Mobile Wallets: How They Work & Their Benefits

Guide to Mobile Wallets: What They Are and How They Work

A mobile wallet can be a great way to pay for things as you go through your day without having to carry an actual, potentially cumbersome wallet with you. Instead, an app holds digital versions of your credit, debit, loyalty, and ID cards, allowing you easy access when needed.

But you may wonder which of the mobile wallet options are best, how safe these transactions are, and whether it wouldn’t just be better to slip your debit card in your pocket on most days.

Read on to learn more, including:

•   What is a mobile wallet?

•   How does a mobile wallet work?

•   How do you set up a mobile wallet?

•   What are the pros and cons of a mobile wallet?

What Is a Mobile Wallet?

A mobile wallet is just what it sounds like: It’s a virtual wallet that lives on your mobile device (aka your cell phone). It can store credit cards and charge cards, as well as debit, loyalty, and store card information. This allows you to quickly and easily pay for goods and services with your smartphone, smartwatch, or another mobile device. No more digging through your bag or backpack for your “real” wallet and fishing out the right piece of plastic.

Mobile wallets (sometimes called digital wallets) can go a step further, too. You can also stash insurance cards, ID, coupons, concert tickets, boarding passes, and hotel key card information in them. Some digital wallets also enable you to send money to friends, as well as receive payments.

You may also be able to use your mobile wallet instead of a physical card at some ATMs for contactless withdrawals.

Recommended: What Is a Credit Card?

How Does a Mobile Wallet Work?

Here’s how a mobile wallet works:

•   You install the app and type in your personal and payment information, which is securely stored. (Unique identifying numbers are used for your details vs. your actual card or account information.)

•   When you are ready to make a payment with the mobile wallet, a technology called NFC (near-field communication) kicks in. This allows the two devices (your mobile wallet and the vendor’s reader) to communicate. Typically, you will wave your device over the merchant’s terminal or tap your device against it.

•   As the two devices communicate, your transaction will likely go through. Funds will transfer, and you will usually be pinged with a confirmation.

What Is the Best Mobile Wallet App?

The major mobile wallets are:

•   Apple Pay

•   Google Pay

•   Samsung Pay

These may come already installed on mobile devices. Although they differ in layout, these mobile wallet apps have the same basic function that allows you to pay with a phone tap.

Other ways to make payments on the go include mobile wallets you can download from app stores, including wallets from banks and merchants such as PayPal, Walmart, and Starbucks.

Deciding which mobile wallet is best will largely depend upon your own personal needs, which options are compatible with your device, how you like to manage your money, and what your financial goals are. A couple of points to keep in mind:

•   When choosing a mobile wallet app, be aware that a mobile wallet offered by your credit card company may only be accepted at certain retailers.

•   Merchant wallets will typically only work in that merchant’s store or online. For instance, the Starbucks wallet will only work at Starbucks. Enjoy that latte, but don’t expect to buy new boots at the mall with it.

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Setting up and Using a Mobile Wallet

Here’s how to set up most of the major mobile wallet apps; it’s usually quite simple:

•   You launch the app (it may be pre-installed on your device), take a photo of your card or enter its information (such as your credit card number), and follow the step-by-step instructions.

•   This process is then repeated for all other cards entered. Generally, even if you load up several credit cards into your mobile wallet, only one of them will be your default payment option. That card will be the one that is used to process a purchase. If you want to use a different card, you may need to change the default card before you make the transaction.

•   Beyond credit and debit cards, the app may also walk you through configuring peer-to-peer payments like Apple Cash or Google Pay fund exchanges. You may also be able to link your PayPal account.

•   You may be able to import retail-store rewards cards, as well as museum or library memberships cards, event tickets, and airline boarding passes. This may involve scanning a QR code or selecting the “add to wallet” button in an email or a text message from the issuer.

•   When you are ready to pay for purchases using your mobile wallet, you’ll want to make sure the merchant accepts mobile money. These businesses can typically be identified through a contactless payment indicator (usually a sideways Wi-Fi symbol).

•   To pay, open your digital wallet app if necessary, hold the phone near the wireless reader or tap your device against the terminal. This will authorize the payment. Your phone’s screen will typically confirm the transaction.

Are Mobile Wallets Safe?

Overall, mobile wallets are considered to be safe. Here’s why:

•   Unlike cash, which can be stolen, and credit cards, which can be copied, the card information you load into a mobile wallet is encrypted. That means that your actual card or account numbers are never shared with the merchant.

•   In order to make a payment, you typically have to unlock your device and also type the passcode or use your fingerprint or face recognition to unlock the mobile wallet. Or you may be able to unlock an iPhone with a double-click of a button and then authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID.These steps may be simple but they add layers of security.

•   In the case of theft, it’s not possible for anyone to use a mobile device to make a payment without providing the required security credentials.

These safeguards actually make mobile wallets more secure than carrying physical credit cards and cash, which can easily be compromised.

Recommended: Guide to Choosing a Credit Card

Pros and Cons of Using Mobile Wallets

Is a mobile wallet right for you? Here are some key pros and cons you may want to consider.

Mobile Wallet Pros

Here are some of the upsides of using a mobile wallet.

They’re convenient. If you’re out and about without your wallet or bag, you can still make purchases, as well as use your coupons and rewards cards. You may also be able to get cash at an ATM or check a book out of the library, all from your mobile device. What’s more, they’re often allow for a contactless payment, meaning they can be extra quick and easy.

They’re secure. Mobile wallets provide a layer of security you don’t get with cash or using a debit or credit card. Your payment information is saved in one protected, central location. Card numbers are never stored in the app itself but are instead assigned a unique virtual number. This protects your money even if your smartphone is lost or stolen.

They can help you track your spending. A mobile wallet can help you track and better manage your spending. All of your transaction information is stored in the app so it’s easy to see how much you’re spending and where each week. You might even wind up using a credit card more responsibly.

Mobile Wallet Cons

There are also some downsides to mobile wallets to be aware of.

They’re not accepted everywhere. There are still some industries where cash is the only currency accepted. Even in businesses that do take credit, not all of them accept mobile wallets. To accept a mobile wallet, businesses need to have payment readers that take NFC payments, and not all of them have these terminals. This can cause a problem if a mobile wallet is all you have on hand.

