Why-Portfolio-Diversification-Matters

Understanding Portfolio Diversification

Portfolio diversification involves investing your money across a range of different asset classes — such as stocks, bonds, and real estate — rather than concentrating all of it in one area. Studies have shown that by diversifying the assets in your portfolio, you may offset a certain amount of investment risk and thereby improve returns.

Taking portfolio diversification to the next step — further differentiating the investments you have within asset classes (for example, holding small-, medium-, and large-cap stocks, or a variety of bonds) — may also be beneficial.

Building a diversified portfolio is only one of many financial tools that can help mitigate risk and improve performance. But there is a lot of research behind this strategy, so it’s a good idea to understand how it works and how it might benefit your financial plan.

What Is Portfolio Diversification and Why Does It Matter?

When you invest in stocks and other securities, you may be tempted to invest your money in a handful of sectors or companies where you feel comfortable. You might justify this approach because you’ve done your due diligence, and you feel confident about those sectors or companies. But rather than protecting your money, limiting your portfolio like this could make you more vulnerable to losses.

To understand this important aspect of portfolio management, it helps to know about the two main types of risk.

•   Systematic risk, or market risk, is caused by widespread events like inflation, geopolitical instability, interest rate changes, or even pandemics like Covid. You can’t manage systematic risk through diversification, though; it’s part of the investing landscape.

•   Unsystematic risk is unique or idiosyncratic to a particular company, industry, or place. Let’s say, for example, a CEO is implicated in a corruption scandal, sending their company’s stock plummeting; or extreme weather threatens a particular crop, putting a drag on prices in that sector. This is unsystematic risk.

While investors can’t do much about systematic risk, portfolio diversification can help mitigate unsystematic risk. That’s because even if one investment is hit by a certain negative event, another holding could remain relatively stable. So while you might see a dip in part of your portfolio, other sectors can act as ballast to keep returns steady. This is why diversification matters.

You can’t protect against the possibility of loss completely — after all, risk is inherent in investing. But building a portfolio that’s well diversified helps reduce your risk exposure because your money is distributed across areas that aren’t likely to react in the same way to the same occurrence.

A Look at How to Build a Diversified Portfolio

You may have heard of the 60-40 rule, which is a basic rule-of-thumb for asset allocation: You invest 60% of your portfolio in equities and 40% in fixed income and cash. The formula varies according to your age, investment objectives, and/or risk tolerance. But this model reflects the basic principles of diversification: By investing part of your portfolio in equities and part in bonds/fixed income, you can manage some of the risk that can come with being invested in equities.

If you’re invested 100% in equities, for example, you’re more vulnerable to a market downturn that’s due to systematic risk, as well as shocks that come from unsystematic risk. By balancing your portfolio with bonds, say, which usually react differently than stocks to market volatility, you can offset part of that downside.

Of course, that also means that when the market goes up, you likely wouldn’t see the same gains as you would if your portfolio were 100% in equities.

By the same token, if your portfolio is invested 100% in bonds, you might be shielded from certain risk factors that plague equities, but you likely wouldn’t get as much growth either.

A 60-40 portfolio is an example of simple diversification (sometimes called naive diversification) — which means investing in a range of asset classes. Proper diversification would have you go deeper, and invest in several different stocks (domestic, international, tech, health care, and so on), as well as an assortment of fixed income instruments.

3 Tips for Building a Diversified Portfolio

To attain a diversified portfolio, it’s important to think through your asset allocation, based on your available capital and risk tolerance. It’s also important to spread investments out within each asset class.

Invest in a Range of Stocks or an Index Fund

Diversifying a stock portfolio requires thinking about a number of factors, including quantity, sector, the risk profile of different companies, and so on.

•   Quantity. Instead of owning shares of just one company, a portfolio may have a margin of protection when it’s invested in many stocks (perhaps dozens or even hundreds).

•   Sector. You may want to think about a range of sectors, e.g. consumer goods, sustainable energy, agriculture, energy, and so on.

•   Variety in the types of stocks you are selecting is also an important factor. A mix of small-, mid-, and large-cap companies can be valuable.

   You can further diversify by style. Some investors may opt for a mix of cyclical versus defensive companies, those closely tied to economic growth cycles versus ones that aren’t. Some investors may prefer value vs. growth stocks, companies that are underpriced rather than those that demonstrate faster revenue or earnings growth.

One common way to diversify a stock portfolio is to avoid picking individual stocks and invest instead in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to dozens of companies or more. This is known as passive investing, as opposed to active. But it can be an effective way to add diversification.

Invest in Fixed Income

Bonds are a good way to diversify your portfolio because they perform very differently from stocks. Bonds tend to be less risky than stocks, but they aren’t risk free. They can be subject to default risk or call risk — and can also be subject to market volatility, especially when rates rise or fall. But bonds generally move in the opposite direction from stocks, and so can serve to counterbalance the risk associated with a stock portfolio.

Also, though bond yields can be lower than the return on some stocks, you generally can predict the amount you’ll get from bond investments.

Instead of being subject to market volatility, with bonds you know exactly how much you will receive and when. Your returns are likely to be lower, but bonds can.

You can diversify your mix of bonds, as well. High-yield bonds offer higher interest rates, but have a greater risk of default from the borrower. Short-term Treasury bonds, on the other hand, tend to be safer, but the return on investment isn’t as high.

You can consider green bonds, which typically invest in sustainable organizations or municipal projects, as well as municipal bonds, which can offer tax benefits. And you can expand your options, and create more diversification, when you invest in bond mutual funds, or exchange-traded bond funds.

Consider Investing in Real Estate

The housing market and equity market can influence each other — case in point: the 2008 recession, when widespread troubles in real estate led to a stock market crash. But they don’t always have such a strong relationship. When stocks or bonds drop, real estate prices can take much longer to follow.

Conversely, when the markets improve, housing can take a while to catch up. Also, every real estate market is different. Location-specific factors that have nothing to do with the broader economy can cause prices to soar or plummet.

These are all factors to consider when investing in real estate. In addition, there are different types of investments, like Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs, which can provide access to certain markets.

How Portfolio Diversification May Protect Your Nest Egg

Although creating a well-diversified portfolio may help improve performance, the real aim is to minimize the impact of unwanted or unforeseen risk factors on your nest egg. To that end, researchers have run countless portfolio simulations, based on historic market data, to test the outcome of different asset allocation strategies.

Of course past performance is no guarantee that outcomes of those portfolio allocations will be the same in the future. But the research is interesting in that it suggests certain strategies might be effective in mitigating risk. For example, an all-stock portfolio tends to have an historic return that’s similar to the stock market return on average: about 9%.

But the highest and lowest returns for certain years might be difficult for some investors to stomach.

Introducing greater diversification, by way of bonds and fixed income instruments, actually can create a portfolio with similar returns, but lower volatility over time. The more low-risk investments enter the picture, the lower the overall return tends to be, but so is the amount of volatility.

Other Ways to Diversify Your Investments

While stocks, real estate, and bonds are among the most common investments, you can diversify your portfolio by putting money into alternative investments, including assets you think will accumulate value over time. For example, some people invest in art, wine, cars, or even non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Of course, knowing something about the area you want to invest in, or consulting experts, is a smart idea before you get started.

Another possibility is to opt for low-risk short-term investments, such as certificates of deposit (CDs). A CD is a savings account that requires you to keep your funds locked up for a set amount of time (typically a few months to a few years), in exchange it pays you a fixed interest rate that may be higher than a traditional savings account.

A diversification strategy can also involve holding some funds in cash, just in case the bottom falls out on other investments.

Another strategy for diversification is to invest in both U.S. and foreign stocks. Spreading out your investments geographically might protect you from market volatility concentrated in one area. When one region is in recession, you may still have holdings in places that are booming. Also, emerging and developed markets have different dynamics, so investing in both can potentially leave you with less overall risk.

The Takeaway

Portfolio diversification is one of the key tenets of long-term investing. Instead of putting all your money into one investment or a single asset class like stocks or bonds, diversification spreads your money out across a range of securities. Investors should make sure they vary their investments in a way that matches their goals and tolerance for risk.

If you’re ready to build your own diversified portfolio, you’ve come to the right place. When you open an Active Invest account with SoFi Invest, you can buy and sell stocks, ETFs, IPO shares, fractional shares, and more. Trading is easy using SoFi’s secure app on your phone or computer. And SoFi members have access to complimentary financial advice from professionals.

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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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 pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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.
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.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
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Retail vs Corporate Banking: What's the Difference?

Retail vs Corporate Banking: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between retail vs. corporate banking lies in what type of services they provide and to whom. Retail banking is consumer-focused while corporate banking, also referred to as business banking, is designed to meet the needs of businesses.

Banks can offer both retail and business banking services to attract both types of clients. Understanding how each one works makes it easier to distinguish between retail vs. corporate banking. Here, learn more about:

•   What retail banking is.

•   Services offered under retail banking.

•   What corporate banking is.

•   Services offered under corporate banking.

•   Key differences of retail vs. corporate banking.

What Is Retail Banking?

Retail banking refers to banking services and products offered to retail customers, meaning individuals and families. Retail banking can also be referred to as consumer banking or personal banking. The kinds of products and services offered by retail banks are designed for personal money management (think checking and savings accounts, checkbooks, debit cards, and more). Individuals who work in these financial institutions are called retail bankers.

In the U.S., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is responsible for overseeing banks at the national level. Banks with assets in excess of $10 billion are also regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In addition to federal regulation, retail banks can also be subject to regulation and oversight at the state level. These organizations help ensure that services are being provided in keeping with the law and that charges are not excessive.

Recommended: How Do Retail Banks Make Money?

Services Offered Under Retail Banking

Retail banks typically offer products and services that are designed to help everyday people manage their finances. This is the key distinguishing factor between retail vs. business banking. For example, some of the services retail banks may offer include:

•   Deposit account services: Retail banks can allow consumers to open checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, and other deposit accounts to hold their money safely and securely.

•   Mortgage lending: Homeowners often require a loan to purchase a home, and many retail banks provide mortgages to qualified borrowers.

•   Secured and unsecured loans: In addition to home loans, retail banks can issue other types of loans, including auto loans, personal loans, home equity loans, and lines of credit.

•   Credit cards: Credit cards offer convenience for making purchases; many of them also offer rewards to entice consumers to sign up for a card and use it regularly. Retail banks can issue credit cards to creditworthy customers.

•   Certificates of deposit: Certificates of deposit (or CD accounts) are special types of deposit accounts that allow you to earn interest on your money for a set term, or up until its maturity date.

Banks may also offer insurance, investment services, or wealth management services to their retail clients. Private banking may also be available for higher net-worth customers.

Retail banks usually make money by accruing interest on the money they lend via loans and other vehicles. They can also charge various fees for banking services, including overdraft fees, loan origination fees, and checking account fees. Some retail banks have physical branches, while others operate exclusively online.

What Is Corporate Banking?

Corporate banking is the branch of banking that offers its services and products to business entities. That includes large corporations as well as small and medium-sized business operations. Corporate banks may also serve government agencies and entities. While services may include deposit accounts, these banks also probably offer credit and asset management, lines of credit, payment processing, and tools that facilitate international trade.

Just like retail banks, corporate banks can and do charge fees for the various services they provide. Banking services can be directed toward a corporate audience in general or be tailored to target the needs of specific industries, such as healthcare or companies that operate in the tech space.

