33 Ideas for Saving Money While Dorm Shopping

33 Ideas for Saving Money While Dorm Shopping

Every year, millions of students go to college in the United States. Whether they are entering college for the first time or returning for their sophomore, junior, or senior years, they’re looking for ways to save on dorm shopping. After all, since they’re not working or they’re only working part-time, and they have to take out student loans to pay for college, they want to save in as many ways as possible.

One of the areas in which they have a lot of control over their costs is dorm room shopping. By being vigilant about spotting deals, only buying what they need, and doing their research, they can cut back on costs and stick to their budget for all their dorm room essentials.

Tips to Save Money Shopping for Dorm Room Essentials

If you are looking to save when it comes to college dorm shopping, here are some helpful tips.

1. Research Your Dorm

Before going dorm room shopping, look into how big your dorm room is and what furnishings are provided by the university. Then, you’ll have an idea of what you need to buy and can avoid spending money on things that you’ll have when you get to the dorm.

2. Check Out the Dorm Room Rules

It’s also important to find out the rules for your dorm room. For instance, perhaps your college won’t allow you to have candles or incense burning in your room, or it won’t let you bring a microwave. You’ll know you don’t need to purchase these items because they are forbidden.

3. Don’t Buy Too Much

Dorm rooms are (often) tiny. When looking into how to shop for your college dorm, less is more. Avoid buying oversized items and don’t feel like you need to get every single item on those “college dorm essentials” lists.

Think of the things you already use in your daily life and use that as a guide for what you’ll need in college. And if you find there is something you’re missing when you arrive, you can always pick it up after move-in day.

5. Create a College Dorm Checklist

Make a comprehensive list of what you need before you start shopping. When you’re in the store, don’t be tempted to spend just because something is cute or it seems like you’ll absolutely need it. You need much less than you think.

6. Take Inventory of What You Have

You may already own a bunch of things you need for your dorm room, such as a shower caddy or a small fan. Go around your room at home and take inventory of what you have so you can decide what to buy.

7. Use Coupons

Look for coupons in your local circulars as well as online when determining what to buy for college dorms. Check out coupon websites like RetailMeNot and Coupons.com , or use a browser extension like
to snag the best deals.

8. Shop at Discount Stores

Why pay full price when you can go to a discount store and find exactly what you need for less? Check out places like Ross, HomeGoods, Marshalls, or Dollar Stores for deals on college shopping needs.

9. Check Out Bed Bath & Beyond’s College Savings Pass

Bed Bath & Beyond offers many different products that could be useful in a college dorm. Students could sign up for the store’s College Savings Pass and receive 20% off every purchase.

10. Sign Up for Target Circle

Another retailer that has a wide selection of items for dorm rooms is Target. People who sign up for their rewards program, Target Circle , can receive exclusive access to special discounts and promotions.

11. Use Amazon Prime

Students can get 50% off an Amazon Prime membership. Sign up for the service and receive fast, free delivery on all your college dorm essentials.

12. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card

If shopping with a credit card, use one that offers cash-back. If you are searching for a credit card take a look around and review things like the annual fee or any welcome bonus.

13. Don’t Buy the Cheapest Stuff

While it may be tempting to buy the cheapest dorm room items possible, buying flimsy things that will need to be replaced may not be the best option. Items will need to be sturdy enough to last you over the next four years or so. Even if you have to pay a little more up front, it’s going to be worth it if your stuff actually lasts until graduation.

14. Leave the Printer at Home

Some colleges offer free printing services as part of tuition. If that’s the case at your school, don’t worry about buying a printer.

15. Shop The Sales

Consider shopping when stores are running sales. This could be on shopping holidays like Labor Day and the Fourth of July, or in August when college kids are getting ready to head back to school.

16. Don’t Fall for the “Great for Dorms” Tags

Be wary of items labeled as ideal for dorms. These may be marked up and it may be possible to find a less-expensive counterpart that isn’t necessarily marketed for college dorm rooms.

17. Do Price Matching

Look into the prices of products at different stores to see if they offer price matching. Many big stores have price matching policies, and they will honor your request to sell you a product at a better price.

18. Use Your College ID for Discounts

If you already have your student ID, you may be able to snag some bargains on college dorm essentials from some local stores. Keep your ID on you at all times when you’re out and about and shopping for the school year.

19. Create a Budget

Come up with a budget for your college dorm checklist and then stick to it. When you go shopping without a concrete budget, you could end up spending way too much.

20. Look for Hand-Me-Downs

Did your siblings go to college? How about your friends? They may have dorm room essentials they’re no longer using and would be happy to give them to you. Ask around and see if they have anything they’re willing to pass on before you spend money.

21. Check in With Your Roommate

If you coordinate with your roommate on things you need to buy, you will save money. For instance, maybe they’re willing to buy some cleaning supplies if you chip in for toilet paper or bring a vacuum.

22. Try Thrift Stores

Check out your local thrift stores and hunt down bargains on dorm room essentials.

23. Buy on Facebook Marketplace

You can also find deals on Facebook Marketplace. Log on and search for deals in your area, or for merchants who are willing to ship your dorm room essentials to you.

24. Use Craigslist

When figuring out what to buy for college dorms, you can also log onto Craigslist and find local items for sale. Don’t be afraid to haggle to pay the prices you can actually afford for your college dorm stuff.

25. Shop with Cash Back Websites

Take a look at sites like Rakuten or Upromise that allow account holders to earn rewards on purchases. You can shop for your dorm room essentials and earn cashback on the items you need and love. Participating stores include Walmart, Kohl’s, Old Navy, Macy’s, and Target.

26. Use Gift Cards

Did you receive gift cards from family members and friends when you graduated from high school? Then put them towards your college dorm checklist so you don’t have to spend your own money on items.

27. Start a Registry

Your family and friends may want to contribute and purchase some of your dorm room essentials for you. Stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, and Target make it easy to start a college dorm registry you can share with your loved ones.

28. Look for Free Shipping

Look for free shipping to avoid expensive shipping costs. If you’re going to college far away from home, double check that the stores you are ordering from offer free shipping to that location.

29. Wait to Shop

If you’re on the fence about some purchases, wait until you move into the dorm. This way you can avoid spending money on something you won’t actually use.

30. Rent Instead of Buying

Sometimes, colleges will offer you the chance to rent things like appliances, like a micro-fridge, for your dorm room. If you price it out, you may find this is cheaper than buying your dorm room essentials.

31. Share Tips With Friends

You can always get a group of friends together to go shopping and share tips. If you have more than one person searching for deals, then you may have more success and save lots of money on your dorm room essentials.

32. Sign Up for Stores’ Email Lists

Stores send coupons, sale alerts, and more out to their mailing lists. Consider signing up for the mailing list for stores at which you plan to do a considerable amount of dorm room shopping.

33. Set Up Price Alerts

You can set up price alerts through tools like Honey and CamelCamelCamel to find out when college dorm stuff is going on sale so you know when to purchase it.

Bonus Tip: Best Places to Buy College Stuff

When shopping for college dorm stuff, you need to choose from the right retailers, whether you’re shopping online or in person. Here are a few stores that offer a variety of dorm room essentials:

• Amazon

• Bed Bath & Beyond

• Target

• Walmart

• Overstock

• Wayfair

• HomeGoods

• Marshalls

• TJ Maxx

• Ross

• The Container Store

• The Dollar Tree


Recommended: College Essentials: What to Bring to College

The Takeaway

Shopping for college dorm room essentials can feel overwhelming, but things like making a list, creating a budget, shopping online with free shipping, and sharing tips with friends can help make it more manageable, and more affordable.

Another way to help with college expenses is to use a private student loan that won’t charge you any fees. Cue SoFi’s Private Student Loans, which won’t charge you origination fees, late fees, or insufficient funds fees like some other lenders.

While private student loans may be fee-free and offer students an opportunity to pay for college, it’s important to look at all other options for college financing before borrowing a private loan. Federal student loans offer borrower protections that private student loans do not.

Considering private student loans to pay for college? Check out the private student loan options available with SoFi.

Photo credit: iStock/kali9

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

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.
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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Everything You Need to Know About No Credit Check Loans

Everything You Need to Know About No Credit Check Loans

Quick loans for bad credit can look mighty attractive. However, products like payday loans and auto title loans have major drawbacks, including short repayment periods and sky-high interest rates.

In fact, short-term loans can be so expensive that borrowers often end up paying exponentially more than they would if they’d financed the purchase some other way. And loan holders often end up re-borrowing, starting a vicious cycle that can quickly spin out of control.

So when you need money now, what should you watch out for—and what are some savvier alternatives to predatory loans? In this article, we’ll lay it all out.

What Are No Credit Check Loans?

No credit check loans, as their name implies, are loans that offer quick cash to borrowers without requiring a credit check. However, not requiring a credit check means these loans are riskier for the lender, which is part of how they can justify high-interest rates and fee schedules.

And when we say high, we mean high. It’s not hard to find payday loans with effective interest rates of about 400%, and sometimes up to 1000% or more.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

No Credit Check Loans: Borrower Beware

Here’s how those numbers can work out when it comes to real money.

Say you take out a loan for $1,000, to be repaid over the course of a single year. (In many cases, payday loans, and other no credit check personal loans will require much faster repayment than this example—often just a few weeks).

If you receive the loan at an APR of 10%, you’d end up making monthly payments of $87.92 and paying a total of $1,055.04—just $55.04 in interest.

If you receive the loan at an APR of 30%, you’d end up making monthly payments of $97.49 and paying a total of $1,169.88, paying $169.88 in interest.

At an APR of 400%, however, you’d end up paying $344.24 per month for a total of $4,130.88—a whopping $3,130.88 in interest alone.

It’s clear to see how these loans can lead to financial trouble, even on a much smaller scale. Even under the best of circumstances, it can be difficult to get ahead of short repayment terms and steep interest rates.

Recommended: What is Consumer Debt?

Who Offers No Credit Check Loans?

Two of the most common types of these no-credit check loans are payday loans and auto title loans.

Payday loans, as you might have guessed, are designed to be repaid on the borrower’s next payday—generally within two to four weeks. Because payday loans do so often carry predatory interest rates and terms, some states have limited the size and interest rate of payday loans, but even small loans with lower interest rates can lead to financial trouble.

Auto title loans, or simply “title loans,” are another common type of short-term personal loan that doesn’t require a credit check. In the case of a title loan, the borrower gives the lender the title of their car as collateral for a cash loan of up to about 50% of the value of the car.

The borrower is still allowed to drive the car, but the loan principal plus interest is generally due within 30 days—again at astronomical rates. If the borrower is unable to pay the loan, they risk having their car repossessed.

Other lenders offer similar types of short-term, high-interest rate personal loans, sometimes advertising online loans with no credit check required or guaranteed loan approval.

Even if they aren’t called payday loans or title loans, the borrower would be wise to pay attention to the loan’s terms and conditions, particularly interest rates, fees, and expected repayment schedules.

Generally speaking, too-good-to-be-true financial products are often just that. Staying informed about the full implication of the loan’s terms and even doing the math to work out how much would be repaid over time can help borrowers avoid a potentially disastrous financial situation.

Alternatives to No Credit Check Loans

As financially harmful as no check credit loans can be, there still might be instances in which borrowers need quick access to money. Fortunately, there are some alternatives worth consideration.

For starters, borrowers might turn their attention to why they need the money in the first place. Short-term loans are often taken out to repay existing debt, an approach that might result in the borrower going even further into debt to try to scramble out of the hole.

In this scenario, attempting to negotiate the existing debt with current lenders might be a better tactic. Sometimes, credit card issuers and other lenders might offer repayment options to ease the immediate financial burden. It’s a tactic that’s worth asking a creditor about.

Another option: borrowing from friends and family, which can come with its own set of pitfalls. However, family loans are unlikely to create the same kind of debt spiral short-term cash loans might.

In order to keep things friendly, setting out a formalized loan agreement with interest rates and terms, similar to what you’d expect to sign for a traditional loan from a financial institution, is a good way to keep the transaction as objective as possible.

Credit unions are another source of small-dollar, payday loan alternatives—and importantly, credit unions are subject to a federal interest rate cap and other limits that keep these loans from becoming exorbitantly expensive.

And although they’re generally not an ideal solution, even credit cards usually carry lower interest rates than short-term cash loans. Some borrowers might also be able to utilize a promotional 0% interest rate period in order to aggressively pay off debt without paying interest.

The Takeaway

While no credit check loans can certainly be attractive, their high interest rates and associated fees can make them costly over time. Borrowers may not be able to repay the loans plus interest in the short repayment term required, which could lead to a debt treadmill scenario and, possibly, negative credit history consequences.

An alternative such as an unsecured personal loan usually does require a credit check and specific approval requirements. However, some lenders may consider extending loans to applicants with imperfect credit histories if there is a co-applicant on the loan agreement.

SoFi offers a range of unsecured personal loans with competitive, fixed interest rates and no fees. Checking your rate will not affect your credit score1.

SoFi members also get access to live customer support seven days a week, and qualified personal loan borrowers can take advantage of SoFi’s Unemployment Protection Program, if needed.

Ready to learn how a SoFi Personal Loan might help you get your money right? Check your rate today.

Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade

1Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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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Is It a Good Idea To Use a Personal Loan for Investing?

Is It a Good Idea to Use a Personal Loan for Investing?

Personal loans can be used to fund home repairs, consolidate high-interest credit card debt or cover an emergency expense. There’s also another way to use personal loans: investing in the stock market.

Using loans for investments could help with building a portfolio when you don’t have other cash to invest. While you may generate a solid return on those investments over time, there’s always the risk that you could lose money instead.

If you’re considering using personal loans to invest, it’s important to consider the pros and cons.

Can You Use Personal Loans to Invest?

Personal loans allow you to borrow a lump sum of money that you can use for virtually any purpose. Some of the most common uses for personal loans include home improvements, debt consolidation, vehicle purchases, medical bills, and emergency expenses.

In terms of using loans for investing, you can generally do so unless the lender specifies otherwise. While personal loans typically allow for flexibility in how the money can be used, lenders have the option to impose restrictions.

So why would private investors use personal loans to invest anyway?

There are different reasons for doing so. For some private investors personal loans could make sense if:

• They don’t have other cash available to invest.

• Shifts in the market create a buying opportunity that they’d like to capitalize on.

• Personal loan interest rates are low compared to the return potential for investments.

• They can afford to make the payments on a personal loan.

An investor line of credit is also an option. Unlike a loan, which offers a lump sum of cash to invest, an investor line of credit can be drawn against as needed.

For example, this type of personal borrowing arrangement may suit someone who’s investing in rental properties or fix-and-flip real estate and is unsure exactly how much they’ll need to invest.

When Using a Personal Loan to Invest Might Make Sense

Ultimately, whether you should consider using personal loans for investing may hinge on your investment goals, timeline for investing, and risk tolerance. But there are some situations where it might benefit you.

1. You Can Qualify for the Lowest Rates, Based on Credit

One of the most important factors lenders consider when approving personal loan applications is credit. Specifically, that means your credit scores and credit reports come under scrutiny.

The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate on a loan is likely to be. If you’re interested in using personal loans for investments then getting the best rate matters.

Why? While you might be earning returns on your investments, you’re paying some of them back to the lender in the form of loan interest. So it makes sense to angle for the lowest rates possible. If you have good to excellent credit, that could be an incentive to get a personal loan or investor line of credit.

2. You May Be Able to Pay the Loan Off Early

Personal loans can be used to fund different types of investments, from stocks to mutual funds to real estate. But again, the interest you pay on the loan can eat away at your returns.

Being able to pay the loan off ahead of schedule could help you save money on interest charges. So think about your budget and what you might realistically be able to afford to pay each month to get the loan paid off early.

But be aware that doing so could trigger a prepayment penalty. While SoFi personal loans don’t have any prepayment penalties, other personal loan lenders may charge them.

If you get stuck paying a prepayment penalty that could wipe out any interest savings associated with paying the loan off early.

3. You’re Confident About Your Return Potential

Some financial experts might say that personal loans for private investors only make sense when they’re guaranteed to get a return that outpaces what they’ll pay in interest. But trying to predict a stock or exchange-traded fund’s future performance is an inexact science and not a recommended practice.

For that reason, it’s important to consider how confident you are about an investment paying off. This is where you may need to do some research to understand what an investment’s risk/reward profile looks like, how well it’s performed in the past, what’s happening with the market currently, and where it might be headed next.

In other words, you’ll want to perform some due diligence before using loans for investments. Looking at both the upsides and the potential investing risks can help with deciding if you should move forward with your personal loan plans.

