15 Psychological Pricing Tactics to Be Aware Of

15 Psychological Pricing Tactics to Be Aware Of

Imagine this: You’re at the supermarket. And as you peruse the aisles, you spy a deal: $10 for 10 tubes of toothpaste. It seems too good to pass up, so you load up your shopping cart with 40 units, only to feel a deep tinge of regret when you get home and ask yourself: What am I going to do with so much toothpaste?

Such is the allure — and power — of psychological pricing. In a nutshell, psychological pricing is a strategy that relies on pricing to elicit an emotional response from you, the consumer. In other words, different prices will have a different psychological impact. This in turn affects your spending or saving habits. The end goal? To get you to spend more than you’d like.

Here, you’ll learn:

•   What is psychological pricing?

•   What are common marketing pricing tricks?

•   How can you not fall for these psychological pricing tactics?

What Is Psychological Pricing?

As mentioned briefly, psychological pricing is a sales strategy that focuses on how pricing can impact you, the shopper, emotionally and psychologically. As different prices will have different effects, these tactics can influence your spending and saving habits and get you to spend more. By understanding and dodging these moves, you may be able to quit spending money so freely.

How Does Psychological Pricing Work?

One of the main reasons why psychological pricing is so effective is that, as consumers, we rarely know how much something should cost. Instead, we lean on cues, context, and the prices of similar items to clue us in on whether something is a bargain.

These tactics can fool your brain and often offer the illusion of a deal. Unless you are an expert in supply chain finance or are a human supercomputer who can assess the total costs and lifecycle of a product, it’s hard to gauge how much something should cost. Marketers may count on that and use it to their advantage, tempting you to buy when you don’t need to or when the price is perhaps not as appealing as it may seem.

Recommended: Compulsive or Impulsive Shopping: How to Combat It

15 Examples of Psychological Pricing Tricks

1. Charm Pricing

Ever wonder why the price of that shampoo is $4.99 and not $5.00? Enter charm pricing. Charm pricing operates using the “left-digit” bias. This means that the digit that’s leftmost in a price will impact the consumers’ perceptions the most. In other words, the number that’s to the farthest left will “charm” you into thinking the price is lower than it actually is.

In turn, a retailer will use the numbers “5” and “9” instead of rounding up the price. For example: $495 versus $500 may make you believe the price is closer to $400 than $500. Another example: $8.99 versus $9 can make you think the price is closer to $8 and not $9.

Recommended: Are You Bad With Money? Here’s How to Get Better.

2. Odd-Even Pricing

This kind of pricing trick marketing is along the same lines as charm pricing. The reasoning behind odd-even pricing is odd and even numbers affect one’s perception of the value of an item. Interestingly, prices that end with odd numbers make the price of something seem less expensive. On the flip side, prices that end with an even number or that is rounded up makes something seem more expensive, and in turn a luxury item.

3. Decoy Pricing

With this pricing tactic, you’re led to a particular choice by being offered inferior options or options that seem “not good enough” or “too pricey.” You can think of this as Goldilocks pricing, where the middle option seems the best deal or choice.

For example, you’re shopping online for dog biscuits for your furbaby Fido. In doing a bit of comparison shopping, you find similar boxes of pumpkin doggie biscuits; in fact, there are three different options. The least-expensive option doesn’t seem like you’re getting the best quality or the most bang for your buck, and the most-expensive option seems like you’re going overboard. So you go for the mid-priced choice.

Recommended: 9 Tips to Stop Overspending

4. Buying in Bulk

Warehouse membership clubs and discount retailers are filled to the brim with buying in bulk deals. For instance, “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” or “10 for $15.” Sure, you might be saving some dollars off of retail, manufacturer’s suggested price, or full price, but at the end of the day, you are spending more than if you just bought a single item. Are you really saving on a $2.50 tube of toothpaste if you spent $40 and bought more than you need? Will you really be able to eat through that 24-pack of yogurts before they reach their expiration date?

5. Price Appearance

The design or look of prices can make a difference in how it’s perceived. For instance, prices that are in a smaller-sized font and don’t have the zeroes tacked onto the end make it appear less expensive. For instance, “$40” can seem cheaper versus “$40.00.” Longer prices can strike us as more expensive. Why’s that? Simply because it takes longer to read them.

6. Removing a Comma

Similar to the price appearance tactic, removing a comma will make the price seem lower than if you included that little bit of punctuation. That’s because including a comma makes the price take longer to read. If you make something phonetically shorter (i.e., it takes less time for the brain to read and process), it may trick the brain to think the price is lower.

Recommended: 5 Ways to Achieve Financial Security

7. Fake Time Constraints

These limited time offers are set up by the retailer to create a sense of urgency — all so you act quickly and part with your money. For example, you may see an offer that says, “50% off for this weekend only!” These constructed time constraints can have you moving quickly, at times impulsively, and get you to spend more.

Quick Money Tip: When you overdraft your checking account, you’ll likely pay a non-sufficient fund fee of, say, $35. Look into linking a savings account to your checking account as a backup to avoid that, or shop around for an online bank that doesn’t charge you for overdrafting.

8. Emphasis on Emotion or Nostalgia

By tapping into the allure and pull of nostalgia — an item that reminds you of your childhood or is associated with happy memories from the past — retailers can get you to part with your money. Because you long to relive those fond, happy times, you might not worry as much as the cost of something.

Similarly, tapping into a strong emotion, such as joy, family, adventure, and general warm — happy vibes, either through packaging, marketing, or brand messaging, can urge you to spend money.

9. Innumeracy

This psychological pricing tactic draws on what you might call “being bad with numbers.” Research that reveals that most consumers don’t have a grasp on basic mathematical principles to figure out what is a better deal when shopping. For instance, “buy one, get one free” sounds better to most folks than “two items at 50% off,” and they’ll often be convinced to buy by the first phrase.

10. Removing the Dollar Sign

Prices with dollar signs can make you feel a bit of fear or anxiety that comes with having to spend money — especially if it’s money you don’t have. Retailers often know this, so sometimes they will remove or reduce the size of the dollar sign to nudge you towards shelling out some bucks.

11. Bundling

This pricing tactic involves grouping together a couple of items that go together and offering a slightly discounted price. For instance, you might see a men’s grooming kit that ends up being 25% less expensive than bought separately.

This strategy makes you feel as if you’re saving money, when in fact, you’re spending more than you need to — especially if you really only need one of the products included in the bundle. If you fall for it, you are walking out of the store with more than you intended to buy and less cash in your account.

Recommended: 10 Signs You’re Living Beyond Your Means

12. Limits Per Customer

When limits are placed as to how much you can buy of a certain item, it tricks you into believing that the product is scarce and you’d better hurry and buy it. Or it might lead you to think the price is so low that the retailer can only offer so many at that price before they start losing money. Because of this, you might buy up to the limit in order to not forgo a great score or bargain.

However, you have no proof that any of these assumptions are correct. It could just be clever marketing at work.

13. Showing the Real Price Next to the Sale Price

Also known as anchoring, seeing the retail price next to a sale price makes it seem like a real bargain. For instance, seeing the sale price of $14.99 next to the full price of $19.99 can make you feel as if you are saving big (or perhaps bigger than you actually are).

By “anchoring” your decision based on the full price, the sale price will appear to be a great deal. You often see this tactic at discount grocery stores and off-price department retailers.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

14. Showing the Daily Equivalence

You’ve probably come across this tactic. A company will break down the cost of a product or service per day, which makes the cost seem negligible. For instance, a $60 a month cloud storage service breaks down to $2 a day. Or a $15 a monthly streaming services subscription equates to 50 cents a day.

By highlighting these daily costs, it can seem like you’re spending very little each day on a product or service. This might convince you to throw down some cash.

Recommended: Tips for Overcoming Bad Financial Decisions

15. Using Fake Reviews or User Generated Content

While there are obviously some ethical questions around this, using fake reviews can create the appearance that a product or service is getting a lot of buzz. And if something is popular, you might be enticed to jump on the bandwagon and see what everyone is talking about. It could make you buy something that’s lower quality, or spend more.

User-generated content can also be used to create a similar illusion of demand. A micro-influencer on a social media platform, along with viewer comments also raving about something, can also make an item seem valuable. Or some companies may reward customers with discounts if they share how great an item is. It gives you the impression that you must buy or will experience FOMO (fear of missing out).

Recommended: Questions to Ask Before Making an Impulse Buy

Can You Do Anything About Psychological Pricing Tricks?

While psychological pricing tricks are pervasive and can certainly dupe you into spending more, there are ways you can avert them:

•   Create a 30-day list. Instead of purchasing things on impulse, jot down things you would like to buy, along with the price. Then wait 30 days. Chances are, the initial urge to purchase the items will have fizzled.

•   Consider the personal value of an item. Instead of fixating on the price tag of something, consider the value it would bring to your life. Is it something you would get a lot of joy from? Or something you could really use? Let that guide you, vs. buying an item because everyone else has it.

•   Figure out the number of uses of an item. If you plan on wearing a pair of jeans at least 30 times, and they cost $90, that’s $3 per use. Something you can afford and would enjoy having? Then it might be worthwhile. But if it’s a $20 item and chances are it will most likely get shoved into the closet, that might end up being a waste of money.

•   Stick to a weekly budget. It’s no fun having to get your finances back on track after blowing your budget. Avoid that by keeping a weekly number in mind for your discretionary spending — think clothing, entertainment, eating out, hobby-related spending and sundry items. This can help you stay within your means. It could be helpful to have a separate bank account where you park your discretionary funds into. It’s far easier to see exactly where your money is going that way.

The Takeaway

Psychological pricing tricks can certainly sway you to dole out more cash. That being said, if you are aware of them, you can use good judgment about these marketing tactics. That, in turn, can allow you to stay within your means, make the best financial decisions for your situation, and stay in control of your cash.

Better banking is here with up to 3.25% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Is psychological pricing illegal?

Psychological pricing typically isn’t illegal, though in some cases, the tactic could veer into some other murky territory that might not be legal. But for the most part, these pricing tricks are acceptable ways of getting consumers to believe they are getting a deal or that an item is in high demand.

Is psychological pricing immoral?

There are some instances where pricing tricks border on unethical terrority. For instance, using fake reviews to make a product seem more popular than it really is and to generate hype is considered unethical.

Why is psychological pricing effective?

Psychological pricing is effective because it relies on your brain making snap judgments in spending situations. These tactics can steer you toward choosing a particular product or buying more that you may truly need.


