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5 Ways to Improve Your Borrowing Power

Life has a knack for throwing expensive surprises our way.

Some are good. (An opportunity to go to France? Mais oui!) Some are not. (Two thousand dollars for an emergency root canal and crown? Downright painful.)

In a perfect world, you’d have your rainy-day fund at the ready, no matter what crazy costs might pop up. But if you don’t, and you need a chunk of money to book that trip or fix that tooth — or repair your car, or renovate your bathroom – an unsecured personal loan could be your best solution.

After all, you’ll probably need to get your hands on that money as quickly, easily and affordably as possible, with a payment plan that fits into your budget. And the right personal loan can offer all that.

That’s why it’s important to increase your borrowing power — your ability to qualify for the amount of money you need with the best interest rate you can get and a loan term and payments you can manage.

Five Ways to Help Improve Your Borrowing Power

1. Cleaning up Your Credit Record

If you want lenders to love you, you have to prove you can pay back your debts. Companies that offer personal loans want to know you’re capable of paying back their money, so they’ll be looking at things like your credit score and your credit reports .

These things tell them about your financial obligations vs. what you earn every month, and it gives them a picture of your credit history. Your credit score isn’t all they may look into. For example, if you have a high debt-to-income ratio, you may be turned down for a loan—or, if you are approved, the terms may not be as user-friendly as you’d hoped.

You have a right to access your credit report once a year for free from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you pull your report and see something that’s correct but might be off-putting to potential lenders—maybe an old bill from a cell phone you had in college and forgot all about—you can get to work on repairing the situation.

2. Evaluating Your Employment History and Earnings

Lenders also typically look at your gross income, and they could even consider your potential earnings and/or work history. Stability is usually important: Employees with a full-time job may seem less risky than a part-time or freelance worker whose hours and income might change from month to month.

On the other hand, if you are new to a job—fresh out of college or back to work after having kids, for example—and your current or potential earnings are substantial, you may look great despite the fact that your earnings are relatively new. If you’re due for a promotion or raise, you may want to ask about that income boost before applying for your new loan.

3. Considering a Co-Borrower

If you aren’t the ideal candidate for a personal loan, don’t abandon all hope. You may be able to use a co-borrower on your loan. This person could be a creditworthy family member or friend who is willing to apply for the loan with you. And remember, a co-borrower is different from a cosigner.

While a cosigner promises to pay the loan back in the event that you cannot, a co-borrower is more involved, as they are an equal borrower and jointly share the responsibility of paying back the loan with you.

The idea is to supplement your limited or less-than-optimal credit history with one that is better or longer-established. Having a joint borrower can make the difference between being approved or rejected, and also may result in more favorable terms.

Keep in mind that some lenders have stricter criteria for co-borrowers than individuals, so be aware of the loan requirements and your co-borrower’s financial state before applying for a personal loan. And not every lender accepts applications from co-borrowers, so if you think it’s a must for you, you’ll be limited to lenders who welcome co-borrowers.

If you’re the one who wants the loan, the idea of having someone bolster your chances probably sounds pretty terrific. If you manage the loan payments responsibly, you could also improve your credit status for future endeavors.

But keep in mind your co-borrower is now just as responsible for paying back the loan as you are. If you fail to make payments on your loan, the burden falls to him or her. If it’s a spouse, parent or partner, you may be able to work something out, but you might want to proceed with caution if, for example, your co-borrower is a friend or sibling. (With a SoFi personal loan, the co-borrower must live at the same address as the primary applicant.)

4. Being a Smart Borrower

Another way to improve your borrowing power is to know your way around a loan agreement. As with any financial product, understanding the fine print before you sign your contract is key. Hidden costs can sneak up on you. For example, some lenders charge a loan origination fee or a prepayment penalty, unlike SoFi, where personal loans are 100% fee-free. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties either with SoFi.

5. Keeping your Options Open

If you need money now, the temptation may be to run to the nearest bank for a loan. But that’s not necessarily going to get you your loan any faster, and you may be missing out on competitive terms, innovative benefits, and solid customer service some online lenders have to offer.

For instance, besides the advantages listed above (accepting a co-borrower, no fees, unemployment protection), SoFi provides access to career services, networking events, additional-loan discounts, an autopay interest rate reduction, and more. And SoFi has built a reputation for great customer service; you can get answers to your questions at any time on any day of the week.

See How a Personal Loan Can Help

If your rainy-day fund is looking a little leaky these days, you can still take care of unexpected expenses. A low-interest SoFi personal loan could be the solution you need to keep your finances on track no matter what life throws your way.

Check out a SoFi personal loan when you need a little help dealing with life’s surprises. It only takes two minutes to apply!

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 on credit.
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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How to Keep Track of Your Student Loans

If you’re like most recent graduates, you probably have a mix of federal student loans and private loans totaling almost $40,000 . Your loans most likely have different interest rates and payment terms.

For instance, your federal loans typically don’t need to be repaid until you graduate or you’re no longer a half-time student. The average student loan payment is between $200 and $400 a month . Yet, keeping track of your student loans—what you’ve paid, what you still owe, even which lender currently holds the loan—can be tricky if you’re not organized.

You certainly don’t want to miss a payment, incur a late fee or, even worse, risk defaulting on your student loan. If you want to avoid these mishaps, which could wreak havoc on your credit score, it might be time to check out some tried-and-true methods to manage your student loans.

Here are five tips for keeping track of your student loan payments.

Create a Separate File

Whether you use an accordion folder, an old shoebox, or a binder, it’s important to keep your student loan documents in one place for easy reference. Among the most important documents is the original student loan promissory note outlining the terms of your agreement, any notifications that your loan has been sold to another lender, and your annual 1098-E , which outlines how much you paid in interest on your loan the year before. You will also want to keep every loan statement that shows you made your student loan payment on time each month.

Use a Spreadsheet

If you have more than one student loan, you can create a student loan tracker with a simple Excel or Google Doc spreadsheet. This will help keep track of each lender’s name, the loan’s interest rate, whether the loan rate is fixed or variable, if it’s a federal loan or private loan, your current monthly payment, and the date it’s due each month.

You could also add a column for the date you made your payment and the corresponding check number. Bonus points if you keep track of the interest you are paying, the remaining principal owed, and the last time the terms of your loan were updated.

Find an App

If you want to be able to keep track of your payment without the hassle of a spreadsheet, there are several free apps that allow you to track your progress and compare repayment plans.

Some apps even allow you to compare two payoff methods—debt snowball (you pay off the smallest loan balance first while paying only the minimum on your other student loans) versus debt avalanche (you pay off your student loan with the highest interest rate first while paying only the minimum on your other student loans).

Double-Check What You Owe

Make it a yearly habit to double-check how much money you still owe on your student loans. You can look up the balance of your federal student loans on the National Student Loan Data System website.

Private student loans can be harder to track down, particularly since private lenders often sell their loans to other companies. One way to find out which student loans you currently hold is to request your annual free credit report from Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian. A credit report will show all your current debt, including any student loans.

Simplify Your Loans by Refinancing

Refinancing your student loans can make it easier to keep track of them. If you hold multiple student loans with different interest rates and payment plans, refinancing allows you to consolidate multiple loans into one loan with a single (hopefully lower) interest rate and one monthly payment.

Not only can this make your repayment plan easier, it also can make it more straightforward to keep track of how much you’ve paid and how much you still owe.

Many people who refinance their student loans are able to create a more flexible repayment plan by lengthening their term and lowering their monthly payment as a result. Or if you’re more interested in getting out of debt faster, you can try refinancing to a lower interest rate, which could reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of your loan.

If you are looking to better manage your student loan debt and keep track of your loan payments and terms, consider refinancing your loans with SoFi.

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.
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 on credit.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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Is Buying a House a Good Investment?

Owning your own home is a quintessential part of the American Dream. It’s a haven, a space that is completely your own, offering stability and comfort for you and your family. If you have been dreaming about homeownership, you may be trying to determine if buying a home is a good investment.

People often buy homes when the timing is right in their lives; they’re mostly out of debt, they’ve saved for a down payment, they’ve built up their credit score, and they have a solid career. If you have the means, buying a home can be a great decision. For others, it may make sense to rent for a few more years to save and learn how to buy a house.

While houses are often seen as investments, they are different from stocks or mutual funds. Sure, you buy your home with the hope that the value increases over time, but it’s also an asset you use every day. And owning a home requires regular maintenance and unexpected costs.

If you’re wondering “Is buying a house a good investment?” you’ll have to do some personal reflection and take a look at your finances and future plans. There are a lot of factors to consider and only you can determine when you’re ready to buy. Here are six questions to consider when deciding if it’s time to buy a house.

Are You Willing to Own a Home for Five Years or More?

In order to determine if buying a home is a good investment for you, you’ll need to estimate the amount of time you plan to own the house.

If you don’t plan to own the house for at least three to five years, you may not break even when you sell the home. When you buy a home, you pay for more than just the house and those costs can add up.

You’re often paying for appraisals, mortgage application fees, inspections, movers, real estate agent fees, and that can add up to thousands of dollars. In order to offset all those fees, your home would generally have to appreciate by 15% to 20% prior to selling. It can be difficult to make those gains back in just three years. If you plan to live somewhere for less than five years, it could make the most sense to rent property.

Do You Have Sufficient Savings?

In order to buy a home, you’ll generally have to take out a mortgage to finance your purchase. Lenders will scrutinize your mortgage application, reviewing your credit report, employment history, and earnings to make sure you are able to make the monthly mortgage payments. Before you even get to that stage, you’ll have to save for a down payment and closing costs.

In addition to the initial cost of buying a home, there are continuing costs you’ll have to account for, such as home insurance, property taxes, general maintenance, and emergency home repairs. When you are renting, if the kitchen sink springs a leak, your landlord will take care of it.

But when you own a home, those repairs will be entirely your responsibility. Having an emergency fund saved up will help you deal with unexpected costs associated with homeownership.

One way to save for your down payment is to use a SoFi Invest account. At SoFi, you can begin investing with as little as $100 and you’ll gain access to a team of financial advisors who can work with you to establish your financial goals and create a plan to help you get there. If owning a home is your goal, investing with SoFi could help you get there.

Buy your next home with as little
as 10% down on loans up to $3 million.

Are You Confident in the Housing Market?

While the price of homes has continued to rise over the past 10 years, there has also been an increase in demand and a decrease in available housing . This can make it difficult for first-time homebuyers to find a suitable home that is in their price range. It’s important to be prepared as you start to look at homes. Understand your budget and make sure you have saved enough money to make a solid down payment on the property.

Are You Ready for the Responsibility?

When you own your own home, you have a lot of freedom to make the space completely your own. With all of this flexibility comes a lot of responsibility. If the house has a yard, you’ll be responsible for regular maintenance and upkeep.

Will you need to buy a lawn mower? If you live in an area with harsh winters, will you need to get a snow blower or hire someone to clear the driveway after each snow storm? If the roof starts to leak, you’ll have to fix it or hire someone to complete the repairs.

Make sure you are ready for the financial responsibility that comes with owning a home before you make the purchase. You’ll have to account for repairs, improvements, general upkeep, insurance, and taxes.

Are You Willing to Live with a Long-Term Loan?

Part of the process of learning how to buy a house is educating yourself on how mortgages work and the different types available. Generally, there are two types: fixed rate and adjustable-rate mortgages.

A fixed-rate mortgage keeps your payment level over time, typically 15 or 30 years, because the interest rate remains stable. The interest rate on a flexible-rate mortgage fluctuates over time. They usually start out lower than a fixed-rate loan, but often rise in later years. To see what a mortgage could mean for you, take a look at SoFi’s mortgage calculator.

While it may seem daunting to take on a 30-year obligation, a mortgage helps you build equity in an asset that generally increases in value as time passes. Is a house a good investment? Historically, yes, if you think long term.

Over the years, homeowners build up equity in the house as they methodically pay off more and more principal with each loan payment. Many smart borrowers pay extra each month toward the principal to pay off the mortgage sooner.

Ready to Buy? Consider a SoFi Mortgage

When you’re ready to take the next steps in your home-buying journey, consider taking out a SoFi mortgage loan. SoFi offers both adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages, so you can choose the option that works best for you.

Applying for a loan with SoFi is easy—we offer pre-qualification online in under two minutes. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

Ready to buy your new home? Learn how a SoFi mortgage can help you buy the house of your dreams.

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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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See for more information.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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.


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Why February Is Actually a Good Month to Buy Your Wedding Bands

Caught up in the frenzy of wedding planning, with a growing list of things that must be done, it’s easy to overlook one of the most meaningful decisions you and your partner will make together.

Choosing your wedding bands.

You’ll see lots of tips out there—online and in bridal magazines—about good times of year to buy engagement rings. What you don’t see nearly as often is information about budgeting for and purchasing wedding bands. But that doesn’t mean it should become an afterthought.

After all, if all goes well, you’ll be wearing those rings for the rest of your lives. Your bands are a symbol of your love and commitment, and they will hopefully make you happy every time you look at them.

You’ll want your band-browsing trips to be romantic but also rewarding, especially if you’re hoping to get the right rings at a bargain price. And that makes February—a month devoted to lovers—an ideal time to shop. Here’s why.

The Christmas Crush is Over

Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) is still one of the most popular holidays for couples to get engaged , but more people choose to pop the question in the period between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day than any other time of year.

So while jewelers still will be catering to happy couples in February, and there will be plenty of inventory, the stores won’t be quite so crowded. And you might be the only ones in there looking for bands instead of a big diamond. You should be able to get lots of attention and negotiating for a better price could potentially be easier.

Ring Sets

If you’re among those still looking to buy an engagement ring for a Valentine’s Day proposal or announcement, keep an eye out for package deals. Jewelers often recommend buying a bridal set—an engagement ring and wedding band that go together, or even fit together—because they can be more comfortable and make decision-making a bit simpler.

Some sets come with a matching groom’s band as well. You may find three rings you love already on sale together—but if they aren’t, don’t be afraid to ask if you can get a better price for a package.

Bridal Fairs are Kicking Into Gear

Many bridal expos are held in February and March , offering a great opportunity to see the trendiest and most enduring styles without the sales pressure.

Vendors are there to give tips as well as a good pitch—and many will be offering limited-time expo-related discounts. Gather up information and coupons at the bridal fair, then give yourselves a day or two to regroup and possibly go make a purchase.

Great For a Summer Wedding

Many jewelers recommend shopping for your bands at least two to three months before your wedding date. That will give you time to look and look again, get the rings sized and get any engraving or other customizing done.

If your wedding is in June or later in the summer, starting in February should provide plenty of breathing room, even if it takes a while to find what you want at the price you want to pay. (And, come on, you know every store will be covered in hearts and flowers, so the setting will be super-romantic.)

Before you scoot out the door on a band-buying mission, though, do a little prep work . It will help you stick to a reasonable price for your rings and make things go more smoothly.

Set a Budget

You want bands you’ll love forever, but not at a price that will put you in debt for the rest of your lives.

It’s really a matter of taste: what metal you want, how wide the band is, the intricacy of the design, and if it’s custom-designed. If your budget is limited, talk about whether you might want to upgrade down the road or add an anniversary ring in 10 or 20 years.

Look For a Ring You’ll Want to Wear

Of course, you want your ring to be a good fit for your budget, but it also should suit your lifestyle. If you don’t plan on taking your band off every time you’re in the garden or workshop, if you play an instrument or sport, or if you don’t want to attract attention, stick to something simple.

Start by looking at images online (try to find sites with 3D photos ), then go try on similar styles. When it’s time to buy, online jewelers can be less expensive, but be sure you go with a reputable brand.

Keep Maintenance in Mind

Softer metals can bend. Small stones can get loose and go missing. If you’re not up for the trauma, trips to the jeweler for repairs or the cost of replacing tiny diamond chips, you might want to go with a basic platinum or gold band that will hold up with little care.

Beware of “Interest-Free” Financing at the Jewelry Shop

Larger jewelry stores usually offer some sort of in-store financing, including 0%-interest credit cards. But you could curse that convenience later if you can’t pay off the balance in full during the designated promotional period.

If the interest is “deferred” and you still carry a balance—even if it’s just a few dollars—you’ll have to pay all the interest that’s been adding up since you made the purchase. And that interest rate probably will be higher than other credit card or loan offers available to you.

Financing Your Wedding Bands

If it looks as though your dream bands will be a bit outside your budget because of all the other costs of starting your life together, a wedding loan may be a proactive way to plan your payments. With a personal loan, you’ll be clear from the get-go about the interest rate and length of the loan—no surprises.

And you could potentially qualify for a competitive rate if you and your spouse-to-be both have a solid financial history, including factors like a good credit record and well-paying jobs.

If you sign on as co-borrowers, and the funds will be delivered to a joint account, you can own the loan together and work the payments into your new household budget. Another plus: You may be able to negotiate a discount with the jeweler for paying the entire bill up front and in cash.

Applying for a SoFi personal loan online is quick and easy. There’s no prepayment penalty, so you can pay the loan back early if you want.

If you qualify for a personal loan using SoFi as your lender, you’ll also qualify for member benefits that include access to other financial services you may require in the future, whether you’re buying a home, sending your kids to college or planning your retirement.

The words “till death do us part” should hopefully refer to your marriage, not your wedding bills.

A SoFi personal loan can help if you come up short when it’s time to buy your bands—or with any other expenses related to your wedding.

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.
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.
No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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5 Easy Ways Doctors Can Save on Taxes

It’s a well-known fact that doctors tend to make a good amount of money. (One of the great perks to being a doctor, other than the “saving lives” part.) But compared to other high-earners, you’ve got large amounts of student debt, as well as years spent in school not building equity like your 401(K).

That’s why it can make sense to know how to save money on taxes as a doctor, so you can put it toward establishing your financial standing.

As such, here are five easy ways doctors can save on taxes:

1. Contribute to multiple tax-advantaged retirement accounts. One way to save? Instead of only paying into one company-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b), spread your retirement savings across as many tax-advantaged accounts as you can to get around account maximums. SoFi offers online IRA accounts that can bring you closer to your retirement goals. By stacking accounts like this, you could go from saving just a few thousand max in one account to over a hundred thousand pre-tax across multiple accounts in one year. Yep—that’s a pretty big spread.

2. Consider a 529 Plan account to save for children’s college funds. A 529 Plan account grows tax-free when used for qualifying educational expenses. (Psst—you could even get a tax deduction on your state taxes the year you fund it. Just saying.)

3. If you own a practice or you moonlight, consider deducting all business-related expenses. For doctors, learning and networking comes with a perk: deductions! Think advertising, license fees, exam fees, website fees, professional publications, dues, memberships, medical associations, and conferences. The general strategy is to deduct as much on Schedule C or your personal tax return as possible.

4. For investments, consider the tax benefits of long versus short term gains. Owning an investment for more than one year means any profit will qualify as a long-term gain. That makes sense. What’s important to consider is that long-term capital gains are taxed much lower than short-term capital gains (which are taxed at your ordinary income rate). For those with portfolios to manage, this is one factor worth keeping in mind.

5. For charitable donations, don’t forget you can donate investments. Most people know that donating cash or used items qualifies as a tax deduction. But for physicians, it’s good to remember you can donate appreciated stocks and funds. In this case, you can gain a double tax benefit by getting a tax deduction for the gift—and by sidestepping the capital gain on the sale.

If you’re looking for more ways hang on to your money, consider refinancing your student loans.

SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance.
SoFi doesn’t provide tax or legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique. Consult with a qualified tax advisor or attorney.
This information isn’t financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on specific financial needs, goals and risk appetite.
Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC, a registered investment advisor.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.


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