According to a new report published by Allied Market Research, titled, “U.S. Home Decor Market by Product Type, Income Group, Price, Distribution Channel & Category: Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2020-2027,” The U.S. home decor market size was valued at $125,813.0 million in 2019, and is estimated to reach $158,929.1 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of 8.0% from 2020 to 2027. In 2019, the floor covering segment accounted for significant contribution in the U.S. home decor market share, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% throughout the forecast period. The U.S. home decor market has witnessed significant growth over the years, and is expected to grow at a steady pace during the forecast period. This is attributed to the fact that market players are focusing on developing eco-friendly products, owing to rise in environment awareness. The floor covering segment occupied the largest share in the overall home decor market in 2019, and is expected to maintain its leading position throughout the forecast period, owing to the wide adoption of floor coverings,
The home decor market in U.S. is driven by surge in disposable income and improvement in living standards. Moreover, the rise in affinity of consumers toward consumer-friendly home décor products are anticipated to boost the demand for home decor products. However, availability of low-quality and counterfeit products and fluctuations in the prices of raw materials used to manufacture these products restrain the market growth. Conversely, surge in demand for trendy and unique furniture is anticipated to provide lucrative opportunities for the U.S. home decor market growth.
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The U.S. home decor market is segmented based on product type, distribution channel, price, income group and category. Depending on product type, the market is divided into furniture, home textile, and floor covering. By distribution channel, it is fragmented into supermarkets & hypermarkets, specialty stores, e-commerce, and others. Based on the price, the market is segmented into premium and mass. Based on the income group, the market is segmented into lower-middle income, upper-middle income, and higher income. Based on category, the market is segmented into eco-friendly and conventional.
According to the U.S. home decor market analysis the floor covering segment generated the highest revenue in 2019, and is expected to remain dominant throughout the forecast period. The flooring segment is also expected to witness the highest growth rate of 8.4% from 2020-2027.
According to the U.S. Home Decor market forecast based on distribution channel, the specialty stores segment was the highest contributor to the U.S. market in 2019 and is expected to remain dominant through 2020-2027. However, the E-commerce segment is expected to grow at a higher growth rate through the forecast period.
Based on the price, the mass segment was the highest contributor to the U.S. home decor market in 2019 and is expected to remain dominant through 2020-2027. However, the premium segment is expected to grow at a higher growth rate through the forecast period
Based on the income group, the higher income segment was the highest contributor to the U.S. home decor market in 2019 and is expected to remain dominant through 2020-2027. The upper-middle income segment is expected to grow at a notable growth rate through the forecast period.
Based on the category, the conventional segment was the highest contributor to the U.S. home decor market in 2019 and is expected to remain dominant through 2020-2027. The eco-friendly segment is expected to grow at a highest growth rate through the forecast period
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Key findings of the study
The U.S. home decor market was valued at $125,813.0 million in 2020 and is estimated to reach $158,929.1 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 8.0% through the forecast period. Based on product type, the floor covering service segment would witness the fastest growth, registering a CAGR of 8.4% during the forecast period. In 2019, based on distribution channel, the specialty stores segment held the highest share, accounting for nearly half of the U.S. home decor industry. In 2019, based on the price, the mass segment was the most prominent segment and is expected to grow at a significant CAGR throughout the forecast period. Conventional segment was the dominant segment in 2019, accounting for a considerable share in the U.S. market.
Reason to Buy: ✅ Save and reduce time carrying out entry-level research by identifying the growth, size, leading players, and segments in the U.S. home decor market . ✅ Highlights key business priorities in order to guide the companies to reform their business strategies and establish themselves in the wide geography. ✅ The key findings and recommendations highlight crucial progressive industry trends in the U.S. home decor market , thereby allowing players to develop effective long-term strategies in order to garner their market revenue. ✅ Develop/modify business expansion plans by using substantial growth offering developed and emerging markets. ✅ Scrutinize in-depth global market trends and outlook coupled with the factors driving the market, as well as those restraining the growth to a certain extent. ✅ Enhance the decision-making process by understanding the strategies that underpin commercial interest with respect to products, segmentation, and industry verticals.
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Allied Market Research is market research, consulting, and advisory firm of Allied Analytics LLP. Founded in 2013, the firm has been instrumental in offering high-quality syndicated and customized market research reports, consulting services, and useful insights to leading market players, startups, investors, and stakeholders. Driven by the aim to eliminate sub-standard data and become a successful partner for organizations, Allied Market Research has been innovating continuously, expanding the product & service portfolio, and implementing the client-first approach since its inception. With the clientele spanning more than 7,000 organizations that also include a majority of Fortune 500 companies, AMR has a proven track record of helping and serving the global clientele and playing a major role in their success.
Applying for a life insurance policy often involves multiple steps and can take longer than getting other types of insurance. Let’s take a look at what’s commonly involved in the life insurance application process so you can proceed with confidence.
Term or Whole?
Before applying for life insurance, it’s a good idea to consider such things like how much coverage you need, how much you’re prepared to pay for premiums, and which riders you might like to include. You’ll also need to figure out whether a term life or permanent life policy makes sense for you. Whole life insurance is one type of permanent life insurance.
Term life and whole life insurance have important differences. Term life tends to be simpler and more straightforward. Someone purchases a policy for a certain dollar amount and term, and then has life insurance coverage for the designated time period (10, 20, 25, or 30 years, for example).
If the policyholder keeps up premiums and dies within that term, beneficiaries will receive the appropriate payout. Monthly payments are generally fixed with term life policies.
Reasons people choose term life include:
• Term policies almost always cost less than whole life, sometimes significantly so.
• Policyholders predict they’ll have enough money saved by the time the policy expires.
• Beneficiaries are expected to be financially independent by the time the term expires.
Whole life policies, which also require regular payments, are intended to last the holder’s entire lifetime — there is no expiration date. They can cost up to 10 times as much as a term life policy because part of that money is invested into what’s called the policy’s cash value.
Policyholders can typically borrow against their cash value at an interest rate that’s specified in their policy. They may also be able to cash in their policy to receive money; that action closes out the whole life policy. Whatever is left over after the policyholder dies will be distributed to beneficiaries.
Recommended: 8 Popular Types of Life Insurance for Any Age
The Application Process
When you’re ready to get the ball rolling on obtaining a policy, the first step is to fill out an application with your carrier of choice. The insurance company will review the application for completeness. If any information is missing, they’ll likely follow up to ensure that the application is completely filled out. Some carriers may conduct a phone interview when someone applies, while others do so only if an application is incomplete.
Recommended: How to Buy Life Insurance in 9 Steps
The Underwriting Phase
Next comes the underwriting phase, which every applicant goes through. There are two tracts of underwriting available: traditional and accelerated. The traditional tract requires a medical exam, and your blood and urine samples may be collected. The accelerated tract typically does not require a medical exam or blood or urine tests.
During this time, the insurance company will review your application for a wide range of factors that may include:
• Your age
• Your gender
• Your current health
• Your personal health history, including prescriptions
• Your family health history
• Your lifestyle and personal habits (for instance, a history of alcohol abuse or tobacco use)
• Your occupation
• How frequently you participate in hobbies that could be considered high risk
• Other factors, including your driving record
The insurance company uses this information along with actuarial tables to determine your risk profile, or how much of a risk you are to insure. Your risk profile can impact how much coverage you qualify for and at what cost.
A life insurance carrier will sometimes require a medical exam before issuing a policy.
The exam may be similar to a person’s regular annual physical. A medical tech will likely ask questions that are similar to those on the application, and a professional will conduct a physical exam. It can include measuring height and weight, checking blood pressure, and taking blood and urine samples.
In some cases, an EKG may be performed to measure the electrical activity of the heart. Men over age 50 may need to have a prostate-specific antigen test done to check prostate health.
When medical exams are required in applying for life insurance, it’s part of the underwriting process that helps a carrier understand the risk level of insuring the applicant. The tests performed can indicate if a person has high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, elevated glucose, or other health issues.
Some people may be tempted to downplay personal health issues when filling out a life insurance application. That is never a good idea. If someone didn’t fully disclose the truth about their state of health and died within two years of getting a policy, the insurance company can delve into the details. If information is found to be lacking or inaccurate, the carrier could deny beneficiaries the death benefit.
Applying for life insurance often starts with deciding how much coverage you need, how much you’ll pay in premiums, and whether a term life or permanent life policy is right for you. Once you’ve finished comparison shopping and weighing your options, the first step is to fill out an application with the carrier of your choice and then undergo an underwriting process. During this time, the insurance company will consider a number of factors, including your age, gender, current health, personal health history, family health history, and lifestyle. A medical exam may also be required. The insurer uses this information, along with actuarial tables, to determine your risk profile, which can impact how much coverage you qualify for and at what cost.
If you’re shopping for life insurance, SoFi has partnered with Ladder to offer competitive life insurance policies that are quick to set up and easy to understand. You can apply in just minutes and get an instant decision. As your circumstances change, you can easily change or cancel your policy with no fees and no hassles.
Complete an application and get your quote in just minutes.
Are there advantages to applying for life insurance when you’re young?
Yes, because carriers generally base policy price on risk factors, buying a policy when you’re young and healthy typically means lower premiums. Plus, with some term life insurance policies, buyers can lock in pricing when they purchase, and locking in at a low rate can be a financial plus.
Can I change the specifics of a life insurance policy — for example, change the amount of coverage?
Yes, some insurance carriers do allow this kind of flexibility. Current policyholders should check with their carrier. New applicants can check with the carrier to see what kind of flexibility is provided.
Is having employer-sponsored life insurance enough?
Maybe. While having this benefit is good, these policies are generally in the amount of one to two times an employee’s salary. That’s typically not enough to address debt and provide sustained financial help to beneficiaries, which is why it may make sense to purchase a second policy. Plus, employer plans may not be portable: If the employee leaves the company, the policy may be terminated.
What’s the right amount of coverage?
Each person’s situation is unique. Some use the DIME formula to determine the right amount. That acronym stands for Debts, Income, Mortgage, and Education. What will be needed to cover all of those bases? To streamline the process, you might want to calculate your life insurance needs.
Does it make sense to use an agent when buying life insurance?
Possibly. An agent can educate a consumer about what’s involved in getting a life insurance policy. This can be especially helpful if the process seems overwhelming. Many agents work on commission, so using one that does charge a commission can cause the cost of the policy to go up. Higher commissions are typically charged on whole life policies than on term life. However, not all agents charge a commission.
Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance. Inc. (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.
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. SOPT0523006
When you choose a bank for your daily checking and savings needs, you can choose between a national bank, a smaller regional bank, credit unions of varying sizes, and even online banks and financial technology companies.
Since early 2023, when Signature Bank and Silicon Valley Bank both experienced failures after customers pulled out large amounts of money during bank runs, banking customers may feel more comfortable choosing a national bank.
Although the U.S. government took extraordinary measures to protect the assets of SVB and Signature Bank customers, and deposits held in the accounts were FDIC insured, many customers were still rightfully concerned about gaining access to their money in a timely manner.
After the banking crisis of 2008, the Federal government declared banks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo as “too big to fail.” But these aren’t the only national banks or credit unions available.
You might think that smaller online banks may have lower fees, while small local banks are known for friendly and responsive customer service. But the national banks on this list blend the best of all worlds: low fees, high marks for customer satisfaction, ways to avoid overdraft fees, convenient ATM networks, and a variety of banking products.
16 Best National Banks
Here are the 16 best national banks that offer exceptional services, excellent customer support, and innovative banking solutions to meet all of your financial needs.
1. SoFi – Best for Digital Banking & High Yields
SoFi became a nationally chartered online bank in 2022, after acquiring Golden Pacific Bancorp, Member FDIC. Originally known for its vast array of loan products, including private student loans, today SoFi has a combination checking and savings account, or a cash management account, with no monthly service fee.
SoFi also has no minimum balance requirements, no overdraft fee, and overdraft protection up to $50 with qualifying direct deposits each month. You can bank for free at any of 55,000+ fee free Allpoint ATMs nationwide.
As an online bank, SoFi offers higher interest rates than you may find at brick and mortar banks. Earn up to 4.20% APY on your savings account balance and 1.20% on money in your checking account. When you use your SoFi debit card at select local businesses, you can earn up to 15% cash back.
SoFi offers two tiers of accounts: SoFi and SoFi Plus. To qualify for the “freemium” SoFi Plus membership, bank customers must have qualifying direct deposits. Plus, when you sign up before December 31, 2023, you can earn a cash bonus of $250 when you set up direct deposits of $5,000 or $50 with a direct deposit as low as $1,000.
SoFi Plus members receive loan rate discounts, bonus rewards, access to special entertainment events and more, making SoFi a unique company when it comes to online banks.
2. Discover Bank – Best for Cash Back
Discover may be best known for cashback and rewards credit cards. But its online banking products are some of the best you’ll find among national banks.
With no monthly fees and no minimum balance, your Discover Cashback checking account pays 1% cashback on up to $3,000 worth of debit card purchases monthly. You’ll never pay overdraft charges, and you can withdraw cash at a network of 60,000+ fee free ATMs.
You can qualify for overdraft protection by linking your Discover Bank savings account. Discover Savings pays a high 3.90% APY with no minimum deposit required.
Other Discover Bank deposit accounts include CDs with terms from 3 months to 10 years, and a money market account that pays 3.80% APY for balances under $100,000 and 3.85% on balances $100,000 and up.
For questions or help with your account, you can reach a U.S.-based customer service representative for Discover Bank by phone, 24/7/365.
3. Chase Bank – Best for Credit Card Rewards & Referral Bonuses
As the world’s largest national bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank doesn’t need to do much to entice customers. People will choose Chase based on its name, reputation, and more than 4,700 convenient branch locations across the U.S.
However, Chase happens to have one of the best bonuses for new customers and a generous referral bonus program when existing customers refer their friends. This, coupled with a robust and easy-to-use mobile app and a variety of checking, savings and investment services, puts Chase on our list of top national banks in the U.S.
Chase is currently offering new Chase Total Checking customers a $200 bonus when they open a new account and set up direct deposit within the first 90 days.
New or upgrading Chase Private Client customers can earn a $3,000 bonus with a deposit of $500,000 or more within the first 45 days of account opening. Deposits of $150,000 to $249,999 earn $1,000 and cash deposits of $250,000 to $499,999 earn $2,000. You must keep the money in your J.P. Morgan Wealth Management or JPMorgan Chase deposit accounts for 90 days to qualify.
In addition to Chase Total Checking, the bank’s most popular checking account, and Private Client services, Chase also offers other checking and savings accounts.
Chase Secure Banking has a $4.95 monthly fee and no overdraft fees. Chase Premier Plus Checking offers a few added benefits beyond Chase Total Checking, including ATM fee rebates up to four times per statement cycle, a linked personal checking account with no monthly fees, and a 0.01% interest rate on balances.
Chase also offers bank accounts for kids, teens, and college students, as well as CDs, savings and money market accounts, mortgages, loan products, and a full array of top-rated rewards credit cards.
If you have multiple Chase accounts, it’s easy to manage them all within the mobile app.
4. Chime – Best for Building Credit
Chime is a financial technology company backed by Stride Bank, Member FDIC, and Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. It is not a bank, itself, but offers some of the same features, including online banking, a debit card, and direct deposit up to two days earlier than some other banks.
Chime has no monthly service fee, no overdraft fee, and no minimum balance requirements. For customers who need a little boost to make it from paycheck to paycheck, Chime offers fee-free overdraft up to $200 through the SpotMe5 program and a credit builder secured Visa credit card with no annual fees, interest or minimum security deposit.
Use your Chime debit card at any of 60,000+ fee free1 ATMs in the Allpoint, MoneyPass or Visa Plus Alliance ATM networks. Out of network ATM fees may apply, otherwise.
You can qualify for Chime’s SpotMe program with a single direct deposit of $200 or more during any monthly statement period. If you process a transaction that would put you into overdraft, Chime will accept the transaction even if it puts your balance into the negative by up to $200.
The Credit Builder Secured Visa card carries the same requirements of a $200 monthly minimum direct deposit. You can build your credit and raise your credit score with responsible use of the card.
5. Citi® – Best for Large Cash Deposits
The third of the four largest national banks in the U.S. based on assets, Citi, owned by Citigroup, is best for high net worth customers or those with large cash deposits divided among Citi checking, savings, and other accounts.
Currently, you can earn a generous cash bonus of $200 to $2,000 when you open a qualifying Citi checking account and meet specific minimum opening deposit requirements. Your bonus will be determined by your account balance on the 20th day after opening the account. Funds must remain in the account for an additional 60 days after the 21st day.
Citi offers multiple checking accounts to meet various customers’ financial needs, all with monthly fees that are easy to waive if you hold the required minimum balance. The bank accounts include:
Citi Priority, which includes travel perks and access Citi Personal Wealth Management advisors
Citigold, relationship banking and investment services
Basic Banking and ATM access
Access Account, a debit account with no paper checks
For the Basic Checking account, you’ll need to maintain a $1,500 minimum balance to waive the fees. The other accounts have larger minimum balance requirements to avoid monthly maintenance fees and take advantage of other perks, up to $200,000 for a Citigold account.
All accounts provide access to personal banking at Citi branches and access to more than 65,000 fee free ATMs across the U.S. All accounts except for Basic and Access accounts also have no fees at ATMs outside the Citi network.
Like all the larger national banks on this list, Citi has a full gamut of rewards credit cards, savings and money market accounts, and high-yield CDs.
6. CIT Bank – Best for High Interest Rates
CIT Bank, a division of First Citizens Bank, has earned awards and accolades for customer satisfaction, rated by American Banker as #1 for “delivering the most humanized experience in banking.”
You should be aware that deposits in First Citizens Bank & Trust Company, Member FDIC, are not separately insured. This only matters if you hold more than $250,000 in any single account type, such as checking or savings, in both First Citizens Bank and in CIT Bank.
CIT is the online only banking arm of First Citizens Bank, with high-yield savings accounts, CDs, money markets, and eChecking, all with no monthly fees and no overdraft fees. You won’t pay any ATM fees at CIT Bank machines, and CIT Bank reimburses up to $30 per month when you use out-of-network ATMs.
CIT offers 0.25% APY on checking when you hold more than $25,000 in your account, and 0.10% APY on balances under $25,000. The bank has high interest rates for savings, offering customers a 4.85% APY on balances of $5,000 or more with the Platinum Savings account.
CIT Bank has two other savings accounts as well:
Savings Connect, with a 4.60% APY
Savings Builder, which requires a minimum balance of $25,000 or a $100 monthly deposit to earn 1.00% APY
You’ll need a $100 minimum deposit to open a checking or savings account at CIT Bank.
7. Bank of America – Best for College Students
As the second largest of the best national banks, behind Chase, Bank of America has the full gamut of banking products, with three checking accounts plus a student account, savings, CDs, and investment products.
It’s easy to waive monthly maintenance fees on a checking account with a minimum daily balance, direct deposits, combined balances across eligible linked Bank of America accounts, or by enrolling in their Preferred Rewards programs.
We like the Advantage SafeBalance banking for kids, teens, and college students under 25 years old. They have no monthly fee and no overdraft fees. Teens ages 16+ can have sole ownership of the account.
For everyone else, the bank offers Advantage Plus and Advantage Relationship checking accounts with easy ways to waive the monthly fees with direct deposit or a minimum daily balance.
When you open a new checking account, you can qualify for a $100 bonus when you receive qualifying direct deposits of at least $1,000 within 90 days of opening the account.
Of course, Bank of America also has CDs, and a savings and money market account. Plus you can invest with Merrill. All of these deposit accounts count toward your Preferred Rewards membership.
When you have a combined average daily balance of at least $20,000 for three months, you’ll qualify for the rewards program.
8. U.S. Bank – Best for Military Members & High Balance Savings
U.S. Bank offers the Bank Smartly checking account so you can earn interest on your money. The current interest rate is just 0.01% APY on all checking balances. You’ll pay a $6.95 maintenance fee, but this is waived if you meet minimum deposit requirements or if you are a member of the U.S. military.
You can link your Bank Smartly checking account to a standard savings account or Elite Money Market to earn even more. To avoid fees on your savings account, you’ll want to keep a $300 minimum daily balance or a $1,000 average monthly collected balance. If you are already a Bank Smartly customer, you can enroll in Smart Rewards to waive savings account fees.
The Elite account is better for those with high balances. You can earn up to 4% APY on balances from $25,000 up to just under $500,000.
The appeal of U.S. Bank is in its high ratings for banking satisfaction across the board from customers. U.S. Bank earned accolades for having the best mobile app, the best digital mortgage tools, the best customer service features, and best mobile check deposit capabilities. These factors all contribute to its ranking as a best national bank.
9. Axos Bank – Best Online Bank
Axos is an online only bank with a rewards checking account that delivers up to 3.30% APY, with no fees and unlimited ATM fee rebates for out-of-network ATMs.
To earn the maximum APY, you’ll need to set up direct deposit and Axos Bank’s free Personal Finance Manager for 0.70% interest. Then, open an investment account and take out an Axos personal loan or auto loan and earn another 2.60% annual percentage yield on your checking account balance.
Axos also offers an Essential Checking account with early direct deposit and no fees, and a Cashback Checking account, which gives you 1% cash back on debit card purchases, along with no maintenance fees and unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
Voted the best online bank by many top personal finance sites, Axos Bank offers more than just high interest, no fee checking.
Axos Bank offers CDs with terms between 3 and 60 months and a savings account with 0.61% annual percentage yield, with interest compounded daily. You can also find personal loans, car loans, mortgages, and investment products.
Like other national banks, Axos Bank provides FDIC insurance up to $250,000 or $500,000 for joint account holders. But you can expand your coverage up to $150 million with Axos Bank InsureGuard+ Savings from IntraFi Network Deposits.
Axos splits up your large deposit into multiple accounts across several banks, each covered up to $250,000. If you are dealing with a substantial amount of cash and want your savings protected at a single bank, Axos may be a good choice for you.
New customers can earn a $100 welcome bonus by opening an account with just a $50 minimum opening deposit.
10. Truist Bank – Best for Relationship Banking & Innovative Savings Perks
Truist Bank is one of the top 10 largest national banks, formed as a merger between BB&T and SunTrust in 2019. Called “the biggest bank you’ve never heard of” by CNN Business, Truist holds assets of $574 billion and has been growing steadily since the merger.
Truist offers checking and savings accounts, CDs, and credit cards. Truist checking and savings customers can earn perks and benefits. This includes access to Long Game, a savings game app that lets you earn cash when depositing into your Truist savings account. It also includes bonus rewards on your Truist credit cards.
Truist has four levels of relationship banking in its Truist One checking account. This means the more you deposit, the more perks you will receive, up to a 50% loyalty bonus on Truist credit cards, and a discounted annual fee for a Delta SkyMiles debit card. Benefits for relationship banking begin at $10,000 in combined average monthly balances for Truist deposit accounts.
Your Truist checking account has a $12 monthly fee, which is easy to waive with $500 or more in direct deposits each month or a $500 minimum balance across all Truist deposit accounts. Truist personal loan, mortgage or credit card customers also pay no fees on their Truist checking account.
You can also waive the monthly fee with a linked Small Business checking account or if you are a student under the age of 25. You’ll need a $25 minimum opening deposit for a Truist One checking.
Customers with lower income or just getting started establishing their finances can benefit from Truist Confidence checking and savings accounts. The account has just a $5 monthly maintenance fee, which is easily waived.
11. Capital One – Best for High Interest Rates at a Brick and Mortar Bank
Like Chase Bank, Capital One is well known for its top-rated rewards credit cards. The company is also one of the best national banks with a savings account and CDs offering interest rates higher than the national average.
Capital One Performance 360 savings has a 3.90% APY, no monthly maintenance fees, and no minimum deposit to open your account. A Capital One 360 Performance checking account, similarly, has no monthly maintenance fee, overdraft protection through your linked savings account, and early direct deposit.
You can bank with no fees at a network of 70,000+ ATMs nationwide, and can deposit cash easily at CVS retail locations. Although you must open your Capital One Performance account online, you can receive personalized service and deposit cash at any Capital One bank branches or Capital One Cafes.
12. PNC Bank – Best in East and Southwest
PNC Bank is a large, national bank with branch locations across 29 states. Most branches are in the east, south, and southwest, although you will also find branch locations in some Midwest states.
PNC Bank’s online checking account is called Spend and it links to the PNC VirtualWallet. You can add a savings account, called Reserve, or upgrade to the Performance Select product with two tiers of savings and double layer overdraft protection.
When you set up your VirtualWallet with PNC Bank and open your Spend account, you can earn a $50 bonus.
Combining your Spend account with a PNC Bank Reserve account yields even more benefits. Earn a $200 bonus when you qualify. Finally, if you open a Performance Select VirtualWallet, you could earn $400.
Each account comes with a low monthly fee that is easily waived through qualifying monthly direct deposits or by meeting minimum balance requirements.
13. Wells Fargo – Best for Checking Account Options
Wells Fargo, one of the “big four,” is the fourth largest of the best national banks in the U.S. It is known for having many convenient bank locations, with 4,700 branch locations.
The vast number of branches across the country puts it top on our list for in-person banking and customer satisfaction.
Plus, we also rated it best for various checking account choices for everyone from children to retail investors.
Like the other national banks on this list, Wells Fargo has checking, savings, and CD accounts. The bank has four checking account options for consumers at various stages of their financial lives:
Clear Access Banking, with no overdraft fee and a low $5 monthly fee, waived for teens and young adults ages 13 to 24
Everyday Checking, the most popular bank account, with optional overdraft protection
Prime Checking, offering discounted interest rates for loans and higher interest rates for linked CDs and savings accounts
Premier Checking, a relationship banking service with 24/7 support and discounts on investing services
It’s easy to waive the $10 fee on Everyday Checking with a $500 minimum daily balance or $500 in monthly direct deposits. Waive the $25 fee on your Prime checking with $20,000 in linked balances. Similarly, your Premier Checking account will be free with $250,000 in linked balances, including investments with the bank’s Advisors.
You’ll need a $25 minimum opening deposit to open your account.
14. Ally Bank – Best Online Only Bank for Savings
Ally Bank is widely recognized as one of the best national online banks. It has very few fees, including no maintenance fee, no overdraft fee, and no ACH fee (even on expedited transfers). Plus, you’ll earn interest of 0.25% in your checking account and 3.85% APY on savings, including money you have allocated into various buckets.
We rated Ally Bank as the best online only bank for savings, not just because of the high interest rate, but because it offers so many ways to manage your money and ramp up your savings efforts.
You can set up recurring transfers into your savings account for specific goals or just to build up your emergency coffers. You can choose to round up transactions made with your Ally Bank debit card, or even electronic payments and checks. When Ally Bank finds at least $5 in “round-up” savings, it will be transferred automatically to your checking account.
Finally, Ally Bank analyzes your checking account periodically to reveal extra funds that are “safe to save.” Ally Bank automatically transfers that money for you. But you can transfer it back whenever you’d like.
In addition to these savings benefits, Ally Bank lets you access your money with your debit card with no fees at any of 43,000+ Allpoint ATMs. The online bank also refunds up to $10 in fees charged by out-of-network ATMs.
You can avoid stress and overspending with the Overdraft Transfer Service, which automatically transfers money from your Ally Bank savings account into checking. If you exceed six transfers or six savings withdrawals per month, Ally Bank will reimburse those fees, too.
You can also apply for CoverDraft℠ Coverage, which will cover up to $250 in charges that would put your account in the negative. You’ll qualify 30 days after you deposit at least $100 into your checking account. If you receive qualifying direct deposits of at least $250 two months in a row, you can increase your coverage to $250.
15. TD Bank – Best for Overall Banking Satisfaction
TD Bank, deemed America’s most convenient bank for its number of branches, branch hours and excellent customer service, blends the best of brick and mortar banks with easy online banking.
Most TD Bank locations are open seven days a week, including Sundays, with extended hours beyond what most brick and mortar banks provide. Most TD Bank branches are located across the East Coast, with locations in 15 different states and Washington, D.C.
TD Bank is the 7th largest bank in the U.S. based on deposits, with 1,668 branch locations nationwide. You can also reach customer service by phone, 24/7/365, which earns TD Bank high marks for banking satisfaction.
TD Bank offers six checking accounts for customers in various life stages:
TD Essential Banking
TD Convenience Checking
TD Beyond Checking
TD Simple Checking
TD 60 Plus Checking
TD Student Checking (for ages 17 to 23)
Currently, TD Bank is offering sign-on bonuses for new customers who open a TD Beyond or TD Convenience bank account. You’ll need a qualifying direct deposit (or more than one) totaling $2,500 within the first 60 days to earn $300 with TD Beyond, and a direct deposit of just $500 within the first 60 days to earn $200 with TD Convenience.
16. Schwab Bank – Best for Investors
Schwab may be best known as an investment service, but the bank was rated highest in banking satisfaction with checking accounts from J.D. Power & Associates four years running.
If you have a Schwab investment account, or are considering opening one, Schwab could be the best choice in banking for you.
The Schwab Bank Investor checking account has no foreign transaction fees, no minimums, and unlimited ATM fee rebates. Plus, earn 0.45% annual percentage yield on checking. Schwab’s savings account offers 0.48% APY.
Schwab also offers exceptionally high interest rates for CDs, with up to 5.40% APY and terms as short as 30 days. You’ll receive FDIC protection exceeding the federal maximum because you can purchase CDs from multiple banks, all through Schwab investment.
Methodology: How We Chose the Best National Banks
We evaluated a variety of banks and credit cards, taking into consideration the:
Variety of products
ATM fees and ATM fee reimbursement
Branch locations and number of branches
Minimum deposit requirements
Fraud protection and security
We also looked at consumer reviews, and drew on the general reputation of each bank to find the best national bank.
Finding the Best National Bank
Now that we’ve explored the specifics of the best online banks and brick and mortar banks nationwide, you probably still have questions about which one is really the best national bank.
Let’s compare the three largest in the U.S. based on number of branches, interest rates, and overall banking satisfaction.
Chase vs. Wells Fargo
For the largest nationwide bank, Chase offers excellent banking satisfaction with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, 4,800 branch locations, and an easy and intuitive mobile app. If you are shopping for a bank credit card, Chase also offers some of the best rewards cards available today.
Wells Fargo rivals Chase when it comes to number of branches, with roughly 4,700 locations across the U.S. It’s somewhat easier to waive the checking account fees at Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo offers higher interest rates for savings, with a 0.15% APY compared to Chase’s 0.01%.
Both banks have lower interest rates than you might find at online banks. However, if you are looking for national banks with a solid reputation, many branches, and high marks in banking satisfaction, either Chase or Wells Fargo would be a good choice.
Wells Fargo vs. Bank of America
Bank of America and Wells Fargo are the second and third-largest banks in the U.S. based on assets. BofA only has 4,000 branches compared to Fargo’s 4,700, but BofA boasts more ATMs nationwide.
BofA stands out when you join the Preferred Rewards program because you can waive the fees on your bank account and enjoy perks, bonus rewards on BofA credit cards, and rate discounts on loans.
If you have a large balance or are looking for an investing platform through your bank, BofA may be your best choice. On the other hand, Wells Fargo offers high interest rates on savings and convenient branch locations nationwide.
People have many questions related to whether an online bank is better than a traditional bank or whether a local bank is better than one of the largest national banks. We break it all down here.
Which is better, an online bank or a brick-and-mortar bank?
If you are looking for the highest interest rates and generous rewards programs, you are highly likely to find them at online banks. However, there are some advantages to a brick and mortar bank, including in-person service at local branches, the availability of paper checks, and easy ways to deposit cash in person or at branch ATMs.
You should expect the best national online banks and the best brick and mortar banks to have robust mobile apps, easy-to-waive fees, and fraud protection.
Make sure whatever bank you choose is “Member FDIC,” which means your deposits are insured up to $250,000 per account holder, per account type. That means joint accounts have $500,000 worth of FDIC insurance protection.
Is my money safer in a national bank vs. a regional bank (or a national credit union vs. a regional credit union)?
All banks on this list are Member FDIC, which means they are insured to the maximum allowable limit of $250,000 per account holder, per account type. Credit unions are covered up to the same limits by the National Credit Union Administration.
Many online banks are insured up to $2 million or more. These financial institutions divide cash deposits among multiple partner banks. Each bank insures deposits up to the maximum limit allowed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Read the fine print to determine your coverage limits when you choose a bank.
Beyond that, your money should be equally safe in a national bank, a smaller bank, or a credit union of any size. Also look for features such as fraud protection, fraud alerts via text, email or in the mobile app, and enhanced website security measures. You should also be able to lock and unlock your debit card in the mobile app if you misplace it or believe it may have been stolen.
What makes big banks different from smaller banks?
By definition, big banks will have larger market capitalization, which represents the total value of a bank’s stocks. Big banks will also hold more assets. For instance, Chase, which is the world’s largest financial institution, holds $3.2 trillion in assets. The second-largest national bank, Bank of America, possesses $2.41 trillion in assets. Larger financial institutions may also have more bank branches.
In many other ways, big national banks and smaller banks are similar, especially today. Customers want specific features and are unwilling to compromise on things like fee-free ATMs, no monthly fees, early direct deposit, and an intuitive mobile app.
How much interest do the best big banks pay?
In general, some of the largest national banks do not have the highest interest rates for savings and very few offer interest earning checking accounts.
Capital One 360 and Discover are two of the best national banks that offer interest on checking. To earn a higher APY with one of the largest national banks, you might want to consider CDs.
Are national banks better than other kinds of banks?
National banks aren’t necessarily better or worse than other kinds of banks. They may have more convenient branch locations, a higher number of branches, and a greater variety of products, but they might also have higher fees. Decide what’s most important to you when you choose a bank.
If you’d prefer to trust your money with one of the largest national banks, with a large market capitalization, high value, and branches nationwide, consider opening your checking and savings accounts with one of the best national banks on this list.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.
The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Card is issued by Stride Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.
1. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply with Chime except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
5. Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each at least once every 34 days. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.
NFTs or non-fungible tokens have gained a lot of momentum in the last few months. Whether it’s because of the digital art, the technology behind them, the money-making potential, or a simple case of FOMO, people can’t get enough of them.
Each day, we wake up to stories of artists and celebrities buying and selling NFTs for insane amounts. Case and point? Eminem recently shelled out 123.45 Ethereum (currently worth over $400K) for a Bored Ape NFT — and that’s not even the most expensive one in the market.
As someone who’s crawling herself out of student debt and on a budget, paying six figures for a digital asset is simply out of the question.
But are all NFTs that expensive? Or is there a way to start small?
I talked to NFT trader investor, consultant, advisor, and founder Ish Verduzco to find out, and, to my surprise, his answers were very promising.
Do you have to be rich to invest in NFTs?
Last March, digital artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as “Beeple,” made headlines when an NFT of his work was sold for a record-breaking $69 million.
Then, we saw Snoop Dogg and Grimes buying and selling NFTs for six and seven figures, while Paris Hilton joined forces with Bill Ackman to back a $300 million NFT Foundation.
With figures like that, it’s easy to think that NFTs are some sort of exclusive investment that only the rich can afford. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth — at least that’s what both Verduzco and the data say. Verduzco says:
“Yes, there is some level of barrier to entry at the moment. But I wouldn’t say that they’re for the ultra-rich either…I think there’s an opportunity to get in.”
What makes NFTs more expensive than your average investment is that most of them are minted through smart contracts that live in the Ethereum blockchain, which Verduzco says is one of the most expensive ones, partly due to the gas fees.
Gas fees are basically the transaction fees of the Ethereum network. These fees are non-refundable, and must be charged to cover the costs of the energy used by the computers when validating and recording each NFT transaction. Verduzco says:
“To give you a very quick overview, it can cost like $50 to a few $100 just to transact, plus the cost of the NFT itself.”
So, how much money do you need to start investing in NFTs?
A recent study by Canadian concept artist Kimberly Parker, which analyzed public API data from sales on popular NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea, Nifty Gateway, Rarible, SuperRare, and MakersPlace, found that most NFTs are actually sold for under $200.
That’s right, you don’t need six figures — not even four figures, to own an NFT.
Verduzco says that a good amount to get started would be $500, which isn’t outrageous. After all, popular investment firms, like Wealthfront and E*TRADE, require minimum deposits of that same amount for you to start investing in their automated portfolios.
Read more: What Is An NFT? – How Nyan Cat Was Sold For $600,000
Why now may be a good time to get into NFTs
Many crypto and NFT experts — Verduzco included, think that the blockchain and smart contract technology behind NFTs will spread like wildfire across multiple industries, changing the world as we know it.
“It’s going to be integrated into almost everything we do,” Verduzco says.
“It’s not just going to be just art, it’s going to go into music, it’s going to go into film, it’s going to go into transacting things like deeds to houses, and anything that has to do with verification of ownership.”
Here’s a quick example of how this could work:
When you’re buying a house, the bank needs to make sure that the title is free and clear before closing on the loan. This process alone can take two weeks, and you’ll have to pay additional fees to the third-party company conducting the search.
But if the house was registered and sold as an NFT, for example, each transaction pertaining to that property would’ve been accounted for and recorded in the blockchain. So, clearing the title would only take a couple of hours instead of weeks, and you’d be able to get rid of the middleman and unnecessary fees.
Although the concept of NFTs is still in its early stages, Verduzco says that “it’s better to be ahead,” and — if possible — invest in it, so you learn the inner workings firsthand.
This will allow you “to spot more opportunities to make money, or find other people that are in this space who compliment your strengths and weaknesses in order to build projects based on needs.”
How to start investing in NFTs when you’re on a budget
As part of my convo with Verduzco, we bounced off some ideas on how you can get into the NFT game without breaking the bank. These are a few of them.
Read more: How To Create And Sell NFTs – The New Way To Sell Your Art
Explore NFT projects that use cheaper cryptocurrencies
If you visit OpenSea, which is currently the world’s largest NFT market, you’ll see that the vast majority of NFTs listed there use the Ethereum network (aka the most expensive NFT blockchain).
But just because most NFTs use this blockchain, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options.
Blockchains like Solana and Polygon (which was created as an efficient solution to the Ethereum network and is compatible with it) use cryptocurrencies that are much cheaper than ether, which is Ethereum’s currency.
Here’s an example:
At the moment this article was written, one SOL, which is Solana’s cryptocurrency, was worth $0.26, while one MATIC, which is Polygon’s cryptocurrency, was worth $2.13. But, if you wanted to purchase one ether, which is Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, you’d need $3,121.93 to do so.
So, yeah, there’s a huge difference there.
These alternative blockchains are also rising in popularity. JPMorgan recently released a report in which it states that the Ethereum blockchain is losing a chunk of its market share to Solana, as the blockchain is less congested (aka faster) and cheaper to invest in than Ethereum.
If you’re interested in buying NFT projects that use the Solana network, you can check out marketplaces like Solsea and Solanart, to find them.
When it comes to projects that use Polygon, you can find them just by visiting OpenSea. To see all the NFTs you can place bids on or buy using this network, simply click on the “Chains” option on the left panel, and select “Polygon.”
Mint a project
When you mint a project, you’re basically investing in it before it actually goes live. So, you could think of it as the Kickstarter of an NFT project. Verduzco says:
“The initial mint is usually like 0.05 Ethereum, which is a relatively small amount. If you happen to make it in that initial mint, then you pay only 0.05 Ethereum, versus if the project goes up in value, and then it costs 0.7, or much higher.”
One good example of an NFT project that is currently in its minting phase, and that I happen to like a lot is the Lucky Goat. You can currently mint this project for 0.0777 Ethereum ($243.43).
What has me rooting for the Lucky Goat (besides the art, of course) is that they donate some of their profits to Heifer International, which is a nonprofit whose mission is to help eradicate hunger and poverty.
So, how do you find projects to mint?
Twitter. If you enter “#mint” or “#NFT” on Twitter’s search bar, you’ll find countless threads of founders and artists sharing their upcoming NFT projects.
Discord. In case you don’t know what Discord is, it is a group-chatting app, where users join servers (aka private groups) to chat about a specific topic. Many NFT founders use this app to talk about their upcoming NFT projects, to get both support and feedback from users.
rarity.tools.Although this website is mostly used by NFT traders to vet projects and find rankings based on their rarity or unique traits, it also has an Upcoming NFT Sales section, where you can check projects to mint.
OpenSea’s homepage. They often share new mints, and you can easily browse through their huge NFT market.
But be careful…
Before minting a project, Verduzo says it’s super important to ensure its legitimacy, so you don’t get rugged (NFT lingo for “scammed”). Sadly, just like in any space, there are always bad players that are just there to do a quick cash grab and disappear.
To avoid this, make sure you research the project thoroughly by finding out all you can about its community, founders, and mission, as well as how long they’ve been around in this space.
If the project disappears into the mist, your NFT most likely will lose all its value, unless someone else decides to take over the project.
Time your purchase
Unlike the stock market, which is open for transactions Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, the NFT market is a global market that is open 24/7.
“So, it’s not just you and everybody else in the United States that you’re transacting with, it’s everybody in the entire world who has access to the Internet,” Verduzco says.
And, the more people that are trying to conduct transactions on the Ethereum network, the more congested it will be, which automatically translates to higher gas fees. This will hopefully be improved once Ethereum 2.0 (also known as the consensus layer) is fully rolled out.
One way to spend less money when buying NFTs is to ensure you conduct your transactions during the time of the day when the network is less congested.
Verduzco says that 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. PST is probably the worst time of the day to buy NFTs because that’s when most people around the world are awake. He suggests timing your transactions to random hours when most people are sleeping, like 2:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. PST. Though not always practical, it can help save a good amount of money.
You can also track gas prices by visiting the ETH Gas Station.
Become an NFT expert
Since NFTs are still an emerging concept, Verduzco says that one way you can make money in this space, without being an investor, is by learning all you can about them.
“It doesn’t always have to be investing in an NFT collection, in order to get a return,” Verduzco says.
“Understanding everything about the NFT space and becoming very good on one specific skill set, whether it’s social media marketing, community management, creating Discords, branding, or content creation, is going to provide value because, all of a sudden, you open yourself up to many job opportunities.”
In other words, you’ll be able to profit from your NFT knowledge as this technology becomes more widespread, and companies start searching for people who know their way around this space.
Before investing in NFTs…
Make sure your finances are in order
Investing in NFTs represents a higher risk than investing in traditional stocks or bonds, as their value is determined by speculation, so it fluctuates more than with your average investment.
Besides that, once you purchase an NFT, the transaction is final, and flipping them or reselling them could take a while. That’s why it’s so important you only invest money you have to spare, and not money you’re going to need short-term, as this could result in a financial disaster.
Learn as much as you can
“I would suggest investing your time and energy on learning before putting your money up,” Verduzco says.
“Find really cool projects that you like, and then join the Discords, listen to conversations, ask questions, watch a bunch of videos, read a bunch of blogs before you even think about putting Ethereum in your wallet to spend.”
Learning as much as you can about NFTs will give you a realistic idea of what to expect, plus determine whether you’re ready to take the plunge, or if you should wait a little longer before investing in this space.
If you’re curious about learning, you can check out podcasts, like a16z, which has extensive information on this topic, as well as reading books, like The NFT Handbook: How to Create, Sell and Buy Non-Fungible Token, to get started.
Additionally, Verduzco’s Twitter account is like a gold mine of NFT info, as he frequently shares projects, articles, and tips to help people learn more about this space.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to invest in NFTs, however, there’s a learning curve to be successful in this space.
The most important thing is to learn as much as you can about it, vet projects carefully, understand the risks associated with investing in such a volatile space, and make sure you don’t use money you’re gonna need. This will allow you to make the most out of your experience.
Get yourself a place in the nation’s capital with the perfect outdoor spot.
There are so many great things to see in Washington, D.C., from the majesty of the monuments to the unique architecture of the everyday buildings, D.C. is filled with opportunities to soak up the sun and enjoy the great outdoors.
To ensure your search for a Washington, D.C. apartment delivers the best results, make sure you check out any and all outdoor spaces before signing your lease. A quality on-site garden or courtyard can take your time in D.C. to the next level and truly make your apartment feel like home.
To help you feel inspired, the 10 amazing apartments featured below have been hand-selected as having some of the best courtyards and gardens in the D.C. area. Find your favorite and fill out an application today.
Source: Rent. / Gables Dupont Circle
While the full outdoor space at Gables Dupont Circle is big and beautiful, this little garden-esque spot is a real hidden treasure. Fresh herbs creep up the stone flower bed, while other greenery surrounds the space. Nearby seating, under stringed lighting, gives this space a special ambiance as well.
Set in the quieter Northwest Washington neighborhood, this area boasts spectacular views while also being super walkable. It’s just steps away from great galleries and museums as well as some of the city’s best restaurants, delis, cafes and coffee shops. To keep that outdoor vibe going, there’s no shortage of parks nearby either.
Source: Rent. / The Lansburgh
An absolutely stunning courtyard awaits at The Lansburgh. This space has everything, including an eagle statue. Vibrant greenery rings the multi-tiered space with a combination of trees and bushes. At the far end, a decorative pergola also offers some shade. You’ll find a lovely fountain and plenty of seating throughout this amazing area as well.
Living within walking distance of four Metro stations makes it easy to access all D.C. has to offer from this central location. Within the Downtown – Penn Quarter – Chinatown neighborhood itself, you’re also close to just about everything, from entertainment to restaurants to historic monuments.
Source: Rent. / AVA NoMa
The courtyard is a busy place at AVA NoMa, but each section has its own special flair. For those who love outdoor games, this area features two ping-pong tables. For those who want to chill, there’s also a nice outdoor lounge with a fire pit. There’s even a small dog park for you and your furry friend to check out. Modern, metallic touches mix with hardscaping and slender trees to create a nice look and good vibes.
Providing you with easy access to downtown, finding a home in H Street-NoMa must mean food is on your mind. This is thanks to the neighborhood’s Union Market, which is within walking distance from AVA NoMA. Here, over 40 local vendors show off their culinary creativity to satisfy any palate.
Source: Rent. / Capitol View on 14th
Even if it’s not huge, most people can use a Zen garden in their lives, especially one with a trickling fountain. At Capitol View on 14th, this little pocket of relaxation comes with shaped greenery, nice seating and a multi-tiered fountain trickling down into a tranquil pool. The sound will instantly relax you and let you transition from your busy day to a chill evening.
The rest of the amenities in this Northwest Washington community don’t disappoint either. First, there are the views. You can see the Capitol building as well as other monuments from the rooftop, which is also where you’ll find the pool. There’s a great open-air kitchen up there as well and a year-round fireplace. Between these two areas, it may be hard to find a reason to come inside when the weather is nice.
Source: Rent. / Camden South Capitol
Bright yellow umbrellas add a happy pop of color to the courtyard at Camden South Capitol. They also ensure you’ll always have a shady spot to hang out in if you need it. Underneath one umbrella is a great lounge space with ample seating. The other shades the outdoor dining area, should you want to dine al fresco. This partially grassy area is also nicely landscaped.
For sports fans, living in Southwest – Waterfront has the added benefit of keeping you close to the action. You can easily head to Nationals Park for some baseball and Audi Field for some soccer. If you’re already out and exploring, make sure you head down to the waterfront for some excellent views of the Potomac River as well.
Source: Rent. / Camden Noma
Looking down onto the courtyard at Camden Noma is the best way to see just how impressive it really is. Altogether, this is a huge space, with sectioned-off areas for chilling, playing, food prepping and relaxing. A close-clipped lawn meets bushy patches of robust trees to create an inviting space whether you’re playing table tennis or grabbing a lounge chair to curl up with a good book.
You’ll find Camden Noma in the H Street – NoMa neighborhood. It’s a stress-free, luxurious community that uses modern elements to help residents feel right at home. Living here puts you near the highway, a number of parks, shops and so much more, making it an ideal spot for young professionals.
Source: Rent. / The Flats at Dupont Circle
With green space and a brick walkway both contained in the courtyard, The Flats at Dupont Circle has ideal hangout areas for everyone. For those who want to grab a lounge chair or slide into a hammock, stick to the manicured green space. For friends who want to gather and socialize, grab a cushy seat on the fringes. This is also where you’ll find the grill and outdoor eating space.
Another Northwest Washington community, living here means the luxury extends far beyond the courtyard to include an outdoor pool with sundeck and a state-of-the-art fitness center. There are even personal TV’s at each exercise machine and a separate pilates/yoga studio. The clubroom takes the fun from the courtyard indoors with its TV and kitchen to keep things popping.
Source: Rent. / Waterside Towers
For the perfect garden to walk through, make a date to explore Waterside Towers. The winding green space is full of grassy spots and excellent landscaping. Trees, bushes and small plants come together to make this whole space pop, giving you an outlet for a relaxing stroll whenever you need it. Benches throughout give you the opportunity to sit and absorb the natural beauty all around as well.
This Southwest-Waterfront community also has an impressive pond right nearby, complete with sprouting fountains, mature, bushy trees and an easy path to walk on. Living here also puts you close to all the waterfront fun beside the Potomac River where there are great restaurants and shopping right at The Wharf.
Source: Rent. / AVA H Street
A roaring fire draws the eye into the courtyard at AVA H Street. Covered to keep the flames contained, this funky and modern fire pit will keep anyone warm on a cold D.C. night. Part of the area’s lounge space, the courtyard is also where you’ll find a dual grilling station with a built-in bar and eating space. Additional groupings of seats enable a variety of large groups to gather here and enjoy themselves simultaneously.
A busy area, full of great bars and cool places to eat, Near Northeast is a neighborhood that combines culture and history with lots of shopping and fun. Living here, you’re close to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, the Atlas Performing Arts Center and plenty of shopping. It’s also worthwhile to swing by the famous fountain in Columbus Circle for a photo op.
Source: Rent. / Alban Towers
A classic building with access to a wonderful green space, living at Alban Towers mixes old and new together in just the right way. The park-like garden features a rectangular strip of grass surrounded by a pebbled hardscape. Mature and lush trees line up around the edges to create a calming and isolated space for a little meditation. Additional landscaping keeps the area green and happy.
Keeping with the green theme of moving out into the Northwest Washington neighborhood, this community is close to Rock Creek Park. Another great outdoor space to explore, this 1,7540-acre city park provides a peaceful refuge as well with more beautiful trees, recreational activities and even a little wildlife. You’ll also find varying historical remnants from Civil War fortifications to colonial houses.
Grab an apartment with one of the best gardens in D.C.
There are so many special facts locals know to be true about Washington, D.C., one of which is knowing how to pick the right place to live. You need the right combination of amenities and location, and that should always include a usable outdoor space. No matter where you live in Washington, D.C., you can count on a sweet courtyard or garden if you pick an apartment from this list.
Featured Image Source: Rent. / The Flats at Dupont Circle
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I’m not really sure about this whole expensive holiday gift thing. I know it’s supposed to be a way of showing love and appreciation, but I think it is too much pressure. Why not give a cheap holiday gift that they will actually use?
Plus a lot of people struggle with finding a Christmas gift for their loved ones, regardless of price.
Some people say that the best gifts are homemade, but not always. I am going to show you 101+ of my favorite cheap but thoughtful Christmas gifts ideas for someone who is on a budget or does not want to spend too much money.
These cheap Christmas gift ideas are for everyone on your list, from the family member you don’t know what to get them to the coworkers who always complain about not getting anything.
You will find the best advice on how to find the perfect present without breaking your budget.
The holidays are right around the corner, and it is time to start thinking about those gift lists! The holidays are about spending time with those closest to you, for many Americans it can be exceedingly difficult to find a decent gift for those from your close circle.
Why Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas
I know that you’re looking for some great gift ideas this year and we have you covered: adults, teens, kids, fashionistas, athletes, teachers, plus so much more!
There are so many inexpensive Christmas gift ideas that it can be hard to know where to start. This article will help you find the perfect present for everyone this holiday season.
The price range will be cheap Christmas gifts under $10 or nice cheap gifts for Christmas under $20. Some items maybe a little bit more expensive, but well worth the extra cost based on the idea!
Find over 250 cheap last-minute Christmas gifts (delivered by Amazon) on this list that I know the recipient will love!
Cheap Christmas Gifts for Adults
Easy cheap Christmas gifts for adults are those that can be afforded by the budget-conscious and the best part is still are awesome gifts.
These gifts usually have a handmade flair or personal touch to them to reflect the recipient’s personality.
To find cheap Christmas gifts for coworkers, you can pick any present on this list.
DIY Jewelry: This is one of the best ways to make multiple gifts for cheap. You can make many types of homemade jewelry.
Mug with their name on it: Make them smile with a customized mug just for them!
Coloring Books: Coloring isn’t just for kids. Adult coloring books are extremely popular and inexpensive to pick up an adult coloring book and colored pencils.
Magazines Subscriptions: Some ideas include National Geographic or Smithsonian. Great way to find new inspiration and ideas.
A Photo Album of your Memories: This can be a physical or digital photo album. A simple way to portray your friendship and experiences together.
Journal: Write down thoughts, ideas, or quotes that they love in the journal. Pick up a plain journal at Target for $5-$10.
Stickers: Add a few stickers from your collection, some ribbon, and scrapbook papers to decorate it!
Movie Night: A movie night with popcorn and some of their favorite movies is a thoughtful, inexpensive gift that everyone will enjoy. Buy a streaming movie or pass to the local cinema.
Handmade Gifts: If you have a knack for the arts and crafts, making a handmade gift is not only thoughtful but also can be very inexpensive!
Coffee or tea from their favorite coffee shop: There’s nothing better than a cup of joe or tea to start the day off right.
A Bouquet of Flowers: Get a bag of those colorful hair ties, and tie them to the stems for an extra special touch!
Collage Frame: A collage frame can be used as a picture frame, or it can be used as a decoration on the wall.
Holiday Decor: This is an affordable and practical gift for someone who loves to decorate their home for the holidays.
DIY-ed Ornaments: Get creative with this craft and let their imagination run wild!
Homemade Treats: Who doesn’t love cookies, chocolates, or homemade baked goods? Even canned salsa or jelly make great gifts!
Stockings: With any number of crafts available to make-you can’t go wrong with a stocking full of goodies for the holidays.
Cookies: Bake up some of your favorite holiday cookies and package them in a festive container for a sweet treat. Perfect to host a cookie exchange as a fun experience!
Comic Books: It can be no surprise to some adults when they think of all the hard work that goes into creating a comic book and see the end product. What’s even more surprising is that more adults don’t try them.
Handmade Gifts from Kids: If your child loves to paint, draw, or make things with their hands-this is the perfect opportunity for them.
Cheap Christmas Gifts for Teens
Coming up with Christmas gift ideas for teens can be tough. Teens are often too old to play childish games like Monopoly or Jenga, yet they’re not quite ready for more grown-up games like Trivial Pursuit.
There are a lot of inexpensive gift ideas for teens from the mall, but teens often want something more personal and unique to show they are maturing.
If you are looking for cheap gifts for teens, you can try any of these present ideas.
Gift cards are always a huge hit with this age group! Double bonus if you can make it a fun way to spend some time together. Make sure that your teen is comfortable with this idea.
iPod Touch / iPhone / iPad Accessories: A new case, screen protector, and a few apps are always great. Whether it’s to show off or just something fun, this is a great idea.
Journal: This gift will help your teens reflect on the year and all of the good things that happened!
Fun Colors to Write With: The festive design on these pens will make teens want to use them all year round. Fun gel pens are wonderful gifts for all ages; they are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors.
Fashion Designer Scarf: This gift will help your teen express his or her individuality while also staying warm during the winter months.
Room Decorations: Checking out new colors and themes for the room is a fun way to spend some time together. Plus they may be ready for a change from their younger decor.
Makeup: Teens love makeup and skincare items, so make it their job to pick out a few new things they want.
Candles: Having a nice scent can help relax and soothe your teen before bedtime. These versatile gifts come in many shapes. It is also how teens feel more grown-up.
Hand-Painted Mug: Handpainted mugs are perfect for all the coffee and tea lovers in your house, and they are so easy to make! This can be an experience gift, too!
Handmade Jewelry: this is an affordable yet creative holiday present
Trendy Socks: These are always a great gift for anyone. Not only does it keep your feet warm, but it can be fashionable too!
iTunes Gift Card: Let them download a favorite song or album.
Movies: Movies are a great gift to give especially if it’s one of their favorites or they’ve been wanting to see it!
Clothing: The recipient will love getting some new clothes-especially if they’re trendy and stylish, or their favorite store has a sale going on that you know about.
Special Treat: A special treat is a great way to show someone that you care about them and appreciate all they do.
Cheap Christmas Gifts for Kids
Kids are the most precious gift of all. They’re also notoriously hard to buy inexpensive presents for – they normally want gifts that are outside your price range! Fortunately, these Christmas gifts will have your child smiling from ear-to-ear.
Cheap easy Christmas gifts for kids are especially not difficult to find and you have plenty of inexpensive gift ideas, – plus your bank account will thank you for it.
At the end of the day, kids don’t really care what it costs as long as they like it.
Stuffed Animals: Give them the gift of a new favorite toy that they can hug and take with them everywhere-just make sure to tuck in an extra battery for their new favorite toy.
Paper & Stickers: A package of paper and stickers is perfect for kids who love to create their own projects or write notes, letters, or holiday cards. This pack is also perfect for young ones who are just learning how to write.
Colored Pencils & Crayons: Colored pencils and crayons are a fun way to keep kids focused on their art. These pens will help them create original masterpieces.
Customized Shirts: A new shirt is a great way for kids to express their personality, and it can also be an easy outfit of the day solution when they’re running out the door.
Puzzles: Puzzles are a great way for kids to learn new skills and stay entertained on rainy days. They also make excellent stocking stuffers!
Ice Cream Variety Pack: A yummy variety pack of ice cream will make their day.
Play Doh: Kids love play doh, and it’s a great way to keep them entertained for hours! It also makes a great stocking stuffer.
Colorful Pens: Kids love to color, so give them the opportunity with some bright new pens! They’ll have fun for hours doodling on all their things.
Slime: Slime is all the rage right now, and kids can make their own with this kit.
Sippy Cups: Kids love sippy cups because they’re fun and easy to drink from! They also come in a variety of designs and colors.
Kitten: They will love this sweet little creature that they can cuddle up with in winter.
Fidget Toys: Fidget toys are a great way to keep kids entertained and focused with some fun. They come in a variety of colors and shapes, making them perfect for all ages!
Star Night Light: This was one of my daughter’s favorite gifts (even her older teen brother was jealous). Huge hit to light up the wall at nighttime.
Remote Controlled Car: A remote-controlled car is a great gift idea because it can be played indoors or outdoors. It also makes for hours of fun!
Make Your Own Soap Kit: This kit will allow your child to make their own soaps at home with some fun ingredients. They have a variety of colors and scents available which they can use to customize the soap for their own preference.
Board Games for Kids: Board games are a great way to keep entertained while bonding with their friends and family. They come in different levels of difficulty, making them perfect for all ages.
Nature Exploration Set: A nature exploration set will help to inspire your child’s curiosity and creativity. The kit includes a journal, binoculars, magnifying glass, and more!
NERF: NERF toys are classics for kids of all ages. They’re great to take on family vacations or just to play with friends.
Dolls: Dolls are a classic toy for girls and they come in all shapes and sizes. From Barbie to Baby Alive, there’s plenty of options available!
Spirograph: A Spirograph can keep kids entertained for hours. They design pictures with the help of an included pen and paper.
Rock Painting Kit: A rock painting kit will allow kids to express their creativity by decorating rocks.
Bead Kit: A beading kit is a great way to teach kids about colors and patterns. It also teaches patience as they work with the small beads
Sewing Kit: Sewing kits allow kids to create their own stuffed animals and clothes for themselves.
Drawstring Backpacks: Helpful to keep their stuff organized on outings, vacations, or events when the kids need to be entertained.
Kids love getting gifts, and these cheap Christmas gifts ideas are perfect for any child!
Best Cheap Gifts for the Foodie Cook
One of the most difficult parts about shopping for a gift is coming up with creative ideas.
This list is full of affordable gifts is perfect for that friend or family member who loves to cook and bake!
Here are some of the best cheap gifts for the foodie cook.
Charcuterie Board Set: This is the perfect gift for the foodie that loves to cook with meat. It provides an assortment of meats, cheeses, fruits, and bread in a beautiful wooden tray.
Mason Jar Set: This gift is perfect for a friend or family member who loves to cook. The set includes six pint-sized jars with lids and can be personalized with the recipient’s name.
Salt and Pepper Grinder: This set comes with salt and pepper grinders for the foodie who loves to cook.
Gourmet Spices: Spice up a friend’s cooking experience with this assortment of spices from around the world.
Frother: Perfect for milk frothing for coffee, lattle, milk shares, hot chocolates, and matcha powder. You need one of these and everyone else around you does too!
Mini Stand Mixer: This is a perfect gift for a friend who loves to cook and bake! The mixer comes with attachments such as a whisk, dough hook, and flat beater.
Fondue Pot: This pot is perfect for families that enjoy eating together! The set includes a fondue pot, forks, skewers, dippers, and dipping sauces.
Cookie Press: This press is perfect for a friend who loves to bake! The set includes a cookie press, dough sheet mold, rolling pin, and recipes.
Oven Mitts: You don’t want your foodie gift receipeint to burn their hands. Replace their worn-out oven mitts with one of these stylish oven mitts.
Hot Sauce Set: Every foodie needs some hot sauce in their fridge. This set includes 3 bottles of the hottest sauces around, plus a recipe book for beginners.
Spice Rub Set: Give your foodie friend the gift of spices especially if they love to grill or have a Traeger! This set includes salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder.
Teapot Set: This is for all those tea drinkers out there. This set includes a teapot and infuser ball.
Tea Bags: Add on to the teapot set and deliver a set of tea bags with a bunch of different flavors.
French Press: French press brewing prevents an over-extraction of flavors; the grounds only add flavor regardless of how little or how much coffee is steeped. Expand their coffee experience!
Coffee Grinder: This is for all those coffee drinkers out there who like to make their own custom blends.
Bamboo Cutting Board: Over time, we all have to replace our words cutting boards at some point. So, this makes a chop-worthy gift.
Tea Towels: These are great for drying dishes, wiping counters and so much more. Find a catchy saying they will love to display!
Sourdough Banneton Proofing Basket: If they are hooked on the sourdough trend, then they need one of these to elevate their breadmaking skills.
Bread Lame Scouring Tool: A must for anyone who makes sourdough breads!
Batter Bowl: This is a great kitchen tool for mixing batters, making pancakes, and more. It will be a welcome addition to the kitchen!
Flour Sifter: This is another one of those necessary tools in the kitchen.
Coffee Mug: For coffee lovers, this is a great gift idea!
Salt Cellar: This is a nice addition to the kitchen and it will hold those hard-to-reach salt and pepper.
Cheese Plane: This tool makes cutting cheese into perfect, uniform slices – making cooking and serving a breeze.
Saute Pan: This pan is great for frying, sautéing, and more! It’s perfect for the average home cook or budding chef.
Zester: This handy tool is perfect for adding flavor to dishes with just the slightest touch.
Meat Thermometer: This is a tool that can’t be beaten especially for the grill master. This one is by far the best on the market!.
Pizza Cutter: This is an essential kitchen tool for any pizza lover!
Ice cream scoop: This ice cream scoop is perfect for any ice-cream lover. It comes in 2 different sizes of scoops and they come in a variety of colors.
Cooking Class: Give them the gift of cooking skills-it’ll be something they can use for years to come!
Best Cheap Gifts for the Homebody
Holiday shopping can be a stressful time, but not to worry. Here are some great gifts for the person who has everything and doesn’t want anything.
Consider these cheap, homey gifts that will please any loved one or host.
Weighted Blanket: For those who love to cozy up with a blanket, this one might be the perfect weight and size for them.
Hot Cocoa Mix: This is an easy way to ensure that your loved ones have a delicious treat from their kitchen.
Wool Socks: This is a great item to have on hand for the winter months.
Tea Infuser: This one will help your loved ones in their journey of self-discovery.
Homemade Snow Globe: Grab a this snow globe kit and make your loved ones their own little winter wonderland.
House Shoes: A pair of these comfortable shoes will be something your loved ones can wear around the house.
Cozy Blanket: These blankets are made to keep you warm and cozy during those cold winter nights.
Popcorn Popper: This is a fun gift that they will all enjoy especially on movie night.
Jigsaw Puzzle: Give them a puzzle that will keep their mind sharp and occupied.
Board Games: More than likely they prefer to have people over to enjoy good old-fashion board games and a night of laughter with friends!
Comfy Pajamas: A new set of cozy pajamas is sure to be a hit with the kids.
Robe: A new robe is a great gift for those who love to lounge around in their comfiest clothes.
These are some Cheap Christmas Gift ideas for those who are on a budget!
Best Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Spa Lovers
The perfect gift for anyone who loves to pamper themselves is a spa gift card. Spa gift cards are the perfect present because it gives the recipient freedom over what they would like to do during their stay.
There are many different spa gift cards available on the market, so it is easy to find one that suits the recipient’s personality and budget.
If you can’t find a group of people to go in on this idea, then turn their home into a spa experience.
Bath Salts: These are perfect for the person who loves to relax and take baths. All they will need is a nice scented candle or bath bomb, their favorite book, and these salts to make themselves feel like royalty.
Candles: These are perfect for the person who loves to relax and read, or just has a nice smelling home. There are many different scents available so it is easy to find one that suits the recipient’s personality.
Aromatherapy: This gift idea is perfect for those who want an inexpensive yet thoughtful gift. There are many aromatherapy oils to choose from, but the two most popular would be lavender and peppermint
Diffuser: These are perfect for someone who enjoys a deep and restful sleep, as well as those who enjoy shut-eye at night to take away any stresses or worries. A few drops of these oils in a diffuser or humidifier will soothe the recipient and ease them into relaxation before bedtime.
Tea: This is perfect for the person who enjoys a good cup of tea. A nice box of loose leaf teas is sure to be appreciated and used for many, many years to come!
Cookies: This may seem like a typical and uninspired gift that most people would choose, but it is thoughtful and they will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
Scalp Massager: This is great for those with a sensitive scalp. It helps to soothe the skin and will leave them feeling relaxed
Shower Speaker: This is a great gift for someone whose favorite song isn’t Top 40. They will be able to listen to their music while they shower.
Manicure Dip Starter Kit: This is a great gift for those who love to paint their nails
Hyaluronic Acid: Help maintain the hydration of the outer layers of skin, which helps to improve its appearance.
Hair Mask: This is a great gift for someone who loves to pamper themselves, especially if they are in need of moisture.
Lip Sleeping Mask: A gentle overnight moisturizer for dry, sore lips.
Microfiber Hair Towel Wrap: This is a great gift for someone who spends a lot of time in the pool or at the beach. It is quick and easy to help dry your hair faster.
Handheld Massager: Seriously, this is the best gift ever. Plus the cost has been coming down each year.
Cheap Gift Ideas for the Fashionista
If you are looking for an affordable, fashionable gift idea that is also fun and creative then this list has something to offer you.
Here are some ideas for the fashionista on a budget.
Scarf: Scarves are always in style and can be found anywhere. You can get a nice one for only about $25, depending on the brand.
Tote bag: A tote bag is a necessity for school, the mall, and even just running errands around town. You can find them anywhere from $5-25 depending on what type you want.
Pandora Bracelet: The Pandora bracelet is a beautiful piece of jewelry that can be bought with any budget in mind, and it’s a great option for people who want to give something that will last. Great gift to add charms each year.
Earrings: Earrings can be a great gift for someone you know who is really into fashion. You can find them at the drugstore or even in some clothing stores, and they cost anywhere from $5-20.
Belt: A belt is great for someone who doesn’t have too many accessories, or if you just want to spice up an outfit with a new piece of jewelry.
Hair Clips: Hair clips are a great gift for someone who spends most of their time at home because you can clip them in your hair to keep it out of the way while you do chores. Also, great for those trendy messy up-dos!
Felt Hat: A felt hat can be a great gift for someone who goes to the beach a lot, or just likes wearing hats because it’s cold outside. They last longer than other types of material and they can be a really inexpensive gift.
Jewelry Dish: Find a small dish at the dollar store and decorate with paint or fabric to make it look pretty!
Re-gift Jewelry: Add jewelry from your old collection that you don’t wear anymore (maybe some old costume jewelry?).
Sunglasses: Sunglasses are one of the most popular Christmas gifts, and they can be found cheaply at many stores. I bought a pair for under $15!
Watch: Watches can be found at many stores for a cheap price. Watchmakers are competing to lower their prices as they try and go against the trend of cell phone watches, which is why you can find a nice watch for under $10.
Sweatshirt: A good sweatshirt is a woman’s best friend. It will keep you warm during the winter and can easily be dressed up or down depending on what you’re wearing-It doesn’t have to be too expensive either, with most stores having sales or clearance racks that are perfect for picking up gifts.
Nail Polish: The best thing about nail polish is that you can buy it in a lot of sizes, from the little bottles that are perfect for stocking stuffers to larger ones that come in packages of 5 or more. Great stocking stuffers!
Yoga Pants: We all know yoga pants are a girl’s best friend. But, y’all the prices of these yoga pants are amazing, and did I mention how many I have given as cheap gifts?!?!
Winter Gloves: Some people might think winter gloves are odd to put on a Christmas list, but they make such great stocking stuffers!
Shopping Bag: This is a great present for someone who likes to shop! I know what you’re thinking, “how do they not have one?”
A New Outfit: Even if the person you are buying for is not a fashionista, clothes still make great gifts. And if you know what their favorite style of clothing is then nows the time to indulge them in some new clothes!
Some suggestions are old and some are new, but all of them will be perfect for the person you want to give a gift to.
Cheap Gift Ideas for the Makeup Artist
Check out these cheap beauty Christmas gifts for the makeup artist on your list. These are great for anyone that has a budget of $10 or less.
Makeup: Find out what brands your friends, family members, or classmates like and buy them the makeup in that brand. You can find this information at their favorite retailers or by asking around to see which brands they wear.
Nail Polish: Buying nail polish as a gift is a great idea because you can buy them the exact color they want to wear and it’s usually not too expensive.
Perfume: If your budget is $10 or less, you can buy a nice perfume that smells great and it will be something they use often.
Bath Bomb: If you’re shopping for someone who needs to relax, then a bath bomb is the perfect gift.
Specialty Coffee Mug: You can find these for fairly cheap and they’re something that people will use every day so it’s great. Find a fun coffee mug with an artsy flair!
Lip Stain: Lip stains are a really popular product because they’re long-lasting and come in so many colors. This is perfect for someone who loves makeup!
Makeup Brushes: Any good makeup artist knows the quality of the brush makes a difference. You can find a decent brush at an affordable price!
Silicone Makeup Sponges: These are perfect for applying makeup evenly and providing coverage.
Reusable Beauty Products: For the eco-conscious, find plenty of reusable beauty products. You will be surprised at this list.
Gather all of these makeup supplies and put them together for a creative gift basket!
Cheap Gift Ideas for the Athlete
Sweating is gross, so this guide has come to help! It’s tough when you have an athlete in the family because they are always on the move.
Athletes will have to replace their equipment and clothing because of use.
Here are some nice, thoughtful gift ideas for the athlete on your list!
Water Bottle: Sometimes I feel like I can never have enough water bottles!
A pack of compression pants: I wear them for my sport because they help with the swelling and protect against injury.
New backpack: I use mine all of the time!
Headphones: These allow people to listen to their favorite music or podcast while getting the sweat on.
Full-zip fleece jacket: I love being able to bundle up when it gets cold! This is a thoughtful guide for the athlete on your list for before and after workouts.
Polarized Sunglasses: These help protect eyes from glare and add style to any outfit.
Music Subscription (ad free): This is a great gift for the athlete who loves music!
Yoga Mat: Yoga mats are great because they’re environmentally friendly and also come in a bunch of different colors. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to stretch out and do some poses on your own. Plus the experts say we should stretch every day.
Sports Watch: Preferably with stopwatch and alarm clock. THey need to time those tabata crossfit workouts.
Running Gloves: These are thoughtful gifts for someone who loves the outdoors and running.
Foam Roller: A great gift for the athlete who is looking for a little bit of extra relief.
Folding Bike: This is a thoughtful gift idea for someone who loves to bike ride but doesn’t have space for a bike. This one is more expensive, but a great idea to go in with others on!
Sports Massage Oil: This is a thoughtful gift for the runner, cyclist, or anyone who gets sore muscles. Pick a hand massager to go with it!
Camouflage Pillow: This is a great present for an outdoorsy person who has their head in the clouds.
Good Socks: Have you ever smelled the stinky socks?!?! Enough said.
Sports Tape: The runner in your life will need this present to keep them on the go.
Sports Bra: This is a great present for someone who participates in any activity that requires it! One that fits well and is made of quality materials. Plus an affordable price!
Fleece Headband: This is a great present for the runner in your life who also likes to wear their hair up when they’re not running.
Yoga Pants: This is a great present for someone who likes to keep their activities active. Or just wears yoga pants every single day to be trendy. No one needs to know why! These are my favorite brand.
Athletic Shorts: This is a great present for the person in your life who likes to wear their athletic shorts outside of working out. Plus, come on it’s not like they’re going to be wearing them over clothes so people would notice.
Resistance Bands: These are great for the person who likes to keep their workouts active, but doesn’t have a ton of space.
Light Set of Weights: Everyone needs to have some weight training as part of their workouts. Pick up three or five pound weights to help them reach their workout goals.
Armband for Phone: When you workout, you may want to keep your phone with you to track the steps or distance you worked out. This is an armband to keep your phone and simple enough to change your workout music.
Latest Fad Cookbook: In need of a great gift idea for the person in your life who likes to cook but always seems to have not-so-perfect dishes? This is perfect! Gift them this latest fad cookbook and they’ll be able to make all the popular, Instagram-worthy dishes that you see on TV.
Sneakers: Maybe you are lucky enough to score a pair of comfortable, breathable athletic sneakers on clearance!
I’m sure they’ll be appreciative of any one of these gifts!
Cheap Gift Ideas For Teachers
This list of cheap teach gifts for Christmas will help you choose a thoughtful and useful present that won’t break your budget.
Essential Oil Set: A true favorite for teachers who like to use aromatherapy in their classrooms or at home. This is our favorite essential oil set.
Stress-relief Hand Sanitizer: Teachers are always on the go, so they can use a little help to keep them stress-free. Plus, germs are no fun for anyone!
Personalized Mask Lanyard: Personalize your teacher’s mask with their name, school mascot or work logo.
Tiger Balm: This is a classic product for teachers and athletes alike! Tiger balm will help soothe your aches and pains.
Lounge Pants: Nothing reminds a teacher of home like their favorite TV show! A few years ago my mom gave me a really cute pair of lounge pants and I still wear them. The cut is oversized with pockets for my phone and remote which make it perfect for relaxing on the couch.
Smart Plugs: These plugs can be controlled on an app from anywhere. That means the teacher doesn’t have to worry about forgetting to turn their lights off before they left for work.
Personalized Stamp: A teacher’s stamp of approval is the best kind. This personalized stamp will help teachers quickly get through their paperwork.
Amazon Gift Card: Teachers deserve to take a breather and use some of their hard-earned cash on themselves. A gift card is the perfect way for friends or family members to say “thank you.”
Wireless Headphones: Music is a great way to get the energy going and keep kids psyched up, but it can be tough when they’re working on group tasks. Wireless headphones like these ones from Sony
Day-by-day Calendar: The last thing teachers need is to scramble for a blank piece of paper whenever they want to jot down notes. The day-by-day calendar is perfect because it’s got enough space for writing, but it’s compact enough to tuck into a drawer.
Magnetic Dry Erase Whiteboard: After all the long hours spent at school, who wouldn’t want their own personal whiteboard where they can write, draw, and erase?
Lunch Boxes: There is nothing better than a home-packed lunch. These stainless steel containers are compact enough to carry with you, but they’re also roomy enough to hold a sandwich, fruit, and veggies.
Educational Activity Books: If you’re looking for something that’s not only fun, but chock full of learning activities and information, these books are perfect for further learning.
Cheap Christmas Gifts for Mom or Her in your life
All of these are great inexpensive ideas for buying on a budget
Shopping for a great gift for women or moms can be hard, but not too much with these affordable options.
Little Succulents: This is a cute DIY gift. All you need are succulents, a pot with dirt, and some other accessories if desired.
Bath Bombs: These are great for anyone, including people who enjoy a good bath every now and again. They come in various scents so you can find something that is sure to please.
Chapstick: This is perfect for the person in your life who always has chapped lips or complains about dry skin on their hands when they are outside too long during winter months.
A Book: It may seem like the most unimaginative gift, but it’s perfect for someone who enjoys reading and is looking for something they haven’t read yet. Books are also a great way to get someone hooked on a series so you can recommend their next read.
Slippers: These are perfect for the person in your life who is constantly complaining about how cold their feet are.
Candles: This is a perfect gift for someone who enjoys relaxing or reading after dinner and the scent fills up the whole house with aromatherapy benefits.
A Scratch Off Map: This is a great gift for someone who enjoys traveling or seeing the world. It’s very personalized and they can see how many countries they have visited.
A Coffee Mug: This is a great gift for the coffee lover in your life. You can put anything on it such as their favorite book, television show or artist and they will be reminded of you every time they drink their coffee.
A Memory Blanket: This is a great gift for people who are always cold and it can go with them anywhere in the world because it folds up easily.
A Personalized T-shirt: This is a great gift because it’s very personal and you can put anything on the shirt that has meaning to them such as their favorite sports team, favorite food, or where they have traveled.
A Personalized Finger Drum: This is a great gift for anyone who loves to play drums because it has their name engraved right on the drumhead.
Cheap Christmas Gifts for Men
The following items are inexpensive and will make any man, dad, or boyfriend insanely happy! The cheapest gifts can be the best!
Here are some budget-friendly, manly, fun, and creative ideas for Christmas presents.
A New Shirt: You can find many options for cheap shirts. Grab one with a funny saying he would enjoy for an out-of-the-park win!
Belt: Belt prices vary by brand, but can be found for as low as $10.
Wallet: Wallets can also vary by brand and cost, but often end up being around $15.
New Socks:: Many men enjoy their sock collection. You can always add on to replace their worn-out socks.
A Tie: Ties can be found for as low as $5.
Watch: The watch market is a tough one to navigate, but if you know your partner’s style and budget beforehand it can be easier to find what you’re looking for.
A Tie Clip: You can usually pick one up for $5 or less, and it’s something that he’ll wear every day!
Old-school Vinyl Record Player: Old school vinyl is making a comeback and can be found in all sorts of different styles.
Latest Board Game: Board games are always a fun gift idea. You can pick up the latest hot game for less than $20
A Good Book: A good book is always a great gift idea. You can find them for as low as $5 and books are something that never goes out of style!
Cash: Let’s be honest… most men like to have the cash to spend as they please with no questions asked.
Cheap Christmas Gifts for Friends
You may not have a lot of money for this Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your friends something thoughtful.
These inexpensive items may not be the most lavish of presents to give a friend this year, but they are sure to be appreciated and useful!
Whimsy Kit: A Whimsy Kit is a small package that includes activities such as drawing, coloring, and collaging. It can be used in classrooms or at home to relax and have fun.
Poster Board & Markers: A poster board and markers are perfect for making holiday cards to send out or decorating with a festive design.
Fun Scrapbook Pens: Fun pens are a wonderful gift for any age to bring color to their writing, coloring, or journaling.
Scented Candles Kit: Scented candles can be used for the holidays, but they also make a great gift for any time of the year. The smell will bring a warm and cozy feeling into your home.
Gold Foil Blanket: A gold foil blanket is perfect for snuggling up in the car when you are stuck in the car!
Cute Pillow Case: A new pillowcase is a fun way to change things up in your bedroom or living room. The best part about these gifts are that they can be given with other items, like the gold foil blanket or a fun pillow.
Comfy Socks: When it’s cold outside, there is nothing more comforting than a good pair of socks. These make a great gift for someone who spends most of their time at home or just loves to relax.
Bracelets: Jewelry is a great way to show someone you care. Bracelets are not only cute but they go with any outfit!
Christmas Ornament: A Christmas ornament makes for the perfect stocking stuffer. They are usually inexpensive and they can be used year round to decorate your home for the holidays.
Christmas Fun Pack: It is always fun when Santa sends a surprise in the mail, so why not surprise your friends with a Christmas Fun Pack!
Shower Steamers: These will make a great gift for someone who is your best friend, especially if they like to take long showers.
Flashlights: These are fun and practical gifts that will come in handy during the dark days of winter.
Tissue Box Covers: A unique and inexpensive gift for the person who has everything, these tissue box covers will make any house seem a little more homey during cold winter months.
Chocolate: For the person that has everything, you can’t go wrong with some chocolate.
Cheap Christmas Gifts for Coworkers:
A quick, easy, and affordable way to get the perfect gift for your coworkers this Christmas is by giving them a coworker appreciation gift basket.
These inexpensive gifts are great for bosses or employees. They can be personalized so it’s a gift that will really stick with your coworkers.
Planner: This is a great way to give your coworkers something they will really use. They can write down their goals, schedule, and use it as a to-do list.
Personalized Stationery: This is such an adorable idea and can be so much fun for everyone involved. These are the perfect gifts that will make your coworkers feel special this holiday
Putting Green: This is a great gift that they can use to practice their putting skills in the comfort of their own office.
Desk Organizer: A desk organizer is a great way to start your day off with a clean and organized workspace.
Timeless Candle: This candle helps you enjoy the holidays or winter season while relaxing in the office.
Coffee Mug: Every office needs a good coffee mug to stay energized and motivated throughout the day.
Personalized Mouse Pad: You could get them their favorite movie, sport or hobby as a personalized mouse pad and they’ll enjoy using it every day at their office.
Luxury Pen: This is the perfect gift for that person who has everything and needs something to help them write down their thoughts and ideas.
Desk Lamp: A desk lamp can help you read in your office when it’s dark outside so all the daylight hours are available for working on projects or catching up on paperwork.
Ink Pen: This is a great gift idea for anyone who likes to write or doodle. You could get them this as a refillable pen and they can use it to write down their thoughts or ideas.
Laptop Tote Bag: This is the perfect gift for anyone who likes to travel and needs something stylish but functional to carry everything in one place.
Plant pot & planter: This is a great gift for someone who likes to spend time in their garden or on the porch. You could give them this as an opportunity to grow something new and have something beautiful in their office that is all their own.
Journal: This is a classic gift that people like to get for themselves or others. You can find many different styles and sizes of journals, making it easy for you to find the perfect one for your recipient.
Watercolor set: This is a great gift if you know someone who loves to paint or draw. It is an opportunity for them to tap into their creative side while also having the materials that they need to create something beautiful or special for someone else.
Keychain: This is a great gift for anyone because everyone needs keys! You can get them a keychain that has their name on it, or you can get them a cute one for someone they love.
Laptop sleeve: This is a great gift for anyone who has to have their laptop with them at all times. They come in so many different colors and designs, so you can find one that fits your friend or family member perfectly!
Monitor riser: If you know someone who has a desk job, they’re probably struggling to stay focused on their screen. This is the perfect gift for anyone who spends time at work looking down all day!
Best Cheap Christmas Gift of them All – Gift Card:
A gift card is a prepaid credit or debit card that can be spent in any number of stores, restaurants, and other venues as desired by the purchaser.
This option is great for people who are the “hard to buy for” type.
Even a $10 or $20 gift card to somewhere they like is better than a gift to sit on the shelf unused.
Giving a gift card is always an easy way out, but it can be more useful than materialistic gifts they may not use.
You can never go wrong with a gift card to their favorite store!
You can Buy Cheap Christmas Presents that Look Expensive
I know that this time of year can be so busy and stressful. It’s hard to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, especially when you have a tight budget. But there are so many fun and creative ideas that won’t break the bank.
You’ll find the perfect gift for everyone on your list!
Hopefully, you can find cheap Christmas gifts under $20 or less. Most of these power ideas you can pick up on Amazon or Etsy.
Christmas is often a time where people try to get the best gifts for their loved ones. In order to make these gifts more affordable, it’s smart to think about ways that can lower expenses.
One way to do this is by choosing gifts that can be combined with other items. Or even choosing a no gift Christmas.
It is always fun to give a gift to someone special on Christmas. However, sometimes you feel uncertain about what the perfect present is for somebody else.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our cheap but thoughtful Christmas gift ideas!
With these items, your loved one will have a great Christmas! Be sure to check our blog for more money saving tips!
Need More Inexpensive Christmas Gift ideas?
Know someone else that needs this, too? Then, please share!!
With the average cost of college currently at $35,551 per year, most students have no choice but to take out student loans. Whether you go to a public or private university in or out of state, you’ll probably need at least a little help. And we’re here to help you get it.
Students might turn to private student loans instead of or in addition to federal student loans to help cover the cost of tuition and boarding. So how do you choose between the many private lenders — including banks, credit unions, and online marketplaces — out there? We’ve compared many of the top lenders to find those with the best rates, repayment terms, range of options, and more.
But enough suspense. Let’s dive into the best private student loans for you.
Best private student loans
Best for flexible repayment terms: SoFi
Best for low rates: Credible
Best for no cosigner: Ascent
Best for cosigner: Earnest
Best for graduate students: Sallie Mae
Best for student loan refinancing: Splash Financial
Best for multi-year approval: Citizens Bank
Best for flexible repayment terms: SoFi
Fixed APR range – 3.99% – 8.24% APR (including auto-pay discount of 0.25%)
Variable APR range – 3.99% – 8.24% APR (including auto-pay discount of 0.25%)
Fees – None
Prepayment penalty – None
Minimum – Minimum $1,000
Maximum – Full cost of attendance
Loan terms – 5, 7, 10, or 15 years
Forbearance – Up to 12 months
Minimum credit score – 650
SoFi is a peer-to-peer lender offering private student loans for both graduate and undergraduate students. They also provide private and federal student loan refinancing for those who meet citizenship, employment, credit, and income requirements (minimum $5,000).
SoFi stands out for offering more repayment terms than most as well as the option to put membership points toward your loan balance. You have four repayment choices:
Defer monthly payments until six months after you graduate
Pay only interest while in school
Make fixed monthly payments of $25 while in school
Start making regular monthly payments toward the full balance right away
And should you need student loan relief, SoFi provides Unemployment Protection of up to 12 months to qualified borrowers.
There are two discounts available that can help reduce the cost of your loans. The first is a 0.25% interest rate discount when you schedule automatic payments and the second is a 0.125% rate discount for previous SoFi borrowers.
You’ll need at least fair credit to qualify for a private student loan with SoFi, or you can apply with a cosigner for a better chance of approval. We encourage you to check your rate with no effect on your credit. SoFi offers cosigner release after you’ve made 24 consecutive payments toward the principal and interest.
Read our full review.
Best for low rates: Credible
Interest rate range – starting at 4.44% fixed APR (with autopay)* and 4.74% Var. APR (with autopay), See Terms*
Fees – None
Prepayment penalty – None
Minimum – $1,000
Maximum – Full cost of attendance
Loan terms – 5 – 20 years
Forbearance – Varies by lender
Minimum credit score – Varies by lender
Though not a direct lender, Credible is a good place to go if you’re looking for a private student loan. Credible is an aggregator that partners with top lenders including Sallie Mae, Citizens, Ascent, and more to show you many student loan offers in one place. This is an especially great option if you don’t really know where to start because the platform begins by asking you questions to understand your needs, then shows you what you might qualify for.
To compare your options, you’ll fill out a single application to receive offers from up to eight different lenders. This will show you personalized rates you prequalify for to help you easily find the lowest ones. Although you won’t know your final rate until you actually apply to borrow with your chosen lender, this can give you a good idea of what you might pay. Using Credible to shop loans and check your rate does not affect your credit and the application takes just a couple of minutes to complete.
The Credible Best Rate Guarantee means that if you find a lower interest rate with another lender, you may be eligible for a $200 “Best Rate Reward.”
Credible’s partners do not charge origination fees or prepayment penalties. Also, all eight make it easy to apply with a cosigner and offer cosigner release to eligible borrowers.
Read our full review.
Credible Credit Disclosure – To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Credible or our partner lender(s) conduct a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, when you apply for credit, your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies will be requested, which is considered a hard credit pull and will affect your credit.
Maximum – $200,000 ($20,000 for Non-Cosigned Outcomes-Based loans)
Loan terms – 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
Forbearance – Up to 24 months
Minimum credit score – Varies
Ascent is a unique private lender for those looking to avoid using a cosigner. They specifically cater to those who want to apply on their own by offering a couple of ways to qualify. There are two types of non-cosigned loans from this lender: credit-based loans and outcomes-based loans. You’ll need at least two years of credit history and an income of $24,000 or more to qualify for a credit-based loan, but you may be eligible for an outcomes-based loan without any credit at all.
Ascent’s outcomes-based private student loans take your future income, not your current income, into consideration. When you apply for this loan, Ascent looks at your GPA, anticipated graduation date, school, program, and more to determine your eligibility. The better your grades and higher-paying your career path, the better your chances. You must be a junior or senior attending school full-time to qualify.
Interest rates are higher for non-cosigned loans, but there are discounts available. These include a 0.25% autopay discount and a 1% cash-back graduation reward.
While in school, you can pay $25 each month or make interest payments only. Alternatively, you can defer payments for up to nine months after you graduate. You may qualify for up to 24 months of Temporary Hardship Forbearance if you find yourself unable to make payments.
Read our full review.
Ascent Disclosure:Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 4/17/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.
If you already know you want or need to apply for private student loans with a cosigner, Earnest has excellent cosigned loans. Earnest is a direct lender offering private student loans with low rates and forgiving terms to make repayment easier for student borrowers.
Applicants must have a credit score of at least 650, an income of at least $35,000, and U.S citizenship to qualify. These might be difficult requirements for a college student to meet, which is why Earnest encourages cosigners. In fact, 66% of Earnest borrowers use a cosigner. However, Earnest does not offer cosigner release, but you may qualify to refinance with this lender under only your name when you graduate.
If you have a great cosigner willing to help you out, Earnest will make it easier for you to hold up your end of the bargain with alternatives to the standard repayment plan. In addition to four different repayment options, they give all borrowers a nine-month grace period after graduation before monthly payments are due and the option to skip a payment once a year if needed. You may also qualify for one of the following assistance programs:
Rate Reduction Program – decreased rates and monthly payments for six months
Extended Term Program – loan term extension of up to 30 years to reduce payments
Earnest also has more generous loan forgiveness and discharge policies than most.
Read our full review.
Earnest SLR Disclosure – Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 5.21% APR to 9.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.24% APR to 9.19% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 9.13% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.21%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.24%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account.
Best for graduate students: Sallie Mae
Fixed APR range – 4.25% – 12.92% (for graduate loans, including 0.25% auto debit discount)
Variable APR range – 3.87% – 13.50% (for graduate loans, including 0.25% auto debit discount)
Fees – None
Prepayment penalty – None
Minimum – $1,000
Maximum – Full cost of attendance
Loan terms – Up to 15 years
Forbearance – Determined on a case-by-case basis
Minimum credit score – 650
Sallie Mae offers a variety of different loans for both undergraduate and graduate students, but this lender is especially great for graduate private student loans. Let’s get into what makes this option different than others for higher education.
First, Sallie Mae offers 100% coverage for all of your tuition and living expenses from classes to travel with no cap. After graduating, you can defer payments up to 48 months if you’re going right from school to a fellowship or internship. And unlike most loans of this type, you do not need to be enrolled full-time or even half-time to qualify to borrow.
You’ll have a 94% chance of being approved if you’ve already had a Sallie Mae student loan and you apply for a new one with a cosigner. And if you do use a cosigner, you may be eligible to release them after just 12 consecutive monthly payments made on time.
You can either defer your payments for six months after you graduate, make fixed monthly payments of $25 while you’re in school, or pay just the interest while you’re in school and during the six-month grace period after graduation. While Sallie Mae’s interest rates are a little higher than some, you can get a 0.25% rate discount for setting up automatic payments.
Read our full review.
Sallie Mae Disclosures: Borrow responsibly. We encourage students and families to start with savings, grants, scholarships, and federal student loans to pay for college. Students and families should evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments, and how much the student expects to earn in the future, before considering a private student loan. Sallie Mae loans are subject to credit approval, identity verification, signed loan documents, and school certification. Smart Option Student Loans are for students at participating schools and are not intended for students pursuing a graduate degree. Graduate student loans are available for students at participating degree-granting graduate schools. Graduate Certificate/Continuing Education coursework is not eligible for MBA, Medical, Dental, and Law School Loans. Student or cosigner must meet the age of majority in their state of residence. Students who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must reside in the U.S., attend school in the U.S., apply with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident), and provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID. Requested loan amount must be at least $1,000. 1 Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/separation period depending on the repayment option selected. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Undergraduate – Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. Associate & Trade School – Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a borrower who attends school for 1 year and has $10,000 in prior Sallie Mae loans. All Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan. Medical School Loan and Dental School Loan APRs assume 4 years in school. Law School Loan APRs assume 3 years in school. MBA Loan, Graduate School Loan for Health Professions, and Graduate School Loan APRs assume 2 years in school. 2 Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time. 3 Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 9.63% fixed APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $172.95 and one payment of $121.42, for a Total Loan Cost of $21,977.47. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.07% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $125.36 and one payment of $49.52 for a total loan cost of $23,163.96. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years. Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.02% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $153.59 and one payment of $108.14, for a Total Loan Cost of $19,060.35. For a borrower with $10,000 in prior loans and a 1-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.19% fixed APR, 15 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $117.46 and one payment of $46.27 for a total loan cost of $21,446.61. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years. 4 Example of a typical transaction for a $10,000 Graduate School Loan with the most common fixed rate, Fixed Repayment Option, and two disbursements. For borrowers with a 27-month in-school and separation period, it works out to 12.78% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 178 payments of $154.24 and one payment of $152.19, for a total loan cost of $28,281.91. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 15 years.
Best for student loan refinancing: Splash Financial
Refinancing your student loans is a good way to lock in a lower interest rate for your existing loans, reduce your monthly payments, and consolidate your debt. As a loan marketplace, Splash Financial offers some of the best refinancing options currently available.
To find a loan with Splash Financial, you’ll complete one application and compare your available offers from a variety of banks and credit unions. Using Splash Financial’s marketplace does not affect your credit or cost anything. If you see an offer you like, you can begin an application directly with a lender partner.
If you didn’t get the rates you wanted the first time around when applying for student loans as a new borrower, refinancing can help you save on interest and simplify repayment. It can also let you assume full responsibility for your loans if you originally borrowed with a cosigner. And if you’re recently married, you can refinance with a partner to combine your balances.
Read our full review.
Best for multi-year approval: Citizens Bank
Fixed APR range – 4.74% – 12.06%
Variable APR range – 3.75% – 11.21%
Fees – None
Prepayment penalty – None
Minimum – $1,000
Maximum – Full cost of attendance ($150,000 for all undergraduate and most graduate degrees)
Loan terms – 5, 10, or 15 years
Forbearance – Up to 12 months at a time
Minimum credit score – Not disclosed
If you like the idea of applying once for private student loans and not having to again, you might want to check out Citizens Bank.
This lender provides multi-year approval for between four and six years to eligible borrowers. If you qualify, you’ll be approved for all the money you need to complete your degree upfront. Instead of filling out a new application each year (and adding hard credit pulls to your report), you’ll request more funding when you need it and Citizens will use only a soft pull to confirm you’re still eligible. Citizens will let you know if you qualify for Multi-Year Approval after you submit your application.
You can enroll in autopay for a 0.25% interest rate discount. may also be eligible for a loyalty discount, an interest rate reduction of 0.25%, if you’re already a Citizens customer with a qualifying savings account, checking account, credit card, or loan (or if your cosigner is a customer).
99% of borrowers with Citizens use a cosigner. You can apply for cosigner release after you’ve made 36 on-time, full payments in a row if your credit profile is found to be satisfactory. Can defer payments until after graduation but Citizens does not offer income-based repayment.
Federal vs. private student loans
Federal student loans offer many benefits over private student loans and you should go with this option before you even consider private student loans.
But you may not end up choosing one or the other — in fact, it’s not uncommon for a person to have both federal and private student loans. You’ll want to make sure to understand the (many) differences between federal student loans and private student loans and how they work before applying for either.
Requirements to qualify
Overall, federal student loans are a lot easier to get than private student loans. Federal loans are administered by the federal government, not companies or lenders. They do not require a credit check at all when you’re applying, so it doesn’t matter how low your score is. To assess your eligibility, the U.S. Department of Education will determine your financial need and this will be used to create your loan offer.
In contrast, a lot of private lenders are looking for a credit score in the 670 range, which is considered good. It’s pretty hard to have good credit when you’ve never borrowed before, and by “pretty hard” we mean not possible. This is why so many students use a cosigner for private loans – because they need to.
Repayment and relief options
Federal student loans also provide more wiggle room than private loans by offering more opportunities for relief and support.
Both federal and private loans may qualify for forbearance if you’re unable to make payments due to financial hardship, but only federal loans can be forgiven completely.
Most private loans are not eligible for forgiveness or income-based repayment plans. Income-based repayment plans ensure that your monthly payments make sense for your financial situation and are widely available for federal loans.
One advantage of private student loans is higher borrowing limits. Federal loans are given based on your financial need, but you may not qualify to have the full cost of your education covered (even if you can’t pay). Many private loans do not have a maximum borrowing limit and will let you borrow up to the full cost of your education or certificated cost of attendance (COA).
Federal student loans always have lower interest rates. And because they don’t check your credit, you don’t need a perfect credit history to qualify for the best rates. Even the best private loans come with steep APRs by comparison.
Also, interest on federal loans is more likely to be tax deductible than interest on private loans.
This is one where private loans come out on top. Unlike federal student loans, many private student loans don’t charge origination fees. These are fees charged as a percentage of your loan and deducted from your total disbursement.
Should you get a private student loan?
The first question you should ask yourself when looking for ways to fund your education is not whether you should get a private student loan but whether you’ve taken full of advantage of (much cheaper) federal funding and alternatives.
Federal student loans are a better option than private loans for almost everyone due to the fact that they’re less expensive and more flexible. They don’t require a credit check so you can qualify without any credit, and you’ll spend less over the life of the loan.
With that said, you may need to take out a private student loan if you can’t get all the funding you need from federal loans. This is fairly common, especially if you’re attending a costlier college or university.
But student loans aren’t your only option.
Alternatives to student loans
Student loans are just one way to pay for college. If you’d like to avoid taking out a private student loan or want to reduce the amount of debt you’re taking on, look into these options first.
Maximizing your financial aid should be your first priority when you’re thinking of borrowing money for college. After all, avoiding student loan debt is the goal. With financial aid, you probably don’t have to pay the money back. The Federal Pell Grant, for example, given to students who show exceptional financial need, doesn’t need to be repaid.
You might qualify for federal student aid even if you don’t think you do.
You can apply for federal aid through the U.S. Department of Education by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA assesses your financial situation to determine if you are a good candidate to receive help from the government. This is also the form you’ll complete when applying to see how much you qualify to borrow in federal loans.
Unfortunately, international students are less likely to qualify for most financial aid.
Read more: How to read a financial aid award letter
Scholarships are just another way to get free money. Some student loan borrowers don’t know how to apply for scholarships or think they definitely won’t qualify and don’t bother. But the fact of the matter is that there are foundations just waiting for someone like you to come along so they can hand you money. True story.
Between merit-based and need-based scholarships, there’s usually something for everybody. There are also a variety of options specifically for different types of students such as graduate students, international students, or even those enrolled in particular programs like pre-med or education.
Many private lenders even have scholarship programs you can apply for when applying for a loan. This can help soften the blow a bit when applying for a loan.
Parent PLUS loans
Parent PLUS loans are a type of unsubsidized federal loan parents can take out on behalf of their dependents. Only biological or adoptive parents with clean credit histories (e.g. no delinquencies) can qualify.
PLUS loans are usually used alongside other forms of loans and funding, not as a primary source.
If you qualify for federal financial aid, you may also qualify for Federal Work-Study.
Work-study is a well-named program through the Department of Education that lets you work while you study and earn money for college. Work-study jobs are often on campus and may even be in the academic buildings you’re already visiting, and they’re designed to be flexible for students. You can use the money however you need to, for the most part, and it does not count toward your financial aid. You also don’t have to pay it back – it’s yours free and clear.
How to choose a student loan
Student borrowers should consider the following factors when comparing different private and federal student loans.
Fixed vs. variable loans
Student loans can be either fixed for the entire term of the loan or variable. Fixed means that the interest rate is locked in for the length of the loan and variable means that the interest rate is subject to change.
Should you choose a fixed or variable interest rate?
This is an important question to ask yourself because it’ll ultimately determine how much you’ll pay in interest when all is said and done and your loan is paid off.
Generally speaking, variable rates on student loans are lower. But long-term, fixed-rate loans often carry less interest. Variable-rate loans will fluctuate over time and there’s the potential for rate hikes, making this the riskier choice.
Note that federal student loans only offer fixed rates while private loans might offer the choice between fixed or variable rates.
Maximum loan amounts
For federal student loans, the maximum loan amounts are between $31,000 and $57,500 for undergraduates and up to $138,500 for graduate students.
Private student loans can have maximum limits of anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000 or may allow you to borrow up to the full cost of your education (including tuition, boarding, and more).
As mentioned, many students require a mix of both federal and private loans.
For federal student loans, terms are typically available between 10 and 30 years. Most private loan terms are between five and 20 years.
While it might be tempting to just choose the shortest loan term available to get your student loans over with, you need to consider what monthly payments you can realistically take on when they come due.
There are many different options for repaying your student loan debt. Most private lenders will let you choose to make interest-only payments, fixed payments of a certain amount (such as $25), or full payments while you’re still in school or wait until you’ve graduated to start making monthly payments.
Each type of repayment comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Interest-only payments, for example, will reduce the amount of interest you pay but will mean that it takes you longer to repay your loan than if you were making payments toward the principal too.
It’s important to consider all of your repayment options and take advantage of tools such as calculators to understand what you’ll be paying and when.
Read more: 20 terms for understanding student loan debt
Federal student loans require origination fees, which currently range between 1.057% and 4.228% of the loan amount taken. Origination fees are deducted from your total payout. Private student loans normally don’t charge origination fees or other types of application fees.
Neither federal nor private student loans charge prepayment penalties if you decide to make your payments early or pay more than what’s due each month.
The annual percentage rate, or APR, is the effective rate on a loan. It includes both the base interest rate and any required fees added to the calculation.
For example, if you borrow $100,000 and pay a 2% origination fee, the net proceeds of the loan will be $98,000. When a 5% interest rate is calculated on the loan, the APR will be slightly higher due to the reduced net loan proceeds.
Your APR will depend on your credit history and the terms of your loan. You may qualify for a discount through some lenders for activities such as enabling autopay or having another account with a bank.
With private student loans, you might have anywhere from six months to a year after graduating before you’re required to start making repayments. With federal student loans, you don’t need to start making payments until six months after you graduate. When payments are due, you may need to defer or pause them if you’re not able to pay.
Student loans may come with a variety of deferment options. For example, federal student loans come with the option to defer payments if you graduate and have trouble finding a job. Private student loans may offer deferment on a case-by-case basis, but the deferment period will vary by lender.
Just note that interest may still continue to accrue during deferment and factor this into your repayment plan.
Forbearance and loan forgiveness policies
Federal student loans offer both forbearance and loan forgiveness. For example, under the Income-Driven Repayment plan, your monthly payment can be reduced to a small percentage — usually 10 or 15% — of your monthly income.
Under a Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan, your debt can be completely forgiven if you make 120 monthly payments while working full-time for either a government agency or a qualifying nonprofit organization.
With private student loans, loan forgiveness is not an option. However, some will provide forbearance if you experience economic hardship, such as unemployment. Your options depend on which lender you’ve chosen and it’s worth looking into this before borrowing.
Cosigner release terms
You probably won’t need to use a cosigner for federal loans because these don’t have credit requirements, so cosigner release doesn’t apply. However, cosigners are common with private student loans, and you may decide to use one.
If you decide to use a cosigner, they might not be stuck on your student loans until your debt is fully paid off. Many lenders provide a cosigner release option that lets you release your cosigner and continue on the loan alone. If a lender does provide the option for cosigner release, you’ll need to apply and qualify for it by meeting repayment and credit requirements.
Look into the cosigner release terms for any loan you think about taking out and be sure to have a conversation with your cosigner about this too.
How to qualify for a private student loan
If you’ve exhausted all of your options from federal loans to financial aid and scholarships, you might decide it’s time to apply for a private loan. Here’s what you need to know.
Your credit history and income will be used to determine your loan eligibility. If you have a really limited credit history — which is common for first-time student loan borrowers — you may not be able to qualify for a private loan on your own with the terms and interest rate you want. Lenders will also look at your income as a way of determining how risky it is to loan money to you and if you have the financial means to pay them back. Again, many new borrowers don’t meet minimum income requirements.
Some lenders will let you check to see if you prequalify for a loan and show you what rates you might receive with no effect on your credit. If you have this option, use it to avoid submitting more applications than you need to.
If you can’t qualify by yourself, you might want to think about using a cosigner.
When you use a cosigner, their credit history and income will count in your favor because lenders will look at this information as an extension of your application.
Should you use a cosigner?
Applying for student loans with a cosigner makes you look better to lenders. Using a cosigner means choosing a person with more credit than yourself — such as an older relative or parent — to assume responsibility for your loan along with you. This means that their credit profile will be used to determine your eligibility and interest rates.
A cosigner must be someone more creditworthy (i.e. less risky to lenders) than yourself. Someone with a good credit score and high income is a good candidate to cosign.
Your cosigner is only partially responsible for your loan when applying. But if you fail to pay your loan back, they become fully responsible for repaying the debt.
There are several factors to consider when you’re making the decision to use or not use a cosigner on your private student loans. Beyond the financial implications of signing their name to your debt, there are personal implications as well. Asking someone to be responsible for your debt is more than just a favor and a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly.
And if you do end up applying with a cosigner, you might want to have the option to release them as soon as possible. Cosigner release gives you the flexibility to assume full responsibility for your student loan after applying. To qualify for cosigner release, you usually need to make a certain number of consecutive monthly payments – such as 12 or 24 – toward both the principal and interest of your loan. Then, your eligibility as an individual can be reassessed.
Navigating the process of taking out a private student loan for the first time is a tricky business. But while it isn’t our idea of a good time, it’s definitely worth sitting down and comparing your options before signing your name to thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
If you start with these private lenders and take your time to make the right decision, you should be in good shape to get the loan you need and borrow responsibly.
Welcome to the vibrant city of Lincoln, NE. Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, this charming city has so much to offer. From its rich history to its thriving cultural scene, Lincoln is a treasure trove of fascinating discoveries. In this Redfin article, we invite you to test your knowledge as we uncover 9 fun facts about Lincoln, NE. Whether you’re a long-time resident or you’re considering buying a house in Lincoln, prepare to be amazed by the hidden gems and lesser-known tidbits that make this city truly unique. So, buckle up and join us on this exploration of Lincoln’s captivating past, present, and maybe even uncover a few surprises along the way.
1. Named after a presidential legacy
Lincoln, NE, takes its name from none other than Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The city was named in honor of this iconic leader in 1867, and its strong ties to American history lend it a sense of pride and heritage.
2. The city offers an affordable cost of living
Living in Lincoln offers the attractive benefit of an affordable cost of living. As of June 1, 2023, the cost of living in Lincoln is approximately 8% lower than the national average. This translates to significant savings for residents across various aspects of their daily lives. Utility costs, everyday expenses, and housing prices in Lincoln are also notably lower compared to national averages. For instance, the median sale price of a home in Lincoln was just $285,000 in April 2023, nearly $125,000 less than the national median sale price.
3. Lincoln embraces the spirit of conservation and environmental stewardship
The city’s association with Arbor Day, which originated in Nebraska, showcases its commitment to tree planting and preserving green spaces. This dedication to nature is evident throughout Lincoln, with beautiful parks, gardens, and recreational areas to explore. In fact, there are over 136 parks in the city, spanning over 6,000 acres.
4. Star City is the capital of Nebraska
As the capital of Nebraska, Lincoln offers a central location within the state. This geographical advantage ensures easy access to all parts of Nebraska, making it convenient for exploring the state’s natural wonders and attractions.
5. Home to the University of Nebraska
Lincoln is home to the prestigious University of Nebraska, an academic powerhouse renowned for its research and educational programs. The university’s presence contributes to the city’s intellectual atmosphere, offers cultural and sporting events, and provides employment opportunities.
6. Lincoln boasts a vibrant downtown
The historic Haymarket District in downtown Lincoln is a hub of activity, featuring unique shops, trendy restaurants, art galleries, and live music venues. It’s the perfect place to unwind, socialize, and experience the city’s lively atmosphere.
7. It’s a gateway to adventure
Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, the city enjoys a central position that provides unparalleled convenience when it comes to reaching other major destinations. Thanks to its proximity to Interstate 80, traveling to nearby cities and states becomes a breeze. Whether you’re planning a quick weekend getaway, visiting loved ones, or embarking on a business trip, Lincoln’s location serves as a convenient launching pad. The city also boasts a well-connected transportation infrastructure, including a regional airport with direct flights to major hubs.
8. Lincoln, NE is a city that knows how to celebrate
Throughout the year, the city plays host to a diverse range of annual events that bring the community together. One such event is the Lancaster County Fair, a beloved tradition featuring thrilling rides, live entertainment, agricultural exhibits, and delicious food. Another highlight is the Abraham Lincoln Birthday Celebration, which honors the city’s namesake with historical reenactments, educational activities, and engaging presentations. Music enthusiasts eagerly anticipate Lincoln Calling, a multi-day music festival that showcases both local talent and nationally acclaimed artists across various genres.
9. The community engagement is unmatched
Lincoln’s residents take pride in their city and actively participate in local events and initiatives. The annual Lincoln Marathon showcases the community’s enthusiasm for sports and fitness, as participants from around the world join in to experience the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and receive a warm reception from the supportive locals.
Lincoln’s rich history, natural beauty, thriving cultural scene, and welcoming community make it an ideal place to call home. Whether you’re exploring the city’s parks, embracing its arts and entertainment offerings, or engaging with friendly locals, Lincoln is a good place to live.
Horror movies have been a staple of the film industry for decades, captivating audiences with their ability to scare, shock, and thrill. From classic black-and-white thrillers to modern-day blockbusters, horror movies haunt us with their terrifying stories and imagery. Whether you’re a horror enthusiast or simply looking for a good scare, the world of horror movies offers a wide range of options to choose from.
1. The Exorcist
“The Exorcist” is a classic horror film directed by William Friedkin and released in 1973. The movie tells the story of a young girl named Regan who becomes possessed by a demon, and the efforts of a priest named Father Damien Karras to exorcise the entity from her body. The film is widely regarded as one of the best horror movies ever made due to its blend of supernatural horror and personal themes of faith and redemption. The use of practical effects and strong performances from the cast, particularly Linda Blair and Jason Miller, add to the film’s enduring legacy.
2. The Shining
“The Shining” is a 1980 horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick and is considered one of the best horror movies ever made. The movie tells the story of Jack Torrance, a writer who takes a job as a winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel with his wife and son. Kubrick’s masterful direction and use of imagery create a sense of dread and unease, complemented by the haunting score. Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable performance as Jack Torrance, the exploration of themes such as isolation and madness, and the film’s impact on pop culture all contribute to its status as a classic of cinema and a must-see for horror fans.
3. IT Chapter 1
“It Chapter 1” is a 2017 horror film directed by Andy Muschietti that follows a group of outcast kids, the Losers Club, as they try to defeat a shape-shifting entity that takes the form of a terrifying clown named Pennywise. The film’s blend of horror, humor, and heart makes it stand out in the genre. The exceptional cast, particularly the young actors who play the Losers Club, deliver powerful performances. The film explores universal themes related to childhood trauma, grief, and the power of imagination, which elevates it beyond the confines of the horror genre. Overall, “It Chapter 1” is a must-see film for horror fans and movie lovers alike.
4. The Nun
“The Nun” is a 2018 horror film directed by Corin Hardy that takes place in 1952 Romania. It follows a young nun and a priest as they investigate the death of a nun in a secluded abbey and encounter an evil force in the form of a demonic nun. The film’s immersive atmosphere, stunning visuals, exceptional performances, and clever use of jump scares and suspense make it a modern horror classic and a must-see for horror fans.
“Jaws” is a 1975 horror film directed by Steven Spielberg that takes place in a small New England town terrorized by a giant man-eating great white shark. The film’s ability to create suspense and terror through suggestion rather than explicit gore, exceptional performances, and masterful filmmaking make it a classic horror film and a must-see for fans of the genre. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless storytelling and iconic scenes.
6. IT Chapter 2
“IT Chapter 2” is a 2019 horror film directed by Andy Muschietti and based on the novel by Stephen King. The film follows the adult versions of the Losers Club as they return to Derry, Maine to confront the shape-shifting entity known as Pennywise the Clown. The film’s exceptional cast, and the blend of horror and heart make it one of the best horror movies ever made.
7. A Quiet Place
“A Quiet Place” is a 2018 horror film directed by John Krasinski, set in a post-apocalyptic world where creatures hunt by sound. The film’s use of sound and unique premise creates a tense and immersive atmosphere, while exceptional performances by the cast, particularly Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmonds, add depth to the characters. The exploration of themes such as family, sacrifice, and survival make it not just a horror movie, but a thoughtful drama.
8. The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense was produced in 1999 by Barry Mendel, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. It’s the story of a young boy who receives visits from ghosts. He’s too afraid to tell anybody but the child psychologist, who listens to the boy and tries to help him. Dark secrets about the miscommunication of ghosts are waiting for them, and the movie cleverly lays down clues about the twist that occurs at the end. A clever plot and suspence make this horror movie a must-see for enthusiasts!
9. World War Z
“World War Z” is a 2013 horror film directed by Marc Forster and is considered one of the great horror movies of the past decade. The movie follows a former United Nations employee’s journey as he travels across the globe in search of a cure for a zombie pandemic while trying to protect his family. The film’s strengths include the intensity of the action, impressive special effects, a fast-paced and suspenseful storyline, and engaging performances, particularly by Brad Pitt. The exploration of themes such as survival, sacrifice, and the consequences of human actions adds a level of depth and complexity to the movie. Furthermore, the film has had a significant impact on the zombie sub-genre of horror movies and inspired numerous films, TV shows, and video games.
“Hereditary” is a 2018 horror film directed by Ari Aster and is considered one of the great horror movies of recent times. The movie follows the Graham family as they struggle with their grief and the unsettling events that follow the death of the grandmother. The film’s direction, masterful use of symbolism, cinematography, and score create a sense of unease and dread throughout the film. Toni Collette delivers a powerful performance as the mother, Annie, whose family is haunted by dark secrets and a sinister presence. The movie’s impact is long-lasting, inspiring discussions and debates among viewers about its meaning and themes.
From the classic supernatural horror of “The Exorcist” to the post-apocalyptic tension of “A Quiet Place,” these films have captivated audiences with their ability to scare, shock, and thrill. These movies continue to inspire new generations of horror filmmakers and enthusiasts, and their legacy is a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring appeal of the horror genre.
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Not sure what to buy for your loved ones this year? Still singing the recession blues? Consider buying nothing at all.
I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday, I didn’t buy anything today, and I won’t tomorrow. This holiday season, I won’t be going near a mall. Under our tree, there will be no plastic toys, no new clothes, and no last-minute matched set of leopard-print mugs for my sister when I panic on Christmas Eve because I have no idea what she wants. There also wont be any dipping into my savings accounts to buy gifts.
Thousands of families will be doing exactly the same thing this year as part of The Compact. The Compact has a simple premise: Everyone who signs on agrees to “buy nothing new” for one year.
Gifts for Kids
For tips on surviving a frugal holiday, I turned to the Non-Consumer Advocate, Katy Wolk-Stanley. Katy is coming into her third year on The Compact. And as a mom of two boys, she knows a thing or two about kids and holiday shopping.
“Christmas is a huge challenge for people who are trying to save money, and for people who are trying to minimize their garbage output and the low-quality stuff that comes into their family,” Katy says.
Here are her guidelines for giving to children during the holiday season:
Shopping is okay. Katy made it clear that “not buying new” doesn’t mean “no shopping”. She swears by Goodwill and consignment shops. Buying used, she points out, not only saves money, but it’s always a “greener” choice than buying a newly-manufactured item. Online, you can surf eBay or your local Craigslist for second-hand treasures.
Swapping is even better. “You could do a gift swap where people get together, bring the toys that aren’t being used, and swap,” Katy says. “You’d have to make it an evening without kids, which has its own benefits!”
Presentation matters. Some kids will be looking for “new” gifts under the tree, and new to them means boxes and brands. Katy suggests looking in higher-end kids’ consignment shops, where you can often find gifts still in their boxes. For kids and adults, Katy offers lots of creative wrapping ideas, like presenting movie tickets with a box of movie-theater candy. For families, try giving toddlers play silks (long pieces of colorful silk) as a gift, and then use the silks to wrap gifts each year for the kids as they grow older.
Santa buys second-hand, too. My kids still believe in Santa Claus. They’re expecting a pile of Stuff under that tree come Christmas morning. I ordered them a classic dollhouse from “Santa’s workshop” (read: eBay). They’ll get to spend the morning unwrapping each little piece of furniture, instead of a dozen different gifts.
Be creative. Last year, Katy gave each of her boys a kitten. Rather than put live kittens under the tree, she put some stuffed animals they already had under there with paper tags around their necks that said, “Please exchange me for a real kitten.”
Don’t be afraid. Chemicals like lead, BPA, and phthalates are common in older toys (even ones that were new last Christmas). Sharp edges and loose parts can cause accidents. A simple way to avoid these problems? Buy simple toys. Unpainted wood gifts, for example, are free of toxins regardless of their vintage. Another simple option: Don’t worry about it. You probably haven’t carefully researched every new toy that comes in the door. Today’s used toys are no more dangerous than last year’s new ones.
Talk to your relatives. “Just explain that you’re trying to decrease the number of gifts given to your children and talk about why you’re doing it,” Katy says. “Possibly offer some other ideas where a person can be creative and still do something special for a child that they love.” Easy for her to say. I’m a pansy when it comes to tough talks, so last year I sent mom a letter asking her to “tell Santa” what kinds of gifts would be most appreciated.
From the archives: Here’s a classic look at the four things children really want for Christmas.
Gifts for Grown-Ups
Toys, books, clothes and treats will take care of most children’s wish lists. But most of us have adults we’re expected to exchange gifts with too. From the office party to family festivities, we find ourselves shopping for friends and relatives.
Here are a few great ideas to replace the leopard-print mugs and bottles of wine you might have been handing out in past years:
Art. Art may technically be Stuff, but it’s a far cry from imported plastic junk. My most treasured gifts in the past year have been original art pieces by photographer Molly Tomlinson. These gifts can be surprisingly affordable. Many good-but-not-famous artists sell their work for $20 to $50 — no more than you’d spend on a Big Plastic Thing at the mall. To find good original art, go to holiday craft fairs, visit local studios, or search the listings on Etsy.
Time. Many people love gifts of time. You can offer to babysit, to come to their house and help with an organizing project, or to paint their dining room. Last year, my husband gave me a pretty card with a year’s worth of babysitting commitments from friends and family. I burst into tears on the spot, but I’ve been all smiles every month since when we drop our kids off and go out for an evening alone together.
Experiences. Movie tickets. A gift certificate to a favorite restaurant. Museum memberships. While a non-material gift may seem better suited to adults, even little kids can enjoy them. Last year, my mother presented my kids with a yearlong membership to the New England Aquarium. She took them there the day after Christmas, and they were also able to enjoy it several more times throughout the year.
Charity. Charities depend on holiday season donations to make their year-end numbers work. You can help them out and cross some items off your gift list in one blow by donating in a loved one’s name. Charities like Heifer International, Kiva and the Red Cross all make it fun and easy with “virtual gifts”. For example, Heifer lets you give a family in the developing world a cow on your mom’s behalf. Have a cow, Mom!
Fancy food. Who doesn’t love food? From baked goodies to homemade salsa, it’s hard to go wrong with tasty treats under the tree. Just be sure you know the giftee’s dietary restrictions. Anaphylactic shock is no one’s idea of a happy holiday.
Handcrafts. It’s a time-honored tradition to give your own handcrafts to loved ones during the holiday season. You probably don’t have time to knit sweaters for everyone on your gift list, but many lovely crafts are easy and quick. You can get your kids involved in making ornaments, ceramic handprints or other treasures for grandparents. Craft supplies themselves can get expensive, but if you have a skill like knitting you can make beautiful unique gifts.
From the archives: One of the most popular posts in GRS history features more than 30 homemade Christmas gifts you make yourself.
Nothing at all Do you have to exchange gifts with every adult in your family? With your coworkers? Your friends? Think carefully about who to put on your gift list, and who would be better served by a thoughtful card or a warm phone call.
Many people have probably done their shopping already, so it’s too late to change course. But there’s always next year. (Or, if you’re a last-minute shopper like J.D., there’s still this year.) And consider joining The Compact in January. You’ll have lots of company, and a whole year to work up to a non-consumer holiday in 2011.