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How Much Should I Have Saved in My 401k?

Retirement is supposed to be the golden age of relaxation. Whether it be reading the garden, lazy days spent fishing, or early mornings on the golf course, when you retire, there are no bosses or daily meetings to preoccupy you. But what is the best way to get there?

Saving for retirement can seem daunting, especially when you consider housing expenses, student loan debt, and other day-to-day living expenses.

The average American retirement savings leave much to be desired. Most Americans nearing retirement age in the U.S. have only 12% of the recommended $1 million saved.

Actively preparing for retirement is one of the best ways to ensure you can spend your later years relaxing and enjoying your well-earned time off. There are a wide variety of accounts that allow you to save for retirement, from Traditional and Roth IRAs to a 401k, 403b, or other investment accounts. One of the most popular retirement vehicles is the 401k.

If you’re getting ahead on saving for retirement you may be wondering “how much should I have in my 401k?” While the answer to that varies depending on your financial situation, age, and more, there are a few retirement guidelines that can help you better prepare for the future.

What Is a 401k?

A 401k is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that allows both you and your employer to make contributions to the account. If your employer offers a 401k plan, you are most likely able to select a percentage or specific monetary amount to contribute to your 401k from each paycheck.

One of the major benefits of a 401k is that your employer can also make contributions. If your employer offers matching contributions, it makes sense to participate in the 401k plan, at least up until the matching maximum. Matched contributions are determined at your employer’s discretion, so check your company policy to see what is offered at your workplace.

There are two kinds of 401ks. When you contribute money to a traditional 401k, the money is tax deductible, but will be taxed when you withdraw it in retirement, at the income bracket you are in at that time. When you contribute to a Roth 401k, the money is taxed at the time of contribution, at the tax rate you are currently in. But it’s not taxed when you withdraw the money.

For both Roth and Traditional 401ks, the contribution limit for 2018 is $18,500. If you are over the age of 50, you are allowed to contribute an additional $6,000, known as a catch-up contribution. When you contribute money to a 401k, it is intended to be used in retirement .

Because of this, there is a penalty if you withdraw money before the age of 59 ½. On the other side of the age spectrum, if you do not begin withdrawals by the age of 70 ½, you will be faced with fines and penalties.

Average 401k Balance by Age

Your readiness for retirement will depend on a few factors; including your age, income, and expected retirement age. While everyone’s situation is different, it’s never too early—or too late—to start preparing for retirement.

To see if you’re on track with your retirement goals, take advantage of free online resources, like a retirement calculator that will help you estimate your financial readiness for retirement.

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better. But if you’ve gotten a late start, there are ways to boost your retirement savings. As you age, your strategies for saving for retirement will shift. Here’s what to expect in your 20s and beyond.

In Your 20s

You’re just starting out in the work force and chances are you’re still paying off your student loan debt. While paying off your student loans and spending money on happy hour may seem more important than saving for retirement, the earlier you begin saving, the more time you will have to benefit from compound interest.

Compound interest is interest calculated on the initial principal and on the interest accumulated over the previous deposit period. This means saving for retirement in your 20s has significant advantages when you are finally ready to retire. Some experts think by the time you turn 30 , you should have saved one year’s salary toward your retirement. The average 401k savings for someone in their 20s in 2017 was $9,900.

In Your 30s

Your 30s are when you want to kick your retirement savings into high gear. It’s a good rule of thumb to up your retirement savings contributions to 15% of your monthly income . You may have other expenses like kids or a mortgage, but you’re also likely making a bit more money than you were in your 20s—so take advantage and invest some of that money in your future.

No one else will be looking out for your financial health in retirement. The average 401k savings for someone in their 30s in 2017 was $38,400.

In Your 40s

By the time you have reached your 40s, you should have a considerable chunk of change socked away for retirement. Common financial advice is that you have at least three times your annual salary saved at 40 if you intend to retire at 67. Often times, your 40s are also when you’re faced with financing your children’s education.

And when push comes to shove, many parents will put their child’s education ahead of their retirement savings. You’re now considerably closer to retirement than you were at 22, so consider opening an independents retirement savings account like an IRA, in addition to contributing to your company’s 401k plan.

Diversifying your investments may help reduce some investment risk. The average 401k savings for someone in their 40s in 2017 was $91,000.

In Your 50s

When you turn 50, you can begin making catch-up contributions to your 401k and IRA. You can contribute an additional $6,000 a year to a 401k and an additional $1,000 a year to your IRA. Take advantage of these catch-up contributions and continue to save.

Consider adding any bonuses or extra income into your 401k to boost your savings. The average 401k savings for someone in their 50s in 2017 was $152,700.

In Your 60s

As you get into your 60s, you can see retirement at the next exit. Now would be a good time to adjust your investments into less risky options. As retirement becomes more real, take the time to prepare for the unexpected and safeguard some of your investments. The average 401k savings for someone in their 60s in 2017 was $167,700.

But the average couple in their mid-60s will have to cover approximately $280,000 in health care costs. Make sure your retirement plan accounts for health care costs.

About 70% of Americans surveyed in 2016 said they plan to work as long as possible. Extending your working years could lead to financial gains down the road. Depending on when you were born, you qualify for Social Security benefits at different ages. If you were born after 1960, you won’t be able to collect Social Security until you are 67.

Invest with SoFi Invest®

If you are looking for opportunities to expand your retirement savings and complement your employer-sponsored 401k plan, consider investing with SoFi. If you have an old 401K, we can help you find out how much you are paying in management fees. Then, we can help you determine the impact of rolling over your 401K into an IRA with SoFi. Schedule an appointment here.

Additionally, at SoFi, we offer a competitive wealth management account with no SoFi management fees and members get complimentary access to financial advisors.

We’ll work with you to establish your financial goals and determine the risk profile you are most comfortable with. SoFi will work to diversify your investments and automatically rebalance your profile as needed. You can start investing with as little as $100.

Ready to take control of your financial future? See how a SoFi Invest account can help you reach your retirement goals.


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SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance.
This information isn’t financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on specific financial needs, goals and risk appetite.
Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit or fully protect loss in a down market.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC, a registered investment advisor.
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10 Financial Milestones to Achieve in Your 30s

When you become an official 30-something, the constant advice from parents, friends, and money experts to start investing in your future may sound like a broken record that you want to turn off. But they’re right. While you might think you still have plenty of time to start saving, consider this — one in three U.S. employees expects to work past age 70, and only 26% expect to retire before age 65.

Those are sobering statistics, especially when predicting how they might look for today’s young workforce. The good news is that even if you spent your 20s with a cavalier attitude toward finances, it’s not too late to shore up your long-term financial goals.

And just imagine following a financial strategy that takes you right back to that carefree lifestyle when you’re in your golden years — instead of having to take a part-time job to make ends meet.

Here is a list of 10 financial milestones to strive for during your 30s that can kick-start your savings, but let’s be honest — some of this might hurt a little. Saving money means sacrifice, compromise, and diligence, but always remember the end goal. Retirement. Complete, fully unemployed (unless you just really want to work), worry-free retirement.

1. Establish a Good Credit Score

We put this at number one because good credit can lead to better results with everything else finance-related. It determines the interest rate you’ll pay on a new car or house, (see number three), and how much you can save if you refinance your student loans (see number two). Bottom line, a good credit score equals cash saved.

And even better news? It doesn’t have to be perfect. A target score of 740 or more will put you into favorable range for lenders. If you have no credit or low credit, educate yourself on ways to improve your credit score. Find your current score via a number of free websites, including Credit Karma , and learn ways to better manage your debt.

2. Pay off Your Student Loans

This is a huge one. By the time you reach 40, you’ll be almost 20 years out of college: It’s time to graduate from that payment. One thing to note is that you don’t have to stick with your original payment plan.

Refinancing your student loan debt could lead to considerable monthly savings, even if the interest rate drops by just half a percentage point. SoFi’s student loan advisors can help you map out a way to refinance your debt, and remember that the higher your credit score, the better your rate will be.

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3. Get Rid of the Credit Card Debt

High-interest credit card payments are among the most likely financial hurdles to keep you from getting ahead. If you are paying on several high-interest cards at once, SoFi can help you make a plan to get out of debt and stay out. A number of free debt calculators are available online to help you get a solid picture of your overall debt.

4. Invest in your Retirement

It might be one of the most frequently asked questions about retirement: How much savings should I have? The answer is based on your retirement goal, so a good way to answer that question is to start at the end and work all the way back to a monthly investment goal. Once you have that number in mind, take every opportunity to meet that number, and exceed it where possible.

Many employers offer 401(k) matching programs, and it’s a powerful tool for supercharging your investment. Consider contributing at least up to the amount of your employer match. Another easy way to invest is a high-yield savings account, which is a growing trend. If you’ve managed to eliminate or lower some monthly debt payments, consider putting at least a portion of your newfound cash into retirement instead.

5. Create an Emergency Fund

Living paycheck to paycheck can work for a while, but life is inevitably bound to happen. Unexpected medical bills, storm damage, sudden job loss, and a host of other scenarios could add a financial burden to your household if you aren’t prepared.

A good goal for an emergency fund would be six months’ income, and a high-yield savings account can help you get there faster. The key to a successful emergency fund is to resist the urge to dip into those funds for everyday use.

6. Establish a Monthly Money Routine

Especially if you are the type who can’t remember where all the money went last week, consider creating a budget for monthly management, and stick to it. A host of budgeting apps are available to meet your needs or your style, so set one up, turn on the notifications and make it your most-used app.

Think of it like calorie counting: Nothing goes in your body (or in this case, out of your bank account) without being logged. It creates financial discipline and good habits quickly, and may even become a fun challenge. As part of that routine, set reminders to stay on top of your bills, because late payments can negatively affect your credit score.

7. Become a Homeowner

The cost of a house down payment when your career is young can seem unachievable, but becoming a homeowner in your 30s, or even buying a house in your 20s, could be a smart investment. And it’s not as difficult as you think.

One way to start saving money would be to take any cash you save from refinancing student loans or consolidating credit card debt and set it aside for your down payment. If you’ve already learned to live without that money, it could be a relatively painless transition. SoFi’s home buyer’s guide has even more tips and advice to help you get started.

8. Protect your Life

Find out whether your employer offers life insurance and take advantage of it. Often, it is only a few dollars (if not pennies) per month, which is a small amount to pay for peace of mind. If you have family (or even if you don’t), also consider supplemental life insurance as well.

Establishing a life insurance plan in your 20s, when you’re the picture of health, can be a lot more affordable than waiting until health problems start to creep up.

Nothing is more important than having a plan when the unexpected happens. With SoFi Protect via Ladder, you can set up an affordable life insurance plan for you and your loved ones.*

9. Protect your Income

Signing on for your employer’s disability insurance plan pulls double duty because it not only gives you time off to get the medical help you need, but it also protects your job. Like life insurance, short-term and long-term disability plans can cost mere dollars per paycheck. Combined with the Family Medical Leave Act, you can be confident that your salary is secure. Think of your income as your biggest asset, and work hard to protect it.

10. Budget in Some Fun

Saving money can be a painful process that requires a lot of self-discipline and focus, especially when your friends are all meeting at the new restaurant in town and you’re staring at a frozen lunch. But hard work deserves reward, and money shouldn’t be all business.

Be sure to set aside a little bit of disposable income for yourself, and again, consider a checking and savings account to make your hard-earned money earn money.

The SoFi wealth management team is available to help you develop a money strategy that’s right for you. Contact us today for a consultation.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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Debt Financing a Small Business or Startup

Starting your own business is one of the most challenging—and rewarding—leaps you can take with your career. Turning your idea into a successful, thriving firm takes ingenuity, determination, and grit. It also takes a decent chunk of capital. You have to spend money to make money, right?

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, 57% of start-up businesses rely on personal savings to get their firms going. But if you’re just starting out or are planning an expansion to take your business to the next level, you might need more than you feel comfortable taking out of your savings.

Luckily, there are other sources of financing available that can help offset your costs. In fact, a recent National Small Business Association report found that available financing for small firms is on the rise, with 73% of businesses being able to access the financing they need.

Whether you need to get your business off the ground, expand your reach, or have cash on hand, it can take some creativity to find the right financing to help you thrive. Here are the basics of debt financing to help you find the right solution for your business.

What is Debt Financing?

Debt financing is the technical term for borrowing money from a lender to help run your business (as opposed to raising equity to cover your costs). Examples of debt financing include small business loans and lines of credit. Small businesses use debt financing to cover a range of expenses including start-up costs, operations, equipment, and repairs.

How Does Debt Financing Work?

Essentially, debt financing means borrowing money from a lender that you agree to pay back, typically with interest. If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you’ve financed a debt. The terms of the financing are agreed upon in advance, and you are mostly free to use the money however you wish.

Getting debt financing with favorable terms can be dependent on your credit score and financial profile. However, it is a relatively quick way to secure funds.

What’s the Difference Between Debt Financing and Equity Financing?

Equity financing refers to selling shares of a business in exchange for capital. Basically, this means finding investors who, in exchange for a portion of the business, help fund it. Equity financing can include everything from raising funds from friends and family to securing multiple rounds of financing from angel investors and venture capital firms.

A benefit of equity financing is that it’s money that is given rather than lent, meaning that you won’t have to pay interest. Another benefit is the investors themselves: Having good relationships with them can lead to important connections, mentorship, and resources to help your business grow.

Of course, a potential downside to equity financing is losing some control over the business and its operations (for example, many investors may want a seat on your board in exchange for funding . It can also take a long time—and a lot of effort—to attract and secure investors.

What’s the Difference Between Short and Long-Term Debt Financing?

Debt financing can be divided up into categories of short-term and long-term. Short-term debt financing refers to loans that are repaid over a period of a year or less. This includes everything from using a credit card, to opening a line of credit that you repay as you use it. Short-term financing can be useful for everyday expenses, small emergency repairs, and to cover cash flow.

Businesses use long-term debt financing to cover larger purchases such as expensive equipment, renovations, or real estate purchases. This can include mortgages or business loans which have multiple-year repayment plans. Often lenders require these types of loans to be secured by the assets that they are helping you purchase. For instance, a property mortgage would be secured by the property itself.

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What Debt Financing Options are Available?

If you’re looking for an immediate solution, short-term debt financing may be a good place to start. For covering smaller day-to-day expenses that you plan to pay back quickly, a credit card might be the easiest and most familiar option.

Opening a line of credit can also be a handy way to manage cash flow or finance an expansion over a period of time. A line of credit works a bit like a credit card, but with more flexibility.

Lines of credit tend to be larger than credit card limits, and they usually have more competitive interest rates. Just like a credit card, you can borrow what you need as you need it, and then make monthly repayments.

About SoFi

SoFi is a new kind of finance company that offers personal loans, student loan refinancing, mortgage refinancing, and more. Learn more today to see how SoFi can help you reach your financial goals.


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

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Saving Money as a Family

Perhaps you define your family as you and your partner—or maybe you have a house full of children. No matter how big or small your family is, you have goals to achieve and dreams to accomplish.

Sometimes, you’ll already be able to fund them, but, often, you need to save money to make these dreams comes true, and here you’ll find strategies you can customize for your own family’s wants and needs. When thinking about which strategies are best for saving your family money, always keep your goals in mind.

Ask Yourself These Questions:

1) What are you saving for? Are you saving to create an emergency fund for peace of mind? Will your goals then transition into a savings plan for a fabulous summer vacation?
2) How much do you need to achieve your goals?
3) Where can you cut expenses to free up cash flow and make it easier for your family to save?

Now, look at these tips and customize as needed to help achieve your goals.

Optimize Your Mindset for Saving

If you approach your new saving strategies with excitement, seeing them as an opportunity to accomplish family goals, not only are you probably more likely to be successful, but the process will also be more enjoyable.

With this attitude, strategies that might have seemed too challenging in the past can suddenly be transformed into an adventure. Plus, when the entire family is participating, you naturally create momentum to achieve goals and celebrate progress.

From “Should Have” to “Should” to “Will”

When it comes to money management, virtually everyone has some “should have” items to put on their list:

•   I should have started saving earlier in my life.
•   I should have created a better budget.
•   I should have [Fill in the blank and know you aren’t alone!].

Now, take those thoughts and turn “should have” into the present tense:

•   I should start saving.
•   I should create a better budget.
•   I should [fill in the blank].

Next, make it stronger by changing “should” to “will”:

•   I will start saving.
•   I will create a better budget.
•   I will [fill in the blank].

You’re ready to take positive steps to save. Here are some additional tips to help your family keep the right attitude:

•   Don’t compare your financial situation to anyone else’s. Create a plan that works for your financial situation and goals.
•   Create a savings plan and stick to it.
•   Celebrate successes.

Freeing up Cash Flow to Save

As a starting formula, calculate these three sums:

•   Net monthly income (after taxes)
•   Monthly expenses: housing/utilities, car payments, student loan payments, credit card payments, etc.
•   Subtract the second amount from the first and determine how much money you can save out of what remains.

Now, what expenses can you eliminate to free up even more cash flow? Do you have automatic withdrawals for services that you don’t really use anymore?

One place where families can often cut back is food:

•   Create a monthly budget for food expenses, including grocery shopping and eating out.
•   Determine what role restaurants will play in your family budget. Some families are more than willing to give up eating out as part of their new lifestyle, while others like to keep some dining out dollars in their monthly budget.
•   Many families find it helps to plan meals before they go grocery shopping. If that’s you, create a list to follow at the store. If possible, go without any small children who may have different ideas about what you should buy.
•   Manage leftovers well and make sure you use food before expiration dates.

Check contract payments and see if you can get better prices for your home and car insurance, cell phone bills, cable contracts, and more. Will your current vendors match pricing available from their competitors?

Two more ways to free up cash flow are:

•   Determine what loans are close to being paid off: How much will that payoff boost your ability to save? If it’s by a significant amount, consider focusing your energy on paying off those bills.
•   Consider consolidating high-interest credit cards and loans into a low-interestpersonal loan.

Saving My Family Money: Tips for Parents

Children tend to follow the lead of their parents, so how you present any changes in your daily routines is crucial. For example, if you realize that you’re blowing a whole lot of money on game machines at a local pizza place, get creative!

Start making pizzas at home with your kids—complete with silly faces made out of pepperoni and veggies and followed by family game night. The first time you do this, your children might be frustrated, but your enthusiasm and creativity can turn the tide.

If you realize that you overspend on birthday celebrations for your kids, cut back on gift-giving costs but turn the present-opening experience into a game. What if you hid the presents and gave the birthday boy or girl clues to follow? Play music in the background, making it louder when your child is getting closer and lower it when he or she is going in the wrong direction.

Use visuals to help your children become part of the family savings plan. You can create colorful charts to show your youngsters how much you want to save and your progress. Give each one of them fun piggy banks and invite them to start saving. Once there is enough money in a child’s piggy bank, you might take him or her to the bank to open a savings account, and make it a time of celebration.

And most important, pay attention to how you talk about money and saving around your children. Be positive instead of dwelling on the negative. Don’t apologize for giving fewer or less expensive gifts—make the most of the new traditions.

Saving for the Future

As you build up an emergency savings fund (say, three to six months’ worth of living expenses) and otherwise begin to reach your goals, saving for the future may transform into investing. And, although the terms “savings” and “investing” are sometimes interchangeably used, there are stark differences. For example, when you’re building up your savings, you are likely:

•   Adding money to a checking and savings account in regular increments
•   Saving with a specific purpose in mind for those funds, whether it’s a rainy-day fund or a down payment on a new house
•   Focusing on shorter-term financial goals over the next two to three years

When you invest, you take on a degree of risk. Investments aren’t FDIC insured (like a bank account), and account balances are subject to market fluctuations.

But often, people invest in light of longer-term goals, whether it’s funding your kid’s college education or planning for retirement. Bonds, and mutual funds, are very common investments, as are ETFs.

At SoFi, we believe that everyone should have the ability to invest in their family’s future, and they should be able to access quality investment management. So, even if you’re new to investing, you can start quickly and easily with an initial deposit of $100.

When you make an investment appointment online, you start by letting us know which of these areas is of interest to you:

•   SoFi Invest® Overview
•   Debt Management Strategies
•   Home Ownership Planning
•   Planning for Children
•   Financial Checkup
•   Financial Independence and Retirement Planning Strategies

To benefit from today’s automated investment technology and the insight of professional human advisors, contact SoFi. Because our advisors don’t receive commissions, they don’t try to sell you anything that isn’t in your best financial interest. Instead, they can help create a plan that’s customized for your unique needs and goals.

SoFi is ready to help you invest as a family. Start today by signing up for an investment account with SoFi.


SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance.
This information isn’t financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on specific financial needs, goals and risk appetite.
SoFi doesn’t provide tax or legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique. Consult with a qualified tax advisor or attorney.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC, a registered investment advisor.
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I Due: How To Tackle Student Loan Debt Without Sidelining Your Marriage

Getting married soon? Congratulations! Just be warned—there comes a moment in many weddings when half the guests suddenly slip away to watch a big game (just follow the cheers to find your wedding party).

Football especially is a pretty good analogy for a wedding – after all, in both football and marriage, you’re either tackling things together or you’re being tackled by them. Money is a common example of this (in marriage, not football), as the growing number of couples dealing with student loan debt can attest.

Whether the loans belong to you, your spouse or all of the above, once you get married it doesn’t really matter anymore. Paying off debt is now something you can tackle together. It may be tough, but with open communication and planning you can work as a team to get that student loan linebacker off your, er, back.

So what’s the best strategy for taking down student loans without letting them clobber your marriage? Here are five tips for proactively – and collaboratively – running a play that could help lead to the big pay-off: a debt-free happily ever after.

Tip #1: Create Your Big Financial Picture

Preparing to take on a big financial goal usually requires some conversation and preparation upfront. Before making any decisions, sit down and talk about your short- and long-term financial objectives, and make sure you’re both on the same page (or as close to it as possible). This can be an overwhelming topic, so see if you can break it down into chunks.

Have you established a household budget? How do student loans (and paying them off) fit into your long-term and short-term goals? Should you start aggressively paying off debt, or might it be better for you to ramp up over time? What other factors (e.g., buying a home, changing careers, having children, etc.) could affect your decisions?

Not only can this exercise help give you more clarity to create an action plan, it can also actually be kind of fun – after all, planning a life together is part of the reason you got married in the first place. The key is to listen to each other and remember that you’re both on the same team.

Tip #2: Take Advantage of Technology

Once you’re clear on the big picture, it’s time to get into the weeds. Many people have more than one student loan, often with multiple lenders, so a good place to start can be to gather all of your loan info in one place. You can use an online student loan management tool to collect this information, compare student loan repayment options, and even analyze prepayment strategies.

After crunching the numbers, your debt payoff strategy may include putting extra money toward your loans each month, which means creating and sticking to a budget that supports that goal. Platforms like Mint and Learnvest can help you aggregate household accounts and track spending.

Note: tracking your spending so precisely may feel like ripping off a bandage at first, but over time, this kind of discipline can help you better see where your money goes and help you make conscious choices about your spending. And once you have your budget in place, these apps can be set up to alert you both when spending is getting off track.

Tip #3: Define The Who, What, When

Whether your finances are separate or combined, you’ll probably want to come to an agreement on how to collectively pay all of your financial obligations. Many couples address this based on each person’s share of the total household income.

For example, if one person makes 40% and the other makes 60%, the former might pay 40% of the shared bills and the latter might pay 60%. Others find it simpler and more cohesive to have one household checking account and pay all bills from there.

However you decide to split things up, it could make things much easier to agree upon a plan that accounts for everything, because missed payments can potentially impact your credit (and/or your spouse’s), making your future financial objectives that much tougher to achieve.

Tip #4: Look For Opportunities to Optimize

Okay, so now you’ve established a plan and a budget, and you know who’s on point for each bill. You’re on the path to getting student loan debt off your plate. Is there anything else you can do to speed up the process?

Short of winning the lottery, the most common ways to accelerate student loan payoff are prepayment (meaning, paying more than the minimum) or lowering the interest rate, the latter of which is most commonly accomplished through refinancing.

If you qualify to refinance your student loans, you have a few possibilities: you can lower your monthly payments (by choosing a longer term) or lower your interest rate (which could also lower your monthly payments) – or you could shorten the payment term, and that means you could save money on interest over the life of the loan – money that could come in handy for those other financial goals you’ve both agreed to pursue.

Tip #5: Be on the Same Team

Living with debt is stressful for any couple, but being part of a relationship has its advantages, too. There’s a reason that weight loss experts often recommend finding a “buddy” to help cheer you on and keep you honest in your diet and exercise journey – and the same applies for achieving a big goal like paying off student loan debt.

Keep it positive and keep the lines of communication open, and you may even find that the journey to being debt-free makes your marriage even stronger – so you can take the hits that come your way as easily as your favorite team does.

Check out SoFi to see how you can save money by refinancing your student loans.


The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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