What Are Intermediary Banks? What Do They Do?

An intermediary bank is a bank that acts as a go-between, connecting two different banks as transactions are processed. Smaller banks require intermediary banks or correspondent banks to facilitate transactions with other banks, while larger banks may have enough connections to serve as their own intermediaries.

Intermediary banks are commonly used for international wire transfers and handling multiple types of currencies. Generally, retail bank customers do not have to worry about finding intermediary banks — instead, they work behind the scenes with the banks themselves. Read on to learn more about these important financial institutions.

What Is an Intermediary Bank?

An intermediary bank is a third-party bank that helps facilitate transfers and transactions between two other banks. Often, intermediary banks are dealing with international transactions such as wire transfers between different countries. If you are sending money to others abroad, your bank may end up using an intermediary bank.

You may not be aware of how the intermediary banks work behind the scenes, but it’s important to note that you may be charged additional bank fees for the work that intermediary banks are doing.

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How Do Intermediary Banks Work

If you are doing a bank account transfer, especially to an account in a different country than the one where your own bank is located, it is likely that an intermediary bank will be involved. During a monetary transfer between accounts at different banks, an intermediary bank works in between the sender’s checking or savings account and the account at the receiving bank.

Here’s how the transaction might work:

•   A person with an account at Bank A wants to send money to another person, a client with an account at Bank B.

•   However, Bank A doesn’t have an account or banking relationship with Bank B.

•   Bank A and Bank B do, however, each have an account with Bank C.

•   Funds can be funneled through Bank C, the intermediary bank, to make the transaction successful.

Intermediary Bank Example

Intermediary banks are like an international travel hub through which transfers flow. They are especially important for fund transfers made via the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunications) network.

Here’s a simple example to show how intermediary banks usually work.

•   Say that John is an importer-exporter based in the United States who banks at the Acme Bank. He needs to make a payment to Angela, a supplier of his based in Germany, who banks with Big Bank.

•   He gives Angela’s bank’s information to his bank to make the transfer. If Acme Bank does not have an account at or a relationship directly with Big Bank (Angela’s bank), it will use an intermediary bank called Central Bank. This intermediary bank will have accounts at both Acme Bank, John’s bank in the United States, as well as Big Bank, Angela’s bank in Germany.

•   Central Bank can transfer the money between the two banks. It will likely charge a fee for its role in the transaction. The transaction will be completed by the three banks working together.

Recommended: How Retail Banking Works

When Is an Intermediary Bank Required?

Any time that money is being transferred between two banks that do not have an existing relationship, an intermediary bank is usually involved. Whether you have a single account or a joint bank account, when you transfer money to a user at a different bank (especially internationally), an intermediary bank will generally be required.

This is likely to occur as a commercial banking transaction. In other words, the use of an intermediary bank is not something the consumer has to initiate.

The Need for Intermediary Banks

Intermediary banks are important as part of the global financial system. Since banks generally do not have accounts with every single bank around the world, there is a need for intermediary banks to help facilitate monetary transfers.

The good news is that you typically do not have to worry about finding an intermediary bank yourself. Instead, the banks themselves have intermediary banks that they use to move money between other banks.

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When Will an Intermediary Bank Be Involved in a Transaction?

An intermediary bank will usually be involved whenever there is a need to transfer money between accounts at two separate banks. If the sending bank does not have its own account with the receiving bank, it will usually use an intermediary bank.

Even if a business thought it could get around the need for intermediary banks (and save money; see more on fees below) by opening multiple bank accounts, its main bank would still probably use an intermediary bank at some point to transfer funds on its behalf.

Difference Between Intermediary and Correspondent Banks

When considering how bank transfers work, you may hear two different terms: intermediary banks and correspondent banks. Depending on which part of the world you’re in, there may or may not be a difference between the terms “intermediary bank” and “correspondent bank.”

•   In some countries, the terms correspondent banks and intermediary banks are used interchangeably.

•   In the U.S. as well as in a few other countries, correspondent banks are often ones that handle multiple types of currencies.

•   Intermediary banks may be smaller banks that only typically handle transactions in one currency.

What Are Some Typical Intermediary Bank Fees?

Because intermediary banks typically do not work directly with consumers, they also do not regularly post a breakdown of the fees they charge. Instead, you can look at your own bank’s fees for financial transactions such as domestic wire transfers or international wire transfers.

The wire transfer fees and other charges that you pay for these transactions generally include the fees that your bank pays to the intermediary bank it uses. These bank fees can range anywhere from $15 to $50 or more.

Recommended: How Do Banks Make Money?

Who Pays for Intermediary Bank Fees?

Intermediary bank fees are paid in different ways, depending on the specific transaction. Let’s say Person A is sending money to Person B. There are three ways the fees may be handled, depending on what the parties involved agree upon:

•   “OUR” is the code used when the sender will pay all fees. The fee for an international transfer can be as high as $70.

•   “SHA” is the code indicating shared costs. Person A will likely pay their bank charges (perhaps $15 to $30 on a typical transaction) and then Person B pays the rest: their bank’s and the intermediary bank’s charges.

•   “BEN” indicates that Person B, the recipient of the funds, will pay all charges.

The Takeaway

If a bank customer wants to send money to someone at a different bank and the two banks involved are not connected, an intermediary bank typically plays a role. Intermediary banks work to help facilitate monetary transactions such as domestic and especially international wire transfers. You, as a consumer, usually do not have to hire your own intermediary bank. However, your bank will likely pass along any intermediary bank fees if you initiate a transaction that requires one.

International money transfers are likely just one aspect of the services you use with your bank.

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FAQ

What is an example of an intermediary bank?

An intermediary bank is one that moves funds between other banks. They do not typically work directly with consumers, so you likely neither need to know their names nor contact them. For instance, Bank of America might offer this service, or it might be provided by a foreign bank with which you are not familiar.

Why do you need an intermediary bank?

Intermediary banks are usually used when someone needs to send money to a person with an account at a different bank. An intermediary bank can serve as a middleman and facilitate the transaction. One common example is sending a wire transfer, especially internationally.

How do you find an intermediary bank?

In most cases, you will not need to find your own intermediary bank. The bank you use will have its own intermediary bank that it collaborates with as needed.


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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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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.


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What’s a Good Monthly Retirement Income for a Couple in 2022?

What’s a Good Monthly Retirement Income for a Couple in 2024?

The amount of money a couple needs for retirement can depend on several factors, including age, health, life expectancy, location, and desired lifestyle. There’s no exact number that represents what is a good monthly retirement income for a couple, as every couple’s financial needs are different.

Creating a retirement budget and considering what might affect your cost of living can help you narrow down how much monthly income you’ll need. You can use that as a guide to decide how much you’ll need to save and invest for retirement.

How Being a Couple Affects Your Income Needs

Being the main breadwinner in a couple usually increases the amount of income you’ll need for retirement, since you’re saving for two people instead of one. The money you save has to be enough to last for your lifetime and your spouse or partner’s, so that neither of you is left without income if you outlive the other.

Aside from differences in life expectancy, there are other factors that affect a couple’ income needs, including:

•   Lifestyle preferences

•   Estimated Social Security benefits

•   Target retirement dates for each partner

•   Part-time work status of each partner in retirement

•   Expected long-term care needs

•   Location

All of those things must be considered when pinpointing what is a good monthly retirement income for a couple. The sooner you start thinking about your needs ahead of retirement, the easier it is to prepare financially.

It’s also important to keep in mind that numbers to be used for the sake of comparison can vary widely. Consider this:

•   According to the Pension Rights Center, the median income for fully retired people aged 65 and older in 2023 was $24,190.

•   The average income after taxes for older households in 2022 was $63,187 per year for those aged 65–74 and $47,928 per year for those aged 75 and older, according to U.S. News Money.

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What to Consider When Calculating Your Monthly Income

One couple’s budget for retirement may be very different from another’s. A budget is simply a plan for spending the money that you have coming in.

If you’re wondering how much to save each month, it’s helpful to start with the basics:

•   What do you expect your retirement expenses to be each month?

•   How much income will you have for retirement?

•   Where will this income come from?

It’s also important to consider how your retirement income needs may change over time and what circumstances might impact your financial plan.

Spending May Not Be as Low as You Think

Figuring out your monthly expenses is central to determining what is a good monthly retirement income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical household age 65 and older has annual expenditures of $72,967. That breaks down to monthly spending of about $6,080 per month. The largest monthly expense is typically housing, followed by transportation and food. If you’re planning to live frugally in retirement, spending, say, under $50,000 a year may sound achievable, but it’s not a realistic target for every couple.

For one thing, it’s all too easy to underestimate what you’ll spend in retirement if you’re not making a detailed budget. For another, inflation during retirement can cause your costs to rise even if your spending habits don’t change. That fact needs to be recognized and budgeted for.

Spending Doesn’t Stay Steady the Whole Time

It’s a common retirement mistake to assume spending will be fixed. In fact, the budget you start out with in retirement may not be sustainable years from now. As you get older and your needs or lifestyle change, your spending habits will follow suit. And spending tends not to be static from month to month even without events to throw things off.

You may need less monthly income over time as your costs decrease. Spending among older Americans has been found to be highest between ages 55 and 64 and then dip, according to Social Security reports.

It’s very possible, however, that your monthly income needs may increase instead. That could happen if one of you develops a serious illness or requires long-term care. According to Genworth Financial’s 2023 Cost of Care survey, the monthly median cost of long-term care in a nursing facility ranged from $8,669 for a semi-private room to $9,733 for a private room.

Expenses May Change When One of You Dies

The loss of a partner can affect your spending and how much income you’ll need each month. If you decide to downsize your home or move in with one of your adult children, for example, that could reduce the percentage of your budget that goes to housing. Or if your joint retirement goals included seeing the world, you may decide to spend more money on travel to fulfill that dream.

Creating a contingency retirement budget for each of you, along with your joint retirement budget, is an opportunity to anticipate how your spending needs might change.

Taxes and Medicare May Change in Your Lifetime

Taxes can take a bite out of your retirement income. Planning for taxes during your working years by saving in tax-advantaged accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA, can help. But there’s no way to predict exactly what changes might take place in the tax code or how that might affect your income needs.

Changes to Medicare could also change what you’ll need for monthly income. Medicare is government-funded health insurance for seniors age 65 and older. This coverage is not free, however, as there are premiums and deductibles associated with different types of Medicare plans. These premiums and deductibles are adjusted each year, meaning your out-of-pocket costs could also increase.

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Common Sources of Income in Retirement

Having more income streams in retirement means you and your spouse or partner are less reliant on any single one to pay the bills and cover your expenses. When projecting your retirement income pie-chart, it helps to know which income sources you’re able to include.

Social Security

Social Security benefits may be a central part of your income plans. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a retired worker received $1,845 in benefits and the average spouse of a retired worker netted $886 during the most recent year reviewed.

You can expect Social Security to cover some, but not all, of your retirement expenses. It’s also wise to consider the timing for taking Social Security benefits. Taking benefits before your full retirement age, 65 or 67 for most people, can reduce the amount you’re able to collect.

Retirement Savings

Retirement savings refers to money saved in tax-advantaged accounts, such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457 plan, or Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Whether you and your partner have access to these plans can depend on where you’re employed. You can also save for retirement using an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Tax-advantaged accounts can work in your favor for retirement planning, since they yield tax breaks. In the case of a 401(k) plan, you can also benefit from employer matching contributions that can help you grow your savings faster.

Annuities

An annuity is a contract in which you agree to pay money to an annuity company in exchange for payments at a later date. An immediate annuity typically pays out money within a year of the contract’s purchase while deferred annuities may not begin making payments for several years.

Either way, an annuity can create guaranteed income for retirement. And you can set up an annuity to continue making payments to your spouse for the duration of their lifetime after you pass away.

Other Savings

The other savings category includes money you save in high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts, and certificate of deposit accounts (CDs). You could also include money held in a taxable brokerage account in this category. All of these accounts can help to supplement your retirement income, though they don’t offer the same tax advantages as a 401(k) or an IRA.

Pensions

A pension is an employer-based plan that pays out money to you based on your earnings and years of service. Employers can set up pension plans for employees and make contributions on their behalf. Once you retire, you can take money from your pension, typically either as a lump sum or a series of installment payments. Compared to 401(k) plans, pensions are less commonly offered, though you or your partner may have access to one, depending on where you’re employed.

Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage can allow eligible homeowners to tap their home equity. A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a special type of reverse mortgage that’s backed by the federal government.

If you qualify for a HECM, you can turn your equity into an income stream. No payment is due against the balance as long as you live in your home. If your spouse is listed as a co-borrower or an eligible non-borrower, they’d be able to stay in the home without having to pay the reverse mortgage balance after you die or permanently move to nursing care.

Reverse mortgages can be used to supplement retirement income, but it’s important to understand the downsides as well. Chief among those are:

•   Interest will accrue: As interest is applied to the loan balance, it can decrease the amount of equity in the home.

•   Upfront expenses: Funds obtained from the loan may be reduced by upfront costs, such as origination, closing, and servicing fees, as well as mortgage insurance premiums.

•   Impact on inheritance: An HECM can cause the borrower’s estate to lose value. That in turn can impact on the inheritance that heirs get.

How to Plan for Retirement as a Couple

Planning for retirement as a couple is an ongoing process that ideally begins decades before you’ll actually retire. Some of the most important steps in the planning process are:

•   Figuring out your target retirement savings number

•   Investing in tax-advantaged retirement accounts

•   Paying down debt (a debt payoff planner can help you track your progress)

•   Developing an estate plan

•   Deciding when you’ll retire

•   Planning for long-term care

You’ll also have to decide when to take Social Security benefits. Working with a financial advisor can help you to create a plan that’s tailored to your needs and goals.

Maximizing Social Security Benefits

Technically, you’re eligible to begin taking Social Security benefits at age 62. But doing so reduces the benefits you’ll receive. Meanwhile, delaying benefits past normal retirement age could increase your benefit amount.

For couples, it’s important to consider timing in order to maximize benefits. The Social Security Administration changed rules regarding spousal benefits in 2015. You can no longer file for spousal benefits and delay your own benefits, so it’s important to consider how that might affect your decision of when to take Social Security.

To get the highest benefit possible, you and your spouse would want to delay benefits until age 70. At this point, you’d be eligible to receive an amount that’s equal to 132% of your regular benefit. Whether this is feasible or not can depend on how much retirement income you’re able to draw from other sources.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity?

The Takeaway

To enjoy a secure retirement as a couple, you’ll need to create a detailed financial plan with room for various contingencies. First, determine your retirement expenses by projecting costs for housing, transportation, food, health care, and nonessentials like travel. Then consider all sources of retirement income, such as Social Security, retirement accounts, and pensions, and budget well.

If you want a simple way to track your progress, SoFi can help.

Take control of your finances with SoFi. With our financial insights and credit score monitoring tools, you can view all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

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FAQ

What is the average retired couple income?

Figures vary. According to the Pension Rights Center, the median income for fully retired people aged 65 and older in 2023 was $24,190. The average income after taxes for older households in 2022 was $63,187 per year for those aged 65–74 and $47,928 per year for those aged 75 and older, according to US News Money.

What is a good retirement income for a married couple?

A good retirement income for a married couple is an amount that allows you to live the lifestyle you desire. Your retirement income should also be enough to last for your lifetime and your spouse’s.

How much does the average retired person live on per month?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical household age 65 and older has annual expenditures of $72,967. That breaks down to monthly spending of about $6,080 per month. Many factors, however, can impact a particular household’s spending and the amount of money they need to feel secure.


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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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Health Savings Account (HSA) vs. Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA): What’s the Difference?

HSA vs HRA: Main Differences and Which Is Right for You

Both health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) offer tax-advantaged ways to save for future medical expenses. But they work in very different ways.

An HSA allows you to set aside money for healthcare costs that are not covered by your health insurance plan on a pre-tax basis. You must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) to open an HSA. With this option, you own the account and can take it with you if you leave your job.

An HRA, on the other hand, is a type of account that is owned by your employer. The company puts money into the account on your behalf, and you can use your HRA funds, tax-free, to cover qualified medical costs throughout the year. However, you can’t take the account with you if you leave your job.

If you’re looking for a way to reduce your healthcare costs, it’s a good idea to understand HSAs vs. HRAs. Then, provided you are eligible, you can decide which is the best option for you and your family. There is also a chance you can opt into both types of accounts.

Differences Between an HSA and HRA

HSAs and HRAs work differently than other types of ​​savings accounts. Here’s how these two types of accounts compare at a glance.

HSAs

HRAs

Owned by

Individual Employer
Who can contribute

Individual, family members, employer Employer only
Are contributions pretax?

Yes Yes
Portable?

Yes Not typically
Money can be invested for growth?

Yes No
Need a high-deductible health plan to qualify?

Yes No
Can I use the money for nonmedical expenses?

Yes (though you may owe taxes and/or penalties) No

What Is an HSA?

A health savings account (HSA) allows employees and freelancers to put away funds pretax to be used for future medical expenses. There is one major requirement for an HSA: You must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). For 2024, a HDHP is defined as having deductible of at least $1,600 for an individual and $3,200 for a family. In addition, the plan’s cap on yearly out-of-pocket expenses can’t exceed $8,050 for an individual or $16,100 for a family.

Your employer may offer an HDHP with an HSA as a workplace benefit. Or, if you enroll in health insurance through the private marketplace and choose an HDHP, you can typically open an HSA with a brokerage firm or other financial institution.

There are limits on how much you can contribute to an HSA. In 2024, those limits are:

•   Up to $4,150 to an HSA for self-only coverage

•   Up to $8,300 for family coverage

•   People age 55 and over can contribute an additional $1,000 annually

Unlike a flexible spending account (FSA), which also allows you to set aside a certain amount of money pretax for medical costs, the money in the HSA isn’t a “use it or lose it” proposition. The funds roll over every year, so there’s no rush to spend the money. In addition, you can take HSA with you should you leave your job.

You can use your HSA to directly pay for qualified medical expenses (typically using a debit card or via online payment), or you can collect receipts and reimburse yourself later. Any expense that is considered a deductible medical expense by the IRS qualifies. This includes doctor visits, prescription medications, dental and orthodontic treatments, lab tests, surgeries, hospital stays, hearing aids, and eyeglasses.

While an HSA is designed to cover immediate healthcare costs, many HSA providers allow you to invest a portion of your HSA funds in various investment vehicles, such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These investments grow tax-free. You can access unused HSA funds during retirement for nonmedical expenses, but you will pay taxes on the funds.

Pros of an HSA

Here’s a look at some of the benefits of using an HSA.

•   Lowers your taxable income: Contributions are made with pretax dollars, often through payroll deductions by your employer. That means the money is not included in your gross income and is not subject to federal (and in most cases, state) income taxes.

•   Tax-free withdrawals: Withdrawals from your HSA are not subject to federal (and in most cases, state) taxes if you use them for qualified medical expenses.

•   Lower premiums: To qualify for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a HDHP, which means your monthly payments are likely lower than other types of health insurance plans.

•   Annual rollover: HSAs aren’t “use it or lose it.” You keep your money even if you don’t spend it in the year you contributed it.

•   Money can be invested and grow tax-free: Once you reach a required minimum balance (which can range from $500 and $3,000), you can choose to invest your HSA dollars.

•   Can boost retirement savings: After the age of 65, you can withdraw the funds for any purpose, not just qualified medical expenses. Using the funds this way makes them taxable, but does not carry a penalty.

•   You own the account: The money in an HSA is yours; you don’t forfeit it if you change jobs or are let go.

Cons of an HSA

There are also some potential disadvantages to HSAs. Here are some to consider.

•   Only allowed with a high-deductible health plan: If you don’t enroll in an HDHP, you can’t open an HSA.

•   Contribution limits: You can only contribute up to $4,150 for individual coverage and up to $8,300 for family coverage in one year.

•   May come with fees: Some HSAs charge maintenance fees, investment fees, paper statement fees, and per-transaction charges. It’s a good idea to ask for a complete schedule of fees before you choose an HSA.

•   Penalties for nonqualified expenses: If you withdraw money from your HSA to pay for anything other than qualified medical expenses before you turn 65, the withdrawal will be subject to taxes and a 20% penalty.

•   Limited investment options: You may have a limited choice of investment options within your HSA, which limits the potential returns you can earn.

•   Investments can lose money: Any investments you make with HSA funds could cause your balance to fall if the market drops.

•   Requires careful record keeping: It’s crucial to maintain accurate records of your expenses and HSA transactions for tax purposes. Keeping track of the transactions can be a chore.

Recommended: How Many Savings Accounts Should I Have?

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 an HRA?

A health reimbursement account (HRA), sometimes referred to as a health reimbursement arrangement, is a job perk that some companies offer to workers to help make healthcare more affordable. The employer owns and funds the account. You do not need (nor are you allowed) to make any contributions to the account.

You can use the money in an HRA to pay for medical care you’d otherwise need to pay for out of pocket. The details, including how much is in the HRA and what type of medical expenses the funds can be used for, are determined by the employer.

In some cases, the HRA will reimburse the healthcare provider directly. In others, you might use a debit card associated with the HRA or pay for expenses out of pocket and then submit expenses and request reimbursement.

You are not taxed on the money your employer puts in your HRA, and you can withdraw the money for qualified medical expenses tax-free. However, you don’t own the account, can’t invest the money, and will lose the HRA if you leave your job (unless you choose COBRA continuing coverage).

In some cases, an employer might allow unused funds in an HRA to carry over from one year to the next, but they are not required to do so.

Pros of an HRA

Here’s a look at some of the key benefits of having an HRA.

•   Reduces your healthcare costs: You can withdraw money from the HRA to cover qualified medical expenses you’d otherwise have to pay for yourself. This may include deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, prescriptions, and more.

•   No high-deductible health plan requirement: You don’t need to enroll in a HDHP to have an HRA.

•   No contribution limits: There is no cap on how much money an employer can contribute to an HRA.

•   Some HRAs may cover insurance premiums: If you work for a small business that does not offer a group health plan, you may be able to use your HRA to purchase an individual health plan, as well as cover out-of-pocket expenses.

•   The HRA doesn’t count as income: Your employer’s contributions to an HRA do not count toward your gross income. And when you file a claim for a qualified medical expense, the reimbursement is tax-free.

•   Some HRA plans allow you to roll over unused funds to the next year. Your employer determines whether or not this option will be available.

Cons of an HRA

HRAs also have some downsides. Here are some to keep in mind.

•   You can’t contribute to an HRA: With this type of savings account, you are limited to whatever your employer contributes to the account.

•   Money in an HRA cannot be invested: This means that the funds will not grow over time.

•   You may lose the money if you don’t use it: In many cases, the money in the HRA must be spent the year it is contributed or you lose it. Employers can, but do not have to, allow some funds in your HRA to carry over to the next year.

•   You can’t take it with you. Your employer owns the account, and you lose your HRA money if you leave your job unless you elect COBRA coverage.

•   Inconsistent guidelines. HRAs are not standardized. As a result, an HRA offered by one company may have very different rules from an HRA offered at another company, which can lead to confusion.

•   Lack of availability. Not all companies offer HRAs. Also, self-employed people cannot participate in an HRA.

Which One Is Right for You?

When deciding if an HRA vs. HSA is better, the choice may be made for you. Many companies only offer one or the other. And if you’re self-employed, you won’t have access to an HRA.

If your employer offers both an HDHP and an HSA, as well as an HRA, you might be able to have both an HSA and an HRA. Generally, this is only possible if the employer’s HRA is limited in scope, such as one that only covers vision and dental expenses or just insurance premiums.

In this scenario, you may be able to contribute money into an HSA, where it can grow tax-free and potentially boost your retirement savings, while using the HRA to cover the cost of certain medical expenses. You can’t double dip, however, meaning you’re not allowed to get reimbursed by both accounts for the same expense.

In the end, whether to choose an HRA vs. an HSA will depend on which health saving plan (or plans) you are eligible to access and what type of health insurance you have.

The Takeaway

Health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) can both reduce the cost of medical care that your health plan doesn’t cover, but they do so in different ways. The main difference between HRAs and HSAs is that you own and fund your HSA, while your employer owns and funds your HRA and can impose more limitations on it.
Whether your employer offers an HRA or an HSA, it’s a valuable workplace benefit. Both types of accounts help ensure you have funds you can tap to cover copays, high deductibles, and other out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their 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

Is it better to have an HRA or HSA?

It depends. Not everyone has access to a health reimbursement account (HRA); these accounts are created and funded by an employer as a workplace benefit. HRAs can cover a wide range of medical expenses, but funds are typically forfeited if you leave the company.

A health savings account (HSA), available with high-deductible health plans, allows you to contribute pretax dollars, grow the balance tax-free, and use the funds for qualified medical expenses. HSAs are portable and roll over annually.

The best option depends on your employment status, health insurance plan, and preference for control over the funds.

Can I use both an HRA and HSA?

Generally, having a health reimbursement account (HRA) disqualifies you from contributing to a health savings account (HSA). However, certain types of HRAs, such as limited-purpose HRAs, can be paired with an HSA. It’s essential to check with your employer and plan documents to understand the specific terms and ensure compliance with IRS guidelines.

Can I have an HSA if my husband has an HRA?

Not typically, but there are some exceptions. If you have a high-deductible health plan and your husband’s health reimbursement account (HRA) covers premiums-only or just certain types of medical expenses (such as only vision and dental), you may be eligible to contribute to a health saving account (HSA). You’ll want to verify the specific terms of the HRA to ensure compliance with HSA eligibility rules.


Photo credit: iStock/Nudphon Phuengsuwan

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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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.

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

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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ATM Withdrawal Limits: What You Need to Know

ATMs can be a quick, easy solution when you need a fast cash infusion, but banks typically impose a limit on how much money you can withdraw in one day. If you are planning to withdraw a certain amount of cash, it can be wise to know whether you’ll actually be able to get the money you need from the nearest ATM. The typical amount is between $500 and $1,000.

Here, you’ll learn how much money you can likely withdraw from an ATM and how to get around these ATM maximum limits.

What Is an ATM Withdrawal Limit?

An ATM withdrawal limit sets a maximum amount of cash you can withdraw per day from these machines. The limits vary widely, from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Often, those with premium checking accounts may have higher limits than those with standard accounts.

The kind of ATM you’re using (in-network or out-of-network) can make a difference, too, with in-network often having higher limits.

💡 Quick Tip: Don’t think too hard about your money. Automate your budgeting, saving, and spending with SoFi’s seamless and secure mobile banking app.

Why Do Banks Have ATM Withdrawal Limits?

While ATM withdrawal limits can be frustrating, they exist for two important reasons:

•   Cash availability: Banks want to make sure there is enough money available for all ATM users. But ATMs can only hold so much cash, and banks only have so much cash on hand at any one given time. Say you go to an ATM on the Friday before a long holiday weekend to get some spending money and find that there is no cash left. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s a possibility. Capping the amount of money that can be withdrawn at an ATM helps ensure that customers can’t clean out ATMs or drain the bank’s cash reserves.

•   Security: ATM withdrawal limits also protect consumers. If someone were to get hold of your debit card and PIN number, the ATM withdrawal maximum would prevent that fraudster from immediately draining your entire checking or savings account.

How Much Can I Withdraw From an ATM per Day?

The answer depends on the specific bank’s rules around withdrawals, with some capping at $300 and others going as high as $5,000 a day. A limit of somewhere between $500 and $1,000 is common.

In some cases, a withdrawal limit depends on a specific customer’s banking history or account type. A new customer with a basic checking account may have a lower withdrawal limit than an established customer with a premium checking account. If you have a student or a second chance account, your max ATM withdrawal might be lower than if you had a standard checking account.

Whether you are withdrawing from checking vs. savings can also make a difference. In some cases, how savings accounts work is to have a higher cap on how much you can withdraw at any one time. In others, you will find that you can pull more cash from an ATM using your checking account.

One thing to be aware of: You may be limited to how many withdrawal transactions you can make per month from your savings account. Check your financial institution’s policies for specifics.

You may also find that how much you can withdraw will depend on the type of ATM you are using. For example, you may be able to withdraw more from an in-network machine than an independent one at a gas station.

Here’s a chart showing the range of withdrawal limits for some popular banks:

Bank

Daily ATM Withdrawal Limit

Ally $1,000
Bank of America Varies; typically up to $1,500
Capital One Varies; typically $200 to $5,000
Chase Varies; typically $500 to $3,000
Citi Typically $1,500
PNC Varies; often $500 and up

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 to Work Around ATM Withdrawal Limits

If you need more cash than an ATM will allow you to withdraw, there are a few workarounds that can help as you manage your money.

Ask for Cash Back While Shopping

In some stores (like grocery stores), it’s possible to ask for cash back at checkout when making a purchase. While cash back may count toward your debit card’s daily purchase limit, it typically doesn’t count toward a daily ATM withdrawal limit.

The store will likely also have a cash back limit that applies on a per-purchase basis. That could mean you’ll need to make multiple purchases to withdraw the full amount of cash needed.

Withdraw From Savings

If you have both a checking account and savings account, you can withdraw money from a savings account when using an ATM. This can help avoid the daily checking account withdrawal limit.

There may, however, still be some limitations on ATM savings withdrawals, and this may vary with the kind of savings account you have.

Withdraw at the Window

If you bank at a brick-and-mortar location and the branch is open when you need more money, head inside. You can withdraw the amount you need by seeing a teller.

Contact Your Bank to Increase Your Limit

You may be able to negotiate a higher ATM withdrawal limit simply by contacting your bank’s customer service department and asking for a boost.

Recommended: ATM Cards vs Debit Cards: What’s the Difference?

The Takeaway

ATM withdrawal limits are there for your protection as well as the bank’s, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t inconvenient at times.

If you regularly need cash, you may want to find out your bank’s daily ATM withdrawal limits and plan ahead. Or, you can work around the maximums in place and get cash from other sources. By using a bit of smart strategy, you can make sure you have the cash you need on hand.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their 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

Can you withdraw $1,000 at an ATM?

The amount you can withdraw will vary based on a number of factors, including your account type (standard or premium) and the type of ATM you are using (in-network or out-of-network).

Which ATM lets you withdraw the most money?

You may find you can withdraw more cash at an in-network than out-of-network ATM.

What is the maximum amount I can withdraw from an ATM at one time?

The amount you can withdraw from an ATM may range from $300 to $5,000 a day, depending on the financial institution and your particular account. Somewhere between $500 and $1,000 is typical.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio

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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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.


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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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Budgeting Tips for High School Students and Those Entering College

Budgeting Guide for Teens: 7 Tips to Build Better Money Habits

As a teenager, you may think you don’t have enough money to worry about coming up with or sticking to any kind of budget. But, in truth, you don’t need a lot of money to benefit from budgeting. In fact, coming up with a plan for how to spend your money (which is what budgeting is) can be particularly helpful for teens who don’t have much in the way of income or savings.

While creating a teen budget might sound intimidating or complicated, it simply involves looking at what you have coming in and going out, setting aside some money for future goals (say, getting a new phone), while also allocating funds for having fun right now.

Whether all you have is allowance and odd jobs or you earn steady income from a part-time job, here’s how to do more with the money you have.

How to Build a Budget for Teens

Learning how to budget as a teen helps set the foundation for financial success later in life. It includes tracking income and expenses, setting savings goals, and making wise spending decisions. Below we break it all down.

1. Determine How Much You Earn

The first step in creating a budget is figuring out your income. As a teenager, your income might come from various sources, such as a part-time job, an allowance from your parents, or occasional gigs like babysitting or mowing lawns. If you have a checking account, all of your deposits represent your income.

List all of your regular income sources and calculate the total amount you receive each month. If your income fluctuates, you can estimate a monthly average. Alternatively, you might find it easier to break up your budget on a weekly cycle. If you have a job where you’re paid every two weeks, just divide that amount in half.

This step will give you a clear picture of how much money you have to work with.

2. Figure Out How Much You Usually Spend

So where does all your money go? To find out, come up with a list of spending categories and roughly how much you spend weekly or monthly on each.

If you typically make purchases using a debit card or payment app, you can see your spending by looking at your transactions for the past month. If you normally spend cash, however, you may need to track your spending for a few weeks or a month. You can do this by keeping every receipt and jotting down your spending at the end of each day.

Next, you’ll want to categorize your spending into different areas, such as food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, etc. This exercise will help you understand your spending habits and identify where you might be overspending.

3. Divide Spending Into “Needs” and “Wants”

Once you have a clear idea of your spending, it’s time to differentiate your spending categories into “needs” vs. “wants.”

Needs are required or necessary spending like your cell phone bill, car insurance, gas money, and any other expenses that your parents have asked you to be responsible for. Wants are nonessential items like eating out, video games, and trendy clothes.

By dividing your expenses into these two categories, you can prioritize your spending. This can help ensure that your needs are met before you start spending money on your wants.

4. Set Some Money Goals

Saving money is a crucial part of budgeting. Whether you want to save for a new pair of sneakers, a car, or college, having a goal in mind can motivate you to save consistently.

It’s helpful to set specific, achievable savings goals. For example, if you want to save $300 to make a purchase in six months, you’ll need to save $50 each month. Having clear goals helps you stay focused and disciplined. When you make your monthly or weekly budget, you can make sure to set aside money for your short-term and long-term goals, whatever they may be.

If you don’t have a savings account, now may be a good time to open one. Even if you open an account with a very small amount, your balance will grow as you add funds over time and earn compound interest (which is when the interest you earn on your balance also earns interest). Many banks and credit unions offer teen savings accounts that are designed to help young people earn a competitive yield on their money, while avoiding maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements.

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!


5. Make Your Teen Budget

Now that you have a clear understanding of your income, expenses, and savings goals, you can create your budget. You can do this using a budgeting app, pen and paper, or simply the “notes” app on your phone.

Start by putting your income at the top. Next, you’ll want to list your fixed expenses (needs), variable expenses (wants), and savings goals and what you will spend on each.

Once you have a list of all your spending categories, it’s time to figure out how much money to use for each one. You’ll want to make sure that your total expenses and savings do not exceed your income. If they do, you’ll need to adjust your spending habits by cutting down on spending in the “wants” categories or finding ways to increase your income.

6. Start Using Your Budget

Creating a budget is only the first step; sticking to it is where the real challenge lies. It helps if you start tracking your spending. You can do this by collecting receipts and writing down what you spend at the end of each day. Or, if you use a debit card or payment app, you can just look at your bank account or app transaction history to see how much you’re spending in a given day or week.

Recording your expenses daily or weekly can help you stay within your budget and prevent you from overspending. If you’re not able to meet your savings goals, you may need to make some adjustments in your spending.

7. Revisit Your Budget

Your financial situation and priorities can change, so it’s important to reevaluate your budget regularly. You may want to review your income and expenses at least once every few months to ensure your budget still aligns with your goals.

If you find there are certain areas where you are consistently overspending or underspending, you can adjust your budget accordingly. If you no longer ride the bus or you have a new source of income, for example, you may be able to spend more on “wants” or put more toward saving (aka, future “wants”).

Regularly updating your budget helps you stay in control of your finances and ensures that you’re always working toward your goals.

Recommended: 50/30/20 Budget Rule: What It Is and Tips on Using It

Why Getting Started Young Is Important

Budgeting is a key financial literacy skill, and starting to budget as a teenager sets you up for lifelong financial success. Here are some reasons why it’s crucial to develop good money habits early on.

•   Builds discipline: Learning to manage money requires discipline and a sense of responsibility. These traits are beneficial not just for financial management but for all aspects of life.

•   Prepares for future financial independence: The skills you develop now will help you manage larger sums of money in the future. Whether it’s paying for college, buying a car, or renting an apartment, budgeting will always be essential.

•   Helps achieve long-term goals: Starting early allows you to develop a habit of saving, which can help you achieve long-term financial goals like buying a house or starting a business.

•   Builds an appreciation for money: When you budget, you become more aware of the value of money and the effort it takes to earn it. This awareness can lead to more mindful spending and better financial decisions.

The Takeaway

Budgeting for teens might sound intimidating or even pointless if you don’t have much money to work with. But doing the simple steps listed above can help you take control of your finances and build better money habits.

By determining your income, tracking your expenses, setting savings goals, and regularly reevaluating your budget, you’ll be able to make your money go farther and be well on your way to financial success.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their 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

What should I spend money on at 15?

At 15, you’ll want to focus on spending money wisely, balancing things you need to spend money on, things you want to spend money on, and saving up for things you want to buy or do in the future. Common teens expenses include:

•   Transportation (bus / train fare, gas)

•   School supplies

•   Extracurricular / sports supplies or equipment

•   Clothing

•   Takeout

•   Entertainment

•   Saving for a car

•   Saving for college

What is a good budget for kids?

A good budget for kids is simple and easy to manage, ensuring a balance between spending, saving, and sharing/giving. Here’s one framework to consider:

•   Income: Allowance, gifts, and earnings from small jobs.

•   Expenses: Essentials (school supplies, clothing), savings, and fun spending.

•   Breakdown: 50% for essentials, 20% for savings, 20% for fun, and 10% for giving/charity.

This budget helps teach kids to manage money wisely, save for future needs, and understand the importance of generosity.

What is the savings rule for kids?

You can apply the general guideline for adults — which is to save around 20% of your income/paycheck — to kids. Whether a child/teen earns money through an allowance, doing chores, or a part-time job, they can start putting 20% of their weeking income toward saving. This gives them money for the unexpected, as well as things they want to buy or do in the future. It also builds a great habit that can serve them well throughout their lives.


Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions

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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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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