Money Management for College Students

As a student, you may be primarily focused on studying and getting a great education.

But college is also an opportunity to develop money management skills that can help set you up for financial success after you graduate.

You may be living on your own for the first time, holding down a part-time job, and also handling bills, along with college loans and/or financial aid.

Setting up some good financial habits now can help ease the financial stress of student life, and also help ensure you leave college in solid financial shape.

Here are 10 money management tips that help you spend less and save more both during and after college.

1. Setting up a Basic Budget

Budgeting may sound complicated, but making a budget is simply a matter of figuring how much is coming into your bank account each month and how much is going out, and making sure the latter doesn’t exceed the former.

To get started, you’ll want to list all of your sources of income, such as from a job or family contributions.

If you are going to be living off a fixed amount of money for each semester, say from summer earnings or money from your family, you may want to divide this lump sum by the number of months you need to make this money last.

Once you know how much you have to live on each month, you’ll want to make a list of fixed expenses that you will be responsible for paying, such as cell phone or car payment, or maybe even rent if you live off campus.

Next, you’ll want to subtract your fixed expense from your monthly spending allotment. This will give you the amount you have left over to cover variable expenses, such as eating out, buying clothes, and entertainment. You can then come up with target spending amounts for each category.

Doing your best to stay within these spending limits can help ensure that your money lasts until the end of the semester, and help you avoid running up costly credit card debt.

2. Opening up a Savings Account

You might feel like you don’t have enough income to start saving money yet, but even just putting a small amount away each month can add up over time.

For example, if you’re able to set aside $50 a month now, you may soon have a decent nest egg that can help pay for something fun, like a road trip over the next school break.

What’s more, being diligent about saving money each month can help cultivate a habit that will serve you later when you can afford to save more in your nest egg and also for retirement.

3. Buying Used Textbooks (and Selling Yours When Done)

Textbooks can be so expensive! Fortunately, there are a number of ways to save money here.

One option is to buy used whenever you can. You’ll want to be sure, however, that you are getting the version the professor wants. If you have an earlier edition, you might struggle to find the content if the book has since been modified. Getting the digital version of a book can also yield savings.

Another option is to rent what you need from a third-party bookseller, such as Amazon or Chegg. You can often rent textbooks for an entire semester for significantly less than buying new, and may even be able to highlight them.

For books that you purchase (new or used) that you won’t need to refer to in the future, consider selling them when you’re done to recoup some of the expense.

Recommended: Ways to Cut Costs on College Textbooks

4. Using Credit Cards Sparingly

Credit card companies love college students, and many may try to lure you into applying for cards. You’ll want to proceed with caution, however.

While having a credit card as a student can be a good idea–for convenience, as a backup for emergencies, and to start building credit history (more on that below), you’ll want to be careful that you don’t run up credit card debt.

If you charge more than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month, you can end up paying a high-interest rate on the balance, which can make it even hard to pay off.

As a result, it can be easy for college students to find themselves digging a debt hole that can be hard to climb out of.

If you choose to sign up for a new card, you may want to look for a rewards credit card that will let you rack up points you can use to get products or travel perks–and only charge what you can afford to pay back quickly.

Recommended: Breaking Down the Different Types of Credit Cards

5. Building Your Credit Score

A credit score is a three-digit number, typically between 300 and 850, designed to represent your credit risk, or the likelihood you will pay your bills on time.

Building credit might not seem like a priority when you’re still in school, but you’ll need it in the future if you want to finance a car, buy a house, or qualify for the best credit card offers. Your credit can even affect your job prospects and your ability to rent an apartment

One strategy you can use to build up your credit is to use your credit card judiciously. If you make small purchases and regularly pay the balance off in full, you can avoid racking up interest charges but still get that boost to your credit score.

If you have student loans, you may also want to consider making small payments (even just $25 to $50) while you’re still in school to start paying down interest and have some positive repayment history on record.

If you start building your credit score now, you will likely be able to get better deals on lending products like mortgages, car loans, and credit cards in the future.

6. Finding Free Stuff

One highly effective way to stretch your money is to find freebies.

Facebook has groups where people can post items they no longer want. You might be able to score free clothes, furniture, or room decor.

Freecycle and NextDoor also have listings for things that people are giving away. You can also find free items on Craigslist (you’ll find the “Free” section under the “For Sale” heading on the main page for your city).

7. Learning to Cook–and Eating out Less

You may find you get tired of cafeteria fare and ramen. At the same time, you may not want to don’t blow your budget on eating in restaurants every weekend.

If you have access to a kitchen, you might want to consider purchasing ingredients from your local supermarket and putting together some simple, tasty meals, instead of eating out. This can be a major cost-saver.

If you’re not much of a cook, you may want to go to some food blogs and recipe sites like Allrecipes or Serious Eats to find some easy recipes and watch a few how-to videos. You could also find tons of cooking videos on YouTube.

Having some go-to recipes in your arsenal can pay off now, and also down the line when you’re working and living on your own (and don’t have to rely on expensive take-out or unhealthy fast food for dinner every night).

8. Starting an Emergency Fund

Starting an emergency fund or back-up savings fund is an important part of anyone’s long-term financial health.

Life can be unpredictable, and your emergency fund serves as a safety net that you can fall back on for those “rainy days” where you find yourself facing an unexpected expense or other financial setbacks.

Having an emergency fund can also help keep you from having to rely on credit cards to get through a financial challenge.

How much you should put aside for emergencies each month is up to you and your financial situation. The key is to start saving something each month–no matter how small the amount may initially seem.

When starting your emergency fund, it’s a good idea to fund the account regularly. Consider setting up an automatic transfer to your savings so you do not have to think about it.

Ideally, your emergency fund should also be set up in a separate savings account so you won’t be tempted to spend the money on something else.

9. Getting the Most out of Your Student ID

You may only think of your ID card as a form of identification and a way to get into college sporting events. But there are actually a number of additional benefits that come with a student ID, and many can help you save money.

You may find that businesses, especially those near universities, will offer students discounts when they show a student ID card.

Next time you go to the movies, shop for school supplies, or get a new haircut, it can be a good idea to ask if they offer any discounts for local college students.

In addition, many national and online retailers–including major clothing, sneaker, and computer brands–offer discounts to college students.

You may also be able to use your student ID to get a better deal on your cell phone plan and streaming services.

10. Getting Started with Investing

Investing when you’re young is one of the best ways to help your money grow over time.

That’s thanks to compound earnings, which means that any returns you earn are reinvested to earn additional returns. The earlier you start investing, the more benefit you gain from compounding.

Investing in the stock market also isn’t as complicated as you may think. You can open a retirement account, like a traditional or ROTH IRA, or a brokerage account (for nonretirement investing) online, often with a minimal amount of money.

You may also be able to schedule automatic withdrawals from your bank account to your investment account each month.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that all investments have some level of risk because the market moves up and down over time.

The Takeaway

College can provide a great opportunity to develop the money skills you’ll need after you graduate.
By learning some basic money management techniques now, you can feel confident about your ability to handle your finances well after graduation.
In 10 years, you will likely thank yourself for putting in the effort to learn how to set–and stick to–a monthly budget, use credit cards wisely, save money, and build your credit score.

Heading off to college soon? SoFi Money® can help you start off on the right foot. This cash management account allows you to earn competitive interest, spend and save–all in one account.

And, SoFi money doesn’t charge any account fees, monthly fees, or many other common fees.

Get your financial life off to a great start with SoFi Money.



Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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.

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How to Save Money From Your Salary

When times are tight, it can feel as though putting even a few dollars away every month is next to impossible. How can you save money when you have a low salary and so many expenses?

There are ways to get that arrow moving in the right direction—even for those who are new to working full time and living on their own.

Taking Advantage of the Employer Match

According to the National Institute on Retirement Security four in five , Americans have saved less than their annual salary in retirement accounts. Thankfully, it’s never too early, or too late, to invest for retirement. Enrolling in your company’s 401(k) plan could be a place to start, and they may even offer matching contributions.

Not every employer offers a match—or a 401(k), for that matter—but if it’s a perk that you can take advantage of, getting more information about how your plan works could open up an avenue for retirement savings.

Employers differ in their plan contributions. Some employers might contribute a dollar for every dollar or a percentage of every dollar an employee puts into the plan, up to a designated percentage of the employee’s salary.

Plans are frequently set up so that employee contributions are taken directly from their paycheck, so the decision to contribute is automated instead of being something to think about each month.

Recommended: How an Employer 401(k) Match Works

Preparing a Budget and Following It

If the idea of a budget seems daunting—or past attempts have been less than successful—it might be because the chosen process is too complicated. It’s not necessary to create a complex set of spreadsheets. When you’re new to budgeting, it might help to start with something simple.

The 50/30/20 rule for budgeting streamlines expenses into three categories so you don’t have to monitor every single expenditure to make it work. Instead, this method recommends dividing take-home pay—what you make after taxes—into three main categories: needs, wants, and savings.

•   Put 50% of your money toward needs: housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, insurance, prescription medications and any other payments you have to make such as credit card or student debt, alimony or child support, for example. If you require a cell phone or other equipment for work, that might be a need, but if it’s the newest, most expensive model, you may be slipping into the wants category.

•   Put 30% toward wants. Here’s where everything from vacations to vending machine snacks can come in. If it isn’t essential, it goes into this chunk of your budget, so consider each expense carefully. This is where many people go wrong financially. Do you have to go to a gym to work out? Do you need Netflix and a weekly movie night? It’s all your call—but these costs all must fit into the allotted amount of money.

•   Put 20% toward savings or toward paying extra on your debt. This category could include your emergency fund, a savings account where you stash away extra cash for short- and long-term goals and your investment savings or retirement account. Keep in mind that some or all of these amounts may already be automatically deducted from your paychecks, so those amounts wouldn’t need to be included here. If you’re planning to pay more than the minimum each month toward credit card and student loan debt, include those expenses in this category, as well.

•   Feel free to tweak. If you want to save more than 20%, or you’re in a hurry to pay down debt, you can cut back on your wants to make it work. The key to budget success is to stick with your plan, though, so don’t make it so tough you can’t maintain it.

Automating Your Savings and Payments

Being paid by direct deposit is common these days,, so you might consider it an opportunity to eliminate at least some temptation when payday rolls around. You may be able to split your direct deposit into multiple accounts—a cash savings account and a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, for example—so you won’t be tempted to spend those dollars.

If a payroll split isn’t an option, you might consider setting up an automatic transfer from a checking account to a savings account. In today’s internet age it’s possible to set up automatic payments for a variety of expenses.

The Takeaway

A savings plan doesn’t have to be complicated. By starting small and keeping things simple and steady, budgeting and saving may just become a habit. While that first goal could be as basic as just getting started, it might not take long to realize where the budget can be adjusted to maximize savings.

SoFi Money® is a cash management account that lets you save, spend and earn all in the same place without spending your money on account fees. In addition to earning higher-than-average interest, SoFi members get discounts, offers and rewards at various companies.

Learn more about how SoFi Money® could help you start saving.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
As of 6/9/2020, accounts with recurring monthly deposits of $500 or more each month, will earn interest at 0.25%. All other accounts will earn interest at 0.01%. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at our discretion at any time. Accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020, will continue to earn interest at 0.25% irrespective of deposit activity. SoFi’s Securities reserves the right to change this policy at our discretion at any time. Accounts which are eligible to earn interest at 0.25% (including accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020) will also be eligible to participate in the SoFi Money Cashback Rewards Program.
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.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.

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What Is A Slush Fund?

Today the term refers to a fund that contains dollars set aside for wants—for spending freely as desired.

Before exploring that idea further, though, a history lesson.

The word “slush” was created in the 17th century to describe half-melted snow, according to www.phrases.org.uk. By the following century, “slush” was also used to describe the fat from meat that was boiled on a ship for sailors to eat.

When the meat fat was sold at ports, the proceeds became the crew’s “slush fund.” When a military publication suggested that the money be used to buy books of the men’s choice, the phrase began to take on one of today’s meanings: as extra cash to spend on wants, rather than needs.

In modern business accounting, a slush fund is an account on a general ledger that doesn’t have a designated purpose and so is treated as a reserve of funds.

In its most negative meaning in the business world, a slush fund is kept off a company’s books for nefarious purposes. In the political arena, the term can be used to describe money, perhaps raised secretly, to be used for illegal activities.

For our purposes though, let’s talk about a slush fund as fun money.

Including Slush Money in the Budget

So do you need a slush fund? It may make sense to have one.

First, it can help people to not overspend on wants. If someone uses (or has at least heard of) the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting, the slush money can be what goes into the 30% category.

For those who haven’t heard of this budgeting strategy, here’s an overview.

