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

Think you may be bad with money? You’re not alone. A lot of people feel this way at one point or another. And considering that many of us haven’t had much guidance on how to be good with money, it’s understandable.

No matter what you do in life, managing your money is considered imperative to success. But as important as it is, money skills are not taught in many schools and may not be handed down by parents or family.

But rather than just assume (and accept) that you’re just “bad with money,” it can be important to figure out exactly where you may be going wrong.

So we’ve gathered some telltale signs that you may have some work to do when it comes to money management — plus some key tips and strategies that can help you get better with money.

4 Signs You’re Bad With Money

Sometimes the signs are clear, like getting multiple notifications for overdraft fees in a week. Sometimes, however, being bad with money is less obvious. Here are some red flags that can indicate you’re heading down the wrong financial path.

You Tend to Live Paycheck to Paycheck

Even if you are able to pay your bills in full each month, if you’re often broke after paying them, it can be a sign that you’re not all that financially stable.

Whatever your income or budget is, it can be wise to always have at least a little bit of extra money to put into savings. If that extra doesn’t exist, then you could be walking a financial tightrope, where a major crisis could be waiting just around the corner.

You Don’t Have an Emergency Savings Fund

Not having a contingency fund (tucked away in a separate savings account) that can cover an unexpected expense, such as a medical bill, car repair, or sudden loss of income, is an indication that you’re living too close to the edge.

Although the specific dollar amount you should have in your emergency fund varies from person to person, many financial experts say you should try to have at least three months worth of living expenses set aside to cover the unexpected.

Without this cushion, a single large expense or loss of paycheck even for a couple of months could put you in a debt spiral that can be hard to get out from under.

You Only Make the Minimum Payment on Your Credit Cards

Paying the minimum on your credit cards may seem like you’re keeping up, but in reality you are gradually getting further and further behind.

If you don’t pay the card in full each month, every dollar you put on a card can end up costing you many times more in interest charges over time. Credit card debt that you can’t get rid of can be a clear sign that you’re not being as good with your money as could be.

You Often Overdraft Your account

If you’re gotten into the habit of spending almost everything you earn, it can be easy to overdraft your account. This often results in a high fee, which can make keeping up with your expenses even harder.

Overdrafts can also result from disorganization. Maybe you have the money, but didn’t transfer it over to your checking account in time. This can be a sign that you’re not keeping close enough tabs of your money.

Recommended: How to Avoid Overdraft Fees

How to Be Better With Money: 11 Tips

Becoming better at money management doesn’t have to happen overnight. In fact, the best approach to lasting change is often to take one small step at a time. This can be much easier to do and, as you start to see the rewards (more money, less stress), you will likely be inspired to keep going.

The following tips can help put you on the path to being good with money.

1. Setting Some Specific Money Goals

You likely have a few things you’d like to do in life that having enough money can help you accomplish. Maybe you want to take a great vacation next year, buy a home in a few years, or retire early.

Setting some concrete financial goals, both for the short- and long-term, can give you something to work towards — or, in other words, a reason to be better with your money.

Recommended: What is Financial Therapy?

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2. Tracking Your Cash Flow

In order to get better with money, it can help to know exactly where you currently stand.

You can do this by gathering all your financial statements for the past several months, and then adding up all of your after-tax income to see how much is coming in each month.

Next, you can tally up how much you are spending each month. To do this, you may want to make a list of all your spending categories and then come up with an average amount you’ve been spending on each.

You may find it helpful to actually track your spending for a month or two, either by journaling or using an app that tracks spending right on your phone.

Ideally, you’ll want to have more coming in than going out each month. That means you have money you can siphon off into saving and investing, which can help you build wealth over time.

3. Coming Up With a Budget Method That Works for You

Once you have a clear picture of what’s coming and going out each month, you can create a plan for how you want to spend your money moving forward — in other words a budget.

While budgeting may sound onerous, it’s simply a matter of going through your expenses, seeing where you may be able to cut back, and then coming up with target spending amounts for each category.

One budgeting framework that may help you get started is a 50/30/20 budget breakdown. The idea is that 50% of your after-tax income should go to necessities, 30% goes to fun spending or “wants,” and 20% goes to savings goals.

These percentages may not work for everyone, especially if you live in an area with a high cost of living, but they can give you a general rule of thumb as you get started with budgeting.

Recommended: Determining The Right Budget Categories

4. Curbing Impulse Purchases

If you tend to shop without a plan, it can be easy to grab this and that without realizing how quickly these small costs can add up. A perfect example is going grocery shopping. But the same thing can happen if you are mindlessly browsing shops at the mall or online.

Making a list–and sticking to it — whenever you shop can help you avoid overspending. If you see something you really want but you weren’t planning to buy, it can be a good idea to put the purchase on pause for a day or two.

Once you have a cool head and a fresh perspective, you can then ask yourself if you’ll actually use this item and if you can afford it, meaning you can pay cash for it now. If not, it may be a good idea to skip it.

5. Thinking About Larger Spending Cuts

There are only so many lattes you can skip or cents per gallon you can save by heading to the cheaper gas station around the corner. So when you’re trying to find places to save money in your budget, you may also want to think bigger.

For example, you might decide to ditch your car in favor of biking to work — a move that means you save not only what you’d be spending on gas each month, but also insurance, registration, and likely a monthly car payment. (And you might even be able to ditch your gym membership, with all that moving around!) Or, you might consider moving to a less-trendy neighborhood or getting a roommate to help split the rent and other household expenses.

While lifestyle changes might be harder to enact up front, once you commit to them, they can help you save large amounts of money on a regular basis.

6. Automating Your Savings

Building an emergency fund and saving for future financial goals are key steps toward fiscal wellness. So once you have graduated from being at risk of overdrafting your accounts, a great next step can be to automate your savings.

That means setting up an automatic transfer of money from your checking account (or wherever your money is deposited) to one or more accounts designated for saving. This can be done on a monthly (or bi-monthly) basis, and can be timed to happen right after your paycheck hits.

If saving is a chore that you have to remember to do every month, you may get busy and forget. Why not let technology do the heavy lifting for you?

7. Bringing in More Income

Do you feel like you’re cutting back on spending as much as possible, but not getting anywhere? You may need to work on earning more money.

How exactly you go about this goal is up to you, of course. Maybe this means sitting down with a boss and creating a path towards earning more money. Or, it could mean picking up some freelance work in your profession, or starting a side hustle (like pet-sitting or signing up with a ride-share or delivery app).

8. Listing All of Your Debts

Many bad financial habits are born from the easy access consumers have to money that isn’t theirs — and the need to pay those debts back, with interest.

As with budgeting, the first step in conquering your debts is knowing exactly what you’re up against. To get the big picture, you may want to create a computer spreadsheet (or just make a chart with pen and paper) and then list each source of debt that you currently hold.

This includes student loans, credit cards, car loans, and any other debts you may have. You may also want to include the loan servicer, the size of the debt, the interest rate, and the amount and date of the monthly payment on each debt.

9. Knocking Down Debt One at a Time

If you’re paying the minimum on more than one high interest credit card, you may want to focus on getting rid of one entirely. It could be the debt with the highest interest rate, or it might be the smallest overall balance, to give you the psychological victory of kicking a source of debt to the curb.

Whichever one you choose, you can then put as much extra money as you can towards the balance (principal) of that debt, while paying the minimum amount due on all the others. Once you pay that debt off, you can move on to the next one.

10. Avoiding More Credit Card Debt

Getting better at managing your money can be hard to do when you’re adding to your credit card balance. Credit cards are notoriously difficult to pay back when you’re only making the minimum payments, and can be nearly impossible if you’re doing that while adding to the balance.

So, you may want to use your newfound money management skills to find ways around going further into credit card debt. Maybe there are more cuts that can be made to your budget or some overall shifts in lifestyle that could help. No matter how you do it, it can be helpful to focus on spending only the money you actually have.

11. Contributing More to Your 401(k)

You might think saving for retirement is something you don’t really need to focus on until you’re older. But the truth is that the earlier you start, the easier it will generally be to save enough to retire well. That’s thanks to the magic of compounding interest, which is when the interest you earn on your money earns its own interest.

If your company offers a 401(k), it can be a good idea to contribute at least a small percentage of each paycheck. If your employer offers matching funds, you may want to take full advantage of this perk by contributing the max amount your company will match.

Recommended: When to Start Saving for Retirement

The Takeaway

You don’t have to master all of the above concepts right away. Becoming a person who is “good with money” is a journey.

Instead, you may want to start with one area and move on to the next as you feel you have mastered each financial tool.

Looking for Something Different?

One simple step that can make it easier to manage your money is to open up a SoFi Money® cash management account. With SoFi Money, you can earn, save, and spend all in one account. And, it’s easy to track your weekly spending right in the dashboard of the SoFi app.

Learn how SoFi Money can help you keep better tabs on your personal finances.


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.

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How Much Should I Spend on Groceries a Month?

How much you should spend on groceries each month will depend on factors such as the number of people living in your household, your lifestyle and even your dietary preferences. There’s no way around the fact that food is a significant line item when it comes to budgeting, but there are ways to make it easier on your budget than throwing caution to the wind and getting takeout three times a week.

Whether eating at home or out on the town, it’s helpful to give yourself some guidelines so that you and your bank accounts are on good terms. We cover some rules of thumb for how much to spend on food a month so you can better ensure you’re staying on track with your budget.

What Is the Average Cost of Groceries Per Month?

The average U.S. household spends $7,316 on food every year, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) consumer expenditure survey . That amount — about $609.67 a month, or $152.42 each week — represents nearly 12% of consumers’ income.

Of course, the amount people spend on sustenance can vary widely, depending on age, household size, dietary restrictions and where they live. For instance, the consumer expenditure survey noted that single-parent family households with children spent more on food compared to single folks. Your eating habits, including how often you dine out or order in as well as a penchant for impulse grocery buys, also affect your bottom line.

What Should My Monthly Grocery Budget Be?

When it comes to how much you should spend on groceries each month, the answer will depend on your situation. However, you can use the following guidelines to help you develop a reasonable monthly allowance for your grocery budget.

By USDA Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a series of monthly food budgets that represent the cost of a healthy diet at four price levels: thrifty, low cost, moderate cost and liberal. These budgets can serve as a benchmark against which you can measure your own monthly spending on food.

Keep in mind that the USDA assumes that all meals and snacks will be prepared at home, and that costs will vary by age, gender and family size. It updates each plan to current dollars every month using the Consumer Price Index for food.

For example, in August 2021, the USDA pegs the monthly cost of food for a female who is 20 to 50 years old at $209 for the thrifty plan. For females ages 19 to 50, it’s $225.30 for the low-cost plan, $275.40 for the moderate-cost plan and $352.10 for the liberal plan.

The USDA budgets more for couples within the same age ranges. For instance, a household of two might spend $459.80 on a thrifty plan, $495.66 on a low-cost plan, $605.88 on a moderate-cost plan and $774.62 on a liberal plan.

By Household Size

Your household size should determine how much you spend on groceries each month. As you saw in the USDA guidelines above, different household sizes as well as the ages of individuals affected the amount spent on food each month.

Let’s say you are a family of four with one child aged 6 to 8 and another between the ages of 9 to 11. According to the USDA guidelines, you might spend $842.70 a month on a thrifty plan, $885.60 on a low-cost plan, $1,093.20 on a moderate-cost plan and $1,339.40 on a liberal plan.

The USDA guidelines can provide a starting point for a food budget, but they don’t consider all the variables that can affect cost. That’s why building a personal food budget while using these numbers as a benchmark is best. To do so, you can look at your past monthly spending on food and then compare that number to the USDA food budget guides.

If your spending is much higher than the USDA’s estimates, it’s essential to determine why. It could be due to unavoidable factors like where you live, or it may stem from discretionary decisions, such as eating out at restaurants. If it’s the latter, it may be helpful to look for ways to cut back on spending, so you can redirect money to other goals like building an emergency fund.

How Dining Out Fits Into the Equation

The USDA’s budgets only consider food prepared at home, yet a food budget will likely also need to account for meals eaten at restaurants. The BLS reports that the average household spends $4,942 a year on food at home and $2,375 a year on food away from home (note that the food away from home figure was a decent amount lower than in previous years, likely due to the pandemic).

Eating at restaurants is more costly than preparing food at home, so restaurant spending can be an excellent place to start making cuts when looking for wiggle room in a food budget.

Strategies to Keep Track of Your Food Spending

There are a number of budgeting strategies that can help you keep track of your spending. Here are some to consider if you’re trying to keep better track of your food spending:

The 50/30/20 Rule

The 50/30/20 rule is a simple strategy for proportional budgeting that breaks down a budget into three categories of spending. Here’s how it works:

•  50% goes to essential needs. These are necessary expenses, such as rent, groceries and health insurance.

•  30% goes to discretionary spending. These are fun purchases that you don’t technically need to survive.

•  20% goes to savings. The 50/30/20 method separates discretionary spending and saving for financial goals, such as retirement, a down payment on a house or paying off debt faster.

The 50/30/20 rule is a relatively simple form of budgeting, so it can help individuals keep their eyes on the big picture and avoid getting bogged down in minute details. That said, because it isn’t detail-oriented, it can be hard to pinpoint problem areas, such as places where overspending occurs.

The Envelope Method

The envelope method seeks to make budgeting more concrete by limiting most spending to cash transactions. It works by allocating a set amount of cash each month to different spending categories, such as groceries or entertainment.

At the beginning of the month, write each category on individual envelopes. Decide how much you want to spend in each category for the month, and put enough cash to cover that amount in each respective envelope.

This method takes discipline. You can only use the cash in each envelope to make purchases in that category. When the money’s gone, it’s gone for the month. That means you can no longer do any spending in that category.

Zero-Based Budgeting

A zero-based budget is one in which you assign each dollar of your income a specific purpose. For example, you may decide to spend $1,000 on rent, $325 on food, $200 on student loan payments, $100 on savings and so on, until there are zero dollars left without a job to do. While this type of budget can take a lot of effort, it can help you think carefully about every dollar you spend and be mindful of setting aside savings.

By getting your budget on track, you’ll have enough to work toward financial goals, like paying off student loans and saving for retirement.

Tips to Help Reduce Your Food Spending

Whether your food budget has gone out of control or you’re interested in spending less in general, there are several ways to lower your food budget.

Try Meal Prep

Shopping at a store without a plan can be a budget-buster, as it can lead to unneeded purchasing. To stay on track, create a meal plan that lays out breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the week.

Once you’ve created a menu, check to see what ingredients are already in the kitchen. Make a list of the items you’re missing and the amounts that are needed. Buy only those items at the store.

Consider planning some meals that have overlapping ingredients, as buying ingredients in larger quantities can be cheaper. You’ll also want to consider preparing meals you like and can cook relatively quickly. That way, you’re not tempted to get takeout one day when you’re tired and don’t feel like cooking.

Take Advantage of Coupons

Using coupons can help buyers save money at the checkout counter. Grocery stores or major brands often offer discounts in coupons — look for them online, in a grocery store flyer or in the mail.

Before you buy, however, make sure you actually need the food item. If there isn’t anyone in your household who will drink that carton of oat milk, it’s better to leave it on the shelf than to cash in your coupon.

While taking advantage of an individual coupon may not add up to much savings, using many coupons over time can start to open up space in your food budget. The same is true of buying store brands, which may be a dollar or two cheaper than their name-brand counterparts. Over time, and multiple purchases, those couple of dollars can add up to significant savings.

Freeze Meals

Having meals or ingredients ready in the freezer encourages you to eat at home instead of making the excuse of having nothing to eat in your house. It can be as simple as buying frozen vegetables, some form of protein or straight-up frozen meals (it’s still cheaper than dining out). You can even make your own freezer-ready meals by cooking additional portions of meals — eat some for dinner, then freeze the rest for later.

Shop at Discount Grocery Stores

The cost of food can vary widely from store to store, so consider visiting different stores to find budget-friendly prices. A great way to check if a grocery store offers lower prices is to look at their weekly flyer. You’ll be able to find sales and other advertised goods and identify which stores offer the best deals on items you’re most likely to purchase.

Some stores may offer certain foods in bulk, such as grains, nuts, coffee and dried fruit, which can be cheaper than buying the same packaged food items.

Getting a handle on how much you spend on food can help you build a larger household budget. That way, you may be able to set aside money for savings or other financial goals.

The Takeaway

As you can see, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how much you should spend on groceries each month, as that varies based on your unique situation. However, everyone can likely benefit from giving their grocery budget a hard look and seeing if there’s anywhere they’re overdoing it.

Envelope and spreadsheet averse? Another way to track your grocery budget is with SoFi Relay, which lets you easily set monthly spending targets and see where you’re spending the most.

See how your current food spending fits into your overall budget.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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.
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.

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50 Charities to Support This Year

34 Charities To Support This Year

There are plenty of reasons people want to give to charities. Not only can it be a great way to support a cause you care about, there can be tax benefits as well. So how do you narrow down which charities to donate to?

What constitutes a good organization to donate to may vary depending on how much you’re donating, if you want to give money, time or other donations, and what causes are close to your heart. As a rule of thumb, though, it’s smart to research any organization you plan to support.

In order to help you do that, we reached out to CharityWatch , an independent watchdog organization founded in 1993. CharityWatch specializes in reviewing and ranking charities based on their financial reporting, including their:

•   Audited financial statements

•   Tax forms

•   Annual reports

•   State filings

Methodology: Ranking the Best Charities to Support

We used CharityWatch’s list of top charities to put together our list, using only those charities with an A+ ranking.

CharityWatch ranks charities based on the following calculations:

•   Program Percentage: The percent of total expenses the charity spends on charitable programming (as opposed to expenses such as fundraising, management, and operations)

•   Cost to Raise $100: How much it costs a charity to bring in $100 in cash donations from the public.

CharityWatch then assigns charities a letter grade, ranging from A+ to F. CharityWatch’s full methodology for ranking top charities to donate to can be found online.

Of the more than 600 charities the organization has ranked, only 34 have an A+ ranking at the time of this writing. (Please note CharityWatch updates rankings regularly, which is why we’ve linked to their rankings for each of the following organizations. Each charity’s website is linked on each of CharityWatch’s rating pages.)

1. Action Against Hunger-USA

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Action Against Hunger-USA ‘s mission statement is to prevent, detect, and treat under-nutrition. The organization aims to tackle the underlying causes of hunger, and they also help regions experiencing conflict or natural disasters meet their nutritional needs.

2. All Hands and Hearts

Program Percentage: 96%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

All Hands and Hearts aims to address short- and long-term needs of communities after natural disasters. This includes helping rebuild homes, schools, and infrastructure.

3. American Kidney Fund

Program Percentage: 97%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

American Kidney Fund helps those suffering from kidney disease during every step of the process. That includes prevention, early detection, disease management, and post-transplant. The organization provides those in need with financial support and other resources they need to manage their kidney disease.

4. Animal Welfare Institute

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

Animal Welfare Institute helps animals who have suffered because of human cruelty. The organizations aims to reduce animal cruelty through advocacy and education.

5. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America (National Office)

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America (National Office) pairs children facing adversity with a “brother” or “sister” mentor who can provide them support. They also offer training and workshops about child safety.

6. Catholic Relief Services

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $10

Catholic Relief Services assists the poor in the U.S. and across the globe. Its goal is to prevent and end poverty regardless of the races, religions, or nationalities of those in need.

7. Child Find of America

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Child Find of America aims to both prevent child abductions and find abducted children. Part of that work involves responding to the family conflicts and crises that may lead to potential abduction or abuse.

8. Comic Relief

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $8

Comic Relief uses entertainment to eliminate poverty, improve children’s lives, and help disadvantaged individuals around the world. The organization is well known for its Red Nose Day fundraiser, in which people can buy a red clown nose to raise money to help end child poverty.

9. Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS)

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) helps families and coworkers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The organization provides them with resources to help rebuild their lives after the death, and it also provides training to law enforcement on how to help surviving co-workers and families.

10. Conservation Fund

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Conservation Fund helps protect America’s land and water resources with the help of public, private, and nonprofit partner organizations. The fund also helps educate the public about sustainability, resource management, and creating environmental goals for individuals, communities, or organizations.

11. Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation’s mission is to prevent and treat diabetes. It helps fund new research to help cure diabetes and diabetes-related illnesses and complications.

12. DonorsChoose.org

Program Percentage: 94%
Cost to Raise $100: $5

DonorsChoose.org aims to help raise awareness about accountability issues and educational inequality in public schools. It seeks to create a world in which all American children have equal access to high-quality education by engaging the public in educational issues and reform.

13. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $9

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s mission is to prevent pediatric HIV infections. Through education, research, advocacy, and treatment, the organization aims to help end pediatric AIDS.

14. Environmental Defense Action Fund

Program Percentage: 98%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

The Environmental Defense Action Fund seeks to educate the public about the environment and conservation. The organization also advocates for legislation and policies it believes will protect the environment.

15. Fisher House Foundation

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

The Fisher House Foundation creates and furnishes “Fisher Houses” for military and veteran families to stay at while a loved one is in the hospital. The organization also provides further financial assistance and scholarships to military families.

16. Friends of Animals

Program Percentage: 94%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Friends of Animals aims to help animals experiencing cruelty or institutional exploitation. They help fund and create litigation for no-free shelters, protect wild animals’ ability to roam freely, and more.

17. Hearing Health Foundation

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Hearing Health Foundation works to prevent hearing loss and tinnitus. It also hopes to develop a cure for both by supporting research and hearing health education.

18. Hispanic Federation

Program Percentage: 94%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Hispanic Federation is a Latino nonprofit organization aiming to advocate and advance Hispanic communities and families. It provides communities with a variety of services and resources for education, health, immigration, civil engagement, economic empowerment, and more.

19. Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

Hispanic Scholarship Fund provides scholarships and student services to help Hispanic students prepare for and earn their college degree. The organization provides students with support services and other resources they need to not only make it into the college classroom, but to succeed in college and after graduation.

20. Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $5

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund helps military members who have traumatic brain injuries or PTSD. The organization provides them access to treatment centers to help them continue to serve or enjoy life post-service.

21. Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $6

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation seeks to invest in research and education to find a cure for multiple myeloma. The organization also helps fund innovative new ways to treat myeloma and extend the lives of those affected by it.

22. National Alliance to End Homelessness

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

National Alliance to End Homelessness aims to help prevent and end U.S. homelessness. The organization seeks to educate the public on the causes of homelessness and potential solutions.

23. National Council on Aging

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

The National Council on Aging seeks to help older Americans who may be struggling financially, physically, mentally, or experiencing other issues. It also educates caregivers and advocates on how best to serve the elder community.

24. Pathfinder International

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Pathfinder International works to ensure that everyone around the world has the right to a healthy sexual and reproductive life. During COVID-19, the organization is also helping vulnerable communities survive the crisis.

25. PetSmart Charities

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

PetSmart Charities helps pets find life-long homes. The organization hosts adoption events and centers, as well educational and training programs to help humans learn how to support pets in need.

26. Population Services International

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

Population Services International provides those in developing countries with products and services to plan families and lead healthier lives. The organization also develops programming to help address gender-related health issues, including violence against women and women’s access to health services.

27. Prevent Child Abuse America (National Office)

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $6

Prevent Child Abuse America (National Office) aims to prevent child abuse and neglect in America. The organization educates the public on ways to build healthy environments for children using science and advocates for policies that protect children.

28. Scholarship America

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

Scholarship America helps American students make it into college classrooms through scholarships and educational support. The organization also provides mentorship to students and emergency grants for students at risk of dropping out for various reasons.

29. Semper Fi & America’s Fund

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Semper Fi & America’s Fund helps combat-wounded, critically ill, or catastrophically injured veterans and their families with financial, family, and wellness support programs. The program also helps veterans transition back into their communities after a serious combat-related injury.

30. Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation seeks to honor fallen firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on duty on September 11, 2001. The organization helps the families of fallen firefighters and police officers pay off mortgages, among other programs.

31. Unbound

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Unbound partners with families living in poverty to help them become self-sufficient and reach their full potential. The organization works with those experiencing poverty in 19 countries using Catholic theology to foster family and community relationship-building and self-empowerment.

32. United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)

Program Percentage: 98%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) aims to alleviate human suffering around the world caused by conflicts, war, natural disasters, and other causes of suffering. The organization has helped with refugee resettlement and other humanitarian missions.

33. Waterkeeper Alliance

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Waterkeeper Alliance creates a network of global leaders to help protect peoples’ rights to clean water around the globe. The organization also has several campaigns to promote clean and safe energy, clean water, and to battle pollution caused by industrial meat farms, among other causes.

34. World Resources Institute

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

World Resources Institute aims to help people learn how to live in ways that better protect the environment for current and future generations. It educates the public on ways to make cities, energy, food, and businesses more environmentally friendly.

Making a Difference with Your Finances

Budgeting for charitable donations can be a good way to ensure your money helps the causes you care about. It can also benefit your finances if you receive a tax deduction for your donation. You could use that deduction to invest, reach your savings goals, contribute more to your retirement, or build up your emergency fund.

Recommended: How to Make End of Year Donations

The Takeaway

Need help learning how to make your money work for you and causes near and dear to your heart? Consider opening a SoFi Money® cash management account.

SoFi Money offers a special Vaults feature where you separate your savings from your spending, while still earning competitive interest on all your money. You can even set up a vault for your future charitable giving.

Photo credit: iStock/busracavus


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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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How to Sell a Car You Still Have a Loan On

How to Sell a Car You Still Have a Loan On

When someone wants or needs to sell a vehicle, but they still owe money on it, the process can be different from selling one without a loan balance — in other words, with a vehicle that’s been paid off in full. This post will guide you through how to sell a car with a loan under a few different scenarios and then will offer tips on buying the next vehicle.

How to Sell a Car You Still Owe Money On

At a high level, selling a vehicle with a loan has three main steps:

1.    Gather important info.

2.    Determine if you have positive or negative equity.

3.    Pick a selling option.

We’ll explore each of these steps in more depth next.

Gather Important Info

First, get a sense of what the car is worth. This will depend upon its condition, so objectively look at your vehicle. How clean is it? How well has it been maintained? What does the body and interior look like? Examine other used cars like yours for sale and see how they’re priced.

Look at used car valuation guides, as well. They will have different values for trade-ins (when working with a dealership) than for private-party sales (when selling to an individual), and will also list retail values. Look at the one that will fit the situation.

Also, verify the payoff amount on the vehicle’s loan. This will include the principal balance plus any accrued interest and is often available online or can be obtained by calling the lender. During the conversation about selling a vehicle with a loan, you can also find out how to send the payoff amount to the lender and when the lender wants to receive it (before or after the sale of the car).

Recommended: 31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

Determine If You Have Positive or Negative Equity

The vehicle’s equity is the difference between the resale value and the amount owed on it, and this number can be positive or negative.

Let’s say that a vehicle is valued at $20,000 with a loan amount of $10,000; that car has a positive equity amount of $10,000. If, though, the vehicle is valued at $20,000 and the outstanding loan amount is $25,000, then it has negative equity of $5,000. Loans on cars with negative equity are referred to as “upside-down” or “underwater.”

So, when figuring out how to sell a car with a loan, the processes will differ based on whether the vehicle has positive or negative equity as well as the selling option you select.

Pick a Selling Option

If you have a car with an outstanding loan balance — and it isn’t practical or even possible to pay it off — then selling a car with a loan can typically be handled in one of three ways:

•   Selling it to a used car dealership.

•   Selling it privately to another person.

•   Trading it in.

Selling a Car to a Used Car Dealership

If a car dealership will buy used cars without requiring that you buy one from them during the transaction, then the process will probably be pretty straightforward. The dealer will offer you a certain dollar amount and, if you agree, they will pay off the lender in exchange for getting the vehicle’s title.

If there is positive equity on the vehicle, then you’ll get the money that remains after the loan balance is paid off. If it’s a negative equity situation, then you’d need to pay the difference between what the used car dealer is willing to pay and what it takes to pay off the loan.

For example, If a dealer offers $15,000 on a vehicle that has a $10,000 loan, then the dealer would take care of the loan payoff and provide the person selling the car the remaining money (minus any fees involved). In a negative equity situation, for example, if the vehicle’s value is $10,000 and the outstanding loan is $13,000, then the seller would need to chip in the difference (in this case, $3,000 plus any fees) to complete the sale and transfer the title to the buyer.

Recommended: Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

Selling a Car Privately

With a private sale, you might get more money than you would from a used car dealer (who needs to re-sell the vehicle at a profit), but you’d also need to take on more responsibility for managing the sale. This includes the transfer of title and payment of fees among other duties.

Steps to take include the following:

•   Get the current loan payoff from the lender (there will likely be interest owed beyond the principal amount).

•   Find out what paperwork they’ll need and how they want the process to work.

•   Have the buyer follow the lender’s procedures when paying for the car.

From the lender’s perspective, they want to ensure that they get paid. So, as just one possibility, they may have a buyer pay them the agreed-upon price for the vehicle. If it’s more than what’s owed, then the lender could give you the overage. If it’s less than what’s owed, you could give the bank the difference between the price and loan amount.

When selling a car with a loan privately, you’ll also need to handle any fees and forms with the motor vehicle department of your state.

Trading In a Car You Still Owe Money On

As a third possibility, you could trade in the car with a loan balance to a dealer as part of purchasing either a new or used car. The dealer will offer a certain amount of credit for the trade-in vehicle and if its value is more than the loan amount, that difference would go towards the purchase of the replacement vehicle.

If the loan amount is higher than the value, then the dealer may agree to combine the vehicle’s negative equity with the loan for the replacement vehicle. If this is the chosen route, the term may need to be extended to create affordable payments and this will potentially lead to more interest being paid on the new loan.

Recommended: Leasing vs. Buying a Car: What’s Right for You?

The Takeaway

Selling a car with a loan is a little different from selling one that’s paid in full. When thinking about how to sell a financed car, it’s easier to do so if you have positive equity in your car but still can be doable with negative equity. Some options include selling to a dealer or to an individual or trading in the vehicle towards another one.

Setting up a SoFi Money® Vault as a car fund can be a good option for saving towards a new car if you’re considering selling your current vehicle. Account-holders earn interest on their deposits and pay zero fees, so more of your hard-earned money can be put toward your financial goals.

Learn how you can save, spend, and earn all in one place with SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/Sakkawokkie


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.
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When Should You Pay In Cash?

When Should You Pay in Cash?

It may seem old school to whip cash out of your wallet to pay for your purchases. But there are times when good-old greenbacks can actually be a better way to pay than tapping your credit card.

While credit can be a quick and convenient way to pay, using cash for many of your routine transactions can be more secure. Paying in cash can also help you save money, stick to your monthly spending budget, as well as duck savvy marketers.

Read on to learn when it’s better to pay with cash, and when plastic may be the ideal way to go.

The Benefits of Cash

You May Get a Discount

You may be rewarded for paying cash, like paying a lower price at the gas station or when you get take-out at a restaurant.

Many businesses pay a fee for accepting credit and debit cards, so they may be willing to charge you less if you’ll pay in cash. If you frequently fill up your tank, saving even 10 to 20 cents per gallon can add up to significant savings over time.

It Can Help You Avoid Overspending

When you tap or swipe your credit or debit card, you don’t physically see your money leaving your account. Since there’s no sense of immediacy or consequence, it can be easy to spend more than you originally intended.

If, on the other hand, you leave home with only the amount of money you need for the day in cash, your spending is likely to be more mindful and you may have a better chance of sticking to your budget.

Recommended: 9 Tips to Stop Overspending

There are Fewer Security Risks

Yes, someone could rob you when you are carrying cash. However, there is less risk of identity theft or your information getting stolen when you pay with cash vs a debit or credit card.

You Can Avoid Fees

Cash is a one-shot deal — the purchase you made won’t end up costing you a penny more. With credit and debit, however, you can end up paying additional charges down the line, from late fees and overdraft charges to interest payments on debt.

Recommended: How to Avoid Overdraft Fees

Times When You Should Pay in Cash

Your Tab is $10 or Less

It can be a good idea to carry cash for small purchases. Many retailers have a minimum amount of money you must spend in order to use debit or credit. If your purchase is under, you’ll have to throw in extra things (you probably don’t need) to meet the minimum.

When Shopping at a Small or Local Business

Small businesses often offer discounts for cash payments, since it helps them save on bank fees. This can be an easy way to support your local businesses and save a few dollars at the same time.

You Want to Keep Advertisers at Bay

You may have noticed that after you buy something with a credit or debit card, you often get hit with ads and offers for similar products. That’s because retailers can track their customers’ spending and share their information with a third party, who can then target them with ads.

This can be annoying, and also lead to more spending if you’re enticed by an offer. Using cash makes it much harder for businesses to collect and share your information.

Times When You Shouldn’t Pay With Cash

Buying a House

If real estate is hot where you live, you may be tempted (if you can) to plunk down cash to ensure you get that dream house before someone else does.

While buying a home with cash vs getting a mortgage may get you the house, it may not be the most prudent move in the long run, especially if it wipes out all of your savings.

A mortgage has tax benefits and timely payments can help you build good credit. Also, there could be better uses for all that cash, like investing in the stock market or elsewhere.

Business Expenses

If you own your own business, have a side gig, or do freelance work, it can be better to use credit (or even a check) to pay for business-related purchases. You’ll likely want a paper trail so you can deduct these expenses on your tax return.

Another potential perk of using credit is that it may offer some purchase protection in event something you buy for your business that breaks or gets stolen soon after you purchase it.

Paying Service Providers

You may think a service provider, whether it’s an electrician or an auto mechanic, did a good job, but only time will tell. Using credit can offer you some protection in the event that you experience problems with a service after you’ve already paid for it.

Renting a Car

Often your credit card will provide insurance on car rentals, but only if you use that form of payment, as opposed to debit or cash. Using credit for the car rental can help you avoid paying for something you don’t need to purchase.

Recommended: 10 Tips for the Cheapest Way to Rent a Car

You’re Looking to Build Credit

If you need to build your credit score, one way to accomplish that is to use your credit card on a regular basis and show that you’re responsible by paying what you owe each month, consistently and on time.

When Buying Electronics

Using your credit card instead of cash for electronics can be a big advantage if your credit card offers extended warranties as a cardmember benefit. This allows you to get peace of mind without having to pony up for the store’s warranty. And, you can simply pay off the balance as soon as the bill comes.

You’re Looking to Track Your Spending

If you’re looking to see where your money is going so you can track your spending and set up a monthly budget, it can be easier if you pay with credit or debit.

Your financial institution may even offer you a pie chart of your spending, broken down into categories. Seeing everything in black and white can help you become better at budgeting.

Alternatives to Using Cash

Cash vs Credit cards

A credit card can be a good alternative to cash if you are able to pay it off in full every month, and you do. If managed well, credit cards (even secured credit cards) can help you build credit to buy a home or another large purchase in the future.

Cash vs Debit cards

A debit card can be a good substitute for cash, as long as you know there’s money in the bank. By using a debit card, you’re not incurring any new high-interest debt. As long as you are not incurring any overdraft fees, or withdrawing money from ATMs that charge high fees, debit cards can be a simple way to make purchases.

Cash vs Financing or Loans

It can sometimes be better to pay for a major purchase, like a car or a home, with a loan rather than cash if the interest rate is lower than what you could likely earn by investing that money.

However, you’ll also want to keep in mind that there is risk involved in investing in the stock market, so there is always a chance that you could lose money.

Recommended: Leasing vs. Buying a Car: What’s Right for You?

The Takeaway

Even as we move towards a more cashless society, it can be important to keep cash in your wallet and use it for certain everyday expenses.

Paying in cash can help you garner discounts at local businesses, stick to your budget, avoid paying overdraft and interest fees, protect against identity theft, and keep advertisers from targeting you.

There are times, however, when it can make more sense to pay with credit rather than cash. These can include: when you’re making business purchases and buying electronics and/or you’re looking to build credit or closely track your spending.

Another easy way to keep close tabs on your everyday spending is to open a SoFi Money® cash management account. With SoFi Money, you can easily track your weekly spending — and make sure you’re not going overboard — right in the dashboard of the app.

Learn how SoFi Money can help you keep better track of your money today.

Photo credit: iStock/towfiqu ahamed


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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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