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11 Ways to Prepare for High School Graduation

Making it to high school graduation is a big deal. For most people, it’s taken 13 years of education since starting in kindergarten.

This is a time to celebrate, but also to start planning for the next step into adulthood. Taking care of the practical stuff now can allow more time to enjoy your senior year and relax before moving on to the next big thing.

To help get you started, check out these tips to close out high school on a high note and prepare for summer and beyond.

Preparing for High School Graduation

1. Keeping Up Your Grades

You’re almost across the finish line. Yet, slacking off and letting grades slip could be a red flag for the college you plan on attending in the fall.

The extent to which colleges look at senior year grades varies. If an A in calculus drops to a B, that’s probably not a cause for alarm. Rather, having grades fall below a college’s admissions standards could run the risk of a rescinded offer. Staying on top of your coursework and taking some challenging classes your senior year could pay off in the fall.

2. Ordering Your Cap and Gown

To attend high school graduation, you’ll likely have to look the part. If you have an older sibling or friend who graduated before you and is around your size, you can kindly ask to borrow their cap and gown, assuming it’ll match your classmates’ at graduation.

Renting a cap and gown could save money if that option is offered at your high school. Rentals may require a deposit and will likely need to be returned right after the ceremony to discourage graduates from walking off with them amid all the excitement.

If you go the rental route, you may still need to purchase a tassel unique to your graduating class.
Traditionally, there is a moment during the ceremony when graduates are asked to flip their tassel from one side of their cap to the other, which signifies graduation.

3. Return Library Books

At many high schools, failing to return library books, or pay any accrued late fees could make you ineligible to walk at graduation. If there are any other fees or outstanding holds that will prevent you from walking at graduation, take care of them as soon as possible. Your guidance counselor or another administrator at the school may be able to help if you’re not sure.

4. Picking a Graduation-Day Outfit

Yes, you will be wearing your cap and gown for the ceremony. But what about photos afterward? Pick an outfit that is both stylish and one you feel comfortable in. There’ll likely be a lot of photos to celebrate this accomplishment, and wearing an outfit you feel your best in can help make you feel good in front of the camera.

5. Reserving Tickets for Graduation

Some schools may limit the number of tickets a student can reserve for graduation due to venue capacity. In some cases, students may be able request additional tickets, but they are not always guaranteed. If your school has a ticket limit or request process, stay on top of deadlines.

6. Inviting Family and Friends to Graduation

Once you know how many tickets you have to your graduation, you’ll need to invite family or friends to the ceremony. Parents, siblings, grandparents, or close friends may all want to come watch, but if there are ticket restrictions, you may be limited in who you can invite.

Consider sending the information for the ceremony including date, time, location, and any parking instructions in writing via email or text so your family members can easily reference relevant details to see you walk across that stage.

7. Taking Photos with Friends and Family

Graduating high school is a major accomplishment. This is a day you’ll want to remember and you’ll want to get photos with family and friends on the big day. Scope out some meaningful locations for a few photos. If you run hurdles, perhaps you want some photos out on the school track.

8. Registering for Dorm Room Necessities

If you’re expecting gifts from family and friends in honor of your graduation, consider registering for dorm room necessities like towels, twin-XL sheets, duvet, or a mini-fridge. Letting your family know what you want and need for the next four years could make it easier for them to purchase something you’ll actually use.

9. Celebrating With Friends and Family

High school graduates have passed numerous milestones from kindergarten to senior year. Besides the homework and exams, many high schoolers have put countless hours into varsity sports, drama club, marching band, or other extracurricular activities.

High school graduation is a well-deserved moment to have fun and celebrate the culmination of these accomplishments. Whether you’re moving away for college or commuting from home, your schedule may change significantly.

Spending time with family and friends, attending senior activities, and throwing a graduation party are some ways to honor the occasion and process the transition.

10. Plan Your Graduation Party (If You’re Hosting One)

Graduation parties are popular for high schoolers (and their families). If you — or your parents — are hosting a party you’ll want to determine details like the date, time, and location, budget for the event, and guest list.

You’ll want to invite guests and track RSVPs so you can get an accurate headcount for food and drink at the event. From there, you can look into decorations and any party rentals (like chairs, flatware, plates, table cloths, and more).

11. Writing Thank You Notes

As you receive graduation gifts, keep a log of who sent each gift. Show your gratitude for thoughtful gifts by writing a thank you note to each sender. Express your thanks for the gift, and mention a couple specific details about the item they sent and how you plan to use it. Close out your thank you with a thoughtful note about when you hope to see them next (or how great it was to see them at your graduation party) and thank them once again.

Generally, it’s best to send your thank you notes soon after receiving the gifts, so staying organized as you approach graduation can be helpful.

12. Landing a Summer Job

Between hanging out with friends and going on family trips, you might have time to take on a part-time or full-time summer job. These experiences can help boost your resume and gain references for internships and jobs down the road.

Additionally, putting in some hours now can further pad your college savings for tuition and living expenses. If all goes well, you may be invited back to work next summer.

13. Managing Your Schedule and Setting Goals

College schedules can be a big adjustment for students. Instead of following a strict bell schedule like most high schools have, college students are responsible for managing their own schedules with little oversight.

