How to Catch up on Bills When You’re Behind

Sometimes life throws a few curveballs your way. When those curveballs include unexpected expenses (like an emergency car repair or medical bills) or a job loss, it can be hard to keep your budget on track. This may lead to paying some bills late, or not at all, which only puts you further in the hole, thanks to interest and late fees. Your credit can also take a hit.

While you may not be able to get back in the black overnight, there are ways to regain control of your finances and work toward financial stability. Read on for simple strategies that can help you get caught up on bills, plus tips on how to avoid getting behind in the future.

6 Tips for Getting Caught up on Bills

Falling behind on bills can feel overwhelming, but it’s a challenge that many people face at some point. The key is to face missed payments head on and come up with a plan to gradually bring all of your accounts up to date. These tips can help.

1. Make a Master List of Bills

A good place to start is by organizing your bills and making a master list of everything you owe. This includes rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, credit card payments, personal loans, and any other debts. Consider organizing them by due date, amount owed, and interest rates. Having a clear picture of your financial obligations helps you prioritize and plan your payments more effectively. This list will serve as a roadmap to ensure you don’t overlook any bills and can systematically address each one.

2. Reach Out to Your Creditors

Communication with your creditors is crucial when you’re struggling to keep up with payments. Companies and creditors may be willing to work with you if you explain your situation honestly. They may offer solutions such as extended payment deadlines, reduced interest rates, or temporary payment plans. And you don’t have to wait until your accounts are severely delinquent — reach out as soon as you know you’re having trouble. Proactive communication can prevent additional fees and negative marks on your credit report.

Recommended: How to Negotiate Medical Bills

3. Pay Priority Bills

All bills are not equally important, and when funds are limited, it’s essential to prioritize which bills to pay first. You might start with necessities that ensure your basic living conditions, such as housing, utilities, and food. These are critical to maintain your daily life and stability. Next, you may want to focus on any bills that have legal consequences if left unpaid, such as child support and taxes. Secured debts, like car loans, should also be a priority to avoid repossession. Once these essentials are covered, you can move on to other debts.

4. Pay Bills with the Highest Interest Rates

High-interest debt can quickly spiral out of control, making it harder to catch up. After prioritizing essential bills, consider paying down debts in order of interest rate, from highest to lowest. This repayment strategy, known as the avalanche method, can save you money in the long run by reducing the amount of interest you’ll pay over time. Consider making larger payments toward these debts while maintaining minimum payments on lower-interest obligations.

5. Cut Unnecessary Expenses

To free up more money for paying bills, take a close look at all of your monthly expenses and identify areas where you can cut back. Dining out, subscription services, gym memberships, and entertainment are examples of expenses you may be able to cut until your finances are in better shape. Creating a bare-bones budget can help you focus on what’s necessary until you’re caught up. Redirect the money saved from cutting expenses toward paying down your debts. Even small savings can add up and make a significant difference over time.

6. Boost Your Income

Increasing your income can provide a much-needed boost to catch up on bills and put more padding in your checking account. Consider taking on a part-time job, freelancing, or selling items you no longer need. If you have any special skills or hobbies, you might look into starting a side business. Or you might explore opportunities to work extra hours or seek a raise at your current job. While increasing your income may require additional effort and time, the extra money can help you get back on track faster.

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How to Avoid Falling Behind After You’re Caught Up

Once you’ve managed to catch up on your bills, it’s important to implement strategies to avoid falling behind again. Here are some ways to help you stay on track.

Create a Budget

A well-structured budget is the cornerstone of good financial management. Now that things are more stable, you might want to take a closer look at what’s coming and going out each month to ensure that your spending aligns with your priorities. One simple budgeting framework to consider is the 50/30/20 rule. This suggests dividing your after-tax income into three main categories, with 50% going to “needs,” 30% going to “wants,” and 20% going to savings and debt payments beyond minimums.

Enroll in Autopay

Automating your bill payments is one of simplest ways to avoid missing payments and getting hit with late fees. Consider setting up autopay for your recurring bills, such as rent, utilities, and credit card payments. To make sure you don’t accidentally overdraft your account, put reminders on your calendar or set up alerts on your phone before each bill is due. That way you can make sure you have sufficient funds in your account to cover these automated payments.