A person takes their after-tax income and divides it into three buckets:

•   50% to needs: This comprises rent or mortgage payments, car payments, groceries, insurance, student loan payments, minimum credit card payments, and so forth.
•   30% to wants: From eating out to buying a piece of jewelry or tickets to a game or concert, this is the discretionary spending category.
•   20% to savings: From emergency savings account to retirement account contributions, this money is for future spending, including but also going beyond rainy-day needs.

Here’s another reason why some people may want a slush fund: They are part of a couple and have a joint account for bill-paying and other practical purposes. Each partner may also want to have an account of their own, though.

Prioritizing What Matters

The way people organize how their money is spent, putting funds where they matter to them, is at the heart of budgeting (whether using the 50/30/20 or other budget method).

When their savings and spending are monitored, people can adjust their budgets for even more effective prioritization.

How to set money goals? A review of the budget can indicate, for some, that paying down high-interest credit card debt (and then paying it off) can free up money for more enjoyable pursuits.

Some people may focus on paying off student loan debt more quickly, again to free up cash in the monthly budget, while still others may prioritize building up their emergency savings account.

Each situation is unique. This trifecta might be a good place to start: a budget that meets your needs, helps you reach financial goals, and includes some room for discretionary spending.

Reaching Savings Goals

If you want to create a fund just for fun, good for you. Enjoying hard-earned money may be a nice counterbalance to responsible bill-paying. To help reach your savings goals, here is a six-step process to consider:

Identify goals: In this case, the goal is to set aside slush money, but priorities come into play. If, for example, an emergency fund is at the ready and retirement contributions are regularly being made, it may be time to focus on the slush fund. If one or both still need some attention, the slush fund may be third on the list for savings. Again, each situation is unique.

Select a monthly deposit amount for the account: Perhaps there’s a specific goal (like creating a travel fund) or an amount can comfortably be budgeted. For a specific goal, such as a trip, it can help to figure out the time frame available to save and then divide the cost of a trip by the number of months available to save for it. That’s the monthly deposit amount required to reach the goal. For the second, saving as much as is reasonable to enjoy in the future can be key.

Write down goals: Writing down what you want to achieve can boost the chances of reaching those goals. These jottings can be an ongoing reminder of what you want to achieve, keeping it front of mind. And because slush money is used for pleasurable purposes, it can be fun to write about plans.

Monitor progress: By tracking daily spending habits and long-term savings habits, the process can be further refined. Some people like to rely on pen and paper, while others use an Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs. Still others use an app to track spending and set monthly budget targets. At the risk of sounding like a broken record (do people use that phrase anymore?), do what works best.

Celebrate successes: For longer-term goals, savings fatigue can set it. To combat that, celebrate even the smallest of successes. Able to save $50 more this week than expected? If planning a trip to the ocean, picture yourself lounging by the beach and imagine the refreshing fruity drinks that can be enjoyed with that extra deposit.
Automate the process: Make the savings process easier through automation. A certain dollar amount out of each paycheck can automatically be deposited into the savings account, or an automatic transfer can be set up from a checking account.

Recommended: How to Save Money From Your Salary

A Few More Tips

First, consistency is key. So keep moving forward.

If a windfall comes your way— a bonus, a raise, an inheritance—you may want to see how much can be earmarked as slush money.

You might also consider launching a side hustle. Think of what hobbies can be turned into income earners and consider putting those extra dollars into the fund.

The Takeaway

All business and no pleasure can sap a budgeter’s will to … budget. A slush fund, a term with fatty origins, can be a fun and meaty part of a savings plan.

You can track saving and spending with a SoFi Money® cash management account and create financial vaults for specific goals.

Giving a vault a name, whether Slush Money, Caribbean Vacation, Dream House, or Hair and Clothes Fund, may put a little fun into budgeting.

Create a slush fund with SoFi Money.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
As of 6/9/2020, accounts with recurring monthly deposits of $500 or more each month, will earn interest at 0.25%. All other accounts will earn interest at 0.01%. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at our discretion at any time. Accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020, will continue to earn interest at 0.25% irrespective of deposit activity. SoFi’s Securities reserves the right to change this policy at our discretion at any time. Accounts which are eligible to earn interest at 0.25% (including accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020) will also be eligible to participate in the SoFi Money Cashback Rewards Program.
SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
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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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 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.

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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 .
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