Photo credit: iStock/recep-bg

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 11/3/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
SOBK1022003

Read more
couple home finances budgeting

Creating a Household Budget

It’s probably a familiar scenario: You think you’ve been careful with your spending, but then a steep credit card bill arrives and throws you into a tailspin. Or you check your bank account balance and realize you’re perilously close to overdrafting.

Wrangling one’s cash flow and meeting financial goals is no easy task…if you’re operating without a budget. But if you do have a budget (a method of tracking and tweaking your money coming in and going out), you can likely sidestep many hassles and hiccups.

While sitting down with receipts, credit card statements, and spreadsheets might not sound like your idea of a good time, it can help you figure out how much you’re spending each month.

And that, in turn, can help you create a realistic budget. Focus on how great it will feel to pay down debt and have a flourishing savings account. Creating a household budget could get you one step closer to achieving your goals.

Here, the 11 steps that will make it happen.

11 Steps on How to Create a Household Budget

If you’re ready to dive in and start setting up a household budget, here are the 11 steps to take. Have a partner? Collaborate on your household budget together so you can be aligned on establishing your financial management.

1. Set Your Goals

To get started, think about your big-picture goals. What are your financial hopes? Do you want to have a healthy emergency fund saved within a year or two? Pay off your student debt early? Stash away enough cash for a down payment on a house within the not too distant future? Or just control your spending so you aren’t living so paycheck-to-paycheck every month?

Write down your top few goals and the issues you need to overcome (i.e., carrying too big a balance on a high-interest credit card). Be as detailed and specific about amounts you want to pay off or save and by when. This can help guide you as you start your household budget.

2. Find the Right Method

The next move in how to create a household budget is to pick a good system. There are many ways to budget, and the right one is the one that works for your personal money style and financial goals. It can be helpful to review some of the options such as:

•   The 50/30/20 budget rule

•   The envelope budgeting method

•   The zero-sum budget

You will also likely find that your financial institution offers tools to help you budget effectively. In addition, there are apps and websites that offer advice and tactics to help you budget, as well as books and podcasts.

Review a few, and pick what looks like the right fit. Or create your own method that uses the best of various techniques.

3. Get the Right Tools

You may also want to select the right gear to help you budget. For some people, this might mean setting up a budget in Excel. For others, it could lead to buying a notebook and colored pens. Or an accordion folder to keep receipts.

These tools can help motivate you to dive in, similar to the way buying back-to-school supplies used to get you psyched up for the start of classes.

4. Calculate Your Income

The next step in creating a household budget is to dig in and account for all the money you have coming in. Tally up how much money you have coming in every month from your job(s), any side hustles, gifts, interest or dividends, and bonuses.

You want to have more money coming in than you have going out every month, so it’s important to know the baseline you have to spend. Look at after-tax dollars to best assess your resources.

5. Identify Your Expenses

Now, you need to see where that money goes as it flows out of your checking account. Going through one month of expenses and dividing everything into categories can help you figure out exactly what your expenses are. You could divide your spending into categories like these:

•   Food

•   Entertainment

•   Education

•   Housing

•   Utilities (Electricity, WiFi, etc.)

•   Transportation

•   Clothing

•   Healthcare and personal care

•   Travel

One important category not to overlook: debt. Make sure to include such expenses as credit card payments, student loans, car payments, and the like.

6. Account for Irregular Expenses

As you consider your spending, don’t forget about those annual or somewhat random expenses that crop up, such as homeowners or renters insurance payments, money for holiday and birthday gifts, and car repairs.

You’ll want to do your best to accommodate those expenses. If you don’t budget for them, you could wind up dipping into savings or adding to any credit card debt you are carrying.

Recommended: 10 Most Common Budgeting Mistakes

7. Determine Your Needs vs Wants

Reviewing your spending is often an eye-opening experience. Do you really spend that much on takeout coffee, streaming stations, or shoes? Did that weekend away with your best friends really total twice what you expected?

Looking at your expenses lays the foundation for separating out your needs in life from your wants.

•   Your needs are things you require to survive: food, shelter, utilities, transportation, covering your student debt, and so forth.

•   Your wants represent spending that reflects “nice to have” items and experiences: concert tickets, another pair of black boots, some flowers to brighten your coffee table.

Think carefully about what in your spending is a need vs. a want. Groceries are needs; dining out on a pricey plate of pasta is a want. A tankful of gas to get to work for a week is a need; an Uber because it’s raining out is a want.

This information will help you determine the proper amount of spending as you create your budget.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1% APY on your cash!


8. Allocate Savings

As you look at your goals, your income, and your spending, consider your short-, medium-, and long-term savings goals. Many people believe saving 20% of their income is wise.

As you look at how to set up a household budget, also consider where you want your savings to go. You might be stashing away money for a vacation, a down payment on a home, your child’s college education, your retirement plan, or any combination of aspirations. Once your budget is established, you may want to set up automatic transfers from your checking account to savings accounts to make this process simpler.

9. Do the Math

The next step in setting up a household budget is to enter all the information into your chosen budgeting system (spreadsheet, journal, app). Yes, you need a line for every bucket, from student loans to rent to entertainment to groceries to dining out. Having a line item budget laid out will really acquaint you with where your money is currently going.

Subtract your expenses and savings from your income and see where you land. Do you have money left over? Great. Are you in debt? Not so good.

Seeing how you are tracking is a vital step to knowing how to improve on your current situation with a budget in the next step.

10. Create Your New Plan

Next, take a look at how much is coming in and going out and set some new goals. For each of your spending categories, consider setting a realistic limit for yourself. And keep in mind that cutting back on some expenses might mean you have to increase your budget in other places.

For example, say you currently spend $400 on eating out every month and $400 on groceries, for a total food budget of $800. If you’d prefer to spend closer to $200 eating out each month, you may have to increase your grocery spending.

Do you think you could spend $200 on eating out and increase your grocery spending to $500? If so, your total food budget would come down to $700, saving you $100. Could that go towards paying off some debt sooner?

As you work to create a balanced budget, with specific amounts for each category, you may need to:

•   Eliminate some expenses, like a gym membership, and try out free workouts on YouTube instead.

•   Cut back on spending, such as saving money on streaming services by dropping a channel or two, or getting lattes only on Fridays vs. everyday.

•   Consider how to minimize some costs via negotiation and other tactics. Can you get your credit card issuer to lower your interest rate or get a balance transfer credit card to help you pay down your debt?

•   Determine if you can raise your income. You might ask for a raise or start doing some gig work via a low-cost side hustle.

Your goal is to know how much you can spend every month on your expenses (needs and wants) while ensuring you are saving towards goals and hopefully building wealth as well. Remember: Every budget needs a little fun in it. Knowing you have, say, $20 a week to buy yourself a small treat can go a long way towards keeping you from overspending elsewhere.

11. Modify Your Budget As Needed

Setting up a budget is all about providing guidance and guardrails for managing your money. It helps you keep spending in check and achieve your financial goals.

But it often takes a couple of tries to get right. For instance, with inflation surging, you may find expenses like groceries, gas, and utilities rising. You might have to trim elsewhere to keep your budget humming nicely along. Or life happens: Your sister gets engaged, and you run out and buy her a great gift that requires some budget retooling.

You might find a lower-priced health insurance and be able to sock the savings into your emergency fund and check off a short-term goal. It can be wise to check in with your budget every week or so to see how you’re tracking and make any tweaks needed.

Or you might discover that you’ve made your home budget too intricate and you are avoiding it. If that’s the case, switch to a different system.

At the end of the day, how to set up a household budget is about making your money work for you, so that you can spend it on the things (and people) you love. Make changes as you see fit. Flexibility in a budget is important to its success.

The Takeaway

Tracking your budget regularly could help you see measurable progress as you work toward financial goals. Setting up a household budget can help you better understand your cash flow, manage expenses, lower debt, and meet your saving goals and build wealth.

The right banking partner can help you on your financial journey, too. When you open an online bank account with SoFi, you’ll spend and save in one convenient place and enjoy a suite of tools that can help you budget better. You’ll also earn a competitive APY and pay no account fees, both of which can help your money grow faster.

Better banking is here with up to 3.25% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 11/3/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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.
SOMN19160

Read more
personal-line-of-credit-vs-personal-loan.jpg

Can I Take Out a Personal Loan While Unemployed?

From unemployment benefits to hardship programs, there are a number of options out there when it comes to managing money during difficult times. One option that people may consider during unemployment is a personal loan. But one important question is: Can you get a loan while unemployed?

While there are personal loans for the unemployed available, it’s important to carefully assess the downsides and the benefits before moving forward. You’ll need to ensure you’ll be able to pay back the loan even if money gets tighter, and you should also be prepared for a more challenging approval process.

Personal Loan Basics

At its most simple, a personal loan is when a lending institution pays out a lump sum of money to a borrower, who then pays back the amount owed plus interest over a predetermined period of time.

Unlike a mortgage or student loan, a personal loan isn’t tied to a specific expense. In other words, someone might take out a personal loan to cover the cost of paying for a dream wedding, to remodel a kitchen to get rid of that hideous linoleum, or to cover living expenses during a time with low cash flow — there are a number of common uses for personal loans.

Personal loan amounts can typically vary from $1,000 to $100,000, depending on the lender’s guidelines, the amount a borrower requests, and the borrower’s creditworthiness. While the lender pays out the amount of the loan in one lump sum to the borrower (minus any origination fee), the borrower pays back the loan over time in installments, often over a period of 12 to 60 months.

Personal loans are generally unsecured loans, which means they do not use collateral to secure the loan. Instead, lenders may look at borrowers’ creditworthiness to determine the risk in lending to them and their interest rate.

The interest rate for personal loans can vary for different borrowers depending on a borrower’s creditworthiness. Rates can range anywhere from around 5% to over 35%. Interest is paid back alongside the principal amount in monthly payments that are made over the life of the loan.

When Should You Consider Taking Out a Personal Loan While Unemployed?

Ideally, you’d avoid taking on debt while you’re unemployed and don’t have regular income coming in from a job. You might first explore any other options available to you to free up funds, whether that’s taking on a side hustle, getting a roommate, or reassessing your budget. However, there are some circumstances when taking out a personal loan while unemployed may be doable, and it can be a better option than resorting to a high-interest payday loan or expensive credit card debt.

If you’re considering a personal loan while unemployed, you should first assess whether you’ll realistically be able to make on-time payments on your loan each month. Not doing so can lead to late fees and impacts to your credit score. Think seriously about what you’d do in the worst-case scenario if you really couldn’t make a payment. You may even consider crunching the numbers using a personal loan calculator to determine if a personal loan would net you any savings over another borrowing option.

It’s also important to understand what lenders will look for when determining whether to approve you for a loan while unemployed. You’ll generally need a strong credit history and credit score to qualify. Additionally, lenders will want to see some income in order to prove you’ll be able to make monthly payments. Without a regular paycheck coming in during unemployment, this could be Social Security benefit payments, disability income, money from investments, or even your spouse’s income, among other alternatives.

Are There Downsides to Taking Out a Personal Loan While Unemployed?

Taking out a personal loan may seem appealing to someone who is temporarily out of work because it might be relatively quick to secure and can come with lower interest rates than credit cards. But as with all financial decisions, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of taking out a personal loan while unemployed before applying.

Here are the downsides of taking out a personal loan while unemployed:

•   It will likely be harder to qualify for a loan while unemployed. While you can get a personal loan without a job, it may be more difficult to qualify. Lenders look at a variety of factors when determining whether to offer a borrower a loan, like income, debt-to-income ratio, credit history, and credit score. This data helps them determine how likely it is the borrower will pay back the loan. If a borrower is unemployed, they won’t necessarily have income to show, and their debt-to-income ratio might be much lower than it would be with a stable income. Of course, different lenders have different criteria for lending, and the ultimate decision is determined by that specific lender.

•   Lenders may charge higher interest rates. Some lenders may offer higher interest rates to unemployed personal loan borrowers. This is because of the additional perceived risks of lending to someone who is unemployed.

•   Borrowers are taking a risk. The risk isn’t just for lenders when getting a loan while unemployed. When deciding whether to apply for a personal loan during unemployment, it’s important to consider your ability to pay a higher interest rate or make monthly payments. If a borrower is struggling to make ends meet, a loan payment could be impossible to pay on top of other expenses. And defaulting on a personal loan can be even more expensive: Borrowers could face late fees for missed payments and fees if the loan is sent to collections, not to mention a hit to their credit score if they’re unable to make payments.

Are There Benefits to Taking Out a Personal Loan While Unemployed?

There may be upsides for someone who is unemployed to take out a personal loan. Benefits of personal loans for unemployed individuals can include:

•   Personal loans can be more flexible than other types of loans. Borrowers can use the money from a personal loan for almost anything. This might make it an appealing choice for borrowers who may not have their normal income coming in due to unemployment.

•   It may be less costly than other borrowing options. A personal loan may come with lower rates than a credit card, which can be a major benefit when it comes to saving money. Additionally, the fixed term of a personal loan could help borrowers save over the life of a loan. This is because unlike with a credit card, you’d pay a set amount monthly over a set term, which means payments don’t roll over and continue to accrue interest.

•   You could consolidate existing debt. Another potential benefit of taking out a personal loan during unemployment could be consolidating other debts. In fact, a common reason borrowers may choose a personal loan is to consolidate credit card debt. Sometimes called debt consolidation loans, this type of personal loan can help borrowers save money if they can secure a lower interest rate than they’re currently paying on their credit cards. Additionally, debt consolidation loans can streamline multiple payments into one monthly payment. Keep in mind, however, that continuing to use credit cards after obtaining a credit card consolidation loan can lead to debt continuing to pile up.

•   They can help you deal with unexpected expenses. Personal loans may be an option for borrowers who are facing unexpected expenses, like medical bills or moving costs. If your current financial situation or a change in jobs has necessitated a move, a personal loan may be a way to pay for those unexpected costs without relying on credit cards.

To recap, here’s a rundown of the downsides and benefits of personal loans for unemployed individuals. While you potentially can get a loan while unemployed, you’ll want to make sure you’re aware of and comfortable with both the pros and the cons:

Downsides and Benefits of Personal Loans While Unemployed
Downsides Benefits
Qualifying can be more difficult. Personal loans offer flexibility in how you use the funds.
Interest rates may be higher due to unemployment status. It could be less costly compared to other choices.
Borrowers are taking on a risk amid existing financial uncertainty. You could use a loan to consolidate debt, and potentially save money.
It could help you cover unexpected costs, like medical bills or moving.

Awarded Best Personal Loan of 2022 by NerdWallet.
Apply Online, Same Day Funding


Does SoFi Offer Personal Loans for Unemployed People?

SoFi does offer personal loans for unemployed individuals, assuming applicants meet other conditions. If you are not currently employed, it’s necessary to meet one of the two following eligibility criteria:

•   Have sufficient income from other sources

•   Have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days

Beyond these conditions regarding employment and income, SoFi also has a number of other requirements that borrowers must meet. Additionally, SoFi will consider an applicant’s financial history, credit score, and monthly income vs. expenses.

Improving Your Chances of Getting Approved for a Personal Loan While Unemployed

If you’re hoping to get a personal loan while unemployed, there are steps you can take to increase your odds of getting your personal loan approved.

For one, it helps to familiarize yourself with your own financial situation. Check your credit to see if it falls within a lender’s requirements, assess your current sources of income now that you’re unemployed, and take a look at how your current monthly debt payments compare to your monthly income. These are all factors that lenders will take into account when determining whether to approve the loan application, so the better they look, the better your chances that the lender’s answer will be a yes.

If you’re not confident you can get approved for a personal loan with your financial situation as is, you might consider taking some of the following actions:

•   Increase your income: While this might seem like a no-brainer if you’ve recently lost your job, there are other ways to approach adding to your sources of income while you’re on the job search. You could pick up a side hustle or get a roommate. Also take the time to review what counts as income for credit card applications — you might find you’ve forgotten to include something. (Remember, unemployment benefits count as income.)

•   Minimize your debts: If your debt-to-income ratio is way out of whack, that could lower your odds of approval. Consider ways you could cut costs, whether that’s downsizing your home, moving in with a friend or family member in the meantime, or selling off a car that’s saddling you with monthly payments.

•   Consider adding a cosigner: In this situation, another option could be to ask a friend or family member with good credit and a steady income to serve as a cosigner. Adding them to your application may make it likelier that a lender will view you favorably. Just remember that if you fail to make timely payments on your loan, you could damage your cosigner’s credit and stick them with the payments — not to mention the harm it could do to your relationship.

Choosing a Personal Loan

Borrowers interested in a personal loan might want to consider all the pros and cons before taking one on during unemployment. If a personal loan sounds like it might be the right solution, borrowers may want to do a little bit of preparation beforehand. It’s never a bad idea for a borrower to figure out exactly much they want to borrow in advance. But remember — borrowers should only borrow the amount they need.

Taking a look at the affordability of monthly payments may also help a borrower determine how much to borrow. Additionally, borrowers may wish to pull up their financial documents and take a peek at their current credit score and overall financial health before applying for a personal loan.

If a borrower is ready to apply, it’s important to look for one that meets their specific needs. For one, they’ll need to find a lender willing to work with unemployed borrowers, if that’s their current situation.

With SoFi, the next step in applying is to get prequalified. Prequalification with SoFi doesn’t affect your credit score and lets you see what interest rate you may qualify for. While SoFi offers easy online prequalification, it’s important to look around and determine which, if any, personal loan is the best for you.

With SoFi, you may qualify for a personal loan for between $5,000 and $100,000 with no origination fees or unexpected costs. Plus, if you take out an unsecured personal loan and then lose your job, you may be eligible for forbearance on your payments and assistance finding a new job in the meantime.

The bottom line: While applying for a personal loan with SoFi is possible, you should properly assess the associated risks first — especially if you’re getting a loan while unemployed.

FAQ

Can you use a personal loan as an unemployment loan?

Yes, it is possible to use a personal loan as an unemployment loan. However, in order to qualify for a personal loan while unemployed, you’ll still need to meet a lender’s eligibility requirements. This generally includes demonstrating some type of regular income.

What are the benefits of using an unemployment loan?

While risky, personal loans for unemployment do offer a number of benefits, including flexibility in how you use the funds, potentially lower costs than other borrowing options, and the choice to consolidate existing debt. A personal loan could also come in handy if unexpected expenses arrive, such as a surprise medical bill or an unanticipated move.

Are there any fees associated with unemployment loans?

Personal loans taken out during unemployment can absolutely carry fees. Whether and which fees apply will depend on the lender. Common fees you could face include origination fees, late fees, and prepayment penalties.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SOPL0922007

Read more
woman with calculator

Using the Debt Avalanche Method of Paying Off Debt

Debt is a slippery slope. You can be doing just fine when an unexpected bill starts a slide. Maybe you use a credit card or three to keep up for a while. But one setback — like major car repairs — throws you off balance again, and eventually debt begins to swallow you up.

But there’s good news. First, you’re not alone. Second, millions of people like you have dug themselves out of debt using the Debt Avalanche Method. This debt reduction strategy focuses your efforts on the debts with the highest interest rates. Keep reading to learn the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy, as well as some proven alternatives for paying off debt.

How the Debt Avalanche Method Works

First, make a budget. Determine exactly how much money you have coming in each month and how much goes out to household bills. Find ways to trim the fat from anything you can — dinners out, streaming services — so you’ll have more cash to pay toward that smothering debt. If you need help, here’s a guide to the 70-20-10 rule of budgeting.

Then make a list of all your debts. Start with the loan or credit card that has the highest interest rate, and work your way down to the one with the lowest interest rate. Don’t pay any attention to which one has the highest balance or the highest minimum payment. The Avalanche Method is all about interest rate.

Continue to make the minimum payments on all your debts, but put anything you can (bonuses, tax refunds, that $20 your grandma stuck in your pocket) toward paying off the high-interest debt at the top of the list.

Now we’ll fast-forward to the glorious moment when the first debt on your list is paid off. Congrats! Cross it off and move to the next debt on your list: This should be the one formerly known as the second-highest-interest-rate debt, now the highest.

Roll whatever payment you were making on the first debt into the second debt, adding it on to the minimum payment. When that debt is paid off, do the same with the third on the list. As you continue paying off outstanding debt, you should have more and more money to put toward the next target balance. Keep going until you’ve plowed through each debt on your list and can declare yourself debt-free.

Advantages of the Debt Avalanche Method

Fans of the Debt Avalanche Method laud its efficiency. The most expensive debt is ditched first, which can be a big money saver. And the amount of time it takes to get out of debt overall is cut too, because less interest accumulates every month.

Remember, the compound interest (interest on interest) that you love in your savings account can crush you when you owe money. Although compounding periods vary from daily to monthly to annually, depending on the type of debt, credit card balances are typically compounded daily.

That means every little purchase you make and carry over months and years is probably costing you way more than you want to think about. And if you miss payments, the interest rate you’re paying will likely increase, costing you even more.

If you need help keeping yourself in line, check out the minimum payment warning on your monthly statement. It informs a cardholder just how long it will take to pay off a balance if only the minimum monthly payment is made, as well as how much will need to be paid each month to pay off that balance within three years. The total dollar amount paid in each scenario is also disclosed.

Downsides to the Debt Avalanche Method

Using the Avalanche Method to pay off debt isn’t necessarily a good fit for everyone. The method is great for disciplined, analytical thinkers who get excited by the knowledge that they’re playing the long game.

However, the Avalanche approach might not provide enough incentive for those who are motivated by feelings as well as logic. If you need the psychological boost from small wins to stick to a plan, it can be a tough ride.

Another downside to the Avalanche is that it assumes paying off debt as quickly as possible is always the right thing to do. But there are other factors to consider, like your credit score.

If you’re contemplating purchasing a home or car in the near future, or taking out some other kind of loan, it may be worth running the numbers and looking at how your paydown plan will affect your credit utilization ratio and improve your ability to qualify for a lower interest rate.

To make the Avalanche Method a success, it helps to be the type of person who is self-disciplined, self-motivated, self-aware, and capable of celebrating self-made milestones.

Which Debts To Include in a Debt Avalanche

It’s important to know which sort of debts should be included in a debt payoff strategy — and which ones you should leave out. When making your list of debts from high to low interest, include the following:

•   Credit cards

•   Personal loans

•   Student loans

•   Car loans

•   Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

•   Medical bills

With Buy Now, Pay Later, borrowers typically pay no interest as long as they make their payments on time for a designated period. So keep making those payments, but don’t worry about putting extra cash toward your balance until that debt rises to the top of the list.

The same with medical bills. Doctors and hospitals generally don’t charge patients interest on outstanding balances. Make your payments as agreed, but reserve extra cash for the higher-interest debt.

Do not include your mortgage. Financial experts consider this “good” debt. One day, you may decide to put extra money toward paying down your mortgage principal, but for now, focus on your other debts.

Debt Avalanche Example

Below is the debt list for a hypothetical individual, Jane, with over $35,000 in debt. Note that these debts are in order of highest to the lowest interest rate. The balances and minimum payments are in no particular order.

Debt

APR

Balance

Minimum payment

Credit card #1 23% $3,000 $35
Credit card #2 18.99% $4,000 $40
Credit card #3 15% $5,000 $50
Car loan 9% $10,000 $200
Student loan 4.99% $9,000 $78
Buy Now, Pay Later 0% $1,000 $166
Medical bills 0% $3,500 $292

Jane is paying over $800 a month just to keep up with minimum payments. But only making minimum payments won’t get you out of debt anytime soon. Fortunately, Jane found another $500 a month to put toward her first credit card. She’ll save big on interest as she pays down the balance. However, she’ll still need to pay another $800 a month on her other minimum payments.

Alternatives to the Debt Avalanche Method

The Avalanche is for rational thinkers. But when it comes to money — and life in general — humans tend to follow their gut. That’s why some people prefer the Avalanche’s more emotionally available cousin, the Snowball Method.

With the Snowball Method, the steps are much the same, but you start your list with the smallest balance and work your way toward the largest, disregarding the interest rate. The idea is that those first targets can be knocked down quickly, creating a sense of accomplishment that helps keep you on task until it becomes a habit.

But if the Avalanche and Snowball methods leave you cold, maybe you’ll find inspiration in a hot hybrid. This one’s called the Debt Fireball, an original SoFi strategy created to help people torch their expensive “bad” debt and move on to the things that matter to them faster.

The Fireball blends the best parts of the Avalanche (the cost savings and faster timeline) and the Snowball (the motivation and feeling of achievement). And it adds some flexibility for those who wish to prioritize saving and investing.

How the Debt Fireball Works

After making a budget and determining how much money is left over each month after paying for necessities, prepare to tackle your debts. Start by categorizing all your debt as either “good” or “bad.”

Like the Avalanche, this method is all about the interest rates. Debts with an interest rate of less than 7% are “good.” Debts with an interest rate higher than 7% are “bad.” For example, a student loan with a 3% interest rate would be good, while a credit card with a 21% interest rate would be bad.

Take the list of bad debts and put them in order based on their outstanding balances, from smallest to largest. Keep making the minimum monthly payment on all outstanding debts, but funnel any excess funds toward the smallest of the bad debts. For that one, pay the minimum plus whatever extra amount you can.

When that balance is paid in full, move on to the next smallest bill on the bad-debt list. Keep burning through those balances until all your bad debt is repaid. After that, keep paying off your good debt on the normal schedule while you also invest in your future. You can look at putting your money toward a financial goal, such as saving for a house, starting a business, going back to school, or retirement.

The Fireball is a debt management plan that’s built for real people. It appeals to a person’s practical side because it prioritizes high-interest debt. It organizes a payoff plan in a logical way and focuses on paying off one debt at a time. But it also can provide the psychological strokes some of us need to stay interested and dedicated to becoming debt-free. It turns the trek out of debt into a series of short hikes.

Recommended: When to Start Saving for Retirement

The Takeaway

Using the Debt Avalanche Method is a great way to pay off debt for disciplined, logical personalities who want to maximize their savings on interest. The Avalanche works by paying down the highest-interest debt first, regardless of balance, while making minimum payments only on other debts. It’s not for everyone, though, especially if your highest-interest debt is also your biggest balance. For folks who want to celebrate short-term wins to keep them going, the Snowball Method is a popular option. Instead of focusing on interest rate, borrowers prioritize the lowest balance first. The key to any debt payoff strategy is to know yourself and choose the method that feels right for you.

Another option for paying down debt is a personal loan. SoFi offers personal loans with low rates and no fees. Whether you need to consolidate your credit cards or other high-interest debt, consider an unsecured personal loan to simplify your finances.

Learn more about SoFi personal loans.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SOAD19025

Read more
Credit Card Utilization: Everything You Need To Know

Credit Card Utilization: Everything You Need To Know

Imagine you have four credit cards, each with a $5,000 limit, for a total of $20,000. You have a balance of $2,000 on Credit Card A from vacation travel, $1,000 on Credit Card B from buying new car tires, $2,000 on Credit Card C from last holiday season, and $1,000 on Credit Card D from regular monthly bills. Altogether, you owe $6,000. If we calculate that as a percentage, we have your credit card utilization rate: 30%.

In this guide, we’ll focus on credit utilization, determine how much of your credit you should use, and show how credit card utilization affects your credit score and overall financial standing.

What Is a Credit Utilization Ratio?

Your credit utilization ratio is a fancy way of referring to how much of your credit you’re using. Lenders and credit reporting agencies use it as an indicator of how well someone is managing their finances.

A low credit utilization ratio says you live within your means, use credit cards responsibly, and therefore probably manage the rest of your finances well. A high credit utilization hints that your expenses are outpacing your income, a sign that you’re misusing credit cards, and possibly mismanaging the rest of your finances.

The reality of the situation may be different. Perhaps you have temporary cash flow problems due to a job loss. Or you happen to have a pileup of pricey expenses within a short time, such as medical bills, car repairs, and a destination wedding. It happens. That’s why credit utilization is just one factor that goes into calculating your credit score.

Recommended: Types of Personal Loans

How Do You Calculate Your Credit Card Utilization Rate?

In the example above, we saw that if you have $20,000 of credit available to you, and you owe $6,000, your credit utilization rate is 30%. How did we get there? To find out your credit card utilization rate, simply divide your total credit card balances by your total credit line, like this:

Total Balance / Total Credit Line = Utilization Rate

With the numbers from our example, it looks like this:

6,000 / 20,000 = .3 or 30%

Simple, right? You’ve got this.

Recommended: Getting Your Personal Loan Approved

What Counts as “Good” Credit Card Utilization?

As it turns out, just because you’ve been approved for a $10,000 credit card doesn’t mean it makes financial sense to charge $10,000 worth of rosé and seltzer — even if you know you can pay it off over a couple of months. In fact, you might be shocked to learn how little of your available credit you’re supposed to use.

The general rule is that you should not exceed a 30% credit card utilization rate. That means that in our example, you would not want to use more than $6,000 of your available $20,000 credit. Even though 30% might seem like a small percentage, keeping below that threshold can ensure that your credit score isn’t being dinged for over-utilization.

Is credit utilization affecting your credit
score? See a breakdown in the SoFi app.


How Can You Lower Your Credit Card Utilization Ratio?

You can lower your credit utilization ratio by paying down your credit card balances. Ideally, you should pay off your credit card balances in full every billing cycle to avoid paying interest. When that’s not possible, pay off as much of the bill as you can.

Whatever you do, don’t make a habit of paying only the credit card minimum payment suggested on your bill.

When trying to pay down your credit cards, focus on the one with the highest interest rate. That way, you’ll save the most money on interest. Or you can pay off your cards with a personal loan. In fact, debt consolidation is one of those most common uses for personal loans.

Another way to lower your utilization rate is to increase your available credit. Ask your bank to raise your credit card limit. If they agree, your utilization will quickly drop. Also, keep open any cards you don’t use rather than closing the accounts. They’re serving a valuable purpose by contributing to your credit limit, even if you’ve cut up the actual cards.

As you can tell, credit utilization is a nuanced topic. Learn all the ins and outs in our Guide to Lowering Your Credit Card Utilization.

How Does Credit Card Utilization Affect Your Credit Score?

Credit card utilization plays a big role in how companies compute your credit score. In fact, about 30% of your credit score is determined by your credit card utilization rate. That means a high credit card utilization rate can adversely affect your credit score. For a deep dive into the topic, check out How Does Credit Utilization Affect Your Credit Score?

How Do You Monitor Your Credit Card Utilization?

Your credit utilization might seem difficult to keep track of. But we live in the 21st century, so it’s actually quite easy to set up account reminders to alert you when you are approaching that 30% credit card utilization mark.

In addition to watching your utilization rate, make your best effort to pay your credit card bills on-time each month. Checking your credit score regularly will also help you keep your financial health in check. Although you don’t want to check your score too often, it’s good to keep tabs to make sure the data being reported is accurate.

The Takeaway

Your credit card utilization ratio is the sum of all your credit card balances divided by the sum of your credit limits. Credit reporting agencies recommend keeping your ratio at 30% or below. Higher ratios can hurt your credit, since credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score. To lower your utilization rate, simply pay down your credit card balances. And think twice before closing a credit card you no longer use. You might also consider consolidating your credit card debt with a personal loan; a personal loan calculator can show you how much you could save on interest.

Have high credit card utilization across multiple cards? Consolidating credit card debt with a low interest personal loan will reduce your utilization rate, which can positively affect your credit score. With SoFi personal loans, you can borrow $5K to $100K, with low fixed rates and no fees.

Compared with high-interest credit cards, a SoFi personal loan is simply better debt.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SOPL1022003

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender