The Pros and Cons of Unpaid Internships

The Pros and Cons of Unpaid Internships

Paid and unpaid internships can provide students with relevant work experience in their field of choice. While both opportunities offer knowledge and training, only one rewards you with a paycheck.

Although paid internships are more common, it doesn’t mean everyone can land one. This means if you want the experience and don’t want to pass up a chance to beef up your resume, you may have to work for free. Spending several months at an unpaid internship can be difficult, especially if you’re already carrying debt, dealing with high living expenses, or need to work a paying job.

Whether interns should be paid or not is an ongoing debate with a lot to consider before committing to one. Here, learn about the pros and cons of an unpaid internship to see if it’s worth the investment.

What is an Unpaid Internship?

An unpaid internship is a temporary work arrangement offered to graduate, college, or high school students so they can gain training and knowledge by working in their area of interest. Interns are able to perform duties related to their chosen career, observe professionals in a workplace setting, and receive direct guidance from mentors.

These non-compensated arrangements differ from an apprenticeship, which is designed to provide hands-on training in a specific trade or industry. Apprenticeships are paid and wage increases occur as new skills are acquired.

Are Unpaid Internships Legal?

Yes, according to the The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which states “for-profit” employers must pay employees for their work. However, interns and students may not be “employees,” in which case the law doesn’t require payment for their work. If an internship qualifies as paid, companies must pay their interns at least minimum wage for their services plus any overtime.

How Do Unpaid Internships Work?

Unpaid internships typically require you to work for a specific period of time during the school year or, during the summer. The program may ask you to work on site, but with the increase in employees working from home, remote internships have become more of a possibility.

Before you start your internship, you’ll likely discuss what you’ll be doing and when you’ll be able to work with your supervisor. Since you’re not being compensated, you’ll probably have more flexibility with scheduling.

It’s important to remember an unpaid internship isn’t volunteer work and should be more beneficial to you than the business or organization. After all, the reason you’re there is to receive training and education you simply can’t get by sitting in a classroom.

Pros of Taking Unpaid Internships

Building your professional resume can be priceless and let’s face it, your calling card once you hit the job market. Besides offering exposure to what it will be like working in your specialty, you’ll build potentially lifelong connections with people who may be able to open doors for you down the road.

There are many ways an unpaid internship can help prepare you for future career success. Here are some significant advantages:

Getting Valuable Experience

As an intern, you’ll get actual hands-on training that attracts future employers. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), applicants with industry internship experience have a leg up when it comes to employers’ hiring decisions.

Working as an intern allows you to develop crucial skills you’ll need in a professional setting, such as how to communicate effectively and collaborate with others. These abilities can make you even more of a stand out to prospective employers.

Valuable experience gained from an internship isn’t exclusive to undergrads. Already have your degree? You can still build upon your knowledge with an unpaid post graduate internship. These secondary education opportunities allow you to keep actively learning while you’re pursuing full-time employment or, if you want some down time after graduation.

Networking Equals Potential Opportunity

Making connections is one of the most important things you can do to grow your career. In fact, an estimated 80% of all positions are filled through networking. Many jobs aren’t publicly advertised so if you’ve left a positive impression, you may be the first person your past internship boss calls when a job opens up. Even if your internship doesn’t culminate in employment, building a solid network and maintaining relationships can pay off if you need a future job reference, letter of recommendation, mentoring, or career advice.

Companies Offering College Credit

Many companies will offer unpaid internships for college credits as compensation for your work. Knowing you’re receiving credits towards your degree, which can be a form of currency in its own right, may help justify the decision to take an unpaid internship.

Working in a Relevant Field

Internships give a preview of what it may be like working in your area of expertise, placing you in an environment where you’re exposed to the latest technology, industry norms, and business culture. With some concrete training spent working in your field, you may be more likely to be hired compared to someone with zero internship experience or those who have interned in an unrelated field.

Helps With Making Future Career Decisions

During an unpaid internship, you may come to the realization your selected career isn’t all you imagined. In this case, you could save yourself from wasting valuable time in the future and start exploring other career options. On the other hand, your internship could crystallize how much you love what you’re doing, validating you’ve made the right choice.

You may also decide to continue on with your education as something to do after college instead of entering the job market right away. This could be an ideal time to fit in an unpaid internship before pursuing a graduate degree.

Cons of Taking Unpaid Internships

The main cons of unpaid internships center around the obvious: no financial compensation for your efforts. Unpaid internships can also create barriers for disadvantaged or low-income students, possibly eliminating some extremely qualified candidates from gaining training and having a shot at making a serious contribution to a company.

Consider these downsides when thinking about applying for unpaid internship:

No Money for Your Hard Work

Strapped with tuition and other college-related costs, many students simply can’t work without pay. Participating in an unpaid internship can require commuting or even relocation during the summer months, increasing your need to have money in a savings account or earning it at another job.

Often Not Receiving Company Benefits

As an unpaid intern and temporary worker, you’re not entitled to the same benefits of a paid employee, such as paid vacation days, medical insurance, or the ability to contribute to a 401(k). Performing duties similar to a permanent employee’s and not gleaning any of the perks may also lead to feeling resentful, unappreciated, or lonely, especially if you’re the only one working while employees get to leave early for a three-day holiday weekend.

Possible Inequalities in the Workplace

Student interns who aren’t paid may find themselves doing more menial tasks and feel looked down upon by other employees. Staffers may be dismissive, impatient, condescending, or exclude you from conversations because you’re the intern. You may also find you’re the butt of jokes or having to deal with microaggressions, which are intentional or unintentional verbal or nonverbal slights towards culturally marginalized or stigmatized groups.

One major criticism of unpaid internships concerns the perpetuation of socioeconomic and racial inequities. Individuals who come from more affluent families and don’t need the money are better situated to take an unpaid internship, putting more privileged and often white individuals, at a greater advantage. The National Association of Colleges and Employers 2021 study found 73.9% of white students had an unpaid internship compared to 10.2% Hispanic or Latinx, 8% of Black and 2.0% of Asian students.

Potential Lower Future Income

Showing you’re willing to work for free may give employers the idea you might accept a lesser amount compared to someone who had a paid internship. Making this assumption on their part could lead to a lower salary offer.

Recent research by the Strada Education Network found having a paid internship as an undergraduate is linked with a predicted increase in annual wages of $3,096 just one year after graduation. Unpaid internships, practicums and cooperative learning aren’t associated with higher earnings post-graduation, the study reports.

Are Unpaid Internships Worth It?

Of course, it’s an individual choice based on a student’s particular circumstances, but unpaid internships can be worthwhile. Even if you’re not being compensated, these situations can provide training you can only get by working with professionals and mentors. Taking an unpaid internship can take the pressure off some of the expectations, duties, and necessary time commitment you’re more likely to have as a paid intern.

The Takeaway

An unpaid internship can pay off in significant ways such as offering college credits, meeting and networking with people in your field, and providing solid work experience to bolster your resume. Unpaid internships can also help you decide whether or not you’re on the right career path. But, interning without compensation can pose some major challenges for those who can’t afford to work for free. Before applying, think through the pros and cons to help you determine whether it’s your best route.

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FAQ

Are unpaid internships exploitation?

A criticism of unpaid internship programs is that they take advantage of a student’s free labor without providing any practical experience or educational benefits. While you may be asked to move some boxes or go on a coffee run, an unpaid internship that is not exploitative should mostly involve tasks that expand your skill set and teach you about your future career.

Is there a better workflow if interns are paid?

Interns help boost a company or organization’s workflow regardless, but paid interns may boost workflow more, since being financially compensated is associated with feeling satisfied and valued, which in turn is connected to productivity.

What percentages of companies offer unpaid internships?

Research shows nearly 40% of internships in the U.S. are unpaid, with the large majority of those positions found in the nonprofit, social service and government sectors. Paid internships constitute 60.8% of internships, and almost all of these paid positions are with private and for-profit companies.


Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

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 http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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Can You Deduct Overdraft Bank Fees on Your Taxes?

Can You Deduct Overdraft Bank Fees on Your Taxes?

Overdraft fees are never fun, but there’s a bright spot: In some circumstances, these charges can be tax deductible.

As you are probably well aware, both overdraft fees and taxes are an unavoidable part of life that can involve reducing your hard-earned cash. Which is why it can be really satisfying to use overdraft fees to save on taxes. This payback time, however, is typically not available for the average person who works a nine-to-five job.

So who can deduct these charges? Read on to learn:

•   What are overdraft fees?

•   Can I deduct overdraft fees on my taxes?

•   What other bank fees can be deducted?

•   What are tips for claiming bank-fee tax deductions?

What Are Overdraft Fees?

Before answering the question, “Are overdraft fees tax deductible?” it helps to understand how these charges work. An overdraft fee is assessed when someone authorizes a payment (such as when making a purchase with a debit card or by writing a check), but there isn’t enough money in their bank account to completely cover the cost of the transaction.

A bank may choose not to decline the payment and instead may charge the account holder an overdraft fee. If someone overdrafts multiple times in a day, they might be charged a fee for each overdraft. Or there may be a limit on how many times their bank or credit union might charge them a fee.

How Much Are Overdraft Fees?

Typically, each overdraft is assessed a charge of $35 or so. If you were to, say, make a bunch of payments like rent, utilities, and car payment on the first of the month and all of these triggered overdraft fees, you can imagine how quickly the amount can add up.

What Happens When You Overdraft Your Account?

Once someone realizes they overdrafted, they need to add more money to their bank account — at least enough to cover the amount they overdrafted and the cost of any overdraft fees they were charged. If someone doesn’t add enough money to their account, then the next time they make a deposit, the bank is likely to automatically withdraw that amount from their account.

What’s more, if the account holder doesn’t add more funds, then eventually the bank may choose to close their account. The debt would likely fall into the hands of a collections agency, which isn’t very fun for the consumer.

One way account holders can protect themselves from overdrafting is to set up an automatic transfer from a linked account (like a savings account) that steps in to save the day. There are pros and cons to overdraft protection. It may be offered for free; sometimes this service costs a fee, but even then, it’s usually less than an overdraft fee.

Who Can Deduct Overdraft Fees on Their Taxes?

Avoiding overdraft fees is a common goal, but despite your best efforts, these charges may still crop up and you may hope to write them off on your tax return. Whether or not you can do so depends on who is hoping to get a deduction. Sorry to say, but individuals who earn income from an employer can’t write off overdraft fees on their taxes. Only those who qualify in the following ways can write off their overdraft fees when tax season rolls around:

•   Self-employed individuals

•   Those who receive an IRS 1099-MISC form

•   Anyone who operates an unincorporated limited liability company (LLC)

•   People who practice a profession as a sole proprietorship

•   Landlords who receive income from rental properties

And there’s a catch: These people can only write off overdraft fees that occur during the normal course of business operations. They may not write off their personal overdraft fees.

What Bank Fees Are Considered Business Expenses?

Aside from overdraft fees, other bank charges can be considered business expenses. Take note of the following:

•   Account service charges

•   Credit card fees

•   ATM charges

•   Incoming and outgoing wire fees

•   Printing and depositing check fees

Other Bank Fees That Can Be Deducted

Overdraft fees aren’t the only charges that can potentially be deducted at tax time. As noted briefly earlier, business-related banking charges like credit card fees, ATM charges, and account service charges can be written off on taxes. However, you must own a business, be a sole proprietorship, or otherwise earn business income and incur these fees while running your business.

The cost of printing and depositing checks, incoming and outgoing wire fees, and other charges related to running a business are totally deductible on taxes as well.

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Bank Fee Write Off Example

Let’s look at an example of how a business owner may be able to write off bank fees. Imagine that Paul owns a bakery. He has a business bank account and uses a debit card to make last-minute purchases, plus a business credit card to make larger ongoing purchases. On Monday, he realizes he is out of flour. He places a bulk order for flour using his business credit card, but runs to the store to buy flour for the next few days using his debit card attached to his business bank account.

The problem is, Paul forgot to check his business bank account and is short on funds. As a result he overdrafts at the store. In all this rush, he forgot his credit card bill was due that very day and ended up paying it late, missing out on one of the benefits of automatic bill payments. What a Monday, and an expensive one at that!

What bank fees paid this month could Paul write off on his taxes?

•   Bank account management fee

•   Overdraft fee

•   1/12 of his credit card’s annual fee (assuming he saves up for it and pays it annually)

•   Credit card late fee

All of these fees are a major headache and poor Paul has to pay them, but at least he can write them off on his taxes.

Recommended: Beneficial Banking Account Alerts

Can You Deduct Bank Fees Even if You Do Not Own a Business?

You may be wondering, but what if I don’t own a business; can I deduct bank fees from taxes? It’s only possible to claim overdraft and other bank fees on your taxes if you own a business or work for yourself. Even then, they can only deduct business banking fees that occur during the course of business, not personal banking fees. So if you overdraft on your personal account, that can’t be taken as a deduction at tax time.

Tips for Claiming Bank Fee Tax Deductions

Let’s look at some ways to claim bank fees as tax deductions. Every penny counts, after all.

•   It’s required that business owners file an IRS Schedule C (Form 1040) , Profit or Loss from Business form, in order to deduct business expenses.

•   Any bank charges can be deducted as “other expenses.”

•   If someone can claim deductions because they earn rental property income, they’ll file the Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss form.

•   It’s only possible to declare bank charges that occurred in the year for the return being filed.

•   If someone realizes they have unclaimed charges from past years, they need to amend their previous returns and refile them.

•   The IRS wants to see bank accounts that relate to business expense deductions only being used for business purposes; no mixing in personal transactions.

Banking With SoFi

When tax time rolls around, only people who earn business income can potentially deduct overdraft fees related to their work. But even if you don’t have a business account, there are still ways to minimize the impact of overdraft and other banking fees.

See how SoFi can help you bank better in this way. When you open SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll pay no account fees; if that direct deposit is $1,000 or more monthly, SoFi overdraft coverage will take care of up to $50 for you. What’s more, we pay a super competitive 2.00% APY so your money grows faster. No fees, higher interest? Yes, please.

Open an online bank account today with SoFi today.

FAQ

What bank charges are tax-deductible?

Those who earn business income can deduct bank fees from their taxes. These include overdraft fees, account service charges, and ATM fees that relate to their business.

How do I claim overdraft fees?

People who earn business income and accrue overdraft fees during the course of business can claim these charges by filing the IRS Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss from Business. If someone earns rental income as a landlord, they can file Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss.

Are there taxes on bank fees?

No, you don’t pay taxes on bank fees. Also, some people may be able to deduct bank charges from their taxes, provided they are business bank fees, not personal ones.


Photo credit: iStock/monkeybusinessimages

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 http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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.
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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Bank Guarantee vs Letter of Credit: What’s the Difference?

Bank Guarantee vs Letter of Credit: What’s the Difference?

A bank guarantee and a letter of credit are quite similar. With both instruments the issuing bank accepts a customer’s liability if the customer defaults on the money it owes, is a promise from a lending institution that ensures the bank will step up if a debtor can’t cover a debt.

Bank guarantees are often used in real estate contracts and infrastructure projects, while letters of credit are primarily used in global transactions.

Bank guarantees represent a more significant contractual obligation for banks than letters of credit do.

With a guarantee, the seller’s claim goes first to the buyer, and if the buyer defaults, then the claim goes to the bank. With letters of credit, the seller’s claim goes first to the bank, not the buyer. Although the seller will likely get paid in both cases, letters of credit offer more assurance to sellers than guarantees generally do.

What Is a Bank Guarantee?

Bank guarantees serve a key purpose for businesses. The bank, through their due diligence of the applicant, provides credibility to them as a viable business partner in a particular business dealing. In essence, the bank puts its seal of approval on the applicant’s creditworthiness, co-signing on behalf of the applicant as it relates to the specific contract the two external parties are undertaking.

A bank guarantee is an assurance from a bank regarding a contract between a buyer and a seller. Essentially, the bank guarantee acts as a risk management tool. A bank guarantee provides support and assurance to the beneficiary of the payment, as the bank guarantee means that the bank is assuming liability for completion of the contract.

This means that if the buyer defaults on their debt or obligation, the bank makes sure the beneficiary receives their payment.

Any business can benefit from a bank guarantee, but especially small businesses that would be more affected if a payment from a business partner or customer falls through.

Bank guarantees only apply to a certain monetary amount and last for a set period of time. There will be a contract in place that dictates in which scenarios and at what point in time the guarantee is applicable.

Before taking on a bank guarantee, the bank does research on the applicant to make sure they are credible and will act as a reliable business partner. In a way, a bank guarantee serves as a seal of approval as the bank has good reason (they’re on the hook for the money) to only accept creditworthy applicants.

Types of Bank Guarantees

There are a few different types of bank agreements, here’s a closer look at the main ones.

Financial Bank Guarantee

With a financial bank guarantee the bank guarantees that the buyer repays all debts they owe to the seller and if they fail to pay those various types of debts, the bank has to assume responsibility for the money owed. The buyer will need to pay a small initial fee when the guarantee is issued.

Performance-Based Bank Guarantee

When it comes to a performance-based guarantee, the beneficiary has the right to seek reparations from the bank if contractual obligations aren’t met due to non-performance. If the counterparty doesn’t deliver on promised services, then the beneficiary will have the choice to claim resulting losses caused by the lack of performance.

Foreign Bank Guarantee

Foreign bank guarantees can apply to unique scenarios such as international export situations. In this case, there may be a fourth party involved — a correspondent bank operating where the beneficiary resides.

What Is a Letter of Credit?

A letter of credit (sometimes referred to as a credit letter) is a document provided by a financial institution such as a bank or credit union that guarantees a payment will be made during a business transaction. The bank acts as an impartial third party throughout the transaction.

When the bank issues a letter of credit, they are assuring that the purchaser will in fact pay for any goods or services on time and in full. If the buyer doesn’t make their payment on time and in full, the bank that issued the letter of credit will guarantee that they will make the payment instead. The bank will cover any remaining overdue balance as long as it doesn’t surpass the full purchase amount.

Letters of credit are commonly used in international trade (but can be used domestically as well) where, understandably, companies require more certainty when making deals across borders. A letter of credit can provide security and confidence to importers and exporters since they know the issuing bank guarantees the payment.

Applicants for letters of credit need to work with a lender in order to secure this backing. The applicant will need to provide a purchase contract, and a copy of the purchase order or export contract (among other documents) during the application process. Applicants will pay a fee to obtain the letter of credit and it usually equates to a percentage of the amount the letter of credit backs.

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Types of Letters of Credit

There are multiple types of letters of credit, with some being more common than others, and some applying to unique situations. Here’s a look at the main types.

Commercial Letter of Credit

This type of letter of credit applies to commercial transactions and is commonly used for international trade deals. In this case the bank makes a direct payment to the beneficiary.

Standby Letter of Credit

A standby letter of credit acts as a secondary payment method. The bank will pay the beneficiary if they are able to prove they didn’t receive the promised product or service from the seller.

Revolving Letter of Credit

A revolving letter of credit can help secure multiple transactions when two parties anticipate doing multiple deals.

Traveler’s Letter of Credit

With a traveler’s letter of credit, the issuing bank guarantees to honor letters of credit signed at certain foreign banks.

Confirmed Letter of Credit

This type of letter of credit specifies that the seller’s bank will be the party to ensure that the seller receives payment if the buyer and their issuing bank default on the agreement.

Special Considerations

Bank guarantees and letters of credit differ slightly, but both serve the same purpose — to give confidence and protection during transactions. Because the financial institutions that back these guarantees confirm that the buyer is creditworthy in the case of a bank guarantee or a letter of credit, the seller can be confident that the transaction should go through as planned if they have one of these agreements in place. If it does not, they know they’ll still receive payment from the institution that backed the agreement.

Key Differences between a Bank Guarantee and Letter of Credit

These are the most important differences to know about a bank guarantee vs. a letter of credit.

Liability

With some letters of credit the bank pays the seller directly so they take on the primary liability.

With a bank guarantee they only pay if the buyer fails to do so, so they take on a secondary liability.

Risk

The bank takes on more risk with a letter of credit as they take on the primary liability, but that means the seller and customer take on more risk with a bank guarantee.

Number of Parties Involved

At least three parties are involved in letters of credit and bank guarantee transactions. To start there is the buyer, seller, and a bank or other type of financial institution. With a letter of credit, a lender also gets involved. Sometimes two banks (more common in foreign transactions) are involved in a letter of credit or bank guarantee.

Payment

With a bank guarantee, the bank only makes payment if the buyer fails to do so. With a letter of credit this is also usually the case, but the bank can be more involved in the transaction, so disputes tend to be resolved faster.

The Takeaway

When considering a letter of credit versus bank guarantee, both can help two parties involved in a transaction feel more confident that the seller will be paid and the buyer will receive the goods or services promised — or they will be reimbursed by the bank that issued the agreement. Each type of agreement is especially helpful when conducting business across borders.

Before setting up a business, it helps to put your personal affairs in order. SoFi’s new all-in-one bank account can help get you financially organized. There are no account fees and no minimums. And when you set up an account with direct deposit, you can qualify for 2.00% APY.

Learn more about SoFi Banking today!

FAQ

How is a letter of credit different from a bank guarantee?

When it comes to a bank guarantee vs. a letter of credit, both letters of credit and bank guarantees function very similarly. The main difference is that with a letter of credit the bank takes on more risk than they do with a bank guarantee.

What is a bank guarantee and how does it work?

Essentially a bank guarantee is an assurance from a bank that a contract between a buyer and a seller will be executed or they will reimburse the wronged party accordingly.

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

The main difference between a letter of credit and a bank guarantee is risk level. With a bank guarantee the bank takes on less risk than they do with a letter of credit.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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 http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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Getting a Second Job: The Pros and Cons

Getting a Second Job: The Pros and Cons

Many of us have had that moment where we think, “I simply need to earn more money.” If you are feeling the pinch of rising expenses plus a static income, you might consider getting a second job to boost your monthly take-home pay.

This pursuit is on the rise in America. According to the most recent U.S. Census data, the number of people holding multiple jobs is approaching 8%. That figure, however, may not capture the full impact of the Gig Economy, and all of those who sometimes hop behind the wheel of an Uber or otherwise do freelance work.

Working more than one job can definitely add to your bank account, but it can also be a challenge. To help you better understand the pluses and minuses of moonlighting, read on to learn:

•   What is moonlighting and how does it work?

•   Why do people take on a second job?

•   What are the pros and cons of a second job?

•   How can you make moonlighting work?

What Is Moonlighting?

Moonlighting is defined as taking on a secondary job in addition to a primary full-time job. (Typically, second jobs were done at night, by moonlight, after one’s day job.) That extra job might require you to be on-premises, or it could be a project that can be done from home.

These days, some people use the term loosely. You might hear someone say, “I moonlight editing college application essays” or “I moonlight now and then at a catering company.” The hours may be variable and flexible, but it’s an additional form of employment that brings in money.

Generally, as long as moonlighting doesn’t impact an employee’s performance while they’re on the clock, employers will allow moonlighting. However, company rules, such as a non-compete policy, could bar full-time employees from moonlighting jobs in similar industries.

Having a second job can accomplish a variety of goals, from paying down credit card debt to funding a new car purchase to creating financial freedom if you’re a young person still living at home.

How Does Moonlighting Work?

Moonlighting jobs can take many different forms. Typically, it’s a part-time job in addition to full-time work. It may or may not be related to your primary job. For instance, it could include any of the following possibilities:

•   Waiting tables on the weekend, outside of a 9 to 5 job

•   Working as a music teacher in a school, but teaching private music lessons after hours

•   Taking on gig work, like food delivery, outside of working hours

In some cases, moonlighting may offer some of the best ways to make money from home. In your spare time, you might tutor, design websites, edit copy, make jewelry, analyze data, or do any number of other tasks.

Having a second job or moonlighting typically involves dedicating some time and energy to the pursuit on a regular basis. In this way, it differs from passive income ideas, which could include buying stocks and receiving dividends or renting out a room in your home.

Reasons Why People Take a Second Job

People may take on moonlighting work for any of the following reasons:

•   Financial. Bringing in more income could help pay off debt faster.

•   Personal. A moonlighting job may allow someone to explore an area of interest more seriously or provide an antidote to a boring but profitable day job.

•   Professional. People who moonlight may learn new skills that benefit them in their full-time work or help them switch industries entirely.

Recommended: How to Earn Residual Income

Pros of Working a Second Job

While working two jobs will take more of your time and energy, there are definitely benefits to doing so. Here’s a closer look at the pros:

More Money

No surprise here: One of the most immediate (and most sought-after) benefits of moonlighting is earning additional income. Having some extra cash can help when you’re budgeting for basic living expenses, especially in times of high inflation.

Beyond that, the additional cash can allow you to do anything from paying off debt faster to building an emergency fund to starting a travel fund.

New Skills or Benefits

Have you been thinking about switching to another line of work, like retail? Working in a store on Sundays could let you see if it’s a good fit. Or is there a project, like web design, that you dream of becoming your full-time career? Freelancing at that pursuit a few nights a week might lay the foundation. Moonlighting work doesn’t necessarily have to be related to a person’s full-time job, so it can be a great tool to explore a hobby or interest with less risk. You can build your resume and hone your talents.

Moonlighting work may also provide benefits a full-time job doesn’t. If someone is passionate about art, they may take a moonlighting job at an art store to score an employee discount, saving them money on their hobby.

Less Financial Stress

If you’re anxious about money, join the club. One recent survey found that a stunning 90% of Americans say that money influences their stress level. An additional job could be a way to achieve financial security, as you’re not relying solely on one employer for all of your income.

The money you make moonlighting might be a way to pay off debt faster without using savings, whether that means whittling down your student loans or a credit card balance. You could save it and decide where to keep an emergency fund in case an unexpected major bill comes along. Or you could funnel the funds into a retirement account. In any of these situations, the extra money can help increase your financial fitness as well as your peace of mind.

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Cons of Working a Second Job

Taking a second job can surely be enticing for the extra income alone, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. There are some cons to working two jobs that you are wise to consider before you begin moonlighting. For some, the following downsides may prove to outweigh the benefits.

Less Time for Self, Friends, or Family

More work will mean less free time. Losing that free time could disrupt your ability to maintain work-life balance while increasing your stress. Not having time to see friends and family or pursue hobbies could have a negative effect on your wellbeing.

Increased Physical and Mental Tiredness

Working two jobs, whether physically demanding or not, can lead to exhaustion. Without the time to recharge and rest, moonlighters may experience burnout.

Reduced Focus at First Job

If moonlighting leaves you exhausted or distracted, it could cause you to be less successful at your primary job. This, in turn, could jeopardize your main income stream.

Violating company guidelines

Moonlighting can put your main job in danger if you go against existing guidelines. Let’s say you are a lawyer for the Little Beverage Company, and you signed a non-compete agreement. If the Big Beverage Company asks you to review some documents for them as a freelancer, doing so could be problematic.

More paperwork

As you begin earning income for your second job, you will need to keep track of that money, any expenses you incur while working, and what taxes you owe.

Tips to Make Working Two Jobs Work

There are pros and cons of working two jobs. However, if you choose your additional work carefully, moonlighting can be a successful endeavor. Consider these tips when searching for moonlighting work:

•   Pick a passion. When a second job is boring, it might be more exhausting. Instead, consider a gig you are passionate or excited about as your moonlighting gig.

•   Start small. Taking on too many hours of moonlighting work upfront can lead to burnout. Try starting small, with only a few additional hours a week or even a seasonal position. If it goes well, you can ramp up your hours.

•   Double-check employer policy. Before signing up for a moonlighting job, check with policies at your full-time position. There could be non-compete or conflict-of-interest clauses that prohibit employees from working in certain fields. It can be best to follow these guidelines when you’re pursuing additional hours elsewhere.

•   Keep good records. It’s possible that your moonlighting job will be handled as a W2, meaning your employer takes out taxes, but it’s likely this is freelance or contract work that involves an IRS Form 1099. Keep careful track of earnings, expenses, and when estimated taxes are due and for how much.

The Takeaway

Taking on a second job, or moonlighting, can be a great way to earn some extra cash when money is tight or you want to save towards a specific goal. This kind of additional work can also help you explore a personal interest that might blossom into a new career direction. However, working a second job, even if it’s a small commitment of hours, can throw your work-life balance out of whack, so proceed with caution to avoid burnout. The goal is to amp up your earning power, not exhaust you.

If you’re looking to bulk up your bank account, take a look at what SoFi offers. When you open our Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll earn an excellent 2.00% APY, and pay no account fees. Plus, smart features like automatic saving can help make it simple to manage those multiple paychecks.

See how SoFi can help you bank better.

FAQ

Is it unhealthy to work 2 jobs?

Moonlighting can be challenging for individuals who already struggle with work-life balance. With two jobs, it may be hard to pursue a personal life or relax. It might be wise to start a second job with a small commitment of time, see how it goes, and then gradually add more hours.

How do I survive 2 jobs?

Surviving two jobs may hinge on setting boundaries for both, as well as finding enjoyable work that’s not too physically or mentally taxing. Self-care is obviously important. Another consideration is making sure that you are not violating any non-compete or conflict-of-interest guidelines at your primary job so as not to jeopardize your status.

How does tax work for 2 jobs?

If both jobs are W-2, not contract, the employers will withhold taxes for the employees. However, if for your moonlighting job, you will receive a 1099 as a contract worker, you should set aside and pay your own taxes. Also, taking on two jobs could boost you into a higher tax bracket, which could mean being taxed at a higher rate.

Is it illegal to work two jobs?

Unless explicitly stated in a job offer or contract, it is not illegal to work two jobs. Do make sure you are not violating any non-compete or conflict-of-interest stipulations at your primary job. Also know that most contracts are “at will,” meaning an employer has the right to fire an employee if a second job interferes with their performance.


Photo credit: iStock/Phynart 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 http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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.
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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Here’s What You Can Do With Leftover Foreign Currency

Traveling abroad can be life-changing. By hopping on an airplane for a few quick hours, you’ll get to experience new cultures, try new foods, see new sites, and have the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes — even if it’s just for a few short days. Heck, you may even make a friend or two along the way.

However, getting to see, do, and eat new things can get expensive. Between hotel costs, plane tickets, sightseeing tours, restaurants, and nights out on the town, that vacation to a new country could quickly become a financial mountain.

Though you’ll likely want to come home with at least a souvenir or two you purchased on your sojourn, there is one thing you’ll probably want to leave behind — extra foreign currency that merely goes to waste upon landing.

Even the best budgeters may end up with some extra cash at the end of a trip. And since you can’t spend that foreign currency back home in the United States, you’ll need to come up with an alternative plan for all those foreign coins and bills now burning a hole in your pocket.

Sure, those bills may be pretty (Have you seen the Australian dollar?), but it won’t do you any good hanging as art on the wall. And you don’t want to miss out on saving or spending that money on things you need at home.

Instead of letting it go to waste, here are a few things you could choose to do with that leftover foreign change once your trip is done and your regular life sets in again.

What to Do with Extra Foreign Currency

Using It to Pay Part of Your Hotel Bill on Vacation

This might seem obvious, but there’s nothing worse than arriving at your gate with five minutes until boarding, only to realize you’ve still got about $80 worth of Moroccan dirham or Turkish lira left in your wallet.

That’s why it’s crucial to be smart about your spending and track your expenses while you’re on your trip by creating a travel budget. A trip specific budget can help you keep your spending in check and help you make sure you don’t have any local currency left by the time you depart.

If you don’t spend all your money that’s OK too; it’s just important to keep track. In fact, the earlier you realize you’ll have leftover money, the better. Sometimes hotels will let you split your bill up, so that you can use up your extra currency and then put the rest on a credit card.

Just remember to save enough for the cab ride to the airport — Uber or Lyft aren’t available everywhere and not every cab accepts credit.

Recommended: 27 Tips for Finding the Top Travel Deals

Shopping Duty Free

If you have a fair chunk of foreign currency leftover, consider making a stop at the Duty Free stores upon departure. This can be a good strategy if you are buying something you’d use ordinarily, like your favorite perfume or liquor, or if you’re still looking to buy a souvenir from the destination.

However, some countries, especially those that are sensitive to inflation, don’t accept foreign currency (except for euros and dollars) at Duty Free, so double-check that your change is eligible before you show up at the register with a cart full of goods.

Donating to Charity

Thanks to UNICEF’s Change For Good initiative , you may not have to exchange a dime. This program involves a partnership with several international airlines to help passengers donate their excess change.

On these flights, passengers receive envelopes in which they can donate their leftover foreign currency. If you’re not flying with a partner airline and still want to donate, you can mail your change to the organization.

Some airports have similar initiatives and programs that raise money for different charities around the world — all you need to do is find the box or envelope and stuff it full of your extra change. It’s a great way to do good and not let that spare money go to waste.

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Exchanging It

Although exchanging physical money comes with a fee, this can be one way to recoup your cash if you aren’t planning on visiting the country again anytime soon.

But where can you exchange foreign currency in a pinch?

Since money exchanges have notoriously high rates, make sure to search the exchange rates before using just any kiosk.

Although it is counterintuitive, airports are known to have some of the worst exchange rates. It might be worth waiting if you know there will be another option available when you get home. It simply may not be financially worthwhile to exchange foreign currency to USD if you only have a small amount leftover.

Your local bank or credit union is likely to exchange currency for a small fee. It may be possible to deposit foreign money into your bank account. You could make a few calls before you even leave for your trip to find out who will exchange or accept your cash and for what charge. If you have enough money left over from your vacation, it could be worth the additional effort.

Recommended: Ways to Be a Frugal Traveler

Saving It for Another Time

If you know you’ll be visiting again, why not store your extra foreign currency with your passport? Not only will you be able to keep the money, but you’ll save yourself a trip to the ATM upon arrival at your destination.

This can be one of the easiest solutions to the “what to do with leftover foreign coins” problem. And it might encourage you to start planning your return visit and growing your travel fund.

Regift Leftover Coins as a Quirky Souvenir

If you’re wondering what to do with foreign coins, know that they can be a fun gift to a child or currency collector in your life. It can be an opportunity to teach kids about both the world at large and about money. Bonus points if they are from a country with a cool design on their currency — like the Egyptian pound with pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Any leftover old foreign coins or bills can be a thoughtful gift for any of your friends or family members traveling to the same spot. Bonus points if it’s for friends heading out on a honeymoon.

There’s no better way to send them on their first trip as a married couple than with a little dough lining their pockets.

Recommended: Can You Use Your Credit Card Internationally?

The Takeaway

If you wind up with excess foreign currency at the end of a trip, you have a few options. You might save it for later, donate it to a charity, exchange it, or gift it to a friend. Depending on how much money you have, when (if at all) you plan on returning to your destination, and how much you’re willing to pay in fees, there’s an option that will likely be the right choice for you.

About traveling and fees: Your bank can make a difference in how much you pay in charges. For instance, if you open an online bank account with SoFi, you’ll have access to any Allpoint® Network ATM (there are 55,000+ globally), and you won’t get charged a fee. No fees are charged here in the United States, either.

In addition, SoFi Checking and Savings accounts earn a spectacular 2.00% APY with direct deposit and charge zero account fees.

Bank better at home or away with SoFi.

FAQ

Where can I donate leftover foreign currency?

UNICEF’s Change for Good program accepts donations on a number of international airlines. Leftover change may also be mailed to this program. You may also see other opportunities to donate currency at airports, benefiting various charities, as well.

Can I exchange my foreign currency at a bank?

If you’re wondering, “Where can I exchange my foreign coins and bills?” you will find that many banks offer to exchange currency for their clients. However, some will only do so for a limited number of currencies. A fee is usually involved, but it is likely to be lower than what you will pay at an airport currency exchange.

What is the meaning of leftover currency?

Leftover currency is typically foreign money that you have at the end of a trip. Before or after you return home, you can exchange it to recoup its value, donate it, or find another way to use it.

Is leftover currency legitimate?

Leftover currency is legal tender in the country you have traveled to, but when you return home, it will not be usable. Therefore, it may be wise to exchange it or donate it.


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 http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands 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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