Reasons to buy


Easy to use




Work on multiple levels


Can easily import 3D objects

Reasons to avoid

Not all objects installed initially

Occasionally awkward navigation

DreamPlan is the best home design software if you want powerful tools and simplicity of use. 

The interior design program, out for Windows and Mac, helps you create buildings on multiple levels, furnish them with a library of 3D models, and customize homes inside and out. Yes, that even includes landscape design. It’s built to let you easily make modifications and alterations.

But, in our review, what we really liked about one of the best home design software tools is that it’s “designed to make it easy to make modifications, and even goes out of its way to help you understand the app’s inner workings.”

Trace Mode will be especially handy for those with existing floorplans. These can be imported into the home design software and turned into a 3D model.   

DreamPlan features commercial and home licensing options – priced at $50 and $40 respectively, but check for regular discounts. So, it has a powerful enough toolset to use on a professional basis. But it’s intuitive enough for beginners. 

For those just starting out with the best interior design software, the built-in video tutorials help you understand the inner workings of the app – just look for the subtle blue camera icon. 

Read our full DreamPlan review.

The best browser-based interior design software

(Image credit: Dassault Systemes)

The best interior design app when you’re on-the-go


Operating system: Browser, Android, iOS

Plan: Free, Subscription

Reasons to buy


Simple to use


Huge customisation


Can design an entire house for free

Reasons to avoid

3D pan can make some objects temporarily disappear

Long rendering times for low res photorealistic images 

HomeByMe is one of the best interior design apps for when the ideas are racing. It’s browser-based – even mobile browsers are supported – and has Android and iOS apps, so you can map out thoughts for your home whenever and wherever inspiration strikes.

Since the interior design tool is cloud-only, you’ll need to stay connected to use it. During our time with the home design software, we were impressed that “HomeByMe offers a very affordable service with a myriad of options. We particularly appreciated the fact that the free plan doesn’t appear to limit your design options, and lets you work on up to three different projects.” 

However, we were less impressed with the time it took to render low-res images. Worse, we found the free account pastes a giant watermark all across the image, rendering the effect pointless. HD images are rendered in minutes, and don’t have that watermark.

The platform offers three packages: free, one-time purchase, and monthly subscription. It’s a good way to see which works for you, as the free plan doesn’t appear to limit your design options, and lets you work on up to five projects. 

The limit on the number of HD photorealistic images (1920x1080px) is somewhat compensated by offering an unlimited number of lower quality ones (640x360px). You can also place real-world, branded products in your rooms for extra realism. 

HomeByMe has a lot to offer. If you’re not too fussed about those images, you can explore and create very complex designs with ease.

Read our full HomeByMe review.

The best interior design software for mobile

(Image credit: MagicPlan)

Best interior design software for Android and iOS


Operating system: Browser, Android, iOS

Plan: Subscription

Reasons to buy


Easy to use


Free mobile app


Two free projects


Professional Report and Estimate tools

Reasons to avoid

AR appears to struggle when furniture is in the way

No desktop app

MagicPlan is one of the best interior software kits for busy creatives and contractors. 

When we reviewed the home design app, we liked its “easy to use features, an interesting AR option, and an original way of generating estimates for work needed to be done. The monthly subscriptions could pay for themselves if designing if your business, and it also offers you two free projects for casual users to explore as well.” 

Like HomeByMe, it lets you build designs from your browser, or within the Android and iOS apps. The free solution lets you design two projects. A monthly subscription is needed to unlock MagicPlan’s full capabilities.

You’ll find three tools in one: Sketch, Report, and Estimate. Essentially, tiered subscription packages that offer additional features. 

Sketch lets you create interior designs – and, for home users, that’s likely enough. Professional designers will appreciate the inclusion of reporting and estimating tools. Enterprise licensing is also available. 

One of the best interior design software tools here is the AR-enabled ‘Scan with Camera’. This lets you scan and measure the room you’re in – although we suspect this augmented reality feature would function a lot better in an unfurnished space. 

Read our full MagicPlan review.

Best interior design software: FAQs

What is interior design software?

best 3D printers. 

Time is a considerable factor. Even some of the best interior design software takes a long time to render concepts, especially when using photorealistic images. It’s a natural price to pay for high-resolution 3D designs. For some, speed may trump quality.

Check the system requirements for the software  In certain cases, highly professional interior design computer programs require high-performance computers. In this case, you may need a machine comparable to the best laptops for architecture students or the best laptops for engineering students.  These are build to smoothly run complex CAD designs. 

Check the price (and pricing model), too. Some options, like HomeByMe, offer free, paid-for, and subscription versions of its home design software. Others offer only one pricing model, so choose the one that best suits your creative budget.

How we test the best interior design software

We’ve tested a massive range of creative apps, including the best digital art and drawing software and the best graphic design software. But whether we’re testing out the top tools for 3D design or the best software for interior decorating, we follow the same fair and rigorous review process. 

When testing the best interior design software for homes, we’re looking to see how easy the experience is, how powerful the tools are, and how well the software performs. Designing in 3D can often take its toll on computers, after all. 

Asset library sizes are a factor — interior design tools should make your creative ideas a reality, not just a loose approximation. We’re also reviewing these design apps based on use. Unlike consumer software, professional-grade tools offer more advanced features, but might also have steeper learning curves and more expensive pricing models. So, we assessed how well the interior design program delivers for its intended market – whether they’re professionals or personal users. 

Essentially, when we test the very best interior design software for ourselves, we expect to see it work for its intended audience — whether they’re professional interior designers or creative enthusiasts. 

During our tests across the best home design software tools, we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or online service. We then tested each app using a handful of files to see how the software for interior design could be used for creating indoor spaces from scratch, bearing in mind issues such as ease-of-use, professional viability, and performance.

Get in touch


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As those in or near retirement continue to proclaim a preference for aging in place, there may be challenges for people who aren’t sure about how or when they should get started on making plans. A series of home healthcare, renovation and senior care experts offer tips on ways to begin in a column published by U.S. News & World Report.

For reverse mortgage clients looking to use their loan proceeds to fund the goal of aging in place, home renovations and other preparations may be requested from the reverse mortgage loan officer due to the high-touch nature of reverse mortgage origination. LOs often occupy a place of trust among their borrower clients.

For facilitating the goal of aging in place, planning ahead is key. One expert explained that it should start as soon as possible.

“Making small changes now can help you avoid scrambling to make big changes later on when you have limited capacity,” according to James Bowdler, a home healthcare professional.

Connecting with a specialized geriatric care manager can also allow a fuller assessment of potential hazards for aging in place that can be rectified with a retrofit or renovation of some kind, added Texas-based senior care expert Stacey Eisenberg to the outlet.

What was normal for a home with children or younger adults could prove to be hazards in later life, particularly as greater mobility challenges come from more advanced age. Widening doorways, removing clutter (including rugs, which could cause tripping) and improving the lighting in a home can be difference-makers according to architect Diana Melichar.

“Seniors typically have less mobility and physical agility, and their senses can be diminished,” she said in the column.

Another potential hazard is the presence of stairs, particularly if a main bedroom or other living space is located on a second floor, she added.

“Adding a primary bedroom suite to the first floor of your home is ideal,” she said. “If that’s not possible, then adding a chairlift or elevator is a second choice.”

Other elements that could aid the goal of aging in place include replacing door knobs with lever handles, which are easier to operate for people who have or may develop arthritis. Bathrooms are a common target for renovations since it can be easy to slip and injure yourself if you have limited mobility; nonstick mats and additional rails and handles can help mitigate some of this risk.

Smart home technology is also an increasingly common tool for outfitting a home for aging in place. In addition to digital assistants and speakers that are voice-operated, motion sensors that can automatically activate lights and internet-enabled appliances that can allow a user to monitor activation states can assist aging-in-place goals, certain experts say.


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Fair Lending Compliance, HELOC Products; Training and Events; FICO News

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Fair Lending Compliance, HELOC Products; Training and Events; FICO News


Tue, Jul 2 2024, 11:36 AM

Cracker Jacks, Quaker Oats, Ferris Wheels, and 1893 Chicago have something in common. World’s Fairs, and World’s Expos, have pretty much gone away due to financial issues. A lot has happened since then, financially, and otherwise. Equifax was founded in 1899. The modern credit card, able to be used at various merchants, was developed in the 1950s, when many of today’s loan officers were entering the business. (Ok, just kidding.) FICO (legal name: Fair Isaac Corporation) began in 1956. FICO’s latest news came out yesterday with Encompass Lending Group and Equity Resources, Inc. being the latest to adopt FICO® Score 10 T. Meanwhile, the Mortgage Bankers Association and others have stated that credit-related price hikes have cost lenders & consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. FICO’s executives are well paid. FICO’s stock, at around $1,500 per share, has a price earnings ratio at around 77 (versus the S&P 500 average of around 25) although the only product with any great revenue growth is mortgage credit scores. (Other lines are flat or mediocre.) Observers suggest that Fair Isaac may only have two choices going forward: keep raising mortgage credit score prices even higher or watch its stock price plunge. Some give it near-monopoly status; American Economic Liberties Project’s Matt Stoller uses the word “cartel” when it comes to Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, and FICO. (Today’s podcast is found here and this week’s is sponsored by Bundle, the attorney-prepared legal documents company that is dedicated to the real estate, mortgage, and title industries. Fuel your operations and execution of documents from deeds to subordinations to assignments, and everything you need for any order, in one bundled price; receive 20 percent off using the code “Chrisman” at checkout. Hear an Interview with FirstClose’s Tedd Smith on a new national consumer survey that explored homeowners’ level of awareness of home equity and how it could be used to pay down higher interest credit card debt.)

Lender and Broker Services, Products, and Software

Spring EQ Wholesale is thrilled to unveil a new and unique product to the second mortgage industry: The FIXLINE product. FIXLINE is a fixed-rate HELOC, giving borrowers the flexibility of a line of credit with the stability of a fixed-rate loan. Register for its webinar taking place today, where their team will explore the ins-and-outs of the new FIXLINE product! Spring EQ is also excited to announce a recent addition to their TPO leadership team, Reno Heine. Reno joins Spring EQ as the SVP of TPO, bringing more than 25 years of mortgage industry experience. The need for home equity solutions is surging among borrowers, so make sure your business is prepared to meet this demand by partnering with the experts in home equity at Spring EQ. Interested in a wholesale partnership? Click here. Second mortgages are Spring EQ’s specialty, so think of them first for all your seconds.

Uncovering Fair Lending Risk to Build a Stronger Fair Lending Program! Preventing and detecting discrimination with an active fair lending compliance management system (Fair Lending CMS) is essential for every financial institution (FIs). FIs don’t just have a moral obligation to prevent and detect discrimination… They also have a legal obligation. Lending practices or programs that negatively impact a protected class can result in fines or enforcement actions, even if the discrimination was unintended. Ncontracts’ latest whitepaper introduces the key components of a fair lending compliance management system, discuss common fair lending mistakes, and highlight essential considerations when conducting a fair lending risk assessment to build or strengthen the institution’s overall fair lending program. Download the free whitepaper to learn more.

Events, Training, and Webinars

A good place for longer term conference planning is to start is here for in-person events in the future.

Today the 2nd at 11am PT, two veteran LOs discuss all things mortgage with Industry Leaders. Mortgage Pros 411 with Audrey Boissonou and Kevin Casey. And I get to join in!

Register now for FAMPChat Summer Series presented by the Central Florida FAMP Chapter beginning July 2nd, register now for all 10 sessions.

On Wednesday, July 10 at 11:00 am, NMMLA will present “The current and future state of Digital Mortgages” with Guest Speaker, Robert Pathman.

Thursday the 11th will be another episode of The Big Picture at 3PM ET… Rich Swerbinsky is interviewing the fabled Kevin Peranio of PRMG!

National MI: Leading a Team​​with Andrew Oxley – July 11th at 2pm ET.

Friday the 12th will see an episode of The Mortgage Collaborative’s Rundown with Melissa Langdale and me covering current events in the mortgage market for 30 minutes starting at noon PT, 3PM ET.

The Ultimate Mortgage Expo returns to New Orleans July 10 – 11. Join OCN in the Hotel Monteleone for a jam-packed event featuring 2 days of sessions and 2 days of exhibition hall opportunity. Also, come earlier on July 10 to enjoy complimentary access to the Mortgage Star Conference for women. Enjoy free access to this can’t-miss event using the code OCNFREE.*

Join Servbank’s cohosted webinar with the Mortgage Bankers Association on July 11 at 1-2p ET to learn how handling thousands of service transfers has gotten Servbank’s transfer plan down to a science. With a battle-tested plan and a laser-focus on customer experience, the painless service transfer is a reality. Register for the webinar today! The webinar is free for non-members by creating an account and entering the campaign code “SERVBANK100” at checkout.

On June 20, federal regulators published new quality control standards for automated valuation models (AVMs). The standards focus especially on safeguarding the credibility and integrity of AVMs to support fair lending practices and non-discrimination in real estate property valuations. Attend a complimentary webinar hosted by ICE for an insightful panel discussion with leading valuation experts. The webinar, “New quality standards for AVMs – are you ready?” will take place Tuesday, July 16, from 2 – 3 p.m. ET. Save your seat today.

Join ACES EVP, Nick Volpe and ACES President, Phill McCall on July 17, 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PDT for a QC NOW webinar as they take a deeper dive into these analytics and how it aligns with the current state of the industry and how to best navigate through the volatile financial landscape.

Join NAMB and Freddie Mac on Wednesday, July 17, from 2pm – 3:30pm ET for Self Employed-The Basics, to get started learning about the self-employed borrower. This introductory session is designed to provide you with the information you need to complete your analysis and to enhance your processes for underwriting self-employed borrowers, with a focus on the sole proprietor.

Newrez Correspondent offers a comprehensive training curriculum on Newrez products and processes, to keep your staff informed of the latest developments in products, technology solutions, compliance issues and process improvements. Each of these programs is offered by its training and development staff on a monthly basis and is updated regularly to reflect recent changes in the industry.

National MI upcoming July 2024 webinar sessions. How to Plan and Attack the Week for Loan Officers with Dr. Bruce Lund – July 18th at 1pm ET. Become an Open House Success Partner ​​​​​with Rebecca Lorenz – July 23rd at 1pm ET. Mortgage Industry Updates Impacting the Balance of 2024 and Beyond ​​​​​with Scott Weghorst, July 25th at 2pm ET.

Thursday July 18th will another episode of The Big Picture at 3PM ET… Rich Swerbinsky is interviewing the Stan Middleman from Freedom Mortgage.

Monday, 5 August 9:00 AM – Tuesday, 6 August at 6:00 PM PDT join the California Association of Mortgage Professionals on August 5th -August 6th for its Annual Summer CAMP at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1007 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach, California. Attorney Brian Levy will be the featured speaker!

“Join me and other leaders in the Michigan mortgage industry at the MMLA Annual Lending Conference, August 14 – 16 @ Boyne Mountain Resort. Go to for all the registration and sponsorship information. I hope to see you there!”

August 19-21 will see the California MBA’s Western Secondary at the Terranea Resort in Southern California. Come say hi!

Whether you’re an appraiser, educator, or you work for an AMC, lender, tech company, or E&O insurance firm, the Valuation Expo 2024 is your premier opportunity to stay up to date with industry advancements and meet the people at the forefront. Don’t miss the chance to learn, network, and prosper. Register for Valuation Expo at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, August 19th – 21st.

“NAMMBA CONNECT 2024, August 21-23, is calling for speakers who can inspire and empower our diverse community of mortgage professionals. Whether you specialize in innovative technology, leadership strategies, or industry trends, we invite you to join us in shaping the future of the mortgage industry. Submit your proposal through this speaker application form and be a catalyst for meaningful dialogue and growth.”

The MISMO Fall Summit is in Reston, Virginia, August 26-29 for a jam-packed program filled with presentations and strategy sessions focused on some of the most pressing issues in the industry. In-person and virtual attendance options are available. Early bird pricing extends through July 15, but space is limited, so register before it’s too late.

September 4-6 the NY MBA is taking over the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY with a slate of top-notch speakers and information.

Register for the New England Mortgage Bankers two-day conference, September 11-13 in Portsmouth NH. Hear from a range of speakers, learn about new technologies and products, join golf and social events.

There’s the upcoming 2024 Pacific Northwest Mortgage Leaders Conference is Sunday, September 22 – Tuesday, September 24 at the Seattle Grand Sheraton. As the industry continues to evolve through technology, innovation, and adaptation, the conference will present an impressive lineup of local and national industry leaders who will share insights on critical topics impacting the mortgage industry.

“Loan Vision is excited to announce that registration is now OPEN for its 2024 Loan Vision Innovation Conference (previously the Loan Vision User Conference). With a focus on innovation, growth, and doing more with less, our new and improved annual conference is taking place in Chicago, Illinois from Monday, September 23rd – Wednesday the 25th. This conference will deliver highly recognized names in mortgage banking as our speakers, enhanced social networking events, and a fresh agenda for both executives and users and will be aimed at redefining industry standards and setting a new benchmark for excellence. If you’re interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Haleigh Heilman. To learn more about this conference, register, and book your hotel, please visit here.”

Registration has opened for the reverse mortgage industry’s biggest event of 2024, NRMLA’s Annual Meeting & Expo, September 24 from 1PM through September 26 at 12:00 pm, at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego.

MBAC’s 68th Annual Convention is October 6-8 at the Embassy Suites in Myrtle Beach, SC. It is always worthwhile!

Capital Markets

Bond yields (read: mortgage rates) rose to the highest levels since late May yesterday to begin this holiday-shortened week that will likely be marked by low trading volumes. The jump in yields occurred a day after the first round of voting in France’s parliamentary elections suggested that the National Rally far-right party scored a smaller win than some polls had expected.

At home, President Biden’s widely derided performance in last week’s debate has put increased pressure (read: downward prices) on Treasuries, as a potential President Trump win is bringing anxiety into markets for a variety of reasons having to do with fiscal policy, tariff policy, and immigration policy. There is also mainstream media chatter that a Trump administration in 2025-2028 will be more inflammatory for rising budget deficits than a Biden administration.

In terms of cold hard data (read: not media speculation), the June ISM Manufacturing Index suggested there was a faster pace of contraction in the manufacturing sector last month than in May, signaling subdued activity for the manufacturing sector that fits with the narrative of a slowing economy. This was the third straight month, and 19th out of 20, that economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted.

Total construction spending decreased 0.1 percent month-over-month in May, as expected, following an upwardly revised 0.3 percent increase (from -0.1 percent) in April. Total private construction was down 0.3 percent month-over-month while total public construction was up 0.5 percent month-over-month. On a year-over-year basis, total construction spending was up 6.4 percent. The restrictive effects of tight monetary policy are becoming increasingly apparent across the construction industry, despite the construction market having navigated the higher interest rate environment relatively well, thus far.

Keep in mind that the big data point this week is the June jobs report on Friday, which is expected to show the unemployment rate rising to the highest level since late 2021, despite a decent monthly gain in payroll employment. Payrolls are expected to come in +190k from the previous release’s +272k pace. More people are returning to the workforce, and there is slower job-finding among newly laid-off workers. Initial and continued claims have trended upward over the last few weeks, with initial claims trending at the highest level since last September and continued claims at the highest since December 2021.

Today’s economic calendar has little: Redbook same store sales for the week ending June 29, Fed Chair Powell’s participation in a panel discussion at the ECB Forum on Central Banking in Portugal, JOLTS job openings for June will be released, and Treasury will conduct several short-duration Treasury auctions. The May Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) is expected to show another step down in job openings and a cool rate of hiring across nonfarm industries. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices a few ticks better than Monday afternoon, the 10-year yielding 4.45 after closing yesterday at 4.48 percent, and the 2-year at 4.76.


“First Horizon Announces Mortgage Warehouse Lending Group leadership transition!

After joining First Tennessee in 1998, Bob Garrett, Executive Vice President of First Horizon’s Mortgage Warehouse Lending Group (MWL) is retiring. At a time when the company had a small footprint and little name recognition outside of Tennessee, Bob and his team were pioneers in the development of our national brand. Today MWL operates as one of the largest and best warehouse lenders in the nation and has funded over $1 trillion in mortgage loans under Bob’s leadership. Scott Walker, MWL Director of Business Development, will assume leadership of the business as Co-Director immediately and report to David Popwell. Bob will continue to assist Scott until his departure December 31, ensuring a smooth transition. Scott joined MWL in 2004 as a Relationship Manager and has since held several management roles. After joining the company, he quickly emerged as a significant contributor and well-regarded leader. “Bob’s legacy of excellence will not be forgotten as it serves as a building block for continued success,” said David Popwell, President of Specialty Banking. “We are fortunate to have Scott step into this role, a proven leader with the depth of experience and commitment to the company needed to continue to excel in this space. We wish Bob all the best in his retirement.”

Patrice Ficklin, who has led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s fair lending office since 2011, is leaving the CFPB to rejoin Fannie Mae. She’s an expert in bureaucracy: Ficklin has been the CFPB’s only fair lending director through seven acting and permanent directors, setting up the agency’s Office of Fair Lending & Equal Opportunity, responsible for the oversight and enforcement of fair lending laws. She has helped coordinate efforts with the Department of Justice to rein in redlining and introduced new rules and guidelines aimed at curbing the impacts of racial bias on home valuations. Kate Berry with American Banker reminds us that, “Ficklin previously served as Fannie Mae’s associate general counsel for nearly a dozen years.” She is rejoining Fannie as its new fair lending officer.

 Download our mobile app to get alerts for Rob Chrisman’s Commentary.


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Budgeting is such an adulting term.

Nothing can make you feel more like an adult when you need to learn how to budget your money, stop buying frivolous things, and save for retirement.

A budget just sounds like no fun.

Is it possible to learn how to budget money and still enjoy life?

However, the bright side to budgeting (and normally overlooked aspect) is by setting up a budget is you start to live within your means and start your path to financial freedom. Here are all the advantages of budgeting.

Personally, financial freedom is way more enticing!

So, that means a budget is necessary. A budget is key. A budget will change your life forever.

Just FYI…Here at Money Bliss, we like to call it a Cents Plan. Why? A budget sounds constricting. Take your money cents and put it with your head sense to make your Cents Plan.

We will detail what is the proper way to budget for money.

But the question remains how to budget money without pulling out your hair and still enjoy life. (It is easier than you think!)

Do you Need a Budget?

First, let’s answer this age-old debate. Do you really need a budget?

The simple answer is it depends on what you want out of life.

Do you want to live paycheck to paycheck, struggling with money, straddled with debt? Or with financial independence where you control your destiny?

Stress vs. joy. The choice is yours.

With human nature, our tendency is to spend money. While there are some savers in the room, it is typically a learned trait. Society wants quick results and with material items so cheap, it is easy to go overbudget.

Does extra income really solve someone’s money problems?

Last I checked, there are plenty of people who made millions are in bankruptcy because of overspending, not living within their means, and a budget wasn’t a term they used.

Here is a quick test…

If you have read this far into the post, then you need a budget. Keep reading. We have plenty of information to help you succeed. Also, you will learn various ways to budgeting that work for you.

Longer Answer & Must Read: Money Bliss Steps to Financial Freedom – this is the long term answer to “Do You Need a Budget?”

Purpose of a Budget

Okay, so we figured out that you need a budget. But, you aren’t truly convinced about why you need a budget.

What is the reason or main purpose of a budget?

The purpose of a budget is to first decide where you plan to spend/save money and then, see if you followed through on your plan.

Are you under budget? Are you over budget? Specifically, are you making progress to your life’s vision?

That is the role of a budget.

It is a guide for your money. Like we have said many times before you can manage your money or have your money manage you.

Personally, we use a budget to reach financial freedom faster and to make sure we have money set aside to travel. We have chosen to live a little more frugal than our neighbors (some might say much more frugal). However, the trade off for us is to travel now. Not wait until “retirement.”

For us, the purpose of a budget helps us to travel each year plus work our way towards financial freedom.

For you, what is the purpose of a budget? What do you want out of life?

Use on of these methods of budgeting as a guide to develop your budget.

Importance of Budgeting

There are many benefits of budgeting. However, most people struggle with a budget because saying no to yourself can be hard.

Let’s look at the bigger picture.

Do you want to manage your money? Or have your money manage you?

The choice is yours.

A budget is just a spending plan written out in advance.

You manage money your way!

That is a huge importance of budgeting. Personally, I would much rather decide how I want to spend my money. That is one of the biggest reasons we decided to pay off our debt in one year.

The importance of budgeting is to make sure you are living within your means and have the ability to pay for your expenses.

A budget doesn’t have to be complicated. It helps you lower big ticket expenses like housing, food, and transportation and then make sure you have enough remaining for the rest of your expenses.

If debt is a part of your life, then you are able to pay off debt faster by knowing where you spend money (and specifically what is worth spending money on). If you are debt-free, then you can continue paying in cash rather than racking up debt.

By moving towards a budget, then the foundation is laid to build a solid money journey.

You know where and how your money is spent. Then, you’re not left at the end of the month wondering if and when you will run out of money.

Another key importance of budgeting is it forces you to be organized with your finances. Then, you know where your money is going.

Creating a budget shouldn’t be overcomplicated or hard. That is something we will teach you how to do.

Benefits of Budgeting

Too many times people have good intentions of creating a budget and give up too quickly, then they never finally understand the benefits of budgeting.

It will take a few months or paycheck cycles to truly notice the benefits of budgeting (AKA spending less than you make).

You need to learn how to budget money and get into the groove of it.

No matter what we do…we can’t change how fast the days move. This is hard when you are working hard on your budget for the first time and want to see progress faster.

Consistency makes budgeting actually work.

A few of the benefits of budgeting include:

  • Stop fighting about money
  • Ability to reach your goals faster
  • Prioritize spending

Did you realize we only listed a few of the benefits of budgeting? Learn all nine Surprising Advantages of Budgeting your Money. (#7 may save your marriage)

As paychecks roll in and the months go by, you start seeing the bigger and bigger picture on the benefits of budgeting.

How to Manage Money

Now, that you read you need a budget, the purpose of a budget, the importance of budgeting plus the true benefits of budgeting, let’s learn how to manage money.

Specifically, how to manage your money.

Remember you have the choice to manage your money or have your money manage you. The choice is yours.

So, how can you manage your money?

One place to start is look at what others are doing. What makes them successful or not successful.

You can manage your money based off percentages like the Cents Plan Formula.

You can look at the household budget percentages to see how people spend money according to the statistics.

Ask a friend or family member how they manage money. (Some may tell you others won’t say a word.)

You can also go in depth with My Ultimate Money Blueprint.

Just remember, in the end, you want to manage money your way.

Steps on How to Budget Money

Managing money is more than just a budget.

It is about giving you choices in life.

These steps on learning how to budget money are very global. They aren’t specific tactics for budgeting. You can learn that in the 7 steps to making a budget. 

These is the overarching themes that guide you on how to budget your money. Let’s budget your life and change your finances.

1. Life’s Vision

Before we starting truly budgeting, we just tracked our spending. Without fail each and every month, there wasn’t money leftover to do what we wanted in life. Things just didn’t seem fair.

Then, I got this hair-brained idea to pay off all of our debt in 1 year.

Let me tell you…it was the best decision we ever made. You can read about our journey to be debt free.

By paying off our debt, we decided to put us first and what we wanted in life.

Extra money was going towards all of debt each month. So, that meant everything else was hacked to make paying off debt possible.

During that time, we truly understood what we wanted in life, what was important to us, and how we would get there. I guess you could say we began to budget our life.

Do you know what your life vision is? Your why? Your next money goal?

If not, then start here on making money goals.

2. Live Within Your Means

While this seems blatantly obvious, it is one of the hardest things for people to do.

Simply put…         

Income > Spending

Your income is greater than your spending (and hopefully savings is included in that number too).

One of the fastest ways to start living within your means is with a no spend challenge.

Plus it will help you uncover your life’s visions and what truly matters to you.

If you have been spending more than you make, then you are letting money manage you.

By living within your means, then you are managing your money your way.

Learn Exactly… How to Live Below Your Means and Love Life

3. Be Okay Being Different

The comparison trap is real.

With social media, it is hard to escape any type of comparison game. It used to be “Keep up with the Joneses’” and that just meant the neighbors and friends around you. Now, it is comparing yourself to influencers and people you will never meet in your lifetime.

The key to long term success on how to manage money is doing it your way, which means that your priorities will be different than everyone around you. And you have to be okay with being different.

Need ideas to stay on budget? Find 101 Fun Things To Do With No Money.

Need the motivation to live in a minimalist home? Could You Live In a Minimalist Home? (Real Life Minimalists) Hint: We were featured because while less is more.

4. Find a System to Work for You

The recommendation I always make when starting out with a budget is to use paper and pencil. Something tangible that you can touch and feel. Then, it becomes a constant reminder of your new ways of managing money.

Over the long-term with budgeting, you must find a system to work for you. Maybe an app? Maybe a spreadsheet? Possibly a software?

The key is finding a system that will work for you. And if you combine finances, it has to work for both of you.

This is where most people fail.

There are so many options for free and paid budgeting apps today. It may seem overwhelming. But, you can’t go back to other habits.

Today, we use Quicken and a personalized spreadsheet. Thankfully, Quicken does all of the hard work of downloading transactions, categorizing them, and creating reports.

5. Celebrate Successes

This is something that doesn’t happen as much as it should with money goals. Too many times, we are so focused on saving money and living frugally, we forget to live and enjoy life.

You need to stop and smell the roses.

In this case, you need to celebrate your wins along your journey.

Here at Money Bliss, we like to focus on…

Life. Money. Enjoy.

Life is first. You need to enjoy your life and figure out how money relates to your life. You need to budget your life.

Don’t be afraid to celebrate your success. And if you don’t believe us…One of the steps in the Money Bliss Steps to Financial Freedom is about celebrating success and doing something for you.

How to Set up a Budget

Setting up a budget shouldn’t be hard or complicated.

Don’t overanalyze. Don’t give up.

Most people have to work on setting a budget that works for them over a couple of months. Each month making small refinements.

The end goal is to set a budget that works for you.

A High-Level View of Budgeting:

  1. Determine what your money goals are
  2. Figure out your income
  3. Track how much you are spending
  4. Set up a Budget or Spending Plan
  5. Track your progress

Yes, this is a very high-level view of setting up a budget. At this point, you don’t have to divide up into budgeting categories if you don’t want to.

There are plenty of resources on our site to help you finalize a budget that works for you.

Find detailed resources on how to make a budget.

The key to setting up a budget is be realistic.

You want to set yourself up for success – not instant failure.

One of the key ingredients to make you a success is pocket money. Personally, I believe this one category can make or break your budget. Understand how pocket money (AKA slush money) works.

When setting up a budget for the first time, set aside time to work through the budgeting process. A solid budget that will work (remember that is a key ingredient for success) needs to be based on your life’s visions. Not just slapped together in 5 minutes.

Learn How to Budget Money

Learning how to budget money is completely doable.

Budgeting shouldn’t be cumbersome or overwhelming. In the long run, the benefits of budgeting outweigh living paycheck to paycheck or stressed about money.

A budget makes sure your expenses (and savings) are below your income. From there you can decide how detailed you want to get with your budget.

The purpose of a budget is to help you successfully reach your life’s visions. The point where you start managing your money and not being managed by your money.

Further resources on budgeting:

Make sure to download our free budget printables!

From all of the free and paid budgeting apps, here are our top budgeting apps to check out!

This section may contain affiliate links, which helps us to continue providing relevant content and we receive a small commission at no cost to you. Please read the full disclosure below.

Empower Personal Wealth, LLC (“EPW”) compensates Money Bliss  for new leads. Money Bliss  is not an investment client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation or Empower Advisory Group, LLC.

Know someone else that needs this, too? Then, please share!!

Did the post resonate with you?

More importantly, did I answer the questions you have about this topic? Let me know in the comments if I can help in some other way!

Your comments are not just welcomed; they’re an integral part of our community. Let’s continue the conversation and explore how these ideas align with your journey towards Money Bliss.


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Safe deposit boxes are storage units located in banks that offer a secure way to store important items you may not want to keep at home, such as critical documents, collectibles, and family heirlooms.

Due to the growth of online banking and digital storage, safe deposit boxes aren’t as popular as they once were. However, there are some situations where these boxes can be useful. Here are key things to know about safe deposit boxes.

What Is a Safe Deposit Box?

A safe deposit box (also called a safety deposit box) is a secure locked box, usually made of metal, that stays in the safe or vault of a federally insured bank or credit union. They are typically used to keep valuables, important documents, and sentimental keepsakes protected from theft or damage.

Safe deposit boxes often come in two different sizes, usually 3” by 5” or 10” by 10,” and can be rented for an annual fee. In exchange for the fee, banks provide security measures to protect your valuables, such as alarms and surveillance cameras. In addition, the safe deposit boxes are stored in vaults that are designed to withstand natural disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

Unlike a bank account, however, the contents of a safe deposit box are not protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). As a result, there is still a small risk that you could lose the items in your container due to theft or damage.

Recommended: What Are the Differences Between FDIC and NCUA Insurance?

What You Should and Shouldn’t Keep in a Safe Deposit Box

Safe deposit boxes can be a good place to keep hard-to-replace documents and small valuables that you won’t need to access frequently. However, you generally don’t want to keep any items that you may need to grab in a hurry in the box, and certain items are prohibited.

Here’s a breakdown of things to keep — and not to keep — in a safe deposit box.

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Items Typically Kept in a Safe Deposit Box

•   Important documents: Documents that are difficult to replace and often needed for legal purposes are commonly stored in safe deposit boxes. These include: birth certificates, marriage licenses, car titles, divorce records, citizenship papers, property deeds, and mortgage documents.

•   Valuables: Jewelry, rare coins, stamps, and other valuable collectibles can be safely stored away from potential theft.

•   Financial Instruments: Stock certificates, bonds, and other financial instruments that require safekeeping can be securely stored in a safe deposit box.

•   Backup data: You might store external hard drives or USB drives containing sensitive personal or business information here to protect against data loss.

•   Personal keepsakes: Irreplaceable items like family heirlooms, photos, and memorabilia can be stored to ensure they don’t get lost or damaged.

Items to Avoid Putting in a Safe Deposit Box

•   Cash: While you may be tempted to store some cash in your safe deposit box, you’re likely better off putting the money in a high-yield savings account at a bank or credit union, which will allow your money to grow. The cash will also be insured (up to certain limits) by the FDIC or NCUA.

•   Original copies of wills: Original wills should not be stored in a safe deposit box because they may be difficult to access immediately after the owner’s death, delaying probate. You might instead store a copy of a will.

•   Durable power of attorney: Similar to wills, these documents might be needed quickly in emergencies, and delays could cause significant issues. Consider storing a copy.

•   Passport: If you need to travel urgently, accessing your passport from a bank vault could be problematic due to limited bank hours.

•   Frequently used items: Any items you need regular access to should not be kept in a safe deposit box due to limited accessibility.

•   Prohibited items: Banks and credit unions generally prohibit the storage of firearms, explosives, weapons, hazardous materials, illegal substances (such as drugs), alcohol, perishable items, and cremated remains.

How Much Does a Safe Deposit Box Cost?

Rental fees vary by the box’s size and financial institution. The average cost to rent a box at a commercial U.S. bank runs between $15 and $350 per year. Additional costs may include fees for lost keys or late payments.

Some banks and credit unions will offer discounts on a safe deposit box cost if you have a relationship with the bank. In some cases, an institution may offer free access to a safe deposit box as a perk to their customers.

How to Get a Safe Deposit Box

To rent a safe deposit box, you’ll generally need to follow these steps:

1.    Research your options. Not all banks and credit unions offer safe deposit boxes. You’ll want to find an institution that both provides this service and is conveniently located.

2.    Meet the requirements. Many banks require you to be an existing customer with a checking or savings account. However, some banks may allow noncustomers to rent boxes for an additional fee.

3.    Provide identification. You’ll need to bring valid identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, to verify your identity. If you plan to allow another person access to your safe deposit box, they will need to be present and show ID as well.

4.    Sign a rental agreement. You (and, if applicable, your corenter) will need to sign a rental agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the box rental.

5.    Make a payment. You generally need to pay the initial rental fee upfront. Some banks may offer discounts for long-term rentals or automatic payments.

6.    Get your key. Upon completing the paperwork, you will receive a key to your safe deposit box. The bank retains a second key. Both keys are required to access the box. If the bank offers keyless access, they will likely scan your finger or hand.

Keep in mind that every time you wish to access your safe deposit box, you’ll need to present your photo ID, as well as your key (if it’s not keyless). The bank may also require your signature before allowing you to open your box.

Recommended: How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account?

How Safe Is a Safe Deposit Box?

Safe deposit boxes are generally very secure. They are housed in a bank vault, which offers robust protection against theft, fire, flood, and other disasters. Banks employ multiple layers of security, including surveillance cameras, alarms, and restricted access to the vault area.

When you rent a safe deposit box, the bank typically gives you a key to use. The bank also retains a second “guard key” which must be used by a bank employee in tandem with your key. Some banks now use a keyless biometric entry system, where you scan your finger or hand instead.

However, it’s important to note that the contents of a safe deposit box are not insured by the bank or the FDIC. As a result, you may need to obtain separate insurance or add a rider to your homeowners or renters insurance for coverage.

Recommended: Are Online Savings Accounts Safe?

Pros and Cons of Safe Deposit Boxes

Safe deposit boxes can be a good way to protect your valuables. Here are some of the upsides of renting one:

•   Security: Safe deposit boxes offer a high level of security, since they are stored in areas with limited access and stepped-up surveillance.

•   Environmental protection: They can protect your valuables from environmental damage, such as a flood or fire.

•   Privacy: The contents of a safe deposit box are known only to the renter, offering a high degree of privacy.

•   Organization: Safe deposit boxes help keep important documents and valuables in one secure location, making it less likely you will misplace them.

But safe deposit boxes also come with downsides. Here are some to consider:

•   Limited access: Access is restricted to bank hours, which can be inconvenient, especially in an emergency.

•   Cost: There is an ongoing rental fee, which varies based on the size of the box.

•   Not insured: Contents are not insured by the bank or FDIC. Separate insurance may be needed for valuable items.

•   Delayed access for loved ones: In the event of the renter’s death, accessing the box may require legal processes that could delay access to important documents.

Recommended: Different Types of Savings Accounts You Can Have

The Takeaway

If you’re looking for a safe place to stash vital papers or valuable possessions, you might consider renting a safe deposit back at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union. Items stored in these containers are protected against theft, loss, or damage due to a flood, fire, or other disaster.

But the protection has limits: Unlike regular bank accounts, safe deposit boxes are not insured by the FDIC. Also keep in mind that safe deposit boxes aren’t ideal for items you may need to grab in a hurry, since access is limited to banking hours.

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.


What can I use instead of a safe deposit box?

Alternatives to a safe deposit box include:

•   A fire-rated personal home safe: This can offer protection from environmental damage (such as fire or flood). However, a thief could potentially steal the whole safe.

•   Digital storage solutions: Cloud services can securely store important documents and data backups.

•   An attorney’s office: For legal documents, a trusted lawyer’s office may offer secure storage.

•   Private vault facility: These are a viable alternative to a safe deposit box but tend to cost more.

Can safe deposit boxes be jointly shared?

Yes. When you open a safe deposit box, you can designate one or more corenters who will have equal access to the box. This is useful for couples, business partners, or family members who need shared access to important documents and valuables. Each renter typically receives a key, and all corenters’ signatures are required on the rental agreement.

Is it safe to keep money in a safe deposit box?

While it is physically safe to keep money in a safe deposit box, it is not recommended. Cash stored in a safe deposit box does not earn interest and is not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). You’re generally better off keeping cash in a high-yield savings account or other insured financial instrument that offers safety, liquidity, and interest earnings.

Do banks know what you put in a safety deposit box?

No. The contents of a safe deposit box are private, and bank employees do not have access to the items stored inside. When you rent a safe deposit box, you receive a key, and the bank retains a second key. Both keys are required to open the box, but only you can open it and see its contents. This ensures privacy and confidentiality.

Photo credit: iStock/AlexSecret

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

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.

*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.