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What Are Liquid Assets?

Liquid assets are any assets that can be easily and quickly converted into cash. In fact, people often refer to liquid assets as cash or cash equivalents, because they know that the asset can be exchanged for actual cash without losing value.

Here’s a look at which assets are considered liquid — and which are not — and why liquid investments are important.

What Makes an Asset Liquid?

What is a liquid investment, and where does it fit into your financial picture? First it helps to understand liquidity. While you might own any number of valuable assets (e.g., your home, retirement accounts, collectibles), and these can be considered part of your overall net worth, only liquid assets can generate cash quickly, when circumstances demand it.

For an asset to be considered liquid it must be traded on a well-established market with a large number of buyers and sellers, and it must be relatively easy to transfer ownership. Think: stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other marketable securities.

Generally, you can sell stocks and obtain cash readily. By contrast, you probably couldn’t sell your home that fast, and even if you could there are a number of factors that might influence how much cash value you might obtain from the sale.

To recap: The number of willing market players, high trading volumes, and easy transfers mean that liquid investments can be sold for cash quickly and without losing much value in the process. And although cash and cash equivalents pose very little risk of loss, they also have little or no capacity for growth.

What Investments Are Considered Liquid Assets?

As you can see, the primary advantage of liquid assets is that they can be converted to cash in a short period of time. For example, stock trades must be settled within three days, according to Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Here are other assets that are considered liquid:

Examples of liquid assets

•   Stocks. Stocks are often considered liquid assets because they can be converted into cash when you sell them. Keep in mind, though, that the most liquid stocks might be the ones that many people want to buy and sell. You may have a more difficult time liquidating stocks that are in lower demand.

•   U.S. Treasuries and bonds. These instruments are relatively easy to buy and sell, and are usually done so in high volume. They have a wide range of maturity dates, which helps you to figure out when you want to liquidate them. Because U.S. Treasuries are often considered relatively safe and dependable, the interest rates are somewhat lower and could be a good fit for investors who are looking to mitigate risk.

•   Mutual funds. Mutual funds are pooled investment vehicles that hold a diversified basket of stocks, bonds, or other investments.

   Open-end mutual funds are considered more liquid than closed-end funds because they have no limit on the number of shares they can generate, and investors can sell their shares back to the fund at any time.

   Closed-end mutual funds, on the other hand, are less common. These funds raise capital from investors via an IPO; after that, the number of shares are fixed, and no new shares are created. Instead, closed-end funds shares can only be bought and sold on an exchange, and thus are considered less liquid than open-end fund shares because they’re more subject to market demand.

•   Exchange-traded funds and index funds. Like mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds allow individuals to invest in a diversified basket of investments. ETFs are traded like stocks, throughout the day on the open market, which makes them somewhat more liquid than index funds, which only trade at the end of the day.

•   Money market assets. There are two main types of money market assets:

◦   A money market fund is a type of mutual fund that invests in high-quality short-term debt, cash and cash equivalents. It’s considered low-risk and offers low yields, and therefore thought of as relatively safe. You can cash in your chips at any time, making money-market funds a liquid investment.

◦   Money market funds are different from money market accounts, which are a type of FDIC-insured savings account.

•   Certificates of deposit. If you have money in a certificate of deposit or CD, this might be considered semi-liquid because your money isn’t available until the official withdrawal date. You can withdraw money if you need it, but if you’re doing so before the maturity date, you’ll likely pay a penalty.

What Assets Are Considered Non-Liquid?

There are, of course, many assets that are not easy to liquidate quickly. These assets typically take a long time to sell or for the deal to close. You’ll get your money, but most likely not right away, and there may be time or costs associated with the conversion to cash that could impact the final amount. That’s why assets like these are considered illiquid or non-liquid assets.

Examples of non-liquid assets

•   Collectibles. Items like jewelry and art work, and hobby collections like stamps and baseball cards may be hard to value and difficult to sell.

•   Employee stock options. While stock options can be a valuable form of compensation for employees, they may also be highly illiquid. That’s because employees must typically remain with a company for years before their options vest, they exercise them and they finally own the stock.

•   Land and real estate. These investments often require negotiation and contracts that can tie up real estate transactions for weeks, if not months.

•   Private equity. There are often strict restrictions about when you can sell shares if you’ve invested in private equity assets such as venture capital funds.

Liquid Assets in Business

If you’re running a business, accounts receivable — the money you’re owed from clients — are often considered to be a liquid asset, because you can typically expect to be paid within one year of the billing.

Any inventory you have on hand, such as office furniture or a product you’re selling, can also be considered liquid, because you could sell them for cash if need be. The liquid assets on your company balance sheet usually list cash first, followed by other assets that are considered liquid, in order of liquidity.

Having more liquid assets is desirable because it indicates that a company can pay off debt more easily. When businesses need to determine how cash liquid they are, they often look at the amount of their net liquid assets. When all current debts and liabilities are paid off, whatever remains is considered their liquid assets.

Are Retirement Accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s Liquid Assets?

Retirement accounts, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s are not really liquid until you’ve reached age 59 ½. Withdraw funds from your account before then and you may face taxes and a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

What’s more, you can hold a variety of assets inside retirement accounts. For example, if you hold a money-market fund inside your IRA, that is a liquid asset. But you could also hold real estate, which very much isn’t.

Reasons Why Liquid Assets Matter

Other than the most obvious reason, which is that cash gives you a great deal of flexibility and can be essential in a crisis, liquid assets serve a number of purposes.

•   Calculating net worth: To calculate your net worth, subtract your liabilities (your debt) from your assets (what you own, which can include your liquid assets).

•   Applying for loans: Lenders might look at your liquid assets when you apply for a mortgage, car loan, or home equity loan. If your liquid assets are high, you may get better terms or lower interest rates on your loans. Lenders want to know that if you were to lose your job or your income you would be able to continue to pay back the loan using your liquid assets.

•   Business interests: Having liquid assets on your balance sheet is a signal that your business is prepared for an emergency or a market shift that could require a cash infusion.

Are All Liquid Assets Taxable?

While income is money you earn or receive, an asset is something of value you possess that can be converted to cash at some point in the future. Thus owning an asset doesn’t make it taxable, but converting it to actual cash would, in most cases.

The IRS has many rules around how the proceeds from the sale of assets can be taxed.

The IRS considers taxable income to include gains from stocks, interest from bonds, dividends, alimony, and more. Gains on the sale of a home might be taxed, depending on the amount of the gain and marital status. If you aren’t sure whether income from the sale of an asset is taxable, it might be wise to consult a professional.

Is It Smart to Keep Cashing In Liquid Assets?

The point of maintaining a portion of your assets in liquid investments is partly for flexibility and also for diversification. The more access to cash you have, the more prepared you are to navigate a sudden change in circumstances, whether an emergency expense or an investment opportunity.

Having a portion of your portfolio in cash or cash equivalents can also be a hedge against volatility.

Thus, it may be worth keeping a mix of both liquid and non-liquid assets to help you reach your financial goals. And while cashing in liquid assets might be necessary, it’s also prudent to keep enough cash on hand, in case you need it.

There is no set formula for every investor’s situation, but beginning investors may want to focus on gathering a few months of liquid assets for the sole purpose of emergencies and unexpected expenses.

How Liquid Are You?

To figure out how liquid you are, make a list of all your monthly expenses, from rent/mortgage on down, even your streaming service subscription. Then, make a list of all your liquid assets and investments (being careful to pay attention to the definition of liquid assets vs. illiquid assets, as it can be confusing).

Then, total all your monthly expenses, and compare that sum to the liquid assets in your possession.

Does your total savings cover six months worth of monthly expenses? If so, congrats! If not, you’re not very liquid. Don’t despair, though. There are ways to build more liquidity.

Where to Start Building Liquid Assets

As you start to build your liquid assets, first consider saving a cash cushion in the form of an emergency fund, which should be enough to cover any unexpected expenses that might come along. Envision how much you might need in the event of a crisis (e.g., a job loss, divorce, health event, and so on).

Aim to save three to six months worth of expenses to cover basic bills, repairs, insurance premiums and copays, as well as any other personal or medical expenses.

One good way to build liquidity is to set money aside every week, month, or have a set savings amount auto-deducted from each paycheck. The digital age has made it easier than ever to put automatic deductions in place. Simple savings or checking accounts can be a good place to start.

From there, you may consider opening a retirement account or a taxable brokerage account where you can invest in potentially more lucrative liquid investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs.

The Takeaway

Liquid assets are simple enough on the surface. Unlike illiquid or non-liquid assets that can keep your money tied up and can be hard to sell (like a home, a car, collectibles), liquid assets can be converted into cash relatively easily — typically with little or no loss in value. Liquid assets can include cash equivalents like money market accounts, or marketable securities like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.

Liquid investments can play a surprisingly important role in your portfolio (as an individual investor) or your business.

While cash and cash equivalents can be relatively safe, they also offer more flexibility — which can be essential in life and in business. Having ready access to cash can help you pay off debt, cover a crisis, or be able to invest in new opportunities.

To start building more liquidity, you need access to an account like SoFi Money® — a cash management account that can hold your cash savings. You pay no annual, overdraft, or other account fees.

You can sign up for SoFi Money right on your phone. In fact, your phone allows you to make mobile transfers, photo check deposits, and access customer service. Your SoFi Money account is FDIC-insured up to $1.5 million, with additional protection against fraud.

Check out SoFi Money today!

​​SoFi Money®
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Each business day, cash deposits in SoFi Money cash management accounts are swept to one or more sweep program banks where it earns a variable interest rate and is eligible for FDIC insurance. FDIC Insurance does not immediately apply. Coverage begins when funds arrive at a program bank, usually within two business days of deposit. There are currently six banks available to accept these deposits, making customers eligible for up to $1,500,000 of FDIC insurance (six banks, $250,000 per bank). If the number of available banks changes, or you elect not to use, and/or have existing assets at, one or more of the available banks, the actual amount could be lower. For more information on FDIC insurance coverage, please visit . Customers are responsible for monitoring their total assets at each Program Banks to determine the extent of available FDIC insurance coverage in accordance with FDIC rules. The deposits in SoFi Money or at Program Banks are not covered by SIPC.

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woman in pool

Swimming Pool Installation: Costs, Ideas, and Tips

If, as they say, the American Dream is to own your own home, then the sensational sequel, for many people, is to have your own swimming pool installed.

Few other home improvements have the same potential to turn a property into an oasis for parties, playtime for the kids, or simply hanging out and spoiling yourself.

But paying someone to build that backyard paradise could become a nightmare without the right swimming pool financing in place. (Unless you happen to have $30,000 to $60,000 lying around, of course. That’s the average cost of adding an inground pool.)

How to Finance a Swimming Pool

If you don’t have enough saved to pay upfront for a pool — or even if you do — you might be wondering what types of loans or other options are appropriate for this type of backyard remodel.

There are several pool financing choices available to homeowners — including personal loans and cash-out refinancing; home equity loans and home equity lines of credit; or credit cards and options offered through a pool company.

Before you take the plunge into financing a pool, you may want to consider the pros and cons of each type, including the overall costs of borrowing and whether you might qualify for a particular type of loan. Understanding some of the different ways you can finance a pool can help you decide what’s right for you. So, take a deep breath — we’re diving in.

Using a Cash-Out Refinance to Pay for a Pool

Homeowners who have enough equity built up in their house may want to check into doing a cash-out refinance.

With this strategy, borrowers replace their existing mortgage with a new mortgage for a larger amount. Then, they can use the lump-sum of cash they get back to pay for a pool (or pretty much anything they want).

Pros of a Cash-Out Refinance

When interest rates are low (as they are now), a cash-out refinance can have a few benefits.

•   Eligible homeowners typically can borrow up to 80% of their home’s equity, which could be enough to cover the cost of putting in a pool — and maybe even some extras, like a new barbecue or lounge chairs.

•   Borrowers with good or improved credit, or those who bought their home when interest rates were higher, may be able to refinance to a lower interest rate.

•   A mortgage interest tax deduction may be available on a cash-out refinance if the money is used for capital improvements on your property. (Consult with a tax professional for more details as they apply to your situation.)

Cons of a Cash-Out Refinance

There are some downsides to going the refi route, including:

•   Borrowers must go through the mortgage application process all over again to get a new loan, which usually means submitting updated information, getting an appraisal, and waiting for approval.

•   If your credit isn’t great (maybe your credit cards are maxed out from other improvements), you may not be able to get the new loan.

•   Borrowers may have to pay closing costs, generally from 2% to 6% of the total loan amount. (That’s the old loan plus the lump sum that’s being added.)

•   If the term on the new mortgage is longer than the remaining term on the original loan, it could mean more years of making payments (and paying more in interest overall).

•   Your mortgage is a secured loan, which means if you can’t make your payments, you could risk foreclosure.

Using a Home Equity Line of Credit to Finance a Pool

Another way borrowers can use their home’s equity to finance a pool is to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that uses your home as collateral. It works much like a credit card in that:

•   The lender gives you a credit limit to draw from, and you only repay what you borrow, plus interest.

•   As you pay back the money you owe, those funds become available to you again for a predetermined “draw” period. (Usually 10 years.)

Pros of a HELOC

Here’s why a HELOC can be a popular way to pay for home improvements:

•   Borrowers only pay interest based on the amount they actually borrow, not the entire amount for which they were approved, as you would with a regular loan.

•   The interest rates are generally lower than credit cards and unsecured personal loans.

•   The interest on HELOC payments might be tax deductible, according to IRS rules , if the funds were used to “buy, build, or substantially improve your home.”

•   A HELOC may be easier to obtain than some other types of loans, and the costs might be lower.

Cons of a HELOC

Just as with a credit card, if borrowers aren’t careful, a HELOC can become problematic. Here’s why:

•   HELOCs generally come with a variable interest rate, which means when interest rates increase, the monthly payments could go up. Although there may be a cap on how much the rate can increase, some borrowers might find it difficult to plan around those fluctuating payments.

•   HELOCs are easy to use — and overuse. Some of the same things that can make a HELOC appealing (easy access to cash, lower interest rates, and tax-deductible interest) could lead to overspending if borrowers aren’t disciplined.

•   Adding a HELOC could affect your ability to take out other loans in the future. When lenders are deciding whether to offer a loan, they look at a borrower’s existing debt load. If you add a HELOC to a mortgage, car loans, and maybe some credit cards and other debt, it could appear to increase the risk that you won’t be able to make payments.

•   Just as with a cash-out refinance, the borrowers’ home is used as collateral, which means the lender could foreclose if something happens and you can’t make your mortgage payments.

Using a Home Equity Loan for Pool Financing

A home equity loan is yet another way to tap into the money you’ve already put into your home. But unlike a HELOC, borrowers receive a lump sum of money.

Pros of a Home Equity Loan

Home equity loans have a few positives that make them worth considering for financing a swimming pool.

•   Unlike HELOCs, which typically come with a variable interest rate, home equity loans usually have a fixed interest rate. The borrower can expect a reliable repayment schedule for the duration of the loan.

•   Because it’s a secured loan, the lender may consider it a lower risk, so the loan may be easier to get and the interest rate may be lower than other options.

•   And, once again, there is a potential tax break. If the loan is used for capital improvements to the home, the interest may be deductible.

Cons of a Home Equity Loan

There are two main downsides to a home equity loan.

•   Borrowers may run into a long list of fees when closing on a home equity loan. Some aren’t that high, but they can add up.

•   Borrowers might put their home at risk for foreclosure if they can’t make their loan payments.

Using a Personal Loan

You don’t necessarily have to tap into your home’s equity to finance a swimming pool. Financial institutions offer unsecured personal loans that can be used for this purpose.

If you haven’t owned your home for long, or if your home hasn’t gone up much in value while you’ve owned it, a personal loan may be an option. Here are some pros and cons:

Pros of a Personal Loan for Pool Financing

Applying for an unsecured personal loan can be a much more straightforward process than getting a secured loan.

•   With a personal loan, borrowers don’t have to wait for a home appraisal or wade through the other paperwork necessary for a loan that’s tied to their home’s equity. There generally are fewer fees. And if the loan is approved, you may get your money faster.

•   Because your home isn’t being used as collateral, the lender can’t foreclose if you don’t make payments. (That doesn’t mean the lender won’t look for other ways to collect, however.)

Cons of a Personal Loan for Pool Financing

Cost is the big factor when comparing personal loans to other borrowing options.

While it may be easier and less expensive upfront to get an unsecured personal loan, interest rates may be higher for this type of loan than a loan that requires collateral. However, borrowers who have good credit and don’t appear to be a risk to lenders still may be able to obtain loan terms that work for their needs.

Should You Finance a Pool?

Installing a pool is an expensive home improvement, so you may want to (or have to) borrow some money to pay for all or part of the project.

If you do decide to borrow, it’s pretty easy to go online and research multiple lenders to find the best loan terms for you. Once you’ve estimated how much money you may need, you can shop lenders to find the best interest rate and loan length, and to get an idea of how much your monthly payments will be. You also can check on all the upfront costs of getting the loan. If timing is important, you also can ask how quickly you’ll find out if you qualify and how long it might take to get your money.

The Takeaway

If you’re considering using a loan or line of credit to pay for your pool project, there are several financing options.

Applying for a personal loan tends to be a simpler process than what might be required for other types of loans — and you won’t have to use your home as collateral. Another plus: Online personal loans, like those available through SoFi, can be ready in just a few days. But each type of financing has some pros and cons, so it can be useful to shop around and see what would work best for you.

Pool Financing FAQs

Q: What credit score is needed for pool financing?

A: Every lender has its own process for evaluating a borrower’s creditworthiness — and different types of loans can have varying requirements. If your credit score is in the fair range (below 670) you still may qualify for a personal loan with some lenders. But the better your credit, the better the chances are that you can qualify for more types of loans, lower interest rates and/or a higher loan amount.

Q: Is it smart to finance a pool?

A: Borrowers who have enough cash saved to pay upfront for a pool may still want to consider financing all or a part of their purchase if they want to keep that cash accessible for emergencies and other needs. Financing with a low-interest loan (when you can afford the payments) can make paying for a pool manageable. But before you borrow a large sum, you may want to consider how long you plan to live in your current home, how much pool maintenance might cost each month, if you’ll actually use the pool enough to make it a worthwhile purchase, and if the value added to your home is worth the investment.

Q: How hard is it to get pool financing?

A: A lot depends on your credit and how much you hope to borrow. Lenders want to be certain borrowers can pay their loans. If you have a track record of making late payments, or if you already have a high debt-to-income ratio, it may be difficult to qualify for a pool loan. You may choose to wait until your financial situation improves before you apply for a loan.

Q: Don’t pool companies usually offer financing?

A: Yes, but that financing likely will come from a financial institution the pool company works with — not the pool company itself. If you get a loan offer through a pool company, compare the rates and other terms to those offered by a few lenders before signing on the dotted line.

Q: What about using a credit card?

A: If you’re only financing a portion of the pool’s cost, you could consider using a card with a low- or zero-interest introductory rate. But if you can’t pay off the balance during the introductory period and the rate flips to a higher rate, financing the entire amount or even a chunk of the cost could get expensive.

Q: How long is the typical pool loan?

A: The length will depend on the type of loan you choose and could range from a few years (for a personal loan) to decades. Borrowers can shop for a repayment pace that suits their needs when they research pool loans.

Ready to dive in? Explore SoFi’s personal loans and see if we can help you build the pool of your dreams.

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The Top Gifts for College Students

The Top Gifts for College Students

The best gifts for college students offer convenience, practicality, and a little bit of fun. Whether your college student needs gadgets, dorm room necessities, or new apparel, you can send them off with something extra special this year. However, shopping for college students can be difficult—especially with so many options out there.

While parents of college students may have a difficult time adjusting to this new independence, giving your college-bound student a gift will make them feel closer to home. To help narrow down your choices, here are gift ideas for college students to prepare for the new school year, whether they’re a recent high school graduate or entering their last year on campus.

Recommended: 5 Ways to Start Preparing For College

Apparel and Accessory Gifts for College Students

College students need to be prepared for any situation on campus, whether that’s a winter storm, an interview, or a visit to the school’s gym facilities. Clothing and accessories are college gifts that will always be appreciated.

1. Backpack

A good-quality and versatile backpack is a college staple. Your college student may want a waterproof bag with plenty of compartments with room for books, a laptop, and other personal items. The backpack should also be comfortable to carry around throughout the day and durable enough to last for several semesters.

2. Messenger Bag or Tote Bag

An officer-ready tote or messenger bag can be great for internships or interviews. Plus, it can be used beyond college.

3. Activewear

Whether they’re playing on a college team, a regular at the gym, or just like the style and comfort, activewear can be a useful gift for most college students. There are many different styles and brands at various price points.

4. Gym Bag

For college students who may use the school’s gym facilities or participate in a sport, a gym bag is essential. Make sure to get an appropriate size bag depending on how much they need to carry.

5. Outdoor Winter Gear

This may not be as important if they’re attending school in a warm location, but students need warm winter clothing when they’re walking back and forth between classes. Your college student may need warm winter boots for the snow, a heavy coat, thick socks, a hat, and gloves. Be mindful of where your student is headed off to school. Depending on the region, they may have different needs.

6. Waterproof Gear

The last thing a college student wants is a wet bag while they’re carrying their textbooks and laptop. A waterproof backpack and an umbrella should help protect expensive gear and a raincoat and boots should keep your college student dry between classes.

7. College Hoodies/Sweatshirts

One popular gift for college students is a hoodie or sweatshirt with the school’s team logo. This can typically be found through the college’s website or they may sell them on campus as well.

8. Loungewear

The dorm will be home for the next couple of semesters so it’s important to be comfortable. Loungewear can be found online or in stores and come in a variety of styles and prices.

9. Professional Attire

A professional outfit is a must for the college student going on interviews or for any formal gathering. If you don’t feel comfortable picking out an office-ready outfit, there are subscription services available with styles based on the information filled out by the recipient, or a gift card to a specific store may work as well.

Recommended: What Is College Like?

Dorm Room Gifts for College Students

There are too many dorm room college essentials to list. The little things go a long way and can help make college life more comfortable and enjoyable.

10. Bedding/Blankets

Most colleges only supply a mattress, so students must bring their own sheets, blankets, and pillows. Colleges typically have dorm beds with a twin XL mattress, but it should be confirmed with the school before buying bedding. Make sure to buy an extra set of sheets so that they always have a clean set.

11. Basic Kitchenware

Whether your college student has a dorm room kitchen or will mostly be eating in the dining hall, basic kitchenware is a necessity for a quick meal or a late-night snack. Basic kitchenware includes utensils, knives, plates and bowls, cups, and food storage containers.

12. Laundry Basket

Dorms typically don’t provide a washer and dryer in the dorm room so students will need to bring their laundry to the communal laundry room.

13. Alarm Clock

Getting up on time for classes can sometimes be a struggle so your college student may need a little help. A digital alarm clock should do the trick even for the heaviest of sleepers.

14. Bathrobe

Aside from the comfort and luxury that bathrobes may bring, they’re a necessity for college. A bathrobe will give a little bit of extra security when your college student goes to take a shower.

15. Storage

Dorm rooms are usually small, so your student will want to maximize every inch they have. There are tons of great storage solutions from under-bed bags and bins, over-the-door storage racks, and hanging strips or hooks.

16. Desk Supplies

Desk supplies are a must-have and make great gifts for college students. Consider desktop organizers, pens and pencils, a lamp, and also a comfortable desk chair.

17. Lap Desk

A lap desk can make a convenient gift for college students to make studying around campus more comfortable. They’re portable and perfect for taking notes or setting a laptop.

18. Streaming Service

It’s easy to spend a lot of money on streaming services, and college students are typically on a tight budget. Get a gift card for one or a couple of streaming services to gift your college student.

19. Personal Safe

If your student has expensive or important items, it’s important they’re kept in a safe location. A small personal safe to protect valuables can give your college student some peace of mind when living with a roommate.

20. Games

Board games or card games are perfect for a relaxing night with roommates and friends.

Food and Drink Gifts for College Students

College cuisine doesn’t have to be instant ramen or dining hall meals. Before purchasing any kitchen appliances, contact a residential assistant to double-check if they are allowed in dorm rooms at the student’s school.

21. Insulated Water Bottle

It’s a simple gift but a leak-proof insulated water bottle will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours.

22. Microwave

A microwave for a college dorm needs to be compact as college students aren’t working with much space. It should be big enough to fit a full-sized plate but small enough to fit on a narrow counter.

23. Mini-Fridge

A mini-fridge is good for keeping drinks cool or storing a few snacks.

24. Electric Multi-Cooker

Multi-cookers, like the InstantPot, are simple machines but can take dorm room dishes to the next level. With a multi-cooker, college students can free up space and replace multiple kitchen appliances: rice cooker, frypan, pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, and steamer. Worth noting again, before buying any kitchen appliances — confirm they are allowed in the dorm rooms at your student’s school.

25. Coffee Maker

It may be nice to get a coffee from the local coffee shop every morning, but the cost can add up. College students on a budget can save some cash by using a coffee maker instead.

Recommended: 33 Ideas for Saving Money While Dorm Shopping

Tech Gifts for College Students

When picking out a tech gift, choose something that will make school life a little easier and maybe add some fun in between classes. The right gadgets will make workloads more seamless and save your student a lot of time and energy.

26. Laptop

A laptop is an essential school supply. While there’s always the library, laptops give students the freedom and flexibility to work on academic assignments anytime and anywhere. Laptop quality, functions, features, and prices vary widely, so make sure you know what your college student is looking for in a laptop.

27. Portable Charger

A portable charger ensures your college student can study, take notes, and work on assignments without worrying about their battery dying. Portable chargers come in a variety of forms with a range of features.

28. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Dorm rooms and other areas around campus sometimes don’t make the best environment for studying. Noise-canceling headphones give your college-bound student a distraction from the surrounding noise.

29. Power Strip

You can never have too many power outlets. Your college student’s dorm room may not have enough outlets for their needs.

30. USB Flash Drive

College students may need a reliable USB flash drive to use when going to the library to work on a project, when a printer isn’t working, or when moving large files. Flash drives come in a range of storage capacities and prices.

31. Portable Bluetooth Speaker

It may not be a must-have, but a portable bluetooth speaker is a fun gift for college students. There are even waterproof models for a little extra protection.

The Takeaway

Still, stumped when it comes to finding gifts for college students? Cash or gift cards go a long way and it allows your college student to purchase exactly what they want or need. A gift card can be used for their favorite restaurant or store or some cash can go towards college books, saving for college tuition, or anything else they may need.

SoFi offers an online cash management account with no account fees, no-fee overdraft coverage, and the ability to get paid up to two days early. Plus, SoFi Money® members with recurring monthly deposits of $500 or more each month will earn interest at 0.25%.

Learn more about reaching your financial goals faster with SoFi Money’s automatic savings features.

Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
As of 6/9/2020, accounts with recurring monthly deposits of $500 or more each month, will earn interest at 0.25%. All other accounts will earn interest at 0.01%. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at our discretion at any time. Accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020, will continue to earn interest at 0.25% irrespective of deposit activity. SoFi’s Securities reserves the right to change this policy at our discretion at any time. Accounts which are eligible to earn interest at 0.25% (including accounts opened prior to June 8, 2020) will also be eligible to participate in the SoFi Money Cashback Rewards Program.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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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What Is Student Loan Forbearance?

If you’re facing a financial squeeze, you could catch a temporary break on repaying a federal student loan but end up owing more. That’s forbearance.

Interest accrues on nearly all federal student loans in forbearance. After the payment pause, the interest is typically added to the principal balance. (The pandemic-related government forbearance, which paused interest accrual on federal student loans, was an exception.)

Also, if you’re pursuing student loan forgiveness, any period of forbearance will not count toward your forgiveness requirements.

So even though a payment reprieve could bring short-term relief, it might be worth exploring alternatives.

Types of Student Loan Forbearance

There are two main types of forbearance for federal student loans: general and mandatory.

General Forbearance

With general forbearance, sometimes called discretionary forbearance, your loan servicer will decide whether or not to grant your request for forbearance if you are unable to make your loan payments.

General forbearance is available for Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, and Perkins Loans for up to 12 months at a time. Borrowers still experiencing hardship when the forbearance period expires can reapply and request another general forbearance, but there is a cumulative limit of three years.

Unpaid interest is capitalized (added to your balance) on Direct and FFEL loans but not on Perkins Loans, according to the Federal Student Aid office.

Mandatory Forbearance

Your loan servicer is required to grant you forbearance if you meet certain criteria , including:

•   You are serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program.

•   The total amount you owe each month for all federal student loans is 20% or more of your total monthly gross income.

•   You are serving in an AmeriCorps position for which you received a national service award.

•   You are performing a teaching service that would qualify you for teacher loan forgiveness.

•   You qualify for partial repayment of your loans under the Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program.

•   You are a member of the National Guard and have been activated by a governor, but you are not eligible for a military deferment.

Direct and FFEL loans qualify for mandatory forbearance for any of the above reasons. Perkins Loans also qualify if a borrower has a heavy student loan debt burden.

Mandatory forbearance is to be granted for no more than 12 months but can be extended if you continue to meet eligibility requirements.

Private Student Loan Forbearance

Some private lenders offer student loan forbearance as well.

If you’re having trouble making private loan payments, you may want to contact your loan holder. Interest-only payments, interest-free payments for a limited time, or a change in interest rate could be options.

How Do Forbearance and Deferment Differ?

While both student loan deferment and forbearance offer the opportunity to press pause on your student loan repayment, there are some key differences between the two.

The main one is that you may not be responsible for paying interest on the loan during the deferment period.

Here is a quick breakdown of the types of loans that likely won’t require interest payments during deferment:

•   Direct Subsidized Loans

•   Federal Perkins Loans

•   The subsidized portion of Direct Consolidation Loans

•   The subsidized portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans

You will be required to pay the interest during the deferment period on the following loans:

•   Direct Unsubsidized Loans

•   Direct PLUS Loans

•   FFEL PLUS Loans

•   The unsubsidized portion of Direct Consolidation Loans

•   The unsubsidized portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans

For most deferments, you must provide your student loan servicer with documentation to show that you meet the eligibility requirements.

Does Forbearance Affect Credit Scores?

There are lots of things that affect your credit scores, but going into student loan forbearance is not one of them. The late payments are not reported on your credit reports.

On the other hand, without a forbearance or deferment agreement, making partial loan payments or none at all is considered delinquency, and that can really hurt a borrower’s credit scores.

Alternatives to Forbearance

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

If you’re having trouble making student loan payments because of circumstances that may continue for an extended period, or if you’re unsure when you’ll be able to afford to resume payments, one option is an income-based repayment plan.

Monthly payments hinge on your income and family size. Income-driven repayment plans are intended to also forgive any remaining loan balance after 20 or 25 years.

Student Loan Refinancing

Refinancing your student loans with a private lender is another option to consider. You’d take out one new loan, hopefully with a lower interest rate, to pay off one or more old loans.

You may also be able to change the length of the loan.

Borrowers eligible for student loan refinancing typically have a solid financial history, including a good credit score. Just realize that if you refinance federal student loans with a private lender, you give up federal benefits like income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness.

The Takeaway

Student loan forbearance is an option when you’re struggling to make payments, but in most cases interest will accrue and be added to the loan. Deferment, income-driven repayment, or refinancing could make more sense.

SoFi offers student loan refinancing with a fixed or variable interest rate and a simple online application.

It’s easy to find your rate on a student loan refi.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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

As investors begin to acquire assets — from stocks and bonds to alternative investments and real estate — some may wish they had a bit of help managing them. Asset management is a service provided by an individual or financial institution, in which they direct and invest a client’s financial assets on their behalf in exchange for a fee. For example, you may work with an asset management firm to manage your accounts.

Understanding what financial asset management is and the role it can play in managing your portfolio can help you decide whether it is a service that’s right for you, or whether another type of financial professional is a better fit.

Asset Management Basics

What is asset management? If this is a new concept, here’s a simple asset management definition: It simply means paying a professional to oversee your financial assets. This can include bank accounts as well as investment accounts.

Traditionally, asset management companies screen out smaller investors by requiring high investment minimums. As a result, the clients they tend to work with are what is known as high-net-worth clients. These clients could be individuals, corporations, institutions like universities, or even government agencies.

Asset managers handle investments on their client’s behalf, working to deliver investment returns while aiming to mitigate risk. They choose which investments to buy, sell, or avoid entirely. And they make recommendations based on what they think will help their client’s portfolio grow safely.

In addition to trading traditional and alternative securities, such as stocks, bonds, real estate and private equity, asset managers may also offer services not usually available to private investors such as first access to initial public offerings (IPOs).

Asset managers may also allow their clients to take advantage of other less common investment strategies. For example, they may let an investor borrow against the securities in their portfolio if there are other investment opportunities that require quick cash.

They may also offer their clients other services like bundled insurance, which can be cheaper to buy through them than through another insurance company.

How Does Asset Management Work?

Asset managers often make investments based upon an individual or institutional client’s investment mandate. This mandate is a set of instructions for how the client wants their pool of assets to be managed and how much risk to take on. These mandates may include instructions on a client’s goals and priorities, what benchmarks may be used to measure success, and what types of investments should be prioritized or avoided. For example, an environmental organization might avoid stocks or funds that include petroleum companies, or a human rights organization might target funds that prioritize good corporate governance.

To make managing and monitoring their accounts easier, clients may consolidate all of their accounts — including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, and investment accounts — into one asset management account. These accounts provide one monthly statement to help clients keep track of their financial activities, and may provide other benefits such as automatic periodic investment.

Asset management accounts are relatively new: The government first allowed them just over 20 years ago. In 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act overrode the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which banned firms from offering banking and securities services at the same time. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act permitted financial services firms to offer brokerage and banking services, and the asset management accounts were born.

How Much Does an Asset Manager Cost?

Investors should pay special attention to how an asset manager gets paid, as their compensation structures can be complicated. Before hiring an asset manager, an investor should feel comfortable asking for a copy of their fee structure. Individual Advisory Representatives (IAR), which most asset managers are, are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to file a Form ADV that includes information such as the manager’s investment style and assets they manage, among other things.

Many asset managers charge an annual fee based on a percentage of the value of an account. These fees may change depending on the size of the portfolio. For example, large portfolios may be charged lower fees than smaller portfolios. Alternatively, some asset managers may offer tiered-fee systems that assign different fees to different asset levels within a portfolio. For example, managers may charge one fee for the first $250,000 in a portfolio and a slightly smaller fee for the next $250,000 to $1 million, and so on.

Asset managers may also earn fees on other products or services they offer, such as insurance policies. Other asset management firms are fee-only, meaning they don’t collect commissions on specific products, and only make money from the management fees they charge their clients. A fee structure like this may make investors feel more confident that their asset manager is choosing investments and products that are appropriate to their investment strategy, rather than choosing products because they carry higher commissions.

Some asset management accounts come with account minimums and related fees. Smaller investors may have trouble meeting the opening balance amount or keeping enough in their account to avoid fees.

Importance of Asset Management

Financial asset management is important on several levels for both individual investors as well as business entities. For example, asset management makes it easier to keep track of assets in a centralized way. If you run a business, maintaining accounts at an asset management bank could help with tracking cash flow. If you’re an individual investor, asset management can help you see at a glance how much you have to invest at any given time or how your investments are performing.

Asset management also plays a part in maximizing financial assets and capitalizing on opportunities. A dedicated asset manager can help develop an investment strategy that’s designed to produce a target level of returns for their client, while still maintaining a risk profile that’s tailored to the client’s needs and preferences.

It’s possible to develop both short- and long-term strategies for financial asset management. The asset manager would establish these strategies based on the risk tolerance, time horizon, and investment goals of the investor they’re working with.

Benefits of Asset Management

Asset management can be attractive to investors, business owners, and other entities that want to benefit from professional financial guidance. For example, your asset manager may be able to review your portfolio and develop a plan for maximizing its tax efficiency. Or if you’re interested in a specific objective, such as generating current income through dividend investments, your asset manager may be able to guide you in your investment decision-making to achieve that goal.

Financial asset management may also yield cost savings. While you may pay a fee to an asset manager for their services, that fee may be justified if they’re able to help you reduce other investment fees. For example, if you’re investing in a mutual fund that has a steep expense ratio and produces average returns at best, an asset manager may be able to help you replace it with a mutual fund that has a lower expense ratio and a stronger return profile.

It’s important to keep in mind that asset management isn’t the same as wealth management. Asset managers typically target specific activities, such as choosing an asset allocation for your portfolio or finding ways to minimize investment taxes. Wealth managers, on the other hand, may take a broader view of your financial situation. For example, in addition to helping you with investment decisions, wealth managers may also be concerned with:

•  Estate planning

•  Insurance planning

•  Tax planning

•  Charitable giving

•  Retirement planning

•  College planning

Asset management is concentrated on specific assets while wealth management is more comprehensive in its approach to building and preserving wealth over time.

Asset Management Accounts

Asset management accounts function like a checking or savings account, but with features of investment accounts. You may find them offered at asset management banks or through traditional and online brokerages. Asset management accounts can also be referred to as “sweep” or “cash” management accounts.

Depending on where you open an asset management account, it may include these features and benefits:

•  Ability to link to your brokerage account for convenient transfers

•  Automatic “sweeps” (transfers) of funds from your brokerage account to your asset management account

•  Interest earned on deposits

•  Check-writing abilities

•  Access to funds via a debit or ATM card

•  Combined statement for brokerage and checking transactions

Asset management accounts may also have fewer fees compared to traditional checking or savings accounts. And they may enjoy enhanced FDIC coverage limits. An asset management account should make it as easy as possible to move funds between your spending account and your investment account.

Developing Asset Management Strategies

If you’re considering working with an asset management bank or firm, it’s important to understand how financial asset management strategies work. While every asset manager is different, they may consider some of the same metrics when developing a plan for managing client assets. Those metrics can include the investor’s:

•  Current age

•  Risk tolerance

•  Time horizon for investing

•  Current portfolio allocation

•  Goals and objectives

Asset managers may also take into consideration an investor’s values as well. For example, you may be interested in ESG strategies that promote positive environmental, social and governance practices. Your asset manager could help you to develop an asset allocation that includes green companies or companies that support social justice. Or you may want to exclude certain industries or stock market sectors altogether, which is something else an asset manager could discuss with you.

Alternatives to Asset Managers

You don’t have to be a high-net-worth individual to access some form of asset management. Some financial firms may offer asset management to some clients through a private client division while offering other clients access to pooled investments, such as mutual funds.

Smaller investors — and any investors — looking for help with their portfolios do have other options besides asset managers. These are some of the more common ways to get help putting together and monitoring an investment portfolio.

Managed Funds

Actively managed mutual funds, index funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are structures in which investors’ money is pooled and then managed in a single account by asset managers. While there are some funds that focus on specific ideals or are focused on producing income to an individual’s needs, the managers don’t work for individual investors specifically. The funds do, however, offer some benefits of active management. Any investor can buy shares of these funds through a broker or with the help of a financial advisor.

Actively managed funds are led by a team of well-trained experts who are trying to outperform the market. This expertise can come at a price, and actively managed funds may come with higher fees. When you invest in mutual funds, for example, you can expect to be charged a sales load — a percentage of the dollar amount invested — by brokers and the mutual fund company when you buy or sell the fund. Front-end loads are paid by the investor up front when they purchase shares of a fund. So if a mutual fund has a load fee of 5% and an investor buys $10,000 worth of shares, $500 will be taken out of the account to pay brokers and distributors.

Back-end fees are paid when an investor sells shares. These fees are usually calculated based on the initial investment and not on the final value of the shares at the time of the sale.

Passively managed funds closely mirror a market index, such as the S&P 500. These funds hold the same securities contained in the index and tend to stray very little from that pattern. As a result, the fund is essentially on auto-pilot and requires very little human intervention.

One low-cost option for investors who want to take a hands-off approach to their portfolios are online investment platforms, some of which use algorithms to build and manage client portfolios.

Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs)

A registered investment advisor (RIA) is an individual or firm who gives investment advice, but may outsource asset management to third-party firms.

RIAs must register with the SEC or another state-level authority. They have a fiduciary duty to their clients, which means they are legally obligated to act in their clients’ best interests. In other words, RIAs must provide investment advice because it is best for their client — and not because it’s beneficial or more profitable to them. The advice they give must be as accurate as possible based on the information available, and RIAs must consider cost and efficiency when making investments on their clients’ behalf.

Not all financial professionals are held to this same standard. Stock brokers for example, are held to a suitability standard rather than a fiduciary standard, meaning the recommendations they make to clients must be suitable to their client’s needs. This differs slightly from the fiduciary standard an investment advisory is held to, which means that the advisor is bound to act in the client’s best interest.

RIAs may suggest investments to their clients for which they receive monetary compensation, such as a commission, as long as the product is in the client’s best interest and the RIA discloses the conflict of interest.

When registering as an RIA, advisors must disclose the investment styles and strategies that they use, how much money they manage in total, their fee structure, past disciplinary actions, conflicts with clients, and any potential conflicts of interest.

Broker Dealers

Broker-dealers are individuals or companies who are licenced to sell securities and other investments. In effect, they are middlemen who buy and sell on behalf of clients. They don’t help investors build their portfolios, or develop an allocation and diversification strategy. However, an investor can turn to a broker-dealer when they want to execute a trade.

Other Financial Advisors

Sometimes, an investor might seek general financial advice that doesn’t necessarily have to do with managing their assets. If those instances, a certified financial planner (CFP®) might be someone to consider. CFPs can make recommendations about asset allocation, investment accounts, and tax strategy, for example. And they can help an individual put together long-term investment plans to save for major financial goals, such as retirement or sending kids to college.

CFPs are credentialed by the CFP Board, and to earn their stripes they must meet rigorous training requirements and pass the CFP exam. The CFP board holds its members to a fiduciary standard, so as with RIAs, the advice they give must be in their clients’ best interest.

The Takeaway

Though asset managers typically work with high-net-worth clients, there are a number of different options any investor has — including wealth managers, RIAs, and CFPs — when it comes to finding a professional service or individual to manage their investment portfolio. For any investor, it helps to consider one’s income bracket, specific needs, and tolerance for fees, when deciding where to turn for professional guidance.

SoFi Invest® can help anyone from seasoned investors to eager beginners get started building a diversified portfolio today. Members can trade stocks and ETFs, choosing to take a hands-on, active approach to building their portfolio—or letting SoFi take the reins to build an automated portfolio for you.

Learn more about SoFi Invest and how it can help grow wealth.

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.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit 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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
IPOs: Investing early in IPO stock involves substantial risk of loss. The decision to invest should always be made as part of a comprehensive financial plan taking individual circumstances and risk appetites into account.
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