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5 Smart Steps to Get Out of a Timeshare

Timeshares may be a fun vacation option for a while, but sometimes people want to end the arrangement. Those time share contracts, however, can seem pretty ironclad.

Whether you want out due to buyer’s remorse, a shift in your financial situation or health, or any other reason, here’s some good news: You’re not necessarily stuck.

If you change your mind soon after the purchase, for instance, you might be able to opt out during the “rescission period.”

Those who have had their timeshare for years can have alternatives, including having the resort take it back or perhaps re-selling it.

There are also what are known as “exit” companies that help timeshare owners get released from their agreements (though it’s important to vet those companies before signing an agreement).

If you’re ready to say goodbye to your vacation place, read on to learn steps for legally getting out of a timeshare contract.

5 Steps to Escaping a Timeshare

If you’re thinking about getting out of a timeshare or know you’re ready to make a change, here are five options to consider.

1. Checking the Rescission Period

If your second thoughts occur within several days of your purchase, you may be able to rescind the transaction if you’re still within the “rescission period.”

If you are, you should be able to get your money back and go on your merry way.

Keep in mind, however, that the rules vary from one state to the next.

Depending on the state where the timeshare is located, rescission periods can be anywhere from three days (the minimum required by the Federal Trade Commission) to two weeks.

In some cases, the rescission period may kick in as soon as you buy the timeshare. In others, it might start when you receive the public offering statement that includes general information about the timeshare.

For a timeshare on an exotic isle somewhere outside the U.S., you’ll need to find out what the laws are there.

If you’re eligible for rescission, you’ll want to follow the instructions in the documents you received when you purchased your timeshare.

Most likely you’ll need to send the resort a letter telling them you want out via rescission for a full refund.

It’s a good idea to send this letter using certified or registered mail.

💡 Quick Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

2. Contacting the Timeshare Resort

If rescission isn’t possible because too much time has passed, another option you may be able to take advantage of is a “deed back” program.

Also known as “take-back” and “surrender” programs, these programs allow distressed owners to give their timeshares back to the resort developer, often for a fee of a couple of hundred dollars or so.

To find out if your developer offers this type of program, you may want to contact them directly and ask to speak with someone who handles “deed-backs” or “surrenders.”

You can also check online resources like ResponsibleExit.com for information about return programs.

Generally, developers will only go for this if the timeshare is fully paid for, and you’re up to date on your maintenance fees.

Some developers that accept returns may require owners to pay annual fees for a year or two while the resort finds another buyer.

In some cases, you may have to prove financial or medical hardship in order to qualify for a take-back program.

Even if your resort doesn’t have an official take-back program, you have nothing to lose by asking. Who knows; they might go for it.

Recommended: How to Automate Your Finances

3. Reselling The Timeshare Yourself

If you’re considering reselling your timeshare, it’s probably best if you don’t go into it with hopes of making a killing.

There are typically many people looking to unload their timeshares and demand isn’t generally high, unless your property is in a hot destination.

As a result, reselling can often be a losing proposition.

The best approach might be to think of reselling as someone taking the timeshare off your hands and becoming responsible for the fees moving forward, rather than making a profit.

You can list your timeshare on a general resale marketplace site, such as eBay and Craigslist. There are also sites just for timeshares, such as TUG (the website for the Timeshare Users Group) and RedWeek .

💡 Quick Tip: When you feel the urge to buy something that isn’t in your budget, try the 30-day rule. Make a note of the item in your calendar for 30 days into the future. When the date rolls around, there’s a good chance the “gotta have it” feeling will have subsided.

4. Reselling the Timeshare Through a Broker

If you opt to resell your timeshare, another option is to hire a real estate broker or agent who specializes in reselling timeshares.

If you choose this route, however, you’ll want to pick your broker carefully, cautions the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) .

Some real estate brokers and agents who specialize in reselling timeshares may falsely claim the market in your area is hot and that they’re overwhelmed with buyer requests.

They may even tell you that they already have buyers ready to purchase your timeshare, or promise to sell your timeshare within a specific time.

It’s wise to be skeptical of all such claims, says the FTC, and also to vet the reseller before agreeing to anything on the phone or in writing.

A good safeguard is to contact the state Attorney General and local consumer protection agencies in the state where the reseller is located, and ask if any complaints are on file. You also can search online for complaints.

You may also want to ask the reselling agency if their agents are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If they say they are, you may want to verify it with the state’s Real Estate Commission.

Recommended: How to Manage Your Money Better

Other questions you may want to ask before hiring a reselling agent:

•   How do you plan to advertise and promote the timeshare unit?

•   Will I get progress reports and, if so, how often?

•   What fees do you charge, and when do they have to be paid?

It’s generally preferable to do business with a reseller that takes its fee (or commission) only after the timeshare is sold.

If you must pay a fee in advance, however, it’s wise to ask about refunds, and to get all refund policies and promises in writing.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.

5. Hiring a Timeshare Exit Company

The concept is good. With a timeshare exit company you often get a small army to handle your business.

A good one knows the inner workings of the timeshare industry, which could be advantageous to you.

One major caveat is that these services generally don’t come cheap–prices vary considerably, but can be as high as $4,500.

It’s also important to be aware that there are many bad apples out there. There have been numerous lawsuits against timeshare exit companies that backed out of their payment agreements with customers.

To help ensure that an exit company you’re thinking about hiring is reputable, you may want to check with the Better Business Bureau, and also search online, to see if there have been complaints about the company and (most importantly) how they have handled those complaints.

You can also protect yourself by refusing to make any payments before a contract has been signed by both parties.

Recommended: 5 Reasons to Switch Banks

The Takeaway

Unloading a timeshare property isn’t always easy, but some of your exit options include: backing out during the “rescission period,” reselling it yourself, hiring a broker to resell it for you, and hiring a timeshare exit company to take care of the whole separation process.

It’s important to understand all of your options (and the potential pitfalls of each) in order to choose the best solution for your situation.

Better banking is here with up to 4.20% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. 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, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.
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Can You Negotiate Rent?

If you’re wondering whether you can lower your rent, the answer may be, surprisingly, yes in some situations.

The prospect of bargaining down your rent may sound futile or intimidating. But, thanks to a little research and a well-planned approach, it may be possible to land a better deal.

The odds of successfully lowering your rent will probably depend on a few factors, including how much comparable rentals in your area cost, the value you represent to your landlord, and the general state of the economy and the rental market.

To decrease the awkwardness of haggling and increase your ability to sweeten your deal, you may want to try one or more of these clever and effective negotiating techniques.

The Benefits of Negotiating Rent

The obvious payoff of reducing your rent is more cash left over at the end of the month.

But you may also want to consider the longer term benefits. Let’s say you’ve successfully negotiated your monthly rent down by $100.

It’s nice to have that extra $100, of course. But over the course of a year, that monthly savings adds up to $1,200.

Let’s say you applied that $1,200 yearly savings to paying down credit cards or a student loan debt (rather than paying the minimum).

You might be able to save significantly on interest payments and also boost your credit score (which could help you save money in the future by helping you to get loans and credit cards with better terms).

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Rent an Apartment in 2023?

Or, you could funnel that monthly $100 saved into a high yield savings account and start building a downpayment on a home (if you’d prefer to own vs. rent) or an emergency fund, or working towards another savings goal.

If you were to invest an extra $100 into your 401(k) retirement fund or other retirement savings each month, it could yield a significant income stream decades from now. (If you’re already contributing to these accounts, be aware of the annual limits.)

In addition, by learning how to negotiate, you’re also developing a lifelong skill of standing up for yourself and cutting better deals as an experienced negotiator, which could pay off in other areas of your life.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1% APY on your cash!


Timing it Right

As eager as you may want to cut a good deal and do so as quickly as possible, it can be wise to time your approach to maximize your chances of success.

That means negotiating at the right moments, when your landlord may be more amenable to cutting a deal.

Those times might include:

•   The end of the month, when other tenants may have vacated the property and your landlord may enjoy the stability of a long-term tenant.

•   90 days or so before your current lease expires. That’s enough time to offer to sign another lease, but only at terms favorable to you. If you’ve been a good tenant, and the market is soft for new tenants, your odds of renegotiating a lower rent may be stronger.

•   At the beginning of the calendar year. Typically, winter is a slow time for property rentals, especially in the colder climates when moving is more difficult, and it may be harder for landlords to find new tenants. Stepping into the vacuum with an offer to stay another year–at a lower monthly rental price– might give you some new-found leverage.

💡 Quick Tip: Banish bank fees. Open a new bank account with SoFi and you’ll pay no overdraft, minimum balance, or any monthly fees.

Knowing What the Competition is Charging

To help build your case when approaching your property owner about a rental reduction, it can help to know the lay of the land.

If you can prove that you could live more inexpensively in a nearby rental based on local housing trends, your landlord may be more inclined to grant a discount, rather than lose your business to the competition.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to do a little digging, consider the cost of living, and comb through online listings to find out the rents of comparable units or properties in the area.

Perhaps a similar one-bedroom apartment for rent has an amenity that’s not offered at the apartment you’re currently in or considering. You might point out how these factors make the landlord’s current rental terms somewhat higher than the going market rate.

When you speak to the landlord, it may help to have a printout of comparable apartments that are slightly lower in rent and, if the unit has been unoccupied, have this information on hand as well.

You may also want to check what other apartments in the same complex or rented out elsewhere by the same landlord currently cost. This can help keep you from overpaying for an apartment and may also help you negotiate a lower rent.

Recommended: Reasons to Switch Banks

Offering a Lump Sum

If you can afford it, adding a lump-sum payment (say, three months of rent upfront) may strengthen your bargaining power and boost your odds of reducing your overall rent payment.

That’s because many landlords prefer having rent in hand and not having to worry about late or no rental payment from tenants.

What’s more, offering an upfront, lump-sum payment is one way to show a landlord that you’re serious about being a solid tenant.

A landlord may be more amenable to doing business with a tenant who is willing to go the extra mile.

Considering a Longer Lease

If you particularly like the house or apartment you’re renting, you might consider offering the landlord a longer lease in exchange for lower rent payments.

If, for example, a landlord is offering a 12-month lease to a new tenant, at a fixed monthly rental price, and you agree to extend that lease to 18 or 24 months, you might be in a stronger position to ask for a rental discount.

All things being equal, landlords tend to favor tenants who’ll be around for the long haul, and may be more likely to green-light a lower rent for a longer lease arrangement.

Recommended: Can You Pay Rent with a Credit Card?

Cashing in on a Referral

Landlords typically loathe empty apartments, so if you can help fill a rental unit with a referral or two, it might put you in a better negotiating position to ask for a rental price deduction for helping out.

Rental unit owners usually have to pay for classified ads to lease their open units. In addition, landlords often have to put some sweat equity into showing units, chasing down tenant leads, and vetting potential lease applicants.

By bringing your landlord good, qualified, and stable tenants, you may be able to become a valuable asset for your landlord, and help build a more robust case for a rental deduction in the process.

Not Just Focusing on Price

Yes, the primary goal in a rental negotiation is to bring the price down.

But in case that conversation proves fruitless, you may also want to consider some other perks or benefits you could ask for in lieu or a rent reduction.

Some ideas:

•   A prime parking space (especially in urban areas)

•   New appliances and/or fixtures in your home or apartment

•   New or larger storage space

•   “First dibs” on better apartments or homes in your complex, once they free up

•   A waiver of fees and charges on things like gym memberships, parking privileges, community rooms, water or trash removal, or other services and amenities

•   Extra parking passes for guests

•   Allowing you sublet for the summer (if you plan to be away)

•   One or two months free

Recommended: Passive Income Ideas to Build Wealth

Giving your Landlord a Heads-Up and Being Polite

Nobody likes to be ambushed on financial matters. That’s why you might have more success if you call your landlord well ahead of when you need to sign the lease and politely let them know that you’d like to discuss the terms of the lease, and are wondering if they would be open to a price reduction.

You might then suggest having a meeting (in person tends to be best, since it can be harder to say “no” to someone when you’re sitting face-to-face) some time in the next week or two.

This gives your landlord some time to consider the situation while also giving you some time to build your case.

In addition, giving your landlord some lead time shows you’ve put some thought into the matter. It also shows you respect your landlord’s time and schedule.

Keep in mind that you have a right as a renter to negotiate rent, but being diplomatic and respectful to your landlord will likely yield a better result than being aggressive.

💡 Quick Tip: When you overdraft your checking account, you’ll likely pay a non-sufficient fund fee of, say, $35. Look into linking a savings account to your checking account as a backup to avoid that, or shop around for a bank that doesn’t charge you for overdrafting.

Highlighting Your Value as a Tenant

When you do meet with your landlord to negotiate the terms of your lease, it can be helpful to make a good case for keeping you on (or bringing you in) as a tenant.

For example, you might want to have a record of all your on-time payments or any history of providing referrals for this landlord.

You may also want to mention your willingness to extend your lease, that you’re courteous to other tenants, keep the property in good shape, and any other points in your favor.

Any and all of these factors could help persuade your landlord to give you a better deal.

Getting Your New Rental Agreement in Writing

Once you’ve successfully negotiated your rent downward or otherwise improved the terms of your lease and have a verbal agreement, it’s a good idea to get the deal in writing.

Having both parties sign off on the new rental agreement provides you with document proof that you have a new deal in place, in the event there is any misunderstanding down the road.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re faced with debt and wondering which kind to pay off first, it can be smart to prioritize high-interest debt first. For many people, this means their credit card debt; rates have recently been climbing into the double-digit range, so try to eliminate that ASAP.

The Takeaway

While rental leases may appear set in stone, they’re more flexible than many tenants think, especially if the rental market is soft in your area (meaning more rentals than renters).

Whether you’re applying to rent a new apartment or signing a new lease on your current rental, you may be able to negotiate a better price if you’re able to show two things: that the rent is higher than similar units in the area, and that you are a model tenant who pays rent on time.

It’s also a good idea to come to the table with some alternatives to a rent reduction (in case your landlord is firm on price), such as a better or free parking space or new appliances.

Better banking is here with up to 4.20% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. 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.
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Creating a One-Year Savings Plan

A year may seem like a short period of time, but you can accomplish a lot, including developing a one-year savings plan that can help you hit some significant financial goals. A plan that lasts 365 days can give you, as an earner, the opportunity to save and feel a sense of accomplishment.

In other words, a year from today, you could be richer than you are now, or potentially have a better emergency fund. Or, if you are diligent, you may be on your way to funding a European vacation or finally redoing that dated bathroom.

Of course, creating a plan that will work for your unique situation does require a bit of upfront effort. That’s exactly what you’ll learn when you read on.

Decide What are You Saving For

Before you even glance at your budget, it’s important to get clear about exactly what you’re saving for. Creating a specific objective can give you the information you need to create a solid plan to make it happen — it might also help motivate you to stick to that plan once you’ve made it.

For a one-year saving plan, consider factors like your income and current cost of living to settle on something that will likely be achievable in just a year. For instance, maybe this year you want to stash cash for one of the following:

•   A vacation you’ve been dreaming of for years (pending pandemic complications, of course).

•   A down payment for a new car.

•   A down payment (or significant portion thereof) for a new home.

•   Long-awaited home improvements.

•   Putting extra money away for retirement.

You may be familiar with the idea of SMART goals — that objectives are most easily met when they’re Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

In the world of one-year savings plans, that means coming up with a specific dollar figure for your goal and making sure it’s relevant enough to your life to keep you motivated.

You probably also want to consult your earnings and expenses to ensure that it’s a realistic goal; it’s going to be a lot harder to save up $5,000 if you’re making $30,000 than it is if you’re making $60,000. (You’ll learn more about budgeting and cuts in just a second.) Divide your total goal by 12 to see how much it would require you to set aside each month, which will give you better insight as to how achievable it really is.

Once you’ve got your goal worked out, write it down and post it in a prominent place in your home, like on your refrigerator. Studies have shown that you’re more likely to reach your financial goals if you take this simple action, so it’s worth picking up your pen!

How To Create a One-Year Saving Plan You’ll Stick To

Now that you’ve got a goal in mind, you still need to figure out how to turn it into a reality.
Here are some ideas on how you could do it..

Start with Your Existing Budget

You can’t make any big changes to your finances if you don’t know what they look like in the first place. And that means the first step toward revamping your budget is to take a closer look at how it looks right now.

If you don’t have a budget yet, take a month to track exactly where all your money is going. Be sure to include both regular, fixed expenses, like rent and insurance, as well as more flexible, discretionary spending like food and transportation. Be brutally honest. Tacking every cent of fixed vs. variable expenses will give you the best chance at figuring out how to spend less.

Which leads us to our next step…

Get Creative with Budget Cuts

There are really only two ways to save money: make more of it, or spend less of it. And while asking for a raise or starting a side-hustle might be smart moves, you only have so much leeway with your boss and time in your day. In other words, you likely have more control of how much you spend than how much you earn.

Since this is an elevated, short-term savings goal, you might be able to make more substantial cuts than you would if you were planning on implementing this savings strategy for the rest of your life. There are simple ways to cut down monthly expenses and save money daily. For instance, could living without streaming services be possible? Or could you quit dining out for one month and then vow not to buy any new clothes the next? A challenge like that can engage some people’s competitive spirit.

Even without these measures, how can you dial down your own living expenses? You might quit buying overpriced, pre-packaged convenience foods or find ways to get creative with ramen. Maybe you can start doing your own oil changes rather than taking the car in for service. Think of this as an opportunity to learn some new life skills while also stashing some extra cash!

Recommended: How to Save Money on Gas

Regardless of how you get there, your goal is to be able to set aside the monthly amount you’ll need to meet the one-year savings goal you wrote down and pinned to your bulletin board. So get out your calculator, and don’t be afraid to get creative.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1% APY on your cash!


Make a Plan for Your Investments

No matter how much money you save, it won’t go as far as it could if you just stash it under your mattress. Figuring out where to put your savings is an important step in your planning.

Different kinds of savings accounts are used to help individuals save for different goals.

•   For example, a long-term goal like retirement may be best suited for an investment vehicle like a Roth IRA, which offers some tax advantages.

•   For shorter term goals like starting an emergency fund, an account that offers more flexibility and has less restrictions, like a high yield savings account, may be a better option.

Keep it Simple

Having a plan is one thing. Sticking to it is another. But if you keep a simple savings plan, you’ll stand a much better chance of actually making it work.

For instance, automating your finances by setting up recurring transfers can direct a portion of each paycheck into your savings account. This makes saving seamless — and ensures you don’t get stuck in that all-too-familiar situation at the end of the month where you accidentally spent what you intended to set aside.

And building in systemic cuts that you don’t have to think about (like ditching that monthly subscription box, for example) is a lot easier than poring over the coupon book every Sunday.

Recommended: Money Management and Setting Financial Goals

The Takeaway

Like any money goal, your one-year savings plan is going to take some grit to get to. But having the right tools at your disposal does make the process a whole lot less painful. Whether that means choosing one of the many budgets out there to find one that suits your style or using an app your financial institution provides, there are ways to enhance your money management.

A SoFi Checking and Savings Account offers you an easy birds’-eye view of your finances, and its Vaults feature allows you to set aside savings for specific goals and purposes.

Best of all, there are no account fees, you’ll benefit from a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), which can help your money grow faster.

SoFi: Helping you achieve your financial goals.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. 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.
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4 Places to Store Short-Term Savings

If you have a savings goal that’s coming up in the not too distant future — such as the downpayment on a home, a bathroom reno, or plumping up an emergency fund — you may want to consider some good short-term savings options.

There isn’t a hard and fast definition of short-term savings, but it’s typically considered to be money you want to use in five years or less.

While there are a number of options for short-term savings, one of the best places to start stashing cash for a short-term goal can be a savings account. They can offer safety (so you shouldn’t lose any money), liquidity (allowing you to access money when needed), and growth (meaning they are interest-bearing).

But some of these accounts offer more liquidity and higher interest than others. With a little reading and research, you can start socking your cash away in the right place — and start moving closer to those short-term savings goals.

Should You Invest Short-Term Savings?

Depending on your short-term savings goals, a savings account may be a wise move. One significant downside to any cash savings account is that they tend to have relatively low-interest rates.

You might however wonder: Should I invest this money in stocks or a mutual fund in order to meet my short-term goals more quickly?

Generally speaking, for short-term money, your goal is not necessarily to maximize returns. It is to control the risk — to keep it safe — so that the money is available when it’s needed.

While everyone’s risk tolerance is different, the downside to investing in the market is that you might lose money in the short term. Investment returns start to “smooth out,” or return their average yield, over longer periods. Shorter periods tend to be volatile and unpredictable — especially in the stock market.

To invest in the short-term would require complete flexibility — if the market were to fall steeply, it would likely be best to wait it out and avoid realizing losses. Suddenly, you’re on the market’s timeline, not your own.

Because of this, these investments may be inappropriate for an emergency fund, which needs to be accessible at all times. The same goes for those financial goals with a hard deadline (such as wanting to use this money as a down payment in two years).

That said, there’s a trade-off. Many of the options for short-term savings may not keep up with increasing prices or inflation and its impact on cost of living. For money that isn’t needed for many years to come, it can be a smart idea to consider investing to grow beyond inflation.

If you’d prefer to avoid risk with your short-term savings, here are options to consider.

Recommended: 5 Types of Savings You Should Consider Having

Option 1: Online Savings Account

Online-only savings accounts, also sometimes referred to as high-yield savings accounts, are an increasingly popular option for short-term savings. As their name implies, these banks or financial institutions only operate online. Here’s the scoop:

•   That means no brick-and-mortar locations and no chatting up a banker face-to-face with employees. The upside: When you compare accounts offered by traditional banks vs. online banks, the latter typically pass the savings onto their clients in the form of a higher annual percentage yield (APY).

•   A potentially higher rate of interest isn’t the only reason to use online-only savings accounts. The websites and mobile apps for online accounts essentially serve as storefronts, so online financial institutions often devote lots of resources to make sure they’re optimized and easy to navigate.

•   Additionally, many online-only institutions don’t have monthly account fees, which can be a real burden for those at the start of their savings journey. (For example, some traditional banks might charge a fee when you balance drops below the minimum.)

•   Banking online doesn’t mean you have to forgo the conveniences of your neighborhood bank. You can typically still do all of the important banking duties, such as depositing checks (via mobile deposit, or snapping a picture of the check on your phone), moving money back and forth between accounts, and speaking with a customer service rep.

In the past, most online savings accounts were required by the Federal Reserve to limit withdrawals to six times per month. These rules are evolving; post-pandemic, some banks dropped this rule. Before you sign up, you’ll want to understand the rules for accessing your money.

Also, while online banking is now considered mainstream, it’s always smart to do a little background research before you open an online account. You may want to check, for instance, to make sure an institution has Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) coverage, a government-guaranteed program that protects your money.

Option 2: Certificate of Deposit

A certificate of deposit (CD) is a savings account that holds a specific and fixed amount of money, and for a designated period of time, such as six months or three years. In exchange for the deposit, the bank pays a fixed rate of interest.

Generally, CDs with longer maturities offer higher interest rates. For example, a bank is typically going to be willing to pay more for a deposit that’s guaranteed for five years as compared to three months.
As a saver, you often get more rewards for the risk.

You may also want to keep in mind that the interest rate on a CD is locked in at the point of purchase, as opposed to the interest rate in a savings account (both traditional and online-only), which may fluctuate.
If you’re interested in locking in a certain rate, you may want to consider a CD. (Although be aware that you would be locking yourself into a lower rate, if rates rise.)

While savings accounts are designed to provide regular access to your money, CDs are not. Because CDs have a fixed timeframe, there may be a penalty to access the money before the period is over. And in exchange for the lock-up period, you may find that financial institutions pay slightly more interest than online-only savings accounts.

CDs can be a good option for people who don’t need to touch their short-term savings for a certain period of time. And they are typically FDIC-insured.

Option 3: Money Market Account

A money market account (MMA) is like a mix between a savings and a checking account.

These accounts, offered by banks and credit unions, can allow you to write checks (though you may be limited on how often) and may also have a debit card. (Savings accounts, whether online or at a traditional bank, typically do not allow for check-writing.

Returns on these accounts often beat those on traditional savings accounts. Depending on what’s happening in the economy overall, an MMA may be in line with that of an online-only bank account.

However, MMAs sometimes require higher minimum balances than other types of savings accounts. So, this might be a better option for those with more money to save.

MMAs are considered a safe choice since, like other types of savings accounts, they are typically covered by FDIC if held by a bank, and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), if held by a credit union. (Although, it’s always a good idea to double-check insurance coverage to be sure.)

Keep in mind that MMAs differ from money market mutual funds, which are not FDIC- or NCUA-insured.

Option 4: Cash Management Account

A cash management account (CMA) is a cash account offered by a financial institution other than a bank or credit union. These accounts are designed to merge the services and features of checking, savings, and investment accounts, all into one offering.

While CMAs are typically offered by financial service providers that are not themselves technically classified as banks, they are still usually covered by FDIC deposit insurance like regular bank deposits — often through a partner bank.

Generally, CMAs function similarly to a traditional checking account, yet pay interest that is often higher than most savings accounts.

Some brokerage firms require a large minimum deposit to open a CMA, or may charge monthly fees for anyone under that minimum. Before opening a checking and savings account, it’s a good idea to ask about monthly fees and minimum balance requirements.

Also, since checking and savings account providers automatically “sweep” your unused cash into investments that pay dividends or interest (which maximizes the account’s profitability), you may want to make sure those sweep accounts are low-risk or FDIC-insured.

The Takeaway

Short-term savings is money that you likely will need in the not too-distant future, such as within two to five years.

There are a number of options for short-term savings, but some of the safest bets include online savings accounts and CDs, among others. These accounts tend to be low-risk, typically allow you to have access to your money when you need it, and can offer a higher return than a traditional savings or checking account.

If you’re saving for a large purchase (perhaps a wedding or a down payment on a home, consider signing up for a high yield bank account. SoFi’s Checks and Savings Account offers a competitive APY, charges no account fees, and let’s you spend and save in one convenient place.

Start working towards those short-terms savings goals today!


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. 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.
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Should I Spend My Year End Bonus?

Do you receive a year-end bonus? Lucky you! While you may be tempted to go on a shopping spree or take your gang out to a great dinner, hold on a second. Yes, you can use some for fun, but you might also want to put some of a year-end bonus toward your financial goals.

Smart bonus money moves may include paying down debt, helping to fund a short-term savings goal (such as a downpayment on a house or establishing an emergency fund), as well as investing the money to potentially achieve long-term growth.

There’s no one right formula for spending (or not spending) a bonus: Each person’s financial situation and future goals are entirely unique.

But here are some ideas for using your bonus — or any other cash infusion, in fact — that can help improve your financial wellness today and tomorrow.

Allocating Some Money to Fun

You worked hard all year. So it’s totally understandable if you want to put some of your bonus money simply towards a few wants vs. just needs.

With any financial decision, it typically doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and that includes your work bonus. In fact, taking a balanced approach to your money might actually help you to maintain the stamina that financial goals often require.

Although the exact split is ultimately up to you, to avoid overspending, you might want to consider putting roughly 90% of your bonus towards your financial goals, and devoting about 10% to “fun money.”

If you’re getting a $5,000 bonus (after taxes), for example, that means you would have $500 to spend treating yourself. The other $4,500 would then go towards putting a big dent in your money goals.

Recommended: Benefits of Automating Your Finances

Chipping Away at Debt

If you have debt — whether from a student loan, car loan, or credit card debt — a bonus can be a great way to start whittling away at whatever balance you have to contend with, or even wiping it out completely.

Doing this can help you avoid throwing more money away just on interest charges, and if you manage to wipe out debt completely, you’ll have one less financial responsibility to stress about every month.

How much of your recent influx of cash should be directed toward debt reduction is entirely personal, and will depend on your situation.

Some financial planners recommend that people with high-interest debt consider putting around half of their annual bonuses toward paying down that debt. But this decision will depend on your individual circumstances.

Since credit card debt typically costs the most in interest, that can be a great place to start. Many credit cards charge close to 20% interest or higher. So if your goal is to ultimately build wealth, it may be smart to minimize credit card balances or, even better, pay them off completely.

It would be unreasonable to expect that you could out-invest what you are paying out in credit card interest.
The same idea goes for any high-interest or emotionally stressful debt on your balance sheet.

Recommended: 5 Reasons to Switch Bank Accounts

Saving for a Short-Term Goal

If you haven’t yet started, or haven’t quite finished, creating an emergency fund, getting a bonus is a great time to beef up that financial cushion.

While many people don’t like to think about the possibility of their car breaking down, a medical emergency, or job loss, should one of these unexpected events occur, it could quickly put you in a difficult financial situation.

Without back-up, you can risk landing in debt should you experience a financial set-back.

How much to sock away for a rainy day is highly personal. But a common rule of thumb is to create an emergency fund that has enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses. You may need more or less, depending on your situation.

If you already have a decent cash cushion, you may next want to think about what large purchases you are hoping to make in the not-too-distant future, say, less than five years.

This could be a downpayment on a home, a renovation project, taking a special family vacation, buying a new car, or any financial step that requires a large infusion of cash.

Then consider using at least some of your bonus check to jump start these savings goals, or add to previously established ones.

It’s a good idea to put money you are saving for a short-term goal (whether it’s a downpayment or an emergency fund) in an account that is safe, earns interest, and will allow you to access it when you need it.

Some options include a savings account at a bank, an online savings account, a checking and savings account, or a certificate of deposit (CD). Keep in mind, though, that with a CD, you typically need to leave the money untouched for a certain period of time.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1% APY on your cash!


Invest for the Future

Bonus money can also help you start investing in longer term goals, such as retirement or paying for a child’s education. Using bonus money to buy investments can help you create additional wealth over time.

For example, a lump sum of cash can work wonders in boosting your retirement savings. Even if you’re technically on track for retirement, adding more money to your IRA or 401(k) today can leave you with a larger income stream when you’re older. If you’re already contributing to these accounts, be aware of the annual limits.

You can contribute to your retirement using your bonus in a couple of ways. Many companies will automatically deduct from your bonus for your 401(k) at the same rate as usual.

You can also ask your company in advance if you can have a special withholding for your bonus. You may be able to fill out a form (or go onto the company portal) to designate up to 100 percent of your bonus to your 401(k).

If you can’t direct that money to your 401(k), and you’re eligible for an IRA, consider maxing that out instead.

Either one can help get you closer to a great retirement–and may also help you save significantly on taxes in the short term.

People who have kids may want to consider putting some bonus money toward starting, or adding to, a college savings account, such as a 529 plan (which in some states can offer tax benefits).

For financial goals outside of retirement, you may want to look into opening a brokerage account.

This is an investment account that allows you to buy and sell investments like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. A taxable brokerage account does not offer the same tax incentives as a 401(k) or an IRA, but is much more flexible in terms of when the money can be accessed.

How much of your bonus you should put towards long-term investments is an individual decision that will depend on your current financial circumstances.

The Takeaway

No matter the size of your hard-earned bonus, it’s a good idea to think about how it can best serve you and your goals in both the short and long term. Some smart ways to use bonus money include getting ahead of high-interest debt, setting up or enlarging your emergency fund, saving up for a large purchase (such as a home), as well as beefing up retirement savings and other long-term investments.

You can mix and match smart spending and smart saving to fit your financial situation. One easy way to do this is to sign up for an online bank account from SoFi Checking and Savings. You’ll earn a competitive annual percentage yield, pay no account fees, and you’ll spend and save — all in one convenient place. Whether you’re saving for something specific or storing cash until you’re ready to invest, SoFi Checking and Savings can help you put that year-end bonus to good use.

Help your money work harder for you with SoFi.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. 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.
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