Each college course’s credit hours usually indicate how many hours that class meets per week. Full-time students typically take between 12 and 18 credit hours each semester, which translates to roughly the same number of hours in class. This means college students have more flexibility than high school students in planning their schedule for completing homework and other assignments. That flexibility also means more responsibility for their own time management.

Students might consider preparing for this adjustment by trying out a few planning systems — e.g., paper, digital, or a combination of both — to see what works best for them so they’ll be ready to hit the ground running in the fall.

Some things to plan for, other than class schedules, might be a summer job schedule, family vacations, summer parties with friends, or savings goals.

14. Cleaning up Your Social Media Presence

High school can feel like a bubble. Some students have known each other since elementary school.

Upon graduating and leaving this familiar environment, graduates will encounter an influx of new friends, coworkers, employers, and professors. To put your best foot forward in these scenarios, it could be worth revisiting your social media posts on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Many people have said or posted things online they aren’t proud of or no longer reflect their current opinions on a subject. Checking to see what posts you’re tagged in, too, can help refine your online presence and give peace of mind as you head into the “real world.”

In serious cases, colleges have rescinded students’ admission for inappropriate and offensive conduct on social media.

Recommended: 25 Smart Things to do With Your Graduation Money

Preparing for College

While finishing senior year and taking care of high school graduation, getting ready for college is just around the corner. There are plenty of ways to prepare for college before the fall semester rolls around. Let’s take a look at some of the key things you may want to consider.

1. Creating a Plan to Pay for College

Pay for college often requires students to pull together a few different types of funding. In addition to savings or using your grad money to pay for college expenses, students can also rely on financial aid including scholarships, grants, federal student loans, and work-study.

Typically, college-bound high school seniors will fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) in February. This form is the first step in applying for federal student aid, which can include scholarships, grants, and loans, depending on a student’s eligibility.

Students who are looking to fill gaps in funding may consider private student loans — which are offered by private lenders and lack benefits offered to federal student loans, like deferment or forgiveness options. Check out SoFi’s guide to private student loans for more information.

2. Researching Classes and Majors

Generally speaking, most programs do not require incoming freshmen to declare a major right away. Still, taking some time before registration to learn about different majors and general course requirements can help students figure out what they want to study, create a balanced schedule, and graduate on time.

3. Getting Ready to Move Away From Home

Students planning to attend college away from home may be feeling a mix of excitement and stress about moving.

Putting that energy into planning for college living arrangements might alleviate some of those feelings.

If coordinating with roommates ahead of time is a possibility, students might consider splitting up the list of room necessities — one roomie can bring the microwave and another can bring the mini-fridge. If the college provides those things, there are many other items that can make the transition from home to college dorm easier.

Recommended: College Essentials: What to Bring to College

The Takeaway

Graduating from high school is a huge accomplishment. As you approach graduation day, make sure you have met graduation requirements and have no holds on your student account that will prevent you from walking. Get ready for the big day by ordering your cap and gown, picking your grad day outfit, reserving tickets for the ceremony, and planning a celebration with friends and family.

3 Student Loan Tips

1.    Can’t cover your school bills? If you’ve exhausted all federal aid options, private student loans can fill gaps in need, up to the school’s cost of attendance, which includes tuition, books, housing, meals, transportation, and personal expenses.

2.    Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

3.    Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too. You can submit it as early as Oct. 1.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


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

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.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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How Much Can You Put in an IRA This Year?

The maximum amount you can put in an individual retirement account (IRA) each year tends to change every few years. For tax year 2022, investors can contribute a total of $6,000 into their IRA account (traditional or Roth), and for tax year 2023, the limit is increasing to $6,500. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 (for both tax years, 2022 and 2023).

That said, how much you can contribute also depends on your income, the IRA type, and whether you also contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Related: What Is an IRA?

Notably, the deadline for contributions is Tax Day of the following year. So for tax year 2022, the deadline for IRA contributions is April 18, 2023.

IRA Fundamentals

An IRA stands for individual retirement account. IRAs allow people to make tax-deferred investments that they can use in retirement. There are several different types of IRAs, including traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. You can set up an IRA with a bank, insurance company, or other financial institution.

What Types of IRAs Are Available?

Traditional IRA

A retirement investor’s contributions to a traditional IRA are typically tax-deductible. Investors won’t pay taxes on earnings with a traditional IRA. When investors reach retirement age, they’ll pay taxes on withdrawals because they’re taxed like income. It’s almost like paying yourself a salary in retirement and paying income taxes on those payments.

Related: How an IRA Works

Roth IRA

Contributions to a Roth IRA are made after taxes and aren’t tax-deductible. With a Roth IRA, earnings aren’t typically taxed, but investors won’t have to pay taxes on withdrawals from a Roth IRA when they reach retirement age and start using the funds in one of these accounts.

Sep IRA

A Sep IRA is a simplified employee pension IRA. These IRA accounts help small businesses or self-employed retirement investors make contributions to an IRA in the employee’s name.

Simple IRA

A SIMPLE IRA plan (Savings Incentive Match PLan for Employees) is an account that most resembles a traditional 401K. This savings incentive match plan for employees can be set up by small businesses that don’t have any other retirement plans. Like a 401(k), this IRA lets employees and employers contribute, but with lower costs and fewer administration fees than a typical 401(k).

Related: How to Open Your First IRA

How Much Can You Contribute to an IRA Each Year?

If you’re younger than 50, you can contribute a combined maximum of $6,000 to a traditional or Roth IRA for tax year 2022. For tax year 2023, the cap is $6,500.

After 50, you’re allowed to make “catch-up” contributions of an additional $1,000 (for tax years 2022 and 2023). Previously, you could not make contributions to a traditional IRA once you reached the age of 70.5. But starting in 2020, there is no age limit; neither is there an age limit for a Roth IRA.

Contribution limits for Roth IRA and traditional IRA for the tax year 2022:

•  Under age 50: $6,000
•  Age 50 and older: $7,000

Contribution limits for Roth IRA and traditional IRA for the tax year 2023:

•  Under age 50: $6,500
•  Age 50 and older: $7,500

Related: What Is a Roth IRA?

However, there are a few exceptions to the retirement contribution limits. If you make less than the limit in taxable income, you can only contribute up to that amount. On the other end of the spectrum, if you make too much, you can’t contribute to a Roth IRA or may only be able to contribute a reduced amount.

If you’re younger than 50, you can contribute a maximum of $6,000 into any type of IRA for tax year 2022. For tax year 2023, the limit is $6,500

For 2022, if you’re single, you can put a reduced amount into a Roth IRA if your income is between $129,000 and $144,000; above that, you can’t contribute anything. For tax year 2023, the income phase-out range is rising to $138,000 and $153,000.

Related: Traditional vs. Roth IRA: How to Choose the Right Plan

For couples filing jointly, you can contribute a reduced amount to a Roth IRA if your combined income is between $204,000 and $214,000. (The limits are based on modified adjusted gross income .) For tax year 2023, the income phase-out range is $218,000 to $228,000.

If you already contribute to a 401(k) or another retirement plan at work, you can still contribute to an IRA.

However, you may not be able to deduct all of your traditional IRA contributions if you or your spouse participates in another retirement plan at work. Roth IRA contributions might be limited if your income exceeds a certain level.

Related: 3 Easy Steps to Starting a Retirement Fund

How Do I Open an IRA?

Investors thinking about opening an online IRA may want to consider whether a Roth or a traditional IRA makes sense.

Roth IRAs have some limitations that might preclude investors from getting one.

Investors who make more than $214,000 in adjusted gross income filing jointly for tax year 2022 or $144,000 filing single may not be eligible to open a Roth IRA. For tax year 2023, the limit is $228,000 for married couples and $153,000 for individuals.

Vital information needed to open an IRA includes a driver’s license or ID, Social Security number, banking info like routing numbers to fund the account, name, and address of employer, and beneficiary information. After that, investors choose an asset mix and investment type that makes sense for their goals.

Related: The 7 Most Common Questions About IRAs

How Do I Roll Over Funds into an IRA?

Some investors might be thinking about opening a traditional IRA because they have left a job where they had a retirement account and want to move those funds to a new account (or they want to open a Roth IRA and roll over a Roth 401k). Reasons for doing this include the new investment company offers more investment options or the employee seeks more control over the funds or wants to combine funds from another retirement account with the employer-sponsored account.

Generally, funds from this type of account can be rolled over into a new account within 60 days.
The advantage of rolling over one retirement to another account is that investors don’t lose those funds’ tax-deferred status. If investors don’t roll over the funds, they do become taxable.
There are three ways investors can roll over retirement funds into an IRA.

Related: IRA Rollover Rules

Direct rollover

An investor’s old retirement funds administrator, perhaps at a previous job, sends funds directly to the new to an IRA or new employer-sponsored retirement plan. The investor won’t pay taxes or a penalty on this transfer as long as the transferred funds are going to a similarly classified account (Roth to Roth or 401k to traditional IRA).

Trustee-to-trustee transfer

If an investor is getting funds from an IRA, they can ask the financial institution that administers the old IRA to send funds to the new IRA. The investor won’t pay taxes or a penalty on this transfer.

Late or 60-day rollover

The IRS gives people 60 days from the date they receive a distribution from an IRA or retirement plan to roll it over to another plan or IRA. If you roll over after the 60 days has passed, it’s considered “late,” and the distribution will be taxed—and you’ll have to pay a penalty if you are younger than 59.5 years.

Related: IRA Transfer vs. Rollover: What’s the Difference?

Can You Withdraw From an IRA Before Retirement?

It depends. With a Roth IRA, there are situations — like buying your first home, adoption costs, or paying for higher education — where you can withdraw a limited amount with no penalties or taxes. For example, an investor can take out up to $10,000 from a traditional IRA — or in earnings from a Roth IRA — without penalties for expenses associated with buying a first home.

Investors can also withdraw funds penalty-free for qualifying medical or educational expenses. And once you hit the age of 59.5, distributions will always be penalty-free.

Here are all the exceptions for early distributions:

•  Made to a beneficiary or estate on account of the IRA owner’s death
•  Made because you’re totally and permanently disabled
•  Made as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments for your life (or life expectancy) or the joint lives (or joint life expectancies) of you and your designated beneficiary
•  Qualified first-time homebuyer distributions
•  Not in excess of your qualified higher education expenses
•  Not in excess of certain medical insurance premiums paid while unemployed
•  Not in excess of your unreimbursed medical expenses that are more than a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income
•  Due to an IRS levy of the IRA under section 6331 of the Code
•  A qualified reservist distribution
•  Excepted from the additional income tax by federal legislation relating to certain emergencies and disasters (see the Instructions for Form 5329 for more information), or
•  Not in excess of $5,000, and the distribution is a qualified birth or adoption distribution (see the Instructions for Form 5329 for more information)

Related: Should You Use Your Roth IRA to Buy Your First Home?

Are There Ways to Get Around IRA Contribution Limits?

Sometimes. There’s no limit to how much you can put into an IRA when you’re rolling over funds from a 401(k) or 403(b) account.

Some people also use what’s called a “backdoor Roth IRA” to get around the income limits to contribute to a Roth IRA. This involves contributing the maximum to a traditional IRA, then converting it into a Roth. (There’s no income limit for conversions.) Consult a tax professional to understand all the tax implications.

Is an IRA a Replacement for a 401(k)?

American workers have access to a 401(k) retirement plan through their employers. And, some investors might even be able to get additional 401(k) contributions in the form of an employer match. Investors who have access to a 401(k) and an IRA might be able to accelerate their retirement savings and put themselves in a better financial situation when they reach retirement age.

Related: Should You Open An IRA If You Already Have A 401(k)?

The Takeaway

The rules of IRAs can be complicated, but investing in one doesn’t need to be. SoFi Invest® is all about empowering you and your financial future. Prepare for retirement with a SoFi active or automated Roth or Traditional IRA from SoFi Invest.

Need tips on IRAs or saving for retirement in general? SoFi members can schedule a complimentary personal consultation with one of our credentialed financial advisors to answer their questions.

Looking to open a SoFi traditional or Roth IRA? Learn more about SoFi Invest today.



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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
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For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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Cost of Christmas Lights on Utility Bills

The Cost of Running Christmas Lights and How to Save Money

For many families, the holiday season may not be complete without a festive lighting display. Whether you prefer to go full Griswold or stick with something more minimalist, lights can help to infuse your home with holiday cheer both inside and out.

But how much does it cost to run Christmas lights?

The short answer is that it depends. What you pay for Christmas lights could be significantly more — or less — than your neighbors’ bill. Breaking down the typical cost of running Christmas lights can help with saving on your utility bill over the holidays.

Here, you’ll learn more about:

•   How Christmas lights impact your electric bill

•   Which kinds of lights cost the most

•   How to save money on your electric bill

Christmas Lights and Your Electric Bill

Running Christmas lights uses energy, which can translate to higher utility bills. How much of an increase you see in your electric bill can depend on a number of factors, including:

•   How many strands of lights you use

•   The type of bulbs used in each strand

•   The number of hours you run your lights each day

•   How many days you run Christmas lights for

Where you live and what you pay per kilowatt hour for electricity.

All of these things can influence how large your Christmas lights electric bill turns out be once January rolls around. Understanding what you could wind up paying can help if affordably celebrating the holidays is your goal.

Keep in mind that other costs can drive up electric bills during the holidays, apart from Christmas lights. If you’re using the oven more often to prepare holiday meals, for example, that can result in a higher electric bill. You may also see a bigger bill if colder weather means the heat is kicking on more often or your kids are home all day using electronics more while school is out.

💡 Recommended: How Does Bill Pay Work?

Do Christmas Lights Use a Lot of Energy?

The amount of energy used by Christmas lights can depend on the type of bulb and the number of bulbs per strand. The most popular options for Christmas lights include incandescent mini lights, mini LED lights and ceramic C7 lights.

So which type of bulb uses the most energy?

The simplest answer is to look at the wattage of Christmas lights, based on bulb size and number of bulbs per strand. For example:

•   With C7 lights, for instance, you’re typically getting 25 lights per strand.

•   With incandescent mini lights and mini LED lights, you’ll normally have 100 bulbs per strand.

Here’s how the average wattage for each one compares:

•   C7 lights: 5 watts

•   C9 incandescent lights (2-¼” long): 7 watts

•   Mini incandescent lights: 0.4 watts

•   Mini LED lights: 0.07 watts

Between those three options, mini LED lights draw the least amount of energy per strand while C7 lights draw the most. You’d need four strands of C7 lights to equal the same number of bulbs in just one strand of incandescent or LED mini lights. This is important to understand because it can affect the number of kilowatt hours used and your overall energy costs.

💡 Recommended: 23 Tips on Saving Money Daily

Cost of Christmas Lights to Utility Bill

Calculating your estimated cost of running Christmas lights matters when trying to lower your electric bill during the winter months. Again, what you’ll pay can depend on a variety of factors, including where you live and how much electricity costs.

The average household pays $0.14 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, but costs may be significantly higher or lower in different parts of the country. Most people are likely paying more this year than they used to as the cost of living increases and people can’t always protect against inflation.

If you live in New England, for example you might pay an average of $0.26 cents per kilowatt hour. People living in the East South Central region, however, pay an average of $0.14 cents per kilowatt hour. Residents of Hawaii are likely to pay the most, at $0.46 cents per kilowatt hour.

