Pros and Cons of Having No State Income Tax

Pros and Cons of Having No State Income Tax

Right now, nine states do not charge state income taxes, which means residents in those states don’t need to file a state-level tax return. While an obvious benefit of that is a reduction in their annual tax liability, are there also drawbacks to living in a state without income taxes?

Here, learn the pros and cons of no state income tax. This intel can help you determine if living in a state with no income tax is better for you.

Which States Have Zero State Income Tax?

Currently, nine states do not have state income tax on earned income:

•   Alaska

•   Florida

•   Nevada

•   New Hampshire*

•   South Dakota

•   Tennessee

•   Texas

•   Washington

•   Wyoming

*New Hampshire currently charges state taxes on interest and dividends but not on income, but it is set to phase this out after 2026, as Tennessee has recently done.

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


Recommended: Earned vs. Unearned Income on Taxes

What Are the Pros and Cons of Having No State Income Tax?

At first blush, having no state income tax sounds like a win for Americans — and for many high-earners, it might be. However, there are also downsides to living in a state with no income taxes. Here’s a closer look.

Pro: You’ll Spend Less Money on Income Taxes Overall

While nearly everyone must file federal taxes, residents in states without income taxes will benefit from a lower overall tax bill each tax season. This can be a boost to one’s financial health.

Con: You’ll Likely Spend More on Sales and Property Taxes

Just because states don’t charge income taxes doesn’t mean they’re not getting revenue through different types of taxes. States without income taxes sometimes have higher sales and property taxes, for example.

Tennessee, Washington, Nevada, and Texas are all in the top 20 states with the highest combined state and local sales tax. New Hampshire, Texas, and Florida all have property taxes higher than the national average — with the former two in the top 10 states overall.

An added con to this: Unlike income taxes, which get progressively higher based on your income level and resulting tax bracket, sales taxes are the same no matter how much you make. That means lower-income taxpayers shoulder a heavier tax burden in states with no income taxes, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Pro: Tax Filing Is Easier

If you live in a state without income tax, filing can be a breeze. You’ll have one less tax filing deadline to worry about.

Those who reside where state tax is collected, however, may need to invest in professional tax software or an accountant to handle their state taxes. This is of course an added expense — and creates extra steps in the tax filing process.

Con: There’s Less in the Budget for Infrastructure and Education

States use income taxes to fund projects like improving infrastructure and investing in education. Without income taxes, there could be less in the budget for such investments.

For instance, Nevada, Florida, Tennessee, and South Dakota are all among the top 10 states that spend the least amount of money per K-12 student, per a report from the Education Data Initiative. The common thread? These four states don’t have income taxes.

Pro: Having No Taxes Can Attract People to Move to the State

A lack of state income taxes may be a selling point for many people looking to move, whether they are looking for a more affordable lifestyle, a welcoming state to retire in, or to be closer to friends and family.

Why does this matter? An influx of residents to a state can be a boon to the local economy.

Con: Cost of Living May Be Higher

Though it’s not the case across all nine states without income taxes, the cost of living could be higher. Four out of the nine states were among the 20 most expensive states to live in last year: Alaska, New Hampshire, Washington, and Florida.

Now, here’s how the pluses and minuses stack up in chart form:

Pros

Cons

Less money spent on income taxesPotentially higher sales and property taxes
Easier tax filingPotentially lower infrastructure and education spending
Potential state population growthPotentially higher cost of living

Why Do Some States Have Zero State Income Taxes?

Some states may choose to enact a no-state-income-tax policy to encourage Americans to move there from other states and thus boost their economy. IRS and Census data backs up this theory.

It may also reflect local political sentiment: Conservative politics tend to favor lowering taxes, while progressive politics often prioritize the social programs that can be achieved through higher taxes.

Recommended: Tips on Saving Money Daily

Do States With No Income Tax Save Residents Money?

States with no income taxes save residents money — on their income taxes. However, many states without income taxes can be expensive in other ways. They might have a higher sales tax, higher property taxes, and/or a higher cost of living.

Before deciding on a move to a state without income taxes, it’s a good idea to view the whole picture by researching sales and property tax rates and overall cost of living.

Recommended: Tax-Friendly States that Don’t Tax Pensions and Social Security Income

Is Living in a State With No Income Tax Better?

Some taxpayers may say that living in a state with no income tax is better, but others might not. In general, high-income earners benefit more from a lack of state income taxes, since they may enjoy reduced taxes. Low-income earners, however, may actually shoulder more of the tax burden when states generate revenue from sales tax.

Taxpayers should also consider how much they value lower taxes versus more social programs and investments in things like infrastructure and education. Each individual will have their own opinion.

The Takeaway

States without income taxes may save you a lot of money when it’s time to file taxes, but there may be hidden costs of living in such states, like higher sales and property taxes. Before moving, it’s important to consider the full picture to better understand the potential impact on your finances.

Regardless of where you live, it can be a wise money move to take advantage of a high-yield bank account to grow your savings. When you open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, you’ll enjoy a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) on deposit and pay no account fees, both of which can help your cash grow more quickly. Plus, there’s the convenience factor: You’ll spend and save in one place, and qualifying accounts can access their direct deposit paycheck up to two days early.

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

FAQ

Are other taxes higher in states with no income tax?

Though it varies, it is common for states without income taxes to make up for that lack of revenue through other forms of taxes, primarily sales and property taxes.

Are food costs more in states with no income tax?

Food costs contribute to a state’s total cost of living. In 2022, four of the 20 most expensive states to live in had no income taxes. While that doesn’t inherently mean food costs are higher in such states, it may validate that a disproportionate number of states with no income tax have higher costs of living.

Is living in a state with no income tax better for low- or high-income taxpayers?

High-income taxpayers benefit more from living in states with no income taxes. The more money you make, the higher percentage of your income you must pay in taxes, so high-earners will likely save more.

In addition, states with no income tax may see less spending on education, which can affect the quality of learning for students. High-income earners can probably more easily afford private schools for their children; such schools do not rely on taxes to operate. Low-income earners may not be able to afford private schools.


Photo credit: iStock/mihailomilovanovic

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

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


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What to Do if My Debit Card Expires

My Debit Card Expired! What Do I Do?

If your debit card expired, it can no longer make purchases or payments whatsoever. You’ll need to request a new card from your bank if they haven’t already sent you a new one. Once you have that card, you’ll need to activate it and shred your old one for security reasons.

Your debit card can be a vital player in your ongoing financial life. It’s your primary link to your bank account. It allows you to pay for items at stores, restaurants, and online businesses. In addition, debit cards are quicker than checks and don’t accrue interest charges like credit cards do.

As a result, staying ahead of your debit card’s expiration date is critical to uninterrupted use. Here’s a closer look at this process, including:

•   Why debit cards expire

•   What happens when a debit card expires

•   How to renew a debit card

•   Tips for using a debit card well

What Happens if My Debit Card Expires?

You might not realize that your debit card expired until you try — and fail — to use it. However, it’s best to stay on top of that critical date. Otherwise, if your card expires, the following can occur:

•   You can’t make purchases with an expired debit card.

•   Automatic payments linked to your debit card, such as subscriptions or utilities, will stop.

•   You’ll have to contact your bank about getting a new debit card if they haven’t already sent it.

•   You’ll have to use alternative payment methods until you get a new card.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

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


Replacing an Expired Debit Card

What to do when your debit card expires? Generally, your bank will send you an updated debit card in the mail a month before yours expires. However, if that hasn’t happened, keep these steps in mind:

•   If you don’t receive one as the expiration date draws closer, it’s best to follow up with your bank about getting a new card. You can usually call your bank or log into your account online and ask for a new card. This can often take a week or so; perhaps less time if you pay a fee for expedited delivery.

•   When you receive your new debit card, you can activate it by following the directions on the card. Typically, you can use the website or call the phone number on the activation sticker. You can also likely activate it by inserting it into an ATM (hopefully in-network, to avoid incurring ATM fees), entering your PIN, and withdrawing cash. The process may be somewhat different depending on your financial institution’s policies.

•   Once you’re sure your new card works, it’s best to shred your old card. Throwing away an intact card invites the possibility of identity theft or bank fraud. To augment your security measures, you can discard portions of the shredded cards in different trash containers or throw away several bits at a time.

•   Lastly, think about where you automatically use your debit card online. It’s vital to update your payment information where you linked your old debit card. For any bills you linked your debit card to (like your phone or electricity bill), log into your account and update your payment information.

   The reason: Once your debit card expires, you won’t be able to make payments, and you could fall behind on your bills, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen when you automate your finances.

How Long Do Debit Cards Usually Last Before They Expire?

A debit card usually lasts two to five years from the date your bank issues it. You can use your debit card until the first day of the month after expiration. For example, if your card’s expiration date is January 2024, then your card will work through January 31, 2024. Then, on February 1, your card will become inactive.

Recommended: Features of Mobile Banking

Why Do Debit Cards Have an Expiration Date?