Your phone could die. Cell phones often run out of battery life, and if you’re without a charger, that handy mobile wallet will no longer exist. That can put a crimp in your shopping plans or become a major problem if you have important documents such as train passes or concert tickets stored in your mobile wallet.

You may end up overspending. The use of mobile wallets can be similar to that of using a credit card. Because cash isn’t physically leaving your hands, spending can feel less real, which can be a cause of overspending. If you have spending issues, a mobile wallet can make it easy to spend mindlessly and swipe or tap too often.

The Takeaway

A mobile wallet is a digital way to store credit, debit, ID, and gift cards so that purchases can be made using a mobile smart device rather than a physical card.

Mobile wallets can help simplify your financial life. They allow users to make in-store payments without having to carry cash or physical credit cards. They’re easy to use and have hefty safeguards.

However, they aren’t universally accepted. It’s worth your while to determine whether the retailers you frequent accept them to help determine if a mobile wallet is a good option for you.

Looking for more convenient ways to manage your money? With a SoFi Checking and Savings bank account, you can spend and save in one convenient place, earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), and pay no account fees. You can also track your weekly spending, pay bills, and send money to friends right from your smartphone using the SoFi app.

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4 Tips for Using Your Mobile Wallet

To keep your mobile wallet safe and smooth transactions, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Do your research before downloading payment apps. Look for reliable brands/companies, many positive reviews, and a significant number of downloads. Avoid untested apps; they could be a kind of scam and contain spyware or malware.
  2. Know how to remotely lock and locate your phone in case it gets lost or stolen. Check your phone’s device manager capabilities before you find yourself in an emergency situation.
  3. Always have appropriate locking technology. Carrying around a phone that doesn’t lock means you could be risking loss.
  4. Review your credit and debit card statements. Make sure those purchases are yours. While mobile wallets are secure, problems can occasionally arise, and you want to be alert.

FAQ

How many places support mobile wallets?

While there isn’t a precise tally of how many retailers and other businesses support mobile wallets, a recent study found that there are 1.35 billion registered mobile money accounts globally, indicating significant adoption of and acceptance of this technology.

Do mobile wallets support all debit/credit cards?

Each mobile wallet will have its own policies, but most credit cards from major banks are supported by, say, Google Pay. Small business credit cards may also be added, and possibly some debit cards, especially those from established banks. You may find, though, that prepaid cards are not supported.

Will mobile payments replace cash?

According to a 2022 study by GSMA, the global mobile money industry saw a 31% increase in processing transactions, up to $1 trillion in value. While this might indicate that mobile payments are on track to replace cash completely, that may not happen soon or perhaps even ever: Some sources say cash still accounts for 85% of all consumer payments around the world.


Photo credit: iStock/hiphotos35

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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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Guide to Understanding and Tracking Robo-Advisor Returns

Investing can be complex and intimidating, so many people may seek an advisor to help them with their finances. In the past, that meant going to a financial advisor to get a tailored financial and investment plan, usually at a high cost. But in recent years, consumers have gravitated toward robo-advisors – which provide algorithm-generated investment advice to help individuals manage their money – due to their low fees and convenience.

However, even with the help of a robo-advisor, you need to understand and track the returns on your investments. In this guide, we will explain what robo-advisors are, how they work, and what you need to know about monitoring and evaluating the performance of your portfolio. By understanding the basics of robo-advisors and their returns, you can make more informed decisions about your investments and achieve your financial goals.

What Is a Robo-Advisor and How Does It Work?

A robo-advisor is an automated, algorithm-based service that provides investors with financial advice. The service typically involves a questionnaire that customers complete to assess their risk tolerance and investment goals. It is then used to determine an investment strategy and portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or other low-cost investments.

Robo-advisor algorithms typically use modern portfolio theory (MPT) and other quantitative techniques to create a diversified portfolio tailored to the investor’s needs. The algorithms used by robo-advisors are constantly updated to reflect changes in the market and make adjustments as needed to maintain the desired asset allocation.

Robo-advisors also offer tools to help investors make decisions about their finances. These can include portfolio analysis tools, risk tolerance assessment tools, and educational resources. Investors can use these tools to monitor their portfolios and make informed decisions.

Robo-advisors typically charge a fee for their services, usually a percentage of the total portfolio value. However, the fees are generally much lower than those traditional financial advisors charge.

The goal of robo-advisors is to provide a low-cost and convenient investing option to a wide range of customers, including those who may not have the resources or desire to work with a human, financial advisor.

Recommended: What Is Automated Investing?

Evaluating Robo-Advisor Performance

Evaluating the performance of a robo-advisor is critical for investors interested in using them to build wealth. By looking at the past performance of robo-advisors, investors can get an idea of the sophistication of the computer algorithm that generates the portfolio allocations. Such proprietary algorithms can be based on investment theories developed by Nobel Prize-winning economists.

An investor should evaluate robo-advisor performance by considering its overall returns and several other key metrics. By assessing the following metrics, investors can better understand the robo-advisor’s performance and how it aligns with their investment goals:

•   Returns: Compare the rate of returns of a robo-advisor’s portfolios to those of relevant benchmarks. For instance, investors can look at the returns of their robo-advisor portfolio versus the S&P 500 Index returns. If the robo-advisor performs better than the S&P 500, it may indicate a well-run robo-advisor. However, remember that past performance is not always indicative of future results, but it can provide a general idea of how the robo-advisor’s investments have performed over time.

•   Diversification: Evaluate the diversification of the robo-advisor’s portfolios within and across different asset classes. Portfolio diversification can help manage risk by spreading investments across different types of securities.

•   Rebalancing: Investigate how often and how the robo-advisor’s portfolios are rebalanced and how frequently the underlying investments are reviewed.

•   Customer Service: Check if the robo-advisor provides access to a human advisor or customer support, as this can be an important factor if you need help or have questions.

What Is the Average Robo-Advisor Return?

The average return for a robo-advisor portfolio can vary depending on several factors, such as the portfolio’s specific investments, the robo-advisor’s investment strategy, and the overall market conditions.

In general, robo-advisors tend to invest heavily in low-cost index funds and ETFs, which often track the broader market. Therefore, a robo-advisor portfolio’s returns may be similar to a mix of comparable index funds minus any management fees charged by the robo-advisor.

Recommended: ETFs vs Index Funds: Differences and Similarities, Explained

Nonetheless, returns can vary widely depending on the robo-advisor and the portfolio. For example, as of September 30, 2022, the 5-year average annual return for robo-advisors with portfolios comprising 60% stocks and 40% ranged from 2.31% to 4.44%, according to The Robo Report by Condor Capital.

Robo-Advisor Returns

Below are the returns of some robo-advisors compiled by Condor Capital’s The Robo Report. The returns shown in the table are of portfolios with a 60% stock and 40% bond asset allocation, after fees, as of September 30, 2022. All returns for periods longer than one year are annualized.

Robo-Advisor Third-Quarter 202 YTD (through 9/30/22) 2-Year 5-Year
Acorns -5.96% -21.19% -1.77% 2.51%
Ally Invest -5.84% -20.31% -1.40% 2.61%
Axos Invest -6.01% -21.43% -1.28% 3.49%
Betterment -6.17% -20.59% -0.60% 2.47%
Charles Schwab -5.78% -18.28% 0.96% 2.31%
E*Trade -6.47% -20.97% -1.55% 2.77%
Ellevest -5.24% -17.70% -0.13% 3.00%
Fidelity -4.91% -19.21% 0.09% 3.79%
Merrill Edge -5.72% -18.61% 0.55% 3.32%
Personal Capital -6.15% -19.54% 1.34% 3.21%
SoFi -4.50% -16.76% -0.62% 3.47%
Vanguard -4.93% -19.47% -0.22% 3.44%
Wealthfront -5.35% -17.08% 3.29% 4.44%
Zacks Advantage -4.02% -17.05% 2.13% 4.25%
Source: The Robo Report by Condor Capital Wealth Management

Understanding Robo-Advisor Fees

Understanding the investment fees associated with robo-advisors and how they compare to other investment options is critical for investors. Fees often eat into a portfolio’s returns, making it harder for investors to build wealth. Analyzing robo-advisor expenses will help investors to determine if the robo-advisor is a cost-effective solution for their investment needs.

Investors can better understand robo-advisor fees by analyzing the following:

•   Management Fees: This is the fee charged by the robo-advisor for managing the investor’s portfolio. It is typically a percentage of a portfolio’s assets under management and many robo-advisors charge less than 0.50%. Some robo-advisors offer management fee-free options to their clients.

•   Expense Ratios: An expense ratio is the fee charged by the underlying funds in the portfolio, such as ETFs. It is expressed as a percentage of the assets, ranging from 0.05% to 0.50% or more. Some robo-advisors include low-cost ETFs with expense ratios under 0.10%.

•   Account Minimums: Some robo-advisors may have minimum account balance requirements. A minimum account balance means investors must deposit a certain amount to open an account, which can be a headwind to opening an account if the investor starts with a small amount of capital.

•   Commissions: Some robo-advisors charge a commission when buying or selling securities, while others do not.

•   Other Fees: Some robo-advisors may charge additional fees for services such as tax-loss harvesting or closing an account.

Pros and Cons of Robo-Advisors

Robo-advisors are often appealing to many investors because of their hands of nature. However, as with any financial product or service, there are pros and cons to using a robo-advisor.

Pros and Cons of Robo-Advisors

Pros

Cons

Relatively low cost Limited personalization
Convenient Insufficient access to human advice
Diversified portfolios Fewer investment options

The pros of using robo-advisors include the following:

•   Low cost: Robo-advisors typically have much lower fees than traditional financial advisors, making them an attractive option for people who want to invest but avoid paying high fees. Some robo-advisors charge as little as 0.25% of assets under management, while traditional financial advisors may charge 1% or more. This can make a significant difference over time, especially for people with smaller portfolios.

•   Convenience: Robo-advisors are available 24/7 and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, which makes it easy for people to manage their investments. This convenience can be especially beneficial for people with limited time to manage their investments.

•   Diversification: Robo-advisors use algorithms to create diversified portfolios with a mix of different index funds and ETFs in various asset classes, which can help investors reduce risk and improve returns.

The cons of using robo-advisors include the following:

•   Limited personalization: Robo-advisors use algorithms to create portfolios, which may not take into account an individual’s unique financial situation or goals. A lack of personalization can be a problem for people with complex financial situations or who have specific investment goals that a robo-advisor may be unable to accommodate.

•   Insufficient access to human advice: Investors may prefer to speak with a human advisor for financial advice and guidance. While some robo-advisors provide access to a financial advisor to help investors, it may not meet the needs of some users.

•   Fewer investment options: Some robo-advisors may have limited investment options compared to traditional financial advisors or a self-directed brokerage account. For instance, robo-advisors tend to invest in ETFs rather than individual stocks. If an investor wants to put money into a specific stock or asset, they may want to open a self-directed brokerage account in addition to a robo-advisor portfolio.

Want to start investing?

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Can Consumers Lose Money With Robo-Advisors?

Consumers can lose their money with robo-advisors. As with all investments, there’s a risk of investors suffering losses.

There are some precautions that investors can consider when weighing different robo-advisors. The industry is still growing, and computer-generated financial advice may not meet all their needs. In addition, face-to-face meetings can help consumers better understand their financial profile and investment risks.

Also, if a robo-advisor shuts down, consumers may be forced to sell or accept a possibly unrelated replacement service.

Why Do People Use Robo-Advisors?

People use robo-advisors because they are often cheaper than traditional financial advisors, provide a more objective approach to financial decision-making, and offer greater convenience when managing investments.

For example, robo-advisors will automatically rebalance the portfolio according to the market conditions, investors’ risk tolerance, and investment goals. This ease of rebalancing can help investors maintain their desired risk level and ensure that their portfolio stays aligned with their investment goals.

Additionally, some robo-advisors use automated tax-loss harvesting to help investors minimize their tax liability. Tax-loss harvesting is a technique that involves selling investments that have lost value to offset capital gains from other investments, which can help reduce the amount of taxes you owe.