When You Might Think Twice About Using Personal Loans for Investing

While there may be some upsides to using personal loans for investments, there are some potential drawbacks to weigh as well.

1. You Don’t Qualify for the Best Rates

When using personal loans for investing, the math becomes important since any interest you pay has to be justified by the returns you earn. Even if you’re investing in something that you’re sure is going to result in a sizable gain, you still have to consider whether the interest fits in.

If you don’t have great credit then any returns you realize may be overshadowed by the interest you’re paying to the lender. The total interest cost increases the longer you pay on the loan, which is also something to keep in mind if you’re considering a two-year, three-year, or even five-year repayment term.

Before applying for a personal loan, it’s helpful to check your credit reports and scores to see where you stand.

This can help you gauge what type of interest rates you’re most likely to qualify for if you do decide to go ahead with a loan.

2. You Have a Lower Risk Tolerance

Investments aren’t risk-free and some are riskier than others. If you’re taking on debt to invest in the market, you have to be reasonably sure that your investment will pay off. In the meantime, you have to be comfortable with the risk that involves.

The stock market moves in cycles, and volatility can affect stock prices from day to day. So it’s good to understand how you typically react to volatility and what level of risk is acceptable to you before taking out a personal loan.

If the idea of being stuck with a loan for an investment that doesn’t pan out isn’t something you can stomach, then it may not be right for you.

Likewise, you may want to take a pass on a personal loan if you’d be investing in something that you don’t fully understand or haven’t thoroughly researched.

3. Your Income or Expenses Could Change

Taking out a personal loan means you’re committing to repaying that money. While you might be able to afford the payments now, that may not be true if your income or expenses change down the line.

Something investors might not like to think about, but is a risk, is what if the market doesn’t perform favorably? What happens if there is a loss on the investment and you have to find other funds to make the personal loan payments? It’s a good idea to have a backup plan because even if the investment doesn’t provide the return that’s expected, the lender will still expect payments on that personal loan.

Before applying for a personal loan, ask yourself whether you’d still be able to keep up with the payments if your income were to decrease, your other expenses were to go up, or the investment didn’t see the return you thought it would.

If you don’t have an emergency fund in place, for instance, how would you manage the loan payments? Would you have to sell the investments you made to make a loan payment? Could you borrow money from friends or family?

Thinking about these kinds of contingencies can help you decide if a personal loan for investing is the best way to go.

What to Consider With Personal Loans for Investing

Before taking out a personal loan for investing, there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance, consider things like:

• How much you can afford to pay toward personal loans monthly.

• How much you need or want to borrow.

• Current personal loan interest rates.

• Which rates you’re most likely to qualify for, based on your credit history.

• Any fees a lender may charge, such as origination fees or application fees.

• Whether you’ll be able to repay the loan early and if so, what prepayment penalty might be involved.

Beyond credit scores, also consider what else is needed to get approved for a personal loan or an investor line of credit. For instance, lenders may look at your debt-to-income ratio, employment history, and what you plan to use the loan proceeds for.

Also, think about where you plan to use the money to invest. If you’re interested in trading stocks or ETFs, for example, you may want to choose an online brokerage that charges $0 commission fees for those trades.

The fewer fees you pay to your brokerage, the more of your investment returns you get to keep.

The Takeaway

Using personal loans for investments may suit some investors better than others. It’s important to weigh the potential rewards against any risk you may be taking on before committing to a personal loan for investing.

If you’re planning to use personal loans to build a portfolio, take time to compare lenders online to find the best fit for your needs, credit history, and budget. SoFi unsecured personal loans, for instance, offer competitive interest rates and come with no fees.

Learn more about SoFi’s personal loan options.

Photo credit: iStock/jacoblund

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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 . 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.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. 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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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 the Cost to Replace an HVAC System?

Homeowners sometimes may not realize it’s time to replace their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system until there’s a major issue.

And the condition of the overall system, along with other factors like home size, type of unit, and local climate might impact HVAC replacement cost.

HVAC system cost varies year by year and per individual situation. So understanding cost considerations for different HVAC equipment, types of systems, and everything replacement entails can help you budget and plan for paying for emergency home repairs.

Recommended: What are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?

HVAC System Parts

There are several ways to heat and cool a home that falls under the HVAC umbrella. Yet, most HVAC system parts and components can be grouped into the following categories.


Thermostats monitor temperature and can be used to adjust whether a HVAC system heats or cools a building. Generally, the temperature can be set manually or preset to regulate heating and cooling to a desired indoor temperature.

These systems can be connected to the HVAC system through wiring—or Wi-Fi in the case of smart thermostats. More advanced thermostats can be used to enhance comfort and efficiency by controlling temperature settings for multiple zones throughout a home or building.

Heating and Cooling Unit

The heating and cooling unit is the main component of any HVAC system. Common types include furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, and air conditioners.

Furnaces are generally located inside a structure and comprise a heating element powered by gas, oil, or electricity and a blower to circulate heated air through the building.

Boilers are traditionally interior units, too, but circulate hot water or steam to radiators or baseboards located throughout the property.

Air conditioners include condenser units, which are located outside because they produce hot air through the heat transfer process.

Heat pumps also consist of an external condenser, but a key difference is that they can be used to either heat or cool a home. These systems work in conjunction with an indoor blower unit to distribute heated or cooled air.


HVAC systems incorporate air filters to remove dust, allergens, and other particles from entering the return-air duct. Usually, air is drawn from multiple locations inside a building to the HVAC system.

Whether filters are the reusable or disposable variety, periodic cleaning or replacement is necessary to maintain optimal performance.

Ultraviolet lights are another option for treating air quality in an HVAC system. Their ability to disinfect the air of mold and pathogens makes them helpful for some homeowners with severe allergies.

Delivery System

Most buildings consist of multiple rooms and may include more than one floor. Distributing heated and cooled air throughout the space requires a system of ductwork and vents.

Many HVAC systems utilize separate supply and return ducts to circulate, filter, and treat air continuously. Supply ducts bring air from the heating and cooling unit to blowers and vents to heat or cool an area.

Meanwhile, return ducts transport untreated air back to the HVAC system.

Exhaust Outlet

Any HVAC system that involves combustion—burning oil, gas, or wood—will need an exhaust outlet to expel harmful fumes out of the building. An exhaust outlet can be its own vent or be connected to an existing chimney.

HVAC System Cost Estimates

The type of unit chosen for replacement is a key determinant of cost. Prices may fluctuate whether a full or partial replacement is needed and based on technological advances in HVAC efficiency.

Cost estimates below account for the HVAC unit, any system parts, installation, and removal of old equipment.


Boilers have been used to heat buildings for more than a century and are found in homes and commercial buildings alike. The average replacement cost can range between $4,000 and $7,500 depending on the type of boiler.

HVAC replacement cost for boilers can be higher if fuel tanks, piping, and gas hookup need to be repaired or installed.

Heat Pumps

Despite their name, heat pumps actually can be used to both heat and cool a building. These electric HVAC systems pull heat from outdoor air to heat a building even during cold weather conditions.

When it’s warm out, heat pumps cool buildings by drawing heat from indoor air and expelling it outside.

Depending on the type of heat pump and size of the system (measured in tons), costs average between $4,100 and $7,200.

Air-source heat pumps typically run on the cheaper end of the heat pump spectrum. Whereas ground source heat pumps (often called geothermal heat pumps) can cost between $6,000 and $20,000.

Although the upfront cost is significant, lower utility bills and 50-year equipment lifespan could see a return on investment in the long-run.

Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners work by drawing moisture from the air inside a building and returning cooled air throughout the structure via ductwork. The system usually consists of one unit located outside but near the structure.

The average cost for installing central air is between $3,800 and $7,500. Prices may be lower for 2-ton or smaller systems, while costs can creep higher if a building requires a 5-ton unit.

Besides the unit itself, the total footage of ductwork to be installed or replaced is a significant cost consideration.


The cost to buy and install a furnace can vary by energy type, total ductwork needed, and the model. On average, prices for replacing a furnace range from $2,000 to $7,000.

Furnaces that run on natural gas or electricity tend to be cheaper to replace than oil-fueled systems.

The total area that will be heated and how well a building is insulated are other factors that will affect the size of the system and potentially increase the cost.

Other HVAC Replacement Cost Factors

When evaluating HVAC options, the type of system is only part of the equation for determining the final price tag. There are many other factors that can affect how much an HVAC replacement will cost.

Local Climate

The popular real estate mantra, “location, location, location”, rings true for HVAC systems too. Whether you live in a cold, warm, or temperate climate will have implications for how an HVAC system is designed.

Property owners in warmer climates could face higher prices for replacing air conditioning units since greater capacity is needed. Meanwhile, costs for furnaces can be higher in more frigid regions where heating efficiency is more important.

Building Characteristics

The size, layout, and condition of a building can play a role in HVAC replacement cost.

Excluding geographic influences, larger structures generally require a more substantial HVAC system to match. The total square footage can impact the price for filtration, ductwork, vents, and zones throughout a building.

A home’s design could also affect how much you’ll pay for HVAC installation. More difficult jobs can add additional labor hours and drive up the cost.

Some possible complications to consider are the ease of accessing components ductwork and whether building renovations will be needed to accommodate new HVAC equipment.

Unit Efficiency

The operational efficiency of a new system is another factor of HVAC replacement cost. Although more efficient units are generally more expensive upfront, they can recoup long-term savings through lower energy bills.

There are different units to calculate energy efficiency per HVAC system. For air conditioners, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) provides a ranking between 13 and 24.

Meanwhile, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) shows how efficient a furnace or boiler runs. In both cases, the higher the score, the greater the efficiency.

While browsing models, keep an eye out for an ENERGY STAR® label to identify the highest-performing HVAC systems. To become certified, this equipment has been vetted by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.

For instance, air conditioner models that achieve efficiency scores in the top 25 percent among competitors are eligible for ENERGY STAR® certification.

Paying for HVAC Replacement

The upfront cost of paying for HVAC replacement can be steep. If covering expenses with cash and savings alone isn’t feasible, there may be other ways to pay for these home improvements.

The HVAC unit cost for more environmentally friendly technologies, such as ground source and air source heat pumps, may be eligible for rebates and tax incentives.

For example, homeowners who install a geothermal heat pump can claim a tax credit of 26% of the cost of the equipment if installed during 2020 through 2022 22% of the cost as a tax credit if installed during 2023.

Recommended: Home Improvement Cost Calculator

The Takeaway

Even before major components or an entire system needs to be replaced, poor efficiency might increase utility bills. Staying on top of maintenance and knowing the heating and cooling unit’s estimated lifespan could help save money and keep a system running smoothly.

If replacement is necessary for your HVAC system, you may still have a sizable sum to pay after claiming tax credits or manufacturers’ rebates you might qualify for.

Instead of maxing out credit cards or dipping into a retirement account, a personal loan may be able to help with HVAC replacement costs.

A home improvement loan is another option to consider. SoFi offers unsecured home improvement loans, personal loans that don’t require collateral (as secured loans do). An example of a secured loan is a traditional home equity line of credit (HELOC), which uses the equity in the home as collateral.

Is it time to replace your HVAC system? A personal loan from SoFi can help keep your home safe and comfortable.

Photo credit: iStock/South_agency

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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.

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Pros and Cons of Long Term Personal Loans

Pros and Cons of Long-Term Personal Loans

Long-term personal loans can be an attractive option if you’re facing large expenses like medical bills or home repairs. By spreading out repayment over a longer period of time, long-term loans may allow for lower monthly payment amounts that can make major costs more affordable.

However, long-term loans can have drawbacks, too. Although the figure on the monthly bill might be lower, long-term loans may have higher cumulative interest than short-term loan.

Furthermore, long-term personal loans can be difficult to qualify for since they’re often unsecured — not tied to physical collateral like a home or a car.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re deciding whether or not a long-term, unsecured personal loan is right for you:

What is a Long-Term Loan?

As its name suggests, a long-term loan is one whose repayment period, or term, is fairly lengthy. Generally, long-term personal loans carry terms between 60 and 84 months, or five to seven years.

Mortgages and student loans are also examples of long-term loans. Mortgages, for instance, are frequently repaid over as many as 30 years.

For the purposes of this article, we’re talking about long-term, unsecured personal loans, which borrowers can use for a variety of things, rather than using the funds specifically to pay for an education, a car, or a house.

Long-term, unsecured personal loans can allow consumers to make big purchases or pay expensive bills by paying the total off over several years’ time.

Benefits of Long-Term Personal Loans

There are plenty of reasons a long-term loan might be a worthy consideration for large expenses.

Large Loan Amounts

While short-term loans and credit cards may cap out at a few thousand dollars, long-term, unsecured personal loans are available at much higher amounts — up to as much as $100,000.

So depending on what you need the money for, a long-term personal loan might give you more leverage than other types of funding.


Unlike secured loans, which are tied to a physical piece of collateral or the need to be used for a specified purpose, unsecured personal loans can be taken out for a wide range of intended purposes. Common reasons borrowers take out personal loans include:

• Home renovations or repairs.

• Medical expenses.

Wedding loans or funeral expenses.

Debt consolidation.

Affordable Monthly Payments

Since long-term personal loans are paid off over many months, the monthly payments are often lower than they would be with a shorter-term loan.

However, that doesn’t mean a long-term loan is less expensive in the long run.

Drawbacks of Long-Term Personal Loans

There are also some drawbacks worth considering before you apply for an unsecured personal loan.

Potentially Higher Interest Rates

Although long-term, unsecured personal loans may have smaller monthly payments, they may carry higher interest rates than shorter-term, unsecured personal loans — and even at the same interest rate, they cost more over time.

Personal loan rates can range from as little as 5.99% to as much as 36% APR.

For example, imagine you take out a $10,000 loan at an interest rate of 10%. To repay the loan in a single year, you’d have to pay a whopping $879 per month, but you’d only pay a total of $550 in interest over the lifetime of the loan.

To repay the loan in seven years, you’d pay only $166 per month, but you’d also pay $3,945 in interest along the way.

So while long-term, unsecured personal loans can make large purchases feasible, factoring in the total cost over the lifetime of the loan before you sign those papers is also important.

Long-Term Debt

Along with higher interest rates, long-term loans do, obviously, mean going into debt for a longer period of time — unless you plan to pay off your loan early. A thorough review of the loan agreement will disclose prepayment penalties or other fees that can be costly in their own right.

Furthermore, the future is unpredictable. Five to seven years down the line, that promotion you were counting on might fall through or another life circumstance might supersede your repayment plans, early or otherwise.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to borrow more cash, it can be difficult to increase your personal loan amount.

Although unsecured personal loans can be helpful when life throws big expenses your way, they’re still a form of consumer debt, and, ideally, minimizing debt is a smart thing to do.

Qualification Difficulties

Long-term, unsecured personal loans may have more stringent qualification requirements than other types of credit because, from the lender’s perspective, they’re riskier than those for smaller amounts or those that come attached to physical collateral.

Along with your credit score and history, a potential lender might also require proof of income and employment or a certain debt-to-income ratio. Depending on the stability of your financial situation, you may or may not qualify for the best interest rates and terms or be considered eligible to take out the loan at all, at least without a cosigner or co-borrower.

Recommended: Getting a Personal Loan with a Co-Applicant

Alternatives to Long-Term Loans

Ideally, the best way to pay for a large purchase is to save up the cash and pay for it without going into debt at all. Of course, this may not always be possible or realistic.

If you’re not sure about taking out a long-term, unsecured personal loan, there are other alternatives to consider. However, each of these comes with its own risk-to-reward ratio, as well.

You might consider borrowing money from friends and family, but those important relationships can suffer if your repayment doesn’t go as planned. A written repayment agreement can go a long way toward making the transaction as transparent as possible, with expectations of both parties clearly outlined.

Another option might be saving part of the money you need and applying for a short-term, unsecured personal loan for the remainder.

This means delaying a purchase until savings can accumulate, and might not work if the money is needed sooner rather than later.

The Takeaway

Long-term loans are those whose repayment periods generally span between five and seven years, which can help borrowers fund expensive purchases while making affordable monthly payments.

However, the longer-term can also mean more interest charges over time, making these unsecured personal loans more expensive relative to shorter-term lending options. And like any form of consumer debt, they carry risk.

Your credit score and/or personal financial situation can suffer if you find yourself unable to repay the loan.

That said, when used responsibly, long-term, unsecured personal loans can be a smart financial choice, particularly if you shop around for a lender who offers affordable, fixed interest rates, low fees, and great customer service to ensure you’ll always be in the know and in control.

Want to learn more about SoFi’s low-rate, fee-free, long-term personal loans? Check them out today.

Photo credit: iStock/Melpomenem

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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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