Saving Money as a Family

Perhaps you define your family as you and your partner—or maybe you have a house full of children. No matter how big or small your family is, you have goals to achieve and dreams to accomplish.

Sometimes, you’ll already be able to fund them, but, often, you need to save money to make these dreams comes true, and here you’ll find strategies you can customize for your own family’s wants and needs. When thinking about which strategies are best for saving your family money, always keep your goals in mind.

Ask Yourself These Questions:

1) What are you saving for? Are you saving to create an emergency fund for peace of mind? Will your goals then transition into a savings plan for a fabulous summer vacation?
2) How much do you need to achieve your goals?
3) Where can you cut expenses to free up cash flow and make it easier for your family to save?

Now, look at these tips and customize as needed to help achieve your goals.

Optimize Your Mindset for Saving

If you approach your new saving strategies with excitement, seeing them as an opportunity to accomplish family goals, not only are you probably more likely to be successful, but the process will also be more enjoyable.

With this attitude, strategies that might have seemed too challenging in the past can suddenly be transformed into an adventure. Plus, when the entire family is participating, you naturally create momentum to achieve goals and celebrate progress.

From “Should Have” to “Should” to “Will”

When it comes to money management, virtually everyone has some “should have” items to put on their list:

•   I should have started saving earlier in my life.
•   I should have created a better budget.
•   I should have [Fill in the blank and know you aren’t alone!].

Now, take those thoughts and turn “should have” into the present tense:

•   I should start saving.
•   I should create a better budget.
•   I should [fill in the blank].

Next, make it stronger by changing “should” to “will”:

•   I will start saving.
•   I will create a better budget.
•   I will [fill in the blank].

You’re ready to take positive steps to save. Here are some additional tips to help your family keep the right attitude:

•   Don’t compare your financial situation to anyone else’s. Create a plan that works for your financial situation and goals.
•   Create a savings plan and stick to it.
•   Celebrate successes.

Freeing up Cash Flow to Save

As a starting formula, calculate these three sums:

•   Net monthly income (after taxes)
•   Monthly expenses: housing/utilities, car payments, student loan payments, credit card payments, etc.
•   Subtract the second amount from the first and determine how much money you can save out of what remains.

Now, what expenses can you eliminate to free up even more cash flow? Do you have automatic withdrawals for services that you don’t really use anymore?

One place where families can often cut back is food:

•   Create a monthly budget for food expenses, including grocery shopping and eating out.
•   Determine what role restaurants will play in your family budget. Some families are more than willing to give up eating out as part of their new lifestyle, while others like to keep some dining out dollars in their monthly budget.
•   Many families find it helps to plan meals before they go grocery shopping. If that’s you, create a list to follow at the store. If possible, go without any small children who may have different ideas about what you should buy.
•   Manage leftovers well and make sure you use food before expiration dates.

Check contract payments and see if you can get better prices for your home and car insurance, cell phone bills, cable contracts, and more. Will your current vendors match pricing available from their competitors?

Two more ways to free up cash flow are:

•   Determine what loans are close to being paid off: How much will that payoff boost your ability to save? If it’s by a significant amount, consider focusing your energy on paying off those bills.
•   Consider consolidating high-interest credit cards and loans into a low-interestpersonal loan.

Saving My Family Money: Tips for Parents

Children tend to follow the lead of their parents, so how you present any changes in your daily routines is crucial. For example, if you realize that you’re blowing a whole lot of money on game machines at a local pizza place, get creative!

Start making pizzas at home with your kids—complete with silly faces made out of pepperoni and veggies and followed by family game night. The first time you do this, your children might be frustrated, but your enthusiasm and creativity can turn the tide.

If you realize that you overspend on birthday celebrations for your kids, cut back on gift-giving costs but turn the present-opening experience into a game. What if you hid the presents and gave the birthday boy or girl clues to follow? Play music in the background, making it louder when your child is getting closer and lower it when he or she is going in the wrong direction.

Use visuals to help your children become part of the family savings plan. You can create colorful charts to show your youngsters how much you want to save and your progress. Give each one of them fun piggy banks and invite them to start saving. Once there is enough money in a child’s piggy bank, you might take him or her to the bank to open a savings account, and make it a time of celebration.

And most important, pay attention to how you talk about money and saving around your children. Be positive instead of dwelling on the negative. Don’t apologize for giving fewer or less expensive gifts—make the most of the new traditions.

Saving for the Future

As you build up an emergency savings fund (say, three to six months’ worth of living expenses) and otherwise begin to reach your goals, saving for the future may transform into investing. And, although the terms “savings” and “investing” are sometimes interchangeably used, there are stark differences. For example, when you’re building up your savings, you are likely:

•   Adding money to a cash management account in regular increments
•   Saving with a specific purpose in mind for those funds, whether it’s a rainy-day fund or a down payment on a new house
•   Focusing on shorter-term financial goals over the next two to three years

When you invest, you take on a degree of risk. Investments aren’t FDIC insured (like a bank account), and account balances are subject to market fluctuations.

But often, people invest in light of longer-term goals, whether it’s funding your kid’s college education or planning for retirement. Bonds, and mutual funds, are very common investments, as are ETFs.

At SoFi, we believe that everyone should have the ability to invest in their family’s future, and they should be able to access quality investment management. So, even if you’re new to investing, you can start quickly and easily with an initial deposit of $100.

When you make an investment appointment online, you start by letting us know which of these areas is of interest to you:

•   SoFi Invest® Overview
•   Debt Management Strategies
•   Home Ownership Planning
•   Planning for Children
•   Financial Checkup
•   Financial Independence and Retirement Planning Strategies

To benefit from today’s automated investment technology and the insight of professional human advisors, contact SoFi. Because our advisors don’t receive commissions, they don’t try to sell you anything that isn’t in your best financial interest. Instead, they can help create a plan that’s customized for your unique needs and goals.

SoFi is ready to help you invest as a family. Start today by signing up for an investment account with SoFi.


SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance.
This information isn’t financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on specific financial needs, goals and risk appetite.
SoFi doesn’t provide tax or legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique. Consult with a qualified tax advisor or attorney.
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.
Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC, a registered investment advisor.
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I Due: How To Tackle Student Loan Debt Without Sidelining Your Marriage

Getting married soon? Congratulations! Just be warned—there comes a moment in many weddings when half the guests suddenly slip away to watch a big game (just follow the cheers to find your wedding party).

Football especially is a pretty good analogy for a wedding – after all, in both football and marriage, you’re either tackling things together or you’re being tackled by them. Money is a common example of this (in marriage, not football), as the growing number of couples dealing with student loan debt can attest.

Whether the loans belong to you, your spouse or all of the above, once you get married it doesn’t really matter anymore. Paying off debt is now something you can tackle together. It may be tough, but with open communication and planning you can work as a team to get that student loan linebacker off your, er, back.

So what’s the best strategy for taking down student loans without letting them clobber your marriage? Here are five tips for proactively – and collaboratively – running a play that could help lead to the big pay-off: a debt-free happily ever after.

Tip #1: Create Your Big Financial Picture

Preparing to take on a big financial goal usually requires some conversation and preparation upfront. Before making any decisions, sit down and talk about your short- and long-term financial objectives, and make sure you’re both on the same page (or as close to it as possible). This can be an overwhelming topic, so see if you can break it down into chunks.

Have you established a household budget? How do student loans (and paying them off) fit into your long-term and short-term goals? Should you start aggressively paying off debt, or might it be better for you to ramp up over time? What other factors (e.g., buying a home, changing careers, having children, etc.) could affect your decisions?

Not only can this exercise help give you more clarity to create an action plan, it can also actually be kind of fun – after all, planning a life together is part of the reason you got married in the first place. The key is to listen to each other and remember that you’re both on the same team.

Tip #2: Take Advantage of Technology

Once you’re clear on the big picture, it’s time to get into the weeds. Many people have more than one student loan, often with multiple lenders, so a good place to start can be to gather all of your loan info in one place. You can use an online student loan management tool to collect this information, compare student loan repayment options, and even analyze prepayment strategies.

After crunching the numbers, your debt payoff strategy may include putting extra money toward your loans each month, which means creating and sticking to a budget that supports that goal. Platforms like Mint and Learnvest can help you aggregate household accounts and track spending.

Note: tracking your spending so precisely may feel like ripping off a bandage at first, but over time, this kind of discipline can help you better see where your money goes and help you make conscious choices about your spending. And once you have your budget in place, these apps can be set up to alert you both when spending is getting off track.

Tip #3: Define The Who, What, When

Whether your finances are separate or combined, you’ll probably want to come to an agreement on how to collectively pay all of your financial obligations. Many couples address this based on each person’s share of the total household income.

For example, if one person makes 40% and the other makes 60%, the former might pay 40% of the shared bills and the latter might pay 60%. Others find it simpler and more cohesive to have one household checking account and pay all bills from there.

However you decide to split things up, it could make things much easier to agree upon a plan that accounts for everything, because missed payments can potentially impact your credit (and/or your spouse’s), making your future financial objectives that much tougher to achieve.

Tip #4: Look For Opportunities to Optimize

Okay, so now you’ve established a plan and a budget, and you know who’s on point for each bill. You’re on the path to getting student loan debt off your plate. Is there anything else you can do to speed up the process?

Short of winning the lottery, the most common ways to accelerate student loan payoff are prepayment (meaning, paying more than the minimum) or lowering the interest rate, the latter of which is most commonly accomplished through refinancing.

If you qualify to refinance your student loans, you have a few possibilities: you can lower your monthly payments (by choosing a longer term) or lower your interest rate (which could also lower your monthly payments) – or you could shorten the payment term, and that means you could save money on interest over the life of the loan – money that could come in handy for those other financial goals you’ve both agreed to pursue.

Tip #5: Be on the Same Team

Living with debt is stressful for any couple, but being part of a relationship has its advantages, too. There’s a reason that weight loss experts often recommend finding a “buddy” to help cheer you on and keep you honest in your diet and exercise journey – and the same applies for achieving a big goal like paying off student loan debt.

Keep it positive and keep the lines of communication open, and you may even find that the journey to being debt-free makes your marriage even stronger – so you can take the hits that come your way as easily as your favorite team does.

Check out SoFi to see how you can save money by refinancing your student loans.


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.

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The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Home Loans

Homeownership can be both rewarding and a great financial decision for your future. But as anyone who has dipped their toes into the home-buying process knows, the pressure to find and secure the “right” mortgage loan can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer.

During the early stages of the home-buying process—perhaps while you’re researching neighborhoods and schools, shopping around for properties, and nailing down the details of your budget—it would serve you well to do some research into the types of mortgages available. That way, you’ll feel prepared when the time comes to put down an offer on the perfect home.

As you’ve likely noticed, there are quite a few mortgage loan types available to borrowers. Brace yourself, because the process definitely requires you harness your best inner comparison shopper. You’ll need to consider the ins and outs of each option alongside your personal and financial needs. To help make the decision a bit easier, we’ve compared the advantages and disadvantages of each mortgage type below.

Fixed-Rate Versus Adjustable-Rate Home Loans

First, it’s helpful to know that most home loans come with a fixed or adjustable interest rate. A fixed-rate mortgage means that your interest rate will never change. In other words, your monthly mortgage payment is locked in. Fixed-rate mortgages generally come in 15 or 30-year loans.

A 30-year fixed-rate loan is the most common, though you can save a lot in interest if you opt for a 15-year loan. Monthly payments on a 15-year loan will be much higher than for a 30-year mortgage, so it’s best to commit only if you’re confident that it works in your budget—even in the event of a financial emergency.

An adjustable-rate mortgage, called an ARM, has a fixed, usually lower rate for an initial period and then increases to a more expensive, floating rate tied to the market interest rate index. ARMs are often expressed in two numbers (like 5/1 or 2/28), although those numbers don’t follow one particular formula (they could represent years, months, number of annual payments, etc.). For example, a 5/1 ARM has five years of fixed payments and one change to the interest rate in each year thereafter.

It’s easy to be drawn to the lower initial rate offered on an ARM, but it very well could end up costing more in interest than a fixed-rate loan over the lifespan of your mortgage. An ARM might work best for someone who plans to pay off their mortgage in five years or less, or is committed to refinancing prior to the ARM’s rate increase.

Rate increases in the future could be dramatic although there are limits to the annual and life-of-loan adjustments, often leaving adjustable-rate mortgage-holders with much higher monthly payments than if they had committed to a fixed-rate mortgage.

Types of Government Home Loans

The government does not actually lend money to home buyers. Instead, “government home loans” is a catchall for loans that are insured or guaranteed by various government agencies in the event the borrower defaults. This makes the loan less risky for lenders, and allows them to provide mortgages at reasonable rates.

Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Loans:

FHA loans are one of the most popular government loan types for first-time home buyers, because they have the more lenient credit score requirements and down payment requirements. With a 580 credit score, you might qualify with a 3.5% down payment. For more, check out the FHA’s lending limits in your state.

Pros: Because FHA loans are ubiquitous and have lower down payment and credit score requirements, they are one of the most accessible loans. FHA loans give potential homeowners a chance to buy without a big down payment. Additionally, FHA loans allow a non-occupant co-signer (as long as they’re a relative) to help borrowers qualify.

Cons: Historically, the requirements for FHA mortgage insurance have varied over the years. Currently, an FHA loan requires both an up-front mortgage insurance premium (which can be financed into your loan amount) and monthly mortgage insurance. The monthly mortgage insurance has to stay in place until your loan-to-value ratio reaches 78%.

USDA loans:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides home loans in rural areas to borrowers who meet certain income requirements. USDA loans offer 100% financing—so no down payment is necessary—and require lower monthly mortgage insurance (MI) payments than an FHA loan. This type of mortgage loan is offered to “rural residents who have a steady, low or moderate income, and yet are unable to obtain adequate housing through conventional financing.” To find out if you qualify, visit the USDA income and property eligibility site .

Pros: USDA loans come with low monthly MI, and they are accessible loans for low-moderate income borrowers in rural areas.

Cons: You need a credit score of at least 640 to qualify. These loans, like an FHA loan, also require an upfront fee which can be financed into your loan. If you are obtaining a loan with no down payment, this could result in a loan balance higher than your loan amount.

VA loans:

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs provides loan services to members and veterans of the U.S. military and their families. If you are eligible , you could qualify for a loan that requires no down payment or monthly mortgage insurance.

Pros: You don’t have to put any money down or deal with monthly MI payments, which could save borrowers thousands per year.

Cons: These loans are great to get people in homes, but are only available to veterans.

FHA 203k rehab loans:

FHA 203k loans are home renovation loans for “fixer upper” properties, helping homeowners finance both the purchase of a house and the cost of its rehabilitation through a single mortgage. Current homeowners can also qualify for an FHA 203k loan to finance the rehabilitation of their existing home.

Many of the rules that make an FHA loan relatively convenient for lower-income borrowers apply here. An FHA 203k loan does not require the space to be currently livable, but it does generally have stricter credit score requirements. Many types of renovations can be covered under an FHA 203k loan: structural repairs or alterations, modernization, elimination of health and safety hazards, replacing roofs and floors, and making energy conservation improvements, to name a few.

Pros: They can be used to buy a home and fund renovations on a property that wouldn’t qualify for a regular FHA loan. And they only require a 3.5% down payment.

Cons: These loans require you to qualify for the price of the home plus the costs of any planned renovations.

Conforming Home Loans

Conforming home loans are a type of mortgage offered by private lenders. They are not insured by the government, but meet standards set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (government sponsored agencies). As of 2018, the conforming loan limit is $453,100 in most of the U.S. and goes up to $679,650 in certain higher-cost areas.

Conventional Home Loans:

Conventional loans are the single most popular type of mortgage used today. These are slightly more difficult to qualify for a conventional loan than a government-backed loan. However, borrowers can obtain conventional loans for a second home or investment property.

Conventional loans typically require a minimum of a 620 credit score and a down payment between 5% and 20%. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) ) if you put 20% down. If you put less than 20% down, PMI is required but you have options. PMI can be paid monthly or can be an upfront premium that can be paid by you or the lender. Monthly PMI needs to stay in place until your loan-to-value ratio reaches 78%.

Pros: Pretty much any property type you’re considering would qualify for a conventional mortgage. And you have greater flexibility with mortgage insurance if you are putting down less than 20%.

Cons: Conventional loans tend to have stricter requirements for qualification and require a higher down payment that government loans.

Conventional 97 Mortgage:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s conventional 97 loan was made to compete with FHA loans. It requires a 3% down payment or 97% loan-to-value ratio, besting the FHA’s 3.5% down payment requirement. A conventional 97 loan also requires that at least one borrower be a first-time homeowner, which they define as someone who hasn’t owned a property in the past three years. Participants in this program will need to have good credit scores and the standard 43% debt-to-income ratio.

Pros: You only need to put down 3%.

Cons: Only single-unit properties qualify, and one of the borrowers must be a “first-time buyer.”

Non-Conforming Loans

If you need a loan that exceeds the limits of both a conforming loan and a government-backed loan, you’ll need a non-conforming loan. A non-conforming loan exceeds the limits set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Jumbo Loans:

Because of their size, jumbo loans tend to have even stricter requirements than regular, conforming loans. Most jumbo loans require a minimum credit score above 700 and a down payment of at least 15%.

Super Jumbo Loans:

For financing of $1 million or more, you are going to need to take out what is called a super jumbo loan. These loans require excellent credit and can provide up to $3 million in financing.

Those looking to fund an expensive property purchase will likely have little choice but to use a jumbo or super jumbo loan. If that’s you, it might require taking some time to get your credit score in good shape.

The process of finding and securing the right mortgage loan requires a little bit of investigation and a whole lot of patience. Happy hunting!

Ready to do some comparison shopping? SoFi offers mortgages with competitive rates, a fast & easy application, and no hidden fees.


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 Mortgages not available in all states. Products and terms may vary from those advertised on this site. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria#eligibility-mortgage for details.

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How to Save for a House While You’re Still Renting

Millennials, that rather maligned generation of people born sometime between 1980 and 1995, are often the butt of jokes for being the “boomerang generation .” You know, because they seem to leave the comfort of their parent’s homes only to return again when they realize they can’t find a job or pay the bills in post-collegiate life.

And sure, many young people do indeed return to the welcome embrace of mom and dad, but it may not be because they want to. In fact, most would rather be living the American dream of owning their own home.

According to 2017 data from Apartment List , 80% of millennials want to buy a home one day. However, if you’re wondering, “How long does it take to save for a house?” there are a few things you should know.

Most of those same millennials noted in their responses that economic hardship (thanks to mounting student loan debt , low wages , and an unstable economic environment) will likely delay their homeowner dreams. And for many, it comes down to the fact that they can’t seem to save enough for that dreaded 20% down payment.

As the data additionally showed, 68% of millennials have less than $1,000 for a down payment in an account right now. Another 44% said they have not saved anything for a down payment at all. And 39% said they aren’t saving for a down payment on a monthly basis.

But, if buying a home is a top priority for you, there are ways to make that happen. Here’s how to save for a house while you’re still renting.

5 Tips to Save for a Home While You’re Still Renting

Pay Down Your Debt First

In order to save for a house, it’s imperative that you figure out a plan to pay down your existing debt. And for 30% of millennials , that means paying off more than $30,000 in student loans. And though that may seem like a monumental amount of money to pay off, there are ways to do it.

First, if you’re a full-time employee, reach out to your company’s HR department to learn more about student debt repayment assistance. Though Inc reported just 3% of companies in the U.S. currently have this type of assistance, it’s still worth a try.

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As a more drastic measure, you could always think about going into a profession that offers partial or total student loan forgiveness (such as teaching in certain public schools), or moving to a state that will also help pay off your student loan debt just for moving there (including Alaska, Wyoming, Washington State, Florida , and more).

For a much easier fix, you could always think about looking into student loan refinancing. If your current interest rate seems unreasonably high, check out SoFi’s student loan refinancing options. By dropping your interest rates, you could significantly reduce both your payments and the length of time you’ll be making them. Which in turn could help you save for a house even while getting out of student loan debt.

Create a Budget That Will Help You Spend Less and Save More

Look, we’re not saying eating avocado toast at brunch on Sundays is really breaking the bank, but indulging in luxurious habits day after day can really add up. Creating and sticking to a realistic budget can help you spend less while saving for a house. To get there, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.

Gather your data: Figure out how much you’re earning each month (after tax), along with how much you’re currently spending. Add it all up including cell phone bills, insurance, grocery bills, rent, utilities, your coffee habit, the dog walker, gym membership, etc. Don’t miss a dime.

List your current savings: Are you currently putting money into an IRA, 401(k), or other savings plan? List it, so you can see what you’ve already got in the bank.

Really dig in and be harsh about your spending: Can you cut back anywhere? How about on that gym membership? Maybe it’s time to join 24 Hour Fitness over Equinox. How’s your takeout habit? If you really want to save for a house, you may need to learn to cook. And next time you go shopping for new clothes, make sure to clean out your closet first to ensure you actually need to buy new dress shirts.

This, admittedly, is the worst step in the budgeting process, but it’s crucial to be honest with yourself about your spending. Look on the bright side, all that hard work could help you get a new home years sooner.

Finally, remember to check in on your budget every so often and adjust as needed. For example, if you land a new job, get a promotion, or are given an annual raise, perhaps you can be adding that money to your savings account, or put it toward paying off your loans. Whichever one feels more important to you is OK, so long as that extra cash isn’t going toward more weekly lattes .

Invest With a Wealth Management Account

If you’ve paid off your debt, set realistic budgeting goals, and are raking in some dough to add to a savings account, you’re already on the right track. Now all you need to do is put your money to work for you. To make that happen, consider opening a SoFi Invest account.

With an online investment account, you can set targeted goals that are personalized for you. In this case, your goal would likely be to purchase a home within a set number of years, and SoFi can help you figure out an investment plan accordingly.

After setting a few targeted goals, you can work with a real-life financial advisor who will walk you through how to strategically invest your money so that it works for you. And we will never push you to take more risk than you want to—tell us what your risk tolerance is, and we’ll work with it. Our financial advisors will cost you $0, so no need to budget extra for that.

Automate as Much of Your Finances as Possible

This is a lot of information to process, but once you get through all the work upfront, you can start automating as much as possible. For example, have a portion of your paycheck automatically go into your savings account each month.

Then, automate a certain dollar amount to head to your SoFi Invest® account. The rest can then go into your checking account and be divvied up at will. This means less stress for you and more time designing your dream home on Pinterest. Just remember to invite us to your housewarming party when it all comes together.

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SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance.
This information isn’t financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on specific financial needs, goals and risk appetite.
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.
Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC, a registered investment advisor.

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How Timeshare Financing Works for Vacation Property

Dreaming of swaying palm trees and fruity drinks topped with tiny turquoise umbrellas, or escaping to a ski villa up in the mountains? While many of us would love to own a vacation home in our favorite destination, the expense is not always feasible. Because we can’t all own multiple properties, vacation timeshares continue to be a popular choice for solo travelers, couples, and families who want more space, amenities, and “a place to call home” at their locale of choice. Here’s a look at what timeshares are and some timeshare financing options.

What Is a Timeshare?

A timeshare is a way for multiple unrelated owners to own a fractional share of a vacation property, which they take turns using. They share costs, which can make timeshares far cheaper than buying a vacation home of one’s own.

Timeshares are a popular way to vacation. In fact, 9.9 million U.S. households own a timeshare, according to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). The average price of a timeshare in the United States is $22,942 . Though this figure can vary widely depending on the location, the size and quality of the property, the length of stay, time of year, and the rules of the contract.

How Do Timeshares Work?

Timeshares usually fall into two broad categories: deeded or non-deeded. With a deeded ownership structure, each owner owns a piece of the property, which is tied to the amount of time they can spend there. The partial owner receives a deed for the property that tells them when they are allowed to use it. For example, a property that sells timeshares in one-week increments, would have 52 deeds, one for each week of the year.

Non-deeded timeshares work on a leasing system, where the developer remains the owner of the property. You can lease a property for a set period during the year, or a floating period that allows you greater flexibility in choosing when to use the property. Your lease will expire after a predetermined leasing period.

Timeshares may also offer one of a handful of options for timeshare use periods. They may be fixed-week, meaning you can use the property during a set week each year. There may be floating weeks which allow you to choose when you use the property depending on availability. A timeshare may offer fractional periods that allow you to use the property for a longer period. And finally, you may be able to purchase points that you can use in different timeshare locations at various times of the year.

Choosing a Timeshare

When you purchase a timeshare, you’re sharing the property with a number of other timeshare owners and you typically have the right to use the property at the same time every year.

You can trade days with other owners and sometimes even try out other properties around the country (or around the world) in a trade. In addition to the initial purchase price, you’ll also be required to pay your share of the maintenance fees that cover the costs of property upkeep and cleaning. These maintenance fees often increase over time with hikes in cost of living. There are also service charges that timeshare owners may have to pay, such as fees due at booking.

Once you’ve considered the financial responsibilities that come with the timeshare and your budget, choosing the right place often comes down to where you want to be and what you need in terms of space and amenities.

Are Timeshares a Good Investment?

Getting out of a timeshare can be difficult. Selling sometimes involves a financial loss, which means they are not necessarily a good investment. However, if you purchase a timeshare in a place that your family will want to return to for a long time—and can easily get to—you may end up spending less than you would if you were to purchase a vacation home.

Financing a Timeshare

When you buy a home, you typically finance it with a mortgage. When you buy a car, you can finance it with an auto loan. But timeshare financing has no direct market. The developer of the resort may offer you financing, but beware: these offers often come with very high interest rates, especially for buyers with lower credit scores. In fact, ARDA reports that the average interest rate on a timeshare financing loan is 14% over 10 years, with rates reaching as high as 20%.

Developer financing is often proposed as the only timeshare financing option, especially if you buy while you’re on vacation. However, with a little advance planning, there are alternative options for financing timeshares. If developer financing is taken as an initial timeshare financing option, some timeshare owners may want to consider timeshare refinance in the future.

Home Equity Loan

If you have equity built up in your primary home, it may be possible for you to obtain a home equity loan from a private lender to purchase a timeshare. Home equity loans are typically used for expenses or investments that will improve the resale value of your primary residence, but they can be used for timeshare financing as well.

Because a home equity loan uses your house as collateral, it is likely that you will be given a lower interest rate compared to the rate on a timeshare loan offered at a developer pitch. Additionally, the interest you pay on a home equity loan for a timeshare purchase may be tax-deductible as long as the timeshare meets IRS requirements, in addition to other factors. Before using a home equity loan as timeshare financing, or even to refinance timeshares, be aware of the risk you are taking on. If you fail to pay back your loan, your lender may seize your house to recoup their losses.

Personal Loan

Another option to consider for timeshare financing is obtaining a personal loan or vacation loan from a bank or an online lender. While interest rates for personal loans can be higher than rates for home equity loans, you’ll likely find a loan with a lower rate than those offered by the timeshare sales agent.

Additionally, with an unsecured personal loan as an option for timeshare financing, your primary residence is not at risk in the event of default, and securing an unsecured personal loan is generally a simpler process than qualifying for a home equity loan. Online lenders, in particular, offer competitive rates for personal loans and are streamlining the process as much as possible.

FAQs

Q: Can I rent my timeshare to someone else?

A: Whether or not you can rent your timeshare out to others will depend on your timeshare agreement. But in many cases your timeshare resort will allow you to rent out your allotted time at the property.

Q: Can I sell my timeshare?

A: Your timeshare agreement will give you details about when and how you can sell your timeshare. In most cases, you should be able to sell, but it may be hard to do so, and you may take a financial loss.

Q: Can I transfer ownership of my timeshare or leave it to my heirs?

A: You can leave ownership of a timeshare to your heirs when you die and even transfer ownership as a gift while you’re living. Once again, refer to your timeshare agreement for rules about what is possible and how to carry out a transfer.

The Takeaway

Timeshares are often thought of as a way to guarantee vacation time in your favorite location each year without having to buy a second home. If you do your homework and weigh the risks, they can be a good way to vacation with family and friends and make a lot of memories along the way.

Thinking about using a personal loan for timeshare financing? Check out SoFi to check your rate in just a few minutes.


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