Investing With SoFi

Robo-advisors are a relatively new type of investment service that uses algorithms and technology to create and manage portfolios for investors. In recent years, robo-advisors have become increasingly popular as more and more people look for low-cost, convenient ways to invest their money. This has lowered the barrier to entry for many individuals, including younger people, to start investing.

If you’re interested in using a robo-advisor to help you build your portfolio, SoFi can help. With SoFi Invest® automated investing, we recommend a portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for you based on your goals and risk tolerance. We’ll rebalance your investments quarterly, so your money is always invested how you want it to be. And SoFi doesn’t charge a management fee.

Open an automated investing account and start investing for your future with as little as $1.

FAQ

Do robo-advisors work?

Robo-advisors can be effective tools to help people manage their money and achieve their financial goals. Robo-advisors are generally cheaper and more convenient than traditional human financial advisors. However, it is important to research each robo-advisor to ensure it is the best fit for your needs.

What are the differences between a robo-advisor and a financial advisor?

Robo-advisors are usually less expensive than financial advisors. Robo-advisors typically have low fees and minimum deposit requirements, while financial advisors often require a minimum deposit and charge a percentage of the assets they manage. Another difference is that robo-advisors provide automated and algorithm-based advice, while financial advisors provide personalized advice and guidance tailored to individual needs and goals.

Are robo-advisors good for retirees?

Robo-advisors can be a good option for some retirees because they can provide a low-cost, automated way to manage investments. However, if a retiree wants more personalized advice or help with tax and estate planning, there may be better options than a robo-advisor.


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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
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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For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A.
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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What Is an Itemized Deduction?

Guide to Itemized Deductions

Tax deductions enable taxpayers to reduce their total taxable income. That can be a very good thing: It can result in a lower tax bill or, if you had too much withheld through the year, a larger refund.

While most people now take the standard deduction — especially since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 effectively doubled the standard deduction amount — some taxpayers may benefit from itemizing their deductions.

Doing so can be a somewhat complicated and time-consuming process, but it may save you money. Here’s your guide to itemizing deductions; read on to learn:

•  What is an itemized deduction?

•  How do itemized deductions differ from standard deductions?

•  What are examples of itemized deductions?

•  What are the pros and cons of itemizing deductions?

What Is an Itemized Deduction?

Itemized deductions are a strategy to lower your adjusted gross income for a tax year. Rather than taking a set standard deduction whose amount is determined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), some taxpayers choose to calculate all deductions for which they’re eligible. They can then decrease their taxable income by that amount.

It’s worthwhile for some taxpayers to do the math and see how much they can reduce their tax bill by itemizing. That said, many may realize they can actually reduce their taxable income more by taking the standard deduction. Why? The standard deduction is much larger than it used to be since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at the end of 2017.

For the 2022 tax year (filing in 2023), the standard deduction is:

•  $12,950 for single tax filers

•  $19,400 for heads of household

•  $25,900 for married couples filing jointly

Almost everyone can take the standard deduction — and there’s a lot less math and paperwork involved. But for a unique set of taxpayers, itemized deductions could yield an even larger tax liability reduction than what the IRS offers through the standard deduction.

Recommended: What Are the Different Types of Taxes?

Itemized vs. Standard Deduction: What’s the Difference?

So what are the differences between itemized deductions and the standard deduction? Let’s take a look:

•  Dollar amount: The standard deduction is a set amount. If you choose the standard deduction, you cannot reduce your tax liability further by tacking on itemized deductions. When itemizing, the amount by which you reduce your tax burden varies depending on your unique tax situation. In nearly every case, it only makes sense to itemize if the resulting deduction is larger than the standard deduction or if you aren’t eligible to take the standard deduction.

•  Process: Claiming the standard deduction is straightforward. You don’t need to produce receipts and sort through expenses. If you itemize, you’ll need to educate yourself about all the deductions for which you qualify, produce the proof that you qualify in case of a tax audit, and fill out what is known as Schedule A on your tax return.

•  Eligibility: Anyone can itemize their deductions, but the standard deduction has a few exceptions. For example, if you’re married but filing separately and your spouse itemizes, you must itemize as well. While almost everyone is eligible to take the standard deduction, it never hurts to check with the IRS or your accountant to ensure eligibility.

How Do Itemized Deductions Work?

Now that you know what are itemized deductions vs. standard ones, consider a more specific example of how they work.

Itemized deductions reduce your overall tax liability, just like the standard deduction. The catch? You can only take the itemized deductions for which you’re eligible. If you can cobble together enough itemized deductions to equal a larger tax-liability reduction than the standard amount, it could be worth itemizing.

As an example, let’s assume your gross income was $100,000, which puts you in the 24% tax bracket as a single filer.

•  The standard deduction for this income is $12,950 for single filers, so your taxable income would be $87,050.

•  Let’s suppose your itemized deductions are worth $20,000. It will lower your taxable income to $80,000.

Because your itemized deductions are greater than the standard deduction, it makes sense to itemize. Doing so will lower your taxable income and can thereby reduce the taxes you pay.

While it may take longer to calculate your deductions and prepare your tax return, it may make good financial sense to keep that extra cash in your pocket (or savings account, as the case may be).

Types of Itemized Deductions

The IRS offers an extensive list of potential itemized tax deductions, but you’ll probably only qualify for a handful. Here are a few of the most common:

•  Property tax deduction

•  Mortgage interest deduction

•  Charitable contribution deduction

•  Deduction of state and local sales taxes

•  Deduction of certain medical and dental expenses

While the IRS used to have a long list of miscellaneous deductions — from moving expenses to unreimbursed job expenses to tax preparation fees — many of these disappeared with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Independent contractors may want to consider itemizing; check out the tax deductions for freelancers to see which ones you may qualify for. As you itemize their business expenses, pay attention to the home office tax deduction, how much you spend on office supplies, travel, and other expenses. Make sure to keep good documentation of what you’ve paid.

How to Claim an Itemized Deduction

To claim itemized tax deductions on your return, you’ll need to fill out IRS Schedule A with your Form 1040. Here’s what that process looks like:

1.   Research itemized deductions: It’s helpful to know which deductions you qualify for — and to gather up necessary documentation to enter in all the information beforehand. Preparing for tax season can make the process go much more smoothly!

