champagne, wedding bands, and flowers

Why February Is Actually a Good Month to Buy Your Wedding Bands

Caught up in the frenzy of wedding planning, with a growing list of things that must be done, it’s easy to overlook one of the most meaningful decisions you and your partner will make together.

Choosing your wedding bands.

You’ll see lots of tips out there—online and in bridal magazines—about good times of year to buy engagement rings. What you don’t see nearly as often is information about budgeting for and purchasing wedding bands. But that doesn’t mean it should become an afterthought.

After all, if all goes well, you’ll be wearing those rings for the rest of your lives. Your bands are a symbol of your love and commitment, and they will hopefully make you happy every time you look at them.

You’ll want your band-browsing trips to be romantic but also rewarding, especially if you’re hoping to get the right rings at a bargain price. And that makes February—a month devoted to lovers—an ideal time to shop. Here’s why.

The Christmas Crush is Over

Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) is still one of the most popular holidays for couples to get engaged , but more people choose to pop the question in the period between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day than any other time of year.

So while jewelers still will be catering to happy couples in February, and there will be plenty of inventory, the stores won’t be quite so crowded. And you might be the only ones in there looking for bands instead of a big diamond. You should be able to get lots of attention and negotiating for a better price could potentially be easier.

Ring Sets

If you’re among those still looking to buy an engagement ring for a Valentine’s Day proposal or announcement, keep an eye out for package deals. Jewelers often recommend buying a bridal set—an engagement ring and wedding band that go together, or even fit together—because they can be more comfortable and make decision-making a bit simpler.

Some sets come with a matching groom’s band as well. You may find three rings you love already on sale together—but if they aren’t, don’t be afraid to ask if you can get a better price for a package.

Bridal Fairs are Kicking Into Gear

Many bridal expos are held in February and March , offering a great opportunity to see the trendiest and most enduring styles without the sales pressure.

Vendors are there to give tips as well as a good pitch—and many will be offering limited-time expo-related discounts. Gather up information and coupons at the bridal fair, then give yourselves a day or two to regroup and possibly go make a purchase.

Great For a Summer Wedding

Many jewelers recommend shopping for your bands at least two to three months before your wedding date. That will give you time to look and look again, get the rings sized and get any engraving or other customizing done.

If your wedding is in June or later in the summer, starting in February should provide plenty of breathing room, even if it takes a while to find what you want at the price you want to pay. (And, come on, you know every store will be covered in hearts and flowers, so the setting will be super-romantic.)

Before you scoot out the door on a band-buying mission, though, do a little prep work . It will help you stick to a reasonable price for your rings and make things go more smoothly.

Set a Budget

You want bands you’ll love forever, but not at a price that will put you in debt for the rest of your lives.

It’s really a matter of taste: what metal you want, how wide the band is, the intricacy of the design, and if it’s custom-designed. If your budget is limited, talk about whether you might want to upgrade down the road or add an anniversary ring in 10 or 20 years.

Look For a Ring You’ll Want to Wear

Of course, you want your ring to be a good fit for your budget, but it also should suit your lifestyle. If you don’t plan on taking your band off every time you’re in the garden or workshop, if you play an instrument or sport, or if you don’t want to attract attention, stick to something simple.

Start by looking at images online (try to find sites with 3D photos ), then go try on similar styles. When it’s time to buy, online jewelers can be less expensive, but be sure you go with a reputable brand.

Keep Maintenance in Mind

Softer metals can bend. Small stones can get loose and go missing. If you’re not up for the trauma, trips to the jeweler for repairs or the cost of replacing tiny diamond chips, you might want to go with a basic platinum or gold band that will hold up with little care.

Beware of “Interest-Free” Financing at the Jewelry Shop

Larger jewelry stores usually offer some sort of in-store financing, including 0%-interest credit cards. But you could curse that convenience later if you can’t pay off the balance in full during the designated promotional period.

If the interest is “deferred” and you still carry a balance—even if it’s just a few dollars—you’ll have to pay all the interest that’s been adding up since you made the purchase. And that interest rate probably will be higher than other credit card or loan offers available to you.

Financing Your Wedding Bands

If it looks as though your dream bands will be a bit outside your budget because of all the other costs of starting your life together, a wedding loan may be a proactive way to plan your payments. With a personal loan, you’ll be clear from the get-go about the interest rate and length of the loan—no surprises.

And you could potentially qualify for a competitive rate if you and your spouse-to-be both have a solid financial history, including factors like a good credit record and well-paying jobs.

If you sign on as co-borrowers, and the funds will be delivered to a joint account, you can own the loan together and work the payments into your new household budget. Another plus: You may be able to negotiate a discount with the jeweler for paying the entire bill up front and in cash.

Applying for a SoFi personal loan online is quick and easy. There’s no prepayment penalty, so you can pay the loan back early if you want.

If you qualify for a personal loan using SoFi as your lender, you’ll also qualify for member benefits that include access to other financial services you may require in the future, whether you’re buying a home, sending your kids to college or planning your retirement.

The words “till death do us part” should hopefully refer to your marriage, not your wedding bills.

A SoFi personal loan can help if you come up short when it’s time to buy your bands—or with any other expenses related to your wedding.


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.
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.
No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SOPL18111

Read more
couple in kitchen

Effective Investing as a Couple

You know you want to invest your money, and you know your finances are at least partially combined with your significant other’s, but you don’t know how to invest together. Should you simply merge all of your existing accounts into a joint investment account? What should you do if you each have different goals for your future?

No wonder it seems like money is one of the most common reasons for divorce . It can be a source of stress and investing isn’t the only financial decision you’ll have to make as a couple. Long before you get married or buy a house together, you’ll need to make some decisions about how to combine your finances.

But once you’ve tackled the questions of how (and how much) to merge your money, then you should consider what to do with your investments and your long-term financial planning.

The sooner you start investing, individually or together, the sooner you can potentially start accumulating returns (depending on market forces). Some good rules of thumb, whether solo or as a couple: diversify, start small, have long-term goals, and look for low fees.

Now how do you make that work for both of you, to get started investing together? And what other money tips for couples will set you on a healthy path towards your financial goals? Get all your financial info out and get ready to have an open conversation with your partner.

Investing Together

For most couples, the reason they want to invest together is fairly simple: They live together and spend together and are planning a future together, so investing is an obvious next step.

Nine out of 10 couples buying a house, then that might mean having a joint investment account or a joint brokerage account in order to plan for your joint goals. Or it could make sense for you to share some accounts as a couple and to keep some separate.

Related: Examining Male vs. Female Investment Behavior

It can also be practical, in terms of financial returns, to invest together. Combining your money can potentially pay dividends—as you reinvest your larger returns, they accumulate and may go further. Why have two smaller portfolios when you could have one bigger one?

And why use just one person’s investing smarts, when you could use two? Some studies, for example, have found that women tend to be better investors —largely because they tend to trade less (incurring fewer fees) and take a longer, safer view of the market. So combining your skills could work out to both of your advantages.

Some Challenges With a Joint Investment Account

It’s common for different people to have different goals and strategies with their money—even people who are in a relationship. However, the danger comes when you don’t communicate about your different goals or your shared finances.

A great first step is to understand your joint finances. Understanding your joint finances means making sure both of you know the passwords to all of your joint accounts, how much is in those accounts, even where the checkbook is.

You also want to have a clear understanding of how much debt you each have and what your plan is to tackle it together: Will you pay off grad school or credit cards first? How much will you invest after accounting for expenses and debt? Will you put it towards retirement or towards other long-term financial goals?

Before you start investing, one option is to track your spending in order to know what you’re both spending on and how much you can reasonably put into long-term savings or investments.

This isn’t to place blame on one person for spending more or to fight over daily expenses! In fact, you might decide to allocate a certain small portion of your monthly income to each person to spend on what they want without judgment. You can do this in a joint cash management account like SoFi Money®. You and your +1 can have a single place to access your cash.

An important thing to do is to lay out a plan and communicate clearly about what you want to do with a joint investment account before you ever even open one. And even after you start investing together, keep a monthly money date to sit down and handle your finances.

Tips for Opening a Joint Investment Account

Here are some money tips for couples that applies to almost everything: it’s all about communication and compromise. That’s true when it comes to investing together too.

•  Decide on your investment goals for your joint brokerage account upfront—as opposed to goals for any other accounts or money you have. That means deciding: What do you want to save money together for—a vacation, a house? When do you want to retire and how much do you need at retirement? If you disagree about retirement plans, can you compromise? And how much are you going to set aside for each of your goals, with what strategies? Use automatic contributions from your paychecks to put away money in retirement or investment accounts.

•  A corollary to having joint goals for your joint investment accounts is that it’s OK to have separate financial goals too—as long as you’re on the same page. You can set aside some amount out of your discretionary income, like 1%, for each of you to spend as individual fun money. Or maintain smaller separate accounts, in addition to your joint accounts. A TD Bank study found that 42% of people in relationships who have joint accounts also have separate accounts for reasons ranging from independence to emergencies. One strategy is to use your individual retirement accounts, which generally have to be kept separate for each person, as a place to play with your individual investment strategies.

•  The reality is you’re likely to have different risk tolerances, which can heavily influence your investment strategies. That’s not necessarily bad. It’s one thing to know you should invest when the market is down; it’s another to have the risk tolerance to do so. If you have different tolerances, they might balance each other out. Or you could end up magnifying each other’s worse tendencies, depending on what your tendencies are. Talk to a wealth advisor to get a real understanding of both of your risk tolerances, instead of just thinking you know. And figure out if you’re going to balance each other out in your joint portfolio, or if you need to find a compromise.

•  Take a long view on your joint financial goals. While you may disagree about whether to buy a new couch, you should agree on when you want to retire. (Not that each of you need to retire at the same time.) The added benefit of a long view is that, while the market can go up or down in any given year, by some estimates, on average and in the long run, it gives around a 10% return .

•  Establish a system for resolving disputes before you get started investing. Even in the healthiest of relationships there are bound to be disagreements. Before you open a joint investment account, decide how you’re going to resolve disputes about whether to invest in one asset or to rebalance your portfolio. One way could be to establish objective parameters—will this move us toward our financial goal per the expected returns v. risk. Another option is to let each person try their own strategy with a small amount of money, and bring in a financial advisor for guidance on bigger issues.

There are a lot of different strategies you can utilize to invest together as newlyweds or if you’ve been married for years. Some couples like to split the difference in their retirement accounts, allowing each person to use their own strategies for those investments.

Others like to set aside extra money to “play” with, while focusing the main investing on their joint brokerage accounts. Depending on your relationship, it might make sense for one person to take the lead, if they’re more interested in financial details, but both of you should be involved in the discussion and in all meetings with financial advisors.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Even the most communicative and well-informed of couples might need a little extra help when it comes to money advice.

That’s when a financial advisor can come in handy, simply to give you an outside perspective on financial strategies and an objective assessment of your risk tolerance. (Often what we think we’ll do is not the same as what we actually do when presented with market ups and downs.)

As a SoFi Invest® member, you have complimentary access to a financial advisor who can help recommend a portfolio strategy that’ll work for both of you.

Plus you can have different portfolios for different financial goals. That can let you invest as a couple, with joint goals and with your own separate goals that might have a different asset allocation and strategy.

Ready to get started investing as a couple? You can open a joint investment account today with just $100 and pay no SoFi management fees.


Choose how you want to invest.

Ready to
do-it-yourself?

Learn more →

Want to take a
hands-off role?

Learn more →



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.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “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.

SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.

SOIN18113

Read more
pregnant woman on smartphone in bed

Balancing Paying Off Student Loans & Starting a Family

These days, planning for parenthood can seem even more daunting thanks to student loan debt. Older millennials ages 25 to 34 owe an average debt of $42,000, including credit card and student loan debt, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study.

So when looking to start a family, it’s important to understand how to prioritize your debts and all of the new budget needs you’ll encounter. Raising a baby while making student loan payments is certainly possible, but it just means taking those nine months (or more, if you are thinking ahead) to sort out your finances first.

Student loans and pregnancy go almost hand-in-hand these days, since American women carry two-thirds of all student debt , according to the American Association of University Women. The last thing anyone wants to be thinking about when pregnant, or holding a new baby, is missing a student loan payment, so it helps to plan ahead to start getting your debt under control. Paying off student loans while saving for children is definitely doable.

Whether you are considering refinancing your student loans, lowering your monthly payments by switching to an income-based repayment plan, or are just looking to save more money before the arrival of your new baby, there are plenty of ways to stay on top of your student loan payments while saving for new kid costs.

Preparing Financially for Your First Child

For most families, housing-related costs such as rent, insurance, or a mortgage are their largest expenses. So, if bringing a new baby into your home means saving up for a big move, or even just expanding into a two-bedroom apartment, evaluating if you need more space for your growing family can certainly put a strain on the budget. Childcare itself is the second-largest expense after housing for most families.

