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What to Do About Loans When You’ve Lost Your Job

Truth be told, there’s no such thing as a good time to lose your job. Unfortunately, a layoff typically does not stop the influx of bills. Generally speaking, people need to cover their monthly burn rates no matter what.

Luckily, individuals who find themselves in such a tough position have options. Before resorting to pulling out the big guns, like forbearance — a pause in monthly payments toward a loan — or other options that can potentially hurt your credit, it’s worth taking a look at all of the choices on the table. That way, you’ll fully understand your options and their implications before making a move when you’ve lost your job and can’t pay your bills.

First Thing’s First: Tracking Expenses

Even the richest people on Earth might benefit from re-examining their expenses and looking for ways to cut monthly costs. Although debt and a precarious employment situation can make the path back to stability feel out of grasp, getting one’s expenses in order is an important first step toward regaining control.

A clear-cut way to save money on food is to minimize or eliminate getting takeout from restaurants. That drive-through latte might feel like a part of the daily routine to preserve sanity and get a much-needed caffeine boost. But in the long run, these small expenses can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings when curbed.

When it comes to groceries, it helps to make a list before shopping. Start a Google Doc for the household and add to it as needs arise. Shift away from living to eat and try to adapt to eating to live. It’s easier that way to eat healthier, and, like coffee, snacks can wallop the bottom line.

In addition to making a grocery list, another great rule to adopt is setting a shopping limit. Stop buying things, from anywhere, on impulse. For groceries, maybe set a maximum total per trip.

Also try to get in the habit of keeping eyes peeled for coupons and promo codes, or installing coupon apps like Honey or Rakuten. Many of those types of apps have browser-extension versions, meaning that while you’re surfing the internet, coupons will automatically be displayed when looking at potential purchases.

Also keep in mind that while grocery pickup and delivery services like Instacart are convenient, the fees can add up, including local sales tax. Even if it feels like a hassle, DIY-ing your grocery shopping is another way you can save.

Saving More, Spending Less

Losing a job is obviously never a good thing, but it might be a catalyst for reducing non-essential credit card spending and becoming more goal-oriented in general. Many would argue that credit cards can be dangerous because they help people buy things they might not be able to afford.

Articles about budgeting (including emergency funds, which would apply to the situation explored in this piece) are worth a read and can inform a broader strategy of saving over spending. But understand that saving with many outstanding debts is less about amassing wealth and more about getting tactical with repayment. A checking and savings account can help you to track daily, weekly, or monthly spending to identify where cutbacks might be possible.

Reaching for Lifelines

Even with modified spending habits and a new budget, a loan due is a loan due — or at least a situation that won’t go away without dealing with it. The reason you lost your job will form a fork in the road of sorts about how to proceed.

If you voluntarily quit without good cause, then unemployment benefits probably will not be available. But usually the first part of a survival plan for unemployment — loans or not — is to get into the system for unemployment, if possible. To get started, this unemployment benefits finder can help, as can exploring unemployment resources by state.

With that in the pipeline, it’s time to grit down, pick up the phone, and call your lender. Many lenders have forbearance and deferment programs in place for their customers, but it’s generally up to the customer to reach out and ask for help.

As an example, SoFi offers an unemployment program for members who have SoFi private student loans or personal loans. Loans in good standing are eligible for forbearance for a set period of time, during which career coaches can help with the job search. (Note that the unemployment protection offered in that loan, and others like it, is not for people who are self-employed.)

Forbearance is an option offered in many lending agreements. The terms vary, but it can open the door to a revised agreement that may allow for decreased or delayed payments for a specific period of time, often up to 12 months. Some lenders may offer to reduce the interest rate charged on the debt, but there are no federal guidelines requiring specific terms for forbearance agreements across all industries (with the exception of federal student loans).

On the surface, this sounds wholly positive, but be forewarned that these options can significantly affect credit history and credit scores. The effects on credit depend on the type of loan and the lender. Also realize that interest will usually accrue and be added to your principal balance at the end of a forbearance period.

Looking Out for Debt Traps

Debt can lead to an even more desperate situation after a hasty decision. It’s worth highlighting a couple potential debt traps to consider eliminating altogether as you navigate dealing with your loans after a job loss:

•   Turning to payday loans: Payday loans are a popular “break in case of emergency” option because they’re small, short-term, unsecured loans. People often turn to them when they struggle to get through to the next payday, which is also when the loan balance and interest will become due.

   But even at a glance, it’s clear to see the trouble ahead: The large fees and hefty interest rates common to payday loans can leave borrowers with less to spend each month, even though payday loans can help with getting out of an immediate bind. But it’s a bit like wriggling loose from one bind and taking shelter in another.

•   Leaning on credit cards: While it might be tempting to use credit cards to cover what’s owed on an existing loan, it can be a slippery slope. Compounding interest can mean replacing one trap with another. It’s a well-intentioned approach that seems sound, but a better alternative might be a personal loan with a fixed interest rate and no fees, as well as unemployment protection.

Moving Forward

The main thing to remember for anyone who is out of work and still responsible for loans is: You are not alone. It might seem difficult, even impossible, but it is doable — and even the longest journeys begin with taking the first steps. After you’ve started tracking your expenses, cutting back on costs, and reaching for lifelines through unemployment benefits and your lender, the next step in dealing with loan payments after a job loss is to explore your options.

Rather than turning to potential debt traps like payday loans and credit cards, you might consider a personal loan. SoFi, for instance, offers unsecured personal loans fixed interest rates and no fees. Plus, if you ever face a job loss again, SoFi personal loans offer unemployment protection. Learn more and consider applying for a personal loan today.

Find your rate on a SoFi unsecured personal loan.


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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Should You Borrow Money in a Recession?

Figuring out how to manage money during a recession — or any crisis — can be difficult. When facing a potential recession, financial decisions take on a new weight. After all, financial policy may change during a recession, which can leave consumers with questions. For example, if the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, should you borrow money during a recession?

While lower recession interest rates might sound appealing, there are lots of things to consider before borrowing money during a recession.

Understanding Recessions

A recession is a period of time when economic activity significantly declines. In the U.S., the National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as more than a few months of significant decline across different sectors of the economy. We see this decline in changes to the gross domestic product, unemployment rates, and incomes.

In essence, a recession is a period of time when spending drops. As a result, businesses ramp down production, lay off staff, and/or close altogether, which in turn causes a continued decrease in spending.

There are many possible causes of the recession. Usually, recessions are caused by a wide variety of factors — including economic, geopolitical, and even psychological — all coinciding to create the conditions for a recession.

For example, a recession could be caused by a major disruption in oil access due to global conflict, or by the bursting of a financial bubble created by artificially depressed interest rates on home loans during a financial boom (as was partially the case with the 2008 financial crisis in the U.S.). A recession also could be caused in part by something like a pandemic, which could create supply chain disruptions, force businesses into failure, and change spending habits.

As for how psychology plays a role in recessions, financial actors might be more likely to invest in a new business or home renovation during boom years when the market seems infallible. But when an economic downturn or recession starts, gloomy economic forecasts could make people more likely to put off big purchases or financial plans out of fear. In aggregate, these psychological decisions may help control the market.

In the case of a recession, for example, many people choosing not to spend out of fear could cause a further contraction of the market, and consequently further a recession.

💡 Recommended: Find more recession resources in our Recession Survival Guide and Help Center.

How Does Financial Policy Change During a Recession?

Economic policy might temporarily change in an effort to keep the market relatively stable amid the destabilization a recession can bring. The Federal Reserve, which controls monetary policy in the U.S., often takes steps to attempt to curb unemployment and stabilize prices during a recession.

The Federal Reserve’s first line of defense when it comes to managing a recession is often to lower interest rates. The Fed accomplishes this by lowering the interest rates for banks lending to other banks. That lowered rate then ripples throughout the rest of the financial system, culminating in reduced interest rates for businesses and individuals.

Lowering the interest rate could help to stem a recession by decreasing costs for businesses and allowing consumers to take advantage of low-interest rates to buy things using credit. The increase in business and purchasing might in turn help to offset a recession.

The Federal Reserve also may take other monetary policy actions to attempt to curb a recession, like quantitative easing. Quantitative easing, also known as QE, is when the Federal Reserve creates new money and then uses that money to purchase assets like government bonds in order to stimulate the economy.

The manufacturing of new money under QE may help to fight deflation because the increase in available money lowers the value of the dollar. Additionally, QE can push interest rates down because federal purchasing of securities lowers the risks to lending institutions. Lower risks can translate to lower rates.

Recommended: Federal Reserve Interest Rates, Explained

Downsides to Borrowing Money During a Recession

While it might seem smart to borrow during a recession thanks to those sweet recession interest rates, there are other considerations that are important when deciding whether borrowing during a recession is the right move. Keep in mind the following potential downsides of borrowing in a recession:

•   There’s a heightened risk of borrowing during a recession thanks to other difficult financial conditions. Difficult financial conditions like furloughs or layoffs could make it more difficult to make monthly payments on loans. After all, regular monthly expenses don’t go away during a recession, so borrowers could be in a tough position if they take on a new loan and then are unable to make payments after losing a job.

•   It may be harder to find a bank willing to lend during a recession. Lower interest rates may mean that a bank or lending institution isn’t able to make as much money from loans. This may make lending institutions more hesitant.

•   Lenders could be reluctant to lend to borrowers who may be unable to pay due to changes in the economy. Most forms of borrowing require borrowers to meet certain personal loan requirements in order to take out a loan. If a borrower’s financial situation is more unstable due to a recession, lenders may be less willing to lend.

When to Consider Borrowing During a Recession

Of course, there are still situations where borrowing during a recession might make sense. One scenario where borrowing during a recession might be a good idea is if you’re consolidating other debts with a consolidation loan.

If you already have debt, perhaps from credit cards or personal loans, you may be able to consolidate your debt into a new loan with a lower interest rate, thanks to the changes in the Fed’s interest rates. Consolidation is a type of borrowing that doesn’t necessarily increase the amount of total money you owe. Rather, it’s the process by which a borrower takes out a new loan — with hopefully better interest rates and repayment terms — in order to pay off the prior underlying debts.

Why trade out one type of debt for another? Credit cards, for example, often have high-interest rates. So if a borrower has multiple credit card debts with high-interest rates, they may be able to refinance credit card debt with a consolidation loan with a lower interest rate. Trading in higher interest rates loans for a consolidation loan with potentially better terms could save borrowers money over the life of the loan.

Having one loan to pay off instead of many loans may be easier than managing multiple payments each month. When a borrower is paying off a variety of credit cards, they usually have to consider a number of different payment due dates, interest rates, and outstanding balances. Additionally, if the entire credit card balance isn’t paid in full by the end of the billing period, compounding interest accrues, increasing the amount owed.

When considering consolidation, borrowers may want to focus on consolidating only high-interest loans or otherwise comparing the interest rates between their current debts and a potential consolidation loan. Also note that interest rates on consolidation loans can be either fixed or variable. A fixed rate means a borrower may be able to lock in a lower interest rate during a recession. With a variable interest rate, the loan’s interest rate could go up as rates rise following a recession.

Additionally, just like many other types of loans, consolidation loans require that borrowers meet certain requirements. Available interest rates may depend on factors like credit score, income, and creditworthiness.

Recommended: Fixed vs. Variable Rate Loans

The Takeaway

Deciding whether or not to borrow during a recession, including taking out a personal loan, is a decision that depends on your specific circumstances. There are downsides to consider, such as the general economic uncertainty that can increase risk and heightened uncertainty from lenders. But if you have high-interest debt, or could secure a lower rate by consolidating, then taking out a consolidation loan during a recession could make sense.

If you think a consolidation loan might be right for you, SoFi offers personal consolidation loans with fixed interest rates. SoFi consolidation loans have no fees at all, which means you can be sure of exactly what you’re getting. Plus, applying for a personal loan with SoFi is quick and easy.

Thinking about a consolidation loan? Learn more about how SoFi can help.


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 Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

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19 Ways to Save Money on Buying Clothes

15 Ways to Save Money on Clothes

For many people, clothing is a favorite purchase, and shopping for new looks is practically a hobby. Fashion is a way to express your personal style; a new pair of jeans or boots can be a major mood-lifter.

But let’s face it, clothes can be expensive. If fashion is your weakness, it can take a big bite out of your budget. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends $1,754 a year on apparel and related services. A survey by Credit Donkey found women spend an average of $571 per year on clothing, compared to men who spend an average of $323 per year.

But some people spend considerably more, ringing up bigger bills by buying the latest handbag or designer clothes that can add the equivalent of a student loan payment to your monthly bills.

These purchases can add up over time and feel like a waste of money of your hard-earned cash. So here, learn some ways to reduce the amount you spend on garments, including:

•   How to save money on clothes

•   How to know when to shop to get the best deals

•   How to trade what you own (but are tired of) for new gear

•   How to care for your clothing so it lasts longer.

Money-Saving Tips for Buying Clothes

There are ways you can cut down on your clothing expenses but still score some pieces you can’t wait to wear. Here’s 15 suggestions on how you can save money on clothes without feeling deprived or out of sync with the latest styles.

1. Shop the End-of-Season Sales

Ever notice how spring and summer clothing seems to go on sale in June or July? Or fall and winter clothes in January? The reason is because stores need to sell that merchandise so they can make room for next season’s items. Time it right, and you can scoop up current seasonal clothing at steep discounts. Just don’t go shopping the second that next season’s looks hit the racks.

2. Host a Clothing Swap

You know the saying, someone else’s trash might be your treasure. A cost-free way to get some new pieces is by arranging a clothing swap. The ground rules: Everyone brings clean, gently used clothes they’re looking to unload, and attendees get to sift through other’s clothing and add to their wardrobe for free.

A clothing swap is a great way to combine socializing and “shopping.” If you want to host one, heed this advice:
Make sure you’ve got a big enough space where everyone can comfortably peruse and try on items.

•   Invite people who are roughly the same clothing size.

•   Set a minimum number of pieces they need to bring.

•   Don’t feel like being the coordinator? Check out Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com to find swaps near you.

3. Ask for a Discount on Damaged Clothing

Here’s how to save money when shopping for clothes: If you find something you love but notice slight imperfections such as a small tear, loose thread, or a flaw in the fabric, bring it to the attention of a store employee. You might be able to get some dollars knocked off the retail price. If the salesperson doesn’t offer this, you can politely ask if the price can be lowered to reflect the garment’s condition.

Think it’s not worth the trouble? Remember why saving money is important. Every little bit of extra cash you sock away can be used to pay down debts or go towards a goal like funding a summer vacation.

4. Look for Coupon or Promo Codes

Before making a purchase, search the internet to see if the retailer offers a store coupon or promo code you can use when shopping online. You can find available coupon or discount codes at sites such as Retailmenot.com, Rakuten.com and BeFrugal.com, which all offer cash back for purchases made. Many times, if you are a first-time customer, you can snag a discount and/or free shipping by signing up for email announcements.

Quick Money Tip:Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts will pay you a bit and help your money grow. An online bank account is more likely than brick-and-mortar to offer you the best rates.

5. Mend Your Clothes

Are there things hanging in your closet you’re not wearing simply because a button is missing or the garment has a small hole? Instead of taking it to a tailor, buying something new, or avoiding it altogether because it needs repair, try fixing it on your own. Basic mending doesn’t require a lot of tools and is pretty easy.

As long as you’ve got the basics such as a needle, thread, scissors, or buttons if needed, you’re good to go. If you’re not sure about your hand sewing skills, you can find a slew of how-to videos on YouTube.com. Also check out Japanese mending, which elevates visible mending into an art form.

5. Buy Generic Brands for the Basics

When it comes to certain articles of clothing, purchasing a generic brand over a name or designer one can save you money without jeopardizing your style. Any item you wear under something, like a tank top or a tee shirt, doesn’t need a fancy label to serve the purpose. Why buy a white tee at a high-priced store for $50 or $90 when a similar one at a national chain retailer costs only $5?

Recommended: Tips for Overcoming Bad Financial Decisions

6. Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Having a capsule wardrobe means you’ve created a streamlined clothing collection that features well-made, non-trendy pieces that can all be mixed and matched. The idea is to spend a little more on the items initially. In the long run, however, you save money because these higher quality garments will last longer and not have to be replaced every few months.

A capsule wardrobe also offers timeless, versatile clothing choices instead of a closet full of flash-in-the-pan styles. Not having a large wardrobe may also benefit your overall wellness. One study found 37% of people said minimizing their wardrobe would reduce the stress of getting ready every day.

7. Wash Your Clothes Properly

Laundry mistakes can damage your clothes. For instance, washing certain fabrics in hot water can cause shrinkage, fading, and wrinkling, as well as can trigger dye to run. However, using cold water is much more clothing-friendly so you won’t be in danger of destroying a garment. You can also save on your gas or electric bill since an estimated 75% to 90% of all of the energy used in your washer goes to heating up the water.

Another way to extend the life of your clothes is by not washing every single item after one wear, with the exception of course, of underwear and socks. Why? Each time you wash your clothes, you’re putting stress on the fabric. By wearing your clothes a few times before washing, you can minimize any damage. Doing so will not only save your clothes, but you’ll also spend less on laundry detergent.

8. Borrow from a Friend

Going to a gala event or attending a wedding but can’t afford to buy anything? Consider asking that generous, stylish friend if you might be able to borrow from their closet. This can spare your bank account and allow you to get dressed up in something new and fresh to you. The only cost you might incur is taking the garment to the dry cleaners after.

Don’t have a friend with a fab wardrobe? Consider renting an outfit for your big night out.

Recommended: 18 Common Misconceptions About Money

9. Figure Out Cost Per Wear

Looking for more ideas for how to save money on clothes? Maybe it’s time for a bit of easy math. Since you likely want to feel as if you’re getting your money’s worth when you buy an article of clothing, pay attention to how often things get worn. If a piece is costly and you’ve only worn it once, you’re not reaping its full value.

You can figure out if your money was well spent by calculating the cost-per-wear ratio. Just divide the item’s cost by how many times you wear it. For example, if you buy a coat for $100 and wear it 100 times, your cost per wear is $1. On the flip side, if you’ve only worn it five times, each wear is equivalent to $20 which probably hasn’t given you the most bang for your buck. Before you buy the clothing, take time to do the math to assess how many times you realistically expect to wear it.

10. Upcycle Your Clothes

Upcycling clothing is taking something old, recycling it, and making it into something new to wear. Repurposing clothing is one of the many interesting ways you can save money.

Upcycling clothes can include sewing, cutting, dyeing, or even updating a cardigan with new buttons. Fun examples of upcycling include hand-painting a jean jacket, cutting a pair of jeans into shorts, creating a tote bag from a sweatshirt, or transforming a wool blanket into an autumn coat or cape.

Upcycling is also eco-friendly. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles every year. Not only does upcycling help you buy less and keep excess fabric out of landfills, it’s a way to save money and live sustainably.

11. Retool Your Clothing Budget

One way to stop overspending on clothing is to figure out how much you’re actually shelling out each month and then set a limit. There are several different budgeting techniques, such as the 50-30-20 rule. This divides your take home money into three categories: needs (50%), wants (30%) and savings and debt repayment (20%). ****

The needs category encompasses expenses you can’t avoid like groceries, housing, and utilities. Generally clothes fall into the discretionary wants group along with entertainment, dining out, monthly subscription expenses. Some financial experts suggest limiting clothing spending to 2 to 2.5% of your take-home pay which equals between 6 to 8% of the 30% of non-essential purchases. If you make $4,000 a month, 30% of that amount equals $1,200. 6 to 8% of that figure equals an allotment of $72 to $96 a month for apparel. If that doesn’t sound like enough, you’ll want to see what other non-essentials in the wants category you can scale back.

Recommended: Guide to Practicing Financial Self-Care

12. Go Shopping in Your Own Closet

Do you really know what’s in your closet or tucked into all your dresser drawers? Go through your entire wardrobe, and you might find things you forgot you had or thought you got rid of years ago. Unearthing items you haven’t seen or worn in awhile can spark creativity with clothing combinations and stretch your wardrobe.

On the other hand, you may realize some pieces lingering in the corners of your closet hold no interest. If that’s the case, keep reading for details on how you might get some money for it.

13. Buy and Sell Used Clothing

There’s no question you can save money by shopping for second-hand clothing. You can find bargains at a variety of places including thrift stores, consignment shops, garage, yard, or stoop sales, and even for free through community groups such as Buy Nothing. Two sites, among others, where you can sell your old stuff are Poshmark.com and Depop.com. Both are great for finding brand-name and designer garb for cheap.

And, the pickings are plentiful since secondhand shopping is at an all time-high with 82% of Americans buying or selling used goods, according to OfferUp’s Recommerce Report.

What’s more, some vintage and used clothing shops also buy from people like you. Check out Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading; you might get cash for your gear or be able to swap it for pieces you love.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

14. Don’t Give into Temptation

One way to curb clothes spending is to put a temporary kibosh on shopping for these items. Try not to put yourself in situations where you may feel the urge to buy clothing. For instance, many people spend money when bored. Instead of going shopping when you have an unplanned afternoon, perhaps you could explore new hobbies.

Also, when you find yourself with the urge to shop, stop and ask yourself, “Do I truly need this or do I simply want it?”

You can also commit to a 30-day no-spending challenge on shopping for anything to wear. You may notice you have more money, less credit card debt, and don’t feel the need to buy unnecessary clothing items after you see the rewards of this month of not buying.

Recommended: Questions You Should Ask Before Making an Impulse Buy

15. Learn When Retailers Have Their Biggest Sales

Start paying attention and you’ll see a pattern as to when major retailers host their big sales. Holiday weekends such as Martin Luther King Jr.’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July are popular times for stores to feature great buys along with Black Friday. For online shopping, check out deals on Cyber Monday (the Monday right after Thanksgiving) and Amazon Prime Day.

You can also ask a salesperson at your favorite stores to give you the inside scoop on when certain items might be going on sale.

The Takeaway

Clothes shopping can be fun and an ego boost, but if you’re not mindful, it’s easy to rack up the bills and possibly find yourself mired in unnecessary debt. Many times, there are ways to cut back on buying clothes, make the pieces you have last longer, and breathe new life into your wardrobe without going broke. With creativity, knowledge, and some smart moves, you can still feel good about what you wear without spending as much.

Better banking is here with up to 3.25% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How can I stop spending money on clothes?

One of the best ways is to simply remove the temptation, especially if you’re prone to impulse spending. If you like to shop online, unsubscribe from retailer emails so you won’t be alerted to new items and sales. Feel the itch while scrolling your phone? Put it down; pick up a book, or watch a movie instead. When you’re out and about, resist going into your favorite stores. Vow to commit to a 30-day shopping sabbatical and see how much money you’re able to save as a result.

Are there ways I can take better care of my clothing so they’ll last longer?

Yes. Follow the washing instructions carefully, let items air-dry when possible (instead of exposing them to a hot dryer), and store them in a cool, clean, and dry environment out of the sunlight, which can cause fading. Also fold heavy sweaters instead of hanging them to prevent the fabric from stretching.

Should I only buy cheaper clothes?

No. Sometimes spending more means you’ll get a well-made, high-quality garment that will last for years. Look for these pieces on sale at major department stores and at discount retailers such as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.


Photo credit: iStock/Phiwath Jittamas

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.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% 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 11/3/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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12 Real Ways to Save Money on Electronics

Having the newest iPhone and a 60-inch TV in every room of your house might sound like a dream worth aspiring to, but hold that thought. If you are trying to grow your savings, start investing, or get out of debt, it’s important to scale back all kinds of spending, including on electronics.

In today’s digital world, having access to a smartphone and laptop — not to mention things like Bluetooth headphones, a smart TV, and maybe even a smartwatch — can be crucial for our remote jobs, connecting with friends and family, and staying informed about the world around us.

So how can you buy the electronics you need for daily life without going broke? In this article, we’ll explore, among other topics, the following:

•   How to save money on electronics

•   How to shop at the right time

•   How to sell old electronics

•   How to get the best discounts.

1. Buying Older Models Instead of the Newest Models

The joke goes that you could buy the newest smartphone today, and it’ll probably be replaced by a newer model within a week. While technology cycles aren’t quite that fast, companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft do release “newer, better” phones, tablets, computers, and other tech regularly.

Just remember: You don’t always need the newest tablet. You don’t always have to upgrade your phone. If your technology still operates efficiently — allowing you to take decent photos, reply to work emails, and stay connected via social media or phone calls, all without issue — hold onto it longer. With a little money discipline, you could instead use those funds to build your emergency savings, pay down your debt, or start investing.

And when it does come time to buy a new device, consider buying the second-newest generation. Features are likely similar to the newer device, but prices will be lower. This is particularly true right around the launch of the new generation.

2. Avoiding Consumerism

An easy way to save on electronics is to reject the idea of consumerism. Consumerism is the belief that your well-being, happiness, and even sense of self-worth will increase the more that you spend money on goods and services.

But according to the American Psychological Association, the reverse seems to be true. While it’s not fair to generalize, studies typically show that the least materialistic people report the greatest life satisfaction.

Thus, what might feel like an irresistible craving for the latest technology could actually be detrimental to one’s mental health. Consume your technology in moderation — treat yourself to nice things, but remember that spending won’t always lead to fulfillment. In fact, you may find that committing to how much money to save each month brings greater satisfaction.

3. Trading In and Selling Unwanted Electronics

If you have a junk drawer with old smartphones or a storage container with old laptops, you might be leaving money on the table (or in the junk drawer, as it were).

For example, many second-hand stores buy electronics like video game consoles — and they’ll pay you for the controllers and games too. Some smartphone vendors will allow you to trade in an older-model phone when you purchase a new one.

And there’s always the internet. Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and other online retailers allow you to easily sell old electronics, including phones, TVs, and even appliances. You can then use that money when it’s time to upgrade to a new electronic device or add it to your emergency fund.

The resale market is soaring; it’s expected to grow to $53 billion a year in 2023. Now is a great time to start selling your old tech.

4. Considering Needs Over Wants

If you are struggling to decide whether you should buy a new phone or computer, assess your needs. Beyond determining if your current phone or computer works well enough for you to do your job and live conveniently, take some time to look at your budget.

Do you have enough money to cover actual needs like housing, food, and utilities? Are you able to pay off your credit card each month and make student loan payments? Can you cover an unexpected hospital bill or emergency car repair and meet other money-saving goals?

If you’re confident that you can successfully meet your needs without too much of a struggle, it can be easier to justify splurging on a want.

5. Unplugging Devices That Are Not in Use

Have you heard of phantom or vampire energy use? That’s when you leave something plugged in when not in use and it continues to draw electrical power, which you wind up paying for.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends unplugging certain appliances when not in use to decrease your standby power loads and thus reduce your monthly electric bill.

The daily savings are hardly noticeable, but over time, unplugging certain devices when not in use, like a toaster oven or a laptop in sleep mode, can lead to significant savings — about $100 a year for the average household.

Recommended: Learn the Difference Between Impulsive and Compulsive Shopping

6. Researching and Buying Refurbished Electronics

Refurbished electronics are a great way to get a like-new electronic without digging deep into your pocket. Such electronics don’t always have the luxury of an extended warranty, but many are available with some type of warranty (and maybe even a money-back guarantee).

And you can get a deal on more than just refurbished smartphones. According to Consumer Reports, you can find great deals on speakers, tablets, headphones, and smartwatches.

Just make sure you’re buying a refurbished electronic directly from the manufacturer or from an organization that complies with ISO (International Organization for Standardization) or R2 (Responsible Recycling).

7. Buying at the Right Time

Here’s another way to save on electronics: Sync up with sales. You might find better deals if you are strategic about when you purchase TVs, laptops, and video game consoles. Typically, you can find Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and the week after Christmas can also be an excellent time of the year to buy electronics.

You can also watch for deals around Tax Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. And if you’re buying an older-generation model, try timing it with the release of the newer version for greater discounts.

Recommended: Why You Should Save Money

8. Utilizing Price Matching

It might be challenging to get cell phone providers to match prices of competitors, but when shopping for other electronics, like computers, video game consoles, TVs, and appliances, you might have luck getting big-box retailers to price match.

In fact, some popular stores have official price-matching programs — and may even price-match the deals you find on Amazon. Try price matching when shopping for electronics at stores like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.

9. Shopping Around and Being Patient

Shopping is usually not a good time to be lazy. While it can be tempting to buy your coveted electronic at the first place you see it, it can be important to do some research. Comparison-shop online, research upcoming sales, and utilize coupons and store discounts to get the best deal at the right time.

10. Taking Advantage of Savings Codes

You won’t always be successful, but it’s worth browsing online for savings codes before any major purchase. Sites like GroupOn, RetailMeNot, and Savings.com all offer discount codes that you may be able to apply to your purchase.

You can also look for promotional codes in circulars that arrive in the mail, during podcasts, or from influencers on social media.

Recommended: How Bill Pay Works

11. Utilizing Student Discounts

If you are a student, it can be a good idea before any purchase to ask if the company offers a student discount. The worst they can say is no. Just keep your student ID in your wallet for verification.

You can also ask about other common discounts you might qualify for, like a military discount or senior discount.

12. Not Always Going for Brand-Name or High-End Products

A brand-new iPhone and Samsung TV may sound like the height of luxury, but if you’re trying to be smart about how you spend your money on electronics, consider skipping the most popular brand name or top-of-the-line product options.

A lesser-known brand may perform well and save you money. Before purchasing an unfamiliar brand, however, it is a good idea to read product reviews on third-party websites.

Recommended: How to Force Yourself to Save Money

Saving Money With SoFi

A savings account with a high APY is a good way to save toward all of life’s goals, including electronics. And having a no-fee checking account makes it easier to spend when you’re ready. SoFi’s online bank account delivers the best of both worlds. Sign up for our Checking and Savings with direct deposit to earn a hyper competitive APY, get up to 15% cash back on local purchases, and pay no fees.

With no account fees and up to up to 3.25% APY, you’ll earn more interest in one week than you would in one year in a big bank’s checking or savings account—so you can get the most out of your money.

FAQ

Can you live without electronics?

Technically speaking, it is possible to live without electronics, just as our ancestors did before us. However, technology is now often essential to how we work, how we communicate, how we find information, how we shop, how we find entertainment, and even how we bank and access healthcare. Staying connected and spending money on electronics is fine — everything in moderation.

Can you live while being an electronics minimalist?

Living as an electronics minimalist is possible. You may still need access to a computer for work or online bill pay and a phone to communicate with your family, but you can take specific, impactful steps to otherwise reduce your electronics. For instance, you can sell your TV, downgrade to a basic phone, delete your social media, etc. Then, seek out other experiences, like hiking, attending live theater, and reading.

How much technology should I use per day?

Experts recommend limiting screen time to two hours a day max (outside of work). This includes time spent on your phone or tablet, watching TV, and playing video games. That said, estimates of how much total screen time most Americans invest has been estimated at almost eight hours a day.


Photo credit: iStock/LightFieldStudios

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.
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® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% 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 11/3/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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15 Ways to Stay Motivated When Paying Down Debt

Staying Motivated When Paying Off Debt

Debt: It’s something many of us live with, but it can really bog down our finances and prevent us from meeting our money goals.

Paying off debt is a long-term commitment that requires discipline, and staying motivated until your debts are paid off can be a major challenge. Consider these examples:

•   If you have a student loan of around $43,000, it can take almost eight years to pay off with monthly payments of around $450, according to the Education Data Initiative.

•   If you have $10,000 of credit card debt at an 18% interest rate and want to pay it off in three years, you’ll have to pay $362 every month.

It may sound daunting, but here’s a pep talk: The advantages of paying off debt are well worth the effort. You will have a higher credit rating and qualify for better loans in the future. And with more money to spend each month, you can invest and build a nest egg toward retirement or simply save for luxuries like vacations.

To help you buckle down and say goodbye to your debt, read on to learn how to stay motivated while paying off your debt.

Why It’s Hard to Stay Motivated When Paying Off Debt

How to stay motivated while paying off debt can be tough. It can seem like an uphill, almost endless battle. Depending on how much you have to pay off, the process may seem as if it requires some uncomfortable (and even unfair) sacrifices you’d rather not make.

However, with some smart strategies to change your money mindset, you’ll find that paying down debt becomes easier as you learn better money management.

If you are ready to get rid of debt, read on to learn 15 ways to stay motivated.

15 Ways to Help You Stay Motivated When Paying Off Debt

Here are 15 tips to help setting yourself up for success. They’ll give you a boost as you consider how to stay motivated while paying off debt.

1. Remember the “Why”

Why have you decided to pay off your debt? Are you tired of never having as much spending money as you’d like and watching the debt pile up? Do you hate the idea of dollars flying out of your bank account to pay for interest?
Do you have financial goals that are falling ever further out of reach?

Whatever your reasons, remind yourself regularly why you are working so hard and monitor your progress so that you can see the results.

2. Get Organized

Achieving a goal is easier if you have a plan. Your strategies to become debt free might include consolidating your debt with a lower-interest loan, or you might decide to get a roommate and save on rent.

Whatever your method, plan a budget that you can live with and set up automatic payments each month so that you don’t have to think about your bills daily. (This will also help you avoid late fees.) Then, be disciplined, stick to your budget, and watch your debt diminish.

Quick Money Tip:Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts will pay you a bit and help your money grow. An online bank account is more likely than brick-and-mortar to offer you the best rates.

3. Have an Accountability Partner

Telling someone you are working on paying down debt can help motivate you. Called an accountability partner, this person could be your spouse, a friend, or a financial advisor. If you worry about telling your accountability partner that you fell off the proverbial wagon, remember that nobody’s perfect. Don’t beat yourself up. Just get right back on track with some encouraging words from your partner.

4. Put Yourself in an Uncomfortable Situation

Achieving a goal often takes acknowledging the difficulty saving money can present and then pushing through it. Paying down debt will require making changes to your lifestyle so that you can live more economically.

That might mean going out less with friends, not spending so much on clothes, or moving in with parents temporarily. Feeling uncomfortable is not a bad thing; it can be a powerful motivator. You will power through any feelings of deprivation to get on better financial footing going forward.

5. Track Your Progress

When you initially decide to tackle accumulated debt, it can seem overwhelming. By tracking your payments and your diminishing debt, you will see progress. This in turn can give you confidence and enhance your saving motivation as you stick with your plan.

6. Have a Vision Board

How to stay motivated while paying off debt can involve having a vision of what you will do once you are debt free. Use that as a motivator, not just in your mind but in your home. Perhaps you want to take a vacation to London once you better understand your credit score and then boost it by cutting down your debt. (As you lower your debt ratio versus your credit limit, for instance, your score will likely rise.)

If you want to reward yourself with travel, post your goal where you can see it so you are reminded each day of your intention. You might want to create a vision board with photos of your goal to help spur you on. Whether it’s photos of the West End theaters or teatime at a posh hotel, those photos can be motivating.

7. Celebrate the Small Wins

Find ways to reward yourself as you gradually pay down your debt. These special treats should be inexpensive (so as not to blow your budget) but meaningful. It could be reading the latest book by your favorite author, a meal out with friends, or buying yourself new running shoes. Build room into your budget for rewards.

8. Have Like-Minded Friends

Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to spend less rather than overspend. Friends who like going out to expensive restaurants or shopping at expensive stores are not going to help your cause. There are lots of ways to socialize that do not require spending a boatload of cash. For example, grab a coffee with a friend, or go for a hike. Don’t let keeping up with the Joneses (when the Joneses are big spenders) foil your efforts.

9. Reach out to Others

Knowing that you are not the only one fighting debt is comforting, and hearing success stories will encourage you to continue. Seek support by listening to others.

Podcasts on personal finances and online discussion platforms can provide community and give you ideas on how to manage your debt.

10. Focus on the End Date or End Goal

Have an end date or a final goal, and mark it on your calendar. Plan to reward yourself for your hard work when you reach it. It might be a weekend away or finding a new apartment now that you have freed up some cash in your budget. Looking forward to something will keep you motivated.

11. Listen to Sound Financial Advice

How to stay motivated to pay off debt comes down to making informed decisions that hasten the process. It’s important to make sure the financial advice you listen to comes from reliable sources. Many finance “gurus’ on YouTube and social media platforms may not give out the best advice. Find a financial advisor via recommendations if you are unsure of the steps to take to pay down your debt or need additional guidance.

12. Choose a Repayment Method that Makes Sense

There is more than one way to pay off what you owe, and the debt repayment strategies you choose should suit your particular situation and financial goals. You might choose the debt snowball method, where you pay off your smallest debts first, or you might pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first.

Feel as if you are in too deep of a debt hole? Consulting with a financial advisor or a credit counselor at a nonprofit can help you find the best ways to pay off debt faster.

13. Break Repayment Down to Smaller Goals

It helps to break down your task into smaller goals. For example, the first step might be to meet with a financial advisor for advice on debt consolidation or do your own research on the topic. This can help you lower the interest rate on the money you owe, making it easier to pay off.

The next step might be to arrange a loan with the bank and set up payments. Then, set goals to achieve after six months, 12 months, 18 months, and so on. It can help motivate you to pay off debt to see the individual steps that will get you there.

14. Earn Extra Money

You’ll pay off debt quicker if you can earn extra money. Think of ways to increase your income. Can you do overtime, gig work, or part-time work? You might meet new people and expose yourself to a whole new industry that interests you. Who knows? It could be the start of an entirely new career.

Recommended: 11 Benefits of Having a Side Hustle

15. Gamify Your Debt Repayment

Setting yourself a challenge can add a sense of fun to paying off debt, and it can boost your confidence. For example, set a goal of making an additional $1,000 this month from a side hustle. Or each month vow to briefly give up a typical bit of discretionary spending, such as no take-out coffee for one month. The money saved goes towards debt. Gamifying can help you reach your goals quicker, just make sure your challenge is achievable.

The Takeaway

Paying down debt is a long process, and it is not easy to stay motivated. Some of the ways to stay motivated when paying off debt are to acknowledge exactly how much you owe and then develop a plan, with clear benchmarks, to whittle it down. Reach out to others to learn their experiences, set achievable milestones, and reward yourself when you reach them. These steps will keep you going till you reach that debt free finish line.

Better banking is here with up to 3.25% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Does paying off debt make you happier?

Paying off debt may be difficult to start with as you adjust to changes in your lifestyle and budget. However, ultimately, being debt free is a huge relief. It can reduce your financial stress, and it frees you to do so much more with your money.

What are the benefits of paying off debt?

When you are debt free, a weight may well be lifted from your shoulders. Paying off debt can teach you to live within your means and not overspend. The money you were paying in interest on your debt can now be invested in a nest egg toward retirement or used for discretionary spending, like vacations. Lastly, taking control of your finances and paying off debt are huge accomplishments that can boost your confidence to tackle other challenges.

Is it worth it to pay off your debt?

Paying down debt avoids paying unnecessary interest over the long term. There are short-term benefits too. If you are actively reducing your debt, your credit score will likely improve. That can improve your ability to qualify for loans with lower interest and fewer fees in the future. You can also free yourself of the mental burden of debt.


Photo credit: iStock/BartekSzewczyk

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® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% 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 11/3/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
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