It might seem inconvenient when your debit card expires, but banks require a debit card renewal for practical reasons. Consider the following:

•   The change of expiration date and security code combats fraud. In other words, the new card’s information helps prevent criminals from successfully hacking into your funds, thereby keeping your bank account safe online.

•   Debit cards can get worn out with use. For example, the stripe or magnetic chip can become defective after several years. Or, the card might suffer scratches or begin to peel. Therefore, getting a new card preempts these scenarios.

•   Card technology improves regularly. For instance, cards have gone from swiping to insertion and tap-to-pay in the last decade. As a result, getting a new card can allow you to take advantage of tech advances that increase convenience and security.

Will Transactions Go Through if My Debit Card Is Expired?

An expired card cannot make transactions or payments. Period. So, it’s crucial to get that debit card renewal before your current one expires.

Remember, an expired card doesn’t mean your bank account is frozen, empty, or deactivated. You can still make ACH payments if your card is expired — but an expired card can’t transact payment or let you use an ATM.

Do I Have Debit Card Access Even After It Expires?

The primary issue with an expired debit card is you can’t use it to pay in any context. However, you can access your bank account if your debit card expires, pay by ACH, and use mobile banking features. In addition, your bank account will still be active.

Tips for Using Your Debit Card Wisely

Your debit card is an essential financial tool that enables purchases, provides rewards, and more. In that way, it can contribute to your sense of financial security. Follow these tips to make the most out of your debit card:

•   Memorize your PIN instead of storing it on your computer or other device. That way, no one can steal it and gain access to your account. And please: Don’t write it on the back of your debit card either.

•   Don’t use an obvious PIN that anyone could easily guess, such as your birth year or 1234.

•   Shred and then throw away all expired cards.

•   Stay up to date on your account balance, so you don’t overdraft your account.

•   Use cash instead of your card if the merchant charges a card usage fee. (Some retailers require a minimum purchase of $5 or more to prevent the card fee.)

•   If your debit card provides points or cashback rewards, use it as much as possible without overspending. Also, keep in mind whether your card might have a daily spending or withdrawal limit, restricting card usage.

•   Check account statements monthly, and let your bank know about any unfamiliar transactions, as they could be a sign of fraud.

•   Be aware of transaction fees, when they will be charged, and whether the fee varies, depending on where you use your debit card.

Lastly, notify your bank immediately if you lose your debit card, so you aren’t financially responsible for fraudulent charges. Here’s how this works:

•   When you report your card stolen within two days, there is a $50 cap on the fraudulent charges you must pay for.

•   When you report within 60 days, a $500 cap applies to fraudulent charges you’re responsible for.

•   You’re financially responsible for all fraudulent charges if you don’t report your card stolen within a 60-day window.

Quickly reporting the loss will help you avoid financial responsibility for extra charges that aren’t yours.

Recommended: Debit Card vs. Credit Card

The Takeaway

A debit card that’s expired can threaten to derail your financial life for a period of time, inconveniencing you as you try to pay for transactions and access cash. Being suddenly unable to use your card for purchases is frustrating and can even cause you to miss payments on crucial bills. Therefore, proactively communicating with your bank about a card that will expire soon can save you a headache.

If you’re in the market for a new debit card, you can open an online bank account with SoFi and enjoy many perks. For instance, you’ll have access to the global Allpoint Network of no-fee ATMs. In addition, you’ll enjoy spending and saving in one convenient place, earning a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), and paying no account fees. All this can help you manage your money more easily and maybe even grow your funds faster.

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

FAQ

Do I need to reach out to a bank if my card expires?

Reaching out to your bank if your card expires allows you to obtain a replacement debit card as soon as possible. Although banks usually send your new card ahead of time, it’s possible the card went to the wrong address or was never sent. Calling your bank or chatting with a bank representative online if your card expires can help minimize the waiting period for a new card.

Do the debit card numbers stay the same after they expire?

When your debit card expires, you’ll receive a replacement card with a new expiration date and security code. These numbers change to improve the security of your bank account.

What should I do with my old debit card?

You should shred or otherwise cut up your old debit card after you receive and activate the new one. Throwing away an intact card without shredding it means someone could easily steal your financial information.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Endorsing a Check for a Minor

Guide to Endorsing a Check for a Minor

Endorsing a check for a minor is a pretty straightforward process. It means printing their name on the back of the check and designating them as a minor. Then, print your name and define your relationship to the minor. Third, sign underneath your name. Finally, it’s a good idea to write the account number so the bank can deposit the check into the appropriate account.

That said, handling a check for your child can raise some issues. After all, how do you endorse a check for a minor if they don’t have a bank account? Fortunately, most banks and credit unions allow parents to deposit such checks into their accounts. You can also use a check made out to a minor as an opportunity to open a custodial account and begin your child’s financial education.

Here are the details on endorsing a check for a minor and how it can facilitate financial literacy.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

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


What Is a Check Endorsement?

A check endorsement is when you sign the back of a check that’s been made out to you. Signing your name on the back and providing your account number allow you to deposit or cash the check. If you have a joint bank account, one or both account holders should sign the check.

Signing over a check is also possible. This is a process that allows you to transfer the right to deposit the check to someone else.

Process of Endorsing a Check for a Minor

Endorsing a check for a minor is similar to endorsing a check for yourself, with a few extra steps in the process. Here’s how to endorse a check for a minor.

•   Flip the check so its back is facing upwards. Print the minor’s name where the endorsement section is. Following the printed name, add a hyphen and write “minor.”

•   Below the minor’s name, print your full name. Following your name, add a hyphen and write the best word that describes your relationship to the minor such as parent or guardian.

•   Finally, sign the check and write your account or the minor’s custodial account number.

Recommended: How Do You Write a Check to Yourself?

Can a Check Made to a Minor Be Deposited Into the Parent’s Account?

Guidelines vary among banks and credit unions for depositing a child’s check into a parent’s account. Generally, banks and credit unions will deposit checks made out to children into the parent’s account. Banks and credit unions usually do this when the child doesn’t have a bank account.

Either way, ask your bank or credit union for their endorsement policy on the child’s checks and endorse them as instructed to ensure you can deposit the check. You may need to provide supplemental documents and your child’s ID.

On the other hand, your bank might encourage you to open a bank account for a minor; you may also hear this referred to as a custodial account for your child. While this account is separate from yours, you’ll control it until your child turns 18 or older.

A custodial account is an excellent way to teach kids money management and show them how to use banking services. Although a minor isn’t technically unbanked if they don’t have a custodial account, opening one can help them acclimate to banks and credit unions and set them up for financial success as an adult.

Recommended: What Does It Mean to Be Unbanked?

Tips for Endorsing a Check for a Minor

With money becoming increasingly digital, matters such as ordering checks and handling them can be challenging for people of all ages. Follow these tips to have a smooth experience when endorsing a check for a minor.

•   Ask your bank for their rules and conditions for how to endorse a check for a minor.

•   Read the front of the check to verify your child is the payee.

•   Print your child’s name and your name on the back and specify who each person is (minor and parent).

•   Adding your account number or your child’s custodial account number under your signature ensures the bank will deposit the money in the correct account.

•   Keep in mind how long checks are good for. Typically, checks expire after six months, so it’s best to endorse and deposit them as soon as possible. In addition, hanging onto a check without depositing it increases the chance of losing it.

Getting Your Child Started With Banking

Opening a bank account for a minor can introduce your child to healthy money management and improve financial literacy. Here are some tips for parents who want to show their children the ropes.

•   Open a custodial bank account. Shop around for a custodial account for your child that can earn an annual percentage yield (APY) and charge no fees. In addition, you can deposit your child’s checks into this account to grow their savings.

   Plus, these accounts usually give control to the parent until your child reaches 18 or older and can take over. You may hear these accounts referred to as UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) accounts.

   However, for some accounts for minors, your bank may allow joint control between the child and the parent. This may be referred to as kids’ bank accounts at some financial institutions.

•   Involve your child in the process. Instead of managing the custodial account alone, bring your child to the bank to help open the account. They can bring their identification and speak with the banking staff. Ask ahead of time if they offer memorable experiences for children, such as viewing the safe deposit boxes. The more your child enjoys the bank or credit union, the more they may interact with their account.

•   Remind your child that saving is vital. Again, bringing in a real-world example can help. For instance, the next time you have an unexpected expense such as a car repair or emergency dental work, use it as a teaching moment. Explain that saving money helps smooth out financial bumps in the road.

•   Explain financial fundamentals. For example, teaching your child about compound interest can motivate them to save more. You can also create a budget showing what their allowance income lets them afford each month and set long-term goals, such as buying a scooter.

•   Keep up the flow of information as your child gets older. While a first-grader isn’t ready to peruse financial documents, middle-schoolers can begin to understand how to read an account statement from their custodial account. Likewise, your child’s first job can provide a lesson about paychecks and income taxes.

   In addition, the prevalence of phone and internet use has given rise to financial scams over text messages and email. It’s wise to educate and warn kids about this so they don’t become a victim.

The Takeaway

Endorsing a check for a minor requires an additional step or two compared to endorsing your own; the trick is knowing what information you need. Whether you deposit the money into your account or your child’s custodial account, the endorsement process is an opportunity to expose your child to the world of banking. It’s never too early to teach financial literacy, and depositing checks at the bank is a great jumping-off point.

When thinking about your own banking choices, it’s wise to look for multiple better banking features. When you open an online SoFi Checking and Savings account, for instance, you can take advantage of a competitive APY and not pay any account fees that can nibble away at your balance. Plus, SoFi offers features like Vaults and Roundups to help savings grow faster, and qualifying accounts with direct deposit can get paycheck access up to two days early.

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

FAQ

Can a child endorse a check?

A child too young to write or sign their name cannot endorse a check. For older children, banks and credit unions generally require parents to write and sign their name under the child’s name. They also must include their relationship to the child and add the account number for the deposit.

Can a minor deposit a check into their own account?

A minor can deposit a check into their account if their parent or guardian endorses it and if the minor is old enough to use banking services. Each bank or credit union sets rules for how old a minor must be to access banking services.

Can you use mobile deposit to endorse a check to a minor?

You can use the mobile deposit to endorse a check for a minor by printing their name on the back of a check with a hyphen and the word “minor.” Then, under the minor’s name, print your name with a hyphen and the word “parent” or another descriptor for your relationship with the minor. Then, sign the back and write your account number or the minor’s custodial account number. Lastly, use your phone to complete the check’s mobile deposit.

How can a minor cash a check?

A minor can cash a check if their parent or guardian endorses it and the minor is old enough to use banking services. Each bank or credit union determines the age requirements for banking services.


Photo credit: iStock/Drazen Zigic

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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Checking Account vs Debit Card

Checking Account vs. Debit Card: What’s the Difference?

Checking accounts and debit cards are both key to storing and accessing your money for making everyday payments. Think about how often you use them as you pay bills, grab a latte, and check your balance to see if you can afford some new shoes.

Though they are linked, they are two separate financial tools — and it’s possible (though uncommon) to have one without the other.

So what’s the difference between a checking account and debit card? Read on to learn the full story, including:

•   What is a checking account?

•   What is a debit card?

•   Can you have a debit card without a checking account?

•   What are the pros and cons of checking accounts?

•   What are the pros and cons of debit cards?

•   How can you find the right checking account and debit card for you?

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

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


What Is a Checking Account?

A checking account is a type of bank account that allows you to access your money when you need it for paying bills or making purchases. Unlike other deposit accounts (like saving accounts), checking accounts allow you to make regular withdrawals by writing checks, swiping your debit card for purchases, or taking money out of an ATM.

Most checking accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or NCUA (National Credit Union Administration), meaning your funds are protected up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank, per ownership category. You can typically fund your checking account through bank transfers and via direct deposit from your employer.

You can also connect your checking account to a peer-to-peer payment app like Venmo or Cash App to send money to and receive money from friends and family. Some banks may even offer built-in payment programs through their mobile apps.

Some checking accounts charge monthly fees while in other situations you can open a free checking account. Banks charging fees for accounts may offer ways to waive the fees. Other “fine print” details to consider when selecting a checking account include minimum balance requirements, overdraft fees, and annual percentage yield (APY).

Recommended: How Much Money Do You Need to Open a Checking Account?

What Is a Debit Card?

A debit card is a form of payment that gives you access to the funds in your checking account.

You can use a debit card online and in person to make purchases, wherever that card is accepted. You can even add your debit card to mobile wallets, like Apple Pay or Google Pay. You typically must use a unique personal identification number (PIN) to use the card for in-person purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Unlike a credit card that allows you to loan money from the card issuer, a debit card only gives you access to the funds in your checking account. If you don’t have enough funds in your account to cover a purchase, the transaction may be declined or you may overdraw the account (and face overdraft fees).

You can also use a debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs. Most banks and credit unions offer a network of fee-free ATMs where you can safely take out cash without incurring charges. You may also be able to request cash back at the point of sale at some businesses when paying with your debit card.

While we typically think of debit cards as a component of a checking account, consumers without a checking account can purchase a prepaid debit card, load funds onto it, and spend it at stores like a bank debit card.

Do You Automatically Get a Debit Card When Opening a Checking Account?

Most checking accounts come with debit cards nowadays, but it’s always a good idea to confirm before opening up a new account. Upon account creation, the bank or credit union will generally send your debit card in the mail. In some cases, you may have to request the debit card.

Not all debit cards are created equal. When looking for a checking account with a debit card, you may want to prioritize one that:

•   Has a large network of ATMs

•   Doesn’t charge fees for card replacements

•   Doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees

•   Offers cash back on debit card purchases.

Can You Have a Checking Account Without Having a Debit Card?

While most checking accounts come with debit cards these days, it’s still possible to encounter a checking account that doesn’t have a debit card. However, you’re more likely to find a checking account that no longer supplies free paper checks to members.

Debit Card vs. Checking Account

Let’s break down the difference between a checking account vs. a debit card.

Checking AccountDebit Card
Deposit account at bank or credit union that is typically federally insuredA card that allows you to make purchases and withdraw cash, typically tied to a checking account
May earn interestMay earn cash back
May have monthly maintenance feesMay have foreign transaction fees and overdraft fees
Can be used for online transactionsCan often be used for online transactions
Can be linked to P2P appCan be linked to P2P app
Federally insuredInsured if tied to insured account

The best way to think about the difference between checking accounts and debit cards? A checking account is a deposit account for storing and spending your money; a debit card is a common tool to access the money in that deposit account.

Pros and Cons of Checking Accounts

Now that you know how a debit card vs. checking account stacks up, here’s a closer look at checking accounts. These accounts are a staple of personal finance and, as such, offer plenty of benefits to consumers. There are also some downsides to be aware of.

Here are some of the pros and cons of checking accounts:

Pros

•   Easy access to funds: A checking account allows you to make purchases (in person or online), pay bills, and receive direct deposit paychecks.

•   Security: Checking accounts are typically insured by the FDIC or NCUA.

•   Banking benefits: Depending on the checking account, you may enjoy premium features like mobile check deposit, automatic savings tools, and early paycheck access.

Cons

Checking accounts have a specific and necessary purpose for most consumers, but they do have drawbacks:

•   Low or no interest: In terms of checking vs. savings accounts, checking accounts typically have low APYs — if they earn interest at all.

•   Fees: Some checking accounts may have monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, account inactivity fees, and other charges that can add up.

•   Minimum balance requirements: Some checking accounts may require you to maintain a specific amount of funds in your account. They may also require a minimum deposit to open the account.

Here are the pros and cons of checking accounts in chart form:

Pros of a Checking AccountCons of a Checking Account
Easy access to fundsLow or no interest
SecurityFees
Banking benefitsMinimum balance requirements

Pros and Cons of Debit Cards

To better understand the difference between a debit card and a checking account, it can be helpful to consider debit cards’ unique features. These cards also have their fair share of pros and cons.

Pros

Advantages of debit cards include:

•   Easy way to spend and withdraw cash: Debit cards are more convenient than paper checks and give you quick access to your cash at ATMs.

•   No risk of debt: Unlike credit cards, debit cards don’t let you spend money on credit. This means you don’t risk overspending and falling into high-interest credit card debt.

•   No fees or interest: Debt isn’t the only risk of credit cards. You also have to worry about annual fees and annual percentage rates (APRs) when opening a credit card. Neither applies to debit cards.

Cons

Debit cards have drawbacks, as well:

•   Less fraud protection: Credit cards may pose more debt risk, but they typically offer better fraud protection than debit cards.

•   Ability to overdraft: Some banks and credit unions charge fees if you accidentally overdraft using your debit card.

•   Daily spend limits: Your debit card likely has a daily spend limit, and it may be less than you think (possibly $300 or $400). Before using your card for a big purchase, you may want to check with your bank to see if they need to increase the limit temporarily.

Take a look at how these pros and cons look in chart form:

Pros of a Debit CardCons of a Debit Card
Easy way to spend and withdraw cashLess fraud protection
No risk of debtAbility to overdraft
No fees or interestDaily spend limits

Tips for Finding the Right Checking Account and Debit Card

How can you find the right checking account and debit card for you? Each person’s banking needs are different, but here are a few tips to get you started:

•   Think about the features that are right for you: It’s likely that no checking account will tick all the boxes for you, so it’s a good idea to make a list of the most important features of your ideal checking account. Maybe you want an interest-bearing account that also has a cashback debit card, or perhaps you just want a standard account with no monthly fees or overdraft fees. Deciding on your wish list will help you narrow down the options.

•   Ask friends and family: Getting recommendations from people you trust is a great way to instill confidence in any big financial decision.

•   Consider online banking: Online banks can often offer lower (or no) fees and higher interest rates because of their low overhead. With the advent of mobile banking, including mobile check deposit, online bill pay, and P2P payments, you may find that you don’t miss your brick-and-mortar bank — while enjoying the checking and debit features.

•   Bank in one place: It’s possible to have checking and savings accounts at separate institutions, but you may appreciate the convenience of banking in one place (or in one app). If you already have a credit card or savings account with a specific institution, it might be worth researching their checking account and debit card offerings.

Banking With SoFi

Looking for a new checking account with a debit card? Open an online bank account with SoFi. Our Checking and Savings account allows you to unlock a wealth of banking features, including a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), no account fees, automatic savings tools, and cashback on select local purchases when swiping your debit card.

Bank smarter with SoFi, and see why people love the SoFi debit card and Checking and Savings Account.

FAQ

Is a checking account a debit card?

A checking account is not a debit card. Rather, a debit card is a common way for consumers to spend and withdraw cash from their checking accounts.

Can you withdraw cash without a debit card?

It is possible to withdraw cash without a debit card. If your bank has a physical branch, you can go in person to take out funds. Some banks offer ATM cards for ATM withdrawals, and others may even offer cardless ATMs that allow you to access your funds through a mobile app.

Do checking accounts come with a debit card?

Most checking accounts come with a debit card. The bank may automatically send you the card upon account creation, but in some cases, you may have to request the card before the bank will send it.


Photo credit: iStock/Phiromya Intawongpan

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Save Money on Furniture: 13 Helpful Tips

13 Money-Saving Tips When Buying Furniture

Buying furniture can be a major expense, especially in this era of quickly rising prices. Some shoppers are holding off making purchases: Inflation is pinching consumers across all income levels, and home furnishings sales are falling.

Still, if you don’t have a bundle of cash earmarked for furniture shopping but need to decorate a space (hello, newlyweds, roomies, and downsizers), you can learn how to save money buying furniture and score great finds. Here, learn how to save money on furniture with surprising techniques, including:

•   Finding free pieces at the curb

•   Lucking out with returned or floor-model items

•   Getting the timing right for sales

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

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


How Much Do People Spend on Furniture a Year?

As of 2021, the average expenditure on furniture per family (or single person household) was about $716 in the United States. In more affluent households, the average annual spend was $1,490 in 2021.

Recommended: 10 Most Common Budgeting Mistakes

What Are Some Costs to Consider With Furniture?

When shopping for furniture, remember that it’s not just the cost of the table or chair you might be buying. You’ll also need to build in these extra expenses:

•   Taxes.

•   Shipping or delivery fees.

•   Extra costs for assembly or for getting a piece up the stairs or around the hall corner and into a room.

•   Possibly paying to have the old piece you are replacing (a bed or sofa, for example) removed.

•   Stain-resistant treatments on upholstered furniture, which generally add to the value and longevity of a sofa, chair, or headboard.

Recommended: Questions You Should Ask Before Making an Impulse Buy

Saving Money on Furniture: 13 Ways

Now, for the details of how to save money buying furniture. Here are some smart secrets to try.

1. Shopping Curb Discards

Many towns have bulky waste pickup days, and savvy people know to cruise curbs around town on those dates. You could find anything from still functional bookcases to an antique side table to patio furniture to a great lamp or two. It’s generally safer to avoid mattresses, box springs and upholstered furniture due to the possibility that bed bugs are lurking.

2. Signing Up at Sites You Love

Many online retailers are eager to get your email address and/or cell phone number as a “subscriber” so they can alert you to sales and special offers. In exchange for this information, they may dangle discount or free shipping codes for your first order. Yes, these messages can clog your inbox, but you can always unsubscribe once you score the furniture deals you want.

3. Buying Directly From the Manufacturer

Another idea for how to save money on furniture: Go straight to the source. For more than 50 years, shoppers have been buying well-made furniture from manufacturers at Hickory Furniture Mart in Hickory, North Carolina. The Mart unites local independent furniture retailers, including custom order showrooms, factory direct outlets, furniture outlets, and dedicated manufacturers’ galleries. Check their website to see the various vendors available.

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

4. Checking Out Furniture In Person Before Clicking Online

Many consumers are confident enough to order items online, but with big purchases like a sofa, it can help to see products up close (and sit on them) first. See if your local department store stocks the sofa you have seen online or other pieces made by that brand, so you can get a feel for the fabric, design, and construction. That could save you the time, effort, and cost of having to return an item.

5. Considering the Upcycling Option

Many things are upcycled now for a more sustainable planet with less of a carbon footprint. That means taking something that could have ended up in the trash and turning it into treasure. Paint a lamp and pop on a new shade, for example, or refinish a worn out table or dresser to refresh its good looks and perhaps pop on some new hardware, too.

Recommended: Ways to Save Money While Living Sustainably

6. Planning a Realistic Budget for Your New Home

Are you starting from scratch to furnish a home? Experts say a furnishing budget generally depends on the size of a new residence. You might make a budget based on a percentage of the total cost of your home. Your furniture/decorating budget might range from a low of 10% to a high of 50% of the home’s purchase price, depending on your finances. And certainly, with the shopping hacks listed here, you can whittle that down.

Recommended: Tips for Furnishing a New Home

7. Turning Down Store Credit Cards

Department or furniture store credit cards can often run up staggering interest rates, something you definitely do not want when buying furniture. If at all possible, save enough money to pay for furniture in full and with cash or debit card.

8. Building Your Own Furniture

Could you DIY something, like a bookshelf, wood bench, or Shaker-style dresser? Good old YouTube has videos to teach you.

Recommended: Why Saving Money Is Important

9. Buying Secondhand

Another idea for how to save on furniture: Buy used vs. new. For starters, check Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for deals. Many people are paring back or moving and want to get rid of things without adding them to a landfill. You can also look for bargains at antique stores, flea markets, garage sales, and thrift shops.

Recommended: Tips for Buying Furniture on a Budget

10. Staying Tuned In to Sales Seasons

To cut costs, know when prices are likely to be lower. Desk chairs and office furniture are often on sale in the fall. Cyber Monday can be a huge opportunity for savings of all kinds. Ask the salesperson when prices will dip to make way for new merchandise on the sales floor.

Recommended: Best Time to Purchase Furniture

11. Creating a Gift Registry

You might be able to get loved ones to help a bit with the cost of furniture; group gifting options on your wishlist items could allow several people to chip in. This is, as you might guess, especially popular for couples starting their lives together. Crate & Barrel, for example, often offers perks, such as free shipping (at a certain spend threshold) and 15% discounts on wedding registry purchases.

12. Finding a Local Auction

Here’s another way to save on furniture: Check out local auctions. You might be able to find old treasures, from sideboards to headboards, that make great statement pieces at an affordable price. Estate sales are also good sources for items like these.

13. Shopping for Returned or Slightly Damaged Items

If you can live with furniture that isn’t brand new and untouched by anyone else, you could score some great deals. On the Pottery Barn website, for instance, search for Open Box Deals, which are returned items that sell at discounted prices. Sometimes it’s just that someone didn’t like the color. In furniture showrooms, inquire about slightly damaged items (perhaps a table has a scratch you barely notice) and also ask about floor models.

The Takeaway

With the right shopping skills in your toolkit, you can save money on buying furniture. By employing smart strategies, such as scouring estate sales and thrift shops, buying returned items, and negotiating on the sales floor, you can save a bundle on great-looking as you furnish your home.

3 Money Tips

  1. If you’re saving for a short-term goal — whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or the down payment on a house — consider opening a high-yield savings account. The higher APY that you’ll earn will help your money grow faster, but the funds stay liquid, so they are easy to access when you reach your goal.
  2. If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.
  3. When you overdraft your checking account, you’ll likely pay a non-sufficient fund fee of, say, $35. Look into linking a savings account to your checking account as a backup to avoid that, or shop around for a bank that doesn’t charge you for overdrafting.
Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Is it better to buy used or new furniture?

This is not a question of better or worse. Some shoppers prefer snagging deals on used furniture and enjoy hunting for pieces such as a vintage oak dresser at a thrift shop. Others want new pieces, either because they prefer the style or they like the idea of owning something that has no wear. It’s a matter of personal taste, though buying used pieces, in addition to costing less, may help keep pieces out of landfill and sync with eco values.

What should I look out for when purchasing furniture?

Search for styles, colors, and lines you love, as well as comfort and function. A desk won’t help you out if it doesn’t have the drawer space you need, and a sofa is a fail if it’s not comfy and solidly made. Also look for solid wood, not composites or laminates, if you want a long-lasting quality piece. Some pieces (such as an upholstered chair) may come with warranties against wear and tear and stains.

Where can I purchase used furniture?

As more people strive for sustainability and resist tossing away furniture, options abound for finding used pieces. Check thrift shops, donation centers, secondhand stores, estate sales, garage sales, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.


Photo credit: iStock/Vanit Janthra

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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

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