2.   Fill out Schedule A: You’ll enter in all your expenses and add them up to get your total deduction.

3.   Compare it to the standard deduction: Before copying that total over to your Form 1040, it’s wise to reference the standard deduction for your filing status this year. Once you’re sure that the itemized deduction can yield larger savings, you can write down the number on Form 1040 and continue filing your taxes.

While the process sounds straightforward, it can be difficult to find out which deductions you’re eligible for and how to tabulate all your expenses. If you’re unsure, it may be a good idea to work with an accountant or at least professional tax preparation software.

Recommended: How to File Taxes for the First Time

Pros and Cons of Itemized Deductions

So what are the benefits and drawbacks of itemizing your deductions? Let’s take a look:
Pro: Itemizing could help lower your taxable income and save you more money than the standard deduction.
Con: Given changes to tax law a few years back, there’s a good chance you may save more with the standard deduction.
Pro: Because you’re writing off certain expenses and know which expenses are deductible, you may be more prudent with your spending habits throughout the year.
Con: Itemizing can involve a lot more paperwork and effort. It can be confusing, and you must make sure you’re only itemizing deductions for which you actually qualify to avoid trouble with the IRS.

The Takeaway

Most people will likely save more money on their taxes with the standard deduction, but depending on your scenario, you could see a greater reduction in your tax liability by itemizing. If you have the time, it may be worth it to go through the process of itemizing, just to see if you could save money. If you can, great! And if not, the standard deduction also offers great savings.

Looking for something smart and safe to do with your tax refund? Open an online bank account that earns a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and charges you no account fees. Those are just two of the perks of a SoFi Checking and Savings account. What’s more, you can spend and save in one convenient place, and you can earn cash back when you shop locally at select merchants.

Better banking is here with up to 3.75% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Can anyone itemize a deduction?

All taxpayers are permitted to itemize deductions, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has made it less attractive to itemize for many Americans. Why? The standard deduction essentially doubled in size, while fewer expenses became eligible for itemizing.

Still, it may be worth calculating your itemized deductions to see if you can save more than you would with the standard deduction.

What are some things that you cannot itemize?

Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there are fewer things that you can itemize on your tax return. Even some popular deductions that people used to take are no longer eligible, including moving expenses, tax preparation fees, and unreimbursed business expenses.

Many deductions have a lot of fine print — both for inclusion and exclusion — so it’s a good idea to work with an accountant or professional tax preparation software to determine what counts as an itemized deduction.

Do you need proof for itemized deductions?

Generally, you should have proof for expenses that you are claiming as an itemized deduction. Such documentation would prove that you paid the expenses and that they were eligible for the deduction. The IRS calls this the burden of proof.


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What Is Ethereum 2.0 and When Will it Be Released?

Guide to Ethereum 2.0

Ethereum 2.0 is the latest upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain network, shifting it from a proof-of-work to a more efficient proof-of-stake consensus mechanism.

As Ethereum gained widespread recognition and adoption within the crypto space in recent years — it’s the second-largest crypto project after Bitcoin — some elements of the network required upgrades. As one of the most innovative blockchains in the DeFi space, Ethereum struggled with transaction times and scalability, among other issues.

The move from a proof-of-work consensus system to a less energy-intensive, more efficient proof-of-stake model aims to address those challenges. This massive overhaul has been termed The Merge.

What Is Ethereum 2.0?

To understand Ethereum 2.0 and its upgrades, you must have a basic understanding of what Ethereum is.

What Is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a form of crypto, of course, but Ethereum is best known as one of the most successful programmable blockchain platforms, with the capacity to support smart contracts, dApps (decentralized apps), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and other DeFi projects.

The Ethereum native token is the Ether (ETH), and it’s used to fuel operations on the blockchain.

The Ethereum platform launched in 2015, and it’s now the second largest form of crypto next to Bitcoin (BTC), with a market capitalization of about $193 billion, as of Jan. 30, 2023.

Ethereum’s History of DeFi Innovation

The larger idea for Ethereum was to create a programmable blockchain that would enable a sort of free market environment, where developers could create decentralized applications (dApps), smart contract, and other DeFi programs without any control or interference from a third party.

Historically, Ethereum relied on a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism in order for miners to validate transactions and earn Ether (ETH) or gwei, a denomination of ETH used to pay for DeFi goods and services on the network.

In proof-of-work mining, high-powered computers solve complex mathematical puzzles needed to validate blocks of data or transactions.

Ethereum users can also create code used to build dApps and smart contracts. Smart contracts can execute transactions without a middleman, like a bank or regulator, once certain conditions are met. This innovation set Ethereum apart from other crypto projects, and it has inspired other crypto platforms to launch similar features.

Limitations of Ethereum

Because the Ethereum network has long attracted developers and other innovators, it has experienced growing pains, so to say, that have limited its ability to scale efficiently. In particular, Ethereum has been criticized for long transaction times and high fees.

Ethereum 2.0, or The Merge,”aims “to improve the network’s scalability, security, and sustainability,” according to its creators. As such, it’s hoped that improvements in those areas will be the primary ETH merge impact.

Those goals address several of the network’s key limitations: It needs to be faster, less vulnerable to threats, and eat up fewer resources. Of course, there are challenges to put these changes in place. Programmers have spent many years working on Ethereum 2.0, and though some changes have already been implemented, others will be phased in over the coming years.

How ETH 2.0 Solves Some Limitations

The most critical element of the move to Ethereum 2.0 is the transition from a proof-of-work algorithm that allows the network to be more nimble and efficient. While the proof-of-work system is still used by other crypto networks (most notably Bitcoin), many others are adopting alternatives.

The move to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism eliminates the need for miners, which reduces the amount of resources required to keep the network’s integrity in check.

While the discussion about proof-of-work versus proof-of-stake algorithms is worthy of a conversation in and of itself (see below), the adoption of a the proof-of-stake system by Ethereum helps solve many of the issues (again, scalability, security, and sustainability) that the network previously experienced.

When Was Ethereum 2.0 Released?

The upgrades to the Ethereum network are being implemented in phases, and many features of the new network were established by late 2022.

The transition began with the introduction of the Beacon Chain in December 2020. During 2022, other upgrades were phased in, including a merge with Ethereum’s mainnet with the proof-of-stake Beacon Chain. The next phase will include a blockchain management strategy known as sharding sometime in 2023 or 2024.

What Are the Upgrades to Ethereum?

As noted above, the move toward Ethereum 2.0, or the Merge, has been accomplished in stages.

The Beacon Chain

The Beacon Chain introduced a new staking concept (proof-of-stake) to the platform. It launched before many other upgrade components because it’s a cornerstone to Ethereum 2.0’s system and needed to be in place for other components to work on top of it. The Ethereum merge date was in September 2022.

The Ethereum Mainnet Merge

The merge concerns the marriage of the existing Ethereum mainnet (Ethereum’s main network) with the Beacon Chain’s proof-of-stake protocol, as discussed.

This change is now live, and as a result, crypto mining is no longer needed to generate ETH, and instead, the network uses a staking system in order to create additional Ethereum tokens. This change has reduced the network’s energy consumption by more than 99.9%.

These two steps — the launch of the Beacon Chain, and the mainnet merge — paved the way for the next part of the transition: The introduction of shard chains.

Shard Chains

By introducing shard chains, which is scheduled to happen within the next year or two, the Ethereum network will have more capacity and speed, giving it the ability to handle more traffic.

“Sharding” is a bit technical, but it basically means that a database will split up to disperse the load of transactions on the network. Sharding reduces congestion and speeds up transactions, allowing the network to store and process more data in a shorter amount of time. Plus, more people will be able to participate on the network after it is sharded.

Ethereum 2.0 Staking

Remember: Ethereum 2.0 represents a full transition to a proof-of-stake protocol from a hybrid system that uses both proof-of-stake and proof-of-work.

Staking, in general, is the process of locking up cryptocurrencies to earn rewards. It’s like putting your cash in a savings account and accruing interest. Staking is a process used to validate data and transactions in a blockchain network, which is why and how Ethereum uses it.

Recommended: What Is Crypto Staking?

Understanding Proof-of-Stake

With a proof-of-stake system, users validate block transactions based on the number of coins they hold. Basically, the more ether a user has, the more mining power they possess. As discussed, mining isn’t necessary under a proof-of-stake algorithm (not the case for proof-of-work).

That means that the process requires less energy and mining power — fewer resources overall — to keep the network running.

The Difference Between Proof-of-Stake and Proof-of-Work

Proof-of-work, conversely, is the original algorithm used by blockchain networks. On this protocol, users “mine” new coins, as they would on the Bitcoin blockchain, to earn rewards.

Mining is extremely energy intensive, which is one reason Ethereum 2.0 is moving to proof-of-stake.

Recommended: Is Crypto Mining Still Profitable in 2023?

A proof-of-stake algorithm will also bring less risk onto the network, has stronger support for sharding, and is more efficient — all upgrades over the proof-of-work system.

Summary: Ethereum vs Ethereum 2.0

To wrap it all up, Ethereum 2.0’s rollout is designed to make some significant improvement over the old Ethereum network, and make it more secure, sustainable, and increase its scalability. Here’s a brief rundown of the major differences, as they relate to crypto investors:

Ethereum vs. Ethereum 2.0

Ethereum

Ethereum 2.0

Proof-of-work algorithm Proof-of-stake algorithm
Required mining to generate ETH Users stake tokens to earn ETH rewards
Slower and more resource-intensive More secure and energy-efficient

What Will Happen to My ETH?

There is no immediate impact to ETH holders as a result of the rollout of the Ethereum 2.0 project. While the network is getting upgrades, there’s no change to ETH itself, and investors shouldn’t need to do anything. Be suspicious of anyone who says otherwise, as crypto scammers may try to take advantage of the transition.

As for how the rollout has impacted prices for Ethereum? It’s hard to say for sure, as there are numerous factors affecting crypto prices at any given time. You can, however, check the ETH price now to get a sense of the value of your Ethereum holdings.

The Takeaway

Ethereum 2.0 is a series of upgrades to the Ethereum network, which introduces a new proof-of-stake system that makes the network, as a whole, more efficient and secure. While the multi-year rollout of the upgrade has begun, hopes are that Ethereum will become bigger and safer over time, while reducing its environmental impact, setting it apart from other types of cryptocurrency.

If you’re interested in trading Ethereum, a one way to get started is by opening a brokerage account on the SoFi Invest online trading platform. You can use it to trade several types of cryptocurrency, as well as to purchase other investments, such as stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Trade crypto and get up to $100 in bitcoin! (Offer is available through 12/31/23; terms apply.)

FAQ

Has Ethereum 2.0 come out yet?

Ethereum 2.0 is a series of upgrades that are being rolled out in phases, some of which have come out, or have gone live. The process is not complete, though, and likely will finish within the next couple of years.

Did Ethereum 2.0 replace Ethereum?

Yes and no. Ethereum and Ethereum 2.0 are still more or less the same as they were, but the network has changed or been replaced, in a sense. Ethereum 2.0 isn’t so much a replacement for Ethereum, as it is an upgrade to its system.

How are Ethereum and Ethereum 2.0 different?

The most impactful difference between Ethereum and Ethereum 2.0 is the introduction of a proof-of-stake consensus system, which makes the network faster, more secure, and more scalable, while reducing the amount of resources needed to generate new ETH.


Photo credit: iStock/Pekic

SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
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.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
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 www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
2Terms and conditions apply. Earn a bonus (as described below) when you open a new SoFi Digital Assets LLC account and buy at least $50 worth of any cryptocurrency within 7 days. The offer only applies to new crypto accounts, is limited to one per person, and expires on December 31, 2023. Once conditions are met and the account is opened, you will receive your bonus within 7 days. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate the offer at any time without notice.

First Trade Amount Bonus Payout
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$100 $499.99 $15
$500 $4,999.99 $50
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Investment Opportunities in 2023

Investment opportunities are different ways to put your money to work, and they can include any number of things, such as buying assets and waiting for them to appreciate, or investing in real estate or a business opportunity.

There are varying degrees of risks and potential rewards with each option, but if you’re looking to put your money to work this year, you may want to consider a range of ideas.

Every idea has to be vetted, of course, and it’s important to do your due diligence before investing. Only you can decide which opportunities make sense, given your goals and long term plans.

What Is an Investment Opportunity?

An investment opportunity is exactly what it sounds like: It’s an opportunity, but not a guarantee, that you can put your money into a stock, a mutual fund, a new business, a type of cryptocurrency, that may offer the potential for growth.

While there are countless options for investors, investing typically involves using a brokerage account or investing platform to buy securities. There is a wide range of financial products on the market, and a good percentage of them can be purchased using a brokerage account.

Investments can be volatile, or at least subject to change. Virtually all investments rise and fall in value. Some are more reactive to economic issues or global politics. For that reason, it’s often useful for investors to evaluate the opportunities that may be trending in a certain year, bearing in mind all the relevant risks and investment costs.

7 Investment Opportunities to Potentially Build Wealth

7 Potential Ways to Invest and Build Wealth

1. Bonds and Bond Funds

One common conservative investment strategy is to seek a small-but-safe return from bonds.

Governments, municipalities, and companies issue bonds to investors who lend them money for a set period of time. In exchange, the issuer pays interest over the life of the loan, and returns the principal when the bond “matures.” Individuals can buy them on bond markets or on exchanges.

Upon maturity, the bond-holder gets their original investment (known as the principal) back in full. In other words, a bond is a loan, with the investor loaning another party money, in exchange for interest payments for a set period of time.

Different Types of Bonds

There are many different types of bonds. The most common, and generally considered to be the lowest-risk category of bonds might be the U.S. Treasury bonds, typically called treasuries.

The Treasury regularly auctions off both short-term and long-term Treasury bonds and notes. These bonds are, generally, thought to be one of the safest investments on the market, as they’re guaranteed by the U.S. government. The only way for investors to lose their entire investment would be for the U.S. government to become insolvent, which has never occurred.

Governments are not the only entities that issue bonds. Corporations can also raise money by offering corporate bonds. These types of bonds tend to be riskier, but they often pay a higher rate of interest (known as the yield).

A bond’s price is the inverse of its yield. This means that as the price of a bond falls, its yield goes up (and vice versa).

One of the simpler ways to gain exposure to bonds might be through various ETFs.

For new investors, one of the simpler ways to gain exposure to bonds might be through various exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that are invested in bonds.

Other ETFs may include some bonds as part of a broader bundle of securities.

Recommended: What Is Capital Appreciation?

2. Real Estate or REITs

Real estate is the largest asset class in the world, with a market cap well into the hundreds of trillions of dollars.

When thinking about investing in real estate, residential properties may be one of the first things that comes to mind, such as buying a single family home. But owning property, like a home, can come with an array of responsibilities, liabilities, and expenses. In that way, it’s different from owning a stock or bond.

Annual property taxes, maintenance and upkeep, and paying back mortgage interest can add to the cost of treating a home as an investment. It’s also worth remembering that residential properties can appreciate or depreciate in value, too.

Other real-estate investment options involve owning multi-family rental properties (like apartment buildings or duplexes), commercial properties like shopping malls, or office buildings. These tend to require large initial investments, but those who own them could reap significant returns from rental income. (Naturally, few investments guarantee returns and rental demands and pricing can change over time).

For people with smaller amounts of capital, investing in physical real estate might not be a realistic or desirable option. Fortunately for these investors, some investment opportunities can provide exposure to real estate without the hassle and liability of owning physical property. One common way to do this is through Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs.

Like other investments, there are pros and cons of REITs, but companies can be classified as REITs if they derive at least 75% of their income from the operation, maintenance, or mortgaging of real estate. Additionally, 75% of a REITs assets must also be held in the form of real property or loans directly tied to them.

There are many different types of REITs. Some examples of the types of properties that different REITs might specialize in include:

•   Residential real estate

•   Data centers

•   Commercial real estate

•   Health care

Shares of a REIT can be purchased and held in a brokerage account, just like a stock or ETF. To buy some, it’s often as simple as looking up a specific REIT’s ticker symbol.

REITs are popular among passive-income investors, as they tend to have high dividend yields because they are required by law to pass on 90% of their amount of their income to shareholders.

Historically, REITs have often provided better returns than fixed-income assets like bonds, although REITs do tend to be higher-risk investments.

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3. ETFs and Passive Investing

Passive investing, which refers to exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and other instruments that track an index and do not have an active manager, have become increasingly popular over the years.

•   Weighing the merits of passive vs. active investing is an ongoing debate, with strong advocates on both sides. In recent years, assets held in passive instruments have outpaced active funds.

   Passive investing tends to be lower cost compared with active investing, and over time these strategies tend to do well.

•   An ETF is a security that usually tracks a specific industry or index by investing in a number of stocks or other financial instruments.

ETFs are commonly referred to as one type of passive investing, because most ETFs track an index. Some ETFs are actively managed, but most are not.

These days, there are ETFs for just about everything — no matter your investing goal, interest area, or industry you wish you invest in. Small-cap stocks, large-cap stocks, international stocks, short-term bonds, long-term bonds, corporate bonds, and more.

Some potential advantages of ETFs include lower costs and built-in diversification. Rather than having to pick and choose different stocks, investors can choose shares of a single ETF to buy, gaining some level of ownership in the fund’s underlying assets.

Thus investing in ETFs could make the process of buying into different investments easier, while potentially increasing portfolio diversification (i.e., investing in distinct types of assets in order to manage risk).

4. Automated Investing

Another form of investing involves automated portfolios called robo advisors.

Robo advisors aren’t exactly passive or active, as they can have aspects of both. Typically, the robo advisor offers a menu of pre-set portfolios that include a variety of stocks, REITs, bonds, ETFs, or other securities that provide exposure to different asset classes.

The process of working with a robo advisor might begin with the investor inputting their investing goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Based on the answers, a robo advisor will automatically allocate an investor’s capital according certain styles: e.g. “conservative,” “moderately conservative,” “aggressive,” and so on.

Generally speaking, more conservative portfolios tend to have greater investments into bonds and large-cap dividend stocks (safer assets), while riskier, or more aggressive portfolios tend to invest more into small-cap stocks, international stocks, and real estate.

For investors who would rather “set it and forget it” than have to pick and choose securities, robo advisors could be one automated investment option.

5. Gold and Silver

Investing in precious metals is another way to put your money to work.

Gold is one of the most valued commodities. For thousands of years, gold has been prized because it is scarce, difficult to obtain, has many practical uses, and does not rust, tarnish, or erode.

Silver has historically held a secondary role to gold, and today, serves more of an industrial role. For those looking to invest in physical precious metals, silver will be an affordable option.

Buying physical gold or bullion (which comes in coins and bars) isn’t the only way to invest in gold and silver. There are many related securities that allow investors to gain exposure to precious metals. There are ETFs that tend to track the prices of gold and silver, respectively. Other ETFs provide an easy vehicle for investing in gold and silver mining stocks. So, there are some different ways to invest in the field.

Companies that explore for and mine silver and gold tend to see their share prices increase in tandem with prices for the physical metals. But historically, mining stocks have outperformed simply holding metals by a factor of about 4-to-1 on average.

Gold, silver, and related securities are sometimes considered to be “safe havens,” meaning most investors perceive them as low risk. This asset class tends to perform well during times of crisis (and conversely tends to drop when the economy is going well), but past trends don’t guarantee that gold will perform one way or the other.

6. Investing in Startups

While gold is often considered to be one of the safer investments, startup investing is often considered to be one of the riskiest.

Whereas gold is a real asset almost certain to retain most or all of its value, startup investments are effectively bets on the potential of a new company, and that company might fail; in fact, there’s a good chance that it will. But it’s the high-risk, high-reward and potentially huge returns from startup investing that make it attractive to investors.

Imagine buying a little piece of a tech company when those companies were still in their infancy. When held throughout the years, an investment like that could grow enormously in value.

Angel investing and venture capital are two common ways that startups raise capital. They are both types of equity financing, whereby a business funds or expands its operations by offering investors a stake of ownership in the company. If the company does well, investors stand to profit. Because standard business loans tend to require some kind of assets as collateral (which newer companies, that might be information-based, likely do not have), raising funds in this way is sometimes the only solution startups have.

Venture capital is often associated with the tech industry, due to the large number of entrepreneurs in the industry who have turned to venture capital funds to start their businesses. This type of fund targets new companies and aims to help them grow to the next level.

Angel investing is similar to venture capital, but even riskier. An angel investor might be an individual who’s willing to help fund an otherwise struggling company.

Before running off to look for small companies to invest in, know that startup investing requires good business acumen, an eye for promising ideas, and high risk tolerance. In some cases, to, you may need to qualify as an “accredited investor” to invest in startups. Do a little homework, accordingly!

7. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies

If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that cryptocurrencies are volatile. But despite 2022’s “crypto winter,” the crypto markets can still be an attractive option for investors. And there are ways to build a well-balanced crypto portfolio.

Cryptocurrencies are widely considered a high-risk asset class. Some cryptocurrencies have periodically displayed extraordinary gains relative to the value of fiat currencies, in addition to phenomenal losses.

Despite these fluctuations, certain investors have begun to include many types of crypto in their asset portfolios.

Again, as with other higher-risk investments, there’s no way to predict which way the crypto markets may go. Investors may want to consider how crypto volatility can impact their choices.

Average Rate of Return for the Investment Opportunities

Each of the aforementioned investment opportunities comes with its own set of caveats. For instance, it’s pretty much impossible to guess what types of returns you’d see from investing in ETFs without knowing the specific ETFs you’re investing in. The same holds true for cryptocurrencies, and other assets.

But for some of the previously discussed asset classes, there are some historical returns for different asset classes over the past decade, as of August 2022.

•   U.S. Stock Market: 13.8%

•   Bonds: 1.6%

•   Real Estate: 8.8%

•   Gold: 0.8%

Importance of Finding Good Investing Opportunities

There is no requirement to invest one’s money. But leaving your cash…in cash…can also be risky. No one wants their wealth eroded by inflation.

Though the global economy hadn’t seen serious inflation on a wide scale for decades until 2022, today’s rising prices effectively mean that the value of every dollar you own is diminished as time goes on.

As such, finding investment opportunities that present chances for your money to grow faster than the rate of inflation, while weighing all the appropriate risks, is a powerful incentive.

After all, some investments rise while others fall, and things change. That’s why investors need to be on the lookout for new and different opportunities.

The Takeaway

The investment opportunities described above are just some potential points of entry for investors in 2023. Investors can look to the stock, bond, or crypto markets for new ways to put their money to work — or consider active strategies vs. passive (i.e. index) strategies. They can look at commodities, like precious metals, or automated portfolios.

All these investment opportunities come with their own set of potential risks and rewards. There are no guarantees that choosing X over Y will increase your investment returns. It’s up to each investor to weigh these options, especially in light of current economic trends, such as inflation and rising rates.

SoFi Invest® helps individuals begin investing with ease, thanks to the secure, streamlined SoFi platform. When you set up an Active Invest account, you can choose from stocks, ETFs, IPO investing, crypto, and more. You don’t pay SoFi commissions, and you can get started with just a few dollars.

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

FAQ

What is the best investment opportunity right now?

The best investment opportunity at any given time will depend on the specific investor, and their individual goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance. Opportunities rise and fall over time, in reaction to economic and market trends, so investors should consider their personal preferences to determine what’s best for them.

What is the safest investment with the highest return?

Historically speaking, investing in a stock market index like the S&P 500 earns an average annual return of about 10% over time. But that’s just an average, and there are years when the market is down considerably. As such, it may not be “safe,” but over time, the market tends to bounce back.

Why are investment opportunities important?

Investing your money in the right ways can help it grow, and keep ahead of inflation. And because there are no guarantees for any one asset class or investment type, it helps to know where the opportunities lie so you can balance and/or diversify your own assets according to your own goals and time horizon.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Also, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
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.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
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 www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or prequalification for any loan product offered by SoFi Bank, N.A.
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.
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.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
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