How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

You may have heard that you should spend anywhere from one to three months’ salary on an engagement ring. But these rules of thumb (formulated and advertised by the diamond industry) are now considered pretty outdated.

Instead, it can be a good idea to consider not only your income, but also your savings, current debt, living expenses, other costs involved in planning the wedding, and (bottom line) what you feel comfortable spending.

How you plan to pay for the ring can also impact how much you can afford to pay for it. Options include paying cash, using a credit card, financing the ring through the jeweler, or using a personal loan. And, each payment avenue has its pros and cons.

What follows are some guidelines that can help you figure out how much you should spend on an engagement ring, as well as how you may want to make the purchase.

The Average Cost of an Engagement Ring

According to The Knot’s 2020 Jewelry and Engagement Study, the average cost of an engagement ring is around $5,500.

While that number may represent the average, the amount couples actually spend on a ring varies widely. In The Knot’s study, 25 percent of respondents spent between $1,000 to $3,000 on their engagement ring, and 11 percent shelled out less than $1,000.

Why do rings vary so much in price? The cost of an engagement ring depends on a number of factors, including the size and quality of the stone, where the gem was sourced, how the gem is set, and the type of metal chosen (such as yellow gold, white gold, or platinum). There may also be mark-ups that come along with a popular brand name.

Diamond engagement rings, sourced from a mine, tend to be the most expensive choice. But there are many other, less costly options, such as lab-grown diamonds, moissanite (a lab-grown gem that looks like a diamond), and semi-precious gemstones (such as tourmaline, morganite, and aquamarine).

Whether you’re in the market for a large, eye-catching dazzler or a more dainty design, the good news is that these days there are ways to accomplish almost any look for a range of price points.

How to Pay for an Engagement Ring

While paying in cash can be the simplest (and often the cheapest) option, it may not be feasible for all couples. Below are some other payment options that you may want to consider, along with their pros, cons, and potential costs.

Financing an Engagement Ring Through Your Jeweler

Many jewelers offer financing options, but just because you’re buying from a jeweler does not mean you have to use the financing they offer. It can be a good idea to take note of the following:

Promotional offers. Some jewelers offer a 0% introductory interest rate during a set period of time. But after that period of time, interest rates may be quite high.

Down payment requirements. Some jewelers may require a certain percentage down payment prior to financing.

Financing through a jeweler directly may make sense if you’re confident you can pay back the loan prior to the end of the promotional period. As with any loan, it’s likely that there will be a credit check prior to being approved for financing.

Recommended: When Should You Make Big Purchases?

Buying an Engagement Ring With a Credit Card

Putting a large purchase like an engagement ring on your credit card can be a simple solution at the moment, but may become a financial headache in the future. Here are some things you may want to consider before getting out the plastic.

Interest rate. Putting the engagement ring on a card with a relatively high-interest rate means that the ring will end up becoming more expensive over time. You may also want to keep in mind that many credit cards have a variable interest rate, which means the interest rate at the time of purchase could rise over time.

Credit-utilization ratio. A large purchase like an engagement ring may mean using a significant percentage of credit available on your card. Having a high credit-utilization ratio may negatively affect your credit score.

Rewards and protections. Some buyers like putting large purchases on credit cards because of the consumer protections offered by the card. They also may want to take advantage of the rewards offered by the credit card company. Those rewards, however, may only be worth it if you can pay the amount back in full at the end of the billing cycle or during a 0% interest promo rate.

Recommended: Credit Card Rewards 101

Using a Personal Loan to Finance an Engagement Ring

A personal loan is another avenue for making an engagement ring purchase. A personal loan from a bank or other lender may have a lower interest rate than a jeweler financing program.

A personal loan also works differently than a credit card or financing a purchase. With a personal loan, you’ll get the money in your bank account, and pay the jeweler as though you were paying in cash. You would then pay back the loan in monthly amounts set out in the loan agreement.

Here are some things you may want to consider before using a personal loan to pay for an engagement ring.

Interest rate. In many cases, a personal loan interest rate is fixed, meaning it doesn’t change after the agreement has been signed. This means that you know exactly how much you will need to pay back for the length of the loan.

Loan terms. You may have an option to pick the length of the loan. Shorter loans may mean you’re paying less interest over time, but you have larger monthly payments.

Loan costs. There may be fees associated with the loan, including an origination fee when the loan begins and a prepayment penalty if the loan is paid before the end of the agreed upon term.

“What if” scenarios. Some lenders provide temporary deferment for people facing financial hardship, such as a job loss.

Recommended: Why February Is a Good Month to Buy Wedding Bands

The Takeaway

Spending between one and three month’s salary for an engagement ring is a long-standing tradition, but these days there is no one-size-fits-all formula.

How much you spend on an engagement ring is a very personal decision and will depend on your current and predicted income, current debt, expenses, savings, and preference.

If paying for an engagement ring upfront in cash isn’t feasible, you may want to look into different financing options and compare their pros, cons, and costs.

Your jeweler may offer financing, for example. Or, you may be able to take advantage of a credit card that has a 0% or low introductory interest rate and pay the balance off before the rate goes up.

Another option is to take out a personal loan. SoFi personal loans, for instance, offer fixed, competitive interest rates and come with no fees.

Learn more about SoFi’s personal loan options today.

Photo credit: iStock/ljubaphoto


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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.
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
.

SOPL0521022

Read more
Understanding the Different Types of Mortgage Loans

Understanding the Different Types of Mortgage Loans

An important first step for aspiring homebuyers is to decide which type of home loan will best serve their needs. The interest rate, length, down payment, borrower qualifications, and extra fees all play a role in the decision.

To help make the choice a bit easier, let’s talk about mortgage basics and compare the advantages and disadvantages of mortgage types.

Recommended: First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide

Fixed-Rate vs. Adjustable-Rate Loans

When it comes to understanding types of mortgage loans, the difference between an adjustable-rate mortgage and fixed-rate mortgage is the first thing to consider.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

Fixed-rate mortgage loans are exactly what they sound like: The interest rate is fixed for the entire life of the loan.

The term can vary, but a 30-year fixed-rate home loan is by far the most common type of mortgage, according to Freddie Mac. These loans offer a steady monthly payment and relatively low interest rate. Borrowers can usually make extra payments toward the principal if they want to pay off the mortgage faster, as prepayment penalties are rare.

Because a 30-year mortgage is spread over a relatively long period, lenders tend to see them as riskier than shorter home loans, and ask for higher interest rates.

A 15-year loan may have a lower interest rate, and you will pay less in total interest than you would on a 30-year loan, but the shorter term means monthly payments may be much higher.

Quick Tip: Check out our Mortgage Calculator to get a basic estimate of your monthly payment.

Pro: The monthly payment is fixed, and therefore predictable.

Con: If you take out a fixed-rate loan when interest rates are high, you’re locked into that rate for the entire term—unless you’re able to refinance later and get a lower rate.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that fluctuates after an initial fixed-rate period of months to years. The variable rate is typically tied to a benchmark index rate that changes with market conditions.

ARMs are often expressed in two numbers, like 7/1 or 5/1. A 5/1 ARM typically has a rate that’s fixed for five years and then adjusts every year, up to a cap, if there is one.

Pro: The initial interest rate of an ARM is usually lower than the rate on a traditional fixed-rate loan, so it’s easy to be drawn to the teaser rate, but it could end up costing more in interest than a fixed-rate loan over the life of your mortgage. An ARM might work best for someone who expects to sell the property before the rate adjusts.

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

To compare two ARMs, or an ARM with a fixed-rate mortgage, it’s a good idea to read up on indexes, margins, discounts, caps, and more .

Check out local real estate
market trends to help with
your home-buying journey.


Conventional vs. Government-Insured Loans

A conventional loan is originated by a bank or other private lender, and is not backed or insured by the government. It’s the most popular type of mortgage.

Then there are several types of government-insured loans, some requiring little or nothing down.

Conventional Loan

Conventional loans usually have stricter requirements than government-backed home loans. Lenders typically look at credit scores and debt-to-income ratio, among other factors, in evaluating conventional loan applications.

Your down payment may be less than 20%, but if so, you’ll need to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) that insures the lender. PMI can be paid monthly or can be an upfront premium that can be paid by you or the lender. PMI needs to stay in place until your loan-to-value ratio reaches 78%.

Pro: A variety of property types qualify for a conventional mortgage, and PMI can make it possible for borrowers to qualify for a conventional loan if they put down less than 20%.

Con: Conventional loans tend to have stricter requirements for qualification and may require a higher down payment than government loans.

FHA Loan

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are not directly issued from the government. Certain lenders can issue FHA loans on behalf of the government, and the FHA insures the loans.

Qualifying for an FHA loan is often less difficult than qualifying for a conventional mortgage, so FHA mortgages can be a good choice for people with less-than-stellar credit scores or a high debt-to-income ratio.

With at least a 580 FICO® credit score, you might qualify to put just 3.5% down ; and with a score of 500 to 579, 10% down.

FHA mortgages come with an additional insurance charge called a mortgage insurance premium (MIP)—upfront and annual.

Pros: FHA loans have lower down payment and credit score requirements. Additionally, FHA loans may allow a nonoccupant co-signer to help borrowers qualify.

Cons: The MIP stays in place for the life of the loan if the down payment is less than 10%.

VA Loan

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs backs home loans for members and veterans of the U.S. military and eligible surviving spouses. Similar to FHA loans, the government doesn’t directly issue these loans; instead, they are processed by private lenders and guaranteed by the VA.

Most require no down payment. Although there’s no minimum credit score requirement on the VA side, private lenders may have a minimum of 580 to 660.

Pros: You don’t have to put any money down or deal with monthly PMI payments.

Cons: A one-time VA “funding fee” on purchase loans ranges from 1.4% to 3.6% .

FHA 203(k) Loan

Got your eye on a fixer-upper? A 203(k) loan helps buyers finance both the purchase of a house and repairs. Current homeowners can also qualify for an FHA 203(k) loan to finance the rehabilitation of their existing home.

The generous credit score and down payment rules that make FHA loans appealing for borrowers often apply here, although some lenders might require a credit score above 580.

With a full 203(k), the lender will assign a loan consultant to ensure that the right contractor gets hired and the work gets done as promised. A limited 203(k) loan allows you to do cosmetic upgrades worth about $35,000 and is offered by more lenders.

Pros: An FHA 203(k) loan can be used to buy and rehab a property that wouldn’t qualify for a regular FHA loan. And it requires as little as 3.5% down.

Cons: These loans require you to qualify for the value of the property plus the costs of planned renovations. The rate can be higher than that of a standard FHA loan. And you’ll pay an upfront and monthly mortgage insurance premium.

Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan

For fixer-upper fans, an alternative is the Fannie Mae HomeStyle mortgage, which requires only 3% to 5% down but a minimum credit score of 620.

Pros: No upfront MIP is required, and you may cancel mortgage insurance after 12 years or once you reach 20% home equity. The rate is often lower than that of an FHA 203(k).

Con: Must meet credit score thresholds.

Conforming vs. Nonconforming Loans

Both conforming and nonconforming mortgages are types of conventional mortgages.

Mortgages that conform to the dollar limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency are called conforming loans. The limit changes annually, based on federal guidelines. Loans that exceed those guidelines are considered jumbo loans.

As of 2021, the conforming loan limit is $548,250 for a single-family home in most of the US and goes up to $822,375 in certain higher-cost areas.

Pros: Conforming loans may have lower interest rates and fees than nonconforming loans.

Cons: The amount that can be borrowed is limited.

Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage allows homeowners 62 and older to turn part of their home equity into cash. There are several factors to weigh, including the youngest homeowner’s age, the loan rate and costs, desires of heirs, and payout type.

Pros: The homeowner doesn’t have to make any monthly payments, and can choose a lump sum, a monthly disbursement, a line of credit, or some combination of the three.

Cons: The interest rate can be higher than traditional mortgage rates. The homeowner will also typically pay mortgage insurance, an upfront fee, an origination fee, and third-party fees.

The Takeaway

Among the smorgasbord of mortgages, which is best for you? With so many types of home loans, it’s a good idea to do your homework and shop around.

As you weigh all the types of mortgage loans out there, consider getting prequalified for a mortgage with SoFi.

SoFi Home Loans come with competitive fixed rates and as little as 5% down.

Check your rate in two minutes.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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

MG16103

Read more
student at college graduation

What Percentage of Parents Pay for College?

If you’re a parent, you’ve likely already begun to worry about how you’re going to pay for your kid’s college tuition. But what percentage of parents pay for college? It may be less than you expect.

83% of parents pay for a portion of their child’s college tuition,and the reality is, even a percentage of the total college bill can be tough for most families to pay.

How much exactly should parents be saving? Average yearly tuition and fees have risen to an average of $41,411 for private schools and $11,171 for state residents at public colleges.

Add on living costs, and some students can expect to shell out almost $50,000 for one year of higher education. That means that even parents who only plan to pay for part of the costs of college still must save tens of thousands of dollars to help their kiddos with college.

Saving for Future College Costs

It can seem insurmountable to even think about saving over $40,000 (per year) for college costs on top of all your other financial responsibilities. A common recommendation is to pay off your own student loans before putting significant amounts of money towards college savings. Some parents find that refinancing their own student loans if they haven’t paid them off already allows them to save money—giving them more financial wiggle room to start saving up for future educational expenses.

How can refinancing help you save on your student loans so you can start saving for your kids’ education? Student loan refinancing allows you to trade in all your student loans for one new loan with a potentially lower interest rate and more favorable repayment terms.

What is the benefit of trading in old student loan debt for a new loan? When you refinance your student loans, the refinancing lender looks at your current financial situation, including your credit score, income, and future earning potential (among other factors) to calculate an interest rate that could potentially be lower than what you might be paying to the federal government or a private student loan lender.

Decreasing the interest rate allows you to save money over the life of your loan (provided your term remains the same or is shorter, of course). On top of potentially saving on interest rates, refinancing your student loans can consolidate multiple student loan payments into one monthly payment.

Furthermore, if you’re able to shorten your loan term through student loan refinancing, you could pay off your student loans even faster, further reducing the amount of interest you’d pay over the course of your loan. Those savings can be converted into savings for your kiddo’s future education—hopefully saving them from having to take out too many student loans themselves.

Tips for Saving for College

If you’re among the 56% of American parents who are actively saving for your little one’s future college expenses, it can be difficult to know the best way to save. The good news is that you’ve got plenty of options to help you maximize your savings. In fact, one of the main benefits of saving up for college while your child is still fairly little is that you have time on your side.

If you can sock away even small amounts of money over time, depending on where you put it, you give that money a chance to earn interest or dividends over time—and potentially increase the amount you’ll have to put toward your child’s tuition payments.

Once you’ve decided to start saving up a college fund, you’ll have to choose where exactly you want to save that money. While some parents choose to simply set aside cash in a regular savings account, the relatively low interest rates on most savings accounts mean that your money may not grow much over time.

Instead, many parents consider a government-sponsored savings program in order to net some serious tax benefits, or even to start investing in order to grow money over time.

When it comes to government savings plans, you can choose from a 529 plan , which offers generous tax benefits, or a Coverdell Education Savings Account , which allows you to invest in stocks and bonds to cover educational expenses.

The Takeaway

While fewer and fewer parents are ready to take on the full cost of their child’s college education, starting to save today can help you save as much as possible for future educational expenses.

And for the portion of your child’s college education that you can’t finance right now, you may want to look into private student loan options with SoFi. SoFi’s Parent Student Loans offer competitive rates with flexible repayment options — so you don’t have to worry about paying the price of college in full just yet. Plus, there are no fees and the application takes only a few minutes.

Learn more about private student loans with SoFi.


We’ve Got You Covered

Need to pay
for school?

Learn more →

Already have
student loans?

Learn more →



SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF JANUARY 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

SoFi Private Student Loans
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.

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.
SOSL18143

Read more
31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

Car ownership can be expensive–not only do you have to pay for the vehicle itself, there’s also maintenance to think about.

Between oil changes, brake pads, new tires, and dealing with the inevitable “check engine” light, car upkeep doesn’t come cheap. If you ignore car maintenance, however, you may be asking for trouble–and end up paying for major car repairs down the line.

The good news is that you can save on parts, labor, and servicing simply by being smart about how you maintain your vehicle. Read on, for simple ways to save.

How to Lower the Cost of Owning a Car

What follows are 31 ways to make vehicle maintenance less expensive. Some of these strategies help you save money right away, while others can lead to serious savings down the road.

1. Buying the Right Car

One of the best opportunities you have to lower your maintenance costs comes before you actually buy the car.

If you’re looking to buy a new car–or for a good deal on a used car–it can be wise to not only consider the purchase price, but also the long-term costs. With a little bit of research, you can likely find out the model’s repair record, and the average annual cost of upkeep.

Recommended: How to Save Up for a Car

2. Keeping Up With Oil Changes

It’s inconvenient and, with synthetic oil changes running around $70 a pop, the money you may not feel like spending. But this regular expense will almost certainly save you money in the long run. Oil lubricates your engine and keeps it from overheating. And, replacing the whole engine will definitely cost a whole lot more.

3. Reading Your Owner’s Manual

Unless you’re a serious car geek, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time perusing your owner’s manual. But this guide contains key information about what maintenance services need to be done and when making it essential reading. (If you’ve misplaced yours, you can probably find it online — just search for your car’s make, model, year, and the words “owner’s manual.”)

4. Timing Your Maintenance Properly

The maintenance schedule set out in the owner’s manual was created by your car’s designers to help you keep ahead of major repairs that would pop up if you didn’t intervene. Skipping preventative maintenance can be penny-wise, but pound foolish.

5. Knowing Fair Maintenance Prices

Charges for car maintenance services, like tune-ups and tire rotations, can vary widely depending on the shop. One way to find out if you’re being charged fairly is to research rates before you bring the car in. Websites like RepairPal can tell you what you should expect to pay for a particular maintenance task — and can even connect you with certified shops.

6. Patronizing a Mom-and-Pop Mechanic

Independent mechanics can sometimes offer lower pricing (and potentially better customer service) than auto repair chains, which have to cover the cost of being part of a franchise. So it can be worth shopping around. Exception: if your car is still under warranty at the dealership, you might void the agreement by taking it anywhere else, so it may be best to stick with them.

7. Sticking With the Same Shop

Although it might not matter for minor maintenance issues like oil changes, bigger services can be costly — and if you continually take your car to new mechanics, they won’t know your vehicle’s service history, which could lead you to pay for the same service twice.

8. Getting Your Transmission Fluid Changed

Transmission fluid is as vital to your transmission as oil is to your engine. This fluid is a lubricant that helps keep all of the moving parts inside of your transmission functioning properly. Transmission repairs are some of the priciest you can face, running anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

9. Getting Your Coolant Fluid Flushed

Yet another important fluid to keep an eye on, your coolant protects your engine from overheating, as well as offering more lubrication for certain engine parts. It usually needs to be changed out every 10,000 to 50,000 miles (you can find out in your manual), and failing to do so can lead to rust and dirt clogging up the system.

10. Cleaning Your Battery

You may not think about your battery very much…until the morning your car doesn’t start. To keep your battery in good working order, and avoid surprises, it can be good to occasionally clean the corrosion off the terminals using a small brush, some water, and baking soda.

11. Keeping Up With Your Transfer Case Fluid

This one only applies to those with four-wheel drive vehicles — but if you have one of those, you’ll likely need to familiarize yourself with the transfer case. That’s the part that shifts power from the transmission to the axles so the wheels can turn. And, like other parts, it has its own special lubricating fluid which needs to be regularly checked and changed.

12. Getting your Tires Rotated Regularly

You’ve probably already noticed how expensive tires are to replace — so chances are, you want to replace them as seldom as possible. Getting your tires regularly rotated and balanced can help ensure they wear evenly, which extends their overall longevity.

13. Carrying an Air Pressure Gauge

Maintaining optimum air pressure in your tires can improve your mileage (and save you money in gas) and also extend the life of those expensive tires. It also keeps your vehicle safe to drive. The good news? You can check your tires free of charge by keeping a tire gauge (typically less than $10) in your glove box.

14. Refilling Your Tires as Needed

As you roll around on them, your tires will gradually seep air over time — but you usually don’t need to schedule a special maintenance trip to refill them. Most gas stations offer coin-operated air pumps, and many even allow you to pre-set the proper PSI. (Otherwise, you can grab your pressure gauge.)

15. Regularly Checking Your Alignment

Alignment controls the angle at which your tires meet the road, and is important for making sure your tires wear evenly. Proper alignment also helps increase your vehicle’s gas efficiency, so it’s worth getting it checked at least once yearly, or sooner if you notice a pull as you’re driving.

16. Inspecting Your Shocks and Struts

Your shocks and struts, which keep your car from bouncing, also impact how quickly your tires wear, as well as your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Depending on your driving habits, these generally need to be replaced roughly every 75,000.

17. Shopping Around for Tires

No matter how assiduous you are maintaining your tires, you’re eventually going to have to replace them. But unlike other car parts that may be proprietary to your car’s make and model, tires are pretty easy to shop for yourself — and doing so can lead to major savings. Warehouse discount clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club sell tires, as do online retailers like Discount Tire Direct .

18. Using Winter Tires Only in the Winter

Using winter tires can make driving in snowy conditions much safer. But these tires wear considerably faster than all-season tires, especially in non-winter conditions. So it can be a good idea to change your tires back to all-weathers as soon as the last frost has thawed.

19. Skipping the Winterization Package

Many mechanics will offer you a “winterization” service that involves flushing and replacing your coolant (also called antifreeze). However, you only need to have that done every 10,000 miles. If it hasn’t been that long since your coolant has been replaced, you don’t need this service.

20. Having Your Spark Plugs Inspected

Spark plugs literally spark the fuel that runs your engine. When the spark plugs start to fail, your engine won’t run as efficiently, and eventually, their misfiring could put stress on your catalytic converter, which is costly to repair. Fortunately, you can usually get up to 80,000 miles without needing to replace your spark plugs. When the time comes, however, it can be wise not to hesitate.

21. Changing Your Own Engine Air Filter

In most cases, paying a professional to do your maintenance and repair work is worthwhile in the long run (and less costly than making a mistake and hiring someone to repair it). But changing your engine air filter is actually easy. Since that filter keeps dirt and debris out of your engine, keeping it clean is key to your car’s longevity. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials you can check out to learn how.

22. Keeping Jumper Cables in the Trunk

This might not seem entirely necessary, but if your battery dies and you’re not near home, you’ll likely be glad you didn’t have to rely on a tow truck for such a simple problem.

23. Making Sure You Have Roadside Assistance

…That said, every once in a while, you might need a tow. If you do, having access to a roadside assistance program can be major cost savings. And, it can pay to shop around for this service. AAA might offer perks, like travel discounts, but the roadside assistance package offered by your car insurance company might cost less.

24. Heading to the Car Wash

It may seem like a minor detail, but keeping your car’s exterior clean can help the paint job last longer by removing road grime and residues that can eat through the finish. A $10 drive-through wash is way better than paying up to $900 for a new paint job.

25. Detailing the Interior

Your car’s interior is also vulnerable to staining and residue build-up that can lower your car’s overall value. At many car washes, you can access a powerful vacuum that can get rid of loose debris, but giving your car’s interior more thorough attention every few months may help you resell it for a higher price later.

26. Waxing Your Vehicle Every Six Months

Waxing your vehicle twice a year is another important way to help keep the paint job looking fresh and new. It can also help to avoid rust build-up that can cause structural damage to the body of your car.

27. Changing Your Own Light Bulbs

For most bulbs on your car, changing them isn’t difficult. They typically have a twist-and-pull bayonet base or simply pull out and push in. You can find usually replacement bulbs in any auto parts store, and sometimes even hardware stores. In some cases, accessing a bulb can be tricky, so you may want to check the manual or look online if getting the bulb out isn’t obvious.

28. Paying Attention to Recalls

If your car’s manufacturer sends out a notice about a recall, it’s likely worth making an appointment at your local dealership — no matter how insignificant the problem may seem. The recall repair will be free at the dealership, and it could save you from more extensive damage that would not be covered.

29. Buying Some Touch-Up Paint

Just like washing and waxing, using touch-up paint can be a smart maintenance measure. With a little bit of touch-up paint, you can seal chips and cracks early on before they have a chance to become a real (and real expensive) problem like rust or paint decay.

30. Heeding the Check Engine Light

It may be annoying, but your check engine light is trying to tell you that something needs your attention. And, typically, it’s better to pay attention sooner rather than later. A small repair cost now is better than a large one later on if you let that light go for a few months.

31. Driving Less

The less you drive, the less wear-and-tear you put on your vehicle– and the lower your maintenance and repair costs are likely to be. When it’s possible, you may want to consider walking, biking, or carpooling, which are not only wallet-friendly,

Recommended: 7 Ways to Save Money on Commuting to Work

The Takeaway

Generally speaking, the best way to keep your car maintenance costs low is to keep up with maintenance in the first place. That means referring to your manual and following the recommended service schedule.

You can also save money on car ownership by doing some basic vehicle care yourself, such as keeping your car clean and inflating your tires properly, as well as shopping around for a mechanic who charges fair prices.

To make sure you have enough money to cover all the expenses of car ownership, it can be a good idea to set up a dedicated “car fund,” which is easy to do with a SoFi Money® cash management account.

With SoFi Money’s special “vaults” feature, you can separate your savings from your spending (and even create different vaults for different goals), while earning competitive interest on all your money.

Start saving for car maintenance costs with SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/MrJub


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.
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.
SOMN0621058

Read more
What Does the Average Honeymoon Cost?

What Does the Average Honeymoon Cost?

The latest figures put the average honeymoon cost at around $4,500, Brides.com reports, adding that the average honeymoon lasts eight days.

There are plenty of ways to save on or save for a honeymoon, though.

Here’s what you need to know about the average honeymoon cost and paying for a trip you’ll never forget.

The Honeymoon Tab

The Knot, a wedding-planning platform, cited a pre-pandemic average honeymoon cost of $5,000, based on an internal study of more than 27,000 couples who married in 2019. That is atop the average cost of a wedding, which The Knot put at nearly $34,000.

The average cost of a honeymoon has increased in the past few years, reflecting couples’ desire for more experiential travel, The Knot says, with more than 60% of American couples traveling outside the continental US for their honeymoon.

Of course, the honeymoon outlay could be much higher if a couple goes on a luxury getaway, an extended journey, and other factors.

Big-Ticket Honeymoon Items

The cost of a honeymoon can depend on location, amenities, and even the season couples decide to travel. Typically the cost will include:

• Plane, train, or automobile travel

• The accommodations

• Any excursions

• Food and beverages

• Taxes, tips, and fees

Essentially, it’s the same as any other big trip. The only extras may come because you want to make this trip the best it can be (and we don’t blame you).

Ways to Cut Honeymoon Expenses

There are still plenty of ways to save money on a honeymoon. As mentioned, location can play a major factor in the cost of the trip, but there is a secret a lot of travel insiders know and don’t share: Shoulder season.

Shoulder season is that awkward time between the high and low seasons of different destinations. It’s not necessarily that a place is less desirable to visit but merely a less popular time to go.

The shoulder season in the Caribbean is the early fall (in the Northern Hemisphere, September to November), which is the midst of hurricane season, meaning fewer people tend to book during this time. Honeymooners could score great deals on flights and accommodations, and find more restaurant and excursion reservations available.

Hawaii, a perennial honeymoon destination favorite, has low or shoulder seasons of April through June, after all the school breaks end, and September to December, right before the holiday travel rush.

Check to see when your desired location’s shoulder season may fall, and if you wish, book in this window for the chance to save a little money.

Two other ideas:

Forage for great fares. Another way to cut back on typical honeymoon expenses is to hunt for the best flights possible if you’re traveling by air. This can be done by signing up for newsletter or alert services like Next Vacay, which sends daily emails with cheap flight deals, or similar services like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Skyscanner.

Use points or miles. One more way to lessen the financial strain of a honeymoon is to dig into credit card rewards such as points or miles. Check to see if your points can be used on flights, accommodations, or activities, and use them as you please. Don’t forget to check on any of those frequent flyer miles you’ve got hanging around either.

Recommended: How to Save Money for a Trip

Paying for a Honeymoon

There are a number of ways couples can finance their honeymoon. Here are a few.

Join a honeymoon registry. The first, and perhaps most festive for a wedding, is to ask your friends and family to get involved with a honeymoon registry.

A honeymoon registry is a new twist on the wedding registry tradition. Rather than ask for gifts like china that comes out of the closet once every 10 years, couples can instead ask their guests to gift them money that they may use toward their honeymoon.

Some couples take the honeymoon registry a step further by registering at places like Honeyfund or Zola for specific honeymoon items rather than a blanket ask. This can include a specific hotel stay or merely an upgrade, scuba lessons or ski tickets, or dining at one special restaurant during the trip.

Carve out a honeymoon savings fund. Another way to finance your honeymoon is by starting your own honeymoon budget. Once you’ve decided as a couple where you’d like to travel on your first trip as the newly betrothed, you can estimate how much the trip will cost.

From there, you can start a fund where you put in a little each day, week, or a month from income or through any cutbacks you’re willing to make to your personal budgets to turn this dream trip into a reality.

Decide to camp out in Uncle Jeremy’s backyard. And grill hot dogs for days. It will be unforgettable. Just sayin’.

Take out a personal loan. A personal loan can be used for just about anything you want. Yes, that means it can be used to cover any and all the costs of a honeymoon.

The Takeaway

The average honeymoon costs around $4,500, but clearly, that number can vary greatly, depending on when and where honeymooners travel, for how long, and the level of luxury. With more couples lusting for experiential travel, the average tab has grown.

Need help funding your wedding or honeymoon? SoFi offers fixed-rate wedding loans from $5,000 to $100,000.

A fixed-rate means a fixed monthly payment, and a personal loan may be a smarter choice than a high-interest credit card.

Ready to take the trip of a lifetime? View your rate on a wedding loan.

Photo credit: iStock/DragonImages


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands 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.
SOPL0521021

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender