Easy Ways to Save Money

Saving money is important for a whole host of reasons.

For one, It can enable you to afford large expenses (such as a vacation or new flat screen TV) without running up high interest credit card debt.

For another, it can provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can get through a rough spot without hardship.

Having a financial cushion can also give you options, such as the ability to leave a job you dislike without waiting to get another one. And, it can help you to take the best possible care of yourself and your family.

Even if you feel you don’t earn enough to put anything away, having a well-organized budget can help you find ways to cover necessities, some fun, as well as a little bit of saving.

Saving money doesn’t have to feel hard, either. There are plenty of easy, fairly painless ways to build a simple savings plan–and you don’t have to do them all.

Here are some simple ways to save money each month.

Tracking Your Weekly Spending

Looking at your spending on a weekly basis can feel more manageable than trying to keep track of a month’s worth of spending at a time.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t budget on a monthly basis, but breaking your timeline into smaller segments can simplify the process.

You can track spending (including every cash/debit/credit card transaction and every bill you pay) by using an app, jotting down every purchase, or collecting all of your receipts and writing it all down later.

You might then set a certain day of the week to look over the week’s spending. This can be an enlightening exercise. Because spending can be so frictionless these days, many of us don’t have a real sense of how much we are actually spending on a day-to-day basis.

Just seeing it all laid out in black and white can immediately make you think twice before you buy something nonessential and inspire you to become more intentional with every dollar.

Creating a Simple Budget

Once you’ve mastered tracking your cash flow, and have a good idea as to your spending habits, you may want to take it one step further and set up a simple budget.

A budget is nothing more than setting limits for spending in different categories. To get started, you’ll want to list all of your monthly expenses, grouping them into categories, such as groceries, rent, utilities, clothing, etc.

If your goal is to save some money every month, you’re going to want to set a budget for yourself that includes an allocation to saving.

Next, you may want to tally up all of the income you’re taking home each month (after taxes), and see how your monthly spending and monthly income compare.

If spending (including putting some money towards savings) exceeds income, the next step is to look at all your expenses, find places where you can cut back, and then give yourself some spending parameters to stick to each week.

Automating Savings

If you do nothing else to get yourself on the savings path, consider doing this.

Automating savings is a great way to remove a huge barrier to saving — forgetting to put that money aside, then ultimately spending it.

The reality is, we all live busy lives and while we may have every intention of saving money, it often doesn’t happen without a plan.

Automating is an easy way to save money without ever having to think about it.

The idea is to have money moved from a checking account and into a savings account on the same day each month, perhaps soon after your paycheck is deposited.

This way, the money is whisked from the checking account before it can be spent elsewhere.

If you are new to automating or have an irregular income, it’s okay to start with smaller dollar amounts. Likely, you won’t even notice that the money is gone from your account, and you’ll be able to increase that amount over time.

You can set up automatic transfers to your savings, retirement, and other investing accounts.

Planning Your Groceries

An easy way to save money on groceries is to make a meal plan and a shopping list before you go to the store.

Without a list, you may be tempted to buy things that look good but that you don’t need or can’t use. Plus, you may end up having to go back to the store later, where you may be tempted to buy more things.

You don’t have to be a pro at meal-planning. It can be as simple as picking a few recipes that you want to make throughout the week (making large enough portions to provide for leftovers is another way to save).

You can then write a list of the ingredients that you’ll need, making sure to check your cabinets and use what you have first.

You may also want to list exactly what snacks and/or desserts you plan to buy, so you’re not overly tempted once you get to the chips or cookies aisle.

Another way to save money on groceries is to cut back on pricier items, such as meat and alcohol, and to go with store or generic brands whenever possible.

Negotiating Your Bills

Some of those recurring bills (such as cable, car insurance, and cell phone) aren’t carved in stone.

Sometimes you can get a lower rate just by calling up and asking, particularly if the provider is in a competitive market.

Before calling, you may want to do a little research and know exactly what you are getting, how much you are paying, and what the competition is charging. You may also want to get competing quotes.

Even a small reduction in a monthly bill can save significant cash by the end of the year.

If you are experiencing hardship, you may also be able to negotiate down your electric and/or other utility bills by calling and explaining your circumstances. It never hurts to ask.

Actively Paying Down Credit Cards

This might sound more like spending than saving, but if you’re currently only paying the minimum on your credit cards, a big chunk of your payment is likely going towards interest. Chipping away at the principal can feel like a tall mountain to climb.

If possible, consider putting more than the minimum payment towards your bill each month. The faster those credit cards are paid off, the faster you can reallocate money that was going out the window–and into interest–into savings.

Canceling Subscriptions

It can be all-too easy for money to leak out of your account due to sneaky subscriptions.

From unused gym memberships to shopping subscription programs to streaming services and cable television, subscription bills (even small ones) can rack up quickly because they come every single month without fail.

The first step is to cancel any of which no longer serve you. Try to be honest with yourself–are you likely to start going to the gym?

If you’re looking to save money faster, you might consider making a sacrifice on a subscription that you do enjoy. For example, maybe you pay for Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Is it possible to use just one or two, instead of three?

Renewing Your Library Card

If you’re a reader and love books, one fun way to save money is to dig out your library card, or if you don’t have one, stop in to apply for a card.

The library can be a great resource for more than books. For example, you can often access magazines, newspapers, DVDs, music, as well as free passes to local museums.

These days, you can typically get many of the benefits of being a card-holder without ever actually going to a branch. You can often get audio books and e-books, as well as access to online publications, all from your computer or phone. Cost: Zero.

Shopping for Quality

Buying well-made, durable items instead of cheap, trendy, or single-use items may mean spending a little more up front.

But this can be a shrewd money move that can save you a bundle over the long run because you won’t have to repeatedly make the same purchases.

Buying a few classic, well-made pieces of clothing you will wear for a few years, for example, can end up costing less than picking up eight or ten cheaper, trendier items that you’ll end up replacing next year.

It may also pay off to spend a little more for appliances that are known for being reliable and lasting a long time and have great customer reviews, than buying the cheapest option.

Shopping for quality takes some education and practice, but it can be a worthwhile skill that your wallet will appreciate.

Pressing Pause on Big Purchases

Making impulse purchases can wreck a budget. That’s why if you’re tempted to buy an expensive item that is more of a “want” than a “need,” you may want to give yourself some breathing room, and allow the initial rush to wear off.

For example, you might tell yourself that you’ll wait 30 days and if, after the waiting period is over, you still want the item, you can get it then.

During that time you may lose interest in the item. If, however, you still want it in a month, that’s a good sign that this purchase will add substantial value to your life, and isn’t just a fleeting desire. If you can make room for purchase in your budget, then go for it.

This helps you make spending decisions from a slower, more thoughtful place, and can be a huge help in learning to budget and save money.

Finding a Good Place to Grow Your Savings

Even if you’re only putting a small amount of money into savings each month, over time, that account will grow.

One way to help it grow faster is to park the money in a place where you won’t accidentally spend it, and where it can earn more interest than a typical savings account.

You might consider opening up a high interest savings account, money market account, online savings account, or a cash management account.

You may find that separating your savings, and watching it grow, keeps you motivated to save.

In some cases, you may be able to create “buckets” within your account, and even give them fun names, such as “Sushi Tour in Japan” or “My Dream House” that can help keep you motivated.

The Takeaway

Saving may not seem nearly as fun as spending, but it can give you the things you ultimately want, whether that’s financial security, a downpayment on a new home, or a comfortable retirement.

And, there are plenty of ways to save money that don’t require sacrifice. Sometimes, all it takes to get going is to become aware of your finances and spending habits.

You can then use a mix of short-term strategies (like spending less every time you go to the supermarket) and long-term moves (like paying down debt and buying higher quality goods).

One easy way to manage your spending and saving is to sign up for a SoFi Money® cash management account.

With SoFi Money, you can easily see your weekly spending on your dashboard in the app, which can help you stay on top of what you are spending and make sure you are on track with your budget.

SoFi Money also offers a Vaults feature, which allows you to separate your spending from your savings (and even create different Vaults for different goals), while still earning competitive interest on all your money.

Vaults also allow you to set up recurring, automatic deposits.

Ready to start saving money? Sign up for SoFi Money today.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. 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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Make a Budget in Excel

There are a lot of benefits associated with properly budgeting money. Average consumers don’t have to be a financial whiz to take advantage of them. Budgeting can help avoid potential financial mishaps, provide a sense of control, and help a budgeter work towards their financial goals such as paying down debt or saving for a home.

Microsoft’s spreadsheet program Excel has some pretty impressive features if you’re willing to get into the weeds. Most of us probably never will, but one use Excel provides is its personal budget program.

Step 1: Opening a Workbook and Creating the First Month

To begin creating a budget, the user will open a fresh Workbook in Excel by hitting File > New > Blank Workbook. Before diving into building the perfect budget, they need to save this file somewhere safe. After completing the first draft, it may be worth it to back it up on a USB drive or on a cloud-based platform. After saving the file, they’ll move on to building out the budget.

One way to keep track of this monthly budget, and review past months’ spending and saving progress is to create a tab for each month of the year. For extra convenience, the budgeter could consider beginning by creating a “template” tab to build the initial budget in and then copy it over each month and edit it as needed.

Step 2: Adding Income

Before creating a spending budget, the user will start by looking at expected income for the month. Doing so makes it easier to formulate a budget that is realistic, making them more likely to stick to it. To begin building the proper formulas to help calculate income, the user will take the following steps:

Select cells A3-A11 (if more space is necessary later on, expand this selection past A11) and hit “Merge and Center.” Then write the word “income” and center it.

Merge the cells B3 and C3. Label these cells as “Source” which will show where the income is coming from. Some may have consistent income sources such as “Paycheck 1” and “Paycheck 2.” Others may have more sources they need to track “Side Hustle Income” or “Unexpected Income.” After choosing income sources and properly labeling them, merge every row from B and C through row 11 or whatever the chosen stopping point is.

While not necessary, one can label cell D3 “Date” which is where the budgeter can track which day they received a type of income. If they have predictable sources of income, this option may not be worthwhile, but for those with flexible incomes like entrepreneurs, it can help them stick to a budget and follow up on missing payments.

For the final step of the income section of the budget, which is more of a benefit to those with varying monthly income, label section E3 as “Planned” to identify what the originally planned income is. Then label F3 as “Earned” to identify how much money was in fact earned from each labeled source of income. For G3, label it “Difference.” This cell will automatically calculate the difference between the expected income and the income actually earned after adding the proper formula.

To create the formula needed to automatically track the difference between expected and earned income, add the formula “=SUM(F4-E4)” after every row it should apply to. Then replace the F4 and E4 with the cells that correspond to the “Earned” and “Planned” income sections.

Step 3: Adding Expenses

After wrapping up the income section of this project, the budgeter can start planning what their typical monthly expenses may look like. They can do this on the same tab that they calculated their income in or they can create a separate tab. How they organize their budget is totally their call!

They’ll use the same format for building out expenses as they did with their income (although if they choose to continue working in their original sheet, they’ll need to adjust the row letter and column number accordingly) and will name this section of the budget “Expenses.” Using the same labels from the income section is fine, as is creating new ones.

They’ll only have to make one major change to this process, which is to use a different formula for the “Difference” column. In order to best calculate expenses, they can use the following formula: “=SUM(Planned Number-Actual Number)” which will calculate how much they overspent.

When creating spending sources, instead of income sources, they can make as many or as few as they’d like. For example, someone may want to make one row that represents all utilities or they may want to designate a row for every single utility they pay. Another budgeter may want to budget for overarching categories such as living, automobile, entertainment, food, travel, and savings. It really depends how detailed someone wants to get about their budgeting.

For those drawn to a more detailed budget, they can create multiple sections for their expenses, they don’t have to be all lumped together. It’s fine to repeat this process again and again to create more detailed categories such as living expenses or business expenses.

Step 4: Adding Some Goals

For those who want to expand their budgets past basic incomes and expenses, they can repeat the process used to create the income section of the budget and make some more specific savings goals.

One way would be to create a category that tracks how much they hope to save that month in general, another would be to break it down by savings category. Similar to expense sources, it’s possible to break goals down into separate sections, such as one that provides a more detailed look at saving for retirement or tracks a big expense they’re saving for like a home or a wedding.

Using the same basic formulas for tracking expected income and how much income is actually earned in a month, the user can track what they hope to save and how much they actually do end up saving.

Step 5: Customizing a Premade Template

If someone’s not interested in learning how to create a budget in Excel from scratch, they can use a premade budgeting template provided by Excel or one of the many free or for-purchase options that are available online.

Even when using a premade template, it can be helpful to review the tips for creating an Excel budget from scratch shared above, as they may allow the budgeter to customize the template to their needs.

At the end of the day, creating a template from scratch will allow the user to truly customize it to their needs, especially if they follow a particular budgeting method. That being said, a template can save a lot of time, especially for those who aren’t comfortable using Excel.

Step 6: How to Track Spending and Stick to a Budget

For those who have been hard at work creating their Excel budgets, it’s time to take advantage of that budget. It seems unlikely that anyone wants their Excel efforts going to waste, so one might want to make a budgeting check-in plan that they can easily stick with.

At the end or beginning of every month, it is a good idea to sit down and review if one went over or under last month’s budget, as well as take some time to build out the new month’s budget. That may involve simply copying over the template created earlier or the user might need to make a few tweaks based on how much they earned and spent last month.

As tempting as it can be to set it and forget it, the budgeter should try to check in on their budget more than once a month. Setting a quick weekly check-in date with their budget will allow them to update how much they’ve earned and spent so far during the month. That way, they’ll know if they need to scale back on spending in a certain category or if they can relax in another category.

While it takes a decent amount of self discipline and motivation to stick to a budget, awareness can be the first step in staying on track. By checking in with their budget frequently, savvy planners will remember their goals and hopefully will be a little extra motivated to meet them.

Looking for extra help in the budgeting department? With SoFi Money®, you can manage your cash by tracking weekly spending in the dashboard.

Furthermore, SoFi Money comes with no fees, whatsoever, reimburses you for any ATM fees, and offers cash back on brands you love.

It only takes a minute to sign up, and you can manage everything from your phone—making it a nice complement to an Excel budget, or any other budgeting option you might choose.

Want a better way to track spending? Get started with SoFi Money today.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. 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.
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.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Have a Successful Garage Sale: 11 Tips

It may be easier than ever to sell your unwanted items online.

But if you’re trying to get rid of an abundance of old stuff all at once—maybe because you’re moving, decluttering, or in need of some extra cash—an old-school garage sale can often be the best way to go.

Whether you call it a “tag sale,” “yard sale,” or “garage sale,” pulling off a one- or two-day outdoor sale at your home involves some advance planning and prep.

The steps involved typically include: gathering everything you no longer want or need from your home, cleaning up and pricing your goods, getting the word out, displaying all your items, and then working the sale.

Read on for step-by-step strategies that can help you have a successful–and profitable–garage sale.

1. Planning Your Garage Sale In Advance

Is it possible to pull together everything you need in a couple of days and hold a decent garage sale? Maybe. But your chances of success are likely to improve substantially if you put in some time planning your event.

Here are some things to consider ahead of time:

Knowing Your Goals

You’re probably hoping to make a profit and clear out some clutter. But knowing your top priority could help as you choose which items in your home you’re willing to part with and how you’ll price those goods.

Researching the Rules

Before you organize a sale, it’s a wise idea to check out how they’re handled in your community.

Some cities and counties require citizens who want to hold a garage sale to obtain a permit online or in person. There may or may not be a fee involved–but, either way, you could face a fine if a permit is required and you fail to get one.

There also may be limits on how early the sale can start, how late it can go, how many days it can last, the number of signs you can post, as well as the type of merchandise you can sell.

If you belong to a homeowners association (HOA), you might have to seek permission there as well. Some HOAs may allow only one or two neighborhood-wide sales a year (especially if you live in a community with a gate that would have to remain open all day).

2. Setting Your Garage Sale Date

Once you know you’re able to have a sale, you can set a date and get the necessary permits.

Even if your schedule is pretty flexible, you may want to keep a few things in mind when you’re looking at your calendar:

•  Consider choosing a day that falls just after a common payday (the first or the 15th of the month).
•  You may want to avoid holding a sale on a holiday weekend, when many people will be away or have other plans.
•  The most popular sale days are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays because most people are off from work. Keep in mind, though, that many families have activities or church on those days, so you may want to start early and end in the afternoon to attract the most shoppers. Or you could choose a weekday to avoid the weekend competition.
•  You may want to hold a two-day sale and use the second day as an “everything must go” event.
•  Mother Nature might not cooperate no matter when you hold your sale. Still, you can improve your chances of having better weather if you consider the season (not too hot, not too cold, not too rainy, not too windy) in your planning.

3. Stockpiling Garage Sale Items

A good strategy is to move through each room of your house (the attic, basement, garage, and sheds, too), and start boxing up items you might want to sell.

You might want to make a list of larger items you don’t want to move until you’re closer to the actual sale date, such as old furniture, artwork, or exercise equipment.

Kids who are reluctant to part with old toys, bikes, or sports equipment might be more willing if you offer to cut them in on the action. Consider negotiating a percentage of the profits, or offering to replace all the gently used toys they sell with one new one.

If you aren’t sure you have enough to grab shoppers’ interest on your own, you can ask friends and neighbors if they want to join in, or offer to sell their items on consignment.

4. Going All In With Publicity

It’s probably not the best idea to count on word of mouth to bring bargain hunters to your door. Consider advertising your garage sale at least a week in advance—and tempting shoppers with a list of desirable items.

Some places to consider publicizing your sale:

Newspapers

You may want to list your garage sale in the old-school print classifieds. You could see if your local newspaper charges a reasonable rate (and get a digital ad while you’re at it). You may want to keep the wording tight—you’ll likely pay more if you go over a pre-set maximum word count.

Online

You can typically advertise your sale for free on a growing number of websites, such as Facebook Marketplace , Garage Sale Finder , yardsales.net , Craigslist , or Yard Sale Search .

Many of these sites allow you to post a photo or photos with your ad, so it can help to have that ready, along with the wording you want to use.

Community Bulletin Boards

Some grocery stores, gyms, community centers and schools have bulletin boards where you can post a flyer. Consider making yours stand out with bold lettering, and including the sale date, hours, and address.

Signs for the Neighborhood

If signs are allowed in your area, consider putting out at least five or six on the day before the sale. You may want to make them easy to read from the road, with the address in bold print and an arrow pointing the way.

Also consider tying balloons and a big sign to your mailbox on sale day to make your home more visible.

5. Preparing What You’ll Need for the Sale

A week before the sale, you may want to start considering, and gathering, everything you’ll need. This may include:

Sale-Day Supplies

It’s a smart idea to make sure you have as many folding tables as you’ll need to properly display your sale items, and enough chairs so you and your “staff” can sit comfortably. (It could be a long day.)

A payment station

You may want to set up a main payment station that’s easy for shoppers to get to when they’re ready to buy.

You could make or buy a box to hold the money you collect and for change. (It’s wise to start out with plenty of ones, fives, and quarters in case early shoppers show up with bigger bills.)

Or, you can wear a vendor apron with pockets for the money. You also may want to give family, friends and neighbors you know the option of using a P2P app to make their purchases.

Keeping some old boxes and plastic grocery store bags near the checkout table can be useful for customers who have a lot to carry home.

6. Setting Your Prices

One option is to set up a color-coded sticker system, with items grouped by cost. If you go that route, keep in mind that you’ll want to let those who are assisting at the sale know the code, as well as put up a sign for customers.

A simpler option might be to just tag most of the items individually with a roll of painter’s tape (which is typically easier to remove than masking tape). Larger signs can point out bundled prices, such as “5 CDs for $2” or “3 paperbacks for $1”

It’s a good idea to remember your main goal when setting prices. If you want to get rid of everything, you may want to keep prices reasonably low.

To avoid cheating yourself, however, you may want to do some research ahead of time so you can get the best price for special items (antiques, collectibles, or anything that might be in high demand with garage sale regulars).

If possible, it’s wise to keep sentimentality from getting in the way of a solid sale.

Also, if several people will be working the sale, you may want to set ground rules for how low prices on certain items should go—and on haggling in general.

If someone offers a low price at the start of the day, and you think you can do better, you may want to exchange contact info, and agree to connect again later when the sale is over.

7. Making Your Garage Sale Appealing to Shoppers

You’ll likely want to give some thought to the presentation of your items. Organization can make the day go better for you and your customers. And a little extra effort could make a difference in how much you can get for your goods. Some ideas:

Cleaning Old Items

You can start washing, dusting, and polishing things as soon as you decide they’ll be included in your sale.

This might include Inflating balls and bicycle tires, putting light bulbs in lamps, and trying to have batteries and a power source available for customers who want to test an item before purchasing. (If something doesn’t work, it’s a good idea to mark it clearly.)

Arranging Things in a Way that Makes Sense

Consider making it as easy as possible for customers to find things using signs and a system.

For example, books, CDs, DVDs, and videogames could be grouped together. Toys, board games and puzzles might be another section.

You may want to place the biggest sale items out in front of the yard, if you can–both to attract attention, and so customers can get them to their cars without disturbing others.

If possible, hang clothing on a garment rack near hats, shoes, and purses, and set up a mirror close by.

If your sale goes well, you may have to rearrange your display several times during the day.

8. Being a Good Host

One way to keep garage sale shoppers from walking away without really looking is to make it fun to stick around.

Consider playing some energetic music and greeting customers as they arrive. You also may want to sell water, lemonade, and maybe even baked goods. (It can be nice to have snacks and beverages ready for helpers, too.)

You might also want to have some bottles of hand sanitizer available for customers to use.

If you know your neighbors, they may pop by for a chat. While you may want to be polite and chat, you may also want to remind them that you need to pay attention to your customers—and the money box.

9. Remembering Sale Day Safety

Early birds sometimes show up long before a garage sale is scheduled to start. The more you have ready ahead of time, the more you’ll be able to stay focused on keeping everything—people, pets, breakables, and the money you make—safe.

Here are some security tips:

Locking Your Doors

It’s wise to keep the doors to your home and your car locked, and to avoid letting strangers use your bathroom.

Getting a Sitter

A sitter can keep an eye on young children and pets so you don’t have to.

Stashing Excess Cash

As profits start to pile up, it’s a good idea to have a method for how you’ll transfer excess cash to a safe spot in your home–and also to avoid talking about how much you’ve made.

10. Having a Plan for Unsold Items

When your sale ends, you’ll likely have at least a few unsold items to deal with.

If your primary goal was to clear the clutter, you may want to donate those leftovers to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or some other nonprofit group that takes used goods. (If you itemize deductions, you may be able to include your donation on your tax return. Just be sure to keep a list of everything you gave and an estimate of the value.)

If the charitable organization you choose offers a pickup service, you may want to schedule the truck for the first available day after your sale. If not, you can arrange to drop off your items as soon as possible. (It’s a good idea to understand beforehand what the charity will and won’t accept.)

If you want to try to squeeze a little more money out of what’s left over—or there are some high-ticket items you aren’t willing to give away—you may want to move on to the online marketplace and sites like Offerup , Facebook Marketplace , Varage Sale , Craigslist , or Swap.com .

Consider taking the time to include a photo with anything you list online. At the very least, it could save you from having to answer a lot of questions about your item.

11. Making the Most of Your Garage Sale Profits

One of the perks of holding a garage sale vs. a virtual sale is that you’ll be holding your profits in your hands—mostly in cash—when you’re finished.

That also could be a problem, though, because it might be tempting to spend it. (And maybe even buy more stuff!)

Instead, consider planning ahead what you’d like to do with your profits. (This may also help keep you motivated while you’re putting in the work to plan and host your sale.)

For safety reasons, you may want to deposit the cash right away at your local bank branch. But, rather than let it sit earning little to no interest, you might consider moving the money into a high-yield savings account or cash management account.

You could then use this account to work towards one of your short- or long-term savings goals, whether it’s building an emergency fund, buying a car, or putting a down payment on a home.

The Takeaway

Hosting a garage sale can be a great way to clear the clutter in your home and sell a large number of unwanted items all in one fell swoop.

A successful sale, however, requires some upfront work, as well a day (or two) or working the sale.

The process typically requires gathering and preparing your items, getting a permit, picking up sale supplies, advertising your event, and then setting everything up in an organized and appealing way early on the day of the sale.

The payoff? Newfound space in your home and a (hopefully) a nice pile of cash you can take to the bank.

Looking for the right place to transfer your earnings? Consider SoFi Money®. SoFi Money is a cash management account that allows you to earn competitive interest, spend and save–all in one account. And you’ll pay zero account fees to do it.

Check out everything SoFi Money has to offer today.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. 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.
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.
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.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Coupon for Beginners

Using coupons as often as you can when you’re shopping can help you reduce your everyday spending, and make it easier to stick to your grocery budget.

And you don’t have to become an “extreme couponer” to start saving significant cash at the supermarket, drug store and other retailers.

Simply taking a few minutes to leaf through the Sunday paper inserts, checking out some coupon sites, and/or using a coupon app is all you need to get started. It also helps to know a few tricks for bumping up coupon savings.

Here are some easy tips for how to find, use, and seriously save with coupons.

Where to Find Coupons

A great way to begin couponing is to scan your kitchen pantry and bathroom cabinet and make a list of the products and brands that you purchase regularly.

You can then start looking specifically for coupons for as many of those items as you can. Here are some key places to look.

Newspapers

Even in today’s digital world, it’s still worthwhile to go old-school and check out the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts.

What makes newspapers such a rich source of savings is the fact that they offer a wide variety of different types of coupons, including product coupons, manufacturer coupons and competitor’s coupons.

If this week’s paper has a lot of good coupons, consider buying extra copies. Dollar stores often sell papers at a discount and can be a good place to stock up. But even if you have to pay full price it could still be worth it.

Magazines

Magazines are still around, and can be a great source of coupons, particularly manufacturer coupons. You may want to flip through some of the magazines stocked at the checkout aisle next time you’re waiting in line at the supermarket.

Some women’s magazines even put together an index of all the coupons that each issue includes.

To up the odds of finding coupons for products you enjoy, consider browsing magazines that represent your lifestyle.

Based on what you find, you might decide that getting a subscription (usually low cost, and a better deal than buying single issues) could be worthwhile.

Websites

If clipping isn’t your cup of tea, you can print coupons from websites that aggregate coupons, such as coupons.com , retailmenot , and valpak . These sites make it easy to search for and find deals.

Another online resource is P&G Everyday . This site offers printable coupons exclusively for Proctor & Gamble brands (e.g., Crest, Pampers, Tide). You will need to create an account before you can print coupons.

You may also want to look at the list of items you typically stock in your home and head to the manufacturers’ websites.
Many companies have coupons you can print from their site. Some also reward you with coupons if you sign up for their e-newsletter.

Store sites are also worth checking out. Many grocery and drug store websites offer both manufacturer and store-specific coupons.

You may even be able to download these coupons directly to your store loyalty card, and redeem them simply by presenting your store card at checkout.

Some department store sites also offer printable coupons and savings passes you can use that same day in store, and you may also be able to sign up to have coupons emailed to you directly.

Inside Stores

Many grocery stores, drug stores and supercenters provide coupons in circulars and flyers available inside the store. These can be a great place to find coupons that you’ll actually use.

You can also often find printable coupons in the red kiosks situated through the store, as well as coupons on the products themselves (which you can clip at home and use next time). You may also want to check for coupons at the bottom or back of your receipts.

Coupon Apps

You can use your cellphone to save even more at the store

Coupon apps, such as Vons , Yowza , and Coupon Sherpa , can make it easy to snag coupons for things you’d buy anyway. You can then simply have the cashier swipe your phone to redeem your coupons.

Some stores, such as Target, have their own app that you can download to your phone and then show at checkout for discounts on items you are buying that day. These offers can often be combined with manufacturer and store coupons to create really good deals.

There are also cashback apps, such as ibotta and Checkout51 , which allow you to earn cash back on many of the products you buy.

All you have to do is link your loyalty card to the app or snap a picture of your receipts. Once you earn a certain amount (such as $20) you can redeem your cash back.

Keeping Coupons Organized

Coupons aren’t worth anything if you don’t have them on you, or you can’t find them, when you need them.
Whether you clip all the coupons you come across, snip only the ones you are certain you will use, or keep coupon inserts intact, you’ll want to come with an organizational system that works for you.

A good first step is to find a way to contain the chaos, such as using zip lock bags, a binder, a coupon wallet, a recipe box or any other storage container.

The idea is to simply have a single landing spot for all coupons. If possible, it’s wise to file them away as you get them, so you don’t have a big mess to deal with all at once.

You may also want to come up with a filing system, such as grouping coupons by grocery category (e..g, dairy, produce, frozen foods), or by aisle, or by coupon expiration date.

It’s also a good idea to go through and edit your collection periodically. Stores typically don’t take expired coupons, so it’s best not to let them eat up space in your filing system. Consider setting a certain day each or month to go through and purge.

Maximizing Your Coupon Savings

Shaving off just a little here and a little can be nice, but may not make a major change in your buying habits, but the real savings that comes with couponing is when you combine coupons with other coupons, as well as other sales offers.

Here are some tricks:

Matching Coupons to Sales

In order to really save money with coupons, you ideally only want to use them on sale items that are not over budget.

You can hold onto a coupon until the item goes on sale, or if you see that a store is having a sale on something you buy regularly, you can then check the store circular, manufacturer’s websites, or your app to see if you can find a manufacturer’s coupon for it.

Stacking Coupons

This means using more than one coupon for the same item. For example, you can significantly increase your savings by combining a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for the same item. You might be able to then amp up savings even more by using a cashback app.

Keep in mind that not all stores allow coupon stacking. You may want to review each store’s coupon policy to see where you can employ this trick.

Using Competitor’s Coupons

Lots of stores accept competitor coupons. It’s a good idea to find out which ones in your area do, and then work those coupons and sales to your advantage.

The Takeaway

Using coupons can be a great way to save money on the products you love, and help keep your everyday spending in line with your budget.

You can often find useful coupons in Sunday newspaper circulars, magazines, coupon websites, as well as store and manufacturers’ websites. Coupon apps can also help you find coupons for your favorite products quickly.

To really rack up savings with couponing, it pays to go beyond just using a coupon here and there. Consider combining a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon, a sale, and a cashback or coupon app.

Now, what to do with all that money you are saving?

Consider opening up a SoFi Money® cash management account.

With SoFi Money, you can earn a competitive interest rate, save, and spend all in one account.

And while you’re in the saving money mode, you may enjoy the fact that SoFi Money doesn’t have any account fees, monthly fees, or many other common fees. Plus, withdrawing cash is fee-free at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide.

Check out everything a SoFi Money cash management account has to offer today!



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. 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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
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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Adult Children Living at Home: How to Set Rules and Expectations

These days, it’s not uncommon for adult children to come back home, or never leave the nest in the first place.

Surveys show that the number of adults aged 23 to 37 staying or returning home has been increasing steadily since 2000.

It’s easy to pass judgment on boomerang kids, and assume that young adults living with their parents are simply lazy.

But moving back home can actually be a smart solution for adult kids who may be dealing with job uncertainty, low income, and/or a mountain of student loan debt.

And it can be a good deal for parents, too.

Some of the benefits include: opportunities for companionship, the ability to share household expenses, and the opportunity for grown children to pay down student loan debt and save money for future financial goals, such as buying a house.

But living under the same roof again can also create opportunities for misunderstanding and tension.

That’s why parents who find themselves with a not-so empty nest may want to set a few ground rules for millennials living at home.

Here are some things both parents and adult children may want to consider–and discuss–before moving back in together.

What is the Timeframe?

When adult children move back home, it’s helpful for both parties to have a timeframe in place, rather than the ’’foreseeable future.”

This may mean talking about why the move is happening. Is it to save money? If so, what is the money being saved for, and at what point should the child move out?

Some parents might find it helpful to set up a trial period, after which they can have a frank conversation about what is and is not working in the arrangement.

Going Over the Financials

Many misunderstandings from adult children living at home stem from confusion over how much money, if any, they are expected to contribute.

It can be helpful for both parties to consider their expectations before coming together and talking through them. Some issues you may want to think about and then discuss:

•  Will adult children be expected to pay rent? And if so, how much? When will it be due? Some parents might want to set a flat rate, while others might consider a percentage of the child’s income, if that income is currently low but expected to rise.
•  Will the child be responsible for a portion of bills, groceries, or other household expenses?
•  How will resources be allocated? Is the fridge open for anyone? Can the child use the family car if they need it?
•  How much will bills go up with additional usage? Parents might decide they want their child to pay for any overages, or they might be okay with handling the increase themselves.

Going Over House Rules and Behavior Expectations

Some parents have a “my house, my rules” expectation. But it can sometimes be mutually beneficial if both parties talk about behavior expectations with an attitude of give and take.

Often “unspoken expectations” don’t come up until a problem occurs. Talking through them proactively can make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Some issues parents and adult kids may want to go over:

•  What are expectations for guests? Is it okay for romantic partners to sleep over? Do parents need a heads up before guests come by?
•  What are communication expectations? Should a child inform their parents if they won’t be home by a certain time?
•  What chores are expected? It’s wise to go over whether or not you expect that your child to do some of the supermarket shopping and/or clean any areas of the house beyond their living spaces. You might want to continue doing them as a way to continue to nurture your adult child. But it’s also perfectly acceptable to have your adult child pitch in on dinner duty, take on cleaning, or otherwise contribute to the house as an adult.
•  What do daily schedules look like? Maybe one family member needs quiet for work meetings. Maybe another needs access to family exercise equipment or the shower in the morning? Talking through routines — from breakfast to bedtime — will set expectations and avoid misunderstandings.
•  What does privacy mean when you’re under the same roof?

Both parties may be concerned about how the new arrangement will affect their lives, and talking through those concerns can help people find solutions that work for everyone.

Helping Adult Children Achieve Financial Independence

There’s nothing like living together to get financial habits out in the open. This applies for adult children and their parents.

By keeping an open dialogue about money, however, you can help your adult children get on the right financial track (and perhaps move out sooner, rather than later).

Here are some ways you may be able to help adult children work towards financial security.

Talking through financial and savings goals

Instead of asking your adult child how much they have saved, or how much consumer credit card debt they have, consider asking them to talk through their short- and long-term financial goals.

Putting rent to work

Some parents who are in a position to do so may want to charge their children rent and then use that money to gift to their child for a down payment, help with tuition, or hit another financial goal.

Or, in lieu of rent, you might request that your child set up an automatic deposit into a savings account that could eventually become a security deposit on a rental or an emergency fund.

Teaching by Example

One way to encourage disclosure about your adult child’s financial picture is to talk through your own.

Talking broadly through your retirement plan, any long-term care plans, or how you hit your own financial goals such as buying a house or paying for college can help your child start good financial habits.

After all, personal finance is not typically taught formally, and giving your adult child — no matter how old — some insight into the tools and strategies you use can give them ideas for how they can manage their money.

Trying not to Nitpick

While it’s helpful to talk through your own strategies, it may not be helpful if your child feels like you’re critical of the way they are spending money.

Let’s say your adult child buys a latte every day. Sure, you can point out how much they would potentially save if they invested that money, but for the sake of the relationship, it may be easier to let certain habits go and focus on what your child is doing to work toward financial goals, such as investing in their company’s 401(k) plan or doing their taxes well in advance of tax day.

The Takeaway

Living under one roof may not always be easy for adult children or parents, but it comes with an opportunity for growth for everyone, as well as a closer relationship as equals.

Part of forging that relationship may involve setting some parameters early on about what is expected from grown children while they are living at home, from how much they may be expected to contribute financially to how often they can use the car.

Letting kids move back home (where they can live more affordably), and having open discussions about money, can help them not only save, but also develop good financial habits.

One way young adults (and parents, too) can works towards achieving their savings goals is to join SoFi Money®.

SoFi Money is a cash management account that allows you to earn competitive interest, spend, and save—all in one account.

SoFi Money also makes it easy for kids living at home to pitch in on expenses. Members can send money any time to any person with a U.S. bank account. If the recipient is also a SoFi Money member, the transfer should occur instantly.

Check out everything a SoFi Money cash management account has to offer today.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. 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.

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