Student Loan Deferment vs Forbearance: What’s The Difference?

If you’re struggling to keep up with student loan payments, rest assured you are not alone. In fact, 17% of those with education-related debt were behind on payments in 2019, according to the Federal Reserve .

There are many reasons why you may be having difficulty with your loans. Some students may struggle to find a job after graduation, or some may not earn as much as they anticipated right out of the gate.

When monthly student loan payments become insurmountable, the worst thing to do is nothing at all. When a borrower stops paying their student loans, they may go into default. This has the potential to devastate an individual’s credit score.

In default, borrowers could also face relentless collection agencies or could even have their wages garnished. Plus in most cases, student loans can’t be discharged even if the borrower files for bankruptcy.

But take heart: Those borrowers with federal student loans may have options for pausing or temporarily reducing their monthly payments, if they’ve found themselves in a tough financial spot. Namely, borrowers can apply for either student loan deferment or forbearance from the federal government in order to avoid default.

It can be tough to figure out the difference between these two programs and which is best for your situation. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between deferment and forbearance:

What Is The Difference Between Deferment and Forbearance?

Let’s start with the similarities: Both deferment and forbearance allow a borrower to temporarily lower or stop making payments on their federal student loans for a defined period of time, if they qualify.

In both cases, the borrower needs to contact their loan servicer, submit a request, and provide the documentation requested by the loan service.

The main difference between the two is that, while in deferment, borrowers are not required to pay the interest that accrues if they have a qualifying loan .

Specifically, interest is not owed on Direct Subsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and subsidized portions of Direct Consolidation Loans or Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) Consolidation Loans.

Interest payments are still required on Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, FFEL Plus Loans, and unsubsidized portions of Direct Consolidation Loans and FFEL Consolidation Loans.

With federal student loan forbearance, borrowers are always responsible for paying the interest that accrues, regardless of what kinds of federal loans you have.

You can either pay the interest as it adds up, during the forbearance period, or you can have it capitalized (added to the principal) at the end, which could increase the total amount you repay.

Who Is Eligible for Deferment?

Overall, deferment is tailored to people who are having economic difficulties because, for example, they’re in school at least half-time, in the military, in another eligible post-graduate role, or can’t find a full-time job.

Here are more details: Federal student loan borrowers may qualify for deferment if they are enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college or vocational school, and if they’re in an approved graduate program, for six months after enrollment ends.

Individuals may also be eligible if they are in an approved graduate fellowship, in an approved rehabilitation training program for disabled people, on active duty with the military (and for 13 months afterward), or are serving in the Peace Corps.

Related: Examining How Student Loan Deferment Works

Finally, unemployed individuals are also able to apply for deferment. In the case of unemployment and the Peace Corps, you may be granted deferment for a maximum of three years. Review all the possible eligibility scenarios at the Department of Education’s webpage about deferment .

Who Is Eligible for Forbearance?

There are two kinds of forbearance : mandatory and general.

Mandatory Forbearance

Loan servicers are required to grant mandatory forbearance to qualifying borrowers. Depending on the type of federal student loan, borrowers may be eligible if they are in a medical or dental internship or residency, serving in AmeriCorps or the National Guard, or working as a teacher and performing a teaching service that qualifies for teacher loan forgiveness.

Borrowers may also qualify if their monthly student loan payment is at least 20% of their gross monthly income, for up to three years, again depending on the type of loan you have. Note: Mandatory forbearance is granted for up to a year at a time. After that, borrowers can request it again.

General Forbearance

With general forbearance, it’s up to the loan servicer to decide whether to grant it, only certain federal student loans are eligible (Direct Loans, FFEL, and Perkins Loans), and like mandatory forbearance, general forbearance can only be granted for 12 months at a time. There is a three-year cumulative limit on general forbearances.

Borrowers can apply for a general forbearance if they’re unable to make loan payments because of financial hardship, medical bills, or changes in their job (such as reduced pay or unemployment). If there are other reasons they’re unable to pay, it’s also possible to make that case to the loan servicer, but the decision will be theirs to make. Check out all the possible eligibility scenarios at the Department of Education’s webpage about forbearance .

Forbearance vs Deferment for Student Loans: Which Option to Choose?

If your federal student loan type and circumstances allow you to, getting a deferment can be a no-brainer since it’ll allow you to get a break on interest during the deferment period. If you’ve already exhausted the maximum time for a deferment, or your situation doesn’t fit the narrow eligibility criteria, then it could make sense to apply for a forbearance.

If your ability to afford your loan payments is unlikely to change anytime soon, or if you have private loans or federal loans that don’t qualify for a deferment or forbearance program, you may want to consider other solutions, such as an income-driven repayment plan or student loan refinancing.

How Does an Income-Driven Repayment Plan Work?

Another way to potentially reduce your federal student loan payment is to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. The government offers four different income-driven plans that tie the borrower’s monthly payment to their discretionary income, while considering other factors including family size.

The plan a borrower qualifies for depends on the type of loan they have and when it was borrowed. Depending on the plan, your monthly payment will generally be reduced to between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income. If you make the required qualifying payments every month, your balance can be forgiven in 20 or 25 years.

There are lots of specific qualifying factors and important details to consider for this repayment option. For more information, The Department of Education offers resources for borrowers to review.

How Can Student Loan Refinancing Help?

For some borrowers, refinancing student loans can be an option that helps them reduce their monthly payment or interest rate. Refinancing involves taking out a new loan from a private lender and using it to pay off existing federal or private loans, effectively combining multiple loans into one.

The new loan will have a new term and interest rate, which has the potential to help borrowers save on interest or the amount they pay over the life of the loan. Borrowers with a solid credit score and employment history (among other positive financial indicators) are especially likely to be able to qualify for favorable terms.

With SoFi, it’s possible to refinance loans without paying any hidden fees or penalties at either a fixed or variable interest rate.

Keep in mind that if you refinance federal loans, you will no longer qualify for the federal benefits we discussed in this post, including deferment, forbearance, or income-driven repayment programs.

However, some private lenders do offer temporary relief if you experience financial hardship. Rather than stopgaps that can require you to re-apply year after year, refinancing can help you gain a long-term plan for getting your payments under control.

The Takeaway

Deferment and forbearance are both options that allow borrowers to temporarily pause payments on their federal student loans.

Deferment differs from forbearance in that some borrowers may not be required to pay interest that accrues during deferment, depending on the type of loan they have. With forbearance, borrowers are generally required to cover interest that accrues while the loan is in forbearance.

Borrowers who anticipate having trouble making monthly federal student loan payments in the long-term might consider applying for income-driven repayment plans, which ties monthly payments to the borrower’s income level.

Other individuals may consider refinancing to secure a more competitive interest rate or a lower monthly payment. Note that a lower monthly payment generally extends the repayment terms and is more expensive in the long run.

Refinancing federal student loans eliminates them from borrower protections, including deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans, so it won’t make sense for borrowers with federal loans who are taking advantage of those programs.

Learn more about refinancing with SoFi. Potential borrowers can prequalify in a few minutes.

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

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

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’swebsite .
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.


A Guide to Student Loan Refunds

Nobody wants student loan debt. Higher education can be a worthwhile pursuit but it can come with some hefty tuition, housing, and living expenses that many students and their parents need to take out student loans to cover.

There is some good news regarding student loans that a lot of people don’t know about. Getting your hands on a student loan refund check is possible. This guide will break down what a student loan refund is, how to get one, and what to do with one.

What Is a Student Loan Refund?

To understand what a student loan refund is, it can be helpful to first look at what financial aid is and how it is distributed to students. When a student or their parent pursues federal financial aid, such as a student loan, that aid is distributed via a credit to the student’s account at their college.

Private student loans are distributed differently depending on the lender’s preferences. Some private lenders may deliver the funds directly to the student in a mailed check.

Others may choose to credit the student’s college account similar to how federal aid is distributed.

Private or federal, this is where student loan refunds may come into play. Student financial aid can cover costs such as tuition, room and board, and fees.

On occasion, an aid distribution can lead to there being an additional credit in the student’s college account.

This happens if there is any excess money after paying for the necessary expenses. In that case, the student or parent will receive a student loan refund via a check or in the form of a direct deposit to their bank account.

How To Get a Student Loan Refund

Whether a student or a parent takes out a federal student loan, the process of getting a student loan refund will generally look similar. Each semester, the school will generally review student accounts to determine if there are any eligible credit balances that can be refunded to the student.

In that case, the school has 14 days to issue a payment to the student if there is credit on their account. In some cases, schools may determine that credit balances should be applied to student’s future costs at the university.

In some cases, if the credit is not a result of the student receiving financial aid, the school may require that students request a refund. Follow the refund request process as determined by the school you attend.

In general, the school in question will contact the student or their parents in writing any time they distribute any loan money. The loan servicer will also provide confirmation that the loan money was delivered.

Alongside this notice, borrowers will generally also receive information on how to cancel part or all of the student loans. If the borrower realizes they don’t need the full loan amount, this may be an option they want to pursue.

Know that any amount refunded is still considered part of the total amount borrowed. So, borrowers who receive a portion of their student loans refunded would still be responsible for repaying that amount, with interest, if the refund is not canceled.

If this is the case, when it comes to federal student loans, the borrower can cancel all or part of their loan within 120 days of receiving it. They will incur no interest during this time and no fees will be charged.

The process of getting student loan refunds may vary when dealing with private lenders.

Recommended: Is Paying Off Student Loans Early Always Smart?

Common Refund Mistakes

When it comes to student loan refunds, there are a few common pitfalls that students and their parents should avoid. Especially if they want to get their hands on a student loan refund check sooner rather than later.

Moving too slow

Requesting a student loan refund is a bit of a time sensitive process. If someone realizes they won’t need the full amount of a federal student loan awarded before the funds are disbursed, they can actually request the school cancel the check or deposit before the need to process a refund even arises.

If the borrower realizes after distribution of a federal student loan that they don’t need all or any of the funds, they have 120 days post-disbursement to return the funds without incurring interest or fees.

If a borrower misses both of these opportunities, the process of working with their school’s financial aid office to return the funds can become more complicated and time consuming.

Not establishing a paper trail

When making a student loan refund request, it may be a good idea to keep a paper trail of all requests and communication in order to establish a clear history of a desire to return the unused funds. If things get lost in translation (which could happen), having a paper trail can be extremely helpful.

Over relying on student loans

Some students and their parents lean too heavily on student loans and may be able to get a bigger refund if they can find another way to finance any qualified education expenses. Student loans can be used to pay for academic and living expenses for the student while they’re in school.

However, pursuing other forms of financial support, such as a work-study program can allow students to send more of their aid funds back, which will leave them with less loans when they graduate.

While it can be tempting to use a student loan refund to cover extra expenses like clothing and transportation—the less that is borrowed, the less that will be owed at graduation.

What to Do With a Student Loan Refund

When a student or their parent gets a student loan refund, they have two main options. They can keep it or return it. Typically, it may be beneficial in the long run to return the funds if they aren’t needed. Try to avoid viewing student loan disbursements as free money that can be spent on anything.

This is money the borrower will have to pay back (with interest) and spending it on unnecessary expenses can be quite a disservice to the borrower.

That being said, borrowers won’t have to submit any proof of what they spent the funds on, which is why it can be so easy to stray from only using it for qualified expenses.

If the borrower chooses to keep the student loan refund check, or miss the deadline to return it, there are still some next steps available to them. One such option is to make a payment on their student loan balance.

Even though federal student loans don’t require payment until the student graduates, this can be one way to cut down student loan debt. The borrower can also use those funds for expenses in the next term and as a result can choose to borrow less money for that term.

Refinancing Student Loans

All that hard work has finally paid off. It’s time to cross that graduation stage. Once graduation day rolls around, students and their parents will begin to think about how they want to manage and pay off their student loan debt.

One option that can lead to saving money on interest and potentially expedite the repayment process is to refinance student loans.

When someone refinances a student loan, they get a new loan at a new interest rate and/or a new term. If a borrower initially had more than one student loan, this leaves the borrower with only one monthly payment to make instead of multiple and in some cases can lead to a lower interest rate.

The Takeaway

Refinancing student loans with SoFi can help qualifying borrowers secure a competitive interest rate, and potentially save money in interest over the life of the loan. There are also no hidden fees. It’s time to send origination fees and prepayment penalties packing.

Refinancing can be a solid solution for graduates who are working and have high interest, unsubsidized Direct Loans, Graduate PLUS loans, and/or private loans.

It’s worth noting that when someone refinances their federal student loans, they will lose federal benefits such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and economic hardship protections, like deferment or forbearance.

When someone refinances their student loans with SoFi, they also gain access to unique perks like career coaching and financial advice, at no cost to them.

Learn more about student loan refinancing with SoFi and get a quote to see if you prequalify, and at what rates, in just a few minutes.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see

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

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.



Community Garden: Apartment Neighborhood Bonus!

For many apartment or urban dwellers, living near a green space is a non-negotiable. When people don’t have yards of their own, they often want to be near a community garden or park to help fill that need. Many cities are now building and maintaining community gardens that also frequently help feed underserved neighborhoods.

Here are 5 reasons to get involved with a community garden near you:

1) Fresh food for you (& neighbors!)

When you plant a community garden, you’re working together to plant all kinds of things. In your area’s garden season, many vegetable plants will produce bountiful results, fresh food to eat at home or share with others in the community or surrounding neighborhoods. If your bounty is extremely large, you could make a bulk donation to a local food pantry or similar organization on behalf of your community garden.

2) Chances to socialize with neighbors

Since community gardens are about sharing the work and rewards of a garden, they foster communication between neighbors. Many garden organizations hold events to discuss working and investing in the garden and some even collaborate with farmer’s markets to sell plants and vegetables.

3) Great activity for kids

Kids are likely a part of your community. A garden is a great chance for them to hone their work ethic and sense of responsibility, while enjoying the rewards of a job well done and the joy of sharing.with those less fortunate. Kids love getting their hands dirty with planting seeds and picking vegetables.

4) Beautifies your neighborhood

Community gardens can help with the visual appearance of your neighborhood, turning a forlorn lot into a happy green space and a point of pride. Community gardens positively reflect the people and homes in your neighborhood. They automatically convey a sense of community and collaboration while creating something fun to keep an eye on.

5) Can attract affluent neighbors

Areas with community gardens often attract residents in a higher income bracket. Whether they’re empty nesters or young professionals, garden fans are looking for ways to stay healthy and be a part of their communities. A bonus: If nearby residents are in a higher income bracket, they’ll have more disposable income to contribute to maintaining a community garden.

There are many benefits of living near and being a part of a community garden. Whether you’re looking for a chance to be a part of a community organization or trying to learn how to garden, apartments and homes near community gardens are sure to give you plenty of opportunities.



Living in the North: What to Expect

You’re planning on living in the north. How do you get ready? What do you need to know? What has a life without winter in the south left you unprepared for? ApartmentGuide shares everything you need, to prepare for your new northern adventure!


When it comes to living in the north, the first thing that comes to mind is likely snow. Winters – and sometimes harsh winters or stretches of weather – are part of northern life. The snow begins to fall in autumn and is still on the ground during spring. However, living in the north means at least six months of very nice weather. Embrace the seasons and find what you like about winter, whether it’s snowmobiling, fashion opportunities or cuddling in front of a fire.

Most complexes hire snow removal companies to handle snow. This helps keep things less icy, but not ice-free. Be careful in the early morning going out to your car. All that melted snow (from either salt or sun) is ice now and it can be hard to see. Stay alert for black ice on the sidewalks and roads (a thin coating of clear ice which gets its name from being transparent, allowing a black road to be seen through it), a common cause of injuries and car accidents.

How to Winterize

It never hurts to prepare your home for the winter. Even if you do just a few small things, it will still save you money on your energy bill. Things like window insulation film, heavier drapes and draft guards are quick and inexpensive to install.

What to wear

Of course in the dead of winter, you want to make sure you have your gloves, hat, and a giant parka. But, there are other ways to keep comfortable too. Wearing several thinner layers under the parka will help seal out the cold air. This will also help you remain comfortable if the weather is windy. Be sure to invest in a good pair of weatherproofed snow boots too. This way your work shoes will stay looking great.

Your Car

If you drive a convertible, you may rethink that when winter hits. It will depend on the age and style of your roof, and the power of your heater. (You’d be the envy of everyone come summer, though).

One thing you’d probably never think of is getting winter tires. Winter tires use softer rubber and different tread patterns to give you a better grip on the road when it’s cold (under about 40 degrees Fahrenheit) or snowing. You’ll still need to drive with caution – they’re better, not magical – but it can make the difference between life and death.

For the driving itself, you need to learn some new habits. The most important is to slow down any time there’s ice or snow on the road. You’re much less likely to skid out of control when driving slowly. Even if you do lose control, don’t slam the brakes in a panic. Slowly go with the skid until you are no longer on the ice. Keep an ice scraper and some gloves in your glovebox, and a blanket in the trunk, in case of a breakdown. Make sure you have a phone charger in the car.

Many cities in the north use salt to de-ice the roads during the winter. The salt works great to get rid of the ice, but it can cause the undercarriage of your car to rust. That can mean some costly repairs. One solution to this problem is to take your car through the car wash when it’s not too cold. Make sure you choose the option that cleans underneath your car, too. Do not procrastinate on this. Expect car washes to close for the day if it’s too cold outside.

Many apartments in the north offer garage rentals. Renting a garage, at least during the winter, can be a huge time-saver. Defrosting and scraping snow or ice off your car can be a long, tiring process. Even if frost forms on the windows, you have no choice: you have to scrape. If the weather dips too far into the negative digits, your car may not even start. A garage can solve that problem for you during the winter.

Four seasons

You have four distinct seasons in the North. You’ll get to see the leaves change color in the fall, and the flowers bloom in the spring. It gets somewhat hot in the summer (although it’s pretty mild), and of course, it gets cold and snowy in the winter. Be sure to check out local parks during the autumn and spring. They’ll make you remember why you live up north. Anticipate much longer days in summer – yea! – and shorter days in winter.

Gorgeous gardens

Northern states, especially the Midwest, are known for their fertile soil. If you have a green thumb or love the farmers market, you’ll love the north. Since the spring and summer months don’t usually get unbearably hot, working in a garden is very pleasant. You can also just enjoy the beautiful gardens you’ll find all across your new city.

Ice hockey

Football, baseball, and basketball are still big in the north. But if you’ve been living in the South, you may get to experience ice hockey for the first time, as a spectator or participant. It’s an exciting, fast-moving sport and any northern fan will probably be happy to talk you through the basic rules. Watch parties are also a great place to meet people; your common areas or the neighborhood bar are both good bets.

Fireplaces and fire pits

There’s no better reason to live up north. The sheer relaxation of sitting in front of a fire is a primal pleasure, one that makes many people anticipate winter with gusto. Many apartment complexes have common areas with fire pits, a great place to meet your neighbors on a chilly evening (take a thermos of hot cocoa and cups with you to assure this!). If you have a fireplace in your apartment, ask the manager to show you the ins and outs of using it, then enjoy!

A new culture

Prepare to trade in your margarita habit for a different kind of libation (except perhaps in summer). You certainly won’t hear “y’all” bandied about, (unless the speaker is being sarcastic) and depending on where you are, you’ll have to train your ears to hear a new accent. Your neighbors will support different sports teams, and their favorite foods might include anything from cheese curds to lobster rolls, depending on where you move. Have fun exploring new events, new foods, and various cultural pockets of your new city.

Living in the North

Living in the north takes a little know how when it comes to the weather. However, northerners have systems in place to handle inclement weather. Make yourself a cup of cocoa, put a fire in the fireplace, and enjoy the perks of living up north.



NextDoor App for Neighborhood Info

Ever wondered who your neighbors were? Looking for a lost pet? Maybe you just want to find a babysitter for Saturday night. While asking for recommendations on Facebook is one way to handle that, you may not live near most of your friends. That’s where Nextdoor comes in: this handy app not only helps you connect with your neighbors on a community level, but lets you reach out to people who live near your home.

Nextdoor App? What’s That?

Nextdoor was created in 2010 as a social network for neighbors. The idea was to connect neighbors and neighborhoods, thus drawing people together, as resources for each other.

How Do I Get On Nextdoor?

In order to register with Nextdoor, you have to provide your real name and verify your home address. Verification methods can include a credit card, or confirming a code that’s either mailed or phone to the new user.

Once verified, you can post messages to neighbors in your community, as well as nearby apartment communities. You can also reply to other messages. Can’t find anyone you know on the app? It even provides you the ability to send postcards to non-registered neighbors to get them on board.

What Can I Use Nextdoor For?

  • Lost Pets: Let’s face it — pets get out and it’s tough to track them down. Nextdoor can help you to alert your neighbors to keep an eye out.
  • Items to Sell: That horrible chest of drawers you’ve been dying to get rid of may just be someone else’s treasure. Try advertising your unwanted stuff on Nextdoor and make some extra cash.
  • Recommendations: Need a cleaner? How about a babysitter for that date on Friday night? Your neighbors in the know can help you find a reliable source.
  • Questions: Unsure and new to the area? Ask your neighbors to let you know the best commute route to downtown, or about that free shuttle bus nobody told you about.
  • Crimewatch: Many police departments are posting local crime tips on Nextdoor. Neighbors also tend to report suspicious activity. Take a look to be aware of what’s going on.

If you’re a bit too shy to go and introduce yourself to your neighbors, the Nextdoor app can be a great way to engage with your community. Try planning a pool party or potluck, or simply as where the best dry cleaner in the area is. This handy app can make sure you stay connected.

Are you friendly with your neighbors or are you just on a “nodding acquaintance” basis? Is getting to know your neighbors worthwhile? Let us know on social today!



Now Save This: Maximize Your Grocery Budget

Your rent is already eating a hole in your pocket… so how can you maximize your grocery budget? Getting savvy with your grocery shopping techniques can go a long way toward grocery shopping on a budget. You probably already know about clipping coupons (which is still a great tactic), but here are some other tips to keep your bank account in the black and your pantry and fridge full of goodies.

Get to Know the Store Manager

If you’re going to the same grocery store a lot, it helps to get to know the Manager. These are the guys and gals who can clue you in to when they mark down produce, meat and even fish that’s about to go past the sell-by date. They’ll also let you know about upcoming deals, and it’s in their interest to sell these things.

Sign Up for Loyalty Programs

Loyalty card? Collecting points? All of these things can pay off in the long run. Some stores only offer certain deals to card holders, and many also let you load digital coupons on to your card, making your shop a lot easier. Find your grocery store’s loyalty program here.

About Those Digital Coupons

By taking just an extra 20 minutes a week to go to your store’s website, you can find savings on the things you were already planning on buying (or even stock up on the things you use all the time). This is also a good time to browse any specials the store might be running and plan accordingly.

Sign Up for Cash-Back Apps

Apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51 can really help boost your savings on your foot budget. Additionally, look for savings on apps you’re already using. For example, eBates and Acorns give cash back when you shop at certain online stores.

stretch your grocery budget
Are you spending more on groceries than you should? That can put a world of hurt on your overall monthly budget.

Get Clipping

Yes, coupons are still very much a thing in your Sunday paper, and having a look can really help reduce your grocery budget. Remember, only buy things that you will actually use, or that you can use to stock up your pantry. If you don’t like beans, then buying a truckload just because they’re cheap won’t help you.

Stock Up on Savings

Even if you live in an apartment, there are always places you can stash essentials and build your pantry, particularly when they’re on sale. Find a cupboard, closet or shelf where you can store nonperishable essentials like canned foods, pasta and rice. Having these on hand can mean a quick dinner when you don’t feel like heading out to the store, or you’re too broke to order in.

Beware of the BOGO

Buy one get one free? Awesome deal, right? Not always. Check the original price and make sure you’re not just getting seduced into buying more than you need. Also, some grocery stores have a policy to let you buy just one, giving you ½ off. Make sure you know your store’s policies and use them to your advantage.

SEE ALSO: How much can you save with energy-saving bulbs?

What are your best tips to save at the grocery store? Let us know below!



Thrillist’s Top 50 Essential Restaurants: Is One Near You?

Is there anything that can cause a bigger debate than the best place to eat in your town or city? If there is, we don’t know about it (or talk about it – at least this debate is fun!)

Thrillist recently published its Top 50 Essential Restaurants Every American Should Visit list – a treasure trove of American dining experiences that you should make sure to add to that ever-growing must-eat list. While you might think this means a list of high-end, totally out-of-budget restaurants, you’d be wrong. While some are expensive, many fall into the “sandwich you can’t miss” or “to-die-for BBQ” categories.

We’ve picked our favorites from this year’s list, but you can see the full list here.

Apartment Guide’s 18 Picks from Thrillist’s Top 50 Essential Restaurants:

Peter Luger Steak House

Brooklyn, NY

Arguably the best steak in NYC, and therefore probably the world – these Peter Luger’s are the Jedi Masters of meat.

Yume Wo Katare

Cambridge, MA

Great ramen, applause when you finish your bowl and encouragement to write down your dreams and hang it on the wall. Bliss.

The Buckhorn Exchange

Denver, CO

Open since 1893, this restaurant has seen several presidents pass through its doors. It’s also where you can try Rocky Mountain oysters, rattlesnake or even buffalo.

Johnnie’s Beef

Elmwood Park, IL

In a town known for Italian beef sandwiches, this Chicago area classic serves up one of the city’s finest examples.

Ganesh Temple Canteen

Flushing, NY

Found in the basement of a Hindu temple, this all-vegetarian eatery is known for their beautiful, crepe-like dosas.

Little Vincent’s Pizza

Huntington, NY

It may look like just another New York pizza place, but think again. They’re slinging out slices covered in cold, unmelted mozzarella cheese. And people love it. Really.

Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Kansas City, KS

Forget the pulled pork of the south and the brisket of Texas and belly up for what’s often called a “life-changing slab of ribs.”


Los Angeles, CA

Yes, it’s a chain fast food joint, but to West Coast folks, it’s more than that. Grab yourself a cheeseburger and go “animal style,” otherwise you’re ordering it wrong.

Payne’s BBQ

Memphis, TN

Let’s face it – Memphis is known for BBQ, and they take it seriously. When locals tell you this is the best place in town? You believe them.

Matt’s Bar

Minneapolis, MN

Home to a cheeseburger’s bigger, badder older brother, the Jucy Lucy (yep, it’s spelled that way), Matt’s ditched cheese on top for their famous, oozing cheese-stuffed burger.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack

Nashville, TN

If you love spice, this is the place for you. Crunchy chicken drowned in sauce of varying degrees of heat. Don’t be a hero: you can’t handle the “XXX Hot.”

Café Du Monde

New Orleans, LA

Undo what you surely got up to the night before with classic, chicory-infused café au lait and a pile of fried beignets, heavy with powdered sugar.

Katz’s Deli

New York, NY

Home to a classic pastrami sandwich as big as your head, and also the backdrop to many films. Don’t lose your ticket!

Pat’s King of Steaks

Philadelphia, PA

You simply can’t go to Philadelphia without getting into a cheesesteak. We think it may be the law.

Pizzeria Bianco

Phoenix, AZ

Love a proper Italian pie? Meet the place that kicked off the revolutionary American artisanal pizza movement.

Primanti Bros.

Pittsburgh, PA

This old-school lunch counter is home to the city’s favorite blue-collar special: their sandwiches stacked with meat, slaw and a fistful of fries.

Mama J’s

Richmond, VA

The portions are almost as enormous as the lines at this classic, Southern soul food restaurant.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Washington, D.C.

World famous chili dogs adored by both locals and tourists alike. One will never be enough, so order a couple and prepare for a chili facial.

Do you agree with Thrillist’s list? Did they miss something major, or overlook a culinary hotspot? Get social with us and tell us your favorites!



Address Change: How to Do It, Who to Tell

When it comes to moving, remember: you DO still get some important snail mail, even if most of your communications are digital. Adding an address change to your long to-do doesn’t have to be frustrating. Rest assured, it’s pretty simple. Here’s how it works, and who needs to know you’re moving.

Start at the Post Office

The Post Office (USPS) is always the first place to to go when your address changes. They can also walk you through how to change your address. The first step is forwarding your mail. This is an easy-to-fill-out form and can also be done online. All mail addressed to to you will be re-directed to your new address for a fixed amount of time (typically a few months).

You still need to let other important people and organizations know of your address change, though, since your mail forward is only temporary.

Utility Companies

This one can be easy to forget, especially during the hustle and bustle of your move. However, it’s important to let utility companies know you are moving. They will need to send you a final bill or change your account information.

Related Video:  How to Transfer Your Utilities

Department of Motor Vehicles

If you just moved across town, you don’t have make a special trip down to the DMV.  You can change your address online once the dust settles from your move. You typically have between 30-60 days (depending on your state) to let the DMV know of your address change. You don’t want to be late on this, so you are not subject to fines.

Your Bank, Broker & Credit Cards

When you have to make a withdrawal, the bank will want to see your ID. If your address doesn’t match their records, it may be more difficult for you to access your funds. Checks are not nearly as popular as they once were, but if you use them, those need to be updated too. Use the 800 number on the back of your credit cards and call to report your address change. They’ll mail you a confirmation of the change.

Be sure to tell your investment broker you’ve moved, especially if your monthly statements are mailed to you. This is sensitive information.

Your Employer

Even if your paychecks are direct deposit, your work still needs to know your new address. When tax season rolls around, most employers mail out tax forms. If you have a 401K or employer stock options, that information gets mailed too.

Your Doctors

Even if you haven’t been to the doctor in long time, this one still makes the list. Sometimes it can take a long time to process billing (it can be over a year). You want to make sure you are up-to-date on all medical bills. Don’t put a black mark on your credit just because you moved.

Your Insurance Companies

This is especially important for your renters insurance. If you don’t let your insurance company know you have moved, your items may not be insured at your new home. One quick call to your agent, and your belongings are safe and sound.


Do you get any magazines, retail products, prescriptions or food shipped to you on a regular basis? These companies will need to be alerted that you’ve moved.

Tax Collectors

If you own any real estate or other real taxable property, don’t forget to let the tax collector know where to find you. Tax bills are generally sent out each November, with monthly reminders coming for a few months after that.

See Also: How to Give Notice to your Apartment

Moving can be stressful, but changing your address doesn’t have to be. Many of these items can be easily done before the packing begins. If you forget someone, you mail will be forwarded for quite some time. This will give you the chance to inform everyone of your new residence. You’ve done the hardest part, you moved your home. Changing your address is the easy.

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Most Popular Apartment Amenities List

When it comes to the best apartment amenities, what’s popular in 2017 may surprise you. According to Apartment Guide research, many of those searching for an apartment tend to focus on individual apartment features rather than community features. However, many apartment hunters weigh community features at approximately the same level of importance as how many bedrooms they’re looking for, so community features matter.  Those who want community features, however, tend to weigh them as highly as features of each apartment, so community amenities really matter as well.

apartment amenities list
Data based on searches in June 2017

According to our data, apartment renters love their pets with most of the apartment searches looking for either pet friendly communities or apartments that allow pets. Being able to do the laundry also ranks supreme, with an in-unit washer and dryer at the top of the wish list for many renters. Additionally, keeping cool is also a big concern for renters, with many looking for air conditioning or a community pool as an amenity.

You’re ready to start your search for a new apartment. You’ve selected the neighborhoods you like and made a budget so you know what you can afford. Now it’s time to narrow down your search by determining which apartment amenities you might need.

RELATED:  6 Reasons to splurge on a garage

RELATED:  How to meet dog friends

As a recap, here’s what recent ApartmentGuide searches show as the most popular amenities:

The Most Popular Apartment Amenities in 2017

  1. In-unit washer and dryer
  2. Air conditioning
  3. Pets allowed
  4. Furnished apartments
  5. Dishwasher
  6. Washer and dryer connections
  7. Some utilities included
  8. Balcony
  9. Cable ready
  10. All utilities included

 The Most Popular Community Amenities in 2017

  1. Pet friendly
  2. Garages
  3. Swimming pool
  4. High speed internet access
  5. Fitness Center
  6. Laundry Facility
  7. Covered Parking
  8. Gated Access
  9. Wireless internet access
  10. Access to public transportation

Growing in popularity

 These lists are never set in stone. What’s important now may not be in the future, and amenities we barely think about now become must-haves in the future. We took a look at some industry trends, and found these amenities, while not yet on this list, are on the way up.

  • More elaborate fitness centers: It’s not enough just to have weights and exercise machines. Everything from adding tennis or basketball courts to having full, complimentary yoga classes are becoming more common.
  • Bike-friendly amenities: More people are getting around on their bikes, so amenities such as bike storage and repair are becoming much more sought after by renters.
  • Online payments and maintenance: Do you really want to call the front office to get something fixed? Does anyone like writing checks for rent? Being able to handle these online is especially attractive to younger renters.
  • Package lockers: We get far more packages than we used to – have you seen how many people buy everything through Amazon? – so having somewhere to keep them other than at your front door is incredibly attractive to renters.
  • Electric car charging stations: More electric cars means more people needing somewhere to plug them in overnight.
  • Hardwood floors: Not all the rising amenities are new things. Having your apartment look good on the inside is a strong desire, and carpet or tile just doesn’t do it for some people.

Related:  When to sign a lease

Video: Most popular words in apartment names 



APR vs. Interest Rate: What’s The Difference?

When the interest rate and annual percentage rate (APR) are calculated for a loan—especially a large one—the two can produce very different numbers, so it’s important to know the difference when evaluating what a loan will cost you.

Basically, the interest rate is the cost for borrowing money, and the APR is the total cost, including lender fees and any other charges.

Let’s look at interest rates vs. APRs for loans, and student loans in particular.

What Is an Interest Rate?

An interest rate is the rate you pay to borrow money, expressed as a percentage of the principal. Generally, an interest rate is determined by market factors, your credit score and financial profile, and the loan’s repayment terms, among other things.

Nearly all federal student loans have a fixed interest rate that is not determined by credit score or financial standing. (A credit check is made for federal Direct PLUS Loans, which reject applicants with adverse credit, except in specific circumstances.)

Rates on federal student loans are rising: For loans made from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, rates are increasing by nearly 1 percentage point:

•  Direct Loans for undergraduate students. 3.734%, up from 2.75% for 2020-21.

•  Direct Loans for graduate students. 5.284%, up from 4.3% in 2020-21.

•  Direct PLUS Loans. 6.284%, up from 5.3% in 2020-21.

If a loan were to have no other fees, hidden or otherwise, the interest rate and APR could be the same number. But because most loans have fees, the numbers are usually different.

What Is APR?

An APR is the total cost of the loan, including fees, expressed as an annual percentage.

Compared with a basic interest rate, an APR provides borrowers with a more comprehensive picture of the total costs of paying back a loan.

The federal Truth in Lending Act requires lenders to disclose a loan’s APR when they advertise its interest rate.

In most circumstances, the APR will be higher than the interest rate. If it’s not, it’s generally because of some sort of rebate offered by the lender. If you notice this type of discrepancy, ask the lender to explain.

APR vs. Interest Rate Calculation

The bottom line: The interest rate percentage and the APR will be different if there are fees (like origination fees) associated with your loan.

Let’s say you’re comparing loans with similar interest rates. By looking at the APR, you should be able to see which loan may be more cost-effective, because typically the loan with the lowest APR will be the loan with the lowest added costs.

So when comparing apples to apples, with the same loan type and term, APR may be helpful. But lenders don’t always make it easy to tell which loan is an apple and which is a pear. To find the best deal, you need to seek out all the costs attached to the loan.

You may find that a low APR comes with higher upfront fees, or that you don’t qualify for a super low advertised APR, reserved for those with stellar credit.

How APR Works on Student Loans

Not all students (and graduates, for that matter) understand the true cost of their student loans. Borrowers may think that only private student loans come with origination fees, but that is not the case.

Most federal student loans have loan fees that are taken directly out of the balance of the loan before the loan is dispersed. It’s on the borrower to pay back the entire amount of the loan, not just the amount received at disbursement.

Federal student loan fees from Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2022, are as follows:

•  Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized loans. 1.057% of the total loan amount

•  Direct PLUS Loans. 4.228% of the total loan amount

While interest on many other loans is actually calculated monthly or annually, interest on federal Direct Loans is calculated daily. As a result, it is slightly more difficult to do an interest rate-to-APR calculation on a federal student loan.

An online calculator can help you discover the APR on a loan after you provide the loan amount, interest rate, loan fees, and repayment term in years.

Consider a $10,000 Direct PLUS Loan at 6.284%. With a 4.228% loan fee (about $423) that a borrower pays back over 10 years, the loan’s APR is about 7.2%.

Comparing Private and Federal Student Loans

Federal and private student loans have their pros and cons. In general, Direct Subsidized Loans offer competitive rates that are not dependent on the borrower’s credit.

When a federal student loan is subsidized, the borrower is not responsible for paying the interest that accrues while the student is in school and during most deferment periods.

Additionally, federal student loans offer flexible repayment plans, including income-driven repayment options.
Federal student loans have fixed rates, and private loans may have fixed or variable rates.

Private student loans typically take borrowers’ credit into consideration. They can be useful in bridging gaps in need if you reach a cap on federal student loan borrowing.

Understanding Interest Costs

Being able to compare an APR to another APR may help level the playing field when shopping for loans, but it’s not the only thing to consider.

You might want to take into consideration the repayment period of the loan in question, because it will also affect the total amount you’ll owe in interest over the life of the loan.

Two loans could have the exact same APR, but if one loan has a term of 10 years and the other has a term of 20 years, you’ll pay more in interest on the 20-year loan even though your monthly payments may be lower.

To illustrate this, imagine two $10,000 loans, each at a 7% interest rate, but with 10- and 20-year repayment terms.

10-year repayment:

$116.11 monthly payment
Total interest paid: $3,933

20-year repayment:

$77.53 monthly payment
Total interest paid: $8,607

As you can see, the monthly payment on the 20-year loan is lower, but you pay significantly more in interest over time.

The reverse is also true: Shortening the payback period should lower the amount that you pay in interest over time, all else being equal.

Can Refinancing Help?

When you refinance student loans, you pay off your existing federal and/or private student loans with a new loan from a private lender, aiming for a lower interest rate or a repayment timeline that works better for your finances.
A brand-new loan means dealing with only one monthly payment.

Refinancing may be a good idea for working graduates who have high-interest Unsubsidized Direct Loans, Graduate PLUS loans, and/or private loans. Just realize that when borrowers refinance federal student loans, they give up benefits like income-​driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness.

To understand how interest rates, loan repayment terms, and total interest charges interplay with one another, check out this student loan refinancing calculator.

The Takeaway

APR vs. interest rate: It’s not the next superhero movie. It’s what you may want to look at when deciding on a loan, because the APR reflects the fees involved. Even when it comes to federal student loans, fees are part of the story.

SoFi offers student loan refinancing with flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates, with absolutely no application or origination fees.

See all of the refi perks SoFi offers and view your rate.

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

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.