house with red door

When Is the Best Time to Buy a House?

There’s swimsuit season, apple season, and a season to be jolly, but is there a right season to buy a house? There are a number of factors that go into deciding when to purchase a home, from buying when interest rates are low to the times of the year you’re likely to get a deal. Ultimately, when you decide to buy will depend on your financial situation and local market factors.

Knowing You’re Ready to Buy

Before even going down the rabbit hole of timing the real estate market or watching the Federal Reserve like a hawk, it can be a good idea to explore if buying a home is right for your personal and financial situation. There are a number of signs that can help you know the answer is “yes.”

First, your budget is bountiful enough to cover any required down payment, closing costs, a mortgage payment and other costs associated with homeownership.

Second, you don’t plan on moving for a while, which may give the home you buy time to appreciate in value (subject to market fluctuations). Also, consider whether you will benefit from itemizing and potentially writing off your home interest.

It’s a good idea to check on your credit, a better overall financial profile may help you secure better financing terms when you purchase a home. And finally, take a look at whether rent in your chosen area is relatively high compared to the cost of home ownership. If you can rent a home in your city for much less than what you would pay in mortgage payments, it may not make sense to make a purchase right now.

If you find that these factors are true—especially that you’re ready to stay put for the long haul and renting is relatively costly—you may be ready to buy a home and can begin looking at other factors to decide when to pull the trigger.

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Watching Interest Rates

One factor to consider when deciding whether to buy is interest rates. Banks charge interest to cover the costs of loaning you money when they offer you a mortgage. The mortgage interest rate banks charge is influenced in part by the Federal Reserve, but mortgage backed securities are considered the main driver.

If interest rates are low, borrowing money is cheaper for you. Borrowing gets more expensive as interest rates increase. So if you think that interest rates are going to rise soon, buying a home now with a fixed-rate mortgage loan may allow you to lock in better terms than you might otherwise get in the future. Conversely, if you think interest rates are high , it may be worth waiting to see if they’ll fall.

Timing the Real Estate Market

The idea behind timing any market is that you buy when prices are low and sell when prices are high. Ideally, you would buy your home when there are more sellers than there are buyers, a situation known as a buyers market.

In a buyers market, the overabundance of housing options drives down the price of homes. Additionally, it may give you leverage to ask for more concessions from sellers desperate to close a deal, such as giving a seller credit towards the buyers closing costs or covering the cost of repairs or new appliances.

In a seller’s market, the opposite is true. More people want to buy than there are houses available for sale and housing prices are driven up.

To identify what times may be beneficial to be a buyer, there are a number of factors you can watch. First, take a look at pricing trends in your area. Use real estate websites like Zillow, RedFin or Trulia to look at what houses have sold for in your chosen area.

If prices are low or seem in line with historic trends, it could be a good time to buy. If prices are much higher than they have been historically, it may not be the ideal time to buy and/or the area may even be experiencing a real estate bubble. Bubbles tend not to be sustainable, but many factors play into real estate market conditions.

You can also take a look at how long houses in your desired area are sitting on the market. If houses in good condition are taking a long time to sell, it could mean demand is low and the market is in your favor.

Additionally, examine larger economic factors such as new construction and months of supply. When fewer houses are being built, demand and prices are higher.

The government keeps track of new residential construction. Visit the U.S. Census Bureau to take a look at current trends.

Months of supply is a measure of how many months it would take to sell the current number of houses on the market in your area at the current rate of sale. If there are 40 houses on the market and they are selling at the rate of 10 per month, there are four months of supply. When this measure creeps above six months of supply, it generally indicates that it’s a buyer’s market.

Understanding Your Local Market

Real estate is generally considered a location driven market, so prices can vary widely from area to area, and general rules of thumb regarding pricing may not be true in every case. The same can be true of particularly desirable neighborhoods within a city.

Local economics can also play a part in housing demand. Say a large company leaves a city sending its manufacturing overseas. That city may experience an economic downturn that puts downward pressure on house prices.

This local variation means that it’s important to pay close attention to economic and housing trends in your chosen area. That way you’ll be more likely to find the best time to get your dream home.

When you’ve found the right house and you’re ready to buy, visit SoFi to learn more about mortgage options with as little as 10% down.

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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mother and child on stairs

Strategies for Building an Investment Plan for Your Child

They make you laugh, and they make you cry. You worry about them when they’re out of sight, and even when they’re in plain view. You desperately hope they grow up strong, healthy, and ready to tackle life’s challenges.

After all, they are your pride and joy. Children make parents do some pretty selfless things, and one of the more beneficial thing you could do is plan for their financial future. But how do you do that with everything else you have to worry about in your life?

Fortunately, there are some fairly simple financial tools to help you meet your goals, whether you’re saving for a college education, a once-in-a-lifetime summer camp, or a down payment for their first home.

Depending on your situation, some options might be obvious good choices, while others come with caveats you might want to know about before investing.

With a little background knowledge, you could find an investment plan for your child’s future. An investment for a child could also provide a great education in financial responsibility.

Let’s look at some of the choices.

Custodial Accounts

A simple custodial savings account in your child’s name could be a good start as an investment for a child. When a baby is born, everybody from Grandma to Uncle Joe may want to contribute to the account. Unlike college savings plans , which require the funds be used for education, custodial accounts offer a lot of flexibility.

Savings can be used for almost anything—a European vacation, car for college, pre-college expenses—as long as it is for the benefit of the child. Just remember, any money in an investment account for a child is irrevocably in their name and for their benefit . You can’t take it back.

A custodial account could be a great vehicle for children to learn how to invest. In fact, if you’re wondering how to buy stock for a child to help them learn about money, a custodial account might be a great investment account for a child. You could pick a company they would be excited to follow, like Disney or McDonald’s, and let them watch over time.

Custodial accounts, also known as Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) and Uniform Transfers to Minors
(UTMA) accounts, don’t have a limit to how much you can invest. While contributions aren’t tax-deductible, there may be a tax advantage because it’s in the child’s name.

But that advantage might quickly turn into a disadvantage if unearned income from dividends, gains, or interest reaches a certain amount. Then the account is subject to the Kiddie Tax , which Congress enacted to prevent abuse of the financial vehicle by parents. With a custodial account, you can gift up to $15,000 in 2019 for each child; double that if you’re married and filing jointly. Above that you’re liable for the federal gift tax .

While you can use the money in the account to pay for various things your child needs, one caveat is that the child gets full control when they reach the age of majority, usually 18 or 21 years of age.

Custodial accounts might be good for modest, defined goals, such as paying for education, orthodontia, or academic camps, for example. If there is a sizable sum of money in the account, consider whether you want to transfer that amount, unregulated, to someone of such a young age. In that situation, one idea might be to have a lawyer draw up a trust to set up specific parameters you can live with.

If the thought of giving up control is too much for you, you could set up a guardian account in your name so you can decide how the money is spent. Essentially, it’s a way to earmark funds to give to your child down the road.

College Savings Accounts

A Coverdell education savings account or a 529 savings plan could be a worthy option for a child. They offer two ways to pay for educational costs, whether college or K–12 schooling. The Coverdell allows you to contribute up to $2,000 a year for education expenses. While contributions are not tax deductible, withdrawals are tax-free.

Coverdells have two areas where they might have a slight advantage over 529 accounts: You can select from a wide range of investments and the money you withdraw can be used for any qualifying education expenses, such as books, tutors, and equipment.

The 529 college savings plan tends to be a popular way to save for college. You can make larger contributions than you can with a Coverdell account, and any withdrawals for qualified education purposes are tax-free.

As of 2018, Congress allows withdrawals of up to $10,000 for K–12 tuition. Not all plans or states that sponsor 529 plans are in line with the new rules , so you might want to ask a tax expert or the manager of the plan about your options.


Custodial (Traditional)

Custodial IRAs are another investment option for a child. They work just like a traditional IRA, so when your child has earned income from a first job, babysitting, or other work, they (or you) can contribute up to $5,500 annually . Starting early might be a way to teach them about the power of financial stewardship.

With a traditional custodial IRA, your child will pay ordinary income tax when they withdraw the money in retirement, and they must begin doing so at age 70½ . Contributions are also tax deductible, which probably won’t benefit them if their income is still low or they don’t meet the $12,000 standard deduction threshold requiring them to pay federal income tax.

Both traditional and Roth custodial IRAs convey to the child at the age of majority (18 to 20 years of age, depending on the state).


Just like traditional IRAs, contributions to a Roth IRA also grow tax-free over the years and have the same contribution limits—however, the Roth could be an investment possibility for your child if you value flexibility. Whether you’re saving for college or retirement, it might offer more advantages for your child over the decades than a traditional IRA.

While you still pay tax on each contribution, all withdrawals are tax-free , which could be a big benefit to your child, assuming they’ll be in a higher tax bracket at retirement. There is no required minimum distribution when they must start withdrawing.

One of the biggest advantages to a Roth is that your child could use the contributions for any reason besides retirement. But two special perks of the Roth include the ability to pay for certain higher education expenses and withdraw up to $10,000 to buy their first home. On the other hand, if withdrawn before retirement, earnings can be taxed and your child could be penalized in addition.

Growing Wealth for Your Children

When it’s time to get serious about saving—for college, retirement, or something else—you could set up an account with SoFi Invest®. It’s easy to open an investment account with SoFi, and you’ll have access to complimentary financial advisors and other benefits to help your family save for a bright future.

Finding the right investment plan for a child doesn’t have to be a chore. Start building for your children’s futures and open a SoFi Invest account today.

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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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9 Ways to Save Money on Your Utility Bills

Unless you go completely off grid, there isn’t a way to not pay utility bills. Typically, homeowners pay monthly bills for their electricity usage—plus natural gas, water, garbage/sewer/recycling, cable television, and internet access.

Fortunately, though, there are plenty of practical ways to help save money on home utilities—and, when you combine several of these tips together, it can add up to some pretty serious savings!

We’ll share nine ways that you may be able to save money, with some tactics being straightforward, and others perhaps more challenging to implement. Some (like buying energy-efficient appliances) require an upfront investment, while others won’t need anything other than a commitment to a new habit.

The good news is that you can pick and choose which money-saving hacks fit your lifestyle and will hopefully help cut down on your energy costs. You can decide to add hacks to your lifestyle one by one, or take the plunge on several all at once.

And, no matter which approach you might take, once you discover how to save money on utilities, you may become even more motivated to try additional ways to help cut expenses.

Utility Bill Money-Saving Hacks

1. Unplug!

According to utility provider Direct Energy , it may be possible to save $100 to $200 each year by unplugging your appliances and devices when they’re not in use—and as a bonus, when you unplug, you’re protecting them from damage that could occur during power surges.

If you’re wondering how much electricity is being consumed in your house by appliances that are plugged in but not in use, you can use a handheld electricity monitor to make an estimate.

If, let’s say, you can save $200 annually, a Department of Energy spokesperson points out that this can equal one month’s worth of electricity costs in many households.

And if it’s too much of a hassle to unplug something that’s plugged in behind a heavy entertainment center, for example, you can at least unplug the easy ones, like your phone charger and coffee maker.

2. Replace!

Light bulbs, that is.

According to , the average household uses about 5% of its energy budget on the lighting used, which means switching to lighting that’s energy efficient is a fast and easy way to help cut down on costs. If, for example, you just replace the five bulbs you use most with ENERGY STAR bulbs, you can save an estimated $45 a year.

Here’s why. Traditional incandescent bulbs needed to use a whole bunch of energy just to create light. In fact, 90% of their energy was really used to give off heat, which is lost energy. Today’s bulbs are much more efficient, plus they come in an array of light levels and colors.

3. Washing Clothes on Cold

When you wash your clothes on cold, you save significantly on energy usage, while also being kinder to your clothes. shares that 90% of the energy used while washing clothes goes towards heating the water. To put a dollar figure on this, the site shares these estimates:

Hot/warm wash/rinse settings:
•   Costs 68 cents per load
•   Costs $265 per year

Warm/warm wash/rinse settings:
•   Costs 53 cents per load
•   Costs $206 per year

Hot/cold wash/rinse settings:
•   Costs 42 cents per load
•   Costs $165 per year

Warm/cold wash/rinse settings:
•   Costs 29 cents per load
•   Costs $112 per year

Cold/cold wash/rinse settings:
•   Costs 4 cents per load
•   Costs $16 per year

Make sure your loads are full to save even more money. And, guess what? Today’s detergent technology uses enzymes that actually work more effectively in cold water.

4. Dialing Down Your Hot Water Heater

Here’s an especially easy hack—heck to see where your hot water heater’s thermostat is set. If it’s above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, consider lowering it! For every ten degrees that you dial it down , you could save 3% to 5% on your energy bills. Plus, you’ll make it less likely that someone in your family gets burned by hot water.

5. Drying Clothes More Efficiently

According to , in a standard household, the appliance that uses the most energy is the dryer. To calculate your costs, they provide a calculator , along with the following tips:

•   Right-size your loads. Too full, and it takes too long for your clothes to dry. Too small? You’ll be spending too much energy per item as you dry them.
•   Air dry on a rack whenever you can.
•   Switch loads while the dryer is still warm so you can use the heat from a previous load.
•   Add wool or rubber dryer balls to cut down drying time.
•   Regularly clean your dryer’s lint filter.
•   Use the lower heat settings to use less energy.
•   Separate your towels and heavier cottons from lighter weight items.
•   If your dryer has a cool-down cycle, use it!
•   If your dryer has a moisture sensor option, the advice is the same: Use it!
•   Explore using a gas dryer to see if this is more cost effective.

6. Saving on Heating and Cooling Costs

Focusing on your thermostat can be key to energy savings, although you’ll probably want to find other ways to feel warm enough or cool enough if thermostat changes make you feel less than comfortable.

You might be able to save about 1% of your energy costs for each degree that you adjust for an eight-hour period, and the Department of Energy recommends that you adjust your thermostat by seven to ten degrees (up in summer, down in winter) for an eight-hour period each day to annualize savings of as much as 10%.

For example , the Department of Energy recommendation is to keep your thermostat at 68 degrees when you’re up and about in winter, and at 58 when you’re away from home or sleeping. When the season is warm, their recommendation is to keep your thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home, and at 85 when you’re not. If you do this, you can save an average of $83 annually.

To help maximize savings, keeping your HVAC system in prime condition, including having it serviced at least twice a year, changing filters as needed, and more can really add up. It can also make sense to upgrade to a smart thermostat—one you can sync up with your mobile devices to set heating and cooling settings and schedules.

7. Cutting the Cable Cord

If you enjoy watching television but are tired of paying pricey cable bills, considering joining the 33 million Americans who have canceled their traditional television services. On average, people who pay for television services paid $203 a month in 2018. But, people who cut the cord are paying an average of only $118 a month, saving an average of $85 monthly.

8. Energy Efficient Appliances

Although this strategy means you need to spend money up front, ENERGY STAR®-certified appliances can save significant dollars in the long run. In general, a home appliance lasts for 10 to 20 years, on average, with ENERGY STAR-designated ones using 10% to 50% less energy than a counterpart that isn’t energy efficient. And, if you assume that electricity rates will continue to increase, then this could help to save you even more money.

Looking specifically at dryers, ones with an ENERGY STAR rating will typically use 20% less electricity than a traditional model, which could save you approximately $210, overall, in energy costs. Energy-efficient washers, meanwhile, typically use 40% to 50% less energy and use 55% less water than conventional models. This switch can save you up to $50 a year on utility and water bills.

Today’s energy efficient refrigerators generally use 40% less energy than those from 2001, and dishwashers with ENERGY STAR designations are around 12% more efficient than models that don’t have this certification.

Plus, you can sometimes get federal, state, or local rebates when you purchase energy-efficient appliances, so it might be wise to research this before you buy.

9. Going Solar

If you really want to invest in your energy efficiency, you could also consider solar panels to create clean electricity. You can potentially receive a federal tax credit that’s been extended through 2019. If you do your research, this may make it worth your while! Google’s Project Sunroof can help you to estimate your savings.

No matter the strategy you choose, getting your savings in place is a great first step. If you need a little help, consider SoFi Checking and Savings® – an online bank account designed for building up your savings.

Ready to start saving with SoFi Checking and Savings? It’s fast and easy to get started!

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5 Strategies to Help Pay Off Medical Debt

Illness and injury are an unfortunate (and scary!) fact of life, but once you’re patched up after surgery or a lengthy hospital stay, you want to focus on your recovery, not worrying about how on Earth you’re going to pay off any medical debt.

Medical debt can be overwhelming, and according to a 2018 study published by Health Affairs, it’s not just older Americans who are managing debt from medical bills.

It is actually Millennials who are racking up the most medical debt—11% of all people who had a medical bill go to collections in 2016 were just 27 years old. So how can you pay off medical bill debt and hopefully stay out of collections? There are several different options available that may help you manage your medical debt with minimal pain, so you can focus on feeling better.

Before we dive in, we should mention we realize the nature of medical debt is often very sensitive. These strategies are merely a collection of tips and commonplace ideas found through our research on the internet.

This article shouldn’t be considered advice in any sense; every person’s situation is unique, which means it’s always a good idea to check in with a professional before taking action yourself. With that said, let’s dive into what we found.

Medical Debt Payment Plans

Medical care can be expensive, especially if you’re facing a chronic condition with ongoing costs or a major surgery or hospital stay. One plan of action you might consider is contacting your medical provider to see if they offer payment plans.

Some providers offer payment plans that allow you to make payments on your medical bill over time, paying it off in installments. Talking to your healthcare provider or a hospital billing department can be a great first step to figuring out if there is a payment plan you can take advantage of when it comes to medical bill debt.

Of course, one major downside to payment plans is that not all medical providers or medical offices offer payment plans and may require full payment when services are rendered.

Likewise, some medical providers may only let you set up a payment plan in advance, which means that a payment plan might not be a solution for any medical debt you’ve already accrued. And of course, some payment plans may still be too prohibitively expensive to pay every month, even if you’re paying over time.

Using A Medical Credit Card

If you’re looking at a medical bill that you can’t pay out of pocket, you may be tempted to reach for a credit card. Before you hand over whatever card is in your wallet, you might want to consider looking into credit cards specifically designed to be used to pay for medical care.

Medical credit cards sometimes offer low or no interest for a predetermined period of time, which means that you may be able to pay your medical bill with the credit card and then pay off the card before it accrues interest.

But be careful—if you can’t pay off the credit card before the interest-free period is over, you might face high-interest charges, which could actually end up making your medical bills more expensive.

Consider pulling out the calculator and doing some math to see if you can afford to pay off your medical bills during the interest-free period before you decide to put the costs on a medical credit card. This can help you determine how useful a medical credit card might be in your specific situation.

See how a personal loan
from SoFi can help with medical costs.

Negotiating Directly With The Hospital

If you’re facing a big bill from the hospital, one thing to consider is reaching out directly to the hospital billing department to see if you can negotiate the total amount of your medical bill.

While it’s not precisely like haggling for a used car, most hospitals have a financial department that might be able to help you determine if you qualify for any cost deductions or discounts.

One other thing to keep in mind is that cash might just still be king. Some hospitals and medical providers might give you a discount just for paying in cash. This can be a good option if you can afford to make the payments in one lump sum and want to avoid any extra fees.

Taking Out A Personal Loan

Taking out a personal loan might also be a solution to managing medical debt. While personal loans are often overlooked, they may offer more benefits than credit cards, like lower interest rates and more flexibility.

In order to use a personal loan to pay off medical bill debt, you’d borrow money from a lender which you’d use to pay your medical debt, then you’d pay that money back to the lender over time in regular monthly payments. Like other types of loans and financing, lenders generally look at your personal financial history and ability to repay (among other factors) when deciding if you qualify for a personal loan and determining your interest rate.

Unlike other types of financing, however, a personal loan can be used for almost everything—from paying off a hospital bill to paying for your groceries while you’re out of work due to an injury or illness.

If you’re wondering how to clear medical debt from multiple sources, a personal loan might help. You may be able to use a personal loan to consolidate numerous medical debts into one monthly payment. This could work by taking out a medical loan and using it to consolidate different medical bills, which allows you to focus on paying off just one debt instead of managing multiple varying deadlines every month.

When searching for personal loans to pay for medical debt, be sure to read the fine print. Some providers may charge origination fees to process your loan, or prepayment fees if you pay off your loan early.

Also be wary if interest charges in your search, as high-interest charges could add more money paid over the life of the loan.

One other potential benefit of using personal loans is that the application process is relatively simple and you can usually find out your eligibility pretty quickly. With SoFi personal loans, it just takes a few minutes to check your rate. And with SoFi, there are no hidden fees. That means no origination fees, no prepayment fees, and no late fees. Ever.

There’s no way around it—medical bills can be hard to deal with. But making a plan for repayment you help you get on your way to financial and physical wellness.

Learn more about how a personal loan from SoFi can help with medical costs.

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


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Can You Combine Your Student Loan Debt with Your Spouse?

If you’re engaged to be married or are already a newlywed, the spirit of togetherness is probably on your mind. And it’s no surprise if that extends to your finances. The two of you may be paying for a wedding, opening a common credit card, charting out a combined budget, or establishing a joint checking account.

In the midst of this, you may be asking yourself, “Can I consolidate student loans with my spouse?” The short answer is no, you can’t. But because it’s becoming more and more common for both partners to bring student debt along into a marriage, it’s a perfectly fair question. Americans owe nearly $1.5 trillion combined on their student loans, a total exceeded only by home loans.

About 70% of college graduates leave school with loans—an average of $37,172 per borrower. Once you get married, it makes sense to ask whether you should continue handling payments individually or find a way to merge your loans and tackle them together.

While you cannot combine your student loans with your spouse’s, you can potentially refinance your loans and add your spouse as a co-signer.

Since this is a move you’re likely to live with for many years to come, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with all sides of the issue before making a decision. Here’s what you need to know:

Consolidating Federal Loans

Between 1993 and 2006 , married couples could combine their federal student loans through a joint consolidation loan. However, Congress canceled this program on July 1, 2006 . One of the reasons legislators chose to eliminate this program is that each spouse had “joint and separate liability,” meaning that each borrower was individually responsible for the entire loan amount.

This caused issues for many people, since that responsibility continued even after a divorce and sometimes limited a borrower’s eligibility for income-driven repayment programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and other benefits that come with federal student loans. The bottom line is, you and your spouse can’t consolidate your federal loans through the government, because the program is no longer available.

Refinancing Student Loans with Your Spouse as a Co-signer

There is another way you may be able to have both your and your spouse’s name attached to your student loans: student loan refinancing. To be clear, you would not actually combine both of your loans through refinancing—that’s not possible.

However, you could refinance your student loans and add your spouse as a co-signer to put your combined earning power on the dotted line, hopefully getting you a lower interest rate. This process involves taking out a new loan with a private lender and using it to pay off all your previous loans, whether they were federal or private.

You would then both be responsible for paying off the entire amount of the new loan which comes with new terms. Refinanced loans typically come with either fixed or variable interest rates that may be lower than your current rates. Lenders like SoFi allow you to refinance your student loans without any origination fees or penalties for paying them off early.

However, refinancing with a private lender means forfeiting access to federal loan benefits such as income-driven repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you think you might take advantage of federal programs like this, refinancing might not be the right choice for you right now. And, of course, if you add your spouse as a co-signer, they are equally responsible for your monthly loan payments. Should you miss a student loan payment, it could affect them as much as it affects you.

Advantages of Refinancing Student Loans after Marriage

Student loan refinancing, whether you do it on your own or with your spouse as a co-signer, could get you a lower interest rate, a reduced monthly payment, or more advantageous terms than your current loans have.

If one spouse has a better credit score, or a more solid income or employment history, by cosigning they could help the other spouse qualify for a lower interest rate than he or she would qualify for alone. That can be a way to nab substantial savings over the life of the loan.

Disadvantages of Refinancing Student Loans with Your Spouse

Unfortunately, if you and your spouse uncouple, having them as your co-signer could make things tricky. When you refinance and add your spouse as a co-signer, you are both equally responsible for the loan balance. As you can imagine, communicating with an ex-spouse on how to tackle a major chunk of debt can get challenging. The co-signer may also still have to pay off the entire loan if the other spouse dies or becomes permanently disabled, though some lenders do offer discharges in these situations.

Another big consideration about refinancing, in general, is that if you have federal loans, you will be giving up a number of potential benefits by refinancing with a private lender.

For instance, you will no longer be able to apply for deferment or forbearance if you go back to school, become unemployed, or encounter financial hardship. Some private lenders do offer flexibility for short-term economic difficulties, but it’s not guaranteed.

You also will no longer be eligible for income-driven repayment plans that tie your monthly payment to how much you earn.

Similarly, you won’t be able to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program even if you work in a qualifying field.

If you don’t earn much money, if you work in a public interest field, or if you anticipate financial hardships in the future, you may want to think twice about giving up these federal loan benefits.

Other Tips for Tackling Debt as a Couple

Whether or not you decide to refinance your loans, you may still want to address your student loans as a team. Here are some smart steps to take as a married couple dealing with student loan debt:

•   Being honest—with yourself and your spouse. Having a high student loan balance might feel overwhelming, but avoiding your debt or hiding it from your spouse can affect your relationship. You can start by getting acquainted with exactly how much you each owe, your interest rates, and the loan terms.

Communicating with your spouse about any other sources of debt, as well as your assets and financial goals is equally important. Honesty and open communication are a good foundation for deciding how to confront your debt together.

•   Knowing your repayment options. If you have federal loans, it can be helpful to read up on the different plans available for student loan repayment and the pros and cons of each. If you’re having trouble making payments, you can look into income-driven repayment plans or other federal loan forgiveness programs. And you can check out refinancing options. Many private lenders allow you to get pre-approved online in a matter of minutes, so you can get a sense of what terms you might qualify for if you refinance. Having this knowledge is critical for deciding what course of action is best for you as a couple.

•   Making a budget. As you start to build a life together, getting on the same page financially can be helpful. Now that you’re a unit, it’s worth sitting down and listing out your combined income (after taxes) and expenses. If you’re not sure what you’re spending, a spreadsheet or budgeting app can help you track your outlays for a month. Once you have your current totals, you can think about how much you can afford to put toward student loans each month. That can help guide your decision on how aggressively to pay them off and whether to look for alternative repayment options. If you’re spending more than you make, it might help to discuss where you can trim, or how to increase your income.

•   Considering the big picture. In addition to paying off debt, you probably have other financial goals, such as starting a family, traveling, saving for retirement, or buying a home. You may also have other existing debt, whether a mortgage, car loan, or credit card balance. It’s important to talk about these obligations and goals when figuring out what you can afford to put toward your student loans.

Figuring Out the Financial Path that’s Right for You

While you and your spouse can’t jointly refinance your student loans, you can still take advantage of the benefits of refinancing individually. By communicating openly about your finances, you and your partner can figure out which option is right for you, whether that means they’d cosign your loans, or you’d refinance on your own.

Learn more about how refinancing your student loans with SoFi can help you manage your student loan debt.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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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.


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