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7 Ways To Simplify Your Finances

Sometimes, there’s nothing easy about money. The older you get, the more obligations you may have. Between checking, savings, IRAs, 401(k)s, bills, loans, mortgages, and more—it can be a lot to keep track of and manage.

If thinking about your finances causes you to feel stressed and/or you find yourself putting off important financial decisions, it may be time to simplify. While streamlining your personal finances can take a little bit of time and effort in the short term, it can end up saving you time, effort, as well as money, over the long haul.

Here are seven simple moves that can help you manage your money more efficiently–and more effectively.

1. Automating Your Bills

One of the easiest ways to simplify your finances is to set up auto payment whenever possible. Putting all of your bills–including credit cards, utilities, insurance, loans, mortgage, and even rent–on autopilot can save you significant time and hassle each month. Plus, you won’t have to worry about late payments–or late fees.

You can often set up automatic payments for your bills by going to the website of the service provider and inputting your bank account information.

If a business doesn’t offer an automatic payment program, you may be able to set up a recurring payment through your bank by logging on to your checking account or using your bank’s mobile app.

2. Going Paperless

A major culprit of personal finance-related headaches is paperwork. Keeping track of the many documents—all those receipts, investment reports, bank statements, tax returns-—can be a struggle.

Many services allow you to opt-in to a paperless experience instead. You’ll typically have access to all of the documents when you log into your account. And, with everything just a click away, you won’t have to worry about finding misplaced paper documents.

If you’re interested in leveling up your organization, you could even set up a digitized archive of your important information and files on your computer or an external hard drive, so you never have to spend hours searching through file cabinets and miscellaneous envelopes.

You can also reduce physical–and mental clutter by taking advantage of the many retailers and service providers that offer email, rather than paper, receipts. Or, you may want to consider getting an app that scans, organizes, and stores receipts, such as Smart Receipts .

You can also get an app for filing and organizing your paperless statements. FileThis , for example, not only captures receipts, but also seeks out your online statements and bills and automatically downloads and files them to the cloud.

3. Consolidating Accounts

Whether you’re married with three kids or single with two Labradoodles, there’s a good chance that you have more financial accounts than you need. Consolidating multiple bank accounts into just a few can help simplify your financial life. In some cases, it can also help you save you money.

If you’ve done a lot of job hopping in your career, for example, you could have multiple 401(k)s floating around. When you leave a company but don’t roll over your 401(k), you’re often subject to fees that your employer may have been covering while you were employed.

By rolling your 401(k) into an IRA, you may be able to minimize fees. Another plus is that you’ll also have all of your funds in one spot. And, you may be able to select from a wider selection of funds and investments than the ones selected by your previous employer.

If you have more than one checking and savings account, you may want to see if you can pare it down to one of each, ideally under the same roof. Or, you might want to consider switching to a cash management account, which functions as both a spending and saving account in one product.

You may also want to look at bundling your insurance policies. Many companies offer substantial discounts if they write both your auto and homeowner’s policies.

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4. Using One Credit Card

If you signed up for a variety of credit cards, chasing the promised rewards they offered, you may have racked up more than a few credit accounts.

To make it easier to keep track of your spending, you may want to pick the card that offers you the most in return, whether that’s cash back, travel rewards, or other perks, and focus on using only that credit card.

By putting everything on one card, you’ll only have one credit card bill to pay each month, a single statement to monitor for errors and fraud, and one rewards program to track. Plus, you won’t have to think about which card to pull out whenever you’re making a purchase.

Rather than canceling your other cards (which could negatively impact your credit score), you may want to just store them away in a secure place.

5. Knocking Down Debt

One of the most effective ways to reduce financial stress is to get rid of high interest debts.

Paying off even one sizable credit card or loan can not only ease worry, but can also reduce the number of financial obligations you have to deal with each month. It can also free up money that you can then put towards something else, whether that’s getting rid of other debts or something fun like a vacation.

Two common strategies for paying off debt are the debt snowball and debt avalanche method.

With the debt snowball method, you list your debts in order of size, then put any extra money you have towards the debt with the smallest balance, while paying the minimum on the others. When that debt is paid off, you tackle the next-smallest debt, and so on. Paying off debts in full can help you feel accomplished, simplify your life, and inspire you to continue crushing your debt.

With the debt avalanche method of paying off debt, you list your debts in order of interest rate, then focus on putting extra money towards the debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum on the rest. When that debt is paid off, you put extra money towards the debt with the next-highest interest rate. While it may take you longer to see progress on your loans, you’ll likely pay less money in interest over time using this method.

6. Putting Saving on Autopilot

The set-it-and-forget-it approach can be highly effective when it comes to saving money. For one reason, you don’t have to remember to transfer money from your checking to your savings each month. For another, the money will get whisked out of your checking account before you ever have a chance to spend it.

You can automate savings in just a few minutes by setting up a recurring transfer from your checking to your savings account for a set amount of money on the same day each month (perhaps the day after you paycheck clears).

Even if you can only afford to transfer a small amount each month, it can be worth automating this task. Since the savings will happen every month no matter what, your savings will gradually build over time.

7. Focusing on Fewer Goals

It can be great to have financial goals. Many of us have plans to buy a home, put kids through college, and pay for our retirement. But if you set too many goals at one time, you can end up losing focus, and not making any progress on any of them.

A better approach can be to set just one or two goals to fully focus on at one time. Ideally, one should be saving for retirement, since the earlier you start saving for retirement the easier it is to reach your goal.

The other goal might be paying off your credit card debt or student loans, saving for a down payment on a home, or putting money aside to help pay for your kids’ college education.

By focusing your energy on just one or two specific goals, you may be able to make real headway. Once you start seeing progress–or actually achieve the goal–you’ll likely be inspired to set, and accomplish, other goals.

The Takeaway

Simplifying your financial life may take a bit of legwork up front, but in the long run, it can help alleviate stress and also help you better plan for your financial future.

Strategies that can help you simplify your finances include paring down the number of accounts you have, crossing off debts, automating monthly tasks like paying bills and transferring money to savings, and focusing your efforts on just one or two financial goals at a time.

Another move that can help make it easier to manage and track your money is to open a cash management account, such as SoFi Money®. With SoFi Money, you can earn competitive interest, save, and spend all in one account.

Learn how SoFi Money can help you simplify your financial life.


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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Understanding Bankruptcy: Is it Ever the Right Option?

Filing for bankruptcy can be a chance to eliminate a great deal of financial stress, put an end to collection calls and letters, and provide an opportunity to remake your financial life.

Even so, declaring bankruptcy is not something you should take lightly.

While bankruptcy can, in some cases, reduce or eliminate your debts, it also has serious consequences, including long-term damage to your credit score. That, in turn, can hamper your ability to obtain new lines or credit, and even make it difficult to get a job.

As you think about filing for bankruptcy, here are some things to consider.

What Does it Mean to File Bankruptcy?

For individuals, there are two main kinds of bankruptcy:

Chapter 7: Also known as “liquidation bankruptcy,” this is bankruptcy in its most basic form. With this type of bankruptcy, your nonexempt possessions, such as homes and cars, are sold to repay existing debts. After this, many (if not all) of your debts are canceled outright in a four- to six-month process.

Chapter 13: Also known as a “reorganization bankruptcy,” this is a court-approved plan in which you use your income to make payments on your debts over a three- to five-year period. Some of your debts may also be discharged.

The main difference between the two options is that Chapter 7 allows the debtor to eliminate all dischargeable unsecured debt, whereas Chapter 12 allows for payments to be made on those debts.

You may be prevented from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you earn enough income to repay your debts in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan. On the other hand, you may not qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if your debts are too high or your income too low.

Some debts, like child support obligations, alimony, student loans, and some tax obligations, cannot be wiped out in either type of bankruptcy.

Also, bankruptcy won’t relieve you of your obligation to pay your mortgage, though it might make your mortgage payments easier to make by getting rid of other debts.

If you have substantial equity in your home, you could potentially lose it if you file for Chapter 7. If you file for Chapter 13, you can keep your home and pay off any mortgage arrears through your repayment plan.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years, while Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on the report for 10 years.

When To Consider Bankruptcy as a Solution

Life circumstances and financial situations can vary significantly from person to person, so there is no hard and fast rule for when to declare bankruptcy.

However, you may want to start by asking yourself the following questions:

• Are you unclear on exactly how much you currently owe?
• Are you only able to make minimum payments on your credit cards?
• Are you getting calls from debt collectors?
• Does the idea of solving your financial problems make you feel hopeless, out of control, or scared?
• Are you using your credit card to pay for necessities?
• Are you thinking about debt consolidation?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you may want to at the very least give your financial situation more thought and attention.

You may also want to start doing some research (or, if possible, speak with a consumer law attorney) to see if your debt qualifies for bankruptcy, as well as how filing for bankruptcy would affect your life and financial situation.

Alternatives to Bankruptcy

While bankruptcy can sometimes be the best way to get out from under crushing financial burdens, it is not the only way. There are alternatives that can often reduce your debt obligations without some of the negative consequences of bankruptcy. Here are a few you may want to consider.

Credit Counseling

A counselor or counseling service specializing in helping people with debt problems might be able to come up with a solution that has not occurred to you, such as a modified payment plan or debt consolidation.

According to the Federal Trade Commission , you’ll want to look for a nonprofit credit counseling program, such as those offered by universities, military bases, credit unions, housing authorities, and branches of the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service.

You can also find a nonprofit agency that offers bankruptcy counseling through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling .

You may also want to keep in mind that not all not all nonprofit organizations offer free services, so it’s a good idea to do your research before you sign up for counseling services.

Negotiating with your Creditors

Creditors would often rather settle a debt with you than have it discharged in bankruptcy. Debt settlement is an agreement between you and your creditors that you will pay a lump sum, possibly far below what you owe, in order to settle the matter.

But it may not be quite as lovely as it sounds. The creditors take a loss, and likely so will your credit score. You’ll also still need to pay taxes on the forgiven amount, because it will be considered revenue (money you’re getting back).

There are debt settlement companies out there to help you negotiate with creditors, but not all of them are created equal—some of them charge steep fees and can’t guarantee they will get you the settlement that makes the most sense for you.

It’s a good idea to carefully vet any debt settlement company you are considering working with.

Cutting Back on Expenses

You may want to give some deep thought to the way you live and currently spend your money. Your lifestyle and financial habits may be what inched you toward bankruptcy in the first place. A good way to start is to set up a personal budget, which involves looking at what’s coming in and what’s going out each month, and then looking for places to trim spending.

Even small steps, like making your own lunch, walking instead of burning gas, keeping the heat or air conditioning use to a minimum, and brewing your own coffee could help you free up money that can go toward paying your debt.

While it can be tough to live on a budget at first, with time, you may find yourself becoming more solvent and less burdened.

Debt Consolidation

With debt consolidation, you roll all your debts into one new loan account, preferably with a lower interest rate. This can enable you to pay off your past-due amounts and make one monthly payment going forward.

Having just one payment may make it easier to manage your existing debt, and could possibly save you on interest as well.

Refinancing or Modifying Your Mortgage

If your credit is still good enough, you may be able to refinance your mortgage to a new rate that could get your monthly payment low enough that it saves you from bankruptcy.

If you’re not able to refinance at a lower rate, you may be able to qualify for a mortgage modification. A mortgage loan modification is a change in your loan terms that could reduce your monthly payment.

If your lender allows it, it could involve extending the number of years you have to repay the loan, reducing your interest rate, and/or forbearing (or reducing) your principal balance.

You may want to keep in mind, however, that if you receive a loan modification and you still can’t make the payments, you could be at risk of losing your home

The Takeaway

If you have large debts that you can’t repay, are behind in your mortgage payments and in danger of foreclosure, and/or are being harassed by bill collectors, declaring bankruptcy might be a good solution.

Bankruptcy can help you get out from under crushing debt. The process involves either liquidating (or selling off) your assets to pay your debts or adhering to a court-ordered repayment plan.

However, bankruptcy comes with consequences. The information stays on your credit report for seven to 10 years. It can also make it difficult to get credit, buy a home, or sometimes get a job.

Before considering bankruptcy, you may want to first explore other debt management options.

If you’re looking for a better way to manage your spending and saving, you may also want to check out SoFi Money®.

SoFi Money is a cash management account that offers a competitive interest rate for savers and tools to help you track and manage your weekly and monthly spending.

Learn how SoFi Money can help you stay on top of your finances today.


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

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Refinancing a Car Loan—What to Consider

You’ve probably heard of “buyer’s remorse”—that sense of regret people experience after making a big purchase like a car.

What you don’t hear so much about is borrower’s remorse—the dissatisfaction car buyers sometimes feel when they realize the financing they got through the dealer is costing them more than they thought.

Even the toughest hagglers can miss things when they hit the dealership’s business office and begin negotiating loan terms. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pump the brakes, pull over, and try again. Refinancing a car loan certainly isn’t for everyone, but it could be a potential option. If you’re wondering whether refinancing your car loan is a good financial fit for you, read on.

When Refinancing a Car Loan Might Make Sense

Refinancing is the process of getting a new loan that essentially replaces the existing loan. The process involves filing a new loan application and lenders will generally evaluate potential borrowers on factors like their credit score and history in order to determine their new loan terms and interest rate.

Generally, borrowers refinance in order to secure a better interest rate or preferable terms. For example, a lower interest can help borrowers pay less in interest over the life of the loan.

Sometimes, borrowers may extend their repayment to secure lower monthly payments. This can make the loan payments more affordable on a monthly basis but ultimately makes the loan more expensive in the long run. So, when might it make sense to refinance a car loan?

You Think You Can Do Better than that “Dealer-Sourced” Loan

When you finance your car through a dealer, it can feel as though you’re going through some mysterious selection process. Generally, the dealer forwards your information to its chosen lenders, then collects bids that outline the terms they’re willing to offer, including the interest rate. Those offers are presented to you and you make a choice.

Know that you don’t have to buy a car with dealership financing. If you’re interested in buying a car, it’s possible to borrow a loan with a private lender. It may make sense to get pre-approved for a loan before heading to a dealership .

Your Overall Financial Position Has Improved

Perhaps your car loan was offered to you at a time when your finances weren’t as solid as they are now. If that’s the case, and your financial position has improved since you took out a car loan, you may be able to qualify for a personal loan at a better interest rate than your original auto loan. With SoFi’s Personal Loan Calculator, you can compare what you’re currently paying to the estimated payments you might have with a new SoFi loan.

Individual financial circumstances and credit scores aren’t stagnant. Maybe you’ve gotten a better job, or paid off some other debts, or have been working on making consistent payments on debts. Borrowers who’ve seen improvement in their financial situation or credit score , may want to consider refinancing.

Interest Rates Have Improved Since The Borrowing The Original Loan

Another reason to consider refinancing a car loan is if interest rates have changed since you originally bought the car. Interest rates on auto loans are influenced by benchmark rates, like those set by the Federal Reserve.

If the federal reserve rate is low, interest rates for borrowers may also be lower. But as the federal reserve rate increases, the cost of borrowing money is also likely to increase.

Refinancing with a Personal Loan

With an unsecured personal loan, it is possible to apply for the remaining amount of the car loan. If you’re considering car refinancing, you may find that lenders have minimum loan amounts—for example, SoFi’s minimum personal loan amount is $5,000 (and more in some states due to legal requirements).

The length of your current loan is an important consideration, too—but the length of a new loan could also be a deciding factor.

If you can’t pay off the refinanced loan in the same or less time than the one you have scheduled, it may not make sense to apply for a new loan. Yes, potentially lower payments could give you some financial breathing room, but if your goal is to get out of debt, you may want to try to stick to the shortest loan term you can manage.

The Takeaway

Refinancing a car loan may make sense for borrowers who can secure a better interest rate or otherwise more preferable terms than they have on their existing car loan. If a borrower’s financial situation has improved, or if benchmark interest rates have fallen, it may make sense to look into refinancing options.

SoFi offers competitive rates to qualifying borrowers and there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties on SoFi personal loans. Lantern by SoFi can also help you find competitive interest rates for auto loan refinancing.

Do your research and run the numbers. Life doesn’t always offer do-overs, but refinancing a car loan may make sense in certain situations.

If you’re considering refinancing, see how a personal loan from SoFi might be able to help.


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.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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Is Getting an MBA Worth It_780x440: Getting an MBA won’t be right for everyone, but it could be one way to advance your career.

Is Getting an MBA Worth It?

The question of whether it’s worthwhile to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration—an advanced and versatile degree that can help people ascend into management analysis and/or strategy roles—is a highly personal one without a real single objective answer. As usual with financial and personal decisions, the answer tends to be “it depends.”

The last decade has seen the MBA go from becoming the most popular master’s degree in the U.S. to “being in crisis,” with overall applications declining. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many schools expanding their policies and modalities for distance learning, so it’s still anyone’s guess what impact that will have on the MBA’s popularity and employer demand. Either way, it’s never a bad idea to consider betting on your future—and an MBA is still a big commitment. Here are some things to consider when deciding to pursue an MBA.

The Pros and Cons of Getting an MBA

Getting an MBA won’t be right for everyone, but it could be one way to advance your career. Here are some things to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of getting an MBA.

Pros to Consider

Improved earning potential. The average anticipated salary for MBA graduates entering the workforce is $79,043 according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. A recent grad’s expected salary may be even higher depending on where a student gets their MBA. According to US News & World Report, the average salary for 2019 MBA graduates at the top 129 full-time MBA programs was $106,757. For top 10 programs, the average salary and bonus was $173,960.

But if you’re wondering if it’s worth getting an MBA from a lower tier school, consider that the average MBA salary for graduates with a degree from the 10 schools where compensation was lowest was just $52,720 .

Expanded Network. Business school can be a great opportunity to make friends and network with like-minded individuals. In addition to your peers in the program, you’ll engage with faculty and be introduced to a (hopefully robust) alumni network.

Career Acceleration or Transition. Successful completion of an MBA program can improve an individual’s career mobility. Coursework is often designed to encourage management skills, critical thinking, and other specialized skills, which can help prepare people for the workforce.

Cons to Consider

The cost. According to US News & World Report , in 2020 the average cost of the top 10 business schools in the United States was over $140,000 for tuition in a two-year MBA program. The most recent data available from the National Center of Education Statistics indicates that during the 2015-16 school year, the average MBA student loan debt was $66,300 at the time of graduation.

There are ways to mitigate the cost or to at least lower sticker shock out of the gate by pursuing part-time programs or staggering your course load over a longer period of time so you can still be drawing a salary to offset the costs while you’re studying.

Time commitment. Getting an MBA in a full-time program can take two years. There are some accelerated programs that may allow students to complete their coursework in 12 to 16 months. Beyond the length of the program, MBA classes are no joke. The coursework requires commitment and diligence, so be sure you have the time to dedicate to classes.

Consider factoring in the application process when evaluating both time and cost. To apply, schools may require GMAT™ scores, letters of recommendation, and more. Meeting the application requirements may take both time and money if you still need to take the required standardized tests.

How to Decide If an MBA Is Worth It for You

While an MBA can offer great potential for career growth, it’s definitely not the right choice for everyone. Be honest with yourself about why you want to pursue an MBA. It can be an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in career growth but it can be a huge time and monetary commitment.

Take the time to really evaluate whether getting an MBA is in line with your career and personal goals. Also understand the types of schools you may be able to get into, as the earning potential for someone who attended a top-tier school isn’t the same as someone who is enrolled in a lower-tier program.

When sitting down to crunch the numbers and assess your goals, pay particular attention to long-term salary projections among graduates from the program you have in mind—assuming future earning potential is a primary motivator for getting an MBA. Debt may be offset by future salary. But because signing on for grad school is a big and expensive decision overall, it’s worth considering all angles.

How to Pay for an MBA

One approach to college programs is to first seek fellowships, scholarships, and grants—and to then pay for costs out of pocket or to seek a loan as a last resort. Unlike undergraduate scholarships, which may be based on financial needs, MBA fellowships and grants are often awarded on merit. That means rather than taking financial need into account, oftentimes programs will be looking at a student’s achievements, talents, abilities, and performance in spite of hardship.

Generally speaking, when trying for a merit-based award, it helps to apply early, really ponder how you’re distinct from your competition, and push yourself to craft your application specifically for the program. Admissions folks and fellowship committees spend a lot of time reading a ton of applications and can tell instantly when an essay has been rubber-stamped—spell check, read your application over repeatedly, and don’t rush any aspect of it.

When in doubt, consider calling the admissions office for guidance or for information on programs and awards that may not be fully described online. But many MBA programs, including, for example NYU Stern, clearly indicates that “about 20-25% of admitted full-time two-year MBA students receive a merit-based scholarship.” NYU Stern’s website runs down many of the possible scholarships and fellowships prospective students can try for and what’s required.

Review fellowship opportunities available at the college or university you are interested in attending. Fellowships can be highly competitive and rare but offer a chance to attend a program, earn a degree, and avoid incurring the full cost of tuition. Not all schools offer them, but the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business and Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business are just two examples of ones that do.

It might sound like an incredible long shot to earn a full free ride or even a considerably discounted one via aid—but it’s always worth pursuing because you may be closer than you think.

Recommended: How To Pay For Grad School

Student Loans for Graduate School

Student loans are another option students can use to pay for graduate school. To apply for federal aid, students will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Aid. It’s important to note that the federal loans available for graduate students vs undergraduate students are different. Importantly, graduate students are not eligible for subsidized loans.

While your search for aid often starts with the university’s website and making contact with real humans there—not just going off what’s online—it’s also worth getting on the phone to lenders and finance companies to shop around and get the lay of the land. SoFi offers options to help students refinance existing student loans or to take out a new one. According to The Fed, there is currently over $1.7T in student loan debt . Chances are anyone thinking about school would like to avoid personally contributing to that statistic. Note that refinancing eliminates federal loans from borrower protections like deferment or forbearance.

Recommended: The Lifetime Cost of an MBA Degree

Employer Tuition Reimbursement Programs

In addition to getting on the horn with the schools you’re considering, it’s worth talking to your employer. Some employers have programs where they will pay for all or part of your MBA if you commit to returning and staying with the company for a set number of years after you earn the degree.

A 2019 survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council found that 40% of companies offer education sponsorship . If you’re among the current majority of the 60% other companies, there may still be tuition reimbursement programs—it’s worth at least asking about.

You can also explore business school assistantship programs as a way to offset the cost of tuition. These are jobs that may require you to help school faculty with tasks like conducting research or grading papers, and can also help provide you with a stipend as well to help with personal expenses outside of the debt owed to the school you’re working to erode. Contact your school’s employment office for details—but know that like with every other option to minimize the bill for a degree, the competition is likely to be fierce.

Recommended: How Does Tuition Reimbursement Work?

The Takeaway

Even if you don’t have a few dream graduate schools in mind yet, it’s a good bet you know it’s a pricey proposition and not one to be pursued on a whim. In addition to this article, it would be worth reading our content on how today people are taking on a larger amount of debt for master’s, MBA, law, and medical programs than ever before.

Compared to undergrads, grad students are taking on more debt, taking out loans that come with higher interest rates, and there’s the additional opportunity cost of just time invested in your own life—later in life—that comes with pursuing another degree.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth getting an MBA necessarily, it just means before making the final decision about pursuing it, it’s helpful—necessary even—to sit down, do your homework, and really think it through to develop a strategy and identify where compromises might also be called for.

Like a Bachelor’s, an MBA is not a guarantee of anything in your future. Obtaining an MBA will not magically earn you a better salary, grant you access to a better network, or help you figure out your path in life. Like any degree, an MBA is a tool that might help you quickly pivot your career or “check a box” for earning a promotion with your current employer. Whether that’s worth it depends on your own specific situation and set of goals.

Learn more about student loan refinancing with SoFi.



IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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.

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.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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man on couch using credit card

Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

It’s hard to imagine a world without credit cards. They make it easy to reserve a hotel room, flight, or rental car—and to conveniently purchase gas, groceries, gifts, and more.

Credit cards can help people build credit —and potentially earn cash reward points, among other benefits. With a credit card, you don’t have to carry cash, debit cards, or checks if you don’t want to, plus you can order items with your card and, if they don’t arrive in satisfactory condition, you have some leverage to get your money back (limitations apply).

Credit cards are used by some as short-term loans and, if you pay your balance in full each month by the due date, it’s essentially a no-interest short-term loan (though keep in mind that some credit cards charge an annual fee).

The challenge comes in, of course, when you can’t pay your balance in full in a relatively short time. The average credit card interest rate for existing accounts is a whopping 14.4% , and interest charges add up very quickly.

In this post, we’ll share some very high-level tips that may help you use your accounts responsibly and may help you get your credit card balances under control.

Before we get started, though, we want to point out that none of this should be taken as financial advice. And we know this goes without saying, but always consult a qualified and licensed professional if you feel you need help with your finances.

1. Avoiding Making Too Many Impulse Purchases

How many is “too many” depends upon how much your impulse purchases cost and how easily they fit into your budget.

If you know you can pay off your credit card balances and otherwise meet your monthly expenses and savings goals, then that’s an entirely different situation from one where your impulse purchases are too large to be paid off each month and/or keep you from meeting other financial responsibilities or goals.

If you enjoy making spontaneous buys, then you may consider including this as a line item in your monthly budget and then sticking to it. This could add enjoyment to your life without causing financial problems.

2. Using the Right Credit Card

There are a variety of different types of credit cards and depending on how you plan to use it, one option may make more sense than another. Some credit cards charge an annual fee, while others may offer rewards for certain purchases or cashback, which can be helpful benefits for consumers.

