turquoise crib in nursery

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child?

Growing your family is a huge decision, and adopting a child will change your life forever. And while making the decision to open up your home and your heart to a new child seems like a natural next step for you and your family, the process can actually be pretty complicated—and costly.

There are a few different adoption methods and each comes with its own unique costs and fees. Read on for a breakdown of some expenses you might run into in the adoption process.

Cost of Adoption from Foster Care

Adopting a child from foster care tends to be less expensive than other options. According to a 2017 survey from Adoptive Families , the average cost of a foster care adoption was about $3,000.

Home Study

One of the most important costs to account for is the home study, which is when the prospective parents’ home is screened such that the adoption agency can get a sense of their day-to-day life. While the cost of a home study might be included in the overall adoption fee from an agency, the fees can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Foster care adoptions will also generally have a home study where a social worker observes the interaction between the potential adoptive parents and the child. In some cases, there may be state or federal programs to offset

Tax Credits for Foster Care Adoptions

The good news is there are also plenty of government resources for foster care adoptions—The Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has a wealth of resources available discussing the ins and outs of adoption.

The Children’s Bureau further explains that thanks to amendments to the Social Security Act in 1994 , families adopting children from foster care could qualify for federal assistance depending on the child’s eligibility. This assistance includes :

•   A one-time, non-recurring reimbursement for adoption transaction costs
•   Recurring monthly maintenance payments for the child’s care (Not to exceed what the state would have paid to keep the child in foster care)

Families contending with medical expenses for the birth mother or child, attorney’s fees, or those who need extra travel for visits before placement might experience higher expenses than average with a foster care adoption.

Children adopted through foster care may also be eligible for health insurance coverage under Medicaid, and other medical assistance to cover some or all of the child’s needs like special education or therapy.

Planning for Private Agency Adoption

Private adoption costs in the U.S. can vary from state to state. According to the Children’s Bureau, the cost of a private, agency-assisted adoption can range anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000 on average .

Agency Fees

Court Documentation Fees

U.S. domestic adoptions must also be finalized in a court. Court documentation fees can be in the range of $500 to $2,000 , in addition to the cost of legal representation for the adoptive parents, which can range from $1,500 to $4,000 . Depending on the state, these fees may or may not be covered as part of an agency’s overall pricing.

Independent Adoption Costs

Some families choose to adopt a child without the assistance of an adoption agency and instead work directly through an attorney. It might seem like a cost-saving measure at first, but pricing can still vary. Expenses might be low if you match with a birth parent through word of mouth, or if the birth mother’s expenses are minimal.

However, these adoption costs can still range from around $15,000 to $40,000 . This typically includes most of the same costs of any other domestic adoption, including the home study, the birth mom’s medical expenses, and legal and court fees for the adoptive parents and birth parents.

Expenses for Intercountry Adoption

Adoption fees will differ depending on which country you plan to adopt a child from. Intercountry adoption costs tend to be higher than a U.S.-based adoption because there is usually foreign travel and immigration processing to factor into the equation, in addition to other higher court costs, mandatory adoption education, and other documentation. The U.S. government says the average cost can range from $20,000 to $50,000 for a foreign adoption.

Costs can depend on the organization managing the adoption as well: whether it’s the government, private agency, orphanage, non-profit organization, private attorney, or some combination of the above. Some intercountry adoptions are finalized in the child’s home country, while others must be finalized in the United States. Finalizing an adoption in U.S. court can come with extra costs, but also provides additional legal protections and documentation.

Other costs to adopt a child from another country can include :

• Escort fees for when/if parents can’t travel to accompany the child to the U.S.
• Medical care and treatment for the child
• Translation fees
• Foreign attorney or foreign agency fees
• Passport and visa processing
• Counseling and support after placement

Financing the Cost of Adoption

So, with costs ranging from at least a few thousand dollars to up to $50,000 or more, financing an adoption may require some planning. Financially preparing for a child typically means looking into all associated costs, including raising your new child and tackling your own debt.

Some employers may offer financial and other support to help with the adoption process. According to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption , the average policy offers a reimbursement of around $10,000.

Additionally, companies with 50 or more employees are required by federal law to grant parental leave to employees who have adopted a child. Mothers and fathers are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a new child.

To offset some of the high costs of adoption, there are currently also federal adoption tax credits . The actual amount depends on family income, tax year, and employer adoption benefits, so it’s a good idea to talk to your tax attorney if you’re interested.

Grants and loans also exist to help with the cost of adoption and can help with any type of legal adoption, whether a foster care adoption, private agency, or overseas adoption. Most grants and loans have their own eligibility criteria based on things like marital status, income level, or even specifics like religion.

You can also consider taking out a private loan from a lender like SoFi to cover the adoption costs. If you qualify for a personal loan, you can use it for whatever qualifying personal financial need arises. Or perhaps you want to pay down your credit card debt, or build a new bedroom before the baby arrives, which a personal loan can help with as well.

The Takeaway

The cost of adopting a child can vary widely, from a few thousand dollars to $50,000. Foster care adoptions tend to be less expensive than private agency or intercountry adoptions. There are state or federal tax credits that may help offset the cost of adoption. Other resources to pay for an adoption include grants and loans.

Use our personal loan calculator to see how an unsecured personal loan with SoFi could help you prepare for the anticipated costs of adopting a child.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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.

SOPL18162

Read more

How to Build Credit Over Time

Making every payment on time is the ideal way to build credit successfully. The basic strategy for good credit is actually quite straightforward and intuitive: Be the kind of borrower you would want to lend to.

Acquiring Credit

Turning to a spouse or parent for a joint account or co-signer can be a valuable way to build credit (think joint credit cards or parents co-signing on student loans) for someone who does not have a credit history of their own. In the long run, however, a person will be in a much stronger position if they borrow in their name alone.

Credit cards don’t require a co-signer in most cases, so they can be a great place for someone to start building a credit history on their own. Eventually, this has the potential to make it easier to borrow in the future for such things as an auto loan, a personal loan or even a mortgage.

Paying Bills Consistently and on Time

Payment history makes a bigger impact on a person’s credit score than anything else. A borrower’s credit score summarizes their health and strength as a borrower, and payment history makes up 35% of that score. So the most important rule of credit is this: Don’t miss payments. Timely payments are crucial, and making at least the minimum payment on a revolving credit line can make a positive impact on a person’s credit score.

However, missing the occasional due date is not the end of the world. Especially over time, a borrower’s credit history will be long and deep enough to withstand an occasional late payment. Many lenders will actually allow customization of due dates to line them up with pay dates. Most allow automatic payments from a checking or savings account. Take the time to find the mix that works and keeps accounts up-to-date.

Monitoring the Ratio

The further away a person is from hitting their credit limit, the healthier their credit score will be, in most circumstances. A borrower’s debt-to-credit ratio, also known as the credit utilization rate, should ideally be no more than 30%. Higher utilization rates can negatively affect a person’s credit score. Paying revolving credit lines in full each month can have a positive impact on a person’s credit score because doing so essentially lowers the credit utilization rate.

Keeping Unused Credit Cards Open

Lenders want to see accounts maintained in good standing for a long time. When debt accounts are closed, though, that history ends, and eventually closed accounts drop off the credit report entirely. A credit history looks better when it has a solid number of accounts in good standing that have been open for a long time.

One way to achieve this is to keep old credit cards open, even those not being used much anymore. Keeping these cards open, perhaps using them to automate a few bills like car insurance or a monthly subscription account, will signal that they are still very much in use. Paying them off on time and in full is still important to the health of a person’s credit. It might be wise to consider closing a card not being used regularly if the annual fees are so high that it isn’t worth it to keep the card open.

Boosting the Credit Mix

A diverse mix of credit products can also have a positive impact on a person’s credit. Opening at least one credit card is a good step for most borrowers. There are a wide variety of cards aimed at people with different interests, spending habits, and credit history. Although a mix of credit helps a person’s standing as a borrower, it’s not a good idea to open a line of credit that’s not needed just to have a mix of credit types.

Using a personal loan to finance a large purchase (home renovation, hospital bill, or similar expense) with a relatively low interest rate, and paying off that personal loan on time typically will have a positive impact on a person’s credit. Student loan refinancing can be another way to diversify your credit mix, while potentially lowering the interest rate being paid.

Checking the Credit Report

It’s recommended that a credit report be checked yearly from the three major credit bureaus. Reviewing them on a yearly basis is a good way to understand and monitor overall credit health. As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, free weekly access to credit reports has been extended until April 20, 2022.

Consumers can request a free credit report any time adverse action has been taken against them. This might include being turned down for a loan or line of credit, or being denied an application for insurance or employment. Checking a credit report to make sure that all the credit listed there is accurate may uncover errors or fraudulent accounts that can be reported, keeping the credit score in good shape.

Limiting Credit Applications

When making major life changes, like starting a job, getting married, or having children, sometimes multiple lines of credit might be helpful to get through it all. Financial institutions understand that, but they also know that, historically, people who borrow a lot of money at once from multiple sources tend to have more difficulty paying them back. Spreading out credit applications over time whenever possible typically has a lower impact on an overall credit score, but it’s still a factor to keep in mind.

The Takeaway

Once good credit has been established, using it wisely and responsibly can offer flexibility and freedom. Installment loans like mortgages, car loans, and student loans might make it easier to reach major life goals, while credit cards for smaller purchases can help build credit and possibly qualify for lower interest rates on those big purchases. SoFi unsecured personal loans have no fees and low fixed rates. Checking your rate takes just two minutes. Taking control of your financial future is possible by making conscious choices about credit now.

Trying to build your credit? Check your rates on a personal loan from SoFi.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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
.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change. SoFi Lending Corp. and its lending products are not endorsed by or directly affiliated with any college or university unless otherwise disclosed.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. 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.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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.

PL17107

Read more
woman unpacking boxes

How to Move Across the Country

Moving can be stressful. Making sure your breakables are packed so they don’t actually break, deciding on a DIY move or hiring professional movers, managing security deposits or down payments on both ends of the move—moving cross country could stress even the most relaxed people. There are some things to keep in mind, though, to make the process go as smooth as possible.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The three Rs aren’t just good environmental stewardship, they’re essential for planning a big move. Think of it this way: Is it really necessary to pack up and ship the six half-empty conditioner bottles under the bathroom sink?

Moving is a great time to embrace your inner minimalist and get rid of absolutely everything that’s no longer needed. Not only does minimizing now help cut down on moving costs, but it also helps avoid filling up the new place with meaningless stuff.

Instead of just throwing away unwanted goods, trying to find them a new home might give them a second life. Big-ticket furniture items can be sold online or in consignment stores to raise a bit of extra money for the moving fund, or they can be donated to a thrift store.

Professional clothes that are no longer worn could help someone if donated to a job readiness program. Animal shelters often take donations of old sheets and blankets to make cuddly beds for their charges.

Local freecycle or buy-nothing groups can also be great places to unload unwanted home goods—you never know who has a use for those five dish strainers you’ve somehow accumulated.

Pack Like a Pro

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to get packing. Resist the urge to throw everything into a medium-sized box and call it a day. Taking the time to pack up your home like a professional will make moving—and the subsequent unpacking—a whole lot easier.

First, gather your packing supplies. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of boxes of varying sizes, several rolls of packing tape, large black markers, scissors, a utility knife, and several types of packing materials, like old newspaper, bubble wrap, and even old rags or sheets.

To pack like a pro, start with non-essentials. The last thing you want is to realize that you accidentally packed all your clean underwear two weeks before you plan on leaving. Seasonal home goods, out-of-season clothes, and rarely used kitchen goods are a good place to start.

Make sure to wrap all fragile items in paper or bubble wrap before putting them in boxes. Plates should be packed next to each other vertically, which helps prevent breaking . Likewise, adding a layer of crumbled newsprint or packing paper on the bottom of your box can also help prevent breakage.

Aim to keep each box light enough to lift alone, with heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on top. Don’t forget to pack like items together—no one wants to arrive at their new home and find their dishes somehow got packed next to the cat litter box.

Choose Your Mode of Transportation

One of the most challenging parts of planning a cross-country move can be planning the actual transportation. Will you fly, and ship your cargo? Hire a moving company to pack everything up and unpack it at your new place? Rent a cargo trailer and make it into a cross-country road trip?

Each option has its benefits and its drawbacks, but choosing the right mode of transportation can help keep your move as stress-free as possible and, depending on the mode you choose, could help you keep your budget intact.

The easiest, and usually the most expensive, option is to hire a moving company and let them take care of the details. Using a moving company for a cross-country move can cost almost $5,000 on average, and that can increase with the addition of fuel costs, fees, and insurance.

The benefit to paying more upfront is that you are only responsible for getting yourself and your family to your new home. The moving company takes care of the rest, which can be a significant relief if you’re short on time or are looking at the prospect of trying to maneuver your couch up three flights of stairs in your new apartment building.

Some moving companies will send someone out to take a look at how much stuff you plan to move to give a more accurate cost estimate. They may also estimate the weight of the load and calculate how far you plan on moving when giving you the final estimate.

If you’re hiring movers, one way to cut down on cost is to pack and unpack your stuff yourself. Asking for personal recommendations, reading online reviews, and getting a few different quotes before deciding on a moving company can help you get the best company for your needs.

If hiring movers isn’t in the budget, there are still plenty of options to ensure your beloved record collection arrives safely across the country. If you don’t have any big furniture to move, you may be able to get away with shipping your goods and hopping on a plane with just your essentials.

Shipping your goods as freight can be a budget-friendly option, whether you send them via mail, train, or even take a few boxes as checked baggage on the flight.

The downside is that unless the boxes are traveling on your flight with you, you may end up waiting a while for them at your destination, and, like all mail, there is always a chance things could be lost or damaged during the journey.

Many movers choose to take the DIY route and rent a cargo truck or trailer to haul their worldly possessions. This can be a budget-friendly option, but remember that for all the cost savings, you’ll be putting in a lot more hard work.

You’ll need to pack and load all your boxes and furniture into the trailer yourself. On top of packing, you’ll also have to be comfortable driving the cargo truck or trailer the thousands of miles that lie between you and your destination.

Budgeting for Your Move

Still wondering how to move across the country without going broke? There’s no doubt about it—moving is expensive. And don’t forget to include the additional costs of moving, like a down payment on your new place, or first and last month’s rent, and the cost of setting up your new home with all the essentials.

On top of that, moving often coincides with changing jobs, which may mean that you have a few weeks where you are sorely missing your paycheck. All of this makes moving across the country financially draining for many people.

If you know you’ll be moving in the future, saving up now and using any money you make selling unwanted goods can be a good way to build up your moving fund.

Some people, however, realize they need a little more help in covering the upfront costs of moving across the country. A personal loan might be able to help cover that cost without affecting the rest of your finances.

The Takeaway

For some people, there may be a few potential benefits of using an unsecured personal loan rather than a credit card to fund moving costs. A personal loan may offer lower interest rates than many credit cards do and, unlike a credit card, a personal loan is not revolving credit. That means the loan is for a set amount of money and paid back over a fixed period of time.

Lenders usually review an applicant’s credit report, among other personal financial factors, to determine the loan term and rates they qualify for. Some lenders disburse loan funds within a few days. This means that you can spend more time exploring your new home base and less time stressing about paying for your move.

About to embark on a major move? Look into a relocation loan with SoFi to help finance your new adventure!



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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.

SOPL18143

Read more
woman's hands on smartphone at desk

Creating a Debt Reduction Plan

When you’re worried about money and feel your options are limited, debt can feel like a pair of handcuffs. And if it feels like you can’t do what you want to do—which is to pay it all off and get yourself free—there’s the temptation to do nothing. But there are some things that can be helpful when crafting a debt reduction plan that will work for your situation.

Prioritizing Expenses

Before you start prioritizing expenses, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what income is available and how much is being spent. This can be done with pen and paper, or by leveraging an all-in-one app, such as SoFi Relay.

Keeping a roof over their head is a number one priority for most people. Mortgage lenders are not very patient when it comes to getting their money, and failing to make a house payment can leave a big black mark on a person’s credit record. For renters, paying the property owner on time each month may have a positive impact on their credit report.

Making sure a car loan and car insurance are current, especially if that’s the only way to get to work, might be next in order of importance. After that come big debts, such as student loans, but those may be eligible for student loan forgiveness depending on the type of loan and if the qualifications for forgiveness are met. Refinancing student loans into one manageable payment might be worth considering if that would save money with a lower interest rate or a shorter loan term. (For federal student loan borrowers, though, refinancing may not be the best option right now since the CARES Act has offered some relief through September 30, 2021.)

Making a plan to tackle credit card debt is also important. Each month, making the monthly minimum payment is important, otherwise, a person’s credit report can quickly reflect any lack of payment . And to manage the outstanding balances on those credit cards, it may be time to work out a new payment plan to get out from under credit card debt.

Once all that information is accounted for, moving forward with a personal debt reduction plan will make it easier to deal with all those long-term bills and relieve debt-related worry.

There are four popular approaches to knocking down debt. The debt avalanche method is probably best suited to those who are analytical, disciplined, and want to pay off their debt in the most efficient manner based solely on the math.

The debt snowball method takes human behavior into consideration and focuses on maintaining motivation as a person pays off their debt.

The debt fireball method is a hybrid approach that combines aspects of the snowball and avalanche methods.

And a personal loan may be an option for those who have a solid financial history or whose credit score has improved since they first signed up for their high-interest loans and credit cards.

Here’s how each strategy typically works.

Debt Avalanche

This method puts the focus on interest rates rather than the balance that’s owed on each bill.

1. The first step is collecting all debt statements (e.g., credit card, auto loan, student loan) and determining the interest rate being charged on each debt.
2. Making a list of all those bills is next, looking past the total amount owed on each debt. This method puts the debt with the highest interest rate in the spotlight, so that one will be at the top of the list, with the other debts listed in order of interest rate, second highest to lowest.
3. Some things to keep in mind might be any fees, prepayment penalties, or tax strategies that could make one debt more or less expensive than the others. When using a balance transfer credit card to save money on any particular debt, reprioritizing the list once the introductory rate runs out and a higher rate kicks in plays a part in how this method works.
4. Continuing to pay the minimum on each bill—on time, every month—is important. But paying extra (as much as possible) toward the bill at the top of the list will help that debt be paid off as quickly as possible.
5. When the first debt is paid off, moving on to the next debt on the list and starting to pay extra there will start the process over again. Money will be saved as each of those high-interest loans and credit cards are eliminated, which can allow all the bills to be paid off sooner.

Debt Snowball

This approach can be effective in getting a handle on debt by slowly reducing the number of bills there are to deal with each month.

1. This method also starts with collecting debt statements and making a list of those debts, but instead of listing them in order of interest rate, organizing them from the smallest debt to the largest (total amount owed, not monthly payment amount).
2. Continuing to pay the minimum—on time, every month—but paying as much extra as possible toward the smallest debt on the list is key to this method. (If possible, completely paying off the balance on that very first bill might provide some sweet momentum to get started.)
3. As with the debt avalanche method above, paying attention to fees, penalties, and tax strategies may determine which debt gets paid first.
4. Moving on to the next debt on the list, and so on, will keep this method in motion. Keeping track of paid-off debts with a visual tracker might help with motivation.
5. No longer using credit cards that have been paid off is a good way to stay out of debt for the long term. And having a goal to set up an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses—a medical bill or car repair, for example—to stay on track is a good way to stay ahead of the game.

Debt Fireball

This strategy is a hybrid approach of the snowball and avalanche methods. It separates debt into two categories and can be helpful when blazing through costly “bad debt” quickly.

1. Categorizing all debt as either “good” or “bad.” “Good” debt is generally in the form of things that have potential to increase net worth, such as student loans, business loans, or mortgages, for example. “Bad” debt, on the other hand, is normally considered to be debt incurred for a depreciating asset, like car loans and credit card debt. As this list is being developed, identifying all debt with an interest rate of 7% or higher is likely the “bad” debt that may be beneficial to focus on first.
2. Listing bad debts from smallest to largest based on their outstanding balances will provide the working order.
3. Making the minimum monthly payment on all outstanding debts—on time, every month—then funneling any excess funds to the smallest of the bad debts is the focus of this method.
4. When that balance is paid in full, going on to the next smallest on the bad-debt list will keep the fireball momentum until all the bad debt is repaid.
5. When that’s done, paying off good debt on the normal schedule can be a smart way to invest in the future. Applying everything that was being paid toward the bad debt to a financial goal, such as saving for a house—or paying off a mortgage, starting a business, or saving for retirement, for example, is a good way to look forward to a financially secure future.

Personal Loan

Consolidating debts at a lower interest rate or with a shorter term offers another option to pay those debts off in less time than expected.

1. Gathering debt statements and totaling up the debts to be paid off is the first step.
2. To have an idea of interest rates that might be available (most lenders will offer a range), making sure the information on credit reports is accurate is the next important step. Any errors found on a credit report can be reported to the credit reporting agency.
3. Looking at a variety of lenders to find the best interest rates and terms available will help when setting a goal to find a manageable payment while paying off the debt load as quickly as possible.
4. Considering member benefits or other perks that lenders may offer, such as a hardship deferral or a discount on a future loan might make a difference when choosing a lender. Then, applying for the loan that best suits the borrower’s needs is the next step in the process.
5. Paying off old debts with the personal loan and staying current with the new loan payments will help keep things manageable. Sticking to a budget that prevents the same spending mistakes from being made again is important to keeping debt at bay.

Personal loans used for debt consolidation can help pull everything together for those who find it easier to keep up with just one monthly payment. A bonus is that because the interest rates for personal loans are typically lower than credit card interest rates, the amount paid on the total debt may be less than what would have been paid just by plugging away at those individual debts. For those who qualify for a rate that’s less than their credit card rates, a personal loan can make sense.

The Takeaway

With a personal loan from SoFi, debts can be consolidated and paid off in a way that works for your income, budget, and timeline.

Whatever payoff method you choose, the point is to do something. Having a debt reduction plan in place is key to getting rid of those financial handcuffs and being able to look forward to a successful financial future. Planning ahead, saving for specific goals, and sticking with a budget will go a long way to minimizing dependence on credit cards or high-interest loans in the future.

Ready to tackle your debt head-on? A personal loan from SoFi can help you consolidate your debt into one easy-to-manage monthly payment.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. 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.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
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.

SOPL18129

Read more

What Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

The term “accessory dwelling unit” might sound foreign, but chances are you’ve encountered one. Sometimes called an in-law suite, granny flat, or, more romantically, carriage house, an ADU is a secondary dwelling unit on the same lot as a primary single-family home.

Although ADUs have risen in popularity in recent years, they’ve been around for decades, according to a study by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., known as Freddie Mac.

When the suburbs boomed in the 1950s, municipalities across the country created zoning laws prohibiting higher-density residential structures, the Freddie Mac report noted, but in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and others that lacked affordable housing, the practice continued in secret.

As zoning laws across the country have changed to allow ADUs, the trend has boomed in tandem with population growth in the South and the West. “Half of our total 1.4 million ADUs are located in the Sun Belt states of California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia,” Freddie Mac reported.

What’s the attraction? Some property owners add an ADU to generate rental income; others want a place to accommodate guests, and still others need living space for aging parents.

Read on to learn why ADUs are all the rage in pricey cities and what it takes to build one.

ADU Meaning Explained

An ADU goes by many names, but its features make it unique among types of dwellings.

•   ADUs are smaller than the primary residence they accompany. In California, which passed statewide laws making many city restrictions on ADUs obsolete and streamlining the approval process, the size generally ranges from 500 to 1,000 square feet.
•   ADUs are self-contained. They usually include a bathroom, kitchenette, living area, and separate entrance.
•   ADUs require a special permit, which varies by location, according to the American Planning Association. Building codes may limit the size of the ADU and the number of occupants. (Interestingly, the city of San José, the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” and other communities are offering an ADU amnesty program to help legalize under-the-radar units.)
•   Unlike a duplex, ADUs usually share utility connections with the primary residence.

Recommended: A Guide to Buying a Duplex

What Are The Different Types of ADUs?

All ADUs have to follow ordinances and laws, but they don’t all look the same. Depending on homeowner preference, it might look like one of the following:

•   Detached. This is likely new construction, formal or informal.
•   Converted garage. This might mean retrofitting the garage or adding a second floor to create an ADU. Fans of Happy Days might recall Fonzie living in the Cunninghams’ converted garage, which was actually an ADU.
•   Attached. Typically this is an addition to the existing residence.
•   Interior conversion. An existing portion of the house, perhaps the basement, is transformed into an ADU. Fans of Full/Fuller House might recall the Tanners’ attic conversion and the basement/garage living space.

Benefits of an ADU

For the right homeowner, an ADU has upsides.

•   Rental income. Choosing to rent out the space could bring in income, whether with a long-term rental or short-term Airbnb. Realtor® Magazine estimated that homeowners who rent out their ADU could pay it off in seven to 10 years. (Of course much depends on the initial cost, rent, taxes, expenses, and consistency of occupancy.)
•   A true mother-in-law suite or adult-child dwelling. For multi-generational families, adding an ADU could be a good way to create privacy and be close … but not too close. An ADU can also house an adult who returns to the nest.
•   A space to age in place. Conversely, aging homeowners or empty-nesters might choose to build an ADU for themselves. The homeowners could move into the smaller, more manageable space and rent out the larger property for passive income.
•   Flexibility. An ADU could become a home office or art studio. For some homeowners, it might just be a good place to host guests.
•   Enhanced property value. Compare the cost of buying a second small home or condo in your area with the cost of adding an ADU. How much value will a permitted habitable accessory dwelling add? A property appraisal will tell the tale.

Drawbacks of an ADU

ADUs may also come with their fair share of potential downsides.

•   Can be expensive. A detached ADU may cost as much as a small house to build (though the homeowner already owns the land). An attached ADU or conversion of an existing structure will probably cost less, but still may cause sticker shock. Size, features, and the cost of professional services, permits, and any financing come into play. An 850-square-foot jewel in LA added up to $250,000.
•   Occupancy requirements. Some local ordinances require that a home that has an ADU be owner-occupied in some capacity. That means a property with an ADU may not be the right fit for someone who wants to rent out the entire property.
•   Higher taxes. On one hand, adding value to your property is a good thing. On the other, an ADU can make a property tax bill spike.
•   A smaller yard. Unless a homeowner is retrofitting an ADU into their existing dwelling, building an ADU will cut down on outdoor space.
•   Financing. Can be tricky. Read on.

Recommended: The Pros and Cons of Owning Rental Property

Ways to Pay for an ADU

While ADUs have different shapes and designs, they have a commonality: a price tag. If homeowners don’t have cash on hand to finance the build, they’ve got a few options to move forward.

A home improvement loan is a personal loan used to pay for a home renovation or update. When a homeowner takes out a home improvement loan, it’s not secured by the property—meaning the home isn’t collateral in the transaction.

A home equity line of credit leverages homeowners’ equity in a property and allows them to borrow money against the value of the home. Unlike a home improvement loan, a HELOC is tied to the house, meaning the property is used as collateral. With HELOC, homeowners can draw different amounts at different times, typically with a variable interest rate.

With sufficient equity in your home, homeowners could also consider a cash-out refinance.

Advocates of accessory dwelling units—to increase the housing supply, reduce overcrowding, provide rental income, and build home equity—want to see expanded financing options for low- and moderate-income homeowners.

The Takeaway

Determining if an accessory dwelling unit is the right move for a homeowner comes down to needs, preferences, and finances. ADUs have pros and cons, but many areas have eased the way for this cottage industry.

Homeowners who don’t have much equity in their property or don’t want to use their home as collateral may want to consider a SoFi unsecured personal loan of up to $100,000 to create an ADU.

SoFi’s home improvement loans are fee-free and come with a fixed rate.

Imagine the possibilities. Then check your rate. It’s easy.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: 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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

SOPL21006

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender