Commodity ETF: What It Is and Examples

Commodity exchange-traded funds are ETFs that invest in hard and soft commodities. Commodities are raw materials — e.g. grain, precious metals, livestock, energy products — used for direct consumption or to produce other goods. Crude oil, corn, and copper are examples of commonly traded commodities.

Investing in a commodity ETF can offer exposure to one or more types of commodities within a single vehicle. There are different types of commodity ETFs to choose when building a diversified portfolio.

Key Points

•   Commodity ETFs are exchange-traded funds that invest in hard and soft commodities like grain, precious metals, livestock, and energy products.

•   They offer exposure to commodities within a single investment vehicle and can be bought and sold on a brokerage account.

•   Commodity ETFs can be physically backed, futures-based, or focused on commodity companies.

•   Pros of commodity ETFs include diversification, inflationary protection, and access to commodities, while cons include volatility and lack of dividends.

What Is a Commodity ETF?

A commodity ETF is an exchange-traded fund that specifically invests in commodities or companies involved in the extraction or production processing of commodities.

An ETF or exchange-traded fund combines features of mutual funds and stocks, in that they offer exposure to an underlying group of assets (e.g. stocks, bonds, derivatives). But unlike mutual funds, ETFs trade on an exchange.Whether you have broad or narrow exposure to commodities within a single ETF can depend on how it’s managed and its objectives.

Like other exchange-traded funds, commodity ETFs can be bought and sold inside a brokerage account. Each fund can have an expense ratio, which determines the cost of owning it annually, and brokerages may charge transaction fees when you buy or sell shares.

Commodity ETFs fall under the rubric of alternative investments, which also applies to private equity and hedge funds.

💡 Quick Tip: Alternative investments provide exposure to sectors outside traditional asset classes like stocks, bonds, and cash. Some of the most common types of alternative investments include commodities, real estate, foreign currency, private credit, private equity, collectibles, and hedge funds.

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How Do Commodity ETFs Work?

Commodity ETFs are pooled investments, with multiple investors owning shares. The fund manager determines which commodities the fund will hold and when to buy or sell holdings within the fund. When you buy shares of a commodity ETF, you invest in everything that’s held within the fund.

In many cases, that includes commodities futures contracts. A commodity futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a set amount of a commodity at a future date for a specified price. That’s an advantage for investors who may be interested in trading futures but lack the know-how to do so.

A commodity ETF may follow an active or passive management strategy. Many commodity ETFs are structured as index funds. An index fund aims to track and match the performance of an underlying benchmark. These types of commodity ETFs are passively managed.

Actively-managed funds, by comparison, typically aim to outstrip market returns but may entail more risk to investors.

Types of Commodity ETFs

Commodity ETFs aren’t all designed with the same objectives in mind. There are different types of commodity ETFs you might invest in, depending on your goals, diversification needs, and risk tolerance.

Here are some of the most common ETF options commodities investors may choose from.

Physically Backed ETFs

A physically backed ETF physically holds the commodity or commodities it trades. For example, a physically backed ETF that invests in precious metals may store gold, silver, platinum, or palladium bars in a secure vault at a bank.

It’s more common for physically backed ETFs to hold hard commodities like precious metals, since these are relatively easy to transport and don’t have a shelf life expiration date. It’s less likely to see physically backed ETFs that invest in agricultural goods like wheat or corn, as they cannot be stored for extended periods.

Futures-Based ETFs

Futures-based ETFs invest in commodities futures contracts, rather than holding or storing physical commodities. That can reduce the overall management costs, resulting in lower expense ratios for investors.

A futures-based ETF may hold commodities contracts that are close to expiration, then roll them into new contracts before the expiration date. Depending on the price of the new futures contract, this strategy may result in a cost or gain for investors.

Commodity Company ETFs

Commodity company ETFs invest in companies that produce or process commodities. For example, this type of ETF may invest in oil and gas companies, cattle farming operations, or companies that operate palm oil plantations.

These types of commodity ETFs are similar to equity ETFs, since the investment is in the company rather than the commodity itself.

Examples of Commodity ETFs

Commodity ETFs are not always easily identifiable for investors who are new to this asset class. Here are some of the largest commodity ETF options with a focus on mitigating inflation.

•   SPDR Gold Trust (GLD). SPDR Gold Trust is the largest physically backed gold ETF in the world. The ETF trades on multiple stock exchanges globally, including the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

•   Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE). This commodity ETF invests in companies in the energy industry, including oil and gas companies, pipeline companies, and oilfield services providers.

•   Invesco DB Agriculture Fund (DBA). The Invesco DB Agriculture Fund tracks changes in the DBIQ Diversified Agriculture Index Return, plus the interest income from the fund’s holdings. The index itself is composed of agricultural commodity futures.

•   First Trust Global Tactical Commodity Strategy Fund (FTGC). This commodity ETF is an actively managed fund that offers exposure to energy commodities futures.

•   Invesco Optimum Yield Diversified Commodity Strategy No K-1 ETF (PDBC). PDBC is another actively managed ETF that invests in commodity-linked futures and other financial instruments offering exposure to the most in-demand commodities worldwide.

Pros and Cons of Commodity ETFs

Commodity ETFs have pros and cons like any other investment. It’s helpful to weigh both sides when deciding whether this type of alternative investment aligns with your overall wealth-building strategy.

Pros

•   Diversification. Commodity ETFs can offer a very different risk/return profile than traditional stocks or bonds. Commodities in general tend to have a low correlation with stocks, which can help spread out and manage risk in a portfolio.

•   Inflationary protection. Commodities and inflation typically move in tandem. As the prices of consumer goods and services rise, commodity prices also rise. That can offer investors a hedge of sorts against the impacts of inflation.

•   Access. Direct investment in commodities is generally out of reach for the everyday investor, as it may be quite difficult to hold large quantities of physical goods or raw materials. Commodity ETFs offer a simple and convenient package for investing in commodities without taking physical possession of underlying assets.

Cons

•   Volatility. Compared with other investments, commodities can be much more susceptible to pricing fluctuations as supply and demand wax and wane. Unexpected events, such as a global drought or a war that threatens crop yields, can also catch investors off guard.

•   No dividends. While some ETFs may generate current income for investors in the form of dividends, commodity ETFs typically do not. That could make them less attractive if you’re looking for an additional stream of passive income or are interested in reinvesting dividends to buy more shares.

•   Cost. Physically backed ETFs may pay storage fees to hold underlying commodities. Those costs may be folded into the expense ratio, making the ETF more expensive for investors to own.

Why Invest in Commodity ETFs?

Commodity ETFs can be worth investing in for those who wish to hedge against inflation or generate positive returns when stocks appear to be faltering. They also represent a more accessible alternative to direct investment in commodities, which may be difficult for an individual investor to manage.

Investors who are already trading futures contracts or are learning how to do so may appreciate the accessibility that commodity ETFs can offer. Commodity ETFs tend to be highly liquid, meaning it’s relatively easy to buy and sell shares on an exchange, a feature other alternative investments don’t always share.

A commodity ETF may be less suitable for an investor who has a lower risk tolerance or isn’t knowledgeable about the commodities market or futures trading. Talking to a financial advisor can help you determine whether commodities are something you should be pursuing as part of your broader investment plan.

💡 Quick Tip: Are self-directed brokerage accounts cost efficient? They can be, because they offer the convenience of being able to buy stocks online without using a traditional full-service broker (and the typical broker fees).

Tax Considerations When Holding Commodity ETFs

The type of commodity ETF you invest in can determine their tax treatment. Futures-based ETFs, for example, may experience losses or gains as contracts that are approaching expiration are replaced with new ones. Additionally, commodity ETFs that hold gold, silver, platinum, or palladium may be subject to a higher capital gains tax rate as the IRS considers precious metals to be collectibles.

Furthermore, the IRS 60/40 rule specifies that 60% of commodity capital gains or losses will be treated as long-term, while 40% are treated as short-term capital gains or losses for tax purposes. This rule does not consider how long you hold the investments, which could make commodity ETFs less favorable for investors who hold assets for one year or more.

It’s also important to be aware of how a commodity ETF is structured legally. Many operate as limited partnerships (LPs), which means they pass on annual income and gains or losses as a return of capital. Investors bear the responsibility of reporting their portion of fund profits and losses on Schedule K-1. If you’re not familiar with how to do so, that could add another wrinkle to your year-end tax prep.

The Takeaway

Adding a commodity ETF or two to your portfolio may appeal to you if you’re hoping to add some diversification to your holdings, and are comfortable with a potentially more volatile investment. When deciding which commodity ETFs to invest in, it’s wise to consider the underlying investments and the fund’s overall management strategy, as well as the fees you’ll pay to own it.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


Invest in alts to take your portfolio beyond stocks and bonds.

FAQ

Why is it risky to invest in commodities?

Commodities can be volatile. Commodity prices depend on supply and demand, which can change dramatically owing to weather patterns, technological innovations, supply chain issues, and more.

Do commodity ETFs pay dividends?

Commodity ETFs typically don’t pay dividends to investors, regardless of which type of ETF you have. The goal of investing in commodity ETFs is more often capital appreciation rather than current income.

Is it better to trade physical commodities or ETFs?

For most investors, trading raw material commodities simply isn’t feasible. There are issues of transport, storage, insurance, and liquidity. For that reason, commodity ETFs have emerged to give investors exposure to desired commodities without the physical demands.


Photo credit: iStock/Nastassia Samal

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.


An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the Fund carefully before investing. This and other important information are contained in the Fund’s prospectus. For a current prospectus, please click the Prospectus link on the Fund’s respective page. The prospectus should be read carefully prior to investing.
Alternative investments, including funds that invest in alternative investments, are risky and may not be suitable for all investors. Alternative investments often employ leveraging and other speculative practices that increase an investor's risk of loss to include complete loss of investment, often charge high fees, and can be highly illiquid and volatile. Alternative investments may lack diversification, involve complex tax structures and have delays in reporting important tax information. Registered and unregistered alternative investments are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds.
Please note that Interval Funds are illiquid instruments, hence the ability to trade on your timeline may be restricted. Investors should review the fee schedule for Interval Funds via the prospectus.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


*Borrow at 10%. Utilizing a margin loan is generally considered more appropriate for experienced investors as there are additional costs and risks associated. It is possible to lose more than your initial investment when using margin. Please see SoFi.com/wealth/assets/documents/brokerage-margin-disclosure-statement.pdf for detailed disclosure information.
Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.
SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How to Invest in Commodities: Ways to Invest, Pros/Cons

Commodities are the raw materials or basic goods that are used to produce many of the things you use every day. Investing in commodities such as crude oil, soybeans, livestock, and wheat can be an effective way to diversify a portfolio, hedge against inflation, and potentially generate returns.

Key Points

•   Investing in commodities can diversify a portfolio, hedge against inflation, and potentially generate returns.

•   Commodities offer a low correlation to traditional asset classes like stocks and bonds, reducing market volatility impact.

•   Different ways to invest in commodities include physical ownership, commodity mutual funds and ETFs, commodity futures contracts, individual stocks, and hedge funds.

•   Commodities can act as an inflationary hedge, as their prices tend to rise with increases in consumer prices.

•   Investing in commodities carries risks, including price volatility, geopolitical factors, and the feasibility of physical ownership for individual investors.

Why Invest in Commodities?

Commodities are alternative investments that offer a low correlation to traditional asset classes like stocks or bonds. Thus, holding commodities in your portfolio can help minimize the impact of market volatility, as commodities prices are driven largely by supply and demand rather than the mood of the market.

Investing in commodities can also be a strategic play for investors who are hoping to counter the effects of rising inflation. As prices for consumer goods rise, the prices of the underlying commodities used to produce them also tend to rise. Stock prices, by comparison, do not always move in tandem with inflation.

Commodities can also be highly liquid assets, depending on how you’re trading them. Liquidity may be of importance to investors who are focused on generating short-term returns, versus a longer-term buy-and-hold approach.

💡 Quick Tip: While investing directly in alternative assets often requires high minimum amounts, investing in alts assets through a mutual fund or ETF generally involves a low minimum requirement, making them accessible to retail investors.

Alternative investments,
now for the rest of us.

Start trading funds that include commodities, private credit, real estate, venture capital, and more.


5 Ways to Invest in Commodities

If you’re considering investing in commodities, there are several options to choose from. The one that makes the most sense for you will depend on your risk tolerance, time frame for investing, and how much capital you have to invest.

1. Physical/Direct Ownership

Physical ownership of commodities may be impractical for most individual investors as it involves taking ownership of the actual commodity. Purchasing and storing two tons of wheat, or maintaining 1,000 live animals likely isn’t realistic if you don’t have the proper facilities.

On the easier end of the spectrum, precious metal investors may hold gold or silver as bullion, or coins inside a secure bank vault. But even then, holding quantities of specific metals also require storage, insurance; and reselling these commodities comes with liquidity issues.

2. Commodity Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Commodity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds can offer exposure to commodities without requiring you to hold anything physically. There are three broad categories of commodity funds you might invest in:

•   Physically backed funds. These funds maintain direct ownership of commodities, specifically, precious metals. A gold commodity ETF, for example, may hold gold bars at a bank.

•   Futures-based funds. Futures-based commodity ETFs invest in futures contracts. We’ll explain those in more detail shortly, but in general, a future contract is an agreement to buy or sell an asset at a predetermined price on a set date.

•   Commodity company funds. Commodity company funds invest in commodity producers. For example, you might buy shares in an oil ETF that invests in oil and gas companies, oilfield servicers, and pipeline companies.

The main difference between a commodity mutual fund and a commodity ETF is how they’re traded. Mutual fund prices are set at the end of the trading day, while ETFs trade on an exchange just like a stock. Both commodity mutual funds and ETFs charge expense ratios, which represent the cost of owning the fund on an annual basis.

3. Commodity Futures Contracts

Commodity futures contracts are an agreement to buy or sell an underlying asset at a future date. The contract includes the price at which commodities will be bought or sold. Futures are derivative investments, meaning their value is determined by the price of another asset, i.e., the commodities you’re agreeing to trade.

Trading commodity futures contracts can be risky, as outcomes rely largely on investors making correct assumptions about which commodity prices will move. It’s possible to lose money on futures contracts if you’re expecting prices to increase but they decline instead.

4. Individual Stocks

Investing in stocks of commodity companies is another way to gain exposure to this asset class. For example, if you’re interested in adding energy sector assets to your portfolio you might buy shares in companies that produce oil, natural gas, solar technology, and so on.

Purchasing individual stocks can ensure that you’re only owning the companies that you want to, unlike a commodity mutual fund or ETF, which can hold dozens of different investments. However, picking individual stocks can be a bit more time-consuming and it may take more capital to buy shares if you’re choosing high dollar stocks.

5. Hedge Funds

Hedge funds are private investments that pool money to buy and sell assets, similar to a mutual fund. The difference is that hedge funds tend to use high-risk strategies like short-selling and may require a higher minimum investment to buy in or limit access to accredited investors only. Under SEC rules, an accredited investor is someone who:

•   Has $200,000 or more in annual income ($300,000 for married couples) for the previous two years and expects the same level of income going forward

•   Has a net worth exceeding $1 million, not including their primary residence

Financial professionals who hold certain securities licenses also qualify for accredited status.

Hedge funds can potentially offer higher returns than other commodity investments, but the risks are greater as well. If you’re considering private investment in commodities through a hedge fund you may want to talk to a professional about the pros and cons.

💡 Quick Tip: All investments come with some degree of risk — and some are riskier than others. Before investing online, decide on your investment goals and how much risk you want to take.

How Do You Open a Commodities Investing Account?

Opening a commodities trading account is no different from opening any other type of brokerage account. You’ll first need to decide which brokerage you want to trade with, then complete the necessary paperwork and funding requirements to start trading.

Personal Information

When you open a brokerage account, you’ll need to provide some basic details about yourself. That includes your:

•   Name

•   Date of birth

•   Social Security number

•   Email and phone number

•   Mailing address

•   Driver’s license number

•   Annual income

•   Net worth

•   Employment status

•   Investment objectives and risk tolerance

You may also be asked about your experience with investing and your citizenship status. You’ll need to disclose whether you’re employed by a brokerage firm.

All of this information is required to verify your identity, meet FINRA’s suitability requirements, and comply with anti-money laundering regulations. Net worth and income information may also be used to determine whether you meet the standards for an accredited investor.

Minimum Funds

The minimum amount of money you’ll need to invest in commodities through your brokerage can depend on what you’re investing in. If you’re buying individual commodities stocks, then the stock’s share price will determine how much you’ll need based on the number of shares you plan to buy.

With commodity mutual funds minimums are typically determined by the brokerage. So you might need $1,000, $3,000, or $5,000 to get started, depending on what you’re buying. Commodity ETFs sell on a per-share basis, similar to stocks.

Some brokerages offer fractional share trading, which allows you to buy shares of mutual funds, ETFs, or stocks in increments. The minimum investment may be as low as $1, though it’s important to keep in mind that it can take time to build up the commodity portfolio of your portfolio when investing in such small amounts.

Trading futures can be a little trickier as you may need to meet a minimum investment requirement and margin requirements. Margin is a set amount of money you’re required to deposit with the brokerage as a condition of trading futures contracts.

Margin is typically calculated as a percentage of the contract but it can easily run into the thousands of dollars.

Pros and Cons of Investing in Commodities

Investing in commodities has advantages and disadvantages, and it may not be right for every investor. Examining the pros and cons can help you make a more informed decision about whether it’s something you should pursue.

Pros

•   Commodities can help you diversify your portfolio beyond traditional stocks and bonds.

•   Investing in commodities can act as an inflationary hedge since commodity prices usually move in sync with increases in consumer prices.

•   Commodity ETFs and mutual funds offer a lower barrier to entry versus direct investment or hedge funds, making commodities more accessible to a wider range of investors.

•   Returns may potentially outstrip stocks, bonds, and other investments.

•   Commodity trading may generate short-term profits

Cons

•   Commodity prices can be volatile, as they may be affected by natural disasters, geopolitical conditions, and other factors.

•   Investing in commodities is generally riskier than other types of investments since supply and demand can impact trading.

•   Holding physical ownership of commodities may not be feasible for every investor.

•   Futures trading in commodities is highly speculative and while there may be potential for higher returns, there’s also more risk involved.

Is Investing in Commodities Right for Me?

Whether commodity trading makes sense for you can depend on your preferences concerning risk and your time horizon for investing. You might consider commodities if you are:

•   Comfortable trading the potential for higher returns against higher risk

•   Looking for short-term gains versus a long-term, buy-and-hold investment

•   Savvy about futures contracts (if you plan to trade futures)

•   Have sufficient capital to meet minimum investment requirements

Before investing in commodities, it’s helpful to learn more about the different types and their associated return profiles. It’s also wise to consider any costs you might pay to trade commodity ETFs, mutual funds, and stocks or the margin requirements for commodity futures trading.

The Takeaway

Although the commodities market is complex, commodities themselves are tangible products that are relatively easy to understand. Investing in commodities can take many forms, including direct or cash investment via the spot market, or by investing in commodity-related funds.

Although trading commodities comes with its own set of risks, commodities may offer some protection against inflation and traditional market movements, because these products are driven by supply and demand.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


Invest in alts to take your portfolio beyond stocks and bonds.

FAQ

Are there IRA accounts that specialize in commodity trading?

Some brokerages offer an IRA that’s designed for trading commodity futures contracts. You may also be able to gain exposure to commodity ETFs or mutual funds with a regular traditional or Roth IRA.

How much money do I need to invest in commodities?

The amount of money you’ll need to invest in commodities will depend on which vehicle you’re using. With a commodity stock or ETF, the amount of money required would depend on the share price and the number of shares you plan to purchase. Direct investment, hedge fund investments, or commodity futures contracts may require a larger financial commitment.

Can you make money with commodities?

Investors can make money with commodities through capital appreciation or by trading futures contracts. Returns may be higher than traditional assets but you may need to accept a greater degree of risk when trading commodities.

What is the risk profile for someone investing in commodities?

Investing in commodities often means being comfortable with more risk, as commodity prices can fluctuate quickly. You may want to limit your commodities allocation to 5%-10% of your portfolio to minimize your risk exposure.


Photo credit: iStock/filadendron

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.


An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the Fund carefully before investing. This and other important information are contained in the Fund’s prospectus. For a current prospectus, please click the Prospectus link on the Fund’s respective page. The prospectus should be read carefully prior to investing.
Alternative investments, including funds that invest in alternative investments, are risky and may not be suitable for all investors. Alternative investments often employ leveraging and other speculative practices that increase an investor's risk of loss to include complete loss of investment, often charge high fees, and can be highly illiquid and volatile. Alternative investments may lack diversification, involve complex tax structures and have delays in reporting important tax information. Registered and unregistered alternative investments are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds.
Please note that Interval Funds are illiquid instruments, hence the ability to trade on your timeline may be restricted. Investors should review the fee schedule for Interval Funds via the prospectus.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


*Borrow at 10%. Utilizing a margin loan is generally considered more appropriate for experienced investors as there are additional costs and risks associated. It is possible to lose more than your initial investment when using margin. Please see SoFi.com/wealth/assets/documents/brokerage-margin-disclosure-statement.pdf for detailed disclosure information.
Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.
SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


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.

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How Does a Margin Account Work?

Margin Account: What It Is and How It Works

Margin accounts give investors the ability to borrow money from a brokerage to make bigger trades or investments than they would have been able to make otherwise. Just as you can borrow money against the equity in your home, you can also borrow money against the value of certain investments in your portfolio.

This is called margin lending, and it happens within a margin account, which is a type of account you can get at a brokerage. Most brokerages offer the option of making a taxable account a margin account. Tax-advantaged retirement accounts, such as traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs, generally are not eligible for margin trading.

Key Points

•   A margin account allows investors to borrow money from a brokerage to make larger trades or investments.

•   Margin extends purchasing power by allowing investors to buy securities worth more than the cash they have on hand.

•   Margin accounts have rules and regulations set by regulatory bodies, including minimum margin requirements and maintenance margin thresholds.

•   While margin accounts offer benefits like increased purchasing power and short-term cash access, they also come with risks, such as potential losses and margin calls.

•   Opening a margin account requires signing a margin agreement with the brokerage, and it is generally recommended for experienced investors.

What Is a Margin Account?

As mentioned, a margin account is used for margin trading, which involves borrowing money from a brokerage to fund trades or investments.A margin account allows you to borrow from the brokerage to purchase securities that are worth more than the cash you have on hand. In this case, the cash or securities already in your account act as your collateral.

Margin accounts are generally considered to be more appropriate for experienced investors, since trading on margin means taking on additional costs and risks.

When defining a margin account, it helps to understand its counterpart — the cash account. With a cash brokerage account, you can only buy as many investments as you can cover with cash. If you have $10,000 in your account, you can buy $10,000 of stock.

Margin Account Rules and Regulations

When it comes to margin accounts, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FINRA, and other bodies have set some rules:

•   Minimum margin: There is a minimum margin requirement before you can start trading on margin. FINRA requires that you deposit the lesser of $2,000 or 100% of the purchase price of the stocks you plan to purchase on margin.

•   Initial margin: Your margin buying power has limits — generally you can borrow up to 50% of the cost of the securities you plan to buy. This means, for example, that if you have $10,000 in your margin account, you can effectively purchase up to $20,000 of securities on margin. You would spend $10,000 of your own money and borrow the other 50% from the brokerage. (You can also borrow much less than this.) Your buying power varies, depending on the value of your portfolio on any given day.

•   Maintenance margin: Once you’ve bought investments on margin, regulators require that you keep a specific balance in your margin account. Under FINRA rules, your equity in the account must not fall below 25% of the current market value of the securities in the account. If your equity drops below this level, either because you withdrew money or because your investments have fallen in value, you may get a margin call from your brokerage.

Example of a Margin Account

An example of using a margin account could look like this: Say you have a margin account with $5,000 in cash in it. This allows you to use 50% more in margin, so you actually have $10,000 in purchasing power – you are able to actually make a trade for $10,000 in securities, using $5,000 in margin.

In effect, margin extends your purchasing power as an investor, and you’re not obligated to use it all.

💡 Quick Tip: When you’re actively investing in stocks, it’s important to ask what types of fees you might have to pay. For example, brokers may charge a flat fee for trading stocks, or require some commission for every trade. Taking the time to manage investment costs can be beneficial over the long term.

Increase your buying power with a margin loan from SoFi.

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*For full margin details, see terms.


Benefits of a Margin Account

For an experienced investor who enjoys day trading, having a margin account and trading on margin can have some advantages:

•   More purchase power. A margin account allows an investor to buy more investments than they could with cash. That might lead to higher returns, since they’re buying more securities and may be able to diversify their investments in different ways.

•   A safety net. Just as an emergency fund offers access to cash when you need it, so does a margin account. If you need funds but you don’t want to sell investments at their current price point, you can take a margin loan for short-term cash needs.

•   You can leave your losers alone. In another scenario, if you need cash but your investments aren’t doing so well, taking a margin loan allows you to keep your securities where they are instead of selling them right now at a loss.

•   No loan repayment schedule. There is no repayment schedule for a margin loan, so you can repay it at any rate you please, as long as your equity in the account maintains the proper threshold. Monthly interest will accrue, however, and be added to your account.

•   Potentially deductible interest. There may be tax situations in which the interest in a margin loan can be used to offset taxable income. A tax professional will tell you whether this is a move you can consider.

Drawbacks of a Margin Account

Despite the advantages, using a margin account has risks. Here are some things to consider before trading on margin:

•   You could lose substantially. While it’s possible that trading on margin can help realize greater returns if an investment does well, you will also see greater losses if an investment takes a dive. And even if an investment you’ve purchased on margin loses all of its value, you’ll still owe the margin loan back to the brokerage — plus interest.

•   There may be a margin call. If your investments tank, it’s possible that you’ll have to sell securities or deposit additional funds to bring your account back up to the required margin threshold. It’s also possible for a brokerage to sell securities from your account without alerting you.

How to Open a Margin Account

Opening a margin account is as simple as opening a cash account, but you’ll likely need to sign a margin agreement with your brokerage. You may also need to request margin for your account, depending on the brokerage.

But there are some other things to keep in mind.

If you’re a beginner investor, a cash account gives you an opportunity to learn how to trade and invest, and there’s a low level of risk. If you’re a more experienced investor and fully understand the risks of trading on margin, a margin account may offer the opportunity to expand and diversify your investments.

Some financial advisors suggest that clients open margin accounts in case they need cash in a hurry. For instance, if you need money quickly, it takes time to sell investments and for the money to be deposited in your account. If you have a margin account, you can take a margin loan while your securities are being sold. Typically, margin accounts don’t carry any additional fees as long as you aren’t borrowing on margin.

You also need a margin account for short selling. With short selling, you borrow a stock in your brokerage account and sell it for its current price. If the price of the stock falls — which you’re betting will happen — you repurchase shares of the stock and return it to the original owner, pocketing the difference in price.

Like trading on margin, short selling is a strategy for experienced investors and comes with a large amount of risk.

Things to Know About Margin Accounts

Here are a few other things to keep in mind about margin accounts.

Margin Calls

Margin calls are a risk. If the equity in your margin account drops below a certain threshold, you may get an alert from your brokerage, called a margin call. This is meant to spur you to either deposit more money into your account or sell some securities to bolster the equity that’s acting as collateral for your margin loan.

It’s worth noting that if your investment value drops quickly or significantly, you may find that your brokerage has sold some of your securities without notifying you. Commonly, investors are forced by a margin call to sell investments at an inopportune time — such as when the investment is priced at less than you paid for it. This is an inherent risk of trading on margin.

Margin Costs

Investors should also know about relevant margin costs. When you borrow money from the brokerage to buy securities, you are essentially taking out a loan, and the brokerage will charge interest. Margin interest rates are different from company to company, and may be somewhat higher than rates on other kinds of loans.

Consider interest costs when you’re thinking about your margin trading plan. If you use margin for long-term investing, interest costs can affect your returns. And holding investments on margin means the value of your securities must hold steady.

💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

How to Manage Margin Account Risk

If you decide to open a margin account, there are steps you can take to try to minimize the amount of risk you’re taking by leveraging your trading:

•   Skip the dodgy investments. Trading on margin works if you’re earning more than you’re paying in margin interest. Speculative investments can be a risky portfolio move, since a swift loss in value can result in a margin call.

•   Watch your interest costs. Although there is no formal repayment schedule for a margin loan, you’re still accruing interest and you are responsible for paying it back over time. Regular payments on interest can help you stay on track.

•   Maintain some emergency cash. Having a cushion of cash in your margin account gives you a little wiggle room to keep from facing a margin call.

The Takeaway

A margin account is an account that lets you borrow against the cash or securities you own, to invest in more securities. As with other lending vehicles, margin accounts do charge interest.

While margin accounts do come with risk — including the risk of losing more money than you originally had, plus interest on what you borrowed — they also offer benefits including more purchasing power and a safety net for short-term cash needs. If you’re unsure about using a margin account, it may be worthwhile to discuss it with a financial professional.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

Is a margin account right for me?

A margin account may be a good tool for a specific investor if they’re comfortable taking on additional risks and investment costs, but also want to extend their purchasing power.

How much money do you need to open a margin account?

Before opening a trading account, investors will need a minimum of $2,000 in their brokerage account, per regulator rules.

Is a margin account taxable?

Any capital gains earned by using a margin account will be subject to capital gains tax, and the ultimate rate will depend on a few factors.

Should a beginner use a margin account?

It may be best for a beginner to stick to a cash account until they learn the ropes in the markets, as using a margin account can incur additional risks and costs.

Who qualifies for a margin account?

Most investors qualify for a margin account, granted they can reach the minimum margin requirements set forth by regulators, such as having $2,000 in their brokerage account.

What’s the difference between a cash account and a margin account?

A cash account only contains an investor’s funds, while a margin account offers investors additional purchasing power by giving them the ability to borrow money from their brokerage to make bigger trades.


SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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.

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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Solo 401(k) vs SEP IRA: Key Differences and Considerations

Solo 401(k) vs SEP IRA: An In-Depth Comparison for Self-Employed Retirement Planning

Self-employment has its perks, but an employer-sponsored retirement plan isn’t one of them. Opening a solo 401(k) or a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP IRA) allows the self-employed to save for retirement while enjoying some tax advantages.

So, which is better for you? The answer can depend largely on whether your business has employees or operates as a sole proprietorship and which plan yields more benefits, in terms of contribution limits and tax breaks.

Weighing the features of a solo 401(k) vs. SEP IRA can make it easier to decide which one is more suited to your retirement savings needs.

Key Points

•   Solo 401(k) allows tax-deductible contributions, employer contributions, employee contributions, and offers the option for Roth contributions and catch-up contributions.

•   SEP IRA allows tax-deductible contributions, employer contributions, but does not allow employee contributions, Roth contributions, catch-up contributions, or loans.

•   Withdrawals from traditional solo 401(k) plans and SEP IRAs are taxed in retirement.

•   Solo 401(k) plans allow loans, while SEP IRAs do not.

•   Solo 401(k) plans offer more flexibility and options compared to SEP IRAs.

Understanding the Basics

A solo 401(k) is similar to a traditional 401(k), in terms of annual contribution limits and tax treatment. A SEP IRA follows the same tax rules as traditional IRAs. SEP IRAs, however, typically allow a higher annual contribution limit than a regular IRA.

What Is a Solo 401(k)?

A solo 401(k) covers a business owner who has no employees or employs only their spouse. Simply, a Solo 401(k) allows you to save money for retirement from your self-employment or business income on a tax-advantaged basis.

These plans follow the same IRS rules and requirements as any other 401(k). There are specific solo 401(k) contribution limits to follow, along with rules regarding withdrawals and taxation. Regulations also govern when you can take a loan from a solo 401(k) plan.

A number of online brokerages offer solo 401(k) plans for self-employed individuals, including those who freelance or perform gig work. You can open a retirement account online and start investing, no employer other than yourself needed.

If you use a solo 401(k) to save for retirement, you’ll also need to follow some reporting requirements. Generally, the IRS requires solo 401(k) plan owners to file a Form 5500-EZ if it has $250,000 or more in assets at the end of the year.

What Is a SEP IRA?

A SEP IRA is another option to consider if you’re looking for retirement plans for the self-employed. This tax-advantaged plan is available to any size business, including sole proprietorships with no employees. SEP IRAs work much like traditional IRAs, with regard to the tax treatment of withdrawals. They do, however, allow you to contribute more money toward retirement each year above the standard traditional IRA contribution limit. That means you could enjoy a bigger tax break when it’s time to deduct contributions.

If you have employees, you can make retirement plan contributions to a SEP IRA on their behalf. SEP IRA contribution limits are, for the most part, the same for both employers and employees. If you’re interested in a SEP, you can set up an IRA for yourself or for yourself and your employees through an online brokerage.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that you must choose the investments in your IRA? Once you open a new IRA and start saving, you get to decide which mutual funds, ETFs, or other investments you want — it’s totally up to you.

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SoFi IRAs now get a 1% match on every dollar you deposit, up to the annual contribution limits. Open an account today and get started.


Only offers made via ACH are eligible for the match. ACATs, wires, and rollovers are not included.

Diving Deeper: Pros and Cons of Each Plan

As you debate between a solo 401(k) vs. a SEP IRA as ways to build wealth for retirement, it’s helpful to learn more about how these plans work, including their benefits and drawbacks.

Advantages of Solo 401(k)s

In terms of differences, there are some things that set solo 401(k) plans apart from SEP IRAs.

With a solo 401(k), you can choose a traditional or Roth. You can deduct your contributions in the year you make them with a traditional solo 401(k), but you’ll pay taxes on your distributions in retirement. With a Roth solo 401(k) you pay taxes on your contributions in the year you make them, and in retirement, your distributions are tax free. You can choose the plan that gives you the best tax advantage.

Another benefit of a solo 401(k) is that those age 50 and older can make catch-up contributions to this plan. In addition, you may be able to take a loan from a solo 401(k) if the plan permits it.

Advantages of SEP IRAs

One of the benefits of a SEP IRA is that contributions are tax deductible and you can make them at any time until your taxes are due in mid-April of the following year.

The plan is also easy to set up and maintain.

If you have employees, you can establish a SEP IRA for yourself as well as your eligible employees. You can then make retirement plan contributions to a SEP IRA on your employees’ behalf. (All contributions to a SEP are made by the employer only, though employees own their accounts.)

SEP IRA contribution limits are, for the most part, the same for both employers and employees. This means that you need to make the same percentage of contribution for each employee that you make for yourself. That means if you contribute 15% of your compensation for yourself, you must contribute 15% of each employee’s compensation (subject to contribution limits).

A SEP IRA also offers flexibility. You don’t have to contribute to it every year.

However, under SEP IRA rules, no catch-up contributions are allowed. There’s no Roth option with a SEP IRA either.

Eligibility and Contribution Limits

Here’s what you need to know about who is eligible for a SEP IRA vs. a Solo 401(k), along with the contribution limits for both plans for 2023.

Who Qualifies for a Solo 401(k) or SEP IRA?

Self-employed individuals and business owners with no employees (aside from their spouse) can open and contribute to a solo 401(k). There are no income restrictions on these plans.

SEP IRAs are available to self-employed individuals or business owners with employees. A SEP IRA might be best for those with just a few employees because IRS rules dictate that if you have one of these plans, you must contribute to a SEP IRA on behalf of your eligible employees (to be eligible, the employees must be 21 or older, they must have worked for you for three of the past five years, and they must have earned at least $750 in the tax year).

Plus, the amount you contribute to your employees’ plan must be the same percentage that you contribute to your own plan.

Contribution Comparison

With a solo 401(k), there are rules regarding contributions, including contribution limits. For 2023, you can contribute up to $66,000, plus an additional catch-up contribution of $7,500 for those age 50 and older. In 2024, you can contribute up to $69,000, plus an extra catch-up contribution of $7,500 for those age 50 and older.

For the purposes of a solo 401(k) you play two roles — employer and employee. As an employee, you can contribute the lesser of 100% of your compensation or up to $22,500 in 2023 and up to $23,000 in 2024. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute the $7,500 catch-up contribution in 2023 and 2024 as well. As an employer, you can make an additional contribution of 25% of your compensation (up to $330,000 of compensation in 2023 and $345,000 in 2024) or net self-employment income.

The contribution limits for a SEP IRA are the lesser of 25% of your compensation or $66,000 in 2023 and $69,000 in 2024. As mentioned earlier, there are no catch-up contributions with this plan.

And remember, per the IRS, if you have a SEP IRA, you must contribute to the plan on behalf of your eligible employees. The amount you contribute to your employees’ plan must be the same percentage that you contribute to your own plan.

💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

Key Differences That Could Influence Your Decision

When you’re deciding between a solo 401(k) vs. a SEP IRA, consider the differences between the two plans carefully. These differences include:

Roth Options and Tax Benefits

With a solo 401(k), you can choose between a traditional and Roth solo 401(k), depending on which option’s tax benefits make the most sense for you. If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket when you retire, a Roth may be more advantageous since you can pay taxes on your contributions upfront and get distributions tax-free in retirement.

On the other hand, if you anticipate being in a lower tax bracket at retirement, a traditional solo 401(k) that lets you take deductions on your contributions now and pay tax on distributions in retirement could be your best option.

Loan Options and Investment Flexibility

You may also be able to take a loan from a solo 401(k) if your plan permits it. Solo 401(k) loans follow the same rules as traditional 401(k) loans.

If you need to take money from a SEP IRA before age 59 ½, however, you may pay an early withdrawal penalty and owe income tax on the withdrawal.

Both solo 401(k)s and SEP IRA offer more investment options than workplace 401(k)s. So you can choose the investment options that best suit your needs.

The Impact of Having Employees

Whether you have employees or not will help determine which type of plan is best for you.

A solo 401(k) is designed for business owners with no employees except for a spouse.

A SEP IRA is for those who are self-employed or small business owners. A SEP IRA may be best for those who have just a few employees since, as discussed above, you must contribute to a SEP IRA on behalf of all eligible employees and you must contribute the same percentage of compensation as you contribute for yourself.

The Financial Implications for Your Business

The plan you choose, solo 401(k) vs. SEP IRA, does have financial and tax implications that you’ll want to consider carefully. Here’s a quick comparison of the two plans.

Solo 401(k) vs SEP IRA at a Glance

Both solo 401(k) plans and SEP IRAs make it possible to save for retirement as a self-employed person or business owner when you don’t have access to an employer’s 401(k). And both can potentially offer a tax break if you’re able to deduct contributions each year.

Here’s a rundown of the main differences between a 401(k) vs. SEP IRA.

Solo 401(k)

SEP IRA

Tax-Deductible Contributions Yes, for traditional solo 401(k) plans Yes
Employer Contributions Allowed Yes Yes
Employee Contributions Allowed Yes No
Withdrawals Taxed in Retirement Yes, for traditional solo 401(k) plans Yes
Roth Contributions Allowed Yes No
Catch-Up Contributions Allowed Yes No
Loans Allowed Yes No

How These Plans Affect Your Bottom Line

Both solo 401(k)s and SEP IRAs are tax-advantaged accounts that can help you save for retirement. With a SEP IRA, contributions are tax deductible, including contributions made on employees’ behalf, which offers a tax advantage. Solo 401(k)s give you the option of choosing a traditional or Roth option so that you can pay tax on your contributions upfront and not in retirement (traditional), or defer them until you retire (Roth).

Making the Choice Between SEP IRA and Solo 401(k): Which Is Right for You?

An important part of planning for your retirement is understanding your long-term goals. Whether you choose to open a solo 401(k) or make SEP IRA contributions can depend on how your business is structured, how much you want to save for retirement, and what kind of tax advantages you hope to enjoy along the way.

When to Choose a Solo 401(k)

If you’re self-employed and have no employees (or if your only employee is your spouse), you may want to consider a solo 401(k). A solo 401(k) could allow you to save more for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis compared to a SEP IRA. A solo 401(k) allows catch-up contributions if you are 50 or older, and you can also take loans from a solo 401(k).

Just be aware that a solo 401(k) can be more work to set up and maintain than a SEP IRA.

When to Choose a SEP IRA

If you’re looking for a plan that’s easy to set up and maintain, a SEP IRA may be right for you. And if you have a few employees, a SEP IRA can be used to cover them as well as your spouse. However, you will need to cover the same percentage of contribution for your employees as you do for yourself.

Remember that a SEP IRA does not allow catch-up contributions, nor can you take loans from it.

Step-by-Step Guide to Opening Your Account

You can typically set up a SEP IRA with any financial institution that offers other retirement plans, including an online bank or brokerage. The institution you choose will guide you through the set-up process and it’s generally quick and easy.

Once you establish and fund your account, you can choose the investment options that best suit your needs and those of any eligible employees you may have. You will need to set up an account for each of these employees.

To open a Solo 401(k), you’ll need an Employee Identification Number (EIN). You can get an EIN through the IRS website. Once you have an EIN, you can choose the financial institution you want to work with, typically a brokerage or online brokerage. Next, you’ll fill out the necessary paperwork, and once the account is open you’ll fund it. You can do this through direct deposit or a check. Then you can set up your contributions.

Additional Considerations for Retirement Planning

Besides choosing a SEP IRA or a solo 401(k), there are a few other factors to consider when planning for retirement. They include:

Rollover Process

At some point, you may want to roll over whichever retirement plan you choose — or roll assets from another retirement plan into your current plan. A SEP IRA allows for either option. You can generally roll a SEP IRA into another IRA or other qualified plan, although there may be some restrictions depending on the type of plan it is. You can also roll assets from another retirement plan you have into your SEP.

A solo 401(k) can also be set up to allow rollovers. You can roll other retirement accounts, including a traditional 401(k) or a SEP IRA, into your solo 401(k). You can also roll a solo 401(k) into a traditional 401(k), as long as that plan allows rollovers.

Can You have Both a SEP IRA and a Solo 401(k)?

It is possible to have both a SEP IRA and a solo 401(k). However, how much you can contribute to them depends on certain factors, including how your SEP was set up. In general, when you contribute to both plans at the same time, there is a limit to how much you can contribute. Generally, your total contributions to both are aggregated and cannot exceed more than $66,000 in 2023 and $69,000 in 2024.

Preparing for Retirement Beyond Plans

Choosing retirement plans is just one important step in laying the groundwork for your future. You should also figure out at what age you can retire, how much money you’ll need for retirement, and the typical retirement expenses you should be ready for.

Working on building your retirement savings is an important goal. In addition to opening and contributing to retirement plans, other smart strategies include creating a budget and sticking to it, paying down any debt you have, and simplifying your lifestyle and cutting unnecessary spending. You may even want to consider getting a side hustle to bring in extra income.

The Takeaway

Saving for retirement is something that you can’t afford to put off. And the sooner you start, the better so that your money has time to grow. Whether you choose a solo 401(k), SEP IRA, or another savings plan, it’s important to take the first step toward building retirement wealth.

Ready to invest for your retirement? It’s easy to get started when you open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.


Photo credit: iStock/1001Love

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How to Achieve Financial Freedom

Ever dream of leaving your job to pursue a project you’ve always been passionate about, like starting your own business? Or going back to school without taking out student loans? What about the option to retire at age 50 instead of 65 without having to worry about money?

Any of these opportunities could happen if you’re able to achieve financial freedom — having the money and resources to afford the lifestyle you want.

Intrigued by the idea of being financially free? Read on to find out what financial freedom means and how it works, plus 12 ways to help make it a reality.

Key Points

•   Financial freedom means having enough income, savings, or investments to afford the lifestyle you want without financial stress.

•   Strategies to achieve financial freedom include budgeting, reducing debt, setting up an emergency fund, seeking higher wages, and exploring new income streams.

•   Opening a high-yield savings account, contributing to a 401(k), and considering other investments are important steps towards financial freedom.

•   Staying informed about financial issues, reducing expenses, and living within your means are key to achieving and maintaining financial freedom.

•   Avoiding lifestyle creep and making smart financial decisions can help you reach your financial goals and live the life you desire.

What Is Financial Freedom?

Financial freedom is being in a financial position that allows you to afford the lifestyle you want. It’s typically achieved by having enough income, savings, or investments so you can live comfortably without the constant stress of having to earn a certain amount of money.

For instance, you might attain financial freedom by saving and investing in such a way that allows you to build wealth, or by growing your income so you’re able to save more for the future. Eventually, you may become financially independent and live off your savings and investments.

There are a number of different ways to work toward financial freedom so that you can stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get out of debt, save and invest, and prepare for retirement.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that opening a brokerage account typically doesn’t come with any setup costs? Often, the only requirement to open a brokerage account — aside from providing personal details — is making an initial deposit.

Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account.*

Access stock trading, options, auto investing, IRAs, and more. Get started in just a few minutes.


*Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

12 Ways to Help You Reach Financial Freedom

The following strategies can help start you on the path to financial freedom.

1. Determine Your Needs

A good first step toward financial freedom is figuring out what kind of lifestyle you want to have once you reach financial independence, and how much it will cost you to sustain it. Think about what will make you happy in your post-work life and then create a budget to help you get there.

As a bonus, living on — and sticking to — a budget now will allow you to meet your current expenses, pay your bills, and save for the future.

2. Reduce Debt

Debt can make it very hard, if not impossible, to become financially free. Debt not only reduces your overall net worth by the amount you’ve got in loans or lines of outstanding credit, but it increases your monthly expenses.

To pay off debt, you may want to focus on the avalanche method, which prioritizes the payment of high-interest debt like credit cards.

You might also try to see if you can get a lower interest rate on some of your debts. For instance, with credit card debt, it may be possible to lower your interest rate by calling your credit card company and negotiating better terms.

And be sure to pay all your other bills on time, including loan payments, to avoid going into even more debt.

3. Set Up an Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund in place to cover at least three to six months’ worth of expenses when something unexpected happens can help prevent you from taking on more debt.

With an emergency fund, if you lose your job, or your car breaks down and needs expensive repairs, you’ll have the funds on hand to cover it, rather than having to put it on your credit card. That emergency cushion is a type of financial freedom in itself.

4. Seek Higher Wages

If you’re not earning enough to cover your bills, you aren’t going to be able to save enough to retire early and pursue your passions. For many people, figuring out how to make more money in order to increase savings is another crucial step in the journey toward financial freedom.

There are different ways to increase your income. First, think about ways to get paid more for the job that you’re already doing.

For instance, ask for a raise at work, or have a conversation with your manager about establishing a path toward a higher salary. Earning more now can help you save more for your future needs.

5. Consider a Side Gig

Another way to increase your earnings is to take on a side hustle outside of your full-time job. For instance, you could do pet-sitting or tutoring on evenings and weekends to generate supplemental income. You could then save or invest the extra money.

6. Explore New Income Streams

You can get creative and brainstorm opportunities to create new sources of income. One idea: Any property you own, including real estate, cars, and tools, might potentially serve as money-making assets. You may sell these items, or explore opportunities to rent them out.

7. Open a High-Yield Savings Account

A savings account gives you a designated place to put your money so that it can grow as you keep adding to it. And a high-yield savings account typically allows you to earn a lot more in interest than a traditional savings account. As of February 2024, some high-yield savings accounts offered annual percentage yields (APYs) of 4.5% compared to the 0.46% APY of traditional savings accounts.

You can even automate your savings by having your paychecks directly deposited into your account. That makes it even easier to save.

8. Make Contributions to Your 401(k)

At work, contribute to your 401(k) if such a plan is offered. Contribute the maximum amount to this tax-deferred retirement account if you can — in 2024, that’s $23,000, or $30,500 if you’re age 50 or older — to help build a nest egg.

If you can’t max out your 401(k), contribute at least enough to get matching funds (if applicable) from your employer. This is essentially “free” or extra money that will go toward your retirement.

9. Consider Other Investments

After contributing to your workplace retirement plan, you may want to consider opening another investment retirement account, such as an IRA, or an investment account like a brokerage account. You might choose to explore different investment asset classes, such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or rate of return, stocks are notoriously volatile. If you’re thinking about investing, be sure to learn about the stock market first, and do research to find what kind of investments might work best for you.

It’s also extremely important to determine your risk tolerance to help settle on an investment strategy and asset type you’re comfortable with. For instance, you may be more comfortable investing in mutual funds rather than individual stocks.

10. Stay Up to Date on Financial Issues

Practicing “financial literacy,” which means being knowledgeable about financial topics, can help you manage your money. Keep tabs on financial news and changes in the tax laws or requirements that might pertain to you. Reassess your investment portfolio at regular intervals to make sure it continues to be in line with your goals and priorities. And go over your budget and expenses frequently to check that they accurately reflect your current situation.

11. Reduce Your Expenses

Maximize your savings by minimizing your costs. Analyze what you spend monthly and look for things to trim or cut. Bring lunch from home instead of buying it out during the work week. Cancel the gym membership you’re not using. Eat out less frequently. These things won’t impact your quality of life, and they will help you save more.

12. Live Within Your Means

And finally, avoid lifestyle creep: Don’t buy expensive things you don’t need. A luxury car or fancy vacation may sound appealing, but these “wants” can set back your savings goals and lead to new debt if you have to finance them. Borrowing money makes sense when it advances your goals, but if it doesn’t, skip it and save your money instead.

The Takeaway

Financial freedom can allow you to live the kind of life you’ve always wanted without the stress of having to earn a certain amount of money. To help achieve financial freedom, follow strategies like making a budget, paying your bills on time, paying down debt, living within your means, and contributing to your 401(k).

Saving and investing your money are other ways to potentially help build wealth over time. Do your research to find the best types of accounts and investments for your current situation and future aspirations.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

How can I get financial freedom before 30?

Achieving financial freedom before age 30 is an ambitious goal that will require discipline and careful planning. To pursue it, you may want to follow strategies of the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement. This approach entails setting a budget, living below your means in order to save a significant portion of your money, and establishing multiple streams of income, such as having a second job in addition to your primary job.

What is the most important first step towards achieving financial freedom?

The most important first step to achieving financial freedom is to figure out what kind of lifestyle you want to have and how much money you will need to sustain it. Once you know what your goals are, you can create a budget to help reach them.

What’s the difference between financial freedom and financial independence?

Financial freedom is being able to live the kind of lifestyle you want without financial strain or stress. Financial independence is having enough income, savings, or investments, to cover your needs without having to rely on a job or paycheck.


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