Build an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund acts as a financial safety net, allowing you to cover unexpected expenses without disrupting your regular budget. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a separate, easily accessible account, such as a high-yield savings account. Start small if necessary and gradually build up your fund over time. Having an emergency fund can prevent you from relying on credit cards or loans if you get hit with an unexpected expense or loss of income and can help you maintain your financial stability.

The Takeaway

Catching up on bills when you’re behind can be challenging. Fortunately, by assessing your situation and coming up with a strategic pay-off plan, it’s possible to get back on track. Staying proactive and disciplined can help you avoid falling behind again and allow you to work toward long-term financial stability and growth.

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


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What to do when you can’t catch up on bills?

Consider making a list of all your outstanding bills, then prioritizing the ones that are for necessities (housing, for instance) and those with the highest interest rates. To free up funds to pay off your bills, you may need to temporarily cut or reduce unnecessary expenses, like dining out, streaming services, and entertainment. It’s also a good idea to reach out to your creditors and explain your situation. They may be willing to work with you by offering a more manageable payment plan and crediting late fees.

What bills should I prioritize?

If you’re behind on bills, you’ll want to prioritize any bills relating to necessities, such as housing and utilities. Next, you might focus on obligations that, if neglected, could have legal consequences (like past-due taxes or child support), followed by secured debts (like an auto loan or mortgage) to avoid repossession. After that, you might prioritize high-interest debts (like credit cards), since the longer it takes to pay them off, the more expensive they get.

Why is it so hard to catch up on bills?

Catching up on bills can be challenging due to high-interest rates that make debts grow quickly. Having a limited income, getting hit with unexpected expenses, and poor financial habits (such as lack of budgeting or overspending) can also make it difficult to catch up once you fall behind.


Photo credit: iStock/Ratana21

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Budgeting for Elderly Parents or Loved Ones

Budgeting for Elderly Parents or Loved Ones

At some point, you may need to become involved with your aging parents’ care, which may include immersing yourself in your parents’ finances. Taking over elderly parents’ finances can be a sensitive issue that needs to be done with a great deal of care, patience, and regular (clear and honest) communication.

Your loved ones’ finances can be complicated by a number of issues, including the cost of any care they might need. According to the most recent survey by Genworth, the median cost of an in-home health aid is $6,292 per month, while an assisted living facility can run around $5,350 per month, depending on where you live.

While healthcare costs will likely only continue to climb, seniors are typically living on a fixed income. This makes careful money management particularly important for older adults. Read on to learn what you can do to help your parents (or other elderly loved ones) manage their money and ensure they don’t outlive their funds.

Tips for Budgeting for an Elderly Parent


Figuring out how to take care of your elderly parents’ finances – without putting a strain on your relationship – comes with a bit of a learning curve. Here are some tips that can help ease the process.

1. Starting With Small, Gradual Changes


It can be a good idea to offer support in small, gradual steps in the beginning. You may want to sit with your parents while they plan how to live on a budget or offer to set up automatic bill pay with them.

If you need to offer financial support, consider starting small, such as paying for prescription medications. Ideally, you’ll want to give as much independence to your parents as they can handle.

💡 Quick Tip: Make money easy. Open a bank account online so you can manage bills, deposits, transfers — all from one convenient app.

2. Making a List of Their Financial Documents


It can be very helpful to create a document that lists all of your loved ones’ financial and legal documents, including where they are located, along with contact information for any professionals they use, such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants. This is a valuable step in terms of Some documents you may want to look for include:

•  Bank statements

•  Mortgage statements

•  401K, IRA, stock certificates, or pension records

•  Income tax records

•  Property deeds

•  Outstanding loans

•  Automobile registration and insurance

•  Homeowners insurance

•  Health insurance

•  Life and disability insurance

•  Will and or trust documents

•  Passport, driver’s license, and social security information

•  Birth and marriage certificates, divorce decree

•  Contact info for doctor, lawyer, investment banker, accountant, clergy, etc.

•  Military service records

•  Medical papers, such as advance directives, DNR

•  Final wishes regarding burial arrangements, cemetery, and funeral home

Recommended: How To Keep Your Finances Organized

3. Creating an Organized Budget


Budgeting for elderly parents is similar to budgeting for yourself, except that the budget line items and amounts will likely look different from your own. Retirees may also have significantly less income coming in than when they were employed.

When helping them set up a budget, here are some monthly budgeting categories you may want to include:

•  Mortgage or rent

•  Utilities

•  Credit card payments

•  Health insurance payments

•  Phone bills

•  Medical bills

•  Food

•  Transportation

4. Setting up Automatic Bill Payment for Simplicity


Automatic bill payments can be a big help when it comes to taking care of elderly parents’ finances. If you’re handing the payments, it will eliminate the mental energy it’ll take for you to pay another set of bills each month. Plus, you’ll worry less about things like having their utilities unexpectedly cut off or their insurance canceled.

5. Communicating Changes With Them


There may come a time where you need to make changes that will affect their lives. If you need to switch care providers, for example, it can disrupt their routine and expectations. To make the adjustment process easier, you’ll want to communicate any changes early, often, and honestly.

6. Looking at Senior Programs


When budgeting for eldercare, it can be wise to look for senior programs in your area. Not only can they be a tremendous relief on the budget, but they can also enhance the quality of life for your elderly parents.

They may be able to qualify for housing, food, or energy assistance. Eldercare services can also include transportation, meals, health insurance counseling, caregiver support, and in-home services You can learn about programs in your area at Eldercare.gov.

7. Reducing Costs Where You Deem Fit


Be sensitive as you approach budget cuts with your parents. You may be able to see things that don’t make sense to pay for anymore, but your parents may view things differently. Keep communication lines open and respect their wishes as much as you can. It’s important to spend time acquainting yourself with typical retirement expenses, how those might be lowered, and what is discretionary spending.

8. Researching Options for Insurance Plans


Medicare, the healthcare insurance program for those over 65, isn’t as simple as you might expect. There are four parts of Medicare: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. Each has their own benefits, deductibles, and copays. To browse medicare options in your area, you may want to take a look at Medicare.gov.

Depending on their financial situation, your parents may qualify for Medicaid (the public health insurance program for people with low income). In addition, you may want to look into supplemental health insurance, called Medigap. Medigap is sold by private companies and can help fill in “gaps” in Medicare, such as copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.

9. Separating Finances From Yours


Whatever help you’re able to give an aging parent, it can be a good idea to keep your finances separate from theirs. This is generally the easiest and most ethical way to keep a record of what is happening in your parents’ accounts.

When you’re in control of someone else’s finances, it puts you in the role of a fiduciary, which means you must act in their best interests, rather than your own. If you want to learn more about the different types of financial caregiving, you can look at the guides from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

10. Staying Aware of Any Unplanned Charges


Financial exploitation of elderly persons is on the rise. In the most recent year surveyed, financial institutions filed 88,000 suspicious activity reports related to elderly financial exploitation, up 84% over the previous period reviewed and totaling $3.1 billion in losses.

It’s concerning how often elderly persons’ are taken advantage of, especially when it comes to their finances. Being aware can help prevent financial abuse of an elderly parent. Some red flags you may want to watch out for:

•  Large, frequent withdrawals

•  ATM withdrawals that are not typical of your parent’s behavior

•  Transfers between bank accounts your parent cannot explain

•  Insufficient funds fees or unpaid bills

•  Attempts to wire large sums of money

•  A new friend accompanying them to the bank

•  Suspicious or forged signatures on checks

•  Reluctance to talk about transactions or shame surrounding their money

•  Altered wills or trusts

If you suspect your parents have been the victim of financial exploitation, you can report it to their bank and ask for their help to investigate and stop it. Your town or state Adult Protective Services department may also be able to help. If you strongly suspect fraud, it’s also a good idea to notify your local police.

The Takeaway


Taking care of your elderly parents’ finances is a big step that often requires time, patience, sensitivity, and maintaining open and clear lines of communication. But it can be well worth the effort. By coming up with a financial plan and helping older loved ones better manage their income, savings, and spending, you can ensure that they live as well as possible during their golden years.

If you need a banking partner to help you through this or any other season of life, you may want to consider what SoFi offers.

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


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How do you financially help elderly parents?


You can help your parents financially by going over their finances with them, helping them set up a budget, and connecting them with any senior financial support services offered in your area. Helping elderly parents financially doesn’t have to mean giving them money. However, if that’s necessary (and you are able), you may want to start slowly by covering a few expenses here and there and, if needed, gradually increase.

What do you do if you have an elderly parent with no money?


You can help by looking for senior support programs that may be able to help them meet their needs. Beyond Medicare or Medicaid and Social Security, there are a host of other programs your elderly parents may qualify for, including assistance for housing, energy, and food. Eldercare.gov is a good place to start your research.

How do you make a budget for the elderly?


Making a budget for the elderly is similar to making a budget for yourself, except the expenses and allocations will be very different. A good first step is to go through their monthly bank and credit card statements to determine how much is coming in each month and how much is going out. You can then look for places where they may need to cut back.


Photo credit: iStock/Ridofranz

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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

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

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What Are Intermediary Banks? What Do They Do?

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

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

What Is an Intermediary Bank?

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

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

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How Do Intermediary Banks Work

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

Here’s how the transaction might work:

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

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

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

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

Intermediary Bank Example

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended: How Retail Banking Works

When Is an Intermediary Bank Required?

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

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

The Need for Intermediary Banks

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

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

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


When Will an Intermediary Bank Be Involved in a Transaction?

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

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

Difference Between Intermediary and Correspondent Banks

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

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

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

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

What Are Some Typical Intermediary Bank Fees?

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

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

Recommended: How Do Banks Make Money?

Who Pays for Intermediary Bank Fees?

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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FAQ

What is an example of an intermediary bank?

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

Why do you need an intermediary bank?

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

How do you find an intermediary bank?

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


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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

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

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

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

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

How Being a Couple Affects Your Income Needs

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

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

•   Lifestyle preferences

•   Estimated Social Security benefits

•   Target retirement dates for each partner

•   Part-time work status of each partner in retirement

•   Expected long-term care needs

•   Location

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

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

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

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

💡 Quick Tip: When you have questions about what you can and can’t afford, a spending tracker app can show you the answer. With no guilt trip or hourly fee.

What to Consider When Calculating Your Monthly Income

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

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

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

•   How much income will you have for retirement?

•   Where will this income come from?

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

Spending May Not Be as Low as You Think

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

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

Spending Doesn’t Stay Steady the Whole Time

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

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

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

Expenses May Change When One of You Dies

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

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

Taxes and Medicare May Change in Your Lifetime

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

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

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Common Sources of Income in Retirement

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

Social Security

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

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

Retirement Savings

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

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

Annuities

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

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

Other Savings

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

Pensions

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

Reverse Mortgages

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Plan for Retirement as a Couple

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

•   Figuring out your target retirement savings number

•   Investing in tax-advantaged retirement accounts

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

•   Developing an estate plan

•   Deciding when you’ll retire

•   Planning for long-term care

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

Maximizing Social Security Benefits

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

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

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

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity?

The Takeaway

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

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

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

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.

FAQ

What is the average retired couple income?

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

What is a good retirement income for a married couple?

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

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

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


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*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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

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Guide to Voucher Checks

Voucher checks (also called check vouchers) are an extended check format that includes payment details not typically seen on a standard check. For example, a payroll voucher check allows the recipient to view taxes and other deductions from their gross pay. Voucher checks get their name from the two detachable sections (the “vouchers” or stubs) below the check itself.

A disadvantage of voucher checks is the additional clerical work required by the business issuing the check. Keep reading for more insight into how voucher checks work.

What Is a Voucher Check?

Many consumers don’t know what a voucher check is. A voucher check is a type of check that has detailed informational sections attached. These vouchers outline what the content and purpose of the check is. The voucher check is typically printed as a full sheet of paper, with the check at the top and the two removable vouchers below.

The check payee holds on to the first voucher. Before cashing the check, the recipient will remove the remaining voucher and keep it for their records. Both parties can refer back to their vouchers in the event of a payment dispute.

A number of small businesses use voucher checks for employee payroll. Payroll vouchers, also referred to as “pay stubs,” usually list payroll deductions for taxes, insurance premiums, and other withholding items. This information can help employees better understand their pre- and post-tax income, and the breakdown of deductions.

💡 Quick Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

How Do Voucher Checks Work?

For payees, voucher checks are handled the same as standard checks, with one exception: The payee should remove the voucher from the check before deposit. The voucher can be kept on file for future reference.

Anyone with a bank account can deposit a voucher check. Consumers who don’t have a bank account (about 1 in 20 Americans) can sign over a check to another recipient.

Or they might try cashing the check at a local bank or credit union for a fee. As with most corporate checks, recipients should try to deposit the check within 6 months or the check may expire.

Recommended: How to Balance a Checkbook

Who Uses Voucher Checks?

As mentioned above, voucher checks are commonly used by businesses to pay their staff or vendors. Even if a company uses direct deposit to pay employees, they may choose to keep a paper trail via a voucher check system.

Preparing a Voucher Check

Voucher checks (or check vouchers) may be prepared by a business’ accounts payable or payroll department, using the following steps.

•   Step 1 All related documents — contracts, purchase orders, invoices, statements of accounts — are collected, either in hard copy or digitally.

•   Step 2 A voucher is created that incorporates any relevant info from the backup documentation, but always includes the voucher number, bank name, payor, date, amount, and recipient.

•   Step 3 The voucher is then attached to a standard written check, and both are signed by the authorized signatory.

•   Step 4 Once the recipient deposits or cashes the check, the business will file its own voucher and supporting documents.

Advantages of a Voucher Check

There are important advantages associated with voucher checks, which prompts businesses to go to the extra effort. Here are some of them:

Documents Maintained in Check Voucher System

When preparing a check voucher, a business must first gather all supporting documentation. This helps keep all relevant paperwork organized and in one place. It’s not possible to maintain a check voucher system without doing this.

Records Are in Order With No Irregularities

The bookkeeping process is considerably simpler when a payroll department uses a check voucher system, because all important documents are easily accessible in one place, in hard copy or digitally. Also, check vouchers are numbered and filed in chronological order, which keeps filing systems simple.

Easier to Track Checks

Businesses commonly do not file check vouchers until the check is deposited or cashed. Only cleared checks are filed.

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Disadvantages of Voucher Checks

There are downsides associated with voucher checks that small businesses in particular may want to keep in mind.

Maintenance Process Can Be Time-Consuming

Because of the additional documentation and organization requirements, it can be tedious for businesses to maintain a check voucher system.

Lack of Consumer Familiarity

Many consumers aren’t familiar with how paper check vouchers work, which can cause concerns about security. Consumers should take care to keep their vouchers private.

Check Voucher Alternatives

Some employers may choose to use the following alternative payment methods. None of these options, however, provides as extensive and organized a paper trail as check vouchers do.

•   Standard checks. A simple physical check still provides some form of a paper trail. Paper checks can also be tracked digitally or via duplicate checks.

•   Direct deposit. Many businesses and employees prefer the direct deposit route because of how fast and simple it is to electronically transfer the funds.

•   Prepaid debit cards. This is a newer and less common payment option. Workers paid in prepaid debit cards won’t need a bank account to access their funds.

Recommended: How to Verify a Check

The Takeaway

Voucher checks (also called check vouchers) are an extended check format that includes payment details not typically seen on a standard check, such as taxes and other deductions from their gross pay. These checks can provide a details paper trail for both the business issuing the check and the recipient.

Need a good place to deposit your pay? See what SoFi offers.

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


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How do you use a voucher check?

For payees, voucher checks are handled the same as standard checks, with one exception: The payee should remove the voucher from the check before deposit. The voucher can be kept on file for future reference.

What is the difference between a check and a voucher?

Voucher checks get their name from the two detachable sections (the “vouchers” or stubs) below the check itself. The voucher portion outlines the content and purpose of the check. Aside from the voucher, the check portion works like a standard paper check.

What does a voucher check look like?

A voucher check is typically printed as a full sheet of paper, with the check at the top and two removable vouchers below. The vouchers contain additional payment information that usually isn’t included on a standard check.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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