How to Become a Digital Nomad: 25+ Things to Consider

How to Become a Digital Nomad: 25 Things to Consider

The work-from-anywhere movement is here and those who have embraced it even have a name: Digital nomads.

Digital nomads, or those who combine remote work with a love of travel, are on the rise, thanks to a growing number of companies that are adopting a more digital first format.

Trading in the nine-to-five for a nomadic lifestyle can sound enticing…but is it right for you? Here are some key things to know before you hit the road.

What Is A Digital Nomad?

Digital nomads are professionals who work fully remote jobs and move locations frequently. They are able to do this either because they are self-employed, or because their company allows for a more transient lifestyle.

The number of people who describe themselves as digital nomads is on the rise. According to a report from professional talent marketplace MBO Partners , the number of self-described digital nomads in the U.S. rose from 7.3 million in 2019 to 10.9 million in 2020–a 49 percent jump.

While the digital nomad lifestyle was dominated mostly by freelancers in years past, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted many office workers into new lifestyles. The MBO study found the number of digital nomads with traditional jobs rose a full 96% between 2019 and 2020.

How Much Do Digital Nomads Make?

Because digital nomads are a mix of full-timers and part-timers, and many only do it for part of a year, their income varies widely, according to MBO Partners .

Their research found that in 2020, 26 percent of digital nomads reported earning less than $25,000 per year. But 38 percent, or about 4.1 million, said they earn $75,000 or more. Regardless of how much they made, most digital nomads said that they were satisfied with their earnings

Common Jobs for Digital Nomads

According to FlexJobs , the most popular fields for digital nomads include:

• Writing

• Education & Training

• Administrative

• Customer Service

• Art & Creative

• Computer & IT

• Consulting

• Data Entry

• Marketing

• Project Management

25 Things to Know Before Becoming a Digital Nomad

If you’re trying to decide if the digital nomad life is right for you, here are a number of things you may want to consider.

1. You’ll Be Able to Learn About Different Cultures

As a digital nomad, you get to choose where you spend your time. Maybe you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to live on the Greek island or in the Peruvian Andes. Or, maybe you want to learn more about your ancestors. You can do that as a digital nomad. Making a list of the things you really want to see, do, and learn in your lifetime can help you start formulating a plan.

2. You Could Learn a New Language Along the Way

Beyond meeting new people, you can also choose to learn new things as a digital nomad. Living and working in a place can significantly improve your language skills. So if you want to learn Spanish, you may want to plan on living in Spain for a few months.

3. You Can Enjoy Winter or Summer all Year Long

Hate winters? They can be a thing of the past. As a digital nomad, you get to choose where you live and work, so if you want to summer in the states, then summer again in Australia or South America, or anywhere else where the temperatures are right for you, you can do it.

4. Having a plan B, and Maybe Even C, is Prudent

As a digital nomad, you will likely be moving around a lot, which means you may hit more snags than if you were staying in one place. Because of this, it is a good idea to always have a backup plan, like a second accommodation option in case your first one doesn’t fit the bill, multiple options for reaching Wi-Fi, as well as a starting an emergency fund.

5. Making Close Friendships Can be a Challenge

If you’re not staying in one place for very long, it can be difficult to create deep connections with people you meet. However, if you’re willing to put time and effort into making and keeping new friends, these relationships can last for as long as you want.

6. There’s a Massive Global Network Waiting to Welcome You

Fortunately, if you decide to dip your toe in the digital nomad waters, you will not be alone. There are millions of others around the globe who are currently living the digital nomad life–and plenty of Facebook, Instagram, and chat groups to help you connect with them.

7. You May be Able to Set Your Own Hours

Because you are no longer working in an office, it may be possible to create your own working hours. This can be a major perk for many who do not like to adhere to the nine-to-five lifestyle. For example, you could choose to work early in the morning and take off the afternoons, or vice versa. If your working situation allows this, it’s totally up to you.

8. Your Entire Day Will Likely Depend on WiFi Availability

If connecting to the internet to conduct work and communicate with clients or employers is important for your job on a regular basis, it can be a good idea to choose destinations with reliable WiFi. You can also take advantage of websites, such as WiFi Map , that help you track down free WiFi wherever you are in the world.

9. Investing in a VPN Could be Smart

Depending on where you decide to travel, internet access could become an issue. That’s because the internet is censored in certain destinations. To help you access the websites you want or need for work, you may want to download a VPN (virtual private network) prior to departure. This can help you get around any censorship issues and help protect your privacy online. The cost of a good VPN service is around $10 per month.

10. You’ll Likely Become a Coffee Shop Connoisseur

Cafe life can be clutch for digital nomads. Not only are coffee shops typically welcoming to those who need to use WiFi, but they can also be excellent places to chat with locals, make new friends, or simply soak up the local culture.

11. Maintaining a Routine Can be a Challenge

If you’re traveling on your own, and have the freedom to set your own work hours, your routine will be entirely up to you. For some people, this can become a challenge because they have little structure to their day. As a digital nomad, it can be a good idea to come up with your own daily schedule, such as walking in the morning, working in the afternoon, and taking an exercise class at night, no matter where you are.

12. It May Be Hard to Maintain Connections With Old Friends

Just as your life is moving on in a new direction, so are the lives of those you left behind. If you want to stay connected, you are likely going to have to make an effort. You may want to set reminders for yourself to send text messages, make phone calls, or go the old-fashioned way and write letters to those you hold nearest and dearest.

13. You’ll May Need to Learn Global Visa Rules

If you want to become an international digital nomad, you will likely have to learn a lot of the rules of entry into different countries and make sure you have all the necessary documents in advance. For example, some countries require all travelers to have visas, while others only require them for stays longer than 90 days.

14. You’ll Need to Take Stock of Your Finances

The good news: Being a digital nomad doesn’t have to be expensive. You can save money by spending time in a nation where goods cost less, or you might forgo a car and take public transit, or even couch surf when you can. No matter how you choose to travel and live, it’s a good idea to figure out a budget beforehand, and keep track of your spending as you go so you don’t run out of funds while you’re still a long way from home.

Recommended: How to Save for a Vacation: Creating a Travel Fund

15. You’ll Want to Have Easy Access to Your Money

Traveling the globe, you will want to make sure you can access your money wherever and whenever you need it. And while you can do that with many U.S. banks, many will charge you foreign transaction fees, as well as ATM fees, which could make it expensive to access your own cash. It’s a good idea to read the fine print before you set out and, if necessary, choose a different financial institution.

16. You’ll Want to Check Your Phone and Insurance Plans

It’s a good idea to check your cell phone contract to find out what the coverage is while traveling. Ideally, you want a phone plan that allows for unlimited data while traveling internationally. It’s also a good idea to find out what your insurance will cover if you need care in another part of the country, or in a different country.

17. Hiring a Tax Professional Can Be a Smart investment

Depending on your employment situation, you may need to pay quarterly income taxes. You may also need to pay taxes on income earned while living abroad. Since this can get complicated, it may be worthwhile to hire an accountant who can help you navigate the ins and outs of tax law and even complete your tax return for you, giving you one less thing to worry about on the road.

18. The Right Housing Can be Hard to Find

As a digital nomad, you may not have the luxury of getting to see a property before renting it. That means you may get there and realize you made a mistake. If possible, you may want to avoid committing to (and paying upfront) a long-term stay before you see the place. It can also be a good idea to have a backup accommodation plan in case things don’t look quite as good as they did online.

19. Storage May Become an Issue

Depending on how long you plan to travel around the globe, you may need to store your items along the way. When doing so, it can be a good idea to store items in facilities or places that a friend or family member is able to access. That way, if you need something important while you’re on the other side of the world, they can get it and send it to you.

20. You May Want to Start Journaling

As a digital nomad, you will likely be making incredible memories. Even if you’ve never kept a journal, you may want to start keeping a notebook where you jot down a few lines at the end of each day or week, and document things you saw or experienced or simply what you’re feeling. You’ll likely enjoy looking back on this later. And, knowing what worked and didn’t work can also help you plan your next adventure as a nomad.

21. “Vacation” May Take on New Meaning

Because you can live and work from anywhere in the world, “vacation” may no longer mean the same thing as it used to. It can be important as a digital nomad to still ensure you are taking time off to rest and relax and recharge from your work routine. What’s great is that you can now take a vacation without having to hop on a plane to get away from it all because you’re already there.

22. Longer-Term Stays Tend to Work Best

When transitioning to a digital nomad lifestyle, it can be tempting to hop around from one place to the next in quick succession. However, this can wreak havoc on your routine and become exhausting. It also makes it hard to get to know a place or make new friends. Instead, you may want to plan for longer stints of time, such as several months, in each destination.

23. Being Alone Can be Challenging

If you are taking up the digital nomad lifestyle on your own, you will likely be spending more time than ever before solo. And, you’ll no longer have co-workers to chat with during the day. While this can be a welcome relief for many, others may struggle with loneliness. To help combat feelings of social isolation, it can help to join meetup groups, head to events solo where you can meet new people, or join a co-working space.

24. You May Get Homesick

Yes, getting to explore the world and go wherever you wish as a digital nomad is a gift. But, the reality is that, at one point or another, you will likely miss home. It may be that you are missing family, friends, or that bit of normalcy you once had. It can help to know that this is normal and expected, and you may even want to give in to it by calling home and letting it out.

25. You May Find Out it’s Not the Right Life for You

The digital nomad lifestyle can sound wildly appealing. After all, we often see people living their best nomad life on social media. However, there are difficulties and challenges that come with the nomad lifestyle. You may try it and decide it’s not the right choice for you, which is perfectly fine. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ll like until you try it.

Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad

Being a digital nomad can bring personal and professional freedom. You’ll no longer have to deal with everyday office politics or have to go to the same place every weekday.

And, instead of only having a couple of weeks to travel each year, you can see and experience new places all year long.

But being a digital nomad can also be a lot of work. If you’re going freelance or starting your own business, it can take a lot of time, effort, and hustle to start making real money.

Also, depending on your budget, you may also have to put up with less than glamorous accommodations. And, for some, the nomad life can get lonely.

The Takeaway

The digital nomad lifestyle is on the rise with nearly 11 million Americans now self-describing as such.

The nomad life can take more work than some are willing to put in, including finding new routines, more personal accountability, and dealing with details like getting visas and finding the best cell phone and health insurance plans.

However, this life-work choice can pay off–nomads not only get to see the world, nearly 40 percent of them also report making $75,000 or more annually.

Ready to hop on a plane and become a digital nomad? Signing up for a SoFi Money® cash management account can be a great way to start your journey.

With SoFi Money, you can easily access and manage your money anytime, anywhere, and withdrawing cash is fee-free at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide.

Check out all the benefits of SoFi Money today.

Photo credit: iStock/Vasil Dimitrov


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.
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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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How to Calculate Your Savings Rate

How to Calculate Your Savings Rate

You don’t have to be a math whiz or a financial expert to get a good idea of how you’re doing when it comes to your personal savings. The formula to calculate your personal savings rate (the percentage of your after-tax income that you’re putting away for the future) is pretty basic and can be used to assess your financial health.

What Information is Included in the Savings Rate Formula?

The basic formula to calculate savings rate is:

your savings / your after-tax income = your savings rate

Once you’ve calculated your savings rate, you can use it to:

• Review how you’re doing from month to month or year to year.

• See how your current spending habits are affecting your future goals and financial independence.

• Motivate yourself to do better with your savings.

• Compare your efforts to others.

You can gather up the numbers you need to determine your savings rate (which is sometimes referred to as a savings ratio) in just a few steps:

Step 1: Add Up Your Income for the Month

Your income streams might include, after taxes: your monthly salary, the money you earned from any side gigs or from selling homemade items online, or rental income if you’re renting out a room of your home to get extra funds. Don’t forget to include money you earned that’s automatically deducted from your pay and added to a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or a traditional or Roth IRA. And add in your employer’s matching retirement plan contributions, as well.

Recommended: 39 Ways to Earn Passive Income Streams

Step 2: Add Up the Money You Put into Savings Each Month

This is about what you’re saving for the long-term, not next week. So it would include the money that’s automatically coming out of your check for retirement savings, plus your employer’s matching contributions, along with any funds you’re putting into separate savings or brokerage accounts.

Step 3: Do the Math

Divide the total amount of your long-term savings (Step 2) by the total amount of your after-tax income (Step 1). Turn the number you get into a percentage (.10 is 10%, for example), and that’s your savings rate.

You may hear or see a few variations on what’s included in the calculation. Some people don’t include their employer’s 401(k) contributions in their calculations, for instance, and some might add in extra payments they’re putting toward the principal on a student loan or other debt. The point is to be consistent with what you do or don’t include from month to month.

How About an Example?

Let’s use Jane, whose hypothetical after-tax Income every month is $4,500. She brings in another $500, after taxes, by renting the extra bedroom in her apartment to her cousin, for a total of $5,000 a month.

Jane’s employer doesn’t offer a 401(k) plan, but on her own, Jane puts $500 a month into a Roth IRA. And she always puts another $100 a month in an online savings account she has earmarked for long-term goals. Jane’s savings amount totals $600 a month.

Using the savings rate formula, that’s $600 / $5,000 = .12, which makes Jane’s personal monthly savings rate 12%.

Of course, everyone’s numbers may not be quite so straightforward. Couples, for instance, may have to consider two or more paychecks and, possibly, two or more retirement accounts. Some individuals work more than one job or earn income from multiple sources. Some might count their emergency fund as savings, and others don’t. But the idea is the same: An individual’s or a household’s savings rate measures how much disposable income (defined by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) as after-tax income) is being set aside for long-term savings and retirement.

Why Is Knowing Your Personal Savings Rate Important?

The BEA tracks the nation’s personal savings rate from month to month to monitor Americans’ financial health and better predict consumer behavior. And you can do much the same thing with your own savings rate.

By tracking your rate on a regular basis, you can assess how you’re doing in real-time. If you’re consistently falling short of the savings goals you’ve set for yourself, you can look at what behaviors might need changing or if you need to rework your budget. You also can use the information as an incentive to do better. And you might even find it’s a fun way to compete with others close to you, or with the nation’s average personal savings rate, or just against yourself.

If you saved 8% in 2021, for example, could you bump that amount to 9% or 10% in 2022? What if you got an unexpected raise or bonus: would you have the discipline to put that amount into your savings to keep your rate the same or improve it?

Knowing your savings rate can help you make those kinds of financial decisions.

What’s a Good Savings Rate?

The average personal savings rate in the U.S. was about 7.5% in 2019. But financial experts generally advise savers to stash away at least 10% of their income every month ($500 of a $5,000 monthly salary, for example). The popular 50/30/20 budget rule created by Sen. Elizabeth Warren suggests saving 20% of after-tax income.

If that seems extreme, it’s probably more useful to simply target a number you’re sure you can stick to monthly or annually. Just having a positive savings rate—anything above zero—can be a good starting point for building good fiscal habits and a nest egg. You can always make adjustments as you accomplish other financial goals, such as paying off student loans or credit card debt.

Isn’t Having a Good Budget Enough?

A personal budget can be a useful guide when it comes to reaching financial goals. And tracking your spending with a spreadsheet or an app can help you see where your dollars (and dimes) are actually going, as opposed to where you think they’re going—those two places might be very different.

Many budget users include the amount they plan to put toward savings in their budget as a monthly expense. But that’s different from knowing your savings rate.

A savings rate provides a separate, wide-angle view of how much of what you make is going into savings. And that can help you further evaluate how you’re doing.

How Can Someone Improve Their Savings Rate?

The answer is simple: Spend less and save more.

Here are some steps that could help improve an individual’s or household’s savings rate.

Opening or Contributing More to a Retirement Account

One of the easiest ways to save more money can be to open a 401(k) or IRA, or to boost the amount that’s automatically deposited to an account you already have. After all, if you never see the money, you likely won’t be as tempted to spend it. And if you’re a long way from retirement, the money you invest should have lots of time to grow with compound interest. If your employer offers a 401(k) with a matching contribution, a goal might be to save as much as possible to maximize those funds.

Recommended: How an Employer 401(k) Match Works

Opening an Online Savings Account

If you’ve been saving s-l-o-w-l-y with a traditional type of savings account , it might be time to consider other options. Many online financial institutions, for example, offer higher interest rates for deposit accounts because they have lower overhead costs than brick-and-mortar banks, and they pass those savings on to their customers. Online accounts also may offer lower fees than traditional banks—or, in some cases, no fees.

Cut Back on Discretionary Spending

The thought of squeezing out additional dollars for savings each month might be daunting if you’re already on a tight budget. But even a little spending cut can go a long way toward nudging up your savings rate.

Let’s go back to our hypothetical saver, Jane, for an example. If Jane could manage to save just $50 more every month (or about $12 a week), she could increase her savings rate by a full percentage point—from 12% to 13%. That might mean getting takeout one less time every week. Or one less night out with the girls every month. Or maybe giving up a subscription service she seldom uses.

Lowering Fixed Expenses

Lowering the bills that have to be paid every month can increase the amount of money that’s available for savings. That could include shopping for cheaper car insurance or a less expensive cell phone carrier, keeping your paid-off car for an extra year or two instead of jumping right back into another auto loan, refinancing to a lower interest rate on a mortgage or student loans, cutting the cord on cable, or doing your own landscaping.

Ditching the Credit Card Debt

Yes, credit cards are convenient, and using your cards wisely can have a positive effect on your credit score. But the interest on credit cards is typically higher than for other types of borrowing, and it compounds, which means you could be paying interest on the interest charged on previous purchases.

If you’re carrying a balance from month to month and paying interest, you’re giving money to the credit card company that could be going into your savings account. Using a debt payoff strategy or consolidating your credit card debt with a personal loan could help you dump those credit card bills and get your savings back on track.

Putting Pay Raises Toward Savings, Not Spending

No one is suggesting that you should live ultra frugally like when you were scraping by in college or starting your career, but it might not hurt to hold on to some of those money-saving habits you had then. Otherwise, if your pay goes up and your savings stay static, your savings ratio is doomed to drop.

One last example using our hypothetical friend, Jane: If Jane got a $100-a-month raise (after taxes), but she continued putting $600 a month into savings, her savings rate would fall from 12% to just below 10%.

The Takeaway

Saving money might not be considered exciting by everyone, but the thought of being financially secure is pretty appealing. Think of your savings rate as a mirror you can hold up every month to see how you’re doing.

Using just one account, for instance, a cash management account like SoFi Money®, can save some steps when beginning to calculate your savings rate. Instead of opening multiple bank accounts for different financial goals (an emergency fund, the down payment for a house, a retirement fund, etc.), you can create “vaults” within your SoFi Money account to separate the savings you’ve earmarked for various goals.

Ready to improve your savings rate? Learn more about how SoFi Money’s vaults feature can help you organize your savings efforts.

Photo credit: iStock/fizkes


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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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Credit Checks For Employment - What To Know

Credit Checks For Employment – What To Know

Let’s face it: the hiring process can be a bit of a … process.

You show up to the job interview looking extra fresh, feeling confident in your ability to conquer the long list of questions about your qualifications, but what you might not be prepared for is a potential employer taking a deep dive into your financial history.

A credit check for employment can be an extra hurdle in the hiring process that helps the company assess more than just your resume. However, employers have certain requirements and limitations when it comes to vetting potential employees using credit checks.

What’s a Credit Check for Employment?

Pre-employment credit checks happen when a company uses a third-party company to check a candidate’s credit history and see their past approach to consumer debt.

It’s often slipped in with the traditional pre-employment background check that scans for criminal activity and is a tool that helps the potential employer make a decision about whether or not to hire the candidate.

Credit checks are more commonly used in industries that deal directly with money, like accounting, banking, and investing, but any employer could decide to run pre-employment credit checks.

How Does a Pre-Employment Credit Check Work?

Once the job offer is on the table, an employer will solicit a third-party provider to run a credit check for employment purposes that features the following information about the potential employee:

• Full name and previous names.

• Current address and past addresses.

• Social Security number.

• Incurred debts such as credit card debt, car loans, mortgages, student loans, and personal loans, including the full payment history on each account and any late payments.

One thing pre-employment credit checks cannot include is the potential employee’s date of birth because it could allow their age to be used against them in a discriminatory manner.

Federal Limits on Pre-Employment Credit Checks

The Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is federal legislation that protects the personal information collected by consumer reporting agencies and ensures that any entity that uses the information notifies the consumer of adverse actions taken on the basis of the report.

Here are a few of the FCRA requirements for employers who run a background credit check for employment on potential or current employees:

• Employers cannot legally obtain background information on an employee “based on a person’s race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or age (40 or older).”

• Employers must inform employees in writing of their intention to perform a background check or credit check, indicating they might use the information to make decisions about their employment.

• Employers must then get written approval from the applicant or employee to perform the background check and certify to the third-party provider that the employer:

◦ Notified the applicant and received their permission to obtain a background report.

◦ Fully complied with FCRA requirements.

◦ Will refrain from discriminating against the applicant or employee or misusing the information as a violation against Equal Opportunity laws or regulations.

• Before taking any adverse employment actions against an applicant or employee, employers must provide them with a notice that includes a copy of the report itself and a copy of A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act .

• After taking any adverse employment action, the employer must inform the applicant or employee:

◦ Of the name, address, and phone number of the company that conducted the background check, and the fact that it did not make the final decision.

◦ That they were rejected because of information in the report.

◦ That they reserve the right to dispute the report’s accuracy or completeness and receive a free report from the same reporting company within 60 days.

State and Local Limits on Pre-Employment Credit Checks

For the most part, many U.S. states allow employers to obtain credit reports in the hiring process in a fair and equitable way. Certain states, however, restrict how the obtained information can be used. Those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Several other states have legislation pending that could prohibit or place restrictions on credit inquiries for employment.

Certain localities also have prohibitions and restrictions on pre-employment credit checks, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

What Are Employers Looking for in Your Credit Report?

So, if they’re digging deep into your credit history to determine whether or not to hire you, what exactly are employers looking for in a credit report? Here are a few things that could help them with their hiring decision:

History of Handling Money

Particularly in cases where a potential employee would be handling large amounts of money on behalf of a company’s clients (like an investment broker or a bank), a pre-employment credit check can help ensure trustworthiness and the ability to keep their funds safe and secure.

If there’s a history of mismanaging money in a credit report, it can be seen as a red flag for potential employers who are concerned the candidate would mismanage the business’s money.

Decision-Making Ability

Even in cases where a potential employee isn’t directly handling money, certain dings in their credit history can still signal a red flag to employers. Negative credit events like foreclosures, numerous bank account closings, late payments, high credit utilization rate, or liens against a job applicant can be seen as signs of negligence or carelessness that they don’t necessarily want in their workforce.

Potential for Criminal Activity

Another reason for running a background credit check for employment is to assess whether a job candidate could be a risk for criminal behavior. For example, if a potential employee has several large debts, it could leave the employer wondering whether they’d be tempted to embezzle or commit fraud to cover their own debts and financial issues.

Anticipating an Employer Credit Check

Being prepared in advance of an employer credit check can sometimes be half the battle.

Here are a few steps you can take before the job interview even begins:

1. Obtain a copy of your credit report as soon as you can. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report per year from all three of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and can get it by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com . Allow plenty of time to look into any errors and file disputes, if necessary.

2. Address any errors on your credit report. If you notice any discrepancies when you pull up your free credit report, you can provide a brief statement to dispute the findings and get on top of it before the potential employer sees it. You can also write statements that explain the cause for a discrepancy like a late payment. For example, perhaps you were late on a mortgage payment because of a disability or illness.

3. Provide your written permission for the employer to run the credit check. This way, you’re fully prepared for the next step in the hiring process and have done everything you can to put your best foot forward.

The Takeaway

A credit check for employment purposes can throw you for a real loop in the job interview process, but it isn’t necessarily the end of your candidate experience. If you’re prepared for an employment credit check in advance, there’s a good chance you can present your case in a clear and compelling manner that resonates with the employer.

Checking your credit reports is the first step to knowing what information a potential employer might access. After that, handling your finances with a cash management account like SoFi Money® is a good way to keep tabs on transactions and limit surprises that might come up in a credit check for employment. Using the SoFi app is an easy way to access and manage your money anytime, from anywhere.

Learn more about the benefits of using SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/ljubaphoto


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

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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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31+ Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

31 Ways To Save On Back to School Shopping

Back-to-school time is here, which means that it’s time to start spending money on all the necessary supplies for the upcoming school year. In 2021, back-to-school shopping will cost an average of $498, and one in three parents of school-aged children say that they will go into debt to be able to afford supplies.

Here are 31 back-to-school shopping tips that will save you money this school year and beyond.

1. Check the Circulars

You might receive weekly circulars in the mail that include coupons to local stores that can help you save money on school supplies. If you don’t receive any circulars or you want more, using a website like Flipp can give you access to digital circulars and coupons you can use at the store.

2. Download Honey

The Honey browser extension is helpful when it comes to back-to-school savings. Installing Honey on your web browser will enable the extension to automatically search for coupon codes and deals when you check out online, saving you both time and money.

3. Use Online Coupons

Some websites, such as Coupons.com, RetailMeNot, and Savings.com, offer online coupons. Browsing these sites may lead to savings on school supplies you need.

4. Join Target Circle

Doing back-to-school shopping at Target will let you earn rewards through Target Circle . You can access hundreds of deals as well as earn 1% back when you shop (or 5% back when you shop with your Target RedCard). Then, you can redeem your savings on later purchases.

5. Use Cash Back Credit Cards

Making school-supply purchases with a cash-back credit card is another option to save some money. Then, you can put your savings towards future purchases or use the cashback to pay a portion of your credit card bill.

6. Get Cash Back for Shopping

On sites like Rakuten and Swagbucks , you can earn cash back when you shop at your favorite stores. Check these sites for cash back offers before heading out for back-to-school shopping.

7. Sign Up for Store Emails

If there are a few stores you know you’re going to be shopping at this year, then sign up for their email list ahead of time to receive coupons and find out when they are running sales. Some stores offer a percent-off coupon or a dollar-amount discount for signing up for their emails or texts.

8. Download Store Apps

Along with signing up for emails, you can also download store apps to receive exclusive savings and deal alerts. You may receive a one-time coupon at the beginning and then additional deals after that.

9. Ask Friends for Their Old Supplies

If you have friends who aren’t using their old supplies anymore, they may be willing to give them to you so they don’t go to waste. This could save you a lot of money, especially when it comes to
paying for college textbooks.

Recommended: College Essentials: What to Bring to College

10. Join Parent Groups

Consider joining local parent groups on Facebook or other social media platforms to see if anyone is giving away supplies or selling them at a steep discount. Connecting with other parents before the first day of school can also be a good way to form friendships and trade back-to-school shopping tips.

11. Look on Used Goods Marketplaces

You may also be able to find the supplies you need on used goods marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Keep safety precautions in mind when meeting strangers to complete a transaction: consider meeting at a police station, bring someone with you, and trust your instincts if you feel the situation is unsafe.

12. Wait to Make Some of Your Purchases

Your children are not going to need all of their school supplies on the first day, or perhaps even in the first month of school. Instead, you can ask your children’s teachers what they will need right away and then wait to shop for the rest of the supplies when retailers start marking down their inventory, which typically happens in September or October.

13. Create a Budget

Before setting foot into a store, come up with a back-to-school monthly budget so you know exactly how much you can spend and avoid impulse purchases. Without a plan, it can be easy to spend too much and get caught off guard when you get your credit card statement in the mail.

14. Take Inventory of What You Already Have

You may already have what you need for back to school in your home. Look around for extra pencils, art supplies, books, and other items that you thought you needed to purchase but may already own.

15. Pay With Cash

One of the old tricks for sticking to a budget and saving money is to pay with cash instead of a debit or credit card. Paying with cash may make you more mindful of your purchases because you see the cash disappear when you spend it. You might not be tempted to spend as much if you opt for good, old-fashioned dollar bills and coins.

Recommended: Pros & Cons of Living Cash-Only

16. Negotiating on a Cash Purchase

Cash is also helpful for negotiating. Though you may not be able to negotiate prices at a big-box store, you might be able to at a local shop, flea market, or yard sale if that’s where you’re headed for school supplies. Let the merchant know how much you’re willing to pay, and they may just be willing to cut a deal with you.

17. Look for Price Matching

Some stores will match another store’s price if you show them that their competitor is offering a better price on the same product. Prior to going to the store, take a few minutes to compare prices online, and bring proof of the lower price when you shop. Price matching policies vary from store to store and can usually be found on a store’s website.

18. Buy in Bulk

When it comes to how to save on school supplies, you may be able to save big if you buy in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. Some of the best things to buy in bulk for back-to-school include pens and pencils, folders, and notebooks. Bulk purchases of things like paper towels, toilet paper, and shampoo might also make good financial sense. Joining other parents to split costs on bulk purchases might just result in a new, like-minded friend group.

19. Buy Refurbished Electronics

If you need to pick up electronics like laptops, tablets, or phones, consider buying a refurbished version instead of a new device. Certified used models are often available directly from the manufacturer or from reputable online sellers.

20. Head to the Dollar Store

While the dollar store isn’t the ideal place for all your back-to-school shopping needs, you can find a number of inexpensive items there to save money on. These items include pencils, pens, crayons, folders, and clipboards.

21. Shop on Tax-Free Days

Some states hold annual tax-free days, usually in July or August, which is perfect for back-to-school shopping. Check online to see if and when your state offers this money-saving option.

22. Use Your Student Discount

College students may be able to use their college ID or student email address to score discounts on electronics and other items. Check out stores around your college that offer deals to students.

23. Buy Used Textbooks

Another way to score some back-to-school savings is to purchase used textbooks. BookFinder.com searches all the bookseller websites to find the best deals on your textbooks.

24. Keep Your Receipts

If you keep your receipts and find out that items you purchased have been discounted further, then you may be able to get a price adjustment or a partial refund to make up for the price difference. Policies vary by retailer, but it doesn’t hurt to check sales after you’ve made a purchase and ask the store if they offer price adjustments.

25. Buying From Thrift Stores

Thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army often have back-to-school essentials like clothing and backpacks. Plus, buying used items can be environmentally friendly. Families who are facing financial difficulty affording school supplies may qualify for assistance through various charitable organizations, such as The Salvation Army, or even their local school districts.

26. Find Brand Giveaways

By following brands on social media or contacting them directly, you may get free samples or promo codes to get discounts on goods.

27. Turn in Those Rebates

Sometimes, you won’t be able to access back-to-school savings at the time of purchase. Instead, you’ll need to send in rebates. Look for products that offer rebates and remember to keep your receipts and anything else required for the savings.

28. Invest in Quality Purchases

While you may want to buy everything at discount stores, poor-quality items may not even last an entire school year. For items that get a lot of use, such as a backpack, consider paying a bit more so they last. For example, you may be able to use the same high-quality, well-made backpack for several years before it wears out.

29. Use Alternatives for Your Kids’ Favorite Characters

Your child might really want a backpack with a specific character on it, but next year’s favorite character will probably be different. Buying your child a plain backpack and then adding some keychains or stickers that feature their favorite character is an inexpensive compromise that will keep your kids happy and save you big bucks.

30. Buy Reusable Items

While plastic and paper bags may be convenient, you’ll save much more money (and the environment) if you buy a reusable lunch bag and containers instead. Find a lunch bag that’s easy to clean to save time as well.

31. Hold a Clothing Swap

Kids quickly grow out of clothes, so it’s not budget-friendly to buy a lot of expensive new garments. You can invite over some friends and neighbors who have kids and swap used clothing instead.

The Takeaway

Taking some pre-shopping time to estimate costs is a good practice when trying to figure out how to save on school supplies. Setting a financial goal and saving a little bit at a time is a good thing to do whether the goal is purchasing school supplies or something a little more expensive. Whatever the goal, a cash management account like SoFi Money® can help you get to where you’re headed, financially speaking.

There are no account fees with SoFi Money, including no ATM fees within the Allpoint® Network worldwide, and using the SoFi app makes it easier to manage your account wherever you spend money.

Consider SoFi Money a part of your back-to-school plan.

Photo credit: iStock/TARIK KIZILKAYA


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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What Are Traveler's Checks and How Do They Work?

What Are Traveler’s Checks and How Do They Work?

Traveler’s checks were once a necessity for keeping your money safe when traveling internationally. But with digital payment options and ATMs located around the world, do we really need traveler’s checks anymore?

While you might not want to travel solely with traveler’s checks these days, having a few as a backup can be useful.

The main advantage of traveler’s checks is that they function like cash–you can use them to pay for goods and services at any business that accepts traveler’s checks. Unlike cash, however, if these checks get lost or stolen, you can get your money back.

You can also use traveler’s checks to get local currency at many banks and hotels while traveling.

However, these days traveler’s checks are somewhat outmoded and have largely been replaced by plastic and electronic payments.

Read on to learn how these checks work, where to get them, as well as their pros and cons.

What Is a Traveler’s Check?

Traveler’s checks are paper documents that can be used as a traditional paper check and also like cash. They are intended to aid tourists and are typically used by people on vacation in foreign countries.

Issuers print checks in varying denominations, such as $10, $20, or $50, and they are available in a range of currencies.

You can use these checks just like cash to pay merchants for goods and services, as long as they accept traveler’s checks. Typically any change due back to you will be given in local currency.

You can also get the checks converted into cash in the local currency at many banks, hotels, and foreign exchange offices.

If traveler’s checks get lost or stolen, the issuer will replace the checks or give you a refund.

Recommended: Where to Cash a Check Without Paying a Fee

How Do Traveler’s Checks Work?

Traveler’s checks are issued by a bank or other financial institution. Right after you purchase your checks, you sign each one. When you are ready to use the check, you fill in the payee and date, and then sign the check again.

For the second signature, the person or business you’re paying must be present to watch you sign. The two signatures should match. This is a deterrent to would-be criminals who for that reason may think twice about stealing them.

Though traveler’s checks function like cash, they also are similar to paper checks in that each check has a unique check number. If that check is lost or stolen, the issuer cancels it and issues you a new one.

Where Can I Get a Traveler’s Check?

You can still buy traveler’s checks in the U.S. and other countries. In the U.S, companies that still issue travel checks include American Express, Visa, and AAA.

You can also purchase traveler’s checks online from the American Express website, but you will need to be registered with an account. In addition, Visa offers traveler’s checks at Citibank locations nationwide, as well as at several other banks.

You may also be able to get traveler’s checks from your local bank. If your bank offers them, you may be able to get them for free. If you are buying them elsewhere, you will likely pay a 1% to 2% purchase fee.

Pros and Cons of Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks are handy for tourists who do not want to risk losing their cash or having it stolen while abroad. But they come with a few disadvantages as well. Here’s a look at the pros and cons.

Pros

They keep your money safe. If something should happen to your traveler’s checks, they can be quickly replaced, typically within 24 hours.

They don’t expire. If you bought them and end up not taking your trip, you can use them, or redeem them, at any time in the future.

They protect your identity. Traveler’s checks are not linked to your bank account or line of credit and do not contain personally identifiable information, thus eliminating risk of identity theft.

Cons

They aren’t as widely accepted as they once were. You could find yourself not able to spend them as freely as you like. Outside of major tourist regions, you may find that few shops or hotels accept traveler’s checks as payment.

They can be hard to get. There are a limited number of issuers today.

You may have to pay a fee. Unless you’re getting them from the financial institution where you have an account, you’ll likely have to pay a fee to purchase a traveler’s check.

Do I Need Traveler’s Checks When Going Abroad?

You certainly don’t need them, but they may come in handy–depending on where you’re traveling.

Before purchasing traveler’s checks, it can be a good idea to research how widely this form of payment is accepted in the city or region you are planning to visit. You can simply Google something like, “Where can I spend traveler’s checks in Paris” to get this information.

As an alternative, you might consider going with a prepaid travel card, which is the modern-day version of a traveler’s check. You can load the card with money from your bank account and then use it like a debit card at an ATM (to get local currency), or a credit card at stores and restaurants.

Like traveler’s checks, prepaid cards are not linked to your bank account, which prevents anybody from draining your checking account if the card gets lost or stolen—and you can’t go into debt.

Another alternative to traveler’s checks is your debit card, which you can use to get local currency at ATMs and also to make purchases. However, you may want to watch out for fees, which may include both an out-of-network ATM fee, as well as an international ATM fee, for every withdrawal you make.

Your credit card is another option. These cards can offer you fraud protection. However, there may be fees involved with using your card overseas, called foreign transaction fees.

And, unless it’s an emergency, you’ll likely want to avoid using your credit card for getting cash at an ATM. When you perform a cash advance from a credit card, you can get hit with a fee (around $10 or more), as well as interest, which can run around 25%.

Recommended: Ways to Be a Frugal Traveler

What Can I Do With Old Traveler’s Checks?

Because traveler’s checks don’t expire, those that you have tucked away in a drawer can be used for your next adventure.

You can also redeem traveler’s checks, no matter how old. Some banks allow account holders to deposit their traveler’s checks (including foreign currency traveler’s checks) into their bank account. It’s a good idea to check with your bank first, and also find out if they will charge a fee for clearing the checks.

You can redeem your unused American Express Travelers Cheques online at the company’s website .

Recommended: Here’s What You Can Do with Leftover Foreign Currency

The Takeaway

Traveler’s checks are a form of payment issued by financial institutions such as American Express. These checks function like cash but are more secure since you can get your money back if the checks are lost or stolen.

While traveler’s checks can be handy for tourists who do not want to risk losing their cash or having it stolen while abroad, they are not as widely issued or accepted as they used to be.

Today’s travelers may prefer to use a prepaid debit card, which functions in a similar way to a traveler’s check, and/or their credit cards to pay for expenses while traveling overseas.

Love to travel? If you open a SoFi Money® cash management account, you’ll be able to withdraw cash free of charge at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide.

Learn how SoFi Money makes it easy (and free) for travelers to access their cash.

Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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