7 Things to Know Before You Start Biking to Work

When I learned that the cost of my monthly parking garage pass was more than doubling to $75 a month, I balked. Seventy-five dollars a month just to babysit my car while I’m at work?

So one muggy morning, I decided to give bike commuting a shot. I didn’t plan my route. Or my outfit. Or take my bike for a test ride, even though I hadn’t ridden it in months. Hey, what could go wrong in 2 miles?

I took my usual route to work — a busy street with no bike lanes and a rickety sidewalk where cyclists aren’t exactly welcome in the traffic lanes. Funny what you don’t notice from your car.

My dark jeans and black tunic were drenched in sweat less than a mile into my ride. Not a great choice of biking attire for mid-90s temperatures.

But it wasn’t just the end-of-summer heat that was making me sweat. I felt like I was biking uphill — and I live in Florida. I asked myself: Was biking always this hard? Have my leg muscles atrophied?

Then a guy standing at a bus stop pointed out the obvious: My tires needed air.

7 Tips for Anyone Who Wants to Start Biking to Work

I survived the 2-mile ride to work. Then I Ubered home that afternoon.

A few days later, temperatures dropped slightly, and a helpful co-worker put air in my tires. I decided to give bike commuting another try — if only to get my bike home. This time, I planned my route and took a street with bike lanes.

Since then, I’ve become an avid bike commuter. I love that I get to exercise during my commute, and I’m also saving money. Since I live close to work, my savings on gas are minimal, but I have been able to ditch the $75-a-month parking pass. Plus, I’m less prone to after-work impulse buys. If I stop at the grocery store after work, I’m limited to what I can fit in my bike basket.

Want to try biking to work? Here are a few tips I wish I had known before I tried bike commuting.

1. Do a Weekend Test Run

It’s great when you can figure out things — like that your route of choice doesn’t have bike lanes or your tires need air — when you’re not pedaling furiously to a meeting at rush hour.

Test out your commute by doing a practice run during the weekend. You may be surprised by just how bike-unfriendly your normal route is.

Make sure to wear your work attire if you plan to ride in the same clothing you wear during the day. Seeing just how much you sweat could change your mind.

2. Dry Shampoo Is Your Friend

Wearing a helmet is nonnegotiable whenever you ride your bike, OK? So that means helmet hair is something you’re going to have to deal with.

Dry shampoo comes in handy when you need to freshen up to make yourself presentable for the office.

A woman waits to ride a cross a busy road while bike commuting.
Robin waits her turn to cross a busy road on her way to work. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

3. Plan Your Outfit Around Your Commute

Riding your bike to work is a lot easier when you don’t have to do a complete change of costume when you get to the office. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen to minimize sweat during your ride. If you wear skirts or dresses, throw on a pair of bicycle shorts or leggings underneath. (Long skirts and dresses are best avoided, though.)

Keep a spare shirt handy in your backpack in case you sweat more than usual or you ride through dirt or dust. (It happens.)

Pro Tip

If you need to pack your clothes and change at the office, a travel-size bottle of wrinkle spray comes in handy. No, your outfit won’t look freshly pressed, but it will smooth things out a bit.

4. Lighten Your Load Already

You’re saving money by bike commuting. But unless you want to fork over that money and then some to your chiropractor, keep your backpack as light as possible. Investing in saddlebags or a bike crate will be well worth it if you have lots of stuff to cart to and from work.

5. Ask Your Employer for Storage Space

Bikes are best stored indoors, where they’re less likely to get stolen. Plus, they’re more likely to rust when exposed to rain or snow.

Here at The Penny Hoarder’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, we’re lucky to have a passcode-protected bike closet. If your workplace doesn’t have a designated space for bikes, ask your employer to create one — or at least if there’s an acceptable place that you can stash your bike.

If that’s not possible, keep your bike locked up in a busy area with two different types of locks.

Pro Tip

Your car isn’t the only thing that needs a tune-up: Your bike should get a tune-up anywhere from every few months to once a year, depending on how much you ride. Expect to pay $30 to $80.

6. Be Prepared for Bad Weather

Here in Florida, storms are a bit unpredictable. I keep a kid-size poncho in my backpack that I can pop out if it starts to drizzle. The kid-size part is key because it’s short enough that it doesn’t get in the way of pedaling.

Obviously, when there’s lightning or extreme weather, you shouldn’t be biking. So have a backup plan for the days that you aren’t able to bike to work.

Make sure you know of a parking option that doesn’t require a monthly pass, a bus route that’s close to your office or a co-worker who can give you a ride. Otherwise, you’ll need to work the occasional Uber or Lyft into your budget.

7. Don’t Give up Your Parking Pass… Yet

So you’ve had your first successful bike commute? Congrats!

Still, hang onto your parking pass for at least a couple weeks. It’s great when bike commuting happens without a hitch. But what happens when you’re running late, you have a doctor’s appointment before work or you need to run home at lunchtime?

Once you’ve experienced a few disruptions to your regular routine, you can better assess whether giving up parking is feasible.

Is Bike Commuting for You?

This isn’t really an if-I-can-do-it-anyone-can type of thing. There are a lot of reasons bicycle commuting has worked for me:

I have a flexible schedule. I only work daylight hours. My workplace is casual. I live and work in a bike-friendly pocket of St. Petersburg, Florida, which means I don’t have to deal with snowstorms and subzero temperatures. I don’t have kids to shuttle to and from school or day care. Most importantly, I feel safe bike commuting.

If you want to try it, commit to doing it three or four times over the next months. Take it from me: Your first try may not go perfectly. But after three or four times, you’ll get the hang of it.

What if you hate it? Then it’s probably not worth whatever money you save. Your ideal commute is one that doesn’t leave you frazzled before you’ve even gotten to work.

But don’t be surprised if you get hooked. I find my workdays a lot more enjoyable when they start and end with a bike ride instead of circling a dusty parking garage. And the $75 I’m saving is a pretty sweet bonus.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.  She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community

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Dear Penny: We Have Bad Credit. Is There Any Hope for a Debt Consolidation Loan?

Dear Penny,

We have credit scores in the 500s, and we are being declined for loans to consolidate our debt to improve our credit.

We understand the importance of improving our credit scores and are frustrated that the debt consolidation we have been advised to apply for is not working out — no approvals. Who can we turn to for a loan?

-D.

Dear D.,

When you have a smorgasbord of debts, life feels like a juggling act. So many due dates, so many interest rates, so many terms and conditions to keep track of.

Then you see the claims in the ads for debt collection loans. Get rid of high-interest credit card debt today! One low monthly payment!

It sounds like a magic little pill that will cure all your financial ailments, right? If only it were that simple.


Unfortunately — as you’ve learned — the people who could benefit most from a debt consolidation loan often don’t qualify. Most lenders require a credit score of at least 620.

You could try applying through a credit union, though membership is required. Unlike big banks, credit unions tend to look beyond your credit score at your overall financial health when you’re seeking a loan.

You can also use websites like Credible, Even Financial or Fiona to shop around for loans. (No, none of them paid me to say that.) But keep in mind that many of the lenders these sites partner with will also require a credit score in the 600s.

While you might be able to consolidate with a lower credit score, you’ll often pay astronomical interest rates — sometimes as much as 30% — which kind of makes the cure as bad as the disease.

But here’s the thing about debt consolidation: Often the benefit is more psychological than mathematical. Sure, life would be a lot simpler with a single monthly payment, but if you can’t lock in a lower interest rate, debt consolidation won’t save you money.

You say you want to consolidate to improve your credit score. If you have enough money to make at least your minimum payments, you’ll gradually see your score increase as you make on-time payments and lower the percentage of your credit you’re using.

Consider speaking with a credit counselor, especially if you can’t afford your minimum payments. The world of debt relief is rife with scammers, so make sure any counselor or organization you work with is a nonprofit that’s accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

A credit counselor will help you figure out how to manage your money and debts. The counselor may work out a debt management plan where you make a single payment each month to the counseling organization, which will pay your debts on your behalf. They might be able to lower your monthly payments by negotiating lower interest rates or a longer repayment period, though they generally won’t be able to reduce what you owe.

Avoid companies that offer to work out a debt settlement plan, in which you’ll stop making payments so the company can negotiate to reduce your debt. Not only will these plans kill your credit, but you’ll also owe taxes on the amount that’s forgiven.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re deep in debt and low on options for rebuilding your credit. But keep in mind that while a debt consolidation loan might improve your credit somewhat in the short term, it won’t fix the underlying causes of your debt.

Building good credit doesn’t happen quickly. You have to figure out a way not to rely on credit, and to spend less than you make. It requires discipline and a commitment to financial health. And there’s no magic pill for that.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.

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Here’s All You Need to Know About Unlimited Chuck E. Cheese Games

Chuck-e-cheese stands outside of a vehicle after a reopening of a Check E Cheese store.
Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Utah. Stephanie Bolling is a former staff writer.

Thinking of having a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese? The Ultimate Fun and Mega Fun party options both come with 2 hours of all you can play for each child.
To keep patrons safe, Chuck E. Cheese has COVID-19 protocols implemented during birthday parties and some aspects of playtime. There are hand sanitizing stations, regular sanitizing of surfaces and touchless pay options, as well as the touchless Play Passes and bands.
You’d think taking the little ones to a pizza and games place like Chuck E. Cheese would bring some distraction-induced reprieve. But alas, they’re coming at you every five minutes for more tokens.
Just think: Your kids might wear themselves out for less than . Might.

How Chuck E. Cheese All You Can Play Works

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If you do a traditional party at Chuck E. Cheese but want social distancing, you can book a VIP party on Saturdays at 8 a.m. or Sundays at 9 a.m.
If you have to cancel a party due to COVID, you can transfer your party deposit to a new date within one year of the canceled date or use it for a to-go party pack.

  • $1 Play Pass
  • $3 Play Pass with coil wristband
  • $7.99 Rechargeable Play Band with $5 worth of game play included

Ready to stop worrying about money?
Some games might still dispense paper tickets, but Chuck E. Cheese has transitioned to e-tickets that are automatically saved to Play Passes. Once kids are done playing, they can redeem their e-tickets at the counter for prizes.
Behold the All You Can Play game option (aka the savior of parental sanity), at participating Chuck E. Cheese locations nationwide.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
For birthday parties, you can find an option that works for you based on state or local guidelines, or even do a Party Pack at home through delivery or carryout. If you choose an at-home option, you’ll still get play points and e-tickets to use on your next visit.

Pro Tip
If you find yourself frequently going to Chuck E. Cheese to keep the kids happy, check out their rewards program.

Chuck E. Cheese and COVID-19 Safety

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Check that All You Can Play is available at your Chuck E. Cheese location before you go.
The allowed number of party guests and Chuck E. appearances will vary by state and local guidelines. If local guidelines don’t allow for Chuck E. to be there in person, he’ll attend virtually on video monitors.
Not today, children.
Currently, unlimited game time comes in 30-minute increments starting at with any Chuck E. Cheese deals purchase and is good any day of the week. Save even more if you go on All You Can Play Wednesday. Mention the promotion at time of purchase and you’ll get an hour of unlimited play for .99.
Kids and families attend the Chuck E. Cheese Baton Rouge, La. Signature Grand Reopening on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 in Baton Rouge, LA. Tyler Kaufman/AP Images for CEC Entertainment
Kids like to touch everything, and at a restaurant like Chuck E. Cheese those instincts run free.

Chuck E. Cheese Rewards

For one flat fee, kiddos can play unlimited games without exception for a selected amount of time.
When you download the app and sign-up, you’ll receive 500 free e-tickets. You’ll get 250 e-tickets on your sign-up anniversary and a birthday surprise for your birthday and half-birthday. Refer a friend and you’ll get one free personal pizza when they sign up.

  • For 50 points, you’ll get 15 minutes of play time, an order of Unicorn Churros or 500 e-tickets.
  • At 100 points, you receive 30 minutes of play time, one personal 1-topping pizza or 1,000 e-tickets.
  • For 200 points, you can earn 60 minutes of play time, one large 1-topping pizza or 2,000 e-tickets.

Kids can use Play Passes or Play Bands, which allow them to load time or points with a tap. Play Passes come in three tiers:
Before your next trip, you can also reload time and points onto Play Passes and Play Bands online. <!–

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Being a parent is expensive. And exhausting.

5 Expert Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Next Crypto Crash

If you’re investing in cryptocurrency, it needs to be part of a balanced portfolio that meets your goals. For most people, this means allocating no more than 5% of your portfolio to a risky investment like crypto.
Possibly the most important thing for investors to remember is don’t panic. Cryptocurrency is a highly volatile investment and these types of price swings are to be expected.
— Cody Lachner, certified financial planner and director of financial planning at BBK Wealth Management
Most investors are seeing a broad pull back in all their investments right now, including stocks. There’s not much investors can do in such situations except to keep their portfolios balanced and diversified.
The machine worked great — until it didn’t.
The collapse of terra and luna erased some billion in market capitalization in a week. Experts say that money is unlikely to return. The fallout sent ripples across the entire crypto ecosystem, causing bitcoin and ethereum to hit lows not seen since December 2020.
The crash in crypto has reminded us why a long-term investment strategy is so important. The crypto community has even come up with the phrase HODL which means “hold on for dear life.”
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In the months and weeks ahead, cryptocurrencies will face the same challenge as other major asset classes — rising interest rates — which tend to negatively impact the value of risky investments.
Sometimes people only look at the upside when investing. They think “Wow, I could have made a lot of money if only I had invested in this or that.”
— Chris Brooks, co-founder of Crypto Asset Recovery
But why did investors sink so much money into these tokens?
By May 12, the stablecoin once pegged at was trading for less than a penny.
When investing for the long-term, you understand that corrections are part of a normal market. That makes it easier to ride out the lows and wait for the eventual recovery.
Terra’s value is meant to stay at . But it wasn’t backed by real-world assets. Instead, the two tokens were tied in value to one another like a seesaw. One token would be automatically created or destroyed based on the supply and demand of the other.

How To Protect Your Portfolio From Another Crypto Crash: 5 Experts Weigh In

A portrait of Robert Persichitte
Photo courtesy of Robert Persichitte

1. Don’t Go All in

Ready to stop worrying about money?
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Eventually, trust will re-enter the market and you’ll get another shot.
— Lance Elrod, a certified financial planner with Next Step Financial Transitions

This is a portrait of Erik Goodge who is wearing an eye patch while sitting in a green office chair.
Photo courtesy of Erik Goodge

2. Read the Fine Print

— Robert Persichitte, a tax accountant and certified financial planner at Delagify Financial
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.
New York Magazine described the system “as a perpetual wealth-creation machine, a way to always make money through the magic of code and financial engineering.”
Terra’s algorithm eventually broke — there’s still some confusion and debate over why — and its value started nosediving May 8. As investors sold off UST, the supply of luna ballooned, causing its price to plummet. From there, UST and luna locked arms in a death spiral race to the bottom.

3. Be Safe, Be Secure

By May 16, bitcoin traded at around ,000 — more than a 50% decline in value from its all-time high of roughly ,000 five months ago.

This is a portrait of Chris Brooks.
Photo courtesy of Chris Brooks

Cryptocurrency investors are reeling and wondering what comes next after a massive market shakeup sent the price of bitcoin plummeting to its lowest level in 17 months last week.
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A portrait of Lance Elrod.
Photo courtesy of Lance Elrod

4. Play the Long Game

One positive that can occur during a correction like this is a tax-loss harvesting opportunity: You can sell certain assets to capture losses and offset capital gains tax you may owe next year.
Many cryptocurrency investors are now wondering what comes next and how to safeguard their portfolios. After all, it’s not just cryptocurrency that’s suffering — the entire U.S. economy is sluggish. Inflation is high, interest rates are rising, stocks are down (the S&P 500 has lost 16% of its value so far in 2022) and many experts are forecasting a recession in the next six to 12 months.
But few terra/luna investors paused to realize they were stacking risk on top of risk on top of more risk.

A portrait of Cody Lachner, certified financial planner and director of financial planning at BBK Wealth Management.
Photo courtesy of Cody Lachner

5. Buy and Hold (on for Dear Life)

— Erik Goodge, a certified financial planner and president of uVest Advisory Group
No one has perfect foresight. That’s why it’s so important to diversify with other assets.
Employ best practices in diversity, securing your private keys and don’t over-leverage yourself. Know that while this is a setback, it’s a temporary one.
We sat down with five experts who offered insight into navigating these uncertain times — and the best ways to protect your portfolio from a future crypto crash.

The phrase reminds us that investing in crypto is anything but a smooth ride. <!–

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A scheme known as the Anchor protocol promised crypto investors annual returns of nearly 20% in exchange for lending out their terra holdings. With cryptocurrency markets relatively stagnant since December, the lure of 20% returns seemed too good to pass up.

How to Become a Plumber in 2022

Licensed master plumbers have the highest earning potential. The top 10% of plumbers can earn ,920 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And on the high end, earning potential for master plumbers nearly reached 0,000 for the top 10%.
How Much School Do Plumbers Need?

How to Become a Plumber in 4 Steps

Potential education topics at a vocational school might include plumbing theory, water distribution, blueprint reading, draining and venting, pipe cutting and soldering and even electrical basics.
If you are currently a high school student interested in becoming a plumber, take all the math courses you can. In addition, choose classes like physics and shop to help you build an effective knowledge and skills base.
Becoming a plumber is all about licensure, so college is not a requirement. However, plumbers typically need to have their high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) to start an apprenticeship. A diploma or GED is also important if you plan to take any plumbing courses at a community college (more on that below).

1. Get Your High School Diploma or GED

To be considered a journeyman plumber, you will need to pass your state’s licensing exam. In general, you will need to renew this license every three to five years and take continuing education courses to maintain your licensed status.
A plumber’s skill set is varied. As a plumber, you will need the technical knowledge to diagnose plumbing problems and make repairs. You will also need to be proficient in using a wide variety of tools, including saws, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and torches. Remaining in top physical condition is crucial, as you will frequently do heavy lifting and perform tasks that require stamina, often in very hot or cold environments.
Most states require you to operate as a journeyman plumber for a set number of years (between two and five) before you can seek licensure as a master plumber. To earn your license, you’ll need to pass a written and practical exam.

2. Become an Apprentice

Upon completing your apprenticeship, you can apply to become a licensed journeyman plumber. Once you reach this status, you will be able to work unsupervised on commercial and residential projects.
Becoming a plumber does not require the college career path. Instead, you will complete high school and find work as an apprentice. After a few years, you can get licensed as a journeyman plumber and then a master plumber.
We’ve found the answers to the most commonly asked questions about becoming a plumber, including how long it takes until you’re repairing leaky sinks on your own.
To earn a plumbing license, you must first complete a four- to five-year apprenticeship and then pass the journeyman exam; an apprenticeship includes classroom instruction but no formal school program. Some plumbers choose to attend a year or two of plumbing trade school before their apprenticeship.
A plumbing apprenticeship program includes on-the-job training and some classroom instruction, but many plumbers choose to attend a vocational school as a first step. Plumbing trade schools may offer special certification or even a two-year associate degree.

3. Become a Journeyman Plumber

In general, you can find a plumbing apprenticeship program through trade unions, community colleges, trade schools and even private businesses. You might need to pass an exam or interview with a licensed plumber.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Plumber?
How Much Money Do Plumbers Make?

4. Become a Master Plumber

Ready to stop worrying about money?
Depending on your state, you may be able to earn special endorsements and certifications. For example, in the Lone Star State, in addition to your Texas plumbing license, you can obtain endorsements for medical gas piping installation, multipurpose residential fire protection sprinkler installation and water supply protection installation and repair.
Scroll on to learn how to become a plumber — and what you can expect out of the career.

Wondering how to become a plumber? Our guide covers the education, apprenticeship and licensing requirements on your journey to getting certified as a licensed plumber — and offers a peek into the day-to-day, job outlook and typical salary.

Optional: Go to a Trade School

Earning a special degree or certification can give you a leg-up when applying for competitive apprenticeships.
In high school, math will be crucial to your role as a plumber. Each day, plumbers use concepts from algebra and geometry, and they’re regularly calculating using various units of measure.
At the journey level, you can work for a plumbing company or start your own business.

How Much Do Plumbers Make?

Plumbers can work on both residential and commercial projects. The day-to-day duties might include remodeling bathrooms and kitchens, replacing and repairing water and drain lines, installing new water heaters, installing new faucets, installing new toilets and installing water filtration systems.
In 2021, the median pay for plumbers was ,880, but the top 10% earned ,920.
As a master plumber, you’ll reach peak earning potential and can even run your own plumbing business.

What Do Plumbers Do?

If you want to work in a supervisory capacity or be able to employ additional plumbers for your business, you will need to become a licensed master plumber.

Necessary Skills

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Plumbing apprenticeships generally last four to five years, during which time you’ll receive roughly 2,000 hours of on-the-job training in the plumbing trade, plus technical instruction. During this time, you’ll learn about local plumbing codes and regulations, how to read blueprints and OSHA safety regulations.Advanced education may cover topics like plumbing fixtures and drainage systems. Unlike pursuing a college degree, however, plumbing apprenticeships are paid.

Challenges

The median pay for plumbers last year was ,880, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though the labor is tough, hours can be long and the work can be dangerous, becoming a licensed plumber may be well worth it if you have the necessary skills and dedication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Plumber

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Becoming a licensed plumber takes at least four to five years, as this is the general length of an apprenticeship. Some aspiring plumbers choose a year or two of vocational school before their apprenticeship. After completing an apprenticeship, you can earn your journeyman and then master plumber license.
As an apprentice plumber, you won’t be able to tackle projects yourself. Instead, you will shadow a journeyman plumber or a master plumber, depending on the program.
License laws and types vary by state. Determine the state that you wish to operate in as a plumber, and research those specific guidelines. The steps below offer a more general look at how to become a plumber.
Plumbers need to be able to cut and solder pipes, diagnose and troubleshoot issues with plumbing systems and interpret (or even draw) blueprints. If you run your own plumbing company, you will also need to handle advertising, scheduling, taxes and billing — or hire someone to do that for you.
An apprenticeship offers on-the-job experience and classroom education. Programs vary by state and organization in terms of structure, length and application process.
Skilled plumbers fulfill a crucial need in society, and demand for plumbers continues to grow. Though the manual labor is often grueling, a career in plumbing can be quite lucrative — and doesn’t require expensive schooling and massive student loan debt.

Once you have your diploma or GED, the next step to becoming a licensed plumbing contractor is either attending plumbing school or completing an apprenticeship. Plumbing school is typically optional (but we’ve got more details below); many plumbing hopefuls skip straight to an apprenticeship. <!–

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While the BLS targets 5% job growth through 2030, the increase in home renovation projects due to the ongoing pandemic may create even more plumbing jobs in the years ahead.

What Is the Principal Amount of a Loan?

A personal loan can be a helpful financial tool when someone needs to borrow money to pay for things like home repairs, a wedding, or medical expenses, for example. The principal amount of a loan refers to how much money is borrowed and has to be paid back, aside from interest.

Keep reading for more insight into what the principal of a loan is and how it affects repayment.

Loan Principal Meaning

What is the principal of a loan? When someone takes out a loan, they are borrowing an amount of money, which is called “principal.” The principal on a loan represents the amount of money they borrowed and agreed to pay back. The interest on the loan is what they’ll pay in exchange for borrowing that money.

Does a Personal Loan Have a Principal Amount?

Yes, personal loans do come with a principal amount. Whenever a borrower makes a personal loan payment, the loan’s principal decreases incrementally until it is fully paid off.

Recommended: What Is a Personal Loan?

Loan Principal vs Loan Interest

The loan principal is different from interest. The principal represents the amount of money that was borrowed and must be paid back. The lender will charge interest in exchange for lending the borrower money. Payments made by the borrower are applied to both the principal and interest.

Along with the interest rate, a lender may also disclose the annual percentage rate (APR) charged on the loan, which includes any fees the lender might charge, such as an origination fee, and the interest. As the borrower makes more payments and makes progress paying off their loan principal amount, less of their payments will go towards interest and more will apply to the principal balance. This principal is referred to as amortization.

Recommended: What Is the Average Interest Rate on a Personal Loan?

Loan Principal and Taxes

Personal loans aren’t considered to be a form of income so the amount borrowed is not subject to taxes like investment earnings or wages are. The borrower won’t be required to report a personal loan on their income tax return, no matter who lent the money to them (bank, credit card, peer-to-peer lender, etc.).

Recommended: What Are the Common Uses for Personal Loans?

Loan Principal Repayment Penalties

As tempting as it can be to pay off a loan as quickly as possible to save money on interest payments, some lenders charge borrowers a prepayment penalty if they pay their personal loan off early. Not all charge a prepayment penalty. When shopping for a personal loan, it’s important to inquire about extra fees like this to have a true idea of what borrowing that money may cost.

The borrower’s personal loan agreement will state if they will need to pay a prepayment penalty for paying off their loan early. If a borrower finds that they are subject to a prepayment penalty, it can help to calculate if paying that fee would cost less than continuing to pay interest for the personal loan’s originally planned term.

How Can You Pay Down the Loan Principal Faster?

It’s understandable why some borrowers may want to pay down their loan principal faster than originally planned as it can save the borrower money on interest and lighten their monthly budget. Here are a few ways borrowers can pay down their loan principal faster.

Interest Payments

When a borrower pays down the principal on a loan, they reduce how much interest they need to pay. That means that each month as they make a new payment they reduce their principal and the interest they’ll owe in the future. As previously noted, paying down the principal faster can help the borrower pay less interest. Personal loan lenders allow borrowers to make extra payments or to make a larger monthly payment than planned. When doing this, it’s important that borrowers confirm that their extra payments are going towards the principal balance and not the interest. That way, their extra payments work towards paying down the principal and lowering the amount of interest they owe.

Shorten Loan Term

Refinancing a loan and choosing a shorter loan time can also make it easier to pay down a personal loan faster. Not to mention, if the borrower has a better credit score than when they applied for the original personal loan, they may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate which can make it easier to pay down their debt faster. Having a shorter loan term typically increases the monthly payment amount but can result in paying less interest over the life of the loan and paying off the debt faster.

Cheaper Payments

Refinancing to a new loan with a lower interest rate may reduce monthly loan payments, depending on the term of the new loan. With lower monthly scheduled payments, they may opt to pay extra toward the principal and possibly pay the loan in full before the end of the term.

Other Important Information on the Personal Loan Agreement

A personal loan agreement includes a lot of helpful information about the loan, such as the principal amount and how long the borrower has to pay their debt. The more information the borrower has about the loan, the more strategically they can plan to pay it off. Here’s a closer look at the information typically included in a personal loan agreement.

Loan Amount

An important thing to note on a personal loan agreement is the total amount the borrower is responsible for repaying.

Loan Maturity Date

A personal loan’s maturity date is the day the final loan payment is due.

Loan Interest Rates

The loan’s interest rate and APR should be listed on the personal loan agreement.

Monthly Loan Payments

The monthly loan payment amount will be listed on the personal loan agreement. Knowing how much they need to pay each month can make it easier for the borrower to budget accordingly.

The Takeaway

Understanding how a personal loan works can make it easier to pay one-off. To recap — What is the principal amount of a loan? The principal on a loan is the amount the consumer borrowed and needs to pay back.

Consumers looking for a personal loan may want to consider a SoFi Personal Loan. With competitive interest rates and a wide range of loan amounts available to qualified borrowers, there may be a personal loan option that works for your financial needs.

Learn more about SoFi Personal Loans today

FAQ

What is the principal balance of a loan?

The principal balance of a loan is the amount originally borrowed that the borrower agrees to pay back.

Does the principal of the loan change?

The original loan principal does not change. The principal amount included in each monthly payment will change as the amortization period progresses. On an amortized loan, less principal than interest is paid in each monthly payment at the beginning of the loan and incrementally increases over the life of the loan.

How does loan principal work?

The loan principal represents the amount borrowed. Usually, this is done in monthly payments until the loan principal is fully repaid.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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

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Source: sofi.com