person holding blue credit card

How Refinancing Credit Card Debt Works

Spending is on the rise — and so is consumer debt. Americans carry, on average, three credit cards and have $6,501 in credit card debt. Overall, U.S. credit card debt is $129 billion higher than it was one year ago.

That amount of debt can be a challenge to pay down along with regular monthly household expenses. Some people may choose to refinance their high-interest credit card debt in an effort to secure a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. Refinancing credit card debt can be one way to make progress toward eliminating it completely.

What Is Credit Card Debt?

If you’re putting more purchases on credit cards than you can pay off in a monthly billing cycle, you have credit card debt.

Interest will accrue on the balance that carries over to the next billing cycle. If you don’t pay at least the minimum amount due, you’ll likely also be charged a late fee. Since credit cards use compound interest, you’ll be charged interest on accrued interest and fees. That can add up quickly and make it more difficult to get out of debt.

Carrying a balance on more than one credit card can make the debt even more difficult to manage. If your goal is to be free of credit card debt, refinancing can be one way to achieve that.

What Are Some Benefits of Refinancing Credit Card Debt?

Credit cards are revolving debt and typically have variable annual percentage rates (APRs).

Refinancing credit card debt with an installment loan that has a fixed interest rate, such as a personal loan, will mean you’ll have a fixed end date to your debt and will have the same APR for the entire term of the loan.

If you’re refinancing multiple credit card balances into one new loan or line of credit, you’ll have fewer bills to pay each month. That could potentially make monthly budgeting a simpler task.

Recommended: What Is a Good APR for a Credit Card?

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How Might Debt Refinancing Affect Your Credit Score?

Something to keep in mind when your goal is to pay down debt is that it’s a long game.

That being said, in the short term your credit score can decrease slightly when you apply for new credit and the lender looks at your credit report. During the formal application process, the lender will perform a hard inquiry into your credit report, which may result in a slight temporary drop of your credit score.

If you’re comparing multiple lenders, and they offer prequalification, they’ll do a soft inquiry into your credit report, which won’t affect your credit score.

Building your credit — or rebuilding it — through refinancing credit card debt can be possible if you make on-time, regular payments on the new loan. Reducing your credit utilization can be another positive result of refinancing credit card debt. Both of these can potentially increase your credit score.

It’s important not to overuse the credit cards you refinanced into a new loan, however, or you might accumulate even more debt than you started with.

Will Canceling My Unused Credit Cards Affect my Credit Score?

After you’ve refinanced your existing credit card debt into a new loan, you might be tempted to cancel those credit cards. But that strategy could negatively affect your credit score.

Whether it’s a good idea to cancel a credit card really depends on the card. If you’ve had the credit card for a long time, closing it would shorten your credit history, which could result in a credit score drop. But if it’s a card you genuinely don’t have a reason to keep, such as a retail card for a store you no longer shop at or a card that has a high annual fee that can’t be justified with your current spending habits, closing the account might be the right step for you.

If you plan to keep a credit card open, it may be a good idea to use it for a small, recurring charge so the card issuer doesn’t close it for inactivity. Setting up autopay can make this a convenient way to ensure the card stays open but is paid in full each month.

What Are Some Options for Refinancing Credit Card Debt?

Your overall creditworthiness will be a determining factor in finding available refinancing options. Lenders will look at your credit report and credit score, paying attention to how you’ve handled credit in the past and how much total debt you have in relation to your income.

Balance Transfer Credit Card

If you can qualify for a low- or no-interest credit card, you could use it to transfer a balance from another credit card. You’ll typically be charged a balance transfer fee equal to a percentage of the balance you’re transferring. The promotional rate on these types of cards is temporary, sometimes lasting up to 18 months or so, but can be as short as 6 months.

If you pay the transferred balance in full within the promotional period, you may not pay any interest at all, or a minimal amount. However, if you still have an outstanding balance on the card when the promotional period is over, the APR will revert to the card’s standard rate for balance transfers.

Home Equity Loan

A potential source of refinancing funds might be your home, if you have equity in it. Funds from a home equity loan can be used for just about anything, even things unrelated to your home. You can calculate how much equity you have in your home by subtracting the amount you owe on your mortgage from the current market value of your home.

In addition to the amount of equity you have in your home, lenders will typically also look at your income and your credit history to determine how much you might qualify for. It’s common for lenders to limit a home equity loan to no more than 80% to 85% of the equity you have in your home. There are typically closing costs with a home equity loan including appraisal fee, title search, origination fee, or other fees, and can be between 2% and 5% of the loan amount.

A home equity loan is a second mortgage secured by your home. If you fail to repay the loan, the lender can foreclose on your home.

Debt Consolidation Loan

Some lenders offer loans specifically for debt consolidation. These are actually personal loans, the funds from which can be used to pay off your existing credit card debt. Then, you’ll be responsible for repaying the debt consolidation loan. There may be fees charged on this type of loan, so be sure to look over the loan agreement carefully before signing it.

For a credit card consolidation loan to be as effective as possible at reducing your debt, it will ideally have a lower APR than you’re paying on your credit cards. In this way, you would be paying less in interest over the life of the loan. If a lower monthly payment is your goal, you may opt for a longer-term loan, but may pay a higher interest rate.

Recommended: How to Get a Debt Consolidation Loan with Bad Credit

The Takeaway

If your credit card debt is piling up and you’re finding it challenging to pay it down, you may be considering refinancing. Some credit card refinancing options include balance transfer credit cards with a promotional APR, a home equity loan, or a debt consolidation loan.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.


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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 SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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 .

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. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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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How to Set Up a Health Savings Account

How Do I Start a Health Savings Account?

A Health Savings Account (HSA) can be set up in three simple steps, and once it’s up and running, it can help you bridge the gap between what your health insurance covers and your actual costs, among other benefits.

Let’s face it: Many of us these days select a High Deductible Health Plan, or HDHP, when it comes to health insurance. That means you may be paying a lower monthly premium in exchange for a high deductible. You could potentially get hit with a lot of unforeseen healthcare expenses before your benefits kick in. And even after you meet that deductible, you may have charges that are not reimbursed. A Health Savings Account (HSA) can help you set money aside to fill that gap.

Setting up an HSA may sound intimidating, as if you’ll have to fill out reams of paperwork, but that’s not at all the case! Whether through an employer or on your own, once you’re ready to start saving, the steps to opening an HSA account can be as simple as filling out an online form with basic information — easy peasy.

Here’s a look at the steps involved, plus a few important considerations before you take the leap.

Key Points

•   Eligibility for a Health Savings Account (HSA) requires enrollment in a high deductible health plan without other health coverage or Medicare.

•   Setting up an HSA involves selecting a provider, completing paperwork, and verifying health plan coverage.

•   Contributions to an HSA are pre-tax, reducing taxable income and allowing tax-free growth, with a maximum limit set annually.

•   Funds from the HSA can be used to pay for a wide range of medical expenses, including those not covered under typical health plans.

•   After age 65, funds can be used for any purpose without penalties, though they will be taxed if not used for qualified medical expenses.

What Is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

The HSA will be turning 21 soon: In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act which created the Health Savings Account. These accounts were meant to help people with high deductible health plans set aside money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses: copays, dental care, eyeglasses, prescriptions, psychiatric help, and more. This can happen both before and after you reach your deductible.

In addition to covering health costs, these tax-free accounts can lower your amount of federal income tax owed. What’s more, HSAs can help with saving for retirement and unforeseen emergencies.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

How Does an HSA Work?

A Health Savings Account can work just like a checking account. You can make deposits (or contributions), pay bills online, make transfers, and even pay for qualified medical expenses with an HSA debit card. You are free to withdraw HSA funds at any time to pay for health costs not covered by your high deductible health plan. One big note: Once you enroll in Medicare, you can no longer contribute to an HSA.

Deposits can also be contributed by your employer, with direct deposits made into your HSA straight from payroll. A nice aspect of these plans: Health Savings Account contributions roll over every year, so you don’t have to race to spend the pre-tax funds in your account. If you stay healthy, you can build up your emergency fund as well as your retirement nest egg. Your good health can lead to wealth down the line!

Who Can Open an HSA?

According to Federal Guidelines, you qualify to open a Health Savings Account if you:

•   Are covered under a high deductible health plan, or HDHP.

•   Are not covered by any other health plan, including a spouse’s.

•   Are not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

•   Are not enrolled in a disqualifying alternate medical savings account, such as an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) or an MSA (a Medicare medical savings account).

•   Are not currently enrolled in Medicare.

How to Set Up a Health Savings Account

Once you’ve established that the pros outweigh the cons, you may wonder exactly how to set up a Health Savings Account (HSA). Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward:

Step 1: Research Your HSA Options

If an HSA plan is offered directly through your employer, go to Step Two.
If you’re self-employed, investigate HSA options online, or reach out to banks or other financial entities.

Step 2: Fill Out the Necessary Paperwork

The set-up for an HSA is not unlike opening a bank account. You’ll be provided with paperwork or an online form, where you’ll give basic information such as your Social Security Number and proof of your identity (typically verified by a government-issued photo ID).

Step 3: Complete Verification

Be prepared to offer verification of your high deductible health plan (HDHP).

That’s it! It’s a quick and simple process to set up a Health Savings Account.

Once your HSA is up and running, you may be able to opt for automatic regular deposits from your bank account or straight from your paycheck. There is no minimum amount required to open an HSA, but you typically need at least $1,000 in the account in order to invest in certain mutual funds.

HSA Contribution Limits

For tax year 2023, HSA contribution limits are $3,850 for individuals and $7,750 for families with HDHP coverage. Those 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. For 2024, HSA contribution limits are $4,150 for individuals and $8,300 for families. Those 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. There is never a minimum requirement for deposits. Some ground rules to be aware of:

•  You are covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP), described later, on the first day of the month.

•  You have no supplemental health coverage except what is permitted under other health coverage.

•  You aren’t enrolled in Medicare.

•  You can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

Advantages of an HSA

There are many benefits to opening an HSA. Sure, it can provide a cushion or safety net when it comes to out-of-pocket medical costs. But there are other perks beyond covering the price of a new pair of glasses.

Covering Expenses for You and Your Family

From ambulances to acupuncture, a Health Savings Account can cover the costs your HDHP doesn’t. The IRS has an extensive listof ways you can use your HSA funds. One example: Did you know you can also use your Health Savings Account to pay for medical expenses for a spouse or a child — anyone who is part of your tax household — even if they aren’t on your HDHP? It’s true!

Lowering Taxable Income

Here’s another bonus to having this kind of account: Your HSA contributions are made before taxes are deducted, thereby lowering your taxable income. As a result, you may pay less in taxes.

Rollover Contributions

There’s no “use-it-or-lose it” pressure when you have a Health Savings Account. Unused HSA funds don’t disappear at the end of the year. You can roll them over again and again, accumulating tax-free interest. Those earnings can turn into savings to be invested in the future or used for life’s little surprises — say, a chipped tooth.

Saving for Retirement

At age 65, you can start using the funds in your Health Savings Account for anything, without penalty. Withdrawals will be taxed the same as they would from a 401(k) or IRA, but any funds waiting for use will avoid taxes while earning interest.

Additionally, if you are lucky enough to be able to max out your annual IRA and/or 401(k) contributions, an HSA is another way to save more tax-free money toward retirement. Beyond covering copays, an HSA is a great way to get your money working for you.

💡 Quick Tip: Most savings accounts only earn a fraction of a percentage in interest. Not at SoFi. Our high-yield savings account can help you make meaningful progress towards your financial goals.

Disadvantages of an HSA

Okay, now you know the upside of opening an HSA. But there are potential downsides that are worth knowing about and considering before you sign up.

Penalties for Unqualified Expenses

Until you turn 65, HSA funds cannot be used for anything but eligible medical expenses. To do so would subject withdrawals to income taxes and a 20% penalty.

Monthly Fees

Health Saving Account providers may charge a monthly fee. These fees generally tend to be lower than $5 bucks per month, but they do add up. While there are providers out there that don’t charge account management fees, all will assess an investment fee. Do your homework to find the vehicle with the lowest fees.

Potential Losses

Like an IRA or 401(k), any invested money in an HSA can mean monetary gains and losses. As with any investment account, you need to be prepared for your HSA balance to dip if the market trends downward.

Keeping Tabs for Your Tax Records

HSA contributions and expenditures must be reported on your tax return. It may not be a deal-breaker, but for some people, keeping records of your HSA activity can be a nuisance.

HSA Advantages vs. Disadvantages

ProsCons

•   Covers an extensive list of out-of-pocket health expenses

•   Can be used for family members

•   Lowers taxable income and therefore may decrease your taxes

•   Contributions roll over to the next year

•   Promotes tax-free savings for retirement

•   Penalties for nonqualified expenses

•   Unexpected and potentially hidden fees

•   Account balance can fluctuate with the marketplace

•   Activity must be reported on your tax return

Things to Consider When Choosing an HSA

If your job offers a Health Saving Plans, great! They’ve done the research for you. Employers may also offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). But unlike FSAs, which are owned by an employer and can be inflexible, a Health Savings Account has higher contribution limits and is controlled by you.

If you are self-employed, do your research. You’ll find an array of Health Savings Plans to choose among; HSA comparison websites can help you navigate the search. Remember to pay attention to any monthly/annual fees so you know exactly what to expect. Ideally, you’ll want an HSA that makes it easy to manage your account online. Many banks and credit unions offer HSAs, so check with your financial institution.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


The Takeaway

Once you’ve made the decision to enroll in a Health Savings Account, the steps to set it up are relatively painless. You can start using your HSA funds right away to help cover qualified health-related costs. Contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, don’t need to be used up by the end of the year, and can potentially even help boost your retirement fund. A Health Savings Account goes beyond just covering your healthcare expenses and can serve as one of the best tax-advantaged savings vehicles available. It can enhance your sense of security and keep your wealth growing.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How do I set up an HSA account?

With a valid government-issued photo ID, Social Security number, and proof of your HDHP, you can fill out a basic paper or online HSA form, provided by an employer or financial institution.

Can I start an HSA on my own?

Yes. As long as you are enrolled in an HDHP and not covered under someone else’s policy, you can start an HSA.

How much does it cost to open an HSA?

The initial sign-up is free, and there is no minimum deposit amount to start. But expect investment fees and possibly monthly management fees.


Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
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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.

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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14 Side Hustles for Couples Who Want to Make Extra Income

If you and your significant other are interested in making some extra cash without sacrificing time together, you might consider a joint business venture. Side hustles for couples allow you to meld forces and level up your earning power. It can also strengthen your relationship and help you achieve your shared financial goals.

Whether you’re looking to save for a special occasion or a major purchase, or just want to increase your cash flow, here’s a look at 14 of the best side hustles for couples.

Key Points

•   Couples can combine resources and skills to start side hustles, potentially increasing their income.

•   Joint ventures like real estate investing or starting a food truck can be profitable.

•   Online platforms facilitate side hustles such as reselling items or renting out cars.

•   Service-based side hustles like pet-sitting or home improvement can utilize complementary skills.

•   Digital ventures like blogging or social media can grow into significant income sources over time.

Benefits of a Side Hustle

There are a number of advantages to starting a side hustle as a couple versus pursuing your own solo gigs. Working together allows you to:

•   Combine resources to cover the startup costs like equipment, materials, and supplies

•   Potentially earn twice (or more) than you could alone

•   Work nights and weekends without sacrificing time together

•   Tap into complementary skills and talents

•   Discover new things about your partner

•   Ease the stress of managing a business

•   Balance the workload

•   Increase your ability to communicate and work together

•   Test the waters on a passion that could potentially lead to a larger couple’s business venture

💡 Quick Tip: An online bank account with SoFi can help your money earn more — up to 4.60% APY, with no minimum balance required.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


14 Side Hustles for Couples

To get started with a couple’s side hustle, you’ll want to consider your combined interests, passions, skills, resources, and availability. To help you brainstorm ideas, here’s a look at sidelines that can work well for couples looking to combine forces.

1. Investing in Real Estate

If you and your mate are interested in real estate and understand the market, you might team up to invest in rental properties, which can generate passive income.

Partnering up to invest in real estate gives you more capital to work with. Plus, if you are co-borrowers on a mortgage, it could potentially help you get a loan with a better interest rate if it lowers your debt-to-income ratio. Once you invest in real estate together, you can divide up property management, maintenance, and repair tasks based on your skills and availability.

2. Reselling Items

A relatively simple way to earn extra income as a couple is by reselling items you already own and no longer need, or things you snag for low prices at estate sales, yard sales, or through online marketplaces. Working as a team can be useful with reselling, especially if you buy and sell larger items locally. To maximize your earning potential, you may want to zero in on a specific type of item you want to resell, such as clothing, furniture, or collectibles.

3. Pet-Sitting

Is one of you a people person and the other more of an animal lover? You might combine forces with an in-home pet-sitting business. One partner can focus on bringing in business, communicating with clients, and scheduling, while the other can take charge of providing personalized care, feeding, walking, and attention to your furry clients.

If having pets in your home doesn’t appeal, you might start a neighborhood dog-walking service. This will allow you to get some exercise and spend time together, while also bringing in some extra income.

Recommended: 19 Tips to Save Money on Pets

4. Rent Out Your Car

If you each have a car and one sits idle most of the time, you might consider monetizing it by listing it on a car sharing marketplace, such as Turo or HyreCar. These peer-to-peer car-sharing services make it easy to rent out your car when you’re not using it to make some extra income. Turo claims that the average annual income generated by renting out one car is $10,516.

Before signing up, however, you’ll want to make sure you understand all the legal details, such as protection plans, auto insurance coverage, liability insurance, and rental service agreements.

5. Cleaning and Home Improvement

If you and your mate enjoy maintaining and fixing up your home, you might consider offering your services to others. Perhaps you’re handy around the house while your partner excels at housekeeping tasks or interior painting. You might combine forces by offering a range of services. You can get clients by advertising in your local area or could list your services with a platform like TaskRabbit, Thumbtack, or Care.com (though known for babysitting, the site now also includes housekeeping).

6. Babysitting

Babysitting can be another lucrative side hustle for couples, especially since there is currently a childcare shortage. If you and your partner enjoy children, you might offer to look after kids in the evenings or weekends to allow parents to catch up with chores or errands. If you’re considering the prospect of starting a family in the near future, babysitting can give you experience while earning some extra cash.

To get clients, you might post your services on a local parent group or sign up with a platform like Care.com or Sittercity. To charge a higher rate, consider getting certified in CPR or offering special activities for the kids.

7. Starting a Food Truck

Are you and your partner big foodies? Maybe one (or both) of you loves to cook and you’ve always dreamed of owning your own food business together. If so, a food truck might be a good place to start. It requires lower overhead costs than opening a restaurant and allows you to travel to where the crowds are, rather than waiting for them to come to you.

You’ll need a fair amount of capital to get going (for the truck, equipment, supplies, POS machine, etc.). And since you’re serving food and beverage, you’ll also need to get the necessary permits and adhere to regulations. But the time and money you invest could pay into a lucrative side business.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Start a Business?

8. Blogging

If you and your mate enjoy writing and have expertise in a particular area (such as travel, food, interior design, or fashion), you might consider starting a blog together. You can tap your shared passions and knowledge to produce engaging content, collaborate on articles, and expand your audience together.

While it won’t provide a revenue stream overnight, blogging is a low-cost side hustle that may become lucrative if you can build up a large following. Bloggers generally earn money through ads (which pay per view or click) or affiliate sales (if you promote a product or service and a visitor clicks on the link and completes a purchase, you get paid a commission).

9. Becoming Virtual Assistants

If you both have strong organizational skills and are looking for a way to make extra money while working from home, you might look into becoming virtual assistants. This sideline involves providing administrative support to businesses remotely, such as email management, scheduling, data entry, and booking travel. If you each have different strengths, you might divide up the tasks based on skill/preference, or each pick different types of clients.

To get started, you may want to use a virtual assistant app, such as Fiverr and Upwork; these platforms can help you market your services and manage gigs and payments. But because apps often take a considerable cut, you may want to eventually break out on your own and create a website that markets your virtual admin services.

10. Delivering Items to People

Side hustling by way of delivering food and groceries allows you and your significant other to work your own hours and make money just by driving. Working as a delivery duo also enables you to pick up and deliver items more efficiently than working solo (no parking necessary for quick pick-ups and drop-offs).

You might deliver groceries using a platform like Instacart or Shipt or deliver food via DoorDash or UberEats. Generally all you need to get started is to have a driver’s license and a car, download the app, and set up an account. Once you’re approved, the apps will alert you to new delivery jobs and you can and your partner can choose to work when you want to.

11. Renting Your Home Out to Others

If you have a spare room, basement, or guest house, or you travel often, you might consider renting part or all of your home to travelers as a couple. You can easily make extra monthly income this way by booking through Airbnb. How much will depend on your location, size of your home, and amenities.

To start your side hustle as an Airbnb host, you’ll need to create a profile and listing on the site and have it verified. You and your partner can then collaborate on guest communication, cleaning, and ensuring a comfortable, and welcoming experience for your guests.

12. Charging Public Scooters

If you live in an area that has public scooters, you might be able to earn extra cash as a couple by charging them. Many companies (such as Lime, Bird, and Spin) hire independent contractors to collect, charge, and distribute their electric scooters in different areas around the city. If you and your honey are game, you’ll need to sign up on the app and complete a short training session. Once approved, you will receive a charger kit with all the necessary tools and equipment to get started.

Recommended: How to Earn Residual Income

13. Social Media Monetizing

Similar to blogging, monetizing your social media can be a lucrative couple side hustle, depending on the number of followers you have and their level of engagement. If you and your partner have managed to establish yourself as social media influencers, you may be able to earn money running ads before and after your video content and/or through brand partnerships and affiliate links.

Popular couple accounts include couples working on a major home renovation project, building a business together, sharing their journey to reach a certain goal or overcome a struggle, or spreading positive messaging. You can also offer information and useful tips around a particular topic.

Recommended: How To Make Money Even With No Job

14. Offering Lessons

If you and your mate have a particular skill or talent, such as academic, musical, sports, gardening, or fine arts expertise, you might consider starting a tutoring or personal instruction business together. This is a flexible side hustle since you can offer in-person or virtual lessons, market your services to children and/or adults, and choose to work daytime or evenings. Plus, the start-up costs are typically minimal. Apps like Wyzant, Skooli, and TakeLessons.com can help you market your services and manage gigs and payments.

The Takeaway

By brainstorming side hustle ideas with your significant other, you may be able to find synergies that can take your freelance business to the next level. Combining forces also allows you to work together toward your shared financial goals.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Is it beneficial to have a side hustle with your significant other?

Starting a side hustle with your significant other offers multiple benefits. These include combining your resources to cover the startup costs, sharing responsibilities, increasing your potential profits, and allowing you to spend time together while also working nights and weekends.

Are there any drawbacks to starting a side hustle as a couple?

A potential drawback to starting a side hustle as a couple is that it can put added stress on your relationship. It can also lead to arguments over how to run the business and divvy up responsibilities.

How can I choose the right side hustle?

The right side hustle for you depends on your interests, goals, and availability. You also want to factor in what you’re qualified to do, and if you have any skills, experience, tools or equipment that could give you a competitive advantage.

Once you’ve narrowed down the side hustles that match your interests, skills, and resources, you can examine the costs and profit potential to find the best fit for you.


Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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

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How to Use an ATM

An automated teller machine (ATM) can be a convenient way to deposit or withdraw money, check your account balance, and conduct other aspects of your banking business. But did you know there are ways to make the process easier, faster, and perhaps less expensive?

Key Points

•   ATMs provide convenient banking services like cash withdrawals and checking account balances.

•   Deposits at ATMs are possible but may have restrictions compared to withdrawals.

•   Avoiding ATM fees is easier with in-network machines and understanding account terms.

•   Cardless withdrawals are possible through mobile apps using QR codes.

•   Safety at ATMs is crucial; always be aware of surroundings and protect PIN entries.

What Is an ATM?

An ATM (short for automated teller machine) is a device that performs some of the same functions as a human teller at a bank, such as dispensing cash. ATMs made their U.S. debut in Rockville Centre, NY, in 1969, and there are currently between 520,000 and 540,000 of these devices in America.

Almost anywhere you go, you can find an ATM, providing certain banking services quickly and conveniently. For example, it is usually possible to find ATMs in major hotel lobbies, at grocery stores, in shopping centers, and in airports. (They also may turn up at convenience stores, night clubs, restaurants, and other places where cash could be needed.)

You can typically check your bank account balance and withdraw cash from ATMs. It’s likely you can deposit cash at an ATM or possibly checks (although deposits have more restrictions than withdrawals).

💡 Quick Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

How Does an ATM Work?

An ATM machine gives bank customers easy access to their banking resources at various locations and around the clock. You insert your card into a reader that scans your banking information, and you can then conduct transactions. (At some locations, contactless transactions may be possible; see more on this below.)

Here are some of the main functions an ATM can usually perform:

•   Withdraw cash.

•   Make deposits, but to do so, the device typically needs to be within the same network as the customer’s bank. Often, it’s not possible to make a deposit at an out-of-network ATM or, if it is, you’ll be charged a fee.

•   Check your account balance, which can help you avoid overdrafting when making a withdrawal or using your debit card. The balance can appear on the screen or on the printed receipt. It’s usually only free to check an account balance at an in-network ATM. If the ATM is out-of-network, this service may come with a fee.

Some ATMs do make it possible to access their services without a debit card present. This is known as a cardless withdrawal. How does an ATM work without your plastic in hand? These types of withdrawals are typically supported by a smartphone app that uses technology such as a QR code in lieu of a debit card. This can provide the ATM with the account information it needs to complete the transaction.

Things You Can’t Do at an ATM

ATMs do have limitations; here are some things consumers likely can’t do at an ATM.

•   Withdraw coins or low-value bills

•   Open a new account (unless you have preselected and prescreened)

•   Close an account

•   Send a money order

•   Purchase a cashier’s check.

How Much Are ATM Fees?

It may be free to use an in-network ATM, but when there isn’t one around and you need cash (or to conduct another transaction), you’ll likely be hit with a fee for using an out-of-network device.

It’s wise to read the fine print associated with your checking account to better understand what kind of fees you may need to pay to use an ATM. It can also be helpful to make note of where some local in-network ATMs are. This can make avoiding ATM charges easier.

How much can ATM fees be?

•   The average out-of-network fee is currently $4.73. This typically includes a $1.58 fee levied by your bank and an average of $3.15 charged by the ATM’s owners.

•   Additionally, if you are traveling internationally, you may have fees of, say, $2 to $5 to make withdrawals as well as a conversion fee.

Worth noting: Several banks will waive fees when their clients use an out-of-network ATM. If you often rack up many out-of-network ATM fees, you might want to look into which banks offer this service.

Recommended: Can You Use Your Debit Card in Another Country?

How to Find an ATM

If you are hunting for cash or need to deposit a check, here are a couple of ideas for how to find an ATM:

•   You can usually use your banking app to find ATMs. There may be a map function or you may be asked to enter a zip code to see nearby devices.

•   If you bank at a traditional vs. online bank, you can visit a branch which will often have ATMs available.

•   There are third-party services that can help you access surcharge-free ATMs.

To make this process easier, you can bank with a financial institution that has a large network of ATMs you can use without a fee. Allpoint and STAR are examples of these networks.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


How to Withdraw Money from an ATM

Want to use an ATM machine to withdraw cash? Here are the standard steps.

1.    When prompted by the screen, insert your debit card into the machine.

2.    Enter your PIN number. This is the custom PIN (personal identification number) associated with the debit card linked to their checking account.

3.    Choose the transaction type. In this case, it would be a withdrawal.

4.    Pick the account to access. If you have multiple bank accounts, this will make sure the money is coming from the right place.

5.    You’ll likely be prompted to enter the dollar amount you want to withdraw (or press the option showing your choice of amounts), and you may be asked to select your bill denominations.

6.    Take the card back. Now it’s time to complete the transaction. Many ATMs say to take your card back and then the machine will dispense your cash.

How Much Money Will an ATM Let You Take Out?

There are typically limits on how much you can withdraw from an ATM. (This is often done to make sure there is enough cash in the machine to go around vs. a few customers draining the funds.)

•   Daily withdrawal limits are typically between $300 and $5,000.

Check with your bank to learn its limits and whether it determines that by calendar day or by a 24-hour period.

How to Deposit Money at an ATM

Next, take a look at how to use an ATM machine to deposit money. Keep in mind that only certain ATMs will accept deposits, so you want to be aware that depositing money may not be a possibility at the ATM closest to you.

1.    Find an in-network ATM or an ATM that allows deposits to the bank associated with your debit card.

2.    Insert your card and enter your PIN (typically a 4-digit code).

3.    Choose “deposit” as your transaction type.

4.    Type in the exact amount of the intended deposit.

5.    Insert the cash or check. If this is a check, endorse the back first; then follow the on-screen instructions to get your card back and a receipt, if desired.

Recommended: What to Do if an ATM Eats Your Deposit?

Other Transactions You May Be Able to Complete at an ATM

Now that you know how to withdraw money at an ATM and deposit as well, take a look at some of the other things banking customers can often do at these devices.

Cash Checks and Money Orders

Some ATMs may let you cash checks for free as well as money orders. These are typically in-network ATMs.

Make Bill Payments

At some ATMs (such as those in the Chase network) allow you to pay the mortgage, home equity loan, or credit card bill you have with them at an ATM.

Get a Cash Advance From a Credit Card

You may be able to get a cash advance from a credit card (though this typically carries a high interest rate, so proceed with caution).

Tips to Keep Yourself Safe at ATMs

With both in-person and online banking, security is important. When using an ATM machine, it’s important to learn how to do so safely, whether making a deposit or withdrawal. Here are some tips for staying safe:

•   Be aware of your surroundings. If there is someone loitering around an ATM that you’d like to use (especially at night), you might want to go elsewhere.

•   You may feel safer using ATMs located in bank branches.

•   Here’s what you should do before approaching an ATM: Have your card in your hand as you approach the device versus fumbling through your pockets or bag while at the ATM.

•   Cover the keypad when entering in the PIN number so no one else can see it. Some keypads are designed in such a way as to help protect your personal information as you type in those digits.

•   Review ATMs closely for misaligned card readers, skimming devices (more on that in a moment), or suspicious markings before using one.

•   If you are withdrawing cash, put it away ASAP when you receive it. Don’t walk away from the ATM with cash in your hands.

Also be aware that there are ATM scams. One common one involves card skimmers, a device that a fraudster attaches to an ATM (or gas pump card reader) in order to fraudulently collect the account information of users. Inspect card readers for signs of tampering; you may try to wiggle an ATM’s card reader to detect card skimmers.

If you have reason to be concerned, it could be wise to avoid this ATM and look for another or else get some cash back at, say, your grocery store to tide you over.

The Takeaway

ATMs can offer a convenient way to access a number of basic but essential banking services (such as withdrawing and depositing cash) without having to actually visit a branch location during business hours. It’s important to remember to pay attention to ATM fees, which are much easier to avoid when using an in-network ATM. It’s also essential to keep safety in mind to avoid theft or fraud when using an ATM.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What if the ATM gave me too much money?

Sorry, it’s not free cash. Contact your bank (or the owner of the ATM, if the device is out-of-network) and explain what happened. Keep your receipt, and follow the advice given.

What are the pros and cons of ATMs?

The major pro of using an ATM is probably convenience; you can access some banking services during non-business hours or wherever you may be. The cons associated with ATMs include the fact that services are limited, fees may be charged, and there’s the possibility of theft.

How many times can I use an ATM?

How many times you can use an ATM often depends on how much money you withdraw each time. Most banks limit the dollar amount someone can withdraw (usually $300 to $5,000) per day. Check your bank for its withdrawal limits.

Can I use my debit card at any ATM?

You can generally use a debit card to withdraw cash (although not necessarily to make deposits) at any ATM, even if it is out-of-network. However, making a withdrawal at an out-of-network ATM can lead to having to pay fees.

What should you do before you approach an ATM?

Before approaching an ATM, you should look around and make sure no one is loitering nearby. It’s also wise to have your debit card ready to use in your hand vs. having to dig for it at the terminal.

How much money will an ATM let you take out?

Banks typically have withdrawal limits per day. These vary among financial institutions but are usually between $300 and $5,000.


Photo credit: iStock/Eva-Katalin

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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

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Mother with child on floor

8 Key Frugal Tips

Living frugally means spending less than you earn; it can involve elements of simplicity and eco-friendliness.

You already know the advice about not signing up for every streaming platform under the sun and not having a fancy coffee every day. Fortunately, living a frugal life doesn’t have to feel like you must sacrifice your favorite things. By adopting some basic money-saving moves, you can stash cash without much effort.

Read on to learn eight easy tips that will help you streamline your spending and perhaps enjoy more peace of mind.

Key Points

•   Living frugally involves spending less than you earn, incorporating simplicity and eco-friendliness.

•   Reforming fixed expenses can lead to significant savings without drastic lifestyle changes.

•   Enhancing grocery shopping strategies, like choosing discount stores and using coupons, can reduce food costs.

•   DIY maintenance and repairs on household items can save money over time.

•   Enjoying free entertainment options and traveling frugally can enrich life without high costs.

8 Essential Frugal Living Tips

Here are eight tips on how to be more frugal and save money — without giving up all the fun and the little rewards in your life.

1. Reform Fixed Expenses

Regardless of what specific items might appear on a budget, they all come in two general varieties: fixed expenses vs. variable expenses.

Fixed expenses are, as the name suggests, those bills that are fixed and consistent each month, such as rent, insurance payments, and student loans. Variable expenses, on the other hand, are those whose amounts aren’t fixed… but that doesn’t mean all variable expenses are optional (or “discretionary”). For example, your electric bill probably varies from month to month, but you still know you’re going to have to pay it.

Let’s hone in on those fixed expenses first, though — because cutting down on regular, consistent costs can lead to regular, consistent savings. There are a variety of ways to do this, some more radical than others.

For example, moving to a less expensive neighborhood or splitting bills with a roommate might cut your rent in half; deciding to forgo a car can eliminate not only the car payment and insurance cost, but also variable expenses like parking, maintenance, and gas. These kinds of global lifestyle changes can take a lot of effort to set up at the start. However, the payoff is months or years of significant savings without too much ongoing effort.

However, there are plenty of ways to cut fixed expenses without making such seismic shifts to daily life. For instance, switching to a less expensive cell phone carrier can lower the monthly burden, as can ditching a gym membership in favor of hiking or cutting back on streaming service subscriptions. (Even those low per-month amounts can really add up when there are three or four of them!)

Recommended: Building a Line Item Budget

2. Gear Up Your Grocery Game

Groceries count as a variable expense, but they’re certainly not optional. That said, there’s an incredible margin for savings when it comes to stocking up on food each month.

So how to go about saving money on food and other grocery store items?

•   One easy way to start is to choose discount grocers and chains that are known for their low prices. Aldi, Lidl, Trader Joe’s and WinCo, for example, all have well-founded reputations for their frugal choices, particularly when compared to upscale grocery chains like Whole Foods. Shopping at a cheaper store can take some of the footwork out of saving; you may be able to spend less on the exact same grocery list. But it’s also possible to take the project even further.

•   Coupon clipping might not be the most glamorous activity, but those deals can create substantial savings, particularly for practiced couponers. These days, apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 make it easy to score savings on the items you’re already shopping for.

•   Additionally, aiming to make cheaper meals can stretch each grocery store dollar even further. Relying on inexpensive staples like rice, which can be dressed up and filled out in many different ways, can help keep both bellies and wallets full.

3. Decide to Do It Yourself

Buying things is one thing. But maintaining them is a whole ‘nother can of worms — and it can be a downright expensive one. For instance, going in for an oil change vs. doing it yourself can be a pricey undertaking. And calling in a plumber when the sink or toilet is clogged can be expensive compared with going into DIY mode.

All of which is to say: honing some handiness skills could easily help save money over the course of a lifetime. And thanks to the fact that we live in the digital age, it’s relatively easy to become a Jack or Jill of all trades. YouTube is full of free video tutorials that can walk you through everything from fixing a dishwasher that won’t drain to rotating your own tires.

Other high-cost services to consider DIYing: mani/pedis, facials, pet grooming, landscaping, moving, and more. Basically, anytime you could spend money on hiring a professional, think seriously about whether you actually need the help.

Recommended: Pros and Cons of Online and Mobile Banking

4. Enjoy Free Entertainment

While some events are worthy splurges — like a once-in-a-lifetime concert — it’s also important to consider all the free forms of entertainment at our fingertips. For example, your local library may offer streaming movies along with books and audiobooks (or try services connected to libraries, like Kanopy and Hoopla), and many museums offer cost-free admissions on specific days of the week or month.

Even the national parks offer free admission from time to time. Free national park entrance days vary slightly from year to year, but generally include the first day of National Park Week in late April and National Public Lands Day, which falls on the in late September, along with Veterans Day and the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

5. Take Frugalism With You Wherever You Go

Speaking of national parks: Travel is another big ticket item as far as discretionary expenses are concerned. Seeing the world can be enriching — and it doesn’t have to strip away all your riches, either.

Finding ways to be a frugal traveler, such as choosing budget-friendly destinations and scoring the cheapest flights possible, can mean saving money without sacrificing this major life experience. You might even try a home swap or being a house-sitter in a foreign country to make your journey as affordable as possible.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.

Reuse and Recycle

The idea of reusing and recycling can go in many directions. It can mean buying a reusable water bottle and filling at home and at filling stations around town vs. buying pricey bottled water and contributing to the global single-use plastic problem.

It can mean offloading your gently used items (laptop, clothing, kitchenware) and making a little bit of spending money. It can mean also buying items from your local thrift shop or picking them up for free if you have a town swap spot.

Not only is this planet-friendly, but it can help your wallet, too.

7. Split the Cost

One good way to be frugal is to share the expenses of daily life. For instance, you might get a roommate or move in with a friend to take your rent down a notch. You and a friend might shop at warehouse clubs and split the mega sizes of food and enjoy the lower costs.

8. Use Credit Sparingly

It’s no secret that credit card debt is high-interest debt, and you likely don’t want to be wasting money on major interest charges. Follow your budget, and try to pay in cash or with your debit card whenever possible. Work hard to pay off your complete credit card bill every month so you don’t have snowballing interest.

💡 Quick Tip: Want to save more, spend smarter? Let your bank manage the basics. It’s surprisingly easy, and secure, when you open an online bank account.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Benefits of a Frugal Lifestyle

Need more encouragement and incentive to live frugally? Consider these upsides.

Eco-Friendly

When you live frugally, you often minimize waste. You plan your meals and don’t toss as many leftovers and unused ingredients as you would otherwise. You might walk rather than take an Uber. You might reuse shopping totes vs. paying for a bag every time you go shopping.

Save Money

Living frugally is all about saving cash. You can bring down such major costs as rent, food, utilities, and transportation when living this way.

You can also learn how to rein in your discretionary spending. Instead of spending a couple of hundred dollars on an arena rock-concert ticket, perhaps there’s great live local music at a town park or a local bar.

Pay Down Debt

When you live frugally, it can give you the means to pay down debt, especially the high-interest kind. That means more money is freed up to spend as you like and/or apply towards big-picture personal and financial goals.

Live on a Small Budget

Living frugally means you have a budget that is working and helping to keep your finances on track. You likely know your spending limits well, have a handle on your debt, and a clear plan to hit your longer-term goals. You don’t have loads of expenses and credit lines to wrangle. This can enhance your peace of mind.

Is Frugal Living Sustainable Over the Long Term?

Frugal living can be sustainable over the long term. Learning how to stick to a modest budget can help you live more minimally and avoid lifestyle creep (when your expenses rise along with your salary over time). By not always upgrading to a bigger house, fancier car, or more lavish summer vacation, you can enjoy the balance and security of frugal living.

What Does Frugal Mean for Your Money?

Here’s another angle on how being frugal can impact your money:

•   Adopting frugal habits and creating a savings plan can be ways to improve your financial health. Cutting back on day-to-day living expenses can mean more money set aside for retirement as well as major life milestones, like owning a home or having a baby.

•   One of the most important first steps toward frugality is getting organized, financially speaking. Having a budget and tracking your finances are valuable moves. How often to monitor your bank accounts is a personal decision, but a couple of times a week can help you see how your money is coming in and going out.

•   Living frugally can also mean more money goes towards realizing your long-term financial goals and building wealth. Whether that means saving for a child’s college education or for retirement, by cutting back on spending now, you can help ensure a better future.

The Takeaway

Living frugally can be a way to trim your expenses, stay out of debt, and put more money towards your personal goals and long-term financial aspirations. It also can be a lifestyle that simplifies your daily habits and respects the planet. With frugality, you may find that some of your money stress decreases, too.

It’s wise to find a banking partner who can help you manage your money well if you choose to live in this cost-effective and simple style.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What does frugal actually mean?

Frugal means simple and inexpensive. So if you are living frugally, you are probably sticking to a budget, saving for future goals, and not indulging in too many luxuries.

What’s the best example of frugal living?

An example of frugal living could be someone who has roommates to share costs with, plans meals to minimize food expenses, grows some of their own produce, and walks or bikes when possible vs. using a car.

Why is frugal living more popular these days?

Frugal living is more popular these days for a few reasons. One is the importance of living in an eco-friendly way; others may be that with inflation still a factor and high interest rates, people are looking for ways to reduce their expenses and live more simply.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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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