Roth IRA vs Savings Account: Key Similarities and Differences

Roth IRA vs Savings Account: Key Similarities and Differences

Saving is an important part of your financial health and building wealth, but it can be confusing to understand all the different vehicles out there. For instance, if you want to stash cash away for a good long while, should you open a Roth IRA or a savings account?

A Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA) offers a tax-advantaged way to invest money for retirement. Brokerages and banks can offer Roth IRAs for investors who want to set aside money that they don’t anticipate spending for the near future.

Savings accounts can also be used to hold money you plan to spend at a later date. The main difference between a Roth IRA and savings account, however, lies in what they’re intended to be used for.

If you’re debating whether to keep your money in a Roth IRA or savings account, it’s helpful to understand how they work and what sets them apart from one another. Read on to learn:

•   What is a savings account?

•   What are the pros and cons of a savings account for retirement?

•   What is a Roth IRA?

•   What are the pros and cons of a Roth IRA for retirement?

•   What are the similarities and differences between these two account types?

•   How can you tell if a savings account or Roth IRA is right for you?

What Is a Savings Account?

A savings account is a type of deposit account that can be opened at a bank, credit union, or another financial institution. Savings accounts are designed to help you separate money you plan to spend later from money you plan to spend now.

Here’s how a savings account works:

•   You open the account and make an initial deposit.

•   Money in your account can earn interest over time, at a rate set by the bank.

•   When you need to spend the money in your savings account, you can withdraw it.

Previously, savers were limited to making six withdrawals from a savings account per month under Federal Reserve rules. In 2020, the Federal Reserve lifted that restriction, though banks can still impose monthly withdrawal limits on savings accounts. Exceeding the allowed number of withdrawals per month could trigger a fee or could lead to the account being converted to a checking account.

Types of Savings Accounts

Banks can offer more than one kind of savings account. The range of savings accounts available can depend on whether you’re dealing with a traditional bank, an online bank, or a credit union.

Typically, these accounts will be insured up to $250,000 per ownership category by either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

Generally, the types of savings accounts you can open include:

•   Traditional savings. Traditional savings accounts, also called regular, basic, or standard savings accounts, allow you to deposit money and earn interest. Rates for traditional savings may be on the low side, and you might pay a monthly fee for these accounts at brick-and-mortar banks.

•   High-interest savings. The main benefits of high-interest savings accounts include above-average interest rates and low or no monthly fees. For example, online banks can offer high-yield savings accounts with rates that are five to 10 times higher than the national savings rate, with no monthly fee.

•   Money market savings. Money market savings accounts or money market accounts can combine features of savings and checking. For example, you can earn interest on deposits but have access to your money via paper checks or a debit card.

•   Specialty savings. Some types of savings accounts are created with a specific purpose in mind. For example, Christmas Club accounts are designed to help you save money for the holidays. A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged specialty savings account that’s meant to be used just for health care expenses, though some people use an HSA for retirement.

You could also add certificate of deposit accounts (CDs) to this list, though a CD works differently than a savings account. CDs are time deposits, meaning that when you put money in the account, you agree to leave it there for a set term. If you take the funds out before then, you will likely be charged a fee.

Once the CD matures, you can withdraw your initial deposit and the interest earned. For that reason, CDs offer less flexibility than other types of savings accounts.

Quick Money Tip: If you’re saving for a short-term goal — whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or the down payment on a house — consider opening a high-yield savings account. The higher APY that you’ll earn will help your money grow faster, but the funds stay liquid, so they are easy to access when you reach your goal.

Pros and Cons of Using a Savings Account for Retirement Savings

Savings accounts can be used to save for a variety of financial goals, including retirement. You might be wondering whether it makes a difference if you use, say, a high yield savings account vs. Roth IRA or other retirement account to save, as long as you’re setting money aside consistently.

While savings accounts can offer convenience and earn interest, they’re not necessarily ideal when saving for retirement if your primary goal. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a savings account to plan for retirement.

Pros

Cons

Savings accounts are easy to open and typically don’t require a large initial deposit. A savings account does not offer any tax benefits or incentives for use as a retirement account.
Banks and credit unions can pay interest on savings account deposits, allowing you to grow your money over time. Interest rates for savings accounts can be low, especially if you’re saving at a traditional bank vs. an online bank.
You can withdraw money as needed and don’t have to reach a specific age in order to use your savings. Banks can impose fees or even convert your savings account to checking if you’re making frequent withdrawals.
Savings accounts are safe and secure; deposits are protected up to $250,000 per depositor, per account ownership type, per financial institution when held at an FDIC member bank. If you’re putting all of your retirement funds into the same savings account, it’s possible that your balance might exceed the FDIC covered limit.

Recommended: Different Ways to Earn More Interest on Your Money

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What Is a Roth IRA?

Before diving into what is a Roth IRA, know this: There are different retirement plans to choose from, including workplace plans and IRAs. A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that is not a traditional IRA. Traditional IRAs are funded with pre-tax dollars and allow for tax-deductible contributions when doing taxes. Once you turn 72, you’re required to begin taking money from this kind of account.

If you don’t know how the Roth IRA works, these accounts allow you to set aside money using after-tax dollars, up to the annual contribution limit. That means you can’t deduct contributions to a Roth IRA, but you can get something better: tax-free qualified distributions.

You can leave money in your Roth IRA until you need, which allows it even more time to grow. Unlike traditional IRAs, there are no required minimum distributions for Roth IRAs. If you don’t use all of the money in your Roth IRA in retirement, you can pass it on to anyone you’d like to name as your beneficiary.

The IRS allows you to make a full contribution to a Roth IRA if you’re within certain income thresholds, based on your tax filing status. The full contribution limit for 2022 is $6,000, with an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution allowed if you’re age 50 or older. You can make a full contribution for 2022 if your tax status is:

•   Married filing jointly or a qualified widow(er) with a modified adjusted gross income of less than $204,000

•   Single, head of household, or married filing separately and did not live with your spouse during the year with a modified adjusted gross income of less than $129,000

Contributions are reduced once you exceed these income thresholds. They eventually phase out completely for higher earners.

Opening a retirement account like a Roth IRA can be a simple, straightforward process. It can even be done online.

Pros and Cons of Using a Roth IRA for Retirement Savings

Roth IRAs are specifically designed to be used for retirement saving. Again, that’s the chief difference between a Roth IRA and savings account. That doesn’t mean, however, that a Roth IRA is necessarily right for everyone. For example, you may need to weigh whether a Roth IRA or traditional IRA is better, based on your income and tax situation.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with choosing a Roth IRA for retirement savings.

Pros

Cons

Money in a Roth IRA can be invested in stocks, mutual funds, and other securities, potentially allowing your money to grow faster. Investing money in the market is riskier than stashing it in a savings account; there’s no guarantee that you won’t lose money in a Roth IRA.
You may be able to open a Roth IRA with as little as $500 or $1,000, depending on the brokerage or bank you choose. Brokerages can charge various fees for Roth IRAs. Individual investments may also carry fees of their own.
Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are always 100% tax-free, and you can withdraw original contributions at any time, without a penalty. Tax penalties may apply if you withdraw earnings from your Roth IRA less than five years after you opened it.
You can save money in a Roth IRA in addition to contributing money to a 401(k) plan at work. Not everyone is eligible to open a Roth IRA, and there are annual contribution limits.

Similarities Between a Roth IRA and a Savings Account

Roth IRAs and savings accounts do have some things in common. For example:

•   Both can be used to save money for the long-term and both can earn interest. So you could use either one as part of a retirement savings strategy.

•   You can open a Roth IRA or savings account at a bank and initial deposits for either one may be relatively low. Some banks also offer Roth IRA CDs, which are CD accounts that follow Roth IRA tax rules.

•   Savings accounts and Roth IRAs held at banks are also FDIC-insured. The FDIC insures certain types of retirement accounts, including Roth IRAs, when those accounts are self-directed and the investment decisions are made by the account owner, not a plan administrator.

•   It’s possible to open a savings account for yourself or for a child. Somewhat similarly, you can also open a Roth IRA for a child if they have income of their own but haven’t turned 18 yet.

When comparing the benefits of Roth IRA vs. savings account, however, Roth accounts have an edge for retirement planning. Whether it makes sense to choose something like a high yield savings accounts vs. Roth IRA can depend on what you want to set money aside for.

Roth IRA vs Savings Account: Key Differences

Comparing a savings account vs. Roth IRA isn’t that difficult once you understand how each one works and what they’re intended to be used for. Here are some important differences between a Roth IRA and a savings account:

Roth IRA

Savings Account

Purpose A Roth IRA is designed to save for retirement. Savings accounts can fund virtually any short- or long-term goal.
Who Can Open Taxpayers who are within certain income thresholds can open a Roth IRA. Adults with valid proof of ID can open a savings account, regardless of income or tax status.
Interest Money in a Roth IRA earns compounding interest based on the value of underlying investments. Savings accounts earn interest at a rate set by the bank.
Tax Benefits Roth IRAs allow for 100% tax-free qualified distributions, with no required minimum distributions. Savings accounts don’t offer any tax benefits; interest earned is considered taxable income.
Contribution Limits Roth IRAs have an annual contribution limit. For 2022, the limit is $6,000 or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.) There are no contribution limits, though FDIC protection only applies to the first $250,000 per depositor, per account ownership type, per financial institution.
Withdrawals Generally, withdrawals of earnings are not allowed before age 59 ½ unless an exception applies. Original contributions can be withdrawn at any time without a tax penalty. Banks can limit the number of withdrawals you’re allowed to make from a savings account each month and impose a fee for exceeding that limit.
Risk Investing money in a Roth IRA can be risky; you may lose money. Savings are safe, secure places to keep up to the FDIC-insured $250,000 limit detailed above.

How to Decide If a Roth IRA or Savings Account Is Right for You

If you’re unsure whether to open a Roth IRA vs. high-yield savings account, it’s helpful to consider your goals and what you want to do with your money.

You might decide to open a Roth IRA if you:

•   Specifically want to save for retirement and earn a higher rate of return

•   Would like to be able to withdraw money tax-free to buy a home or pay higher education expenses (the IRS allows you to avoid a tax penalty for these distributions)

•   Want to supplement the money you’re contributing to a 401(k) at work

•   Expect to be in a higher tax bracket at retirement and want to be able to withdraw savings tax-free

•   Don’t want to be required to make minimum distributions at age 72

On the other hand, you might open a savings account if you:

•   Have a short- or long-term goal you’re saving for

•   Want a safe, secure place to keep your money

•   Are satisfied with earning a lower rate of return on savings

•   Need to be able to keep some of your money liquid and accessible

•   Aren’t concerned with getting any type of tax break for your savings

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between a high-interest savings account vs. Roth IRA. You can open one of each type of account to save for both retirement and other financial goals.

The Takeaway

Opening a retirement account can be a smart move if you’d like to save money for your later years while enjoying some tax breaks. A Roth IRA could be a good fit if you’re eligible to open one and you’d like to be able to make tax-free withdrawals once you retire.

Having a savings account is also a good idea if you’re building an emergency fund, saving for a vacation, or planning for another big money goal. When you open a SoFi online bank account with direct deposit, you can get checking and savings in one convenient place. You’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no account fees, which can help your money grow faster. You’ll also have access to a suite of simple tools that can make budgeting and socking away savings even easier.

Want your money to work harder for you? Bank smarter with SoFi.

FAQ

Is it better to put money in savings or a Roth IRA?

A savings account can be better for setting aside cash you know you’ll eventually need to spend. A Roth IRA, on the other hand, can be better for saving for retirement if you’d like to invest your money to earn higher returns and gain some tax benefits.

Should I use a Roth IRA as a savings account?

While you could use a Roth IRA as a savings account, that could be problematic if you need to make a withdrawal. Generally, the IRS expects you to wait until age 59 ½ to withdraw money from a Roth IRA. Withdrawing money before then could trigger tax penalties.

What is the downside of a Roth IRA?

The main downside of a Roth IRA is that not everyone can open and contribute to one. If your income is above the thresholds allowed by the IRS, you’d only be able to open a traditional IRA instead. It’s possible, however, to convert traditional IRA funds to a Roth IRA, though that can result in a tax bill at the time of the conversion.

Can I move money from savings to a Roth IRA?

You can link a savings account to a Roth IRA to transfer funds. If you’d like to move money from savings to your Roth account, you’d just log into your brokerage account and schedule the transfer. Keep in mind that Roth IRAs do have annual limits on how much you can contribute.

Are Roth IRAs Insured?

The FDIC insures Roth IRAs held at banks when those accounts are self-directed vs. a plan administrator being responsible for making investment decisions. The same FDIC insurance limits that apply to savings accounts apply to Roth IRAs.


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SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.75% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 12/16/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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What Happens to a 401k When You Leave Your Job?

What Happens to Your 401(k) When You Leave Your Job?

There are many important decisions to make when starting a new job, including what to do with your old 401(k) account. Depending on the balance of the old account and the benefits offered at your new job, you may have several options, including keeping it where it is, rolling it over into a brand new account, or cashing it out.

A 401(k) may be an excellent way for employees to save for retirement, as it allows them to save for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis, and also many employers offer matching contributions. Here are a few things to know about keeping track of your 401(k) accounts as you change jobs and move through your career

What Is a 401(k)?

A 401(k) is a type of retirement savings plan many employers offer that allows employees to save and invest with tax advantages. With a 401(k) plan, an employer will automatically deduct workers’ contributions to the account from their paychecks before taxes are taken out. In 2023, employees can contribute up to $22,500 a year in their 401(k)s, up from $20,500 in 2022. Employees age 50 and older can make catch-up contributions of $7,500 a year for a total of $30,000.

Employees will invest the funds in a 401(k) account in several investment options, depending on what the employer and their 401(k) administrator offer, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and target date funds.

The money in a 401(k) account grows tax-free until the employee withdraws it, typically after reaching age 59 ½. At that point, the employees must pay taxes on the money withdrawn. However, if the employee withdraws money before reaching 59 ½, they will typically have to pay 401(k) withdrawal taxes and penalties.

Some employers also offer matching contributions, which are additional contributions to an employee’s account based on a certain percentage of the employee’s own contributions. Employers may use 401(k) vesting schedules to determine when employees can access these contributions.

The more you can save in a 401(k), the better. If you can’t max out your 401(k) contributions, start by contributing at least enough money to qualify for your employer’s 401(k) match if they offer one.

What Happens to Your 401(k) When You Quit?

When you quit your job, you generally have several options for your 401(k) account. You can leave the money in the account with your former employer, roll it into a new employer’s 401(k) plan, roll it over into an IRA, or cash it out.

However, if your 401(k) account has less than $5,000, your former employer may not allow you to keep it open. If there is less than $1,000 in your account, your former employer will cash out the funds and send them to you via check. If there is between $1,000 and $5,000 in the account, your employer has 60 days to roll it into another retirement account, such as an IRA, that they help you set up. You may also suggest a specific IRA for the rollover.

If you have more than $5,000 in your account, your former employer can only force you to cash out or roll over into another account with your permission. Your funds can usually remain in the account indefinitely.

Also, if you quit your job and you are not fully vested, you forfeit your employer’s contributions to your 401(k). But you do get to keep your vested contributions.

Is There Any Difference if You’re Fired?

If you are fired from your job, your 401(k) account options are similar to those if you quit your job. As noted above, you can leave the money in the account with your former employer, roll it into a new employer’s 401(k) plan, roll it over into an IRA, or cash it out. The same account limits mentioned above apply as well.

Additionally, if you are fired from your job, you may be eligible for a severance package, which may include a lump sum payment or continuation of benefits, including a 401(k) plan. But these benefits depend on your company and the circumstances surrounding your termination. And, like with quitting your job, you do not get to keep any employer contributions that are not fully vested.

How Long Do You Have to Move Your 401(k)?

If you leave your job, you don’t necessarily have to move your 401(k). Depending on the amount you have in the 401(k), you can usually keep it with your previous employer’s 401(k) administrator.

But if you do choose to roll over your 401(k) and it is an indirect rollover, you typically have 60 days from the date of distribution to roll over your 401(k) account balance into an IRA or another employer’s 401(k) plan. If you fail to roll over the funds within 60 days, the distribution will be subject to taxes and penalties, and if you are under 59 ½ years old, an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Next Steps for Your 401(k) After Leaving a Job

As you decide what to do with your funds, you have several options, from cashing out to rolling over your 401(k)s to expanding your investment opportunities.

