renting Out an Airbnb

It can be tempting to rent out part, or all, of your home on a rental platform to bring in extra income.

While renting out extra space can be a lucrative sideline for those who are willing to put in the effort to create and maintain a welcoming space for guests, it could potentially backfire if you side-step some key steps.

To help ensure your venture is a success, here are some things you may want to consider before you start renting on Airbnb or a similar site.

1. Understanding Local Rental Laws

Before listing your home on a home-sharing site, it’s a good idea to research and make sure you fully understand local laws regarding renting out your home.

Laws that govern home shares vary around the country. In some cities, for instance, it’s illegal to rent a home as an Airbnb unless it’s your primary residence. In others, hosts can only rent out a portion of their home, and must be present during the guests’ stay. Laws about short-term rentals are also constantly changing.

If you own a condo or belong to a HOA, there may be other legal hoops to jump through, since you will likely need to get permission before opening your doors.

2. Checking With Your Landlord (if You’re Renting)

Looking to rent out a room in a home you rent? It can be wise to first carefully read through your own rental agreement first.

Leases and agreements can contain language barring renters from subletting the home outright or without the express consent of the landlord. If you’re unsure even after reading the fine print, you may want to have a conversation about it with your landlord.

3. Talking to Your Neighbors

While neighbors can’t tell you what you can and can’t do on your own property, they can make things difficult for you.

Prior to renting out your home, you may want to do the neighborly thing and pop in or give them a call to let them know what you are planning and do your best to ease any of their concerns. Who knows–they might even end up keeping an eye on the property for you while you’re away.

4. Being Prepared to Pay Taxes

Sure, renting your home on Airbnb may bring in a nice source of passive income. Like all income, however, this may be subject to state and federal taxes. It’s also possible that the additional income could push you into a different tax bracket, meaning all of your income could be taxed at a slightly higher rate.

Airbnb even created a booklet to help people renting their home become more familiar with how they may be taxed.

5. Considering All the Expenses Involved in Renting

While it may be more fun to think about the residual income (or extra income) that could result from your home rental, it can also be important to think about all the expenses involved.

For example, you may have to purchase items to get the space ready, along with any amenities you will offer guests (like toiletries or coffee), and cleaning supplies (or, pay for a cleaning service), and more.

You may want to make a list of all your potential expenses and consider how it will affect your potential profits.

6. Finding a House Manager if You’d Rather Not do all the Work

Does managing your listing, bookings, and maintaining your rental property
property sound like a lot? You might consider hiring a manager to do it for you.

There are a number of property management companies around the country. that specialize in managing short-term home rentals.

These agencies will handle everything from writing or boosting the exposure of your listing to communicating with guests to cleaning and taking care of repairs. Some charge a commission (i.e., a percentage of bookings), while others charge a flat monthly service fee.

7. Making Space for Guests

Prior to accepting your first guests, it’s a good idea to make sure you have room for them–and that typically means more than just a clean, freshly made bed.

You may also want to offer some empty drawers so that guests can unpack their clothing, and possibly also a free shelf in the bathroom for their toiletries.

8. Putting Away Valuables

While it’s nice to think that everyone is trustworthy, that may not always be the case. It can be a good idea to safely stow away any valuables when you are opening your home to people you don’t know.

You can do this by getting a heavy-duty safe. Or, you might want to lock off one room of the home as an “owner’s closet” that guests cannot access.

9. Checking With Your Insurance Company

Airbnb offers its hosts its own insurance known as Host Protection . Though this covers a wide array of potential issues, including bodily injury to guests and any damage to the property, it may not cover everything. Plus, different home-rental platforms may offer different levels of insurance coverage.

It can be a good idea to also check in with your own homeowners or renters insurance to see what type of coverage these policies offer.

10. Writing a Detailed Description

Ready to list? When it’s time to write a description of your home, it’s a good idea to make your listing as detailed as possible, and even include the flaws of your home. A home need not be perfect to list on Airbnb. However, the company suggests that honesty is the best policy.

It can be a good idea to tell guests exactly what they’ll find when they arrive, as well as highlight your home’s special features, such as the location or unique amenities of your space. For more ways to make your listing stand out, you may want to check out Airbnb’s writing tips .

11. Taking High Quality Photos

Before taking photos of your space, you may want to spend some time arranging everything as if you were getting ready to welcome your first guest. This can help showcase your space to its best advantage, and also help set your guests’ expectations before they book.

It’s also a good idea to shoot in landscape format (photos in search results are all displayed in landscape, so vertical photos won’t showcase your space as well), shoot in the middle of the day when there is plenty of light, and to highlight any unique features or amenities.

12. Creating an Information Binder

It can be helpful to make a packet of information for your guests which includes key information, such as the Wi-Fi password, your contact number, and house rules (such as check-out time and anything that guests need to take care of before they leave).

You may also want to include instructions on how to work on anything quirky, such as the television or coffee maker, as well as local entertainment and restaurant options.

13. Offering A Few Extra Amenities

There are millions of listings on Airbnb. If you’re hoping that your rental will make financial freedom a reality, you’ll want it to stand out from the crowd.

Throwing in some extras can help encourage guests to choose your home over others. Are you near a popular beach? You may want to consider keeping some beach chairs and sand toys stored in the garage for guests to use.

Simple add-ons, like the use of your bicycles or a parking tag, may not cost you much (or anything) to offer, yet significantly increase the popularity of your listing–along with your earnings.

14. Making a Decision about Pets or No Pets

Before you list your property it’s a good idea to decide if you want your home to be a space for pets or not.

This is a personal decision, but you may want to consider whether or not your space is well-suited for pets (a light suede couch, for example, might not last very long). If you do decide to make your home pet-friendly, you could add in an additional fee for cleaning.

15. Learning How to Price a Property Right

You may think your home looks and feels like a million bucks, but that doesn’t mean travelers will pay a premium.

To understand how to price an Airbnb listing correctly, it’s a good idea to comb through comparable listings in your area to get a sense of what other people are charging.

You can also use a free calculator like airDNA . You just need to input all your data, including home size, if it’s pet-friendly, location, etc., to get a recommended price for your listing.

16. Deciding How You Want to “Screen” Guests

It is against Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy to decline a booking based on “race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status” or impose different standards for specific guests.

What hosts can screen for are people who may not be a good fit for their property by being as descriptive as possible in their listing. If your home is not a good fit for children, you may want to make that clear in your listing.

Do you want to limit the noise after specific hours to respect neighbors? You may want to be specific about that in your listing so you bring in the type of customer you are hoping to attract.

17. Learning About Enhanced Cleaning Standards

Airbnb, along with other rental platforms, has asked hosts to use an enhanced five-step cleaning protocol , which was developed in partnership with experts in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The protocol includes special measures, such as using disinfectants approved by your local regulatory agencies for use against COVID-19 on all high-touch surfaces (and letting them stand for the amount of time specified on the label) and washing all dishes and laundry at the highest heat setting possible.

Airbnb gives hosts who commit to the 5-step cleaning process a highlight on their listings to let guests know these hosts are committed to the enhanced cleaning protocol.

18. Thinking About Turnover Time

Before you rent all or part of your home on a rental platform you will want to think about not only when you want to rent your home out, but also how long it will take you to get it properly cleaned (using the 5-step protocol) and ready for the next guests.

Will you need 24 hours between guests or can you get the home ready in just a couple of hours? This will determine exactly what dates you are able to accept guests, as well as what check-in time you want to put in your listing.

19. Testing Your Rental With Friends

When you’re getting close to listing your space, you may want to try testing out the system with a few friends.

Inviting people you know and trust to rent your space (free of charge or for a low fee) won’t do much to get that extra income stream flowing, but it can help you work out the kinks, as well as garner you some (hopefully positive!) reviews.

Friends can also tell you honestly what you might do differently or change to improve the rental experience. This way, you’ll feel confident once people you don’t know arrive.

20. Being Ready for Bookings Right Away

With millions of users all over the world, it may be a good idea to go into listing your property believing you’ll receive guests right away.

While this may not happen, it’s better to be prepared for visitors, than wait to see how your listing performs before readying your space for guests.

21. Looking At Your Reviews

After guests depart they may leave you a review of their stay. It’s a good idea to not only look at the reviews but to take them to heart. Reviews can make or break Airbnb rentals.

While it can be tough to digest criticism of your home, if guests complain about something that can be easily fixed, it can be in your best interest to fix it.

Reading positive reviews can be a good way to see your rental from an outsider’s perspective and make changes to improve your listing.

22. Accepting the Fact You Can’t Please Everyone

Sometimes, people are just difficult, or nitpicky, or just aren’t the right match for your listing and will leave a nasty review that feels unwarranted.

If you see a review that falls into that camp, it can be wise to just forget it and move on. This can often be a better approach than starting a fight in the comment section, which may only end up making you look bad to potential future guests.

23. Working Toward Superhost Status

Becoming an Airbnb superhost can increase your earnings by giving your more visibility and letting guests know that they can expect the best when staying with you.

Superhosts are featured in search results and get a Superhost badge on their profiles and listings to help them stand out. After each year as a Superhost, they’ll get a $100 travel coupon.

To become a Superhost, hosts must complete at least 10 stays in the past year (or 100 nights over at least 3 completed stays), have a 4.8 or higher average overall rating, respond to 90% of new messages within 24 hours, and cancel bookings less than 1% of the time.

24. Deciding If Airbnb Is the Only Platform for You

After deciding to list on Airbnb, it’s then time to decide if that’s enough. There are, after all, a number of other home rental platforms to choose from, including Vrbo , Booking.com , and Flipkey . It’s up to you how many different listings you’re willing to maintain.

25. Keeping Your Calendar Up to Date

Once you list your home on Airbnb (or any other rental platform), it can be wise to keep your rental calendar as up-to-date as possible. This way, guests don’t accidentally book a stay when you have your in-laws visiting or when you otherwise want to use your own space.

If a date looks to be free to a potential guest but you forgot to mark it as unavailable, it can become a frustrating experience for both parties.

The Takeaway

If you have an extra room, or your home is vacant for several months out of the year, you may be tempted to list it on a home rental site.
But before you start posting photos on Airbnb, there are several things you may want to think through–from legal and insurance issues to the time and expense involved in getting (and keeping) your space ready for guests.

Did your homework and you’re ready to take the plunge? You may also want to look for a good place to put your new source of income.

SoFi Money® is a cash management account that allows you to earn competitive interest, spend, and save–all in one account.

Plus with SoFi Money, you’ll be able to track how much you are spending and earning on your new rental right from the dashboard in the app.

Check out everything SoFi Money cash 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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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.
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.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

SOMN21025

Read more
x Steps for Balancing a Checkbook

4 Steps for Balancing a Checkbook

With fewer people writing checks and mobile banking becoming the norm, you might think that balancing your checkbook is a skill that has lost its usefulness.

But the process of balancing your checkbook is still a necessary part of maintaining your checking account–even if you don’t carry around a checkbook and rarely, if ever, write a paper check.

That’s because it’s still important to keep a close eye on what’s coming in and going out of your checking account. This allows you to track your spending, avoid bouncing checks, and also catch errors or suspicious activity on your account right away.

Fortunately, balancing, also known as reconciling, your checking account is an easy skill to master.

And, once you get into the habit, it may only take you a few minutes once a week or so to keep tabs on your money.

What Does Balancing a Checkbook Mean?

The task of balancing a checkbook actually doesn’t have anything to do with the checkbook, although your checkbook register is still a great tool for doing the job.

Rather, balancing a checkbook refers to the process of reconciling and cross-checking the many transactions that occur in your checking account.

This means recording all of your deposits and withdrawals on a daily or weekly basis, adding and subtracting them as you go, and then regularly comparing your numbers to the bank’s to make sure they agree.

Why should I Balance my Checkbook?

Balancing your checkbook comes with a number of key benefits. These Include:

Knowing Your Balance in Real Time

When you log every transaction, and then add it to your balance if it’s a deposit or subtract it from your balance after paying a bill, you are able to know the true balance of your account–which may not yet be reflected online or in your app.

That’s because when you write a check against your account, the bank won’t deduct those funds from your account until the person you gave the check to deposits it.

Your bank app may show you have $2,000 in your account but if you wrote a $1,000 check yesterday, you actually only have $1,000 available to spend.

Tracking Your Spending and Sticking with Your Budget

During the balancing process, you look at every transaction in your checking account for a period of time, whether it’s a day, a week, or a month.

You might find that you’re spending more than you thought, or taking out more cash from the ATM each month than your current budget allows.

Balancing your checkbook on a regular basis can help you monitor your spending, and help to ensure you’re able to maintain your savings goals.

Reviewing Your Account for Errors, Fraud, or Billing Changes

Regular reviewing and tracking of your account’s expenditures can help you immediately spot any purchases or transfers of money that you don’t recognize.

You may also pick up on fees your bank is charging that you weren’t aware of, or that are new.

Or, you might notice that one of your auto-pay bills has gone up in price. If your payments are processed automatically without your review, those increases could go unnoticed, and unaddressed, for months, disrupting your cash flow and possibly causing other financial issues down the line.

How to Reconcile Your Checkbook

In the past, balancing your checkbook was often done after receiving your monthly paper statement from the bank.

You could then use the statement to compare the transactions you had listed by hand in their checkbook register with those shown in your bank statement.

The process of balancing your checkbook may be a little different today but the basic tenets are the same.

Here’s an easy step-by-step.

1. Recording Your Current Balance

You can quickly find your checking account balance by going on your bank’s website or using its mobile app.

If you’re using a paper checkbook register, you can then record this number in the top spot above the spaces you use to log your transactions.

If you don’t have a register or prefer to go digital, you can create your own register on your computer, or use an open source spreadsheet platform, such as Google Sheets. An online spreadsheet has the advantage of being accessible anytime from any device.

2. Recording any Pending Transactions

These are transactions that you know are coming, but have not yet cleared.

For example, when you deposit a check, your bank might release only part of the funds immediately, placing a hold on the rest of the money until the check clears.

Similarly, when you pay for something with your debit card or a check, the transaction may take a day or two to go through.

You can write down the date of the transaction and a brief description and, if it’s a check, the check number.

Starting with the first transaction you enter, subtract the amount from your available balance, or, in the case of a deposit, add it to the balance.

Then record the new amount on the next line of your register. You can continue doing this until all transactions are reconciled.

The final number is your current available balance–the actual amount you have in the account to spend.

3. Continuing to Record Transactions

As you continue to make transactions, you can then record them in your register or spreadsheet so you have a running tally of your debits, credits, and current balance.

You can do this as you go, or you can collect your receipts and record them in your checking register or spreadsheet at the end of the day or week.

4. Comparing Your Numbers

Once or twice a month, it’s a good idea to log on to your account and compare your bank’s total withdrawals and deposits and balances with your own records. If they match, you’re in good shape–you have a balanced checkbook.

If the numbers don’t align, you may then want to go back through your records, as well as the bank’s transaction history, to see where the discrepancy lies.

You may find that you forgot to record a transaction or you wrote down a number incorrectly, or made a simple math error.

Or, you might pick up an error on the bank’s part, a change in the amount a vendor is billing you, or a potentially fraudulent charge.

Generally, the quicker you pick up and address any discrepancies the better, particularly in the case of fraud or identity theft.

The Takeaway

Even in an increasingly paperless world, it can still be important to balance your checkbook.

Regularly balancing your checking account can give you a clear sense of not only how much money is in your bank account, but where your money goes.

This can help you track your spending, avoid bouncing checks, detect billing changes, and also spot errors or even fraudulent charges as soon as they happen.

Looking for Something Different?

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep tabs on your money, you may want to consider signing up for a SoFi Money® cash management account.

With SoFi Money, you can get all the numbers you need to track your finances at a glance and on the go using the SoFi app.

See how easy it is to manage your finances with SoFi Money 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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

SOMN21020

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender