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Tips for Creating Better Buying Habits

We’ve all been there. Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, waiting patiently to check out. Suddenly, you see it—the candy bar of your dreams. So, of course, you add it to your cart.

Then, you see they’ve got that chapstick you like, and the magazine you enjoy reading, and oh yeah, you most certainly need that greeting card just in case someone’s birthday is coming up.

And yet, somehow, at the end of it all, you wonder why your grocery bill was so high this week.

It’s OK to give in every now and then and buy a little treat here or there, but, over time, these buying habits could get someone in trouble. And quickly. That’s why it may be a good idea to start developing better buying habits as early as possible.

Becoming a more prudent shopper and honing in on any potentially troublesome spending habits doesn’t have to be difficult either. All shoppers need to do is follow a few basic life tips and they will be on their way to saving, and making smarter buying choices, in no time flat.

9 Tips for Building Better Guying Habits

Here are nine tips for building better buying habits that can help those interested in becoming more mindful consumers.

1. Having a Financial Goal in Mind

Motivation is a wonderful tool. To kick off new buying habits people may want to think about what their financial aim is and what they want to save money for in the first place.

This could be as small as wanting to save money for a handbag they really want or to save up to go to a fancy restaurant instead of their usual haunt.

Or, it could be something much larger like saving for a vacation, a wedding, a home, or even for retirement somewhere down the line.

Having a financial goal, might make it easier for consumers to prevent an impulse purchase or spend money on something they don’t actually need.

To double down on this habit try writing down any and all financial goals in a notes app, diary, or even on a piece of paper. Then, stick it in a wallet so it’s with you wherever you go.

2. Giving Every Purchase—Big or Small—a Little Time

Sometimes all it takes to reverse a buying decision is to just sit and think about it for a second. Is this magazine really worth the read, or can the articles be found online? Is this new dress really all that great, and will it be worn more than once?

For larger purchases try to employ the “take a walk” method, which is to literally leave a store, go for a walk, and think about the item a bit more. This way, the initial adrenaline rush and excitement wear off just a bit so a consumer can clearly consider the purchase with fewer emotions attached.

Then, come back, look at the item again. If it still elicits butterflies then it could be worth the purchase. If not, that’s great. Confidently walk away.

If anyone is looking to take this habit to the next level, try employing the 30-day rule. Just as the name implies, those looking to purchase anything nonessential must put the product back on the shelf and step away for a full 30 days.

If at the end of that time he or she still wants the product badly enough they can then return and purchase knowing full well it will bring them a little more joy.

Here’s one more trick to try when using the 30-day rule. Over the 30 days, try saving little by little to purchase the item. At the end of the month, if the person decides that product no longer needed, that cash could be put right into savings.

3. Coming Up With a Personal Spending Mantra

If taking a walk just isn’t an option it may be time to come up with a personal spending mantra. Think things like “keep the memory, get rid of the object.” or Marie Kondo’s, “does this spark joy?”

Use Kondo’s phrases, or come up with a unique one to use before making any purchase. By repeating the phrase over and over again it will help determine if that object really deserves to take up space in your life and in your monthly budget.

4. Learning to be a Comparative Shopper

Here’s the really good news about living in 2020: We live in the digital age, where information is just a click away. That means consumers likely never have to settle for the first price tag they see as finding a better deal could require just a quick Google search.

To become great comparative shoppers consumers can start small by investigating prices on their everyday purchases like groceries.

Try looking up a price comparison for milk between high-end grocery stores versus the neighborhood grocer. Then, think about monthly expenses like the internet, cable, telephone bills, and even things like gym memberships or subscriptions.

Can you find a better price for any of these items or negotiate the price down? Go for it and save along the way.

5. Falling in Love With Coupons and Discount Codes Again

Again, consumers simply do not have to settle for the first price tag they see. A better price can likely be found by utilizing the comparison shopping habit above, or by finding a few coupons to use in physical stores and discount codes to use online.

There are a number of coupon websites such as RetailMeNot and The Krazy Coupon Lady that can help shoppers hunt down a few discounts when they need them.

There are even services like Honey , which is a plugin all consumers can add to their internet dashboard that will automatically scour the web for discount codes and plug them right in at checkout.

Long story short, don’t settle for the first price.

6. Maintaining the Things You Already Have

A hole in a sweater, a scratched coffee table, and a tiny crack in a dish can be enough for some people to run out and purchase an entirely new item to replace the old.

However, rather than tossing something just because it’s a little faded it’s time to learn how to give things a new life. Or, find an expert who can.

For example, rather than buying all new shoes just because the tread is a little worn down try bringing them to the local cobbler.

They may be able to replace the thread for a fraction of the price of new shoes. This same idea goes for big-ticket items too.

Consider keeping a maintenance calendar for things like a car’s oil changes, a home’s roof inspections, and more. That way, things will always stay in tip-top shape for longer.

7. Understanding Shopping Triggers

To create better spending habits consumers may have to take a bit of time to self-reflect and discover why they like to spend money in the first place.

Do they suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) spending and buying things because their friends, family, or favorite influencer is sporting it on social media?

Do they buy things when they are happy, sad, bored, or triggered by something else? It can be important to delve into why a person may be triggered to buy something so they can avoid it in the future.

At the very least, even being aware of the trigger could hopefully help people think twice about a purchase before it is made.

8. Getting in on the Financial Buddy System

Everything’s better with friends—including creating better spending habits. Just look to working out for inspiration.

According to a 2016 study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen, people who work out with a friend are more likely to hit the gym more often than those who choose to work out alone. That lesson can easily be applied to finances too.

Find a trusted friend or family member who can offer real advice when it comes to creating better buying habits.

Make a pact to call one another every time either of you needs a second opinion when it comes to making big purchases, or when you need someone to talk you out of making a silly purchase.

Don’t worry, odds are you’ll return the favor for your financial buddy in no time.

9. Knowing Where Money Is and Where It’s Going

A major part of creating better buying habits is understanding where your money is right now and where it’s going at all times.

Luckily, that’s a fairly easy proposition thanks to products like SoFi Money®. SoFi Money, a mobile-first cash management account, allows users to do just about anything with their cash at all times.

On the app, users can transfer money when they need to pay bills directly online, and track weekly spending right in the app’s integrated dashboard.

In the app, users can create better buying habits by setting up specific budgets and savings goals (see tip number one in case you forgot) using Vaults.

(Not sure where to start on creating a budget? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back on that too.)

SoFi members gain access to SoFi Relay®, where they can track all their incoming and outgoing cash, set up goals, and ensure they aren’t spending above their means.

The best part? SoFi Money comes with no account fees.

Want to create better buying habits? Joining SoFi Money could be a first step to help you get there.


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.
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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APY vs. Interest Rate

When you want to borrow money, perhaps for a car loan or home mortgage, you may research and compare rates among financial institutions to get the best deal. If so, you can be provided with interest rates and annual percentage rates (APRs) of current loan programs being offered by the institution.

If you want to save money, you might shop around for the best interest-bearing account. In that case, you’ll likely be given the interest rate for an account, along with the annual percentage yield (APY).

When given these numbers, you might think that there isn’t much of a difference, numerically speaking, between the interest rate and APY, or the interest rate and APR. Those differences, though, can be significant difference-makers when you want to maximize your money.

With a loan, the interest rate is a percentage charged by a lender for the use of money, with calculations based upon the loan’s principal. In the context of a savings account, a financial institution agrees to pay you a certain amount of interest based upon the money you have deposited in that institution.

Now, here’s more about how APRs and APYs are calculated, and much more!

High-Level Definitions

If you deposited money into an interest-bearing account, then you would earn an annual percentage yield on those dollars. The APY calculation takes into account the interest rate being offered, and then factors in any account fees and costs, as well as whether the financial institution offers simple interest or compounded interest—if the latter, then it also matters how often the financial institution compounds that interest—perhaps monthly or quarterly.

If the bank offers simple interest, then the interest is simply calculated on the principal balance. If, for example, you invested $10,000 at an interest rate of 1.5%, at the end of the year, you’d earn $150. Compound interest, meanwhile, is interest calculated on the principle, plus any accrued interest—so, when compound interest is paid, it includes interest paid on interest.

Switching gears, when you borrow money from an institution and are quoted an annual percentage rate, this figure factors in the interest rate charged, along with fees and costs, but compounded interest is not part of the APR calculation.

One of the key differences in how APY and APR are calculated, then, is that one takes compounded interest into account, while the other one doesn’t.

The APY Formula

Figuring what you could earn on, say, your savings or certificate of deposit using simple interest is a reasonably straightforward calculation. The APY, meanwhile, provides a picture of what you would earn on a deposit-based, interest-earning account over a period of one year.

The actual formula for APY calculation is as follows: (1 + r/n)ⁿ – 1.

The “r” stands for the interest rate being paid, while the “n” represents the number of compounding periods within a year. If, for example, the interest rate paid was 1.5%, then that’s what you’d use for the “r.” If interest is compounded quarterly, then “n” would equal four.

So, the frequency of interest compounding can cause savings accounts with the same interest rates to have different APYs. For example, if two different banks offered a CD with the same interest rates, and one of them compounded annually, that institution would have a lower APY than the institution that compounded quarterly, or daily.

The good news is that if you want to compare savings rates from one financial institution to another, you don’t need to perform these in-depth calculations. Each institution would need to provide you with the APY and you could simply compare the figures. And, here’s the heart of it all: the higher the APY, then the more quickly the money you deposit can grow.

More About the APR vs. APY

Like the APY, calculating interest on a loan is fairly straightforward, with the APR providing a better snapshot of the true cost of the loan to you on an annual basis. It may take into account the points you paid, for example, to get a mortgage loan, and/or other fees and loan-related costs.

However, here’s where APR calculations differ from APY ones. The APR does not take into account how often interest is compounded on a loan. And, the more often it’s compounded, the more you’ll ultimately pay back on your loan.

So, besides comparing APR to APR from different institutions, to get a better understanding of what would be a better deal, also ask how often interest compounding takes place at each one.

Here’s how an APR might be calculated: Fees and interest paid over the loan’s life would be divided by the original loan amount. Take that answer and then divide it by the number of days in the term of the loan. Multiply that number by 365, and then by 100. Ta-dah! That’s your APR.

Although that’s the basic calculation, there’s one more factor to consider—how APR is calculated can differ by loan type. Credit cards, for example, can have different APRs for purchases vs. for cash advances.

Summing Up the Main Differences

In short, here’s the answer to this question: “What is APY vs. APR?”:

•  APY calculates money paid to you on depository bank accounts such as savings and certificates of deposit. It factors in the interest rate, plus any fees, costs, and compounding interest frequency.
•  APR calculates the money you would owe to pay back loans, such as car loans and house mortgages. It factors in the interest rate, plus any fees and costs, but it does not take into account the impact of compounding interest.

When your goal is to maximize your dollars, a good foundational step can be to get the most interest on your savings dollars.

Types of High Interest Accounts for Savings

When you’re saving money, perhaps to buy a house or go on an ocean cruise, there are several types of interest-bearing accounts that may be the right choice for your goals, with different APYs, fees, ready access to cash, and withdrawal terms.

Traditional checking and savings accounts don’t usually fit the bill when you’re looking for a high-yield account, although there are interest-bearing ones that might fit your needs quite well. Other choices can include money market accounts, certificates of deposits, and other forms of investments.

With a money market account, your money is typically invested in a reasonably safe way, perhaps in government securities. If you don’t need regular access to this money, this could be a good choice, as there are often limits on how many withdrawals you can make monthly.

You typically need at least $1,000 to open a money market account—for higher investments, incentives might be offered.

Certificates of deposits (CDs) are investments with fixed maturity dates, ranging from one month to 20 years—typically, you can’t easily withdraw money before that date. Some CDs are traded on the market as securities. Others are offered by banks, and aren’t securities. Interest rates tend to be higher on longer-termed CDs than ones with shorter terms.

Some CDs require a minimum deposit, while others don’t. Some CDs don’t charge penalties for early withdrawals, but many do, so read the fine print. A penalty can put a real dent in any APY earned.

If you want easy access to your CD dollars, you might seek out one with fewer withdrawal restrictions, or invest in CDs at regular intervals, helping to ensure that one will mature when you need funds.

High Interest Checking Accounts

These are accounts designed to give you the flexibility of a traditional checking account, but with high-interest returns. Rates vary, but are typically much higher than savings accounts. Many of these accounts, unfortunately, come with fine print, perhaps limitations on monthly debit card usage, or on minimum balances required, or mandated bill-pay automation.

What you really want to look for in the fine print, though, is whether or not there’s a balance cap on your interest earnings. This would basically limit how much money you can earn at the high interest rate. For example, perhaps a bank would pay 3% on checking accounts, but you’d only earn that interest on the first $2,000.

What SoFi Money Offers

If you don’t want your interest-earning potential to come with a ceiling, you might want to look at SoFi Money®, a cash management account where you can spend, save, and earn all in one place. We work hard to give you high interest and charge zero account fees. With that in mind, our interest rate and fee structure is subject to change at any time.

You’ll have the ability to write and deposit checks and you can use a debit card, send and receive money, and use ATMs, with the added benefit of earning interest.

SoFi Money is a great way to spend and save. Get started today.


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.
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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How to Make Quick Cash

It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to the ever-expanding world of side hustles and online sales. It might help to start with what and who you know, by providing a service you’re good at or selling goods you’re familiar with to friends, family members, and others who may be in the market for what you have to offer.

You could find you’re more prepared than you thought to branch out with your own business. Here are some potential opportunities.

Gigs for Go-Getters

Some of the go-to jobs for earning extra cash are bartenders, restaurant workers, ride-share drivers, delivery drivers, and personal shoppers, the demand for which ebbs and flows.

It may take some shoe leather and social networking skills, but there’s work out there for go-getters who know where to look—and how to spread the word that they’re available. Here are a few ideas.

Dog Walker and Pet Sitter

As long as Americans have pets—85 million U.S. families do—and take vacations and work trips, and generally work a lot, there will be a need for pet care.

There’s always a dog walking and pet sitting market for ambitious animal lovers with friends or acquaintances who need an occasional assist with their precious pets. And during any surge in animal adoptions, there are more families looking for help.

Using a well-known social networking site or a pet sitting site could help get attention and build the business. Cash payments can make this a good gig for those who don’t want to wait for their money.

Caregiver for Children and Adults

Not an animal lover? What about kids or the elderly? Good caregivers are still a necessity, and friends and neighbors may like the idea of hiring someone they know to be kind, fun, and careful.

Caregivers may have to go through a more in-depth vetting process than pet sitters do, so be prepared to answer lots of questions (Do you have experience? What would you do in an emergency? Will you cook and clean?).

There might even be a background check. Pay rates depend on the age and number of people being cared for, if transporting them will be part of the deal, if there are any special needs, and other factors. But this is another gig with quick-cash-payment potential.

Human Billboard/Sign Spinner

You’ve likely seen these folks on the side of busy roads, promoting local businesses by flipping a sign or prancing around in a costume. OK, it might not be the greatest job in the summer or dead of winter, but those who throw themselves into their work can have fun and could earn at least minimum wage.

(According to ZipRecruiter, the average wage for a human billboard in the United States is $24 per hour.) There are companies that provide these workers, but if you know a business owner, you might be able to talk your way into a job on your own.

Errand Runner

There are companies that match up qualified, willing workers with people who need to have various chores done—everything from mounting a TV on the wall to assembling furniture to cleaning the gutters.

Errand runners can sign up with TaskRabbit, for example, and after going through a background check, they’ll be notified when there’s a suitable task available in their area. Thumbtack is another popular lead-generation site, but it focuses on home improvement.

But with word of mouth, and maybe some flyers, business cards, and/or social networking, it may be possible for people with the right skills to build their own clientele. (One of those skills might simply be the ability to patiently wait in line at the bank, post office, or car wash as part of the errand.)

Just as it would with a web-based service, the pay rate for self-employed errand runners can vary depending on the task. It may be necessary to get a business permit as well as property, liability, and other types of insurance protection.

Freelance Creative

Unemployed and underemployed writers, designers, artists, and other creative types may find that there are lots of businesses out there that would love to make use of their gifts without hiring them full time. Talents-for-hire can spread the word (creatively, of course!) on social media sites.

LinkedIn’s job search tool can help connect freelancers to companies and individuals looking for help. A growing number of other websites match freelancers with long- and short-term gigs.

Cashing In on Unwanted Stuff

The list of items an individual may be able to sell fast includes everything from inherited jewelry to plasma. Here are a few less-painful ideas to consider if you’re thinking about how to make cash quickly:

Designer Clothing, Shoes, and Bags

There are a few ways those who like high-end goods may be able to get back some of the bucks they spent for those brand names. Sellers can post their gently used items online through a specialty site like Poshmark or thredUP, or on eBay or Craigslist.

Or they can take their designer goods to a consignment shop that targets bargain shoppers who like exclusive labels. (The speed of both online and in-person consignment sales will, of course, depend on how long it takes for the right buyer to come along.)

For a quicker cash payment, sellers may want to take their on-trend items to a store like Plato’s Closet, Style Encore, or Once Upon a Child. The store staffers will review the goods and pay cash for items deemed worthy of resale.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are great—unless you stick them in a drawer for safekeeping and forget to use them, or if the giver gets it wrong and picks a store or restaurant that isn’t one of your favorites. But if you can remember where you stashed them, those cards could hold some value.

You may have family members or friends who will buy a card at its full amount. And if that doesn’t pan out, a gift card exchange—a sort of online consignment shop for gift cards—may be an alternative worth checking out.

There are a few different formats and payment options at sites like GiftCash, CardPool, and CardCash. A little research may help with finding a site that’s safe and the right choice for your needs.

Savings Bonds

Here’s another gift that might be sitting in a drawer unused: Aunts and uncles, grandparents, and family friends love to give young children savings bonds. But parents and kids often forget about them by the time the bonds (and the kids) have matured.

Those who can put their hands on their old paper bonds can cash them at most local financial institutions. (The U.S. government’s Treasury Direct site has a calculator for determining how much paper bonds are worth.) Those with electronic bonds can log in to TreasuryDirect and follow the directions to have the amount due credited to a checking or savings account.

Items From an Old Hobby

Maybe you have an old guitar stashed in a closet, or some hockey equipment that’s in good shape but is no longer used. There are several websites and stores where musicians, athletes, and others can sell secondhand items and get some quick cash.

Stores like Play It Again Sports and Music Go Round will pay on the spot for sports and exercise equipment or musical instruments they want. Or sellers may be able to put their items on consignment at those locations.

Of course, there’s always Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon Marketplace. And, again, there may be the possibility of making a sale to a friend, family member, or acquaintance.

Dated Tech

It can be tough to toss out or recycle old tech—who knows where it might end up? But those laptops, phones, and tablets have to go somewhere to die. And you might be surprised by how much your unloved iPhone is still worth.

Cash seekers may want to empty their junk drawers and closets and check out one of the many websites devoted to buying and selling used computer equipment, CDs, DVDS, video games, and more.

One of the best known is decluttr, which offers fast valuations on several types of tech, pays for shipping, removes personal data from the devices it buys, and pays by direct deposit or PayPal.

Gamers who prefer to sell in person can stop in at their local GameStop store—or they may want to start with the app to learn the current trade values on games, consoles, accessories, and electronics. Most trades are done for in-store credit, but stores may offer cash for select items.

Cashing in by Cutting Back

Another way to reinforce your financial picture may be to rework your budget and find ways to lower costs. Is it possible to delay a major expense, such as a big vacation or home renovation? Or would cutting a little from a few different categories (clothes, entertainment, food, or personal care) make more sense?

If sticking to a budget hasn’t been a priority until now, a SoFi Money® cash management account could help. The SoFi® app shows where a budgeter’s money is going, for easily tracking progress.

SoFi Money® offers cash-back rewards—which means purchases from some pretty cool national and local brands might earn something back. Every little bit can help the bottom line—now and always.

Looking for ways to maximize the money you’re earning and spending? Check out SoFi Money® and learn about cash-back rewards.



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.
As of 6/9/2020, accounts with recurring monthly deposits of $500 or more each month, will earn interest at 0.25%. All other accounts will earn interest at 0.01%. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at our discretion at any time. Accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020, will continue to earn interest at 0.25% irrespective of deposit activity. SoFi’s Securities reserves the right to change this policy at our discretion at any time. Accounts which are eligible to earn interest at 0.25% (including accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020) will also be eligible to participate in the SoFi Money Cashback Rewards Program.
Each business day, cash deposits in SoFi Money cash management accounts are swept to one or more sweep program banks where it earns a variable interest rate and is eligible for FDIC insurance. FDIC Insurance does not immediately apply. Coverage begins when funds arrive at a program bank, usually within two business days of deposit. There are currently six banks available to accept these deposits, making customers eligible for up to $1,500,000 of FDIC insurance (six banks, $250,000 per bank). If the number of available banks changes, or you elect not to use, and/or have existing assets at, one or more of the available banks, the actual amount could be lower. For more information on FDIC insurance coverage, please visit www.FDIC.gov . Customers are responsible for monitoring their total assets at each Program Banks to determine the extent of available FDIC insurance coverage in accordance with FDIC rules. The deposits in SoFi Money or at Program Banks are not covered by SIPC.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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9 Tips for Finding the Best Deals Online

Online shopping has made it easier than ever for people around the globe to get what they need at the mere click of a mouse. In fact, it appears it has become a favorite pastime. The number of digital buyers was expected to reach 2.05 billion in 2020 and rise to 2.14 billion in 2021.

If you’re among the billions, it’s high time you make sure you’re getting the best deals online. Luckily, digital hunter-gatherers can load a checkout cart with tips and tricks to get great prices. Here’s everything you need to know about how to find the best deals online.

Ways to Find Deals Online

1. Finding the Right Coupon Codes

Coupon codes are lurking all over the internet to help people find the best deals at their favorite retailers. For example, many online retailers will give customers a little discount for newsletter signup or for their first purchase. Others hide discount codes, but a simple Google search can yield great results for coupon hunters.

An easier way to dig up coupons to online retailers may be to search on coupon websites like RetailMeNot or Coupons.com .

Digital shoppers also can try downloading Chrome extensions like Honey , which automatically searches the internet for the best discount codes and applies them at checkout.

2. Using Free Shipping or In-Store Pickup

Online shopping tips don’t stop at coupons. Another way to save is to find free shipping options. If you don’t need an item ASAP, free shipping is typically an option at checkout.

Many online retailers also offer free shipping with a minimum order amount. To find free shipping deals and codes, check out websites like FreeShipping.org .

Another option may be to order an item online and then pick it up at the store for free. If it’s close enough to grab in person, it may be worth it to avoid shipping costs altogether.

3. Giving a Price Watcher a Go

Consumers who aren’t in a rush to purchase an item may be able to take advantage of price tracking tools. Price tracking tools help shoppers stay informed about price drops and sales so they can click “buy” at just the right time.

Apps like Honey have tools like Droplist that allow consumers to save items for later and be informed when an item on the list has a price drop.

Other apps like CamelCamelCamel track prices on Amazon, and PriceBlink , a desktop application, will find even more deals across the Web, too. It works by showing how much an item costs at several online stores so shoppers can pick the best one.

4. Trying Online Price Matching

Many larger retailers like Walmart and Target participate in price matching programs, which means if you find a price at one retailer you may be able to get it at another.

This used to mean bringing in a printed coupon or proof that the product was on sale for a lower price at a different retailer, but now, it can all be done online. All a shopper needs to do is reach out to customer service, which may be able to help out.

Specifically for Walmart shoppers, the retail giant now offers customers access to Savings Catcher , its own price-matching tool. After purchasing an item at Walmart, just scan the receipt. Walmart will compare prices and issue a refund if it finds the item for less money somewhere else.

5. Haggling

Yes, haggling is still an option, even online. One way to potentially drive down the price of something online is to open the little chat box on most online retailer sites to speak with a customer service rep. There, customers can just be blunt and ask for anything from a discount to free shipping. The worst they can say is “no.”

There’s also the option to use apps like PriceWaiter , which will do all the negotiating for the user. The app already works with many larger online retailers and allows consumers to make an offer on an item rather than pay the sticker price. Usually, the app will let users know within 24 hours if their offer has been accepted or declined.

6. Checking Reviews

To get the best deal online, consumers need to be sure they are getting the best product. And one way to do that is to check online reviews. Customers all over the internet leave reviews on products they’ve purchased, alerting others to potential issues or potential great buys.

On websites like Amazon search for “verified purchase” to know that the review is legit. While online reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, they are one more tool to add to your decision-making arsenal for online shopping.

Before purchasing a product, is it really something you want or need, or will bring joy? If so, check reviews to make sure it’s the perfect fit before clicking “buy.”

7. Waiting for Bigger Sales

Throughout the year, larger retailers will likely host online shopping sales. These sales are known to occur around the holidays, specifically on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Other major sales usually occur around holidays like Presidents Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, as well as midsummer. During this time, consumers may be able to score major discounts, so if you can wait for a purchase, try to wait until then.

One more “holiday” to keep an eye out for is Amazon Prime Day . During the sale, retailers across the website offer steep discounts on products.

However, to get in on the deal, one must be an Amazon Prime member, which comes with a subscription. But Amazon Prime members get free shipping on most products, which can add up in the long run.

8. Following Favorite Brands on Social Media

One more way to potentially find the best deals online is to follow brands and retailers on social media. Brands love to give their loyal customers something special, so they may share insider discounts and offers on their social media pages and newsletters before anywhere else.

Give your favorite brands a follow on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to stay aware of when sales may be happening, and maybe get inspired about new things to buy along the way, too.

9. Earning Cash Back for Purchases

If you’re not interested in having to do all this legwork to get a good deal while shopping online, there is another option: SoFi Money®.

The cash management account helps people better manage their money and can also let them earn a few dollars back, thanks to its cash back rewards program.

When members set up recurring $500 monthly deposits to their SoFi Money® accounts, they gain access to unique offers that reward them for spending at their favorite local and nationwide brands.

That’s not the only way to save. SoFi Money® members are never charged account fees or ATM fees (at over 55,000+ ATMs worldwide within the Allpoint Network), so they can save up for that one item they’ve been eyeing online for months a little faster.

Want to save more with online shopping? Signing up for SoFi Money® is a great place to start.


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.
As of 6/9/2020, accounts with recurring monthly deposits of $500 or more each month, will earn interest at 0.25%. All other accounts will earn interest at 0.01%. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at our discretion at any time. Accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020, will continue to earn interest at 0.25% irrespective of deposit activity. SoFi’s Securities reserves the right to change this policy at our discretion at any time. Accounts which are eligible to earn interest at 0.25% (including accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020) will also be eligible to participate in the SoFi Money Cashback Rewards Program.
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.
Each business day, cash deposits in SoFi Money cash management accounts are swept to one or more sweep program banks where it earns a variable interest rate and is eligible for FDIC insurance. FDIC Insurance does not immediately apply. Coverage begins when funds arrive at a program bank, usually within two business days of deposit. There are currently six banks available to accept these deposits, making customers eligible for up to $1,500,000 of FDIC insurance (six banks, $250,000 per bank). If the number of available banks changes, or you elect not to use, and/or have existing assets at, one or more of the available banks, the actual amount could be lower. For more information on FDIC insurance coverage, please visit www.FDIC.gov . Customers are responsible for monitoring their total assets at each Program Banks to determine the extent of available FDIC insurance coverage in accordance with FDIC rules. The deposits in SoFi Money or at Program Banks are not covered by SIPC.
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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How to Afford a Down Payment on Your First Home

Saving for a down payment when you’re simultaneously trying to pay rent, make car payments, and pay down student loans is no easy task—even if you’re making your dream salary. As housing markets get more and more competitive, the cost of down payments has been slipping up, up, and away.

Case in point, say you live in Los Angeles. If you were to put down 20% on a two-bedroom condo for $600,000, that would mean coming up with $120,000 in cash. Again, no easy feat when you’ve got other bills to pay.

Is 20% still the norm when it comes to down payments? For those of us wondering how to afford a down payment, there may be good news: The minimum down payment on a house can be as little as 3.5% if, for example, you qualify for an FHA loan.

You may even be able to buy a home with no money down, in some rare instances. But typically, this is only an option if you are eligible for home loans through the Veterans Association, or if you qualify for a USDA home loan for low-to-moderate income families purchasing homes in rural areas.

In 2019, The National Association of REALTORS® found that the average down payment on a house is only 12% . On the other hand, there are still benefits to putting down a full 20%. You don’t typically have to pay private mortgage insurance, and a 20% down payment may help get you a manageable mortgage payment.

Smart Ways to Save Up for a Down Payment

If you’re saving for a down payment, whether it’s a 5% or a 20% down payment, here are nine ways to save for your dream home.

1. Snowflake Savings Method

The snowflake method is a debt payoff method that involves you putting any extra cash you have, no matter how small, toward your debt. You can use it as a debt payoff method while you save for a house, simply because it’s typically easier to save for a down payment when you have less debt.

But you can also use the snowflake method as a savings method by throwing as much money as you can toward your down payment savings. Essentially, saving with the snowflake method means putting any extra cash away for a down payment.

Birthday check from your great aunt? It goes into savings. Made $300 from selling old textbooks on eBay? Put it in your down payment fund.

2. Asking for a Raise

Of course, you can’t walk into your boss’s office and demand a raise because home prices are rising in your area. Don’t get us wrong, in an ideal world, we’d all be able to do that, but it’s just not realistic.

Instead, start thinking about when the last time you got a raise was, and whether you’re honestly due for one. Talk to your manager about steps you need to take to qualify for a raise, and then get to work on those action items.

This can be more of a slow play, but it can also have a big payoff if you get a substantial raise. When you get a raise, you may want to avoid scaling up your lifestyle. Instead, you can use some or all of the extra take-home pay for your down payment savings.

3. Starting A Side Hustle

If boosting your income at your current job isn’t an option, you can still increase your take-home pay by taking matters into your own hands. You could start side hustling in the evenings or on weekends. Side hustles aren’t all about glamour—it’s not all travel blogging and doing sponsored Instagram posts.

Sometimes it just means getting a side job at your local coffee shop, or being a dog walker. Who knows, if you’re a good enough dog walker, it might ultimately lead to Instagram fame. The point is, choose a side hustle that works for you, so you can redirect that cash into your “house fund.” (More on that in a moment.)

4. Asking For Contributions To Your “House Fund” At Your Wedding

If you’re getting married, and hoping to buy property afterward, you can consider asking for donations to a “house fund” instead of registering for things to fill your potential house. And there’s no rule that says you can’t register for some nice sheets and a cast iron skillet while also offering a house fund as an option.

Guests at your wedding want to invest in your future—that’s why they’re at your wedding in the first place. Showing them that you’d like to use their gift toward starting a home for your new family can be meaningful to your guests, and to you and your spouse.

5. Lowering the Cost Of Your Student Loans

Making huge student loan payments each month certainly isn’t helping you set aside cash for your future home. But at the same time, aggressively paying down your student loan debt can help you as a homeowner in the long run. However, if the end of your student loan debt tunnel isn’t in close sight, there are ways to reduce the amount you pay toward student loans every month, in order to set aside some funds for a future downpayment.

One popular option – you can refinance your student loans at a potentially lower interest rate. Alternatively, you could lengthen the repayment timeline for your student loans when you refinance, which can help lower the amount you pay every month to free up some cash. One note of caution: if you have federal student loans, refinancing means you’re forfeiting certain benefits and protections offered by the federal government, like loan forgiveness programs and deferment options, so consider this option carefully.

Qualifying for a lower interest rate when you refinance, even if you keep the same terms and don’t extend your repayment timeline, should save you over the life of your loan and, possibly, even a little bit off your monthly payment. If you’re already making every extra dollar count via the Snowflake Method, you could use even a few extra dollars here and there to contribute more to your down payment savings.

6. Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Putting more money toward your credit card debt might seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to save for a house. But think about it this way: Credit card debt is widely regarded as the costliest debt, because interest rates on credit cards are so high compared to other forms of consumer debt.

If you can wipe your credit card debt out, it could free up some cash to help boost your savings in the long run. Perhaps you could focus on paying it down aggressively for several months, then once you’re done, you can redirect the money you were putting toward your credit card debt toward your savings.

One way to speed up your credit card debt payoff is with a loan with a lower interest rate or more attractive, fixed term. Commonly called credit card loans, these are essentially just unsecured personal loans that may offer more agreeable terms than your credit card accounts.

Similar to refinancing a student loan, an unsecured personal loan may give you the option to pay off your existing high-interest debt using a new loan, and then making payments on the new loan over a fixed period of time at, hopefully, a lower interest rate. . By doing so, you may be able to not only get out of your debt faster, but also allocate cash into your savings each month once the debt has been repaid.

7. Using a CD

A certificate of deposit (CD) is an investment with the potential to gain interest. Although not risk free, the benefit of a CD is the interest rate is set when you invest. While you might not earn as much on your money as you would if you adopted an aggressive investment strategy, you’re also not subject to as much risk. Although, factoring in the inflation rate, the cash you invested may not be as valuable when you take it out as when you first invested it, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.

One other drawback to a CD is that you may not be allowed to withdraw your money early. So if your dream house comes along a year before your money can be taken out of a CD, it might be hard to access that cash.

8. Asking Your Family Members for a Loan

Asking family for money is never fun, but there’s also no shame in gathering cash so you can build up a better down payment.

In a competitive housing market, putting down a bigger down payment might be the difference between locking in your dream house, or looking for another three months.

Looking for a place to store your down payment? Check out a cash management account like SoFi Money®. And if you’re in the market for a mortgage, check out a mortgage loan with SoFi, too.



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

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

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

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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