Cash Out Your 401(k)

You can cash out some or all of your 401(k), but in most cases, there are better choices than this from a personal finance perspective. As noted above, if you are younger than 59 ½, you may be slammed with income taxes and a 10% early withdrawal penalty, which can set you back in your ability to save for your future.

If you are age 55 or older, you may be able to draw down your 401(k) penalty-free thanks to the Rule of 55. But remember, when you remove money from your retirement account, you no longer benefit from tax-advantaged growth and reduce your future nest egg.

Roll Over Your 401(k) Into a New Account

Your new employer may offer a 401(k). If this is the case and you are eligible to participate, you may consider rolling over the funds from your old account. This process is relatively simple. You can ask your old 401(k) administrator to move the funds from one account directly to the other in what is known as a direct transfer.

Doing this as a direct transfer rather than taking the money out yourself is important to avoid triggering early withdrawal fees. A rollover into a new 401(k) has the advantage of consolidating your retirement savings into one place; there is only one account to monitor.

Keep Your 401(k) With Your Previous Employer

If you like your previous employer’s 401(k) administrator, its fees, and investment options, you can always keep your 401(k) where it is rather than roll it over to an IRA or your new employer’s 401(k).

However, keeping your 401(k) with your previous employer may make it harder to keep track of your retirement investments because you’ll end up with several accounts. It’s common for people to lose track of old 401(k) accounts.

Moreover, you may end up paying higher fees if you keep your 401(k) with your previous employer. Usually, employers cover 401(k) fees, but if you leave the company, they may shift the cost onto you without you realizing it. High fees may end up eating into your returns, making it harder to save for retirement.

Does Employer Match Stop After You Leave?

Once you leave a job, whether you quit or are fired, you will no longer receive the matching employer contributions.

Recommended: How an Employer 401(k) Match Works

Look for New Investment Options

If you don’t love the investment options or fees in your new 401(k), you may roll the funds over into an IRA account instead. Rolling assets into a traditional IRA is relatively simple and can be done with a direct transfer from your 401(k) plan administrator. You also may be allowed to roll a 401(k) into a Roth IRA, but you’ll have to pay taxes on the amount you convert.

The advantage of rolling funds into an IRA is that it may offer a more comprehensive array of investment options. For example, a 401(k) might offer a handful of mutual or target-date funds. In an IRA, you may have access to individual securities like stocks and bonds and a wide variety of mutual funds, index funds, and exchange-traded funds.

Recommended: ​​What To Invest In Besides Your 401(k)

The Takeaway

Changing jobs is an exciting time, whether or not you’re moving, and it can be a great opportunity to reevaluate what to do with your retirement savings. Depending on your financial situation, you could leave the funds where they are or roll them over into your new 401(k) or an IRA. You can also cash out the account, but that may harm your long-term financial security because of taxes, penalties, and loss of a tax-advantaged investment account.

If you have an old 401(k) you’d like to roll over to an online IRA, SoFi Invest® can help. With a SoFi Roth or Traditional IRA, investors can investment options, member services, and our robust suite of planning and investment tools. And SoFi makes the 401(k) rollover process seamless and straightforward — with no need to watch the mail for your 401(k) check. There are no rollover fees, and you can complete your 401(k) rollover quickly and easily.

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

How long can a company hold your 401(k) after you leave?

A company can hold onto an employee’s 401(k) account indefinitely after they leave, but they are required to distribute the funds if the employee requests it or if the account balance is less than $5,000.

Can I cash out my 401(k) if I quit my job?

You can cash out your 401(k) if you quit your job. However, experts generally do not advise cashing out a 401(k), as doing so will trigger taxes and penalties on the withdrawn amount. Instead, it is usually better to either leave the funds in the account or roll them over into a new employer’s plan or an IRA.

What happens if I don’t rollover my 401(k)?

If you don’t roll over your 401(k) when you leave a job, the funds will typically remain in the account and be subject to the rules and regulations of the plan. If the account balance is less than $5,000, the employer may roll over the account into an IRA or cash out the account. If the balance is more than $5,000, the employer may offer options such as leaving the funds in the account or rolling them into an IRA.


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Investing Checklist: Things to Do Before the End of 2022

Investing Checklist: Things to Do Before the End of 2023

There are numerous things that investors can and perhaps should do before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, such as maxing out retirement or college savings account contributions, and harvesting tax losses.

Read on to find out what should probably be on your investing checklist for the end of the year, what to consider tackling before your tax return is due in April, and how some simple moves this December can help set you up nicely for 2023 and beyond.

End-of-Year vs Tax-Day Deadlines

Before diving into the year-end investing checklist, it’s important to remember that there are a couple of key distinctions when it comes to the calendar. Specifically, though the calendar year actually ends on December 31 of any given year, Tax Day is typically in the middle of April (April 15, usually). That’s the due date to file your federal tax return, unless you file for an extension.

As it relates to your investing checklist, this is important to take into account because some things, like maxing out your 401(k) contributions must be done before the end of the calendar year, while others (like maxing out your IRA contributions) can be done up until the Tax Day deadline.

In other words, some items on the following investing checklist will need to be crossed off before New Year’s Day, while others can wait until April.

7 Things to Do With Your Investments No Later Than Dec. 31

Here are seven things investors can or should consider doing before the calendar rolls around to 2023.

1. Max Out 401(k) Contributions

Perhaps the most beneficial thing investors can do for their long-term financial prospects is to max out their 401(k) contributions. A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement account, where workers can contribute tax-deferred portions of their paychecks.

There are also Roth 401(k) accounts, which may be available to you, which allow you to preemptively pay taxes on the contributions, allowing for tax-free withdrawals in the future.

You can only contribute a certain amount of money per year into a 401(k) account, however. For 2022, that limit is $20,500, and will increase to $22,500 in 2023. For those over 50, you can contribute an additional $6,500 for 2022, for a total of $27,000. In 2023, the contribution limit rises to $22,500, with a $7,500 catch-up provision if you’re 50 and up, for a total of $30,000.

So, if you are able to, it may be beneficial to contribute up to the $20,500 limit for 2022 before the year ends. After December 31, any contributions will count toward the 2023 tax year.

2. Harvest Tax Losses

Tax-loss harvesting is an advanced but popular strategy that allows investors to sell some investments at a loss, and then write off their losses against their gains to help lower their tax burden.

Note that investment losses realized during a specific calendar year must be applied to the gains from the same year, but losses can be applied in the future using a strategy called a tax-loss carryforward. With 2022 having been a particularly rough year in the markets, this may be a beneficial tactic for investors to add to their year-end To Do list. Again, though, tax-loss harvesting can be a fairly complicated process, and it may be best to consult with a professional

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3. Consider 529 Plan Contributions

A 529 college savings plan is used to save for education expenses. There are a few different types, but the main thing that investors should focus on, as it relates to their year-end investing checklist, is to stash money into it before January as some states allow 529 contributions as tax deductions.

There is no federal contribution limit for 529 plans in 2022 — instead, the limit is set at the state level. Gift taxes, however, may apply, which is critical to consider.

4. Address Roll-Over Loose Ends

Another thing to check on is whether there are any loose ends to tie up in regard to any account roll-overs that you may have executed during the year.

For example, if you decided to roll over an old 401(k) plan into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) at some point during the year, you’ll want to make sure that the funds ended up with your new brokerage or retirement plan provider.

It may be easy to overlook, but sometimes checks get sent to the wrong place or other wires get crossed, and it can be a good idea to double-check everything is where it should be before the year ends.

5. Review Insurance Policies

Some employers require or encourage employees to opt into certain benefits programs every year, including insurance coverage. This may or may not apply to your specific situation, but it can be a good idea to check and make sure your insurance coverage is up to date — and that you’ve done things like named beneficiaries, and that all relevant contact information is also current.

6. Review Your Estate Plan

This is another item on your investing checklist that may not necessarily need to be done by the end of the year, but it’s a good idea to make a habit of it: Review your estate plan, or get one started!

Your estate plan includes several important documents that legally establish what happens to your money and assets in the event that you die. If you don’t have one, you should probably make it an item on your to-do list. If you do have one, you can use the end of the year as a time to check in and make sure that your heirs or beneficiaries are designated, that there are instructions about how you’d prefer your death or incapacitation to be handled, and more.

7. Donate Appreciated Stocks

Finally, you can and perhaps should consider donating stocks to charity by the end of the year. There are a couple of reasons to consider a stock donation: One, you won’t pay any capital gains taxes if the shares have appreciated, and second, you’ll be able to snag a tax deduction for the full market value of the shares at the time that you donate them. The tax deduction limit is for up to 30% of your adjustable gross income — a considerable amount.

Remember, though, that charitable donations must be completed by December 31 if you hope to deduct the donation for the current tax year.

3 Things for Investors to Do by Tax Day 2023

As mentioned, there are a few items on your investing checklist that can be completed by Tax Day, or in mid-April 2023. Here are the few outstanding items that you’ll have several more months to complete.

1. Max Out IRA Contributions

One of the important differences between 401(k)s and IRAs is the contribution deadline. While 401(k) contributions must be made before the end of the calendar year, investors can keep making contributions to their IRA accounts up until Tax Day 2023, within the contribution limits of course.

So, if you want to max out your IRA contributions for 2022, the limit is $6,000. But people over 50 can contribute an additional $1,000 — and you’ll have until April to contribute for 2022 and still be able to deduct contributions from your taxable income (assuming it’s a tax-deferred IRA, not a Roth IRA).

Further, the limit will increase to $6,500 in 2023, with the same $1,000 catch-up provision, and some taxpayers may be able to deduct their contributions, too, under certain conditions.

2. Max Out HSA Contributions

If you have a health savings account (HSA), you’ll want to make sure you’ve hit your contribution limits before Tax Day, too. The contribution limit for HSAs is $3,650 (generally), though depending on your age and a few other factors, there may be some additional things to consider.

3. Take Your RMD (if Applicable)

If you’re retired, you may need to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your retirement account by the beginning of April next year, if it’s your first RMD. But if you’ve taken an RMD before, you’ll need to do so before the end of 2022 — so, be sure to check to see what deadline applies to your specific situation.

This generally only applies to people who are in their 70s, but it may be worth discussing with a professional what the best course of action is, especially if you have multiple retirement accounts.

The Takeaway

Doing a year-end financial review can be extremely beneficial, and a checklist can help make sure you don’t miss any important steps for 2022 — and set you up for 2023. That investing checklist should probably include things like maxing out contributions to your retirement accounts, harvesting tax losses in order to manage your tax bill, and possibly even taking minimum required distributions. Everyone’s situation is different, so you’ll need to tailor your investing checklist accordingly.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that you may have until Tax Day in April to get some of it done — though it may be good practice to knock everything out by the end of the year. If you’re only beginning to invest, keeping this list handy and reviewing it annually can help you establish healthy financial habits.

You can also start next year off strong by opening an investment account with SoFi Invest, and using SoFi’s secure, streamlined app to buy stocks, crypto, ETFs, and more.

Start investing today!


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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.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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At What Age Should You File for Social Security? 62 vs 65 vs 67?

At What Age Should You File for Social Security? 62 vs 65 vs 67?

Deciding when to apply for Social Security can be a complicated math problem, one that has a different answer for each person depending on their circumstances. The earlier you file, the lower your benefit amount, but the more payments you receive over time. The later you file, the higher the benefit, but the fewer payments you receive. If you have other income, the portion of your benefit could be taxed — up to 85%. And if you’re married, you may be able to stagger your individual Social Security retirement benefit applications for an optimal financial outcome.

Generally speaking, the main constant in this math problem is a person’s expected Social Security retirement benefit: the amount you would receive if you waited until full retirement age to claim your benefit. By creating an account at SSA.gov , you can see what your benefit is projected to be at each age from 62 on. But there are many other factors to consider when choosing your retirement date.

At What Age Can You Apply for Social Security

Here, you’ll learn more about selecting the right age to apply for Social Security, whether that’s 62 or older.

Applying for Social Security at Age 62

The earliest most people can apply for Social Security is age 62. The greater the difference between when you apply and when you reach full retirement age, the more the Social Security Administration will reduce the amount of your benefit. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67. Taking retirement at 62 will cause your benefit to be reduced by about 30%.

If your benefit at full retirement would be $1,000 a month, and you file for benefits at 62, you will only receive about $700 or 70% of the amount you would have received at full retirement. For each month you wait past the age of 62, that amount rises a little bit. At $700 a month, if you lived to the average U.S. lifespan of about 80 years old, you would receive $151,200 over your lifetime.

Applying for Social Security at Age 65

Many people don’t want to wait for their full retirement age. In fact, the average retirement age is 64. If you were born after 1960 and you retire at 65, you can expect to receive 86.7% of your full retirement benefit. The Social Security Retirement Age Calculator shows when to apply for Social Security for maximum benefit with minimum waiting.

Applying for Social Security at Age 67

If you wait to apply for benefits until full retirement, you will get the full amount of your benefit. In the example used above, that would be $1,000 a month. In this scenario, if you live to age 80, you would receive $156,000 over your lifetime, which is $5,000 more than if you filed five years earlier.

Applying for Social Security at Age 70

Every month you delay applying for benefits causes the monthly benefit amount to grow, up until age 70. If you file at age 70, your monthly Social Security retirement payment is 30% higher than it would have been if you filed at full retirement. Rather than receiving $1,000 a month you would receive about $1,300 a month. If you live to age 80, that comes to $156,000 which is the same total amount you would receive if you filed at full retirement age. This brings into the equation one of the factors that influences at what age you may want to file for Social Security benefits: how long you expect to live.

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Other Factors That Drive When To Apply For Social Security

Now, here’s what you need to consider in terms of the other factors that impact when you apply for Social Security benefits.

How Long Will You Live?

Of course, no one knows for certain how long they will live. The Social Security Administration has a rather sobering life expectancy calculator that shows at what age a person born on your birthday can expect to die, on average. It’s based on your birthdate and doesn’t factor in health, genetics, or lifestyle. If you expect to live only to age 75, for example, you might be inclined to take your Social Security benefit early so that you could enjoy it for a longer time. But if you live until age 90, taking Social Security retirement benefits early could cost you a lot of money. Here’s how your lifetime benefit would be impacted by filing at different ages if your full retirement benefit is $1,000 a month:

•   At age 62, you would receive a total of $235,000 over your lifespan.

•   At age 65, you would receive $260,100.

•   At 67 that jumps to $276,000.

•   If you wait until age 70 it is $312,000.

So, if you expect to live a long life, waiting a few years to file could make a big difference in your total benefit.

Are You Married?

There are many myths around Social Security benefits, so it’s important to delve into your particular situation. Spouses are eligible for half of the benefit their spouse would receive at full retirement age. That amount is reduced if the primary beneficiary files early. For instance, if you apply for Social Security benefits before you reach full retirement age, you would automatically be deemed as applying for spousal benefits as well if your spouse is already receiving benefits. The maximum spousal benefit you can qualify for is typically 50% of your partner’s benefits calculated at full retirement age.

One option for spouses is to file for one spouse’s benefit early, say at 62, and postpone filing for the other spouse’s benefit until age 70. This can provide money now and more money later. If one partner dies, the surviving partner is automatically assigned the higher benefit between their own and their late spouse.

Do You Have Other Income?

You may wonder what is a good monthly retirement income for a couple. Keep in mind that the average couple in their 60s and 70s spends around $4,000 a month, or $48,000 a year.

A lot of that is spent on the typical retirement expenses of housing and healthcare. The average retirement benefit in May 2022 was $1,688. So an average couple would receive $3,376 in benefits. Consequently, many people have to rely on other forms of income including wages from a job, pensions, dividends, interest or capital gains in addition to their Social Security benefit. In fact, having access to other forms of income may impact when you can retire.

If you do have income besides your Social Security benefit, and most people do, you might want to delay claiming your benefit. If you earn income from working, and you claim your benefit before full retirement age, your benefit may be reduced. If you have other types of income, such as pensions or interest on the money you’ve saved in your retirement account, your benefit will not be reduced; these don’t count as earnings. However, you may have to pay taxes on it.

The Takeaway

For most people, their Social Security benefit is unlikely to sustain them through their retirement years; they need to have another source of income. The earlier they retire, the smaller their benefit will be and the more they may need a second or third source of income. Gaining that income through wages can reduce your benefit if you retire before full retirement age.

Whether you’re planning for retirement or have already retired, having a smart banking partner can be a true asset. When you open an online account with SoFi, you enjoy a variety of benefits. With our Checking and Savings account, you’ll spend and save in one convenient place. What’s more, you’ll enjoy a hyper competitive APY and no account fees, both of which can help your money grow faster.

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


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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.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.75% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 12/16/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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.
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457 vs. 401(k): A Detailed Comparison

457 vs 401(k): A Detailed Comparison

Depending on where you work, you may be able to save for retirement in a 457 plan or a 401(k). While any employer can offer a 401(k), a 457 plan is commonly associated with state and local governments and certain eligible nonprofits.

Both offer tax advantages, though they aren’t exactly the same when it comes to retirement saving. Understanding the differences between a 457 retirement plan vs. 401(k) plans can help you decide which one is best for you.

And you may not have to choose: Your employer could offer a 401(k) plan and a 457 plan as retirement savings options. If you’re able to make contributions to both plans simultaneously, you could do so up to the maximum annual contribution limits — a terrific savings advantage for individuals in organizations that offer both plans.

401(k) Plans

A 401(k) is a tax-advantaged, defined contribution plan. Specifically, it’s a type of retirement plan that’s recognized or qualified under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

With a 401(k) plan, the amount of benefits you can withdraw in retirement depends on how much you contribute during your working years and how much those contributions grow over time.

Understanding 401(k) Contributions

A 401(k) is funded with pre-tax dollars, meaning that contributions reduce your taxable income in the year you make them. And withdrawals are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate in retirement.

Some employers may offer a Roth 401(k) option, which would enable you to deposit after-tax funds, and withdraw money tax-free in retirement.

401(k) Contribution Limits

The IRS determines how much you can contribute to a 401(k) each year. For 2022, the annual contribution limit is $20,500; $22,500 in 2023. Workers age 50 or older can contribute an additional $6,500 in catch-up contributions. Generally, you can’t make withdrawals from a 401(k) before age 59 ½ without incurring a tax penalty. So, if you retire at 62, you can avoid the penalty but if you retire at 52, you wouldn’t.

Employers can elect to make matching contributions to a 401(k) plan, though they’re not required to. If an employer does offer a match, it may be limited to a certain amount. For example, your employer might match 50% of contributions, up to the first 6% of your income.

401(k) Investment Options

Money you contribute to a 401(k) can be invested in mutual funds, index funds, target-date funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Your investment options are determined by the plan administrator. Each investment can carry different fees, and there may be additional fees charged by the plan itself.

The definition of retirement is generally when you leave full-time employment and live on your savings, investments, and other types of income. So remember that both traditional and Roth 401(k) accounts are subject to required minimum distribution (RMD) rules beginning at age 72. That’s something to consider when you’re thinking about your income strategy in retirement.

💡 Recommended: 5 Steps to Investing in Your 401k Savings Account

Vesting in a 401(k) Retirement Plan

A 401(k) plan is subject to IRS vesting rules. Vesting determines when the funds in the account belong to you. If you’re 100% vested in your account, then all of the money in it is yours.

Employee contributions to a 401(k) are always 100% vested. The amount of employer matching contributions you get to keep can depend on where you are on the company’s vesting schedule. Amounts that aren’t vested can be forfeited if you decide to leave your job or you retire.

Employer’s may use a cliff vesting approach in which your percentage of ownership is determined by year. In year one and two, your ownership claim is 0%. Once you reach year three and beyond, you’re 100% vested.

With graded vesting, the percentage increases gradually over time. So, you might be 20% vested after year two and 100% vested after year six.

All employees in the plan must be 100% vested by the time they reach their full retirement age, which may or may not be the same as their date of retirement. The IRS also mandates 100% vesting when a 401(k) plan is terminated.

457 Plans

A 457 plan is a deferred compensation plan that can be offered to state and local government employees, as well as employees of certain tax-exempt organizations. The most common version is the 457(b); the 457 (f) is a deferred compensation plan for highly paid executives. In certain ways, a 457 is very similar to a 401(k).

•   Employees can defer part of their salary into a 457 plan and those contributions are tax-deferred. Earnings on contributions are also tax-deferred.

•   A 457 plan can allow for designated Roth contributions. If you take the traditional 457 route, qualified withdrawals would be taxed at your ordinary income tax rate when you retire.

•   Since this is an employer-sponsored plan, both traditional and Roth-designated 457 accounts are subject to RMDs once you turn 72.

•   For 2022, the 457 plan annual contribution limit is $20,500. Catch-up contributions of $6,500 are allowed for workers who are 50 or older. For 2023, the annual contribution limit is $22,500, and $7,500 for the catch-up amount.

One big difference with 457 plans is that these limits are cumulative, meaning they include both employee and employer contributions rather than allowing for separate matching contributions the way a 401(k) does.

Another interesting point of distinction for older savers: If permitted, workers can also make special catch-up contributions for employees who are in the three-year window leading up to retirement.

They can contribute the lesser of the annual contribution limit or the basic annual limit, plus the amount of the limit not used in any prior years. The second calculation is only allowed if the employee is not making regular catch-up contributions.

Vesting in a 457 Retirement Plan

Vesting for a 457 plan is similar to vesting for a 401(k), but you generally can’t be vested for two full years. You’re always 100% vested in any contributions you make to the plan. The plan can define the vesting schedule for employer contributions. For example, your job may base vesting on your years of service or your age.

As with a 401(k), any unvested amounts in a 457 retirement plan are forfeited if you separate from your employer for any reason. So if you’re planning to change jobs or retire early, you’d need to calculate how much of your retirement savings you’d be entitled to walk away with, based on the plan’s vesting schedule.

457 vs 401(k): Comparing the Pros

When comparing a 457 plan vs. 401(k), it’s important to look at how each one can benefit you when saving for retirement. The main advantages of using a 457 plan or a 401(k) to save include:

•   Both offer tax-deferred growth

•   Contributions reduce taxable income

•   Employers can match contributions, giving you free money for retirement

•   Both offer generous contribution limits, with room for catch-up contributions

•   Both may offer loans and/or hardship withdrawals

Specific 457 Plan Advantages

A 457 plan offers a few more advantages over a 401(k).

Unlike 401(k) plans, which require employees to wait until age 59 ½ before making qualified withdrawals, 457 plans allow withdrawals at whatever age the employee retires. And the IRS doesn’t impose a 10% early withdrawal penalty on withdrawals made before age 59 ½ if you retire (or take a hardship distribution).

Also, independent contractors can participate in an organization’s 457 plan.

And, as noted above, 457 plans have that special catch-up provision option, for those within three years of retirement.

457 vs 401(k): Comparing the Cons

Any time you’re trying to select a retirement plan, you also have to factor in the potential downsides. In terms of the disadvantages associated with a 457 retirement plan vs. 401(k) plans, they aren’t that different. Here are some of the main cons of both of these retirement plans:

•   Vesting of employer contributions can take several years, and plans vary

•   Employer matching contributions are optional, and not every plan offers them

•   Both plans are subject to RMD rules

•   Loans and hardship withdrawals are optional

•   Both can carry high plan fees and investment options may be limited

Perhaps the biggest con with 457 plans is that employer and employee contributions are combined when applying the annual IRS limit. A 401(k) plan doesn’t have that same requirement so you could make the full annual contribution and enjoy an employer match on top of it.

457 vs 401(k): The Differences

The most obvious difference between a 401(k) vs. 457 account is who they’re meant for. If you work for a state or local government agency or an eligible nonprofit, then your employer can offer a 457 plan for retirement savings. All other employers can offer a 401(k) instead.

Aside from that, 457 plans are not governed by ERISA since they’re not qualified plans. A 457 plan also varies from a 401(k) with regard to early withdrawal penalties and the special catch-up contributions allowed for employees who are nearing retirement. Additionally, a 457 plan may require employees to prove an unforeseeable emergency in order to take a hardship distribution.

A 457 plan and a 401(k) can offer a different range of investments as well. The investments offered are determined by the plan administrator.

457 vs 401(k): The Similarities

Both 457 and 401(k) plans are subject to the same annual contribution limits, though again, the way the limit is applied to employer and employee contributions is different. With traditional 401(k) and 457 plans, contributions reduce your taxable income and withdrawals are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. When you reach age 72, you’ll need to take RMDs unless you’re still working.

Either plan may allow you to take a loan, which you’d repay through salary deferrals. Both have vesting schedules you’d need to follow before you could claim ownership of employer matching contributions. With either type of plan you may have access to professional financial advice, which is a plus if you need help making investment decisions.

457 vs 401(k): Which Is Better?

A 457 plan isn’t necessarily better than a 401(k) and vice versa. If you have access to either of these plans at work, both could help you to get closer to your retirement savings goals.

A 401(k) has an edge when it comes to regular contributions, since employer matches don’t count against your annual contribution limit. But if you have a 457 plan, you could benefit from the special catch-up contribution provision which you don’t get with a 401(k).

If you’re planning an early retirement, a 457 plan could be better since there’s no early withdrawal penalty if you take money out before age 59 ½. But if you want to be able to stash as much money as possible in your plan, including both your contributions and employer matching contributions, a 401(k) could be better suited to the task.

Investing in Retirement With SoFi

If you’re lucky enough to work for an organization that offers both a 457 plan and a 401(k) plan, you could double up on your savings and contribute the maximum to both plans. Or, you may want to choose between them, in which case it helps to know the main points of distinction between these two, very similar plans.

Basically, a 401(k) has more stringent withdrawal rules compared with a 457, and a 457 has more flexible catch-up provisions. But a 457 can have effectively lower contribution limits, owing to the inclusion of employer contributions in the overall plan limits.

The main benefit of both plans, of course, is the tax advantaged savings opportunity. The money you contribute reduces your taxable income, and grows tax free (you only pay taxes when you take money out). Ready to set up your retirement? With SoFi Invest, you can open a traditional or Roth IRA, or a SEP IRA if you’re self-employed. It’s easy to build a diversified portfolio and you can choose hands-on investing or an automated approach to fund your retirement goals.

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

What similarities do 457 and 401(k) retirement plans have?

A 457 and a 401(k) plan are both tax-advantaged, with contributions that reduce your taxable income and grow tax-deferred. Both have the same annual contribution limit and regular catch-up contribution limit for savers who are 50 or older. Either plan may allow for loans or hardship distributions. Both may offer designated Roth accounts.

What differences do 457 and 401(k) retirement plans have?

A 457 plan includes employer matching contributions in the annual contribution limit, whereas a 401(k) plan does not. You can withdraw money early from a 457 plan with no penalty if you’ve separated from your employer. A 457 plan may be offered to employees of state and local governments or certain nonprofits while private employers can offer 401(k) plans to employees.

Is a 457 better than a 401(k) retirement plan?

A 457 plan may be better for retirement if you plan to retire early. You can make special catch-up contributions in the three years prior to retirement and you can withdraw money early with no penalty if you leave your employer. A 401(k) plan, meanwhile, could be better if you’re hoping to maximize regular contributions and employer matching contributions.


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.
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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