Plus, perhaps you even want to start saving now for your child’s future education, so that hopefully they are less burdened by student debt. All of these expenses, in addition to the general costs of raising a child, can really add up and make it feel like paying your monthly student loan payment is not a priority.

However, there are a number of solutions to explore to see if you can reduce your monthly student loan payments and put those savings toward a new baby.

Exploring Income-Based Repayment

If one person in your partnership is becoming a stay-at-home parent, or even taking an extended parental leave from work, consider applying, or reapplying, for an income-based repayment plan, even if you’re already on one for your student loans.

Since your loan payments were originally calculated based on your income while employed, if you inform your loan servicer about your change in circumstance, you might be granted a different, lower payment plan.

These plans can make your monthly payment more affordable, based on your income and family size. Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one income-driven plan .

Income-Based Repayment

Payments are generally 10% or 15% of your discretionary income , depending on when you first received your student loans. Any outstanding balance is forgiven after 20 or 25 years, but you may have to pay income tax on that amount . You generally must have a high debt relative to your income to qualify for this repayment plan.

Income-Contingent

Payments will be either 20% of your discretionary income, or the amount you would pay on a fixed 12-year repayment plan adjusted to your income, whichever is less. Most borrowers can qualify for this plan, including parents, who can access this option by consolidating their Parent PLUS loans into a Direct Consolidation
Loan
. Outstanding balances are forgiven after 25 years.

Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)

Payments are 10% of discretionary income , and outstanding balances will be forgiven after 20 years for undergraduate loans.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

For this repayment plan, you are required to make payments of 10% of your discretionary income. To qualify, each of those payments must be less than what you’d pay if you went with the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan. The repayment period for PAYE is capped at 20 years. You must be a new borrower on or after Oct. 1, 2007 to qualify .

The important thing to remember about all of these plans is that you must reapply every year, even if your circumstances don’t change. Once you switch over to an income-based repayment plan, you can start saving the difference in amount from your earlier payments. This extra savings could go toward expenses for your new baby.

Student Loan Consolidation and Forbearance

Another option to consider when having a baby while paying off student loan debt is consolidation. Student loan consolidation can lower your monthly payment; however, it does so by lengthening your repayment period, meaning you will end up paying more overall due to the additional interest payments.

A Direct Consolidation Loan can be a smart way to stay on top of student loan payments, and also set yourself up to qualify for eventual loan forgiveness and/or income-based repayment plans.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are truly unable to make your student loan payments due to the costs of a new baby, you can also consider student loan forbearance.

Forbearance temporarily allows you to stop making your federal student loan payments, or at least temporarily reduce the amount you have to pay. In order to request a general forbearance and get approved, you must meet certain requirements .

This usually means you are unable to make monthly loan payments because of financial difficulties, medical expenses (which might include high hospital bills from pregnancy), or change in employment (especially key if one parent is going to stay at home with the baby).

Ways To Save Money

If you are already on an income-based repayment plan and have considered other options to reduce your student loan debt, and are finding it is still not enough to comfortably save for a new baby, consider some other savings tricks to help you manage your money better.

In order to make sure some money ends up in your savings account every month, you can set up a portion of your paycheck to deposit directly into your savings account, instead of just a checking account.

Most banks also have the option to set up recurring transfers yourself between your own accounts. This way, your desired amount will get transferred into savings without you having to think about it.

Keep in mind there are also tax benefits to having a baby , which can earn you some extra cash back to help you reduce your overall amount of student debt.

Refinancing Your Student Loans During Pregnancy

Refinancing your student loans is another way to make your loans more manageable. Refinancing student loans through a private lender such as SoFi can give future parents the opportunity to consolidate multiple student loans into one loan with a single monthly payment.

Refinancing can provide great value as you can choose your repayment terms and potentially end up with a lower payment to free up money. (Just remember that doing this means extending your loan term, which would up the total interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.)

Take a look at our student loan refinance calculator to see how your loan could change when you refinance. Those savings can then be put toward staying financially secure while having a baby.

Learn more about refinancing with SoFi and see what your new loan could look like in just two minutes.


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.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
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 about bankruptcy.
SOSL18167

Read more
couple with cats and dogs

Financial Impact of Not Having Children

If you have kids, it’s a good thing you don’t have to come up with this money up front (although it would probably help). A child costs over $245,000 for a middle-income family to raise until age 17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

If you don’t have kids, you’re part of an increasingly large group. The number of childless Americans has been steadily increasing for decades; according to the most recent census , “The share of adults living without children has climbed 19 points since 1967 to 71.3%.”

Increasingly common living situations have also made it more difficult for younger people to start families, even if they wanted to. In 2016, the number of millennials age 25 to 35 who moved back in with their parents rose to 15%, up from 12% in 2010.

If you’re part of a couple who have decided not to have children, you may be referred to in the culture as “DINKs” (dual income/no kids). DINKs are perceived to have more time to focus on personal development (and each other) and to be able to follow their passions.

However, having no children is no guarantee of being in the green, especially when it comes to retirement savings. DINKs may not have the financial burden of raising children, but that may leave them tempted to splurge on a more lavish lifestyle.

It’s also a little-known fact that many seniors are working long beyond the typical retirement age of 65. In 2016, nearly 19% of senior citizens hadn’t retired and two-thirds were working full-time (when the person has a white collar job, the situation is more likely to be voluntary).

Here are a few proactive steps to take to help keep yourself from becoming a statistic.

Saving for Retirement is Job #1

Having no children may mean that you have less to be responsible for, but don’t forget to be responsible for yourself. One way to take care of your future self now is to save for your retirement.

Determine what income you will receive in your retirement; that includes Social Security and any annuities or pensions coming your way. Subtract that from the annual living expenses you expect to have.

If you work at a full-time job, your employer may offer a 401(k) as a benefit. This is a retirement plan and employers often match any contributions you make to the fund.

It usually allows for higher contribution rates than other investment funds (in 2019, you’ll be able to contribute $19,000), and your contribution is simply deducted from your paycheck. You fund your 401(k) with pre-tax dollars, which reduces the amount of taxable income you report to the IRS each year.

If you don’t have an employer-sponsored 401(k) at work (and even if you do), consider opening an IRA. A individual retirement account is another tax advantaged fund that allows you to invest your money over time.

If certain conditions are met, taxes can be deferred until retirement, when your tax bracket likely will be lower. Money invested into an IRA might be invested in stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds.

You’re not able to cash in any of this investment until you turn 59 ½ (happy half-birthday in advance!). If you do, you have to pay a 10% penalty, which could take a big chunk out of the money you’ve worked hard to invest.

A Roth IRA is another tax advantaged option. Qualified individuals are allowed to contribute after tax income, but earnings are not taxed when you make withdrawals after age 59 ½, when certain conditions are met.

Estate Planning

This is all about tying up the loose ends after you die, making sure that the money you leave behind goes to a spouse, relative, friend, or even a charity. What’s important is that your final wishes are carried out, legally.

Most of your final wishes can be executed through a will. It’s never too early to write one, and it typically only costs a few hundred dollars to make it happen.

If you don’t have a will, that means you will die “intestate,” and your money and property might be given away for you by a judge. A will lets you appoint an executor and empowers him or her to carry out your decisions.

The executor might sell your property, make sure your final taxes are paid, and wrap up any unresolved financial issues you’ve left behind. The job of an executor carries a lot of responsibility and can also involve court time and people contesting your will. Make sure your executor is somebody you trust, and who is working in your best interests.

A will also lets you decide who gets your money and property after you’re gone (your beneficiaries). In most cases, your investments—for instance an IRA, 401(k), and life insurance—allow you to list beneficiaries as well.

Assume You May Need Elder Care

Without children, there may be fewer people around to take care of you when you’re older. That may mean planning for residence in an elder care or assisted living facility. And that includes the cost of living there, and it’s usually rather costly.

“A lot of people have this sense that it’s all going to work out (but) have never gone through the exercise of really understanding what the numbers look like,” Sally Brandon of Rebalance IRA told USA Today.

Surprisingly, only about 3% of senior citizens live in nursing homes, according to the last U.S. Census in 2010. Rather than move to a nursing home or assisted living, many seniors choose in-home care support. Hopefully you can too, but better safe (and prepared) than sorry.

Plan for the Death of a Spouse

This may be an unpleasant thing to even think about, but planning for your worst-case-scenario is a must for your future financial planning. First, you’ll want to consider solid life insurance policies. In addition to life, you may wish to consider medical and disability insurance as well, in the event that your spouse becomes ill, injured, or disabled.

Life insurance can provide your family with financial help in the event of your passing, while medical insurance can help if you are no longer able to contribute financially to your family because of a disability or injury.

Plan for Your Pets

Find an animal lover, or a lover of your particular pet, to take care of them after you’re gone. The idea is to make the transition as easy and as non-traumatic as possible for your pet, and to avoid the last resort of an animal shelter.

Naming a caretaker in your will may not necessarily obligate that person to take care of your pet. You may want to make a written agreement with the caretaker, and start a small trust for the care and feeding of your pet.

Saving For Retirement

Ready to start saving for retirement? You can open up an investment account with SoFi Invest. Or if you have an old 401(k) or IRA accounts you can roll them over into a SoFi Invest account. There are no management fees and all SoFi members have access to speak one-on-one with a SoFi financial planner.

They can help you map out a definite and clear financial plan. With SoFi Invest, you can get the navigation assistance you’ll need to stick with your financial goals.

Learn more about SoFi Invest today!


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.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “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.

SOAD18108

Read more
couple on couch with laptop

Importance of Reviewing Employee Benefits When A Kid Is On the Way

Attention parents to be: your mind is most likely on many other things currently, we’re sure, but we want to kindly remind you to review your employee benefits long before the blessed event.

Why? We don’t want to start any trouble at work, but we all know that employers are in business to make money. Sure, you’ve been hired to help the company do that, but your employers are going to make sure to control costs as their first priority, long before they think of your perks.

Don’t let those controlled costs get in the way of any rich benefits you may need and deserve, especially after the baby comes along. Up-to-date and worthy benefits should make your life easier, both during and after work.

Even with your employers’ ever-present bottom line, employee benefits are still a huge consideration for them. Retaining skilled, loyal employees is one of the biggest challenges faced by corporate America.

One study reports that 87% of human resources (HR) leaders say that improving retention is a high priority for their organization; Forbes shares the outlook that retention success may include creating a more nurturing work environment for new mothers.

Due to the coworking revolution, the gig economy, the changing definition of family and marriage, and the drive to hire a younger workforce, reviewing your benefits are more vital than ever. Recently an Aflac survey found some startling statistics regarding work bennies:

•  55% of employees are likely to take a job with lower pay, but better benefits

•  34% of employees say improving their benefits package is one thing their employers could do to keep them in their jobs – second only to “increase my salary” and even more important than “give me a promotion.”

•  26% of employees have left a job or turned down employment in the last 12 months due to the benefits offered.

Interesting findings for sure, yet elaborate, amazing benefits could interfere with a company’s profits, especially when it comes to soaring health-care costs. Even if employers want to attract the very best employees—and they do—dreamy benefits may remain just that: a dream.

How Millennials Are Reviewing Employee Benefits

Increasingly, employees value choice when it comes to the benefits menu. In a recent survey, MetLife found 58% of employees want customized benefit options based on their personal information.

Also changing are employees’ attitudes toward the willingness to share costs for better benefits. That same MetLife survey found 52% of employees are willing to take on more of the benefit cost in order to have a choice of benefits that meet their needs.

If you’re a part of the later/younger Millennial generation (21-24 years old), 59% of you say that life events like having a baby impact your benefit decision making. The response increases to 73% for older Millennials (25-34 years old).

MetLife considers this a significant difference: 14%. What this suggests: older Millennials are making more family-focused benefit decisions as they are immersed in the stage of life when many impactful changes are happening.

The MetLife study shows that older Millennials are dead serious about the financial futures. They’re reviewing their retirement savings plans, rebalancing their investment portfolios and spending more time examining and reviewing employee benefits.

Companies rich with Millennials are making big changes to their benefits menu. They’re increasingly focused on providing the right mix of benefits that will attract the best workers, and encourage commitment and loyalty.

If you’re a member of this generation, time and employers’ wish lists are on your side. It’s more likely that you may have negotiating power when you are reviewing employee benefits.

Recommended: How Employers Can Help New Parents

What’s Most In Demand When Reviewing Employee Benefits

In general, these are the most in-demand employee benefits, according to Glassdoor:

•  Work-Life Balance

•  Student Loan Assistance

•  Additional Professional Development

Considering Maternity Leave When Reviewing Employee Benefits

Check your company’s maternity leave policy. In most cases, U.S.-based employers are not required to grant this leave unless you work at a company with at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your work site.

If eligible, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act . This guarantees your job and health care benefits.

Don’t ever assume that you are not eligible for maternity leave benefits. Some leave plans could include part-time employees and other employment statuses.

You can also choose to work during your pregnancy, right up to the end. Pregnancy accommodation rights in the workplace are covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) , the Family and Medical Leave Act , and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) .

Ask your HR department about how childcare is handled, if at all. Your job may offer on-site childcare, or have contacts with daycare centers or nanny agencies that could include an employee discount.

Flexible and Family-Friendly Schedules

According to a recent Zenefits survey , 77% of employees consider flexible work arrangements a major consideration when evaluating future job opportunities. Plus, 21% of respondents said strongly agree when asked if they are likely to leave their currently employer within in the next 12 months because they don’t offer certain flexible arrangements.

With a kid on the way, a flexible work schedule can be an important benefit to think about. Check with your employee to understand their policies on this and decide if it is right for you in this next change in your life.

One of the Hottest New Employee Benefits: Student Loan Reimbursement

For millions of Americans tangling with their student debt while trying to start a family, loan repayment assistance is new and most attractive perk. It’s not a mainstream employee benefit just yet, but Forbes reports that major companies like Fidelity, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are offering the benefit to their employees.

Not all companies can offer such a lavish perk, but even a small employer contribution can help things along. In fact, IonTuition reports that about three-quarters of borrowers make monthly payments of $300 or less.

If your company doesn’t offer this employee benefit, you could take advantage of SoFi’s student loan refinancing. Refinancing your student loans could help save you money so you can have extra money for your new bundle of joy.

First, know the difference between student loan refinancing and student loan consolidation. Consolidation is when you combine multiple federal loans into one single loan.

Refinancing, on the other hand, gets you a brand new loan at a new and lower interest rate or repayment term from a private lender. Both federal and private loans are able to be regrouped into a new loan from a private lender.

You can apply online, with absolutely no application fees. If approved, there are no origination fees, and no prepayment penalties. Live customer support is also available, seven days a week.

Reviewing Employee Benefits When You Have A Qualifying Life Event (QLE)

A change in your life situation, like getting married or having a baby, can make you eligible for a special enrollment period at work, which would allow you to change your health insurance outside the usual open enrollment period (check with your employer or HR department). The term for this is a Qualifying Life Event (QLE).

How To Review Your Employee Benefits

Start Early

Find out ahead of time when your benefit reviews are offered, and start your research, due diligence, and comparison shopping a few months in advance.

Know What you Want

Configure your list of what would make the most sense for you as far as employee benefits go. Having a list of prioritized benefits you can reference is great to have on-hand when discussing with HR.

Know the Competition

If your employer is offering a certain type of benefit, take the time to discover similar (or even better) programs in the marketplace, or those similar benefits offered by competitors. Ask friends, colleagues, and family what their employers are offering along the same lines.

Don’t Just Look at Salary

“The first mistake that young people make when they go into the workforce – when they’re comparing jobs – they just look at income,” Stephanie Genkin, Certified Financial Planner ™practitioner and founder of My Financial Planner LLC in Brooklyn, New York tells U.S. News and World Report. “[Your employee benefits are] worth probably about 30 percent of your total compensation,” Genkin says.

Reviewing Employee Benefits When Working For A Small Business

About four in five U.S. employees would prefer new or additional benefits instead of a pay increase. This type of request is particularly a challenge for small businesses. In particular: health insurance.

When 2,000 respondents were given the option to choose a list of 17 benefits for a lower-paying job that would make it comparable to a higher-paying job, 88% of them chose better health, dental, and vision insurance.

How SoFi Can Help You When Reviewing Your Employee Benefits

When it comes time to review your employee benefits, SoFi can steer you in the right direction. Your retirement plan, company stock options, pay raises, and performance bonuses should be set up in a way that benefits you. We aim to help you reach your goals faster. All it takes is a plan, and a way to stick to it.

To help your money goals stay on track, sign up for SoFi Relay. You can connect your accounts to see everything in one place. Plus, you can track and categorize your spending and cash flow in real-time. And the charge for all of this? Zero. We created SoFi Relay to help you stick to your money goals.

Don’t forget you can always set up an appointment with one of our financial planners for real live human advice if you would like additional help.

Make an appointment with a SoFi Financial Planner to get started on your planning.


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “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.

SOAD18106

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender