27 Cheap Date Night Ideas

27 Cheap Date Night Ideas

Going on a date can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it can also put a big dent in your bank account. These days the average cost of a date, consisting of two dinners, a bottle of wine, and two movie tickets, runs around $103. If someone is going on one or two dates a week, that can add up pretty quickly.

However, it isn’t necessary to spend tons of money to have a fun, romantic time with your significant other–or to impress a new love interest in your life.

What follows are 27 date night ideas that don’t cost a lot (and some are even free).

Fun Date Ideas for Couples on a Budget

Whether you’re just getting to know each other or you’ve been married for years, here are some ways to enjoy a romantic day or evening out without busting your monthly budget.

1. Watching the Sunrise or Sunset Together

Watching the sun come up or sink over the horizon with your sweetie can be a very romantic and cute date idea. Depending on which time of day you choose, you can bring coffee and donuts or a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers to mark the occasion.

2. Taking Dance Lessons

Couples can show off their moves while taking a lesson in salsa, ballroom dancing, or swing. Consider a home viewing of “Dirty Dancing” afterwards to close out the date.

3. Going on a Hike

Getting some fresh air and walking in a beautiful area together can be a great bonding experience. To make sure you take on more miles (or hills) than you can handle, you can read reviews of hikes and check out trail maps online before you head out.

4. Picking Apples or Berries

This can be a great idea for a “sweet” date. In the fall, couples can pick apples together and then go home and make some baked apples or an apple pie. In the summer, consider heading to a local farm to pick berries. You can use your harvest to make some tarts or smoothies afterwards.

5. Checking Out a Botanical Garden

Many towns have beautiful botanical gardens where people can walk around. This is a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it should be either free or low cost.

6. Staying In and Watching a Movie

Someone probably already has a Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime subscription. Why not take advantage and watch a movie together at home? You can open some wine and order a pizza or inexpensive takeout.

7. Gardening Together

Another cute date idea is to garden together. Whether you and your honey live together or apart, you can start your own garden and fill it with flowers, herbs, and vegetables. At the end of the day, you’ll have a shared sense of accomplishment.

8. Checking Out a Free Museum

Some museums are always free, while others will have free days throughout the month. Couples can go and see cool artwork and have stimulating conversations about the artists.

9. Going to a Free Concert

Many towns will hold free concerts in the park during the summer. You can bring a blanket and some food and enjoy a picnic dinner while listening to great live music.

10. Taking a Scenic Drive

You can pick somewhere you’ve never been or head to a favorite spot, such as a nice drive in the country or along the coastline. Consider creating a playlist of tunes you both love for the ride.

11. Breaking Out the Board Games

Who doesn’t love a little competition? This can be a great idea whether you play against one another or with another couple. You can even throw in some prizes from the Dollar Store to up the ante just a bit.

12. Eating at Happy Hour

Instead of going out to dinner–which can be pricey–couples can find out which establishments have a happy hour and then go and enjoy some appetizers and drinks for a cheap date idea.

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13. Visiting Open Houses

Whether you are actually looking to buy a house or just want to be a voyeur, or pick up some design ideas, consider checking out open houses in your area. You can search for open houses on sites like Redfin and Zillow .

14. Cooking a Dish Together

For a fun and tasty evening, you might go to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and then come home and make a gourmet meal together. If neither of you are skilled in the kitchen, you can order a meal delivery service that sends all the instructions and ingredients you need.

15. Checking Groupon for Deals

You can often find some interesting things to do for date night by checking Groupon to see what experiences are on sale. You might find a wine-and-paint night or perhaps a sale on arcade tickets.

16. Renting a Pool

For a fun date on a hot summer day (or night), consider checking out Swimply to see if you can rent out a private pool in your area by the hour. Pool toys and snacks may not be included, so you may want to pack everything you need before heading over for a swim.

17. Going on a Bike Ride

Another cute date idea is to go on a bike ride together. If you don’t own bikes, you may be able to rent them from the city or a local company. You can research local biking trails online before you go.

18. Taking a Ferry Ride

Typically, ferry rides are pretty cheap. They may even be free. Consider taking a ride at sunset so you can enjoy a beautiful view.

19. Checking Out a Local Park

When the weather is nice, you might want to pack a blanket and some food and head to a nearby park to enjoy a lazy afternoon together–and maybe feed leftover bread to the ducks.

20. Going to a Pet Cafe

Pet cafes are now located in many towns around the county. Couples can sip on lattes while petting cute dogs and cats at the same time.

21. Renting a Canoe or Kayak

If you split the cost of a kayak or canoe rental, you can enjoy a relatively inexpensive afternoon paddling around a lake or bay together.

22. Taking a Walk in the Mall

Just because someone goes to the mall, it doesn’t mean they have to buy anything. Instead, couples can do some window shopping while eating their favorite cheap mall food like Cinnabons and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.

23. Listening to a Podcast

Podcasts can be just as entertaining as television and movies. Consider grabbing some drinks and snacks and listening to a great podcast together.

24. Thrifting Together

Thrift stores can be treasure-troves, and also make the perfect setting for a cute and cheap date night. Couples can browse the store, trying on outfits from decades past and making each other laugh.

25. Competing in a Video Game Competition

If you and your mate enjoy playing video games, consider challenging each other in a video game competition. You can offer fun rewards, such as the winner gets a gourmet home-cooked meal or doesn’t have to do any dishes all week.

26. Having a Spa Night

For couples who live together, a nice date night idea is to have a spa night at home. You can include foot massages, a bubble bath, and face masks for some relaxation, and laughs.

27. Doing Crafts Together

Couples that are feeling crafty can go to their local art store and buy supplies they need to create something together. You might even choose a sentimental project like a wreath made of corks from bottles you’ve shared or a scrapbook of vacation memories.

Recommended: 7 Reasons Why Budgeting Is Important for Couples

The Takeaway

Going out on a “date” doesn’t have to mean dinner at a fancy restaurant followed by a movie. With a little bit of imagination and planning, couples can enjoy a night (or day) out that costs considerably less, yet can be just as romantic and fun.

Couples who are looking to keep expenses in check may also want to check out SoFi Checking and Savings®.

SoFi Checking and Savings account allows you to track your weekly spending right in the dashboard of the app.

Plus, it offers a competitive interest rate for savers and doesn’t have any account fees or monthly fees.

Check out everything SoFi Checking and Savings has to offer today.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
FINRA / SIPC .
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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25 Tips for Buying Furniture on a Budget

Whether you’re updating your space or furnishing a new place from scratch, buying furniture can be a fun, but also stressful, shopping experience–especially if you’re working with a tight budget.

But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck buying pieces that scream “first apartment furniture.” With a little digging (and looking beyond traditional furniture stores), it’s possible to find stylish, good quality, and also affordable–sometimes even free– pieces.

These hacks can help you decorate your place–even if you’re furnishing an apartment on a college student’s budget.

How to Find Cheap Furniture

Scoring great furnishings on a tight budget takes some planning, and also knowing where to buy affordable furniture. Here are 25 ideas for creating a great space without spending a lot.

1. Taking Stock of What You Already Have

Before going out to buy new stuff, you may want to do a walk-through of your space and make a list of what you already have. You can label each item “keep,” “donate/sell” or “toss,” so you know exactly what you need.

2. Taking Stock of Mom’s Basement too

Do you have family members who may be harboring some perfectly good, but no-longer-needed furniture? Consider scoping out their basements, attics, and garages for some free treasures.

3. Making a Wishlist

It’s okay to dream a little. In fact, a good way to start furnishing a new home is to go to your favorite furniture store’s site and fill your cart without considering price. You can then cull down your list to essentials, and start looking for those pieces–or something similar–for a cheaper price tag.

4. Renting Furniture

If your furniture budget is super tight, you may want to consider renting furniture from a company like CORT or Feather , rather than buying everything you need. Renting can also be a good option if you’re only going to be in your current home for a short time.

5. Timing Your Purchases Right

Knowing when to make big purchases can help you get some steep furniture discounts. Furniture stores tend to get new inventory at the end of winter and end of summer. To make room for newer items, they will often run good sales in February and August.

6. Checking Out Freecycle

Cheap is great, but free can be even better. Consider going to a reuse/recycle site like Freecycle to see what people in your area may be looking to get rid of. You may want to keep in mind that good items often go fast.

7. Curbing Impulse Buys

Before you pull the trigger on a pricey new piece of furniture, you may want to press pause. By giving yourself a week or so to really consider the purchase, you may realize you don’t actually need it–or be able to scout out a cheaper, but equally good, option.

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8. Mixing High and Low

You can often get a high-end look by splurging on one or two classic investment pieces, and then going with cheaper, trendier accent pieces and accessories.

9. Putting the Word out on Social Media

You may want to use social media to let people in your network know that you are on the hunt for furniture. You can even specify what you’re looking for, and what you’re willing to offer (or barter) in return. You may be surprised at the response you get.

10. Selling Stuff You Don’t Need

To bolster your furniture budget, you may want to sell pieces that no longer work for your space. If you have a lot to get rid of, you might host a yard sale. For just a few items, you can list them on a resale site like Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace and see how much you can score.

11. Doing a Furniture Image Search

If you see a piece you love, but doesn’t fit your budget, you can download a photo of the item and then go to Google Images. If you click on the “Search By Image” button (the camera icon) and upload the photo, you can search for similar items.

12. Searching Craigslist

Craigslist may be an oldie, but it’s still a goodie when it comes to finding affordable furniture. You can head to the site (which hasn’t changed much over the years), click the furniture tab, and search the possibilities.

13. Thinking Beyond Furniture Stores

Mass market retailers like Target, Walmart, and Home Depot actually have large furniture departments. You may be able to find stylish pieces at good prices, along with free delivery.

14. Searching Amazon Warehouse

Amazon Warehouse is a corner of Amazon’s main site that is dedicated to selling used, pre-owned and open box products. You can click on the furniture tab and either search for your needs or just see what’s on offer.

15. Hitting the Yard Sales

You can spend a Saturday or Sunday morning driving around town looking for treasures. Or, you can check out yard sales listings online, then map out a route that hits the yards or stoops with the most potential.

16. Asking About the Floor Model

If there’s a piece in a store you absolutely love, but it’s a bit out of budget, you can always ask the manager if they will sell you the floor model for a discount.

17. Combing Flea Markets

It can take a little time and effort, but you can often find great, affordable treasures at flea markets. Sometimes a little DIY is all it takes to transform something past its prime into the perfect thing for your place.

18. Browsing Antique Stores

In the winter months, you can often get the flea market experience by combing through antique stores or, even better, antique malls that have multiple booths housed indoors.

19. Checking Online Resale Marketplaces

Sites like Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace (where you may have listed items to sell) can also be a great resource for finding what you need. You can even do a search for a specific item you saw in store to see if anyone is off-loading that same piece.

20. Thrifting Furniture

Large thrift store chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army typically get lots of donated items every day and can be a great place to find your next book shelf or coffee table. Local thrift shops can be worth checking out too.

21. Checking out Salvage Stores

One of the most widely known salvage stores, Habitat ReStore , has locations throughout the country and often sells new and used furnishings, as well as appliances, for far less than retail.

22. Going Cheap on Art and Accessories

Once you’ve made your big item purchases, it’s time to think small (and cheap) with accent pillows, throws, artwork, and other decorative accessories. These items don’t need to cost a lot to add serious personal style to a space.

23. Stopping by Estate Sales

You can often find beautiful, high quality pieces of furniture, as well as artwork, at estate sales for a fraction of what you’d pay at a store. You can find estate sale listings in your area on Craigslist as well as Estatesale.com and Estatesales.net .

24. Haggling Over the Price

No matter where you are shopping for furniture, it can be worth trying to haggle the price down a bit. You can ask a seller if the listed price is as low as they can go, if they will offer a discount for buying multiple items, or if there is any wiggle room on the delivery fee.

25. Checking In With Neighbors

You can use Nextdoor to let neighbors know what you are looking for, and also scroll through the site’s “For Sale and Free” listings to see what your neighbors are selling or giving away.

The Takeaway

Furnishing a new place can be daunting, especially if you’re shopping with a limited budget.

But by thinking beyond traditional furniture stores, and turning to alternatives like flea markets, resale and salvage shops, estate sales, and online marketplaces, you can often score chic and cheap pieces that won’t fall apart in a year or two.

You can also stretch your furniture budget by mixing higher-end investment pieces with cheaper accent decor.

Don’t have much put aside for furnishing your space? One good way to start saving up is to open a SoFi Checking and Savings® account.

With SoFi Checking and Savings’s special “vaults” feature, you can separate your spending from your savings while earning interest on all your money.

Start saving up for the furniture you want with SoFi Checking and Savings.



SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
FINRA / SIPC .
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Pet Insurance

Pet ownership comes with an array of costs, and medical care can be one of the big ones. Does that mean you should get health insurance for your pet? Is pet insurance worth the cost?

Insurance policies for pets are more worthwhile for some pet parents than others. A policy that covers general pet wellness and preventive care may not make economic sense, but a policy that covers accidents and illness may be a good move for pet owners who would have trouble covering a hefty vet bill should their pet suddenly be injured or become sick.

But plans vary significantly on what they cover—and what they cost. Here are some key facts to consider when shopping for a pet insurance plan.

Average Cost of Pet Healthcare and Emergencies

Between food, daily care, equipment, and toys, the cost of owning a pet can be high. The cost of veterinary care can also stack up pretty fast.

Pet health care costs vary widely, depending on the region and what kinds of care your pet may need. But dog owners spend an average of $212 per year on routine vet visits, while cat owners shell out an annual average of $160 on routine care, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Heartworm tests can tack on another $35 to $75 annually, with monthly medications costing from $6 to $18 apiece. This means an annual cost that can range between $107 and $291 for heartworm prevention, while flea and tick prevention can cost from $40 to $200 per year.

Even a healthy pet may need emergency care, ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Wound treatment and repair, for example, can run as high as $1,500 for a dog. Emergency surgery for a large dog can cost at least $2,500.

In fact, emergency room bills for pets can run as high as $8,000 when adding in hospitalization costs.

What is Pet Insurance?

Once a niche product, pet insurance policies have been steadily gaining in popularity. Indeed, many employers now offer pet plans as part of their benefit packages. But what exactly is pet insurance—and how does it work?

Like health insurance for people, pet insurance is intended to ease some of the costs of keeping your pet healthy. You can choose from different levels of coverage, with each plan costing a monthly or annual premium based on how much coverage you choose.

Some plans cover accidents and injuries, some only cover accidents, and others include wellness and preventive care. The more comprehensive the coverage, the higher you can expect the cost to be.

As with health insurance for people, pet policies include exclusions, various levels of coverage, copays, deductibles (a certain amount you must pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in), and payment limits.

Most pet insurance policies exclude preexisting conditions and hereditary or congenital conditions. Some carriers will not accept pets younger than 8 weeks or older than 12 years, and many policies have waiting periods before benefits for injury, illness, and orthopedic care begin.

Pet insurance typically uses a reimbursement model: You pay the full amount due when you take your pet in for care, then submit a claim to the insurance company.

What Pet Insurance Covers

Pet health insurance offers several types of coverage, each with its own list of coverage options and costs. The three most common types of coverage are:

•  Accident and illness This typically covers treatments and tests for accidents and illnesses.
•  Accident-only This coverage generally takes care of accidental injuries, such as poisoning or ingestion of a foreign object, being hit by a car, cuts, and other physical injuries. Accident-only coverage is often preferred by owners of older pets that have aged out of comprehensive coverage.
•  Wellness plans Wellness plans tend to cover preventive-care visits, such as checkups and routine vaccinations, and you can buy one as a stand-alone policy or as an add-on to an accident and illness policy.

Before deciding whether you want to buy a pet insurance policy, it’s a good idea to download sample policies from insurers. You can then review each policy for limitations, exceptions, and copayments. You can also reach out to a rep with questions.

What Pet Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Some pet insurance options have breed-specific exclusions, or it could cost extra to cover specific breeds.

As mentioned, just about every pet insurance policy excludes coverage of preexisting conditions.

Many plans also limit the amount you can claim, either annually or over your pet’s lifetime.

Wellness plans likely will not cover any treatments having to do with accidents, common injuries, or any other emergency treatments.

Accident-only plans will likely not cover any cost associated with illness, while accident and illness plans will likely not cover any preventive care or any care related to preexisting conditions.

An accident and illness plan with a wellness add-on provides the most comprehensive coverage. But again, it will likely not cover any care for a preexisting condition and could come with breed restrictions. That’s why it’s essential to read the fine print of every policy option before deciding which one is right for each pet.

How Much Pet Insurance Costs

The cost of pet coverage varies widely, but the average accident and illness premiums cost $595 a year for a dog and $342 for a cat, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association’s latest figures.

Accident-only premiums—covering things like ingestion of a foreign body, lacerations, motor vehicle accident, ligament tears, and poisoning—average $218 for a dog and $134 for a cat, the association reported.

In an insurance.com survey of 800 pet owners who have pet insurance, 48% said the policies had saved them money. So, about half said the insurance was money-saving and half said it was not.

Costs can rise, depending on a number of factors:

•  Your pet’s breed (purebreds may cost more to insure because they are more susceptible to some hereditary conditions)
•  Age (plans tend to cost more as your pet ages)
•  Region (the higher cost of vet care in some areas is factored into your premium)
•  The coverage you choose

Keep in mind that once a pet reaches a few years old, most pet insurance providers will increase rates every year at renewal time.

Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can make pet treatments and services more affordable: As you make annual or monthly premiums, the insurance company bears the brunt of covered expenses.

Pet insurance also may help protect the emergency funds in a checking and savings account or savings account. If your pet is young or healthy, or you choose a lower tier, you can get accident and illness coverage for a fairly low cost.

But it’s important to read the details. Many plans limit the amount you can claim, either annually or over your pet’s lifetime. If your pet suffers a major medical problem, you could quickly max out your plan’s limit and find yourself paying the difference.

Depending on the cost of the premium, wellness-only plans and wellness add-ons may not be worth the price, since they can end up costing about the same as, or more than, paying out of pocket for routine care.

If pet insurance may be a possibility for your household, here are issues to consider before making a decision.

Research Which Pets Are Covered—and for What

Plans have different enrollment requirements. Typically, though, once a pet is enrolled in a plan, lifetime coverage is available—at least for as long as premiums are kept up. It’s a good idea to check to see if a plan requires a vet visit before enrollment.

Once plans have been identified that would likely accept your pet’s enrollment, find out what each of the policies covers. For plans that go beyond accident coverage, find out specifically what the benefits include. Will the policy, for example, cover ongoing treatment for a condition, or would a policyholder need to pay an add-on fee for continual care?

Investigate the Reliability of Pet Insurance Plans

Once a list of providers has been narrowed down to ones that would accept your pets, it’s a good idea to check the companies’ track records.

This includes the length of time they’ve been in business and how many policies they have in effect.

You may want to see which ones are rated by the Better Business Bureau and what those ratings are, and read online reviews. Who develops their policies? Are there veterinarians involved?

Compare Deductibles and Payout Limits

Pet policies come with deductibles. Sometimes it’s an annual deductible. Other times, it can be applied per illness or injury.

If that’s the case, then once a deductible is met for that condition, maximum reimbursements may be paid out for that particular injury or illness. If, though, a pet develops multiple conditions, a deductible would need to be met for each one individually.

If the deductible is applied per incident, monthly premiums may be lower. A low annual deductible may sound appealing but will have a higher premium than plans with a higher deductible.

Alternatives to Pet Insurance

Again, like humans, unexpected expenses can come up from time to time with a pet.

Another way a pet owner can pay for both expected and unexpected vet bills is to have an emergency fund earmarked for your pet. Stashing a little bit of cash each month into a pet care fund can slowly add up.

Whether you do or don’t spring for pet insurance, you may be able to avoid emergency care by monitoring your pet’s diet and exercise and staying up to date on vaccines and heartworm prevention treatments.

Even knowing the most common ailment associated with your pet can help keep a minor problem from turning into something major.

Finally, you may want to shop around for the lowest price on the veterinary services you need.

The Takeaway

Is pet insurance worth the cost? Pet insurance that covers accidents and illness may be a reasonable hedge against a huge vet bill. The payoff for wellness coverage is less clear. If you do decide to take out pet insurance, be aware of all of the policy’s limits and exclusions.

Life is full of unexpected events. Insurance is meant to ease the burden of paying the full cost of an accident, illness, or loss.

SoFi has teamed up with some of the industry’s best insurance companies to bring you fast and reliable insurance coverage.

Learn more about reliable insurance options with SoFi Protect.


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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5 Steps to Help You Achieve Financial Security

Maybe your ultimate financial goal is to pay off your mortgage and live debt-free. Or, perhaps your dream is to retire early and relocate to a remote tropical island.

Whether you’re dreaming big, small, or somewhere in between, achieving financial security can help make your vision of the future a reality.

But what exactly is financial security? Broadly speaking, financial security or wellness refers to a condition in which you are able to meet your current and ongoing financial obligations, have the capacity to absorb a financial shock, feel secure in your financial future, and are able to make choices that allow you to enjoy life.

While that may sound like a far-off concept, achieving financial stability often isn’t as far off as many people think. The key to getting there is to think about your short- and long-term financial goals, and then devise a savings plan that can help you reach them.

Here are five steps that could help you achieve financial security.

1. Setting Goals

Financial goal-setting can be like jumping ahead to the last chapter of a book.

Financial goal-setting can be like jumping ahead to the last chapter of a book. It starts with the endgame, such as paying for kids’ college, traveling, buying or renovating a home, or getting a new car.

From there, “reading” goes backward by breaking those goals into bite-size steps until the arrival at Chapter 1—an overview of the current situation and a plan to meet those long-term goals.

Short-term financial goals could include things like paying off credit card debt, student loans or car loans, saving for a downpayment on a home or a car, or growing an emergency fund (more on that below).

Once those are achieved, money you were setting aside each month for those goals could be shifted into longer-term planning, such as retirement, buying or upgrading a home, paying off a mortgage, or investing.

No matter how long it takes, checking something off a goals list can be a huge feeling of accomplishment, as well as motivation to start the next chapter.

2. Creating a Budget

One of the most important things you can do to achieve financial security is to live on less than you earn, since this enables you to siphon some of your income into saving towards your financial goals each month.

A great first step is to set up, or fine-tune, a monthly budget. To do this, you’ll want to grab the last few months of financial statements and pay stubs, then use them to determine what your average monthly take-home (after tax) income is, and what your average monthly spending looks like.

If you find that your spending is equal to, or exceeding, your income, you may then want to drill down into exactly where your money is going each month. You can start by making a list of essential expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, car payments, groceries) and nonessential expenses (clothing, dining out, entertainment).

It’s often easiest to cut back spending in the nonessentials category. You might decide to cook more meals at home instead of eating out, for example. Or, you might cancel a streaming service or quit the gym and work out at home.

The money you free up can then be put into savings every month for your future goals.

3. Attacking Debt

If those monthly high-interest credit card payments didn’t exist, where would that money go instead? Paying off debt could free up a potentially big chunk of money to put toward those big dreams. Creating a debt-payoff strategy can be an essential part of a financial wellness plan.

One popular method for getting out of debt is the debt snowball. This calls for listing debts from smallest to largest amounts owed, then paying any extra money you have each month towards the smallest debt (while paying the minimum on the others). When that debt is paid off, you move on to the next smallest debt, and so on.

Another option is the debt avalanche method. This involves making a list of all your debts in order of interest rate (regardless of balance). You then put extra money towards the debt with the highest interest rate, while paying the minimum on the others.

When that debt is paid off, you start tackling the debt with the next-highest interest rate, and so on. As you continue paying off bills, you will be saving in interest payments and should have more and more money to put toward each debt as you go.

4. Building an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is money tucked away that you can use in times of financial distress. Having this contingency fund can significantly improve financial security by creating a safety net that can be used to meet unanticipated expenses, such as an illness, job loss, or major home repair.

A good rule of thumb is to keep enough money in an emergency fund to cover three- to six-months worth of living expenses, but some people may need a larger emergency fund. You may want to keep this money in an account that earns more interest than a standard savings account, but is still easily accessible. Good options include a high-yield savings account, online savings account, or a checking and savings account.

Having this money available when you need it can reduce the need to tap high-interest debt options, such as credit cards or unsecured loans, or undermine your future security by dipping into retirement funds.

5. Saving for Retirement

Once you are free of high interest debt and have a solid emergency fund, you may want to focus on investing more of your income into a retirement fund.

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the easier it will be to meet your goal, thanks to the benefit of compounding interest (when the money you invest earns interest, that interest then gets reinvested and earns interest of its own).

One of the simplest ways to save for retirement is through a 401(k) program at work, since you can set up automatic pre-tax deductions from your paycheck (and may not even miss the money). If your employer is matching up to a certain percent of your contributions, you’re essentially getting free extra cash to save.

Another option is to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Like a 401(k), an IRA allows you to put away money (before taxes are taken out) for your retirement. However, there are annual contribution limits you’ll need to keep in mind.

The Takeaway

Reaching a state of financial stability means you feel confident and don’t feel stressed about money. You are able to pay your bills each month, have money set aside for any unexpected bills or emergencies, you are saving money each month, and you are also debt-free.

One of the easiest and most important ways to achieve financial security is to spend less than you earn and to put money aside each month towards your goals.

If you’re looking for a good place to start–or build–your savings, you may want to consider opening a SoFi Checking and Savings®️ checking and savings account.

With SoFi’s special “vaults” features, you can separate your savings from your spending while earning competitive interest on all your money. You can also set up recurring deposits to help you reach your financial goals faster.

Get on the path to financial security with the help of SoFi Checking and Savings.



SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
FINRA / SIPC .
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. 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.
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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5 Ways to Achieve Financial Security

We all have a vision for our financial futures, whether it’s a vacation home on a tropical beach, a completely debt-free (and work-free) retirement, or selling everything to buy a cabin on that cruise ship that travels the world. And while each of our dreams is uniquely personal, they all have one thing in common—they probably aren’t free.

Whether dreaming big, small, or somewhere in between, achieving financial security might be one way to make it a reality.

The government definition of financial security is “a state of being wherein a person can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in their financial future, and is able to make choices that allow them to enjoy life.”

In other words? It’s being able to pay the bills (without having to check account balances first), and not being worried about where the next paycheck is coming from. But beyond the physical state of having the money when it’s needed, financial security is also a state of mind.

Financial Security Is What You Make It

Perhaps the most important aspect of the definition above is the part that says “able to make choices,” because deciding what it means to be financially secure is entirely each person’s choice and how they answer one question: “What are you financially okay with?”

For some people, it’s all about the numbers—how much they own, how much they owe, the size of their portfolio, or their net worth. But for others, it could mean traveling the planet with all their earthly possessions in a backpack, working odd jobs wherever they land until they make enough money for a ticket to their next destination.

Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.

Ways to Achieve Financial Security

For those who haven’t received a huge inheritance or won the lottery, achieving financial security is likely to involve lots of hard work, determination, and a DIY attitude.

Why? One reason is because the safety nets intended to protect Americans in retirement are starting to unravel. The Social Security trust fund is on the way toward depletion sometime after 2030. And that may sound like it’s far enough in the future for flying cars, but the reality? That’s only a decade away.

The good news is, it’s never too late to get in the game. And achieving financial security may even help achieve emotional wellness at the same time. Win-win!

Here are a few smart strategies that could help with laying out a financial security plan.

Strategy 1: Setting Goals

Financial goal-setting can be like jumping ahead to the last chapter of a book. It starts with the endgame, such as paying for kids’ college, traveling, or upgrading a home or vehicle.

From there, “reading” goes backward by breaking those goals into bite-size steps until the arrival at Chapter 1—an overview of the current situation and a plan to meet those long-term goals.

Short-term financial goals could include things like paying off high-interest debt, student loans or car loans, increasing a credit score, or growing an emergency fund.

Once those are achieved, money could be shifted into longer-term planning, such as retirement, buying or upgrading a home, paying off a mortgage, or investing.

No matter how long it takes, checking something off a goals list can be a huge feeling of accomplishment, as well as motivation to start the next chapter.

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Strategy 2: Creating a Goals-Based Budget

As a good witch from the North once said, “It’s always best to start at the beginning.” And when outlining a plan for financial security, that can mean taking a refresher course on personal finance basics.

Getting reacquainted with simple concepts like avoiding credit cards, paying bills on time, and creating a budget could be a good way to help focus on a plan that’s all about individual goals.

It could also help kickstart a habit of tracking cash flow, because creating a budget that curbs spending isn’t likely to work if where the money is going is a mystery to begin with.

And remember that joy of checking off boxes? Every time money that used to be spent instead goes toward a savings goal, it could trigger that same feeling of accomplishment.

Strategy 3: Keeping Your Money Safe

This strategy isn’t about stashing cash under the mattress. In 21st-century terms, keeping money safe is more about making decisions that will protect an investment.

Tactics like diversifying a portfolio to include some low-risk investments, cash-based savings investments, or even commodities, can help keep that portfolio steady if the market has a bad day.

It could also be as simple as keeping finances organized so it’s obvious what money is where, knowing the penalties and late fees on each account, when bills are due, and how much interest is being earned.

And when much of today’s money management is done online, keeping money safe can also mean protecting identity, passwords, and offline financial documents.

Strategy 4: Getting Out of Debt

If those monthly credit-card payments didn’t exist, where would that money go instead? Paying off debt could free up a potentially big chunk of money to put toward those big dreams. And knowing calls from collectors will no longer be a worry can provide real peace of mind, too.

Creating a debt-payoff strategy can take just as much time and effort as creating a financial wellness plan, but if one is dependent on the other, it’s an essential step.

Two popular methods include the debt snowball, which calls for paying off the lowest balance first and then applying that entire amount to the next-lowest balance (on top of the minimum), and the debt avalanche, which is similar but focuses on the highest-interest debt first.

Strategy 5: Saving and Investing

Saving and investing are two similar concepts but have many differences. One of the biggest is risk. One school of thought is that the shorter term a goal is, the less risk should be taken.

If, for example, someone wants to build an emergency fund equal to three to six months’ salary, they might decide that a high-interest savings account is the safest route. (It can also provide the easiest access to money in a pinch.)

For the longer term, there’s goals-based investing, which is different from traditional portfolio investing in that instead of focusing on which assets will give the best returns over a period of time, strategy is adapted to meet individual needs.

An investment strategy to save for a down payment, for example, is different both financially and psychologically from saving for retirement in 15 years or more.

Making Sure Money Is Working as Hard as You

The “How to Achieve Financial Security” list can be long and varied, but as the old saying goes, there are two ways to make money: You work for it, or make it work for you.

One way to put money to work could be to make investments that will earn the best returns. For example, contributing the maximum to a 401(k) that an employer is willing to match at 100%.

It’s like doubling an employee’s contribution. Add to that the magic of compounded interest, and money can seem to grow right before your eyes.

Another smart way to grow money might be to use a SoFi Checking and Savings®️ account. SoFi Checking and Savings has no account fees and no ATM fees at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide.

Get on the path to financial security today with SoFi Checking and Savings®️.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
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.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
FINRA / SIPC .
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet

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