Here’s how to figure out how much you’ll pay for Christmas lighting:

•   Multiply the wattage of the lights by the hours per day the lights will be on, then divide by 1,000 to find kilowatt hours per day

•   Multiply kilowatt hours per day by your cost of electric usage to get the cost per day

•   Multiply the cost per day by the number of days your lights will be on

💡 Recommended: What Is Cost of Living?

Calculating the Cost of Christmas Lights

So how much does each type of light cost?

Let’s look at what it would cost to run C7 lights, C9 and mini incandescent lights, and mini LED lights for six hours a day for 30 days, using the average of $0.14 cents per kilowatt hour. Here’s what you’d pay for each one:

Bulb Type

Hourly Cost

Daily Cost

Monthly Cost

C7 (25 bulbs, 5 watts per bulb) $0.0175 $0.105 $3.15
C9 (25 bulbs, 7 watts per bulb) $0.025 $0.15 $4.50
Incandescent Mini Lights (100 bulbs, 0.45 watts per bulb) $0.0063 $0.0378 $1.13
Mini LED Lights (100 bulbs, 0.07 watts per bulb) $0.0042 $0.0252 $0.76

Keep in mind that these costs are for just one strand of lights, as noted. If you string together several strands on your tree, frame your windows with lights, and then drape your shrubs or street-facing windows outdoors with more, your costs will of course go up.

Also, in terms of what the average person spends on Christmas lights, it can vary by a state’s cost of living, as well as by what kind of bulbs are used. Louisiana residents who run LED lights, for example, tend to spend the least, averaging $8.18 per month. Meanwhile, Hawaiians who opt for incandescent bulbs spend $64.55 per month on average running seasonal lights.

💡 Recommended: Guide to Getting Caught up on Late Payments

Do LED Christmas Lights Save Money?

As mentioned, the wattage of Christmas lights plays an important part in determining how much you pay for electric bills over the holidays. Between C7 lights, incandescent lights and LED lights, LED lights are highly energy-efficient. According to the Department of Energy, residential LEDs that are ENERGY STAR rated use up to 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lights.

As the previous example suggests, people who use LED Christmas lights tend to pay far less than those using incandescent bulbs or C7 lights. So it follows that an easy way to save money on your electric bill and reduce energy usage would be to use mini LED lights as often as possible. Aside from that, LED bulbs emit less light and are less likely to overload sockets, making them a potentially safer option for Christmas lighting compared to other types of bulbs.

💡 Recommended: 18 Common Misconceptions About Money

The Takeaway

A higher-than-usual electric bill can put a damper on your holiday celebrations. Estimating your potential costs beforehand can help you manage utility expenses. And you can decide whether it’s worth it to invest a little money in upgrading your current Christmas lights to energy-efficient options.

SoFi can also help make tackling high utility bills after the holidays easier. With a SoFi online bank account, you can automate payments and spend and save in one convenient place. Our Checking and Savings account also earns a super competitive APY and charges no account fees, which can help your money grow faster.

Better banking is here with up to 3.75% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Do LED Christmas lights use a lot of electricity?

Compared to C7 lights or incandescent mini lights, LED Christmas lights use the least amount of energy. Specifically, they can use up to 75% less energy while lasting 25 times longer. LED Christmas lights also emit less heat and can be easier to install than other types of holiday lighting.

Do Christmas lights raise your light bill?

Christmas lights can raise your electric bill during the winter months. How much your bill increases can depend on several things, including the type of bulbs used, how many light strands you’re running and the average cost of energy per kilowatt hour in your area. Using timers and switching to energy-efficient bulbs can be helpful for reducing your Christmas lights electric bill.

Do Christmas trees use a lot of electricity?

Christmas trees can use a lot of electricity, depending on the type of lights you use, the number of strands on the tree, and how long you leave your tree plugged in each day. Using mini LED lights can reduce electric costs for Christmas tree lighting, while using C7 bulbs to light your tree could result in a higher energy bill.


Photo credit: iStock/BanksPhotos

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What is a Dogecoin Mining Pool?

What Is a Dogecoin Mining Pool?

A mining pool is a collection of miners who pool their resources and share the rewards of mining a proof-of-work (PoW) cryptocurrency like Dogecoin (DOGE).

Individual miners receive a portion of block rewards in proportion to how much hashing power they contribute.

Miners may earn less overall when mining in a pool vs. solo mining, in which an individual tries to solve for a block on their own, using significant time and computing power. But they receive rewards on a more consistent basis and can maintain a profitable operation, even with smaller amounts of computing power.

💡 Recommended: Is Crypto Mining Still Profitable in 2022?

How Does Dogecoin Mining Work?

In order to understand Dogecoin mining and Dogecoin pool mining, it’s important to remember the qualities that distinguish DOGE among the other types of crypto.

What Is DOGE?

Dogecoin (pronounced dohj-coin), or DOGE, is widely known as the first joke cryptocurrency. It was launched in 2013 as a way to poke fun at Bitcoin. Nonetheless, the currency captured people’s attention and a fair amount of investment.

Dogecoin is an altcoin similar to Bitcoin and Ethereum in that it runs on a blockchain network using a PoW system. But the number of coins that can be mined are unlimited (versus the 21 million-coin cap on Bitcoin).

Despite its place as one of the biggest coins by market cap, DOGE trades at one of the lowest prices: $0.084 cents, as of November 18, 2022.

Understanding Dogecoin Mining

Dogecoin mining works in much the same way that mining any other PoW cryptocurrency works. Dogecoin is based off of Litecoin, which forked from the original Bitcoin source code.

The main difference between Bitcoin (BTC) and Dogecoin (DOGE) or Litecoin (LTC) is that the latter two are altcoins that use a mining algorithm known as Scrypt. Bitcoin mining, by contrast, uses an algorithm called SHA-256. Scrypt allows for faster block confirmation times, which means faster transaction times.

Here’s a quick guide to crypto basics and how the mining process works.

•   A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT).

•   Blockchain networks are the highways on which cryptocurrencies travel.

•   The computers that maintain a blockchain network are called “nodes.”

•   Some nodes can add new blocks of transactions to the network and gain rewards. These nodes are called “miners.”

•   Miners solve complex mathematical problems to process transactions and achieve consensus on the network, ensuring everyone agrees which transactions are valid.

💡 Recommended: How Does Bitcoin Mining Work?

Like gold mining, mining for crypto requires time and energy, whether you’re mining Bitcoin or an altcoin like Dogecoin or Litecoin. But unlike gold mining, computers do all the work in crypto mining. Individuals set up their mining rigs (powerful computer systems) and monitor the process. For some, mining cryptocurrency offers an opportunity to obtain cryptocurrency without buying it on an exchange.

How Do You Pool Mine Dogecoin (DOGE)?

To participate in a Dogecoin mining pool, you must have a crypto wallet that’s compatible with DOGE, and all the necessary hardware and software for mining.

Using a pool involves one extra step: telling the miners where to “point” their hashing power. This typically involves entering a single line of computer code into the mining software. The mining pool will provide the specific command, likely somewhere on its website or in the software itself.

Dogecoin Mining Equipment

Crypto mining requires sophisticated and powerful computers known as Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). In the case of Dogecoin mining hardware, the ASIC must be specifically designed to run the Scrypt algorithm.

While there might be some pools that allow users to use SHA-256 ASICs, contribute that hashing power to the pool, and take rewards in DOGE, those interested in mining DOGE specifically should stick to Scrypt ASICs.

ASICs take so much electricity that even smaller miners usually require a special power supply to connect to an electrical outlet. They also generate considerable heat, and miners must keep them cool to prevent damage.

In addition to the ASICs and their power supplies, miners will need a laptop or desktop computer. Running the Dogecoin mining software can take a considerable amount of central processing unit (CPU) or graphic processing unit (GPU) power, so that computer probably won’t be able to do much else while the mining is happening.

💡 Recommended: What Is a Bitcoin Mining Pool? Should You Join One?

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Pool Mining vs Solo Mining Dogecoin

Before you decide whether you want to pool mine or solo mine DOGE, you want to weigh the pros and cons.

The benefit of mining solo is that 100% of the block reward will go directly to you. But it could be weeks or months before you find a block because there is so much competition.

Most miners choose to join a mining pool. Pool miners receive rewards in proportion to the amount of hashing power they contribute. However, they also have to pay a small fee in exchange for using the pool.

Pros and Cons of Pool Mining

Pros and Cons of Solo Mining

Doesn’t require as much computing power. Requires a lot of computing power & energy.
Earn rewards proportional to your hashing power. 100% of the mining reward goes to you.
Easier to join a pool than find a block to mine. Can be hard to find a block to mine.
Must pay pool mining fees, which eat into profits. Overall costs of solo mining are quite high, which can eat into profits.

Using a Pool to Mine Multiple Coins

Some mining pools mine multiple cryptocurrencies. This allows the pool to switch its mining activities should mining a different coin become more popular depending on the constantly changing variables of price and difficulty.

For example, some pools mine both Dogecoin and Litecoin since both rely on the same mining algorithm. If such a pool’s miners were focused on Dogecoin but the price of DOGE stagnates, it could become harder to mine DOGE due to difficulty increases, meaning reduced profits for miners absent a rise in DOGE. Then they could switch to Litecoin.

Dogecoin Cloud Mining

Mining via the cloud is another option, and you won’t need physical hardware or software. Cloud mining DOGE involves buying a contract for a certain amount of hashing power over a certain amount of time. Essentially, you’re renting computing power from someone else.

Be careful, there have been many cloud mining scams over the years.

How to Join a Dogecoin Mining Pool

Other than the above, most mining pools don’t have any special requirements for joining. They want to make it as easy as possible for new miners to contribute because they take a small fee from each block reward. The more miners in the pool, the more often the pool finds new blocks, and the more fees the pool will generate.

Mining pools often have instructions on their website that teach new miners how to join. It usually involves little more than entering a line of code into a mining program. Computers handle the rest.

Here is a rundown of the steps that an individual will take when joining a mining pool:

Step 1: Obtain the necessary hardware. As noted above, joining a mining pool may require less sophisticated equipment than solo mining.

Step 2: Select a Dogecoin mining pool to join (more in the next section).

Step 3: Download and install the software from the pool’s official site.

Step 4: Set up a DOGE crypto wallet and enter the address into the software (so the software knows where to send the new coins.

How to Find the Best Dogecoin Mining Pool

To choose the best Dogecoin mining pool for you, consider the following factors:

Fees and Costs

Because mining cryptocurrency comes with a significant investment of time and money, miners will want to choose a pool that earns them the greatest profit. That involves a pool with the lowest fees and most equitable reward structure. The biggest Dogecoin pool may or may not be the best, as there are other factors to consider.

For example, the Dogecoin mining pool power cost is also important to consider. Mining requires cheap electricity to be profitable, and for miners to make more money.

In addition, the mining pool itself will charge a fee, maybe 0.5% to 4% of the reward. You’ll want to compare the fees charged by different pools.

Reward Distribution

The reward for each block of transactions is 10,000 DOGE, and it’s split among the mining pool members, in proportion to the hashing power that member contributed to the mining pool. For that reason, computing power does matter when you join a mining pool.

The bigger the pool, the more consistent your rewards will be. So while you might be able to score 10,000 DOGE per month as a solo miner, you could earn the same amount in smaller chunks when you join a mining pool.

Hashing Power

You want a pool with a high combined hashrate. That’s more important than the overall size of the pool. But the size of the pool is also an indicator of how trustworthy/secure it is.

The more hashing power you contribute, the bigger your share of the rewards will be. Hashing power is a function of computing power, so it’s something to consider as you invest in your rig, or cloud mining.

Server Locations

In theory, it may be smarter to join a pool with servers on the same continent, in terms of hash rate needed. Proximity to servers may enhance your rewards.

Security

The security of the mining pool is obviously critical, and there are various aspects to consider. First, you want to ensure that the pool is transparent about its hashrate and payout structures. Does the pool have a real-time dashboard of activity that you can review?

Stability is also important. Does the pool have a lot of down time, which can impact your ability to mine as well as potential profits.

5 Popular Dogecoin Mining Pools

While there are many Dogecoin mining pools, some are more popular. Remember that the number of coins mined is correlated with the pool’s computing power. A larger pool may equal more computing power, but not necessarily. A smaller pool running more high-powered computers would outperform a larger pool with older networks.

1. Aikapool

One of the oldest mining pools, Aikapool doesn’t charge a fee and there are no withdrawal limits. The payout is PROP, or proportional to your hash rate.

2. Prohashing

The Prohashing pool is one of the largest pools and it’s notable for paying in DOGE, vs. converting rewards to BTC or LTC.

3. Multipool

Multipool allows you to mine for more than one type of crypto at once, sometimes called merge mining. So you can mine DOGE and LTC, for example. Multipool charges a fee of about 0.25%.

4. 1CoinPool

1CoinPool has a transparent fee structure, and pays according to the PPS (proportional pay per share, where you get a fixed amount per work submitted). 1CoinPoll operates two mining pools – Litecoin and Dogecoin. Also, there are no fees for withdrawals. This means that the miners are rewarded proportionally as per the hashing power. Furthermore, the coins get automatically added to the wallet.

5. LitecoinPool

Litecoin also has a transparent reward system (PPS), and doesn’t charge fees, including no withdrawal fees.

The Takeaway

Cryptocurrency mining is not an easy task, and won’t be profitable for most people most of the time. All the right variables must align for an individual to make money mining in most instances. Many take up mining as a hobby and as a way to build a small crypto portfolio while contributing to the livelihood of the network of a particular coin.

If you’re interested in building a crypto portfolio without getting involved in mining, opening a brokerage account on the SoFi Invest investment app is a great way to get started. SoFi members can trade crypto directly from the app, with the peace of mind of knowing that they’re keeping their holdings on a secure platform.

Trade crypto and get up to $100 in bitcoin! (Offer is available through 12/31/23; terms apply.)

FAQ

Can Dogecoin still be mined in 2022?

Yes. Despite the ongoing volatility in the crypto markets, mining for many types of crypto continues. There are both solo Dogecoin miners and pool miners still active today.

How long does mining 1 Dogecoin take?

You can’t really mine 1 DOGE, because the rewards for mining a block is 10,000 DOGE. Given that it takes about a minute to mine a block of Dogecoin, depending on your equipment and the size of your mining pool, that’s roughly what it would take to obtain 1 DOGE.

How much Dogecoin could you mine in just 1 day?

Again, it depends on the number of blocks you have access to — either as a solo miner or as a pool miner — and how much hashing power you have. The supply of DOGE is unlimited, but you can only earn 10,000 DOGE per block of transactions that are confirmed.


Photo credit: iStock/Thirawatana Phaisalratana

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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
2Terms and conditions apply. Earn a bonus (as described below) when you open a new SoFi Digital Assets LLC account and buy at least $50 worth of any cryptocurrency within 7 days. The offer only applies to new crypto accounts, is limited to one per person, and expires on December 31, 2023. Once conditions are met and the account is opened, you will receive your bonus within 7 days. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate the offer at any time without notice.

First Trade Amount Bonus Payout
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$50 $99.99 $10
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$500 $4,999.99 $50
$5,000+ $100

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What Credit Score Is Needed to Buy a House?

What’s your number? That’s not a pickup line; it’s the digits a mortgage lender will want to know. In the range of 300 to 850, a score as low as 500 may open the door to a home.

But the credit score needed to buy a house is at least 620 for most types of mortgage loans. The lowest rates usually go to borrowers with scores of 740 and above whose finances are in good order.

Why Does a Credit Score Matter?

Just as you need a résumé listing your work history to interview for a job, lenders want to see your borrowing history, through credit reports, and a snapshot of it, expressed as a score on the credit rating scale, to help predict your ability to repay a debt.

A great credit score vs. a bad credit score can translate to money in your pocket: Even a small reduction in interest rate can save a borrower thousands of dollars over time.

Do I Have One Credit Score?

You have many different credit scores based on information collected by Experian, Transunion, and Equifax, the three main credit bureaus, and calculated using scoring models usually designed by FICO® or a competitor, VantageScore®.

To complicate things, there are often multiple versions of each scoring model available from its developer at any given time, but most credit scores fall within the 300 to 850 range.

Mortgage lenders predominantly consider FICO scores. Here are the categories:

•   Exceptional: 800-850

•   Very good: 740-799

•   Good: 670-739

•   Fair: 580-669

•   Poor: 300-579

Here’s how FICO weighs the information:

•   Payment history: 35%

•   Amounts owed: 30%

•   Length of credit history: 15%

•   New credit: 10%

•   Credit mix: 10%

Mortgage lenders will pull an applicant’s credit score from all three credit bureaus. If the scores differ, they will use the middle number when making a decision.

If you’re buying a home with a non-spouse or a marriage partner, each borrower’s credit scores will be pulled. The lender will home in on the middle score for both and use the lower of the final two scores (except for a Fannie Mae loan, when a lender will average the middle credit scores of the applicants).

💡 Recommended: 8 Reasons Why Good Credit Is So Important

A Look at the Numbers

What credit score do you need to buy a house? If you are trying to acquire a conventional mortgage loan, a loan not insured by a government agency, you’ll likely need a credit score of at least 620.

With an FHA loan, 580 is the minimum credit score to qualify for the 3.5% down payment advantage. Applicants with a score as low as 500 will have to put down 10%.

Lenders like to see a minimum credit score of 620 for a VA loan.

A score of at least 640 is usually required for a USDA loan.

A first-time homebuyer with good credit will likely qualify for an FHA loan, but a conventional mortgage will probably save them money over time. One reason is that an FHA loan requires upfront and ongoing mortgage insurance that lasts for the life of the loan if the down payment is less than 10%.

💡Recommended: How to Check Credit Scores Without Paying

Credit Scores Are Just Part of the Pie

Credit scores aren’t the only factor that lenders consider when reviewing a mortgage application. They will also require information on your employment, income, and bank accounts.

A lender facing someone with a lower credit score may increase expectations in other areas like down payment size or income requirements.

Other typical conventional loan requirements a lender will consider include:

Your down payment. Putting 20% down is desirable since it often means you can avoid paying PMI, private mortgage insurance that covers the lender in case of loan default.

Debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio is a percentage that compares your ongoing monthly debts to your monthly gross income.

Most lenders require a DTI of 43% or lower to qualify for a conforming loan.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


How to Increase Your Credit Scores Before Buying a House

Working to improve or build credit over time before applying for a home loan could save a borrower a lot of money in interest. A lower rate will keep monthly payments lower or even provide the ability to pay back the loan faster.

Working on your credit scores may take weeks or longer, but it can be done. Here are some ideas to try:

1. Pay all of your bills on time. If you haven’t been doing so, it could take up to six months of on-time payments to see a significant improvement.

2. Check for errors on credit reports. Be sure that your credit history doesn’t report a missed payment in error or show a debt that’s not yours. You can get free credit reports from the three main reporting agencies.

To dispute a credit report, start by contacting the credit bureau whose report shows the error. The bureau has 30 days to investigate and respond.

3. Pay down debt. Installment loans (student loans and auto loans, for instance) affect your DTI ratio, and revolving debt (think: credit cards and lines of credit) plays a starring role in your credit utilization ratio. Credit utilization falls under FICO’s heavily weighted “amounts owed” category. A general rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization below 30%.

4. Ask to increase the credit limit on one or all of your credit cards. This may improve your credit utilization ratio by showing that you have lots of available credit that you don’t use.

5. Don’t close credit cards once you’ve paid them off. You might want to keep them open by charging a few items to the cards every month (and paying the balance). If you have two credit cards, each has a credit limit of $5,000, and you have a $2,000 balance on each, you currently have a 40% credit utilization ratio. If you were to pay one of the two cards off and keep it open, your credit utilization would drop to 20%.

6. Add to your credit mix. An additional account may help your credit, especially if it is a kind of credit you don’t currently have. If you have only credit cards, you might consider applying for a personal loan.

💡Recommended: 31 Ways to Save for a House

The Takeaway

What credit score is needed to buy a house? The number depends on the lender and type of loan. An awesome credit score is not always necessary to buy a house, but it helps in securing a lower rate.

Ready to shop for a home? SoFi offers fixed-rate mortgage loans with competitive rates and perks.

Find your rate on a SoFi Mortgage in minutes.


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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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