10 Steps for the Perfect Bathroom Remodel

A bathroom remodel is one of the most challenging projects you can take on in your home. Bathroom remodel costs range from modest cosmetic updates ($3k) to full gut renos ($30k), with the national average coming in at $11k.

Your bathroom budget will greatly depend on the purpose of your remodel. Whatever you have in mind, these 10 steps can help you plan appropriately, anticipate problems, and ensure you end up with a room you love.

Why Homeowners Remodel Bathrooms

There are several potential reasons behind a homeowner’s decision to remodel a bathroom. For some people, it might be a combination of reasons.

Updating the Look

Happy with the layout of your current bathroom and feel it just needs a refresh? Focus your attention on material selection, and perhaps add new cabinetry or plumbing fixtures. You can find lots of ingenious ideas online for how to make a small bathroom look bigger.

You’ll still want to pay attention to the age of your home and the remodels done by previous homeowners. After all, laying new tile over a foundation rife with mold or making do with an outdated electrical system is inviting big problems down the road.

It’s best to tackle essential updates first. If your budget doesn’t allow for a full reno, you might want to hold off until you have the money to do the job right.

Recommended: 32 Inexpensive Ways to Refresh Your Home

Resale Value

If you’re updating your bathroom in preparation for selling your home, think about what potential buyers might look for. While it’s impossible to anticipate what one random buyer might want in a new home, you can research your local real estate market to learn what appeals to the majority of homeowners.

You also can find out the resale value of bathroom remodels by using SoFi’s Home Project Value Estimator.

Better Functionality and More Storage

Perhaps you’ve always hated how the door hits the vanity as it swings open. Or you’re tired of stacking toilet paper on the toilet tank and seeing makeup on the counter. Maybe you never use the bathtub and long for a large shower stall, or wish for two sinks instead of one to expedite the family’s morning rush. Or it’s possible your bathroom is a dark, moist cave, crying out for natural light and better ventilation.

This level of bathroom remodel will likely have you gutting the entire space, possibly rearranging the fixtures and rerouting plumbing. Not only will your bathroom be brand new in that case, it could be higher end, too.

Here are the 10 steps to take while planning your perfect bathroom remodel.

1. Determine What Your Bathroom Remodel Should Achieve

When embarking on any project that requires a good chunk of time and cash, you want to determine what the overall goal is for your bathroom remodel. Is it to expand the existing space? To add a shower or a tub? To improve your home’s value? Or to update a vintage bathroom to one that is more modern in design and functionality?

All of these answers will factor into your design and budget. Other considerations to make when planning a bathroom remodel include:

•   How many people will use the room?

•   How much time do you spend in the bathroom in the morning, afternoon, and evening?

•   What’s your routine — how does your current space hinder it, and how could a new space improve it?

•   Do you just want something that’s easy to clean? Or do you want to improve the look for resale?

2. Research and Budget

Before you get too far with planning, it’s good to know how much bathroom you can afford. Even if you have a ballpark figure in mind, you’ll want to understand how much a full bathroom remodel is going to cost in the end.

A bathroom remodel typically costs between $3,000 and $30,000, with $11,000 the national average. Before proceeding with your dream plans, first think about whether you’re after a basic update, a mid- to upper-range remodel, or a deluxe spa getaway. Factor in a cushion of 20% for unforeseen costs.

To keep costs down, avoid moving the existing plumbing and wiring. Some homeowners focus on just a shower remodel, which can run from $1,100 to $5,500. To get a sense of how much it would cost to update your home use our Home Improvement Cost Calculator.

Recommended: How to Pay for Emergency Home Repairs

3. Hire a Designer Who Loves Bathroom Remodels

Given the complexity of rerouting plumbing, laying tile and flooring, and installing vanities and toilets, you may need to hire a few different professionals to get the job done:

•   Interior designer, to reimagine the space and source materials

•   Architect, to handle structural changes

•   Plumber

•   Electrician

•   Tile installer

•   General contractor, to manage them all

What exactly will all these folks be doing, besides spending your money? We’ll walk you through it.

First, a professional interior designer will think of things a homeowner will not. For instance: which way the cabinet doors open, if there’s room for a washer/dryer, how a skylight could brighten the space, or ways to rearrange the room in a creative way that maximizes both functionality and efficiency.

On the other hand, if you know what you want and where to find the products you need — and you have at least some DIY experience — then you might take on the design process yourself.

A general contractor will hire and supervise the various subcontractors, and keep the project on schedule and on budget. If you’re very comfortable tackling the demolition, construction, and installation, you may not need a general contractor. Just remember that once you start exposing layers of old work, a straightforward update can devolve into something more complex.

For major structural changes, you’ll want to hire an architect, and consider bringing in an experienced plumber and electrician, too. In some places, it’s required by law.

While you’re keeping an eye on the budget, don’t forget about your valuable time. Even with DIY experience, a bathroom remodel can take homeowners several times as long as a professional to complete — and your results may not be up to your high standards.

Don’t hesitate to bring in hired help as needed. To keep your budget on track, you can still agree to take on simpler tasks like demo and painting.

4. Refine Your Bathroom Remodel Plan

If your dream bathroom doesn’t seem as though it could ever fit in the space you have, think about what’s on the other side of the bathroom walls. Can you steal square footage from an adjacent closet, adjoining bedroom, or underused hallway? Is it possible to punch out an exterior wall to add square footage?

Other options to consider: whether you want the toilet out in the open or housed in its own private water closet, and what kind of special storage you need — for hair tools, makeup, and other everyday essentials?

Choosing the style of bathroom you want can also be complicated. You may love the look of the industrial-style bathroom in your favorite restaurant, but will it look right in your Craftsman bungalow? Designers recommend that you look to the rest of your house for inspiration or consult resources like Pinterest for ideas.

5. Approve Your Bathroom Remodel Design

Next you’ll consult with your interior designer and/or architect to review preliminary floor plans and sketches. These will show how the room’s components — shower, vanity, any cabinetry — fit in the space.

At this point, you’ll focus on the big picture: where the major elements go and the functionality of the space. Don’t worry about the finishing touches like colors and materials. These drawings and scope of work will be used to interview contractors and solicit estimates.

Once the measurements are nailed down, you’ll know how many square feet of tile you’ll have to order or how big of a marble slab you’ll want for the countertop. You or your designer can use this information to start shopping around for the best price on materials.

6. Choose Your Bathroom Materials, Finishes, and Colors

Now it’s time to research materials, so you’ll have a basic knowledge of what you need and how much it will cost. Marble may look great, but it’s not stain-resistant and so is a pain to maintain.

Maybe you want to look at easy-to-clean options. Or perhaps you didn’t know that wood can indeed work for countertops in bathrooms if properly treated. Or you weren’t aware of the vast stone possibilities that could work with your design.

7. Work on Design Development and Construction Documents

At this stage, you should be actively reviewing the floor plan, elevations, tile layout, and any other relevant drawings associated with your project. More planning on the front end of the project means fewer mistakes will arise later in the process.

You’ll also want to be kept up to speed on everything that goes into your project: what materials will be used and how they will be laid out. If something in construction drawings isn’t specified — such as general tile layout or how you want trim pieces in your shower niche to look — chances are your tile installer will make a decision on the spot, especially if you’re not around on the install day.

This stage will also involve pulling permits. If you’re working with a knowledgeable contractor, they will likely take this on. Many are skilled at navigating the process with contacts they’ve made at the local planning office. If you’re doing much of the work yourself, you’ll need to brush up on what permits you’ll need, and where and how to submit drawings for approval.

8. Get Estimates From Contractors

It’s a common process to get three separate estimates from licensed contractors for each home remodel project in which you bring in professional help. If you’re already working with a designer, he or she may know skilled contractors or can help you interview professionals to make sure they’re right for the job.

It helps to know about what goes into a contractor’s bid. Don’t let the highest bid scare you, and don’t immediately jump on the lowest bid.

9. Plan for Installation and Prepare for Bathroom Demo

In an ideal world, you will have every last detail planned and every material picked out and ordered before construction starts. The last thing you want is to get halfway through your remodel and have to tell your construction crew to take a two-week break while you wait for that back-ordered marble to arrive from Italy.

You’ll want to nail down the nuts and bolts of how construction will flow and where supplies will be stored. You’ll need a dry space inside for most materials, so you’ll need to decide where you’re going to keep displaced furniture and household items while construction is underway. Can you make space in your garage or on the side of your house?

Other questions to consider:

•   Are you prepared for the disruption?

•   What time will the workers be there, and will someone be on-site to answer questions and oversee the construction?

•   Will it affect your work schedule or any trips planned?

•   Where will you shower during construction?

•   Do you have an alternate place to stay should the inconvenience of not having a bathroom become too much?

•   Who in your family will be available should a construction question come up?

•   Think about how long the crew will be there and if the materials will arrive in time.

Any last-minute decisions need to take top priority to ensure a smooth-running bathroom remodel that stays on budget and on time.

10. Make a Post-Completion Punch List

The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends that you keep all receipts, contracts, warranties, and product information for every major purchase so that you understand how to care for and maintain the materials.

Nevertheless, it’s highly likely that something with your bathroom remodel will go wrong. Maybe you overlooked something, materials arrived broken or scratched or not at all, there’s a dent in the wall, or the caulk was too messy.

Now is the time to make a list of these things, either in an informal email or more formal document with your contractor. Get it into the hands of the person responsible for correcting the mistakes and include a date by which the fixes and finish work should be completed.

It’s normal for a contractor to return several times to address any post-project concerns, so try not to worry. Everyone makes little mistakes in a big, complicated project like a bathroom remodel. Just hold off making your final payment until the problems are fixed.

The Takeaway

Bathroom remodel costs can vary widely from $3k to $30k, with the average about $11k for a full bathroom. Most of your money will be going to labor (typically $50–$70/hour) rather than materials. To keep costs down, take the time to plan meticulously and get multiple bids from contractors.

Need a way to finance your new bathroom remodel? Check out SoFi unsecured Personal Loans. Compared to a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which may only cover a handful of projects, a SoFi Personal Loan of up to $100,000 allows you to use the money for whatever your dream bathroom demands.

Get prequalified online for a SoFi personal loan with no fees required and no obligation.

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

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

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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 .

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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15 Ways to Keep Inflation from Blowing Your Home Reno Budget

15 Ways to Keep Inflation from Blowing Your Home Reno Budget

Global inflation and supply chain issues have derailed a lot of people’s post-COVID plans, including renovating or remodeling their homes. The cost of remodeling and renovating has risen partly because there’s a shortage of supplies, so retailers have raised prices on the supplies and materials they do have. Plus, the Federal Reserve Bank has raised interest rates in an effort to slow inflation, meaning home improvement loans cost more. This doesn’t necessarily mean homeowners must put off renovations, but it does mean that sticking to your home reno budget may require more creativity and planning.

How to Keep Inflation From Ruining Your Home Renovation Budget

Here are some strategies for keeping inflation from blowing your home reno budget:

1. Understand Renovation vs Remodel

People use the terms renovation and remodel interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A renovation is fixing up what’s already there; a remodel is changing what’s there. That may mean expanding a room, or converting a pantry to a breakfast nook. Remodeling is usually more expensive because it is more involved and can include the need for permits, whereas renovations are often smaller projects that you can sometimes DIY. Before getting started with either, it can be smart to budget for the level of transformation you can reasonably afford in this economic climate.

2. Invest Wisely

One thing experts agree on is that the best home renovation or remodel investments are projects that can raise the value of a home at resale. Some of these projects include a kitchen or bathroom makeover, expanding outdoor space, and even just replacing the garage door. SoFi’s home improvement ROI calculator can help you identify some of these home investment opportunities.

3. Finance Carefully

Since you’re investing in your home, especially with the idea of improving its value, it’s smart to look for the right partner to help you strategize how to finance your project. It’s possible your project may be eligible for a home equity loan where you borrow against the value of your home for funds. Another financing option is a personal loan. Unlike the home equity loan, a personal loan for home improvement projects requires no collateral.

💡 Learn more about how home improvement loans work.

4. Have a Plan

Home renovation projects notoriously run over budget. Global supply chain issues are making that even worse. Many projects must happen according to a specific sequence, like receiving a delivery of plumbing supplies and scheduling workers before you gut the bathroom. If something goes wrong with the sequencing, it might mean you lose your workers to another job that’s ready to go, or you have to pay extra to expedite shipping. These hold ups can be expensive. That’s why it’s important to plan meticulously before you begin.

5. Be Flexible

Can’t get the Italian granite you were eyeing for the kitchen counters? What about slate, which can be a fourth of the price and can look just as stunning. Or Sintered Stone? Or steel? Deciding from the beginning to be flexible on the things you can, and uncompromising only on the materials or designs that really matter to you, can save you thousands.

6. Consider High Quality Items

Because there is generally lower demand for slightly higher quality and pricier items, those appliances and materials haven’t risen as much in price . So you might have an opportunity to get something you might have considered out of your price range for about the same as the more standard one.

7. Oversee the Project

The typical contractor fee for most general contractors to oversee renovation projects is 20% of the project , so if you’re planning a $50,000 remodel and you do the contracting yourself, you could save $10,000 right off the bat. But it will be your job to source and schedule the experts you need — plumbers, electricians, etc. — and oversee the work. Just remember: It’s not uncommon to pay to have a job done twice during renovations, so it’s wise to stay on top of workers if you choose this option.

8. Do Something Yourself

Using skills you already have, or picking up a few through online videos and in-person workshops, can save you some time and money. If you decide you can do the job yourself, and it isn’t one that requires permitting and licensing, you may be happy with your results. Doing it yourself does have its risks such as not ending up with the quality you could have by using a professional. On the other hand, if you have some skills, you might do a better job than a mediocre contractor who isn’t as invested in your home as you are.

9. Vet Your Craftsman

Hiring someone who does a poor job or damages your home is a common risk of home renovation projects. Shopping for carpenters, painters, plumbers, and others solely on the basis of price can very easily lead to problems, which can require more time and investment on your part to correct. Choosing a contractor that’s skilled and reliable requires taking the time to look at portfolios, ask questions, and seek recommendations and reviews.

10. Collect a few Bids

It can take more time, but getting bids from several different companies is a smart way to help keep your renovation costs low. Not only does this type of “shopping” give you options for how much you can pay for specific tasks, but it can also give you an idea of how different contractors would approach your project.

11. Shop Wisely

It can be easy to order items online or pick up everything from your local home remodeling store, but high shipping costs and limited in-store options can actually increase your expenditures. If you’re looking to minimize costs, settling for what’s most convenient isn’t likely to help you. Instead, taking the time to shop around thoroughly and think creatively about your renovation plans can help save you a bundle.

12. Price Match

If you find an appliance online that you really love, you may want to try bringing a copy of that ad to your local retailer, and asking them to match the deal. This way you not only save yourself shipping costs, but you also get the best price for the item you prefer.

13. Try Repurposing

Before you spend money replacing what you have, consider transforming your items instead. Perhaps you could refinish or paint your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them. Changing the hardware and interior panels are also simpler options that can reflect your style. Sometimes small changes can result in big transformations.

14. Consider Salvaged Materials

You can sometimes save big using salvaged materials. Secondhand shops like Habitat ReStores can sell old kitchen cabinets, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and furnishings for a fraction of the original sale price. You can even find unused paint, hardware, and art. For additional options, online sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace can provide useful, previously used items as well.

15. Be Creative Side

Pinterest can be a great source of budget friendly renovation ideas. You can spend a few hundred dollars on a mason jar light fixture; or you could make your own. How about creating a room divider with used pallets? Necessity is often the mother of invention, and you may discover a creative side you didn’t know you had by looking for creative design solutions.

The Takeaway

Inflation and supply chain problems can make home renovations and remodeling on a budget much more challenging, but not impossible. If you choose the best projects for added value; plan and shop for materials and craftspeople with care; and are willing to be creative and flexible, you can wind up investing less money, time and worry.

If your home renovation budget is a tad bit short of your dream, a home improvement loan from SoFi could give you the extra boost you need. With no collateral, no fees and the opportunity for same-day funding, SoFi can help get your project up and running in no time.

Explore how a home improvement loan can kick off your home renovation.

Photo credit: iStock/LightFieldStudios

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

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.

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


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9 Ways to Keep Inflation From Ruining Your Kitchen Reno Budget

9 Ways to Keep Inflation From Ruining Your Kitchen Reno Budget

Maybe you’ve just bought a house, or maybe you’ve had your house for decades and love everything about it — except for the extremely outdated kitchen, built before the days of marble top counters, stainless steel appliances, and kitchen islands. Renovating your kitchen can get expensive fast, but with inflation, materials cost even more than usual, so it can be tougher to control expenses. Luckily, there are a few strategies you can use to get the updates you crave, without emptying your pockets.

How to Keep Inflation From Ruining Your Kitchen Renovation

1. Setting A Budget

Like most people, you probably already have a budget in mind. That’s a good start, but even with a spending limit in place, it’s smart to use a tool like this home renovation cost calculator to get an estimate of what your kitchen reno will ultimately cost, and make sure your budget will truly cover it. These calculators allow you to choose from basic to extremely bespoke changes, and they consider the cost of labor and raw material, generally with a 20% margin for the contractors. (And contractors can cost much more than you may expect!)

2. Being Flexible

Be flexible about your upgrades. It’s not uncommon to have to cut back on some of your plans due to price hikes, sold out materials or surprise developments during construction. Expect to make compromises. If your dream project begins to get pricey, consider focusing on just one or two aspects of your reno that are most important to you, and saving other changes for another time.

3. Getting Creative

To keep your costs down, try thinking outside the box. Say the countertop you really want is way out of your budget. Perhaps your contractor may know where to find salvaged materials at a deep discount. Or the cabinets you had your eye on have jumped in price. Opting to reface instead of replace your existing cabinetry could be a reasonable, cost-effective approach. Being open to these kinds of options can really help keep your spending in check.

4. Doing It Yourself

DIY can be a great way to keep inflation from ruining your kitchen budget … if you know what you’re doing. There are millions of how-to videos online with detailed instructions on everything from putting in new flooring to installing sinks. One of the largest costs of any renovation is labor, and you can reap some significant savings by doing some of the things yourself, and saving the really hard stuff for a contractor. Keep in mind, though, that taking on tasks outside of your abilities could end up costing you in the end, so be realistic about what projects you can handle and which are better left to the professionals.

💡 Recommended: How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a House?

5. Considering Temporary Fixes

Can you update your cabinets and countertops with removable materials? Or perhaps a new coat of paint and some new pulls? Peel and stick wallpaper has become particularly popular due to its variety and flexibility. It comes in countless prints from wood grain to marble, and can be used as a backsplash, on countertops, kitchen cabinets, and yes, walls. Incorporating one of these simple changes can give your kitchen a fast and financially friendly refresh.

6. Renovating vs Remodeling

Yes, there’s a difference, and the distinction is important. If you are remodeling, you are changing the physical space, breaking down walls, removing cabinetry, etc. Remodels are almost always more labor intensive, require more materials, possibly permits, and definitely more of your contractor’s time, so they are almost always more expensive, even without inflation. Renovating, however, means you are updating what already exists. In this scenario, it’s often easier to pick your battles — keep the cabinets but change the countertop, for instance. So, if you really want to keep costs down, you may want to consider renovating cosmetic features instead of remodeling.

7. Consider a Loan

If you can’t wait to renovate but don’t have all the cash you need, you could consider getting a personal loan to cover the costs. If you’ve made enough mortgage payments, tapping into your home equity could be another option for funding your project. There are both benefits and drawbacks to borrowing so be sure to read the fine print, keep a close eye on interest rates and do your best to keep your project on track and under budget.

8. Increase Your ROI

Tapping into a mortgage refi or getting a personal loan might seem risky, but it can make sense if you’ve considered how much your home improvement may boost the value of your home when it comes time to sell it. Using a home improvement ROI calculator can help you estimate how much value you can add to your home after a renovation or remodel.

Another metric you may want to consider is the return on investment, for a particular project. Boosting your curb appeal — that is, the exterior of the house — can give you the most bang for your buck. So can things like replacing a garage door, sprucing up the yard and landscaping, and even painting the exterior of the house. And even a minor kitchen renovation can boost your home’s value, potentially offsetting any inflation costs you may incur.

9. Choosing The Right Contractor

Once you’ve decided what you want to do and what you can afford, it’s time to find a good contractor to execute your vision. This one decision can make or break the entire project, so it’s wise to ask for personal referrals. If that’s not an option, you can always search the top-reviewed contractors in your area. And just like comparing prices at the grocery store, getting estimates from at least three contractors can help you save.

The Takeaway

Inflation might be sky high right now, but it doesn’t have to stop you from having the kitchen of your dreams. Whether you are going for a full remodel or a few cosmetic changes, there are ways to update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

And should you decide to pick up a personal loan to cover those costs, be sure to budget a little extra for the “just-in-case.” SoFi’s home improvement loans range from $5K to $100K and can cover just about any kitchen project. Plus, with no collateral and same day funding, you can kick off your project sooner and can find yourself cooking in your new kitchen in no time.

Learn how a SoFi home improvement loan may help you fund your remodel in no time.

Photo credit: iStock/sturti

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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


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Exploring Whether or Not Personal Loans Are Bad

Exploring Whether or Not Personal Loans Are Bad

Without the proper research and consideration, taking out a personal loan can be a bad idea.

Personal loans are a type of lending instrument offered through banks, credit unions, and online lenders. They’re paid back, with interest, in installments, and there are few limitations to how the loan funds can be used. They’re also typically unsecured, meaning you don’t have to put up any property as collateral for the loan.

A personal loan is an important financial tool if you can find one from a reputable lender at a reasonable interest rate, and you can commit to making loan payments on time. However, if you only qualify for a loan with a high-interest rate or you feel you may have trouble paying it back, you may want to think twice before applying.

Recommended: What Is a Personal Loan?

Are Personal Loans Bad?

There are potential advantages and disadvantages to personal loans.

•   Personal loans generally offer a wide range of borrowing limits, typically between $1,000 and $100,000.

•   There is flexibility in how the funds can be spent, unlike a mortgage, which you must use to buy a house, or an auto loan, which must be used to purchase a car.

•   Proceeds of personal loans can be used for a variety of purposes, from paying down credit card debt to making home improvements and more.

•   Unsecured personal loans are offered by many lenders. There is no need to put any of your assets up as collateral for the loan, nor do you risk losing them should you default.

Recommended: What Are the Common Uses for Personal Loans?

It’s important to weigh these benefits against potential disadvantages, and determine if it’s bad to get a personal loan for your financial needs.

•   Personal loans may not offer the lowest possible interest rate of other available lending products. For example, you might be able to get a better rate on a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) if you have enough equity in your home. That said, both of these lending instruments use your house as collateral, so if you default, you could risk losing your home.

•   Personal loans sometimes have fees or penalties that can increase the cost of borrowing. For example, origination fees on personal loans tend to be between 1% and 5%. Some lenders may charge prepayment penalties to ensure they don’t lose future interest payments if you pay off your loan early.

•   When you take out a personal loan, you’re increasing your overall debt. If you have other debts, comfortably affording all your monthly payments can become a challenge. And missing payments or making late payments can have a negative impact on your credit score.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

Pros and Cons of Personal Loans

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of personal loans at a glance:

Pros of Personal Loans

Cons of Personal Loans

Wide range of loan amounts, usually between $1,000 and $100,000. Interest rates may be higher than other types of loans, such as home equity loans or HELOCs.
Use of funds is flexible. Borrowers can use money from personal loans toward almost any purpose. Fees and penalties can make borrowing more costly.
They are generally unsecured loans, which is beneficial to those who don’t want to put up collateral. They increase your debt, potentially putting a strain on your budget.

When Can It Be a Good Idea to Get a Personal Loan?

So when is a personal loan a good idea?

Debt Consolidation

One reason to take out a personal loan is as a credit debt consolidation loan to pay down high interest credit card debt. The average credit card interest rate currently hovers just above 16%. That means if you carry a credit card balance from month to month, you could be accumulating ever greater debt. The average finance rate for a 24-month personal loan at commercial banks is currently about 9.41%, according to the Federal Reserve .

Consolidating high interest credit card debt with a lower-interest-rate personal loan may make your monthly payments more manageable and potentially save you money in interest payments over the life of the loan.

If you use a personal loan to pay down credit card debt, it’s a good idea not to use those credit cards to incur even more debt.

Home Improvement

Using a personal loan to make improvements to your home may also be beneficial as home improvements can increase the value of your home, possibly offsetting the cost of borrowing.

When Can It Be a Bad idea to Get a Personal Loan?

There are a number of cases when you may wonder “is getting a loan bad.”

No Credit Check Loans

Most loans — including most personal loans — require a credit check. This helps your lender understand your creditworthiness, or how likely you are to repay your debts. Generally speaking, the healthier your credit, the more favorable your loan interest rates and terms. Those with poor or limited credit may find it difficult to qualify for a loan.

No credit check loans, on the other hand, look at your bank account balance or require you to pledge some asset as collateral to secure the loan.

The problem is, that these loans also tend to be extremely expensive, with interest rates well over 100%, which is considered to be predatory. There’s a pretty good chance that borrowers who rely on no-credit-check loans won’t be able to pay their bills on time, which could trap them in a cycle of debt.

Recommended: How To Avoid Falling Victim To Predatory Loans

Cheaper Alternatives May Be Available

Before taking out a personal loan, consider whether there are cheaper alternatives. We’ve already mentioned home equity loans and HELOCs. You might also consider a no-interest credit card, which charges 0% interest for an introductory period typically lasting between 12 and 20 months. If you can pay off your debt in this time period, this may be a good option. But whatever balance you don’t pay off in time may revert to the card’s regular rate.

You Are Not Good at Managing Debt

If you’re not good at managing debt, think twice before taking on more. And if you use your personal loan to consolidate credit card debt, having a repayment plan can keep you from racking up new credit card bills.

Discretionary Spending

Borrowing money for discretionary spending, such as vacations or an engagement ring isn’t a good idea. While these things are nice, they are not necessary and not worth jeopardizing your financial wellbeing. Instead of borrowing to pay for big-ticket items like these, saving for them as a part of your regular budget is a good idea.

Borrowing Money for Investments

Similarly, it is not a good idea to borrow money to make investments. By nature, investments are risky, and you are not guaranteed a return. Should the investment lose money instead of gain, you’ll be responsible for paying off your debt regardless of the investment loss.

The Takeaway

So are personal loans bad? The bottom line is personal loans can be incredibly useful tools for purposes like consolidating credit card debt, making home improvements, and more.

Any time you’re considering a loan, it’s important to understand if it will meet your needs, what it will cost you, and whether there are any better alternatives out there.

SoFi Personal Loans are available to qualified applicants for a wide range of amounts and have no fees required. Checking your SoFi interest rate takes just one minute and you could also get funded the same day that you’re approved.

Learn more about SoFi Personal Loans.

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

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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