How Long Do Late Payments Stay On a Credit Report?

One of the most important factors in your credit score is your payment history. New lenders want to make sure that you’ll pay them back on time, and your past payment history is an indicator that many lenders look at. Because of this, in most cases, credit bureaus will keep any late payments on your credit report for seven years.

Late payments only make it onto your credit report if they’re late for more than 30 days. Once a payment is late for 30 days, the creditor will likely report it to the credit bureau, where it will stay for seven years from the date of the first delinquent payment. Because late payments can have a negative impact on your credit score, it’s best to avoid them when possible.

What Is Considered a Late Payment?

Most accounts have a grace period after the due date where the lender will accept payment without any penalty. The exact length of a grace period will depend on the terms of your credit card or other account, but 15 days is common.

After the grace period, your lender may charge a late fee or make other changes to your account. Once your account is 30 days or more past due, your lender will typically report it to the major credit bureaus.

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When Do Late Payments Fall Off a Credit Report?

In most cases, it will take seven years for a late payment to fall off a credit report. Even if you bring your account current after the late payment has already been reported to the credit bureaus, it will still show up on your credit report for seven years after the first late payment. This is why one of the top credit card rules is to make payments on-time whenever possible.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

How Late Payments Affect Your Credit Score

One of the consequences of a credit card late payment is that it will have a negative impact on your credit score.

Your past payment history is one of the biggest factors in what affects your credit score. As such, if you have a significant amount of late payments on your credit report, it will be tough to have an outstanding credit score.

How to Remove Late Payments From a Credit Report

It’s difficult if not impossible to remove a late payment from your credit report — unless it was reported in error.

However, the only way to find out if a late payment is reported in error is if you regularly review your credit report. If you have documentation that shows that you made the payment on time, you can contact the credit bureau and ask them to update your credit score and credit report.

What Can You Do to Minimize the Impact of a Late Payment?

If you’re willing to do the legwork, there are a couple steps you can take that could potentially minimize the impacts of a late payment.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly


One option you have for minimizing the impact of a late payment is to negotiate with your credit card issuer. This will generally be more effective if it’s only been a short time since your payment was due or if you have not had late payments previously. For example, your lender may be willing to waive any late fees or penalty interest if you enroll in autopay and/or pay any past-due balance.

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Dispute Errors on Your Credit Reports

If it’s been more than 30 days and your lender has already reported the late fee to the credit bureaus, it can be difficult to remove it from your credit report. However, if you have documentation that you made the payment on time, you can contact the credit bureaus to have them update and correct your credit report.

This is why it is important to understand how checking your credit score affects your rating — generally when you are reviewing your own credit report, it does not impact your credit score. Regularly reviewing your credit report for errors and discrepancies is a great financial habit to have.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Guide to Avoiding Late Payments

Since it is difficult if not impossible to remove late payments from your credit report once they’re there, the best course of action is to avoid late payments in the first place. Here are a few tips on some of the best ways to avoid late payments.

Set Up Autopay

One great way to avoid late payments is to set up autopay from a checking or savings account. That way, you know that your payments will be made each and every month.

You can customize your autopay payments to cover the minimum amount, the full statement balance, or anywhere in between. You’ll just want to make sure you have enough funds in the attached account to cover the balance.

Set Payment Reminders

If you can’t or don’t want to set up autopay on your accounts, another option is to set up payment reminders. That way, you can get an email or text message a few days before your payment is due. Getting a reminder can help you remember to make the payment on or before its due date.

Change Your Payment Due Date

Sometimes the due date for a particular loan or credit card doesn’t line up conveniently with when you have the money to pay it. You might find that your due date always seems to come a day or two before payday. If that’s the case, many lenders allow you to change your payment due date to one that’s more convenient for you.

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The Takeaway

Paying your credit card and other debts on time is one of the best ways to ensure that your credit score stays strong. Late payments can be reported to the credit bureaus as soon as 30 days after the due date. Once they’re on your credit report, they will stay there for seven years from the date of the first late payment.

If you’re looking for a credit card with great cash back rewards and other features, consider applying for the SoFi Credit Card. With the SoFi Credit Card, you can earn unlimited 2% cash back rewards that you can use to redeem for cash, cryptocurrency or fractional shares, or other financial goals you might have. For a limited time, new credit card holders who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/22.

Earn cash back rewards with the SoFi credit card.


Can I get late payments removed from my credit report?

Typically, once they’ve been reported to the credit bureaus, you can only get late payments removed if you didn’t actually pay late. If you have documentation that shows that you made the payment on time, you can submit that to each credit bureau and ask that they update your credit score.

Is it true that after 7 years your credit is clear?

Late payments and some other negative factors do remain on your credit report for seven years. That means that if you have not had any negative marks or late payments for seven years, you’ll be starting with a fresh slate.

Is payment history a big factor in your credit score?

Yes, payment history is a big factor in how your credit score is determined. While each credit bureau calculates your credit score differently, payment history is typically listed as one of the biggest factors in what affects your credit score.

Photo credit: iStock/tommaso79

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
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Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions ("Direct Deposit") into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.

New SoFi Checking and Savings customers and existing Checking and Savings customers without direct deposit are eligible to earn a cash bonus when they set up direct deposits of at least $1,000 over a consecutive 30-day period. Cash bonus will be based on the total amount of direct deposit. Entry into the Program will be available 4/5/22 to 5/31/22. Full terms at SoFi Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. Additional information can be found at


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What Is the Difference Between Will and Estate Planning

The Difference Between Will and Estate Planning

Estate planning and creating a will both involve an uncomfortable topic – thinking about what will happen to your money when you die – but they are separate concepts. The two terms are often used together, which can be confusing; it can be hard to know which documents are needed for which purpose and which steps are involved.

Let us help you understand these two ideas. Broadly speaking, a will is a specific legal document stipulating exactly how your assets will be distributed on your death and who will care for any dependents. Creating that document is what you may hear referred to as will planning.

So, what exactly does estate planning involve, and how does it differ? Allow us to explain: Estate planning is an umbrella term that covers all aspects of end of life documentation and decision making, which can include a will.

But it goes well beyond just a will. Estate planning allows you to say how you want your assets divided after your death and can help you transfer those assets in the most tax-advantageous way possible for your loved ones. For example, by setting up your assets in a trust, you may be able to help your heirs minimize tax burdens. The trust can also be used while you’re still alive to provide lifetime gifts as well.

End of life documents, including power of attorney and living will forms, are often created as part of the estate planning process. These help ensure that your wishes are followed, even if you are medically incapacitated. (You can also access these as part of will planning; we’ll cover that in a minute.)

Estate planning may sound complicated. Or perhaps you think it’s only for people with seven-figure or higher bank accounts, or properties sprinkled around the globe. Not necessarily! In some cases, it can be done relatively quickly, often using online templates. In other cases, it may be advisable to have an attorney manage the process.

What Is Will Planning?

Writing a will usually refers to a very specific task: A will details where you want your assets to go at your death, and who you would like to serve as guardian of your minor children. If you have pets, it may also spell out who will care for them and how. Additionally, a will names an executor. This is the person you are putting in charge of distributing your assets to the right individuals or charities.

In most cases, you’ll be creating what is called a testamentary will, which is signed in the presence of witnesses. This is often considered a good way to protect your decision against challenges from family members and/or business colleagues after you’re gone. While you can write this kind of will yourself, you may want to have it prepared by an attorney who specializes in trusts and estates, to ensure that it complies with your state’s laws. Or look for an online business that customizes its work to your location.

When you are creating a will, you may look into preparing other related documents that are usually part of estate planning. For example, you may be able to add a power of attorney form and a medical directive or living will.
Together, these documents spell out who can handle matters on your behalf if you were to come mentally or physically incapacitated. If you aren’t planning on pursuing estate planning, these are important documents to complete when creating your will. (Even young people have sudden illnesses and accidents, so these forms are an important part of adulthood.)

Many online will templates provide for these additional documents, so that your bases are covered if the worst were to happen. Creating a legal will can cost anywhere from $0 to hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on whether you do it yourself or if you work with an attorney.

Even if you die with a will in place, it’s likely that the document will go through probate — the legal process in which an executor to the will is formally named and assets are distributed to the beneficiaries you have named in your will. Yes, there are nightmare stories about the probate process and the word alone is enough to make some people cringe. Don’t get too stressed about it, though. In general, if an executor (an individual appointed to administer the last will and testament of a deceased person) is named in your will and your will is legally valid, the probate process can be relatively streamlined.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning can be the umbrella term for all end-of-life decision making, but it’s more often used to describe your plan for how you want your property divided when you die and the financial implications of those decisions. It can involve creating the following:

•   Will/trusts to smooth the transfer of assets/property

•   Durable and healthcare power of attorney

•   Beneficiary designations

•   Guardianship designations

Estate planning aims to make sure that your loved ones receive the maximum proceeds possible from your estate.

Often, estate planning is done with the oversight of an attorney, who can provide strategies for how to minimize tax burdens for your beneficiaries when you die.

As you can see, an estate plan encompasses not only a will, but significantly more end-of-life preparation, with much thought given to protecting your loved one’s financial interests.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Because estate planning can be more complex than creating a will, involving vehicles such as trusts, it can be more expensive and time-consuming. But let’s clarify one thing about the word “estate.” It may sound like something that only high net-worth individuals need to worry about, but for the purpose of end-of-life planning, “estate” is simply a term that describes everything you own, from your lucky penny collection all the way up to your investment portfolio.

When people talk about estate planning, they may be referring to the decision to create a trust. Trusts can be especially beneficial for high-net worth individuals who may be worried about tax implications of their heirs inheriting their belongings. But they also have a role in less wealthy families. If your clan has a beloved lake house that you want to stay in the family, for future generations, a trust might be a possibility to investigate.

These arrangements allow a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries and can help avoid the time-consuming process of probate. Trusts may also be beneficial for people who have dependents in their care, as well as those who may worry about how their beneficiaries will spend the money bequeathed to them.

There are two other scenarios in which a trust can be very helpful:

•   People with a pet who have a specific plan of how they wish the pet to be cared for after their death. (Pets can’t own property, so leaving money to pets in a will can cause a legal headache. This can be sidestepped by creating a trust for Fluffy’s care.)

•   Those who want to minimize ambiguity in who gets what, which could be helpful in the case of people who have had multiple marriages.

The most common type of trust within an estate plan is called a revocable living trust. This may also be called a living trust because, while you are alive, you can name yourself a trustee and have flexibility to make changes. These can often be created online, although an attorney can certainly be involved, guiding the process and answering any questions.

In setting up a trust, you will name a trustee. This is a person in charge of overseeing the trust according to the parameters you state. Unlike a will, where an executor will ensure beneficiaries get the property stated, a trust allows the creator to put guardrails around gifts, and for the trustee to ensure the guardrails are followed.

For example, you can specify in a trust that certain assets do not go to a beneficiary until they reach a certain age or milestone.

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Taking the Next Step in Will Writing and Estate Planning

There’s a lot of overlap between “creating a will” and “creating an estate plan,” and that ambiguity can lead to difficulty beginning the process. But creating a legal will, including guardianship documents for minor children, can be a good first step. Also, making sure you have power of attorney forms in place and any advanced directives; these can guide decision-making on your behalf if you were ever mentally or physically incapacitated.

Then, you can have peace of mind and can “ladder up” to creating a more complex plan that encompasses more “what ifs.” Estate planning, with the possibility of trusts and transfers, can complete your end of life planning.

The Takeaway

Creating a will and an estate plan are two different ways to address your end of life wishes. A will is a document that says who inherits what and how you want minors, dependents, and even pets cared for. It may have additional documents that spell out your wishes if you become incapacitated. An estate plan, however, is a more comprehensive way to spell out the allocation of your assets after you die. It typically includes finding ways to make the process run more smoothly, quickly, and with lower tax payments for your beneficiaries. Starting the process now, whether with online templates or by consulting with an attorney, is important. While no one likes to think about it worst-case scenarios, the sooner you get the paperwork done, the better protected your loved ones will be.

Protecting Your Loved Ones: SoFi and Ladder

Beyond wills and estate planning, another way to care for those dearest to you after you’re gone is with life insurance. Term life insurance can make sure financial needs, from daily expenses to college tuition, are covered. SoFi has partnered with Ladder to bring you affordable and reliable coverage, from $100,000 to $8 million, that’s easily applied for and purchased online. And for qualified applicants seeking under $3 million in coverage, you don’t even need a medical exam!

Photo credit: iStock/AnnaStills

Ladder policies are issued in New York by Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, New York, NY (Policy form # MN-26) and in all other states and DC by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Minneapolis, MN (Policy form # ICC20P-AZ100 and # P-AZ100). Only Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York is authorized to offer life insurance in the state of New York. Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria. SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company. The California license number for SoFi Agency is 0L13077 and for Ladder is OK22568. Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other. Social Finance, Inc. (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under LadderLifeTM policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy. SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach Ladder Insurance Services, LLC to obtain information about estate planning documents such as wills. Social Finance, Inc. (“SoFi”) will be paid a marketing fee by Ladder when customers make a purchase through this link. All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.
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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Guide to Standby Letters of Credit (SLOC)

A standby letter of credit (also known as an SLOC or SBLC) is a legal document, typically used in international trade, that acts as a safety net for a deal. It communicates that a bank will guarantee payment if, for example, their customer fails to send funds to a seller for goods or services provided.

Generally, SOLCs are important when the buyer and seller haven’t been acquainted and haven’t yet established a sense of trust. These documents can help a seller secure a contract with a new client. This is especially helpful when they are competing with larger, more established sellers.

Read on to learn more, including:

•   What is a standby letter of credit?

•   How does a standby letter of credit work?

•   What are the different types of SOLCs available?

•   What are the pros and cons of standby letters of credit?

•   How can you obtain a standby letter of credit?

What Is a Standby Letter of Credit?

An SLOC (or SBLC; the terms are used interchangeably) is an irrevocable commitment by an issuing bank that it will make payment to a designated beneficiary if the bank’s client defaults on a deal. To phrase it a bit differently, these commitments ensure the payment of a specific amount if one party does not make good on a business agreement. For example, a seller might ship goods to a buyer, but the buyer fails to pay within a specified number of days. In such cases, the bank will intervene and compensate the seller if certain conditions are met.

However, the conditions can be very specific, and failure to meet them can result in the seller not being compensated. For example, issues with shipping or with the product itself could result in denial of payment.

These letters of credit are common in international trade when buyers and sellers aren’t familiar with one another. When entities from two different countries do a deal, the laws and regulations involved may differ. This can add a layer of uncertainty to whether the deal will go through smoothly. An SLOC can help the seller feel more confident they will be paid.

An SBLC acts as a safety net or insurance policy for the seller. If all goes well with the transaction, they won’t have to make use of it. Only if there are issues with the sale will the SBLC be needed, but that bank guarantee adds a level of confidence.

Recommended: Why Are My Credit Scores Different?

How a Standby Letter of Credit Works

Now that you know the meaning of SBLC, here’s how it actually functions. When a buyer and seller are entering into a large contract, an SLOC might be created, especially if the buyer and seller don’t know one another. The buyer might create one to help secure a contract or the seller might ask the buyer to obtain a letter.

In either case, the buyer goes to a bank and requests an SLOC. The bank will then perform underwriting to verify the buyer’s creditworthiness. The bank might also ask the buyer for collateral if they have bad credit (this is an example of why bad credit is a big deal). The amount of collateral will depend on a variety of factors, including the level of risk, the size of the deal, and the strength of the business.

Once the process is complete, the buyer receives the SLOC. The bank will charge a fee, typically between 1% and 10% of value per year while the contract is in effect. Once the transaction project is complete, the SBLC is no longer valid, and the bank will no longer charge a fee.

However, if the buyer defaults on the agreement for any reason, the seller must provide all documentation listed in the SBLC to the buyer’s bank, informing them that the buyer has not held up their end of the arrangement. The bank will then reimburse the seller and later collect payment from the buyer, plus interest.

A deal can fail to be completed for many reasons, such as bankruptcy, lack of cash flow, or dishonesty on the part of the buyer. If the bank determines the buyer has violated the terms of the SLOC, it will then make payment to the seller.

Types of Standby Letters of Credit

There are two types of standby letters of credit: financial SBLCs and performance SBLCs.

Financial SBLC

A financial SBLC guarantees payment for goods or services provided. The SBLC guarantees that the buyer’s bank will pay the seller if the buyer doesn’t pay within the timeframe outlined in the letter. If the bank does need to step in and make payment, it will later collect payment from the buyer, plus interest.

Performance SBLC

A performance SBLC is less common but usually guarantees the completion of a project. In this case, a person or company agrees to complete a project within a specified timeframe. Thus, a performance SBLC would reimburse the party paying for the project if it isn’t completed in time or if the client otherwise feels the project was not completed to satisfaction.

Recommended: Do Personal Loans Affect Your Credit Score?

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Standby Letter of Credit Example

The most common use of SBLCs is to guarantee payment when a seller ships goods, typically internationally, to a buyer. For instance, a buyer might secure a contract to purchase a large shipment of corn from overseas. The seller, never having done business with the buyer before, might ask the purchaser to obtain an SBLC to ensure they are paid for the shipment. Even if the purchaser has taken credit-building steps, this is a new relationship between the two businesses, and trust hasn’t yet been established.

The SBLC indicates that the buyer will remit payment within 30 days of receiving the shipment. Thanks to shipment tracking, the seller can see that the buyer has received the shipment of corn. However, 30 days have passed, and the buyer hasn’t paid.

The seller can then go to the buyer’s bank, which issued to SBLC, and provide the necessary documentation about this deal and lack of payment. If the bank agrees that the buyer hasn’t held up their end of the agreement, the bank will then pay the seller for the corn. The bank would then collect payment and additional charges from the buyer.

Advantages of a Standby Letter of Credit

SLOCs have a few advantages worth noting:

•   Guarantee of payment The main benefit of SLOCs is they guarantee payment for the seller. Even if the buyer can’t pay, the seller can ask the buyer’s bank to reimburse them.

•   Helps buyers land contracts A seller might hesitate to ship goods to a buyer they don’t know and trust, even if credit monitoring reveals they seem like a good bet. There’s still an element of risk. The SLOC can make a seller more confident about doing a deal since they will be more likely to get paid.

Disadvantages of a Standby Letter of Credit

There are disadvantages to SLOCs, too. These include:

•   Increased costs The bank that guarantees the SLOC will charge the buyer a fee for every year the contract is in effect. And if the bank has to pay the seller, they will charge the buyer principal plus interest.

•   Not always a guarantee Although SLOCs guarantee sellers will be paid, there can be many hurdles involved before payment is issued. For example, shipping delays or problems with the product itself can lead to denial of reimbursement.

How to Obtain a Standby Letter of Credit

Obtaining a standby letter of credit is generally the responsibility of the buyer. Their bank will reimburse the seller in the event they don’t pay promptly. The bank will also have to determine how creditworthy the client is and decide if collateral is required. (One of the benefits of good credit can be not having to put up collateral in situations like this one.)

To issue the letter, the buyer might work with either a domestic or international trade division of a bank, depending on the deal’s particulars. At this point, it’s also wise for the buyer to have an attorney on-site to review the terms of the agreement.

A seller can ask that the buyer obtain an SLOC as part of the contract. All parties should have legal experts involved to ensure the accuracy and conditions of the agreement.

Recommended: Do Credit Scores Update Often?

The Takeaway

Standby letters of credit (SLOCs) are useful legal documents for both buyers and sellers doing business, especially if they are working on an international deal. These letters can act as a safety net, saying that if a buyer doesn’t complete a deal, their bank will step in and make payment. For sellers, these letters can help increase confidence that they will be paid for goods or services. For buyers, they can be helpful in securing new contracts.

Not all banking involves international business deals, however. If you are looking for a reliable bank for your daily needs, one that can help your money grow faster in your personal accounts, why not consider banking with SoFi? When you open our Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll earn a terrific 2.00% APY, plus there are no pesky account fees to worry about either.

Bank smarter with SoFi.


What does standby mean in letter of credit?

A letter of credit is a legal document that provides a safety net for a financial deal. “Standby” in this context refers to the fact that these letters are only implemented (and funds then issued) by the bank if the buyer fails to pay. If the buyer pays within the expected timeframe, no action is taken. The letter of credit has stayed on standby status.

What is the difference between a letter of credit and a standby letter of credit?

The difference between a letter of credit and a standby letter of credit is what each of them promises. A letter of credit is a guarantee from a bank that the buyer will pay. On the other hand, a standby letter of credit is a guarantee from the bank that they will pay if the buyer fails to do so.

Can SBLC be used as collateral?

The SBLC itself is not usually considered collateral. However, a bank may require the buyer to provide collateral before issuing an SBLC if the bank feels the buyer’s creditworthiness is not up to par.

Photo credit: iStock/BartekSzewczyk

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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


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16 Ways to Reward Yourself Without Breaking Your Budget

16 Ways to Reward Yourself Without Breaking Your Budget

Who doesn’t like to hear the words “Good job!” or “I’ve got a little treat for you”? Almost no one. And the fun part is, you can be the person bestowing good will upon yourself.

As recognition for wrangling a tough work project, getting through a stressful week, being a good friend, or finishing a home-repair project, it’s important to pat yourself on the back. And there’s room in almost any budget for a little reward. Low-cost and free treats can serve as positive reinforcement without launching you on that slippery slope of overspending.

If you need help getting started, read on to learn:

•   Why treating yourself is essential

•   How to reward yourself on a budget

Why Treating Yourself Is Essential

Treating yourself is a form of self-care, which is a way of showing yourself kindness by engaging in acts that make you feel good. Studies on self-care have found it can help reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, manage stress, and increase happiness.

Treats or self-rewards are a pat on the back; a way of recognizing that you’re doing a good job and meeting goals. Fortunately, there’s room in almost any budget for them. Whether an occasional bouquet of supermarket roses or a TGIF beer with friends, these purchases are unlikely to wreak havoc on your finances or trigger a situation in which you can’t stop overspending.

Recommended: Guide to Practicing Financial Self-Care

Rewarding Yourself: 16 Different Ideas

Maybe you asked for and got a raise at work, buckled down on your budget, finally cleaned out your closets, or just feel you need a lift after a draining week. It’s time to treat yourself. Consider these free or low-cost rewards:

1. Drop in for a Single Yoga Class

Yoga provides a plethora of physical and mental benefits, such as helping to relieve back and neck pain, improve sleep quality, and reduce stress. Many yoga studios offer drop-in classes, with the average price about $16 a class. If that’s a bit steep, YouTube features an array of free yoga videos led by experienced instructors.

2. Get a Cup of Fancy Coffee

Making coffee at home saves tons of money, but there’s nothing like the occasional barista-made cappuccino or flat white from your favorite coffee shop. Whether you have one as Monday motivation to start your week off right or reward yourself on a weekend AM, it can be a low-cost bit of self-care.

3. Pick up a Bouquet of Flowers

Treat yourself to some colorful blooms from your local grocery store. Research has shown flowers can improve mood and increase happiness.

4. Buy Yourself Your Favorite Ice Cream

Many of us have cheered up a kid with an ice cream cone. Why not do the same thing for yourself? Mint chip, strawberry, and good old vanilla just begin to describe the possibilities.

5. Go for an Inexpensive Mani-Pedi

Many nail salons offer weekly specials that include a manicure, pedicure, and perhaps a short massage. It can be an affordable way to help you look and feel good. Go ahead and pamper yourself on a budget.

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

6. Take a Nap

Few things feel as good as a power nap. If you work from home, schedule one as you see fit; office workers can squeeze one in on weekends. A snooze of 30 to 60 minutes can refresh you, improve your mood, and increase alertness. It’s a great way to treat yourself without spending money. Just beware of sleeping more than an hour though; it can leave you feeling groggy and interfere with your nighttime slumber.

7. Stream Some Shows

Streaming channels such as Hulu, Apple TV+ and Paramount+ offer free trial periods ranging from a week to a month. That could be enough time to binge-watch those shows you’ve been hearing about without necessarily signing up for a monthly subscription.

Recommended: 7 Ways to Achieve Financial Self-Discipline

8. Camp Out

Camping for a night or two is typically an inexpensive pursuit. Being out in nature, taking a walk in the woods, and looking up at the constellations at night can be a wonderful treat and spirit-reviver. Not for you? How about an afternoon of forest bathing near your home? All that means is spending time in nature, focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells of the woods.

9. Visit a Local Museum

Whether you look at Old Masters art or challenging avant-garde works, a museum visit can immerse you in beauty and share refreshing new perspectives. Most museums either have specific days or times when entry fees are free or reduced.

10. Get Crafty

Having a creative outlet is not only a way to relieve stress, it’s also fun. A good self-reward can be to spark your creativity with anything from an adult coloring book to a ceramics lesson.

11. Have a Nice Lunch or Dinner Out

Most of us grab takeout now and then, but a special self-reward can be to plan a meal at a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try or sampling a type of food you don’t usually eat. Invite a friend you’d like to catch up with; that can make it more memorable. Tip: Check out special offers, like a prix fixe menu, to make your outing even more affordable.

12. Spend a Day at the Beach

Sun, sand, and surf have a way of restoring one’s spirits, as does the sound of seagulls. It’s a terrific way to spend a day, even off-season. You might have to pay for parking, but otherwise, this outing can be a very low-cost way to treat yourself.

Recommended: Sticking to a Summer Budget

13. Visit a Thrift Shop or Flea Market

Shopping second-hand, especially one where the proceeds go to a charitable organization, is a great way to reward yourself with inexpensive clothing, jewelry, books, cookware, and maybe even the perfect acoustic guitar. You’re also helping the environment since thrifting keeps items out of landfills and incinerators.

Recommended: A Guide to Ethical Shopping

14. Take a Mental Health Day

It may take some planning and organization, but gifting yourself a day off to rest and recharge can help prevent burnout and reduce stress. Spend it however you like: Lazing on the couch, out taking photos, or visiting a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Recommended: Making Money Through Social Media

15. Listen to Live Music

Sure, you could splurge on a major concert, but local bars, beer gardens, and other spots often have live music without any sticker-shock tickets. Whether it’s folk, Zydeco, or classic-rock covers, you’re likely to feel better for it. Music has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve one’s mood.

16. Buy a Good Book

A good story can transport you away from daily life. Why not treat yourself to one? You can stop by the bookstore and purchase that book you’ve been wanting or listen to it while you’re taking a walk, driving, or relaxing at home. Borrow an audiobook from the library or enjoy a 30-day free trial at

The Takeaway

Everyone needs and deserves a treat now and then: a reward for saving money, getting kudos at work, or finally organizing your coat closet. Self-care can boost your mental health and keep you motivated with your goals. There are endless ways to treat yourself, and plenty of ways to do so without busting your budget. With the ideas described here, you can reward yourself and stay on track money-wise, which is a win-win.

How about opening a bank account that rewards you, too? With SoFi’s Checking and Savings, you’ll earn an amazing 2.00% APY when you sign up with direct deposit. Plus you won’t pay any account fees, so your money could grow faster.

Bank smarter with SoFi today.


What is it called when you reward yourself?

People use a variety of terms in addition to reward. These include a treat, self-reward, self-care, positive motivation, and positive reinforcement.

What if I feel guilty when rewarding myself?

Some people feel guilty when rewarding themselves. This may be because they were raised in a household that felt people should work hard without reward or because they believe rewards will make them “soft” and unmotivated. However, rewards can actually help people recharge, achieve more, and enjoy life more, so try giving yourself permission.

How do I not go overboard when rewarding myself?

It’s wise to have your self-rewards as a line item on your budget to avoid going overboard. That “fun money” doesn’t have to be a lot: Many treats are low-cost or even free.

Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. Additional information can be found at
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.
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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Compulsive or Impulsive Shopping: How to Combat It

Compulsive or Impulsive Shopping: How to Combat It

Spending money on purchases is a part of daily life (groceries, for instance) and can be a pleasure (those cool new boots you’ve been eying for weeks). But for some people, shopping gets out of hand and becomes impulsive or compulsive shopping. They literally “can’t resist” buying and find themselves purchasing often and when they don’t really need anything.

Both compulsive and impulsive shopping can negatively impact your finances and personal life, though they are not the same thing. If you feel as if you can’t control your spending and your money management is suffering from it (such as debt is piling up), know that you can take steps to regain control.

Here, you’ll learn:

•   What compulsive shopping is

•   Causes of compulsive shopping

•   What impulsive shopping is

•   Causes of impulsive shopping

•   How to take control of compulsive or impulsive shopping

What Is Compulsive Shopping?

Compulsive shopping is defined as an uncontrollable desire to shop, resulting in a person investing large amounts of time and money in the activity. People who shop compulsively tend to make purchases regardless of whether they need or want an item — or can actually afford it.

Compulsive shopping, or compulsive buying behavior (CBB), is considered a mental health condition that can have negative consequences financially and personally. It can become a preoccupation and involve the loss of self-control. Compulsive shoppers may use excessive spending as a coping method to mask feelings of low self-esteem, stress, and anxiety. They may feel a high when buying something but often experience disappointment and guilt afterwards.

Characteristics of compulsive shopping include:

•   Obsessive research over coveted items

•   Making unnecessary purchases

•   Potentially dire financial issues as a result, such as bankruptcy, credit card debt, and foreclosure

Causes of Compulsive Shopping

Approximately 6% of adults experience compulsive shopping, which can express a variety of emotional needs and wants, such as:

•   Perfectionism. The shopper may be focused on finding the perfect item, which brings them feelings of satisfaction once discovered.

•   Desire to be in control. Purchasing items can make them feel as if they have achieved something when other aspects of their life are not well managed.

•   Childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. If a person has endured this kind of pain, buying items may feel like a reward that offsets this negativity.

•   Feelings of loneliness and depression. Buying items can be an exciting mood-lifter; a kind of high.

•   Mood, anxiety, or personality disorders. Compulsive shopping can be a self-soothing behavior.

What Is Impulsive Shopping?

Impulsive shopping is somewhat different from compulsive shopping, though some mental-health professionals consider them to be aspects of the same issue. Impulsive shopping tends to happen when a person gets caught up in the moment and spontaneously buys something. It’s a purchase without any forethought, planning, and it’s often not within a person’s budget.

People who impulse-shop are usually influenced by external triggers, such as seeing an item on sale or positively responding to a store’s atmosphere. Everyone indulges in some impulse-fueled retail therapy now and then. However, when these immediate gratification purchases become habitual, the behavior can morph into something uncontrollable and financially damaging. When it has this kind of negative impact, it nudges into the realm of a disorder.

Causes of Impulsive Shopping

Impulsive shopping can have a variety of causes, including:

•   Wanting to ease negative feelings or improve one’s mood with a “pick-me-up”

•   A need for fun or entertainment

•   Lower levels of self-control

•   Fear of missing out (FOMO) on items or experiences other people have

•   Materialism; placing value on owning possessions

Compulsive vs Impulsive Shopping: What’s the Difference?

While these two behaviors’ names may sound similar, they are actually distinct. Here are the key differences when one compares impulsive vs. compulsive shopping:



Resembles addictive behavior Can develop into addictive-like behavior if left unchecked
Buying things regularly Buying is more occasional and situational
Shopping is planned and premeditated Shopping is unplanned and spontaneous
More internally motivated by uncomfortable emotions More externally motivated and influenced by shopping environments and marketing

Tips for Combating Compulsive or Impulsive Shopping

Impulsive and compulsive shopping can tip into the danger zone and ruin your budget and financial fitness. They can also take up too much mental space. If you have entered that realm and perhaps are carrying a hefty amount of debt, taking control of the situation can feel overwhelming. But there is help. Consider these suggestions on how to get started if you think you’re a shopaholic:

Seeking Some Professional Help

Individual counseling with a mental health professional can help you get to the emotional root of your buying issues. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can effectively treat these shopping behaviors. Medication may also help manage unwanted or intrusive thoughts about shopping. Group therapy can also be beneficial.

Paying Close Attention to Spending Habits

Figuring out your particular shopping triggers can help you avoid or eliminate them. For instance, when buying, do you use credit cards instead of paying with cash or a debit card? Make shopping a priority over paying bills? Grocery shop without making a list? Being honest about how and why you may engage in certain overspending behaviors is vital to understanding the issue. Changing spending habits can then help you manage your finances better.

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

Having an Accountability Mentor

Get some support: A financial counselor, advisor, partner, family member, or friend can assist you on your journey to curb compulsive or impulsive spending. Try taking a trusted, non-judgmental confidant with you when you go shopping. Ask them to help rein you in if you start overbuying. You can also consider having them hold onto your credit cards to eliminate access, chat regularly with you to keep tabs on your progress, and be a sympathetic listener when you need to talk through your feelings.

National 12-step program support groups such as Debtors Anonymous (especially if you’ve racked up credit card debt) and Spenders Anonymous are also an option. They can connect you with others who are dealing with similar issues.

Setting a Budget

Creating and sticking to a budget allows you to gain control over your spending. A well-thought out budget will help with personal accountability and achieving financial discipline. Since life needs to be about balance and we all need to spend money on something fun here and there, try to set yourself up with the flexibility to splurge sometimes. This will help keep you from feeling completely deprived.

One suggestion is to consider incorporating the 50/30/20 budget rule. This guideline recommends spending up to 50% of your after-tax income on must-haves (say, housing, car payments, utilities, healthcare, and groceries). Then, take 30% of your money and reserve it for wants such as dinners out, vacations, concert tickets, electronics, and clothing. The remaining 20% should be allocated for investments, an emergency fund, debt repayment, or savings.

Recommended: 10 Personal Finance Basics

Minimizing Temptation

Many stores are carefully designed to get you to shop and spend, perhaps to an extreme. If a store’s atmosphere — the design, the scents, the music — tends to get you buying, avoid it. Don’t walk down the streets filled with your favorite shops; try to escape the triggers that make you shop too much. If you often spend free time at the mall or online shopping, sign yourself up for a class, take up a new sport, volunteer, or find other ways to fill the hours.

Online promotional discounts, coupon codes, and the ease of electronic transactions can make compulsive or impulsive shopping easier and more appealing. Go ahead and unsubscribe from retailer emails.

Curbing social media exposure can help, too. Research suggests ads and posts from social media influencers and seeing purchases from people in your social networks may encourage a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, often leading to impulsive and compulsive buying.

Starting a No-Spend or 30-Day Savings Rule

A quick way to stop spending money is to freeze any non-essential spending for an entire month. Commit to a 30-day shopping ban on things such as clothing, make-up, tech gadgets, or take-out, and see how much extra money you have at the end of the month. The difference may be eye-opening and help you break the cycle.

Successfully controlling your spending can provide a feeling of accomplishment and a confidence boost. Participating in a no-spend challenge can even become a fun game; you can involve other budget-conscious friends and know you’re all in it together.

Recommended: Using a Personal Loan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

The Takeaway

Although there are differences between compulsive and impulsive shopping, both can seriously affect your financial and personal life. Facing your impulsive or compulsive shopping habits can be daunting, but taking positive, concrete steps is likely to help conquer the problem. Getting past this spending issue, whether by shifting your behaviors or seeking professional help, can be a positive step, both for you personally and for your finances.

Want to get a better handle on your spending? Get started today by signing up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account. You can easily track your weekly spending on our dashboard. What’s more, when you open a SoFi online bank account with direct deposit, you’ll earn an exceptional 2.00% APY and pay no fees, so your money could grow that much faster.

Discover the benefits of banking with SoFi today.


Is breaking a budget a sign of compulsive shopping?

Breaking your budget is not necessarily a sign of compulsive shopping. However, if you regularly deviate from your budget, spend money allocated for needs on wants, and find yourself saddled with credit card debt, you may need to rein in your compulsive spending. Analyze your shopping habits and budget to understand your behavior better.

Is making an impulse purchase a bad thing?

The reality is, most of us make occasional impulse buys, and they are not always such a bad thing. However, if this kind of shopping becomes habitual and leaves you with debt, pay attention and take steps to improve the situation.

How do I limit impulse purchases?

One way to limit impulse purchases is to avoid stores or websites where you know you tend to overspend. Also, ask yourself, “Do I need this or do I just want it?” when tempted to make a purchase. If the answer is the latter, wait 24 hours, and see if you still really want it. Your desire may dwindle during that cooling-off period.

Photo credit: iStock/jacoblund

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 2.00% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 2.00% APY is current as of 08/12/2022. Additional information can be found at
SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
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.
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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