For example, if it will take a few months to pay off a purchase, then it makes sense to use one with the lowest interest rate available. That way, when you do have interest charges, they’ll be as low as possible.

Here’s another scenario. Let’s say you’ve just made a major purchase that you’ve budgeted to pay off in six months. It might make sense to transfer the balance to a zero-interest credit card.

These credit cards typically offer a no-interest introductory period before reverting to the card’s regular interest rate and annual percentage rate (APR) which could be quite high.

So long as the balance is paid in full during the introductory period, this can be a useful strategy. If not, you might end up owing at a higher interest rate than you would have before you’d transferred the balance.

And here’s another catch. Sometimes, if you have a remaining balance when the introductory period ends, the company collects interest on your original principal, not just the remaining balance. So, in that situation, nothing was really free.

It may also be a good idea to consider annual fees (if any), as well as cash back options and other perks, when choosing the best card for you.

3. Taking Advantage of Benefits Offered

Signing up for eligible rewards programs can help credit card holders make the most of their card. Each type of credit card may have slightly different reward programs.

See what perks are being offered—if you’re not sure, check the card’s website or ask the credit card company for specifics. Once you know what they are, you can choose the ones you like and use them as strategically as you can.

You may discover that the card(s) you have don’t have the best benefits match for you. For example, perhaps you’re a frequent flyer. If so, some cards have better air-travel benefits than others. If you drive around the country instead, you could find one that offers the best cash-back deals on gas.

When switching credit cards, you might want to avoid closing the old one—that’s because canceling it might ding your credit rating. (If there’s a fee on the old card, though, it may make sense to cancel.)

Related: How to Cancel a Credit Card

Finally, if you are earning rewards points, consider the best way to use them. Sometimes it’s possible to get a bigger bang for your buck if, say, you use your rewards points at an approved store rather than opting for cash back.

4. Signing Up for Automatic Payments

To avoid missing payments or making them late, consider signing up for an automatic payment plan with the credit card company.

Another option is to sign up for automatic reminders about payment due dates (by text, for example, or by email), either through the credit card company or via a calendar app. What’s most important is coming up with a plan that accomplishes your goals in a way that works best for you.

5. Regularly Checking Your Statements

Mistakes do happen on credit card statements and, unfortunately, fraudulent activities could affect the account. So you might want to check your statement every month to ensure that you’ve made all the charges that appear on each statement, and that any payments you’ve made are reflected.

If something is missing, review the statement dates to see if the transaction may have happened, for example, right after the statement cut-off date. If something seems off, consider contacting the credit card company to verify.

If you notice any fraudulent activity, contact the credit card company as soon as possible.

Tackling Outstanding Balances

Let’s face it: Credit card debt can be hard to pay off—and here is one of the reasons why. Many credit card companies charge compounding interest, which means that not only will you owe interest on any outstanding balance, you’ll also end up paying interest on the interest.

That’s because this interest is calculated continually, then added to your balance—and may be compounded daily. So it’s easy to see how fast balances can keep going up—and up and up.

Interest compounds even when you make required minimum payments. It compounds unless you pay off your balance in full. To get an idea of what unpaid interest could mean for you, use our credit card interest calculator.

Consolidating Credit Card Debt With a Personal Loan

To break this debt cycle, and depending upon the terms offered, it may make sense to consolidate your credit cards into a personal loan. Reasons could include:

•   Qualifying for a lower interest rate on a personal loan. Lower interest rate = less interest owed overall = more money going to pay down the principal (depending on the loan term).
•   Most personal loans offer a fixed rate option, which means the interest rate does not change over the life of the loan. This can be helpful when creating a budget, since you know how much is due each month in terms of payment.
•   A personal loan to consolidate credit cards could lower how much you’re paying each month on what you owe depending on what term you choose.

The Takeaway

When used responsibly, credit cards can be helpful for a whole slew of things, from making online purchases to building credit. The keywords there are, “when used responsibly.”

To stay on top of your credit cards, tips like signing up for automatic payments, making the most of the rewards programming, and using the right type of credit card for your use are all important.

If you’re currently repaying credit card debt, crafting a plan to get on top of it is important. One strategy is to consolidate credit card debt with a personal loan, which can help streamline monthly payments and could allow borrowers to qualify for a lower interest rate than on their credit cards.

If you think a personal loan may be right for you, feel free to explore at SoFi.



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.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

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.
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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