Recommended: When would I Need a Business Bank Account?

Services Offered Under Corporate Banking

The services offered by corporate banks are designed to suit the needs of businesses large and small. The kinds of services a corporate bank can offer include:

•   Deposit account: Business banking can include many of the same deposit options as retail banking, such as checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts.

•   Debt financing: Corporate banks can offer debt financing options to startups and established businesses that need capital to fund expansion projects and growth.

•   Trade lines of credit: Trade financing can make it easier for businesses to cover day-to-day operating expenses. Examples of trade financing that corporate banks may offer include merchant cash advances, purchase order financing, and accounts receivable processing.

•   Payments processing: Corporate banks can act as payment processors to help businesses complete financial transactions when providing products or services to their customers.

•   Treasury management: Treasury management services can help businesses keep cash flowing steadily and smoothly.

•   Global banking: Businesses that are interested in expanding into foreign markets may rely on business banking services to reach their goal.

Corporate banks can also connect their customers with investment banking services. So what is an investment banker? Investment bankers help to link parties in financial markets. So a private company that’s interested in going public through an IPO, for example, may seek out an investment banker to act as an intermediary between itself and prospective investors.

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Key Differences Between Retail and Corporate Banking

Retail and corporate banking both have the same goal: serving the needs of their customers. But the way they achieve this goal differs. Here are some of the most noteworthy differences to consider when comparing retail banking vs. business banking.

Business Model

Retail banking’s business model is built around meeting the needs of retail banking clients. Banks that operate in the retail space are primarily concerned with three things: deposits, money management, and consumer credit.

Corporate banks, on the other hand, base their business models around products and services that are utilized by business entities. That includes offering business bank accounts, providing avenues for securing capital, and offering financial advice.

Customer Base

Retail banks are geared toward consumers who rely on financial products like personal checking accounts, savings accounts, or unsecured loans. A retail bank can offer accounts to different types of consumers, including specialized accounts for kids, teens, students, or seniors. But generally, they’re consumer-facing and work with everyday people to help them manage their money.

That’s a stark difference between retail vs. corporate banking: The latter is business-centric. For example, a corporate bank may offer services to companies with a valuation in the millions. Or it may cater to smaller businesses that need help with things like payment processing or cash flow management. Some business banks may serve companies both large and small.

Processing Costs

As mentioned, both retail and corporate banks can charge fees for the services they provide. These fees are designed to make up for the bank’s own handling costs for processing transactions. Both types of banks can also charge interest on loans, lines of credit, and credit cards. These are ways that banks earn money.

So which is more expensive, retail banking vs. corporate banking? In general, retail banks tend to have lower handling costs which means lower fees for consumers. Corporate banks, on the other hand, typically have higher processing costs which means their clients pay more for their products and services.

Value of Transactions

Since retail banks serve your typical consumers, the average value of transactions processed tends to be lower compared to that of corporate banks. A corporate bank, for example, might process a transaction valued at several million dollars for a single customer. Someone who’s adding money to their personal checking account, meanwhile, may be depositing a few hundred or few thousand dollars.

Profitability

Here’s one more key difference between business banking vs. retail banking: Business banking tends to generate more profits. That’s because corporate banks typically deal in higher value transactions than retail banks.

This doesn’t mean corporate banks are a bad deal for businesses, however. Small business loan rates, for example, can be quite competitive compared to what a consumer might pay for a personal loan at a retail bank.

The Takeaway

The difference between retail vs. business banking is quite straightforward: Retail banking serves individual customer’s needs, while corporate banking helps companies of all sizes, as well as non-profits and other organizations, manage their financial lives.

For most people, retail banking is a good choice to manage and optimize your financial wellness. You can open an online bank account to pay bills, deposit your paychecks, transfer money to savings, and make purchases or withdrawals using your debit card. At SoFi, we make that process even more rewarding. If you open Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you’ll earn a super competitive 1.25% APY, pay no account fees, and have access to your paycheck up to two days early.

Bank smarter with SoFi.

FAQ

Is corporate banking better than retail?

Corporate banking is not necessarily better than retail banking; they’re simply designed to serve different audiences. Corporate banking is usually a wise choice for a business entity, while retail banking is designed to serve individuals with their personal banking needs.

Is a current account retail or corporate?

Current accounts can be offered by retail and corporate banks. Generally speaking, a current account is a bank account that allows you to make deposits and withdrawals. A checking account, either personal or business, is an example of a current account.

Why do banks focus on retail banking?

Banks focus on retail banking because there’s a need for it among consumers; almost every adult might be interested in, say, a checking account, a debit card, and a credit card. The demand for retail banking also allows banks to generate revenue by charging fees for deposit accounts and interest on loans and lines of credit. That said, corporate banking also serves an important need and generates income for banks as well.


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 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Is a Crypto Wallet? A Guide to Safely Storing Crypto

What Is a Crypto Wallet? A Guide to Storing Crypto Safely

A crypto wallet is a place to store your cryptocurrencies when you’re not using them. Knowing how to properly secure your assets with a crypto wallet will go a long way toward helping to keep your crypto safe from hackers. Cryptocurrency wallets come in different forms. By learning about the types of cryptocurrencies and wallets, deciding how much money you want to put into cryptocurrencies, and knowing how you plan to use them, you can decide which type of wallet is best for you.

What Is a Crypto Wallet?

As cited above, a crypto wallet is a place to store your cryptocurrencies. You may think of a crypto wallet as being similar to how a tangible leather wallet holds fiat currency — your $1s, $5s, and $20s. When secured properly in wallets, cryptocurrencies are difficult to counterfeit or steal.

To understand what a crypto wallet is, it’s important to know how cryptocurrencies are created and used. So, we review cryptocurrency briefly below.

What Is Cryptocurrency? — A Recap

A cryptocurrency is a virtual — that is, almost-real — type of “money,” or exchange of value. Cryptocurrencies, whether they’re used as an exchange of value, or not are not physical coins or bills, or even images or digital files. Cryptocurrency (crypto) consists of computer code that is cryptographically secured. There are many types of cryptocurrencies, which, typically, are built on blockchain technology.

The Importance of Mining

Mining is a process that’s fundamental in creating and validating cryptocurrencies. But mining Bitcoin, for example, is more than just creating bitcoin tokens. Mining also plays a critical role in the decentralized global system by which miners validate and secure all Bitcoin transactions — and earn bitcoin themselves.

How does mining Bitcoin work — i.e., how does a miner actually mine Bitcoin? It goes back to the blockchain technology that Bitcoin is built on. Although the word mining implies that the reward lies in extracting a precious ore — or creating a Bitcoin — in fact miners rely on super-charged computer systems to validate blocks of digital transactions to do their crypto mining.The miners are part of a community, project, platform, or network instead of a company or firm. These crypto projects sponsor the launch of new crypto coins.

Decentralization: A Defining Feature of Crypto

Cryptocurrencies are part of a decentralized finance (DeFi) system, which originally meant that there should be no third party involved in financial transactions between individuals. Traditionally, the financial services sector in the United States has relied on centralized authorities such as banks, financial advisors, and clearinghouses as go-betweens.

The concept of decentralization is a defining feature of cryptocurrency.

The network of any one cryptocurrency is just a ledger of amounts and transactions, similar to what you see when you log into your bank account. You can view your holdings, and send and receive crypto via both public and private addresses.

How Buying and Selling Cryptocurrency Works

There are dozens of online exchanges where you can purchase and sell cryptocurrencies. Many of these allow you to link your bank account directly to the exchange, so you can easily transfer between U.S. dollars and crypto. You also may transact with individuals directly using wallet applications or paper wallets. QR codes are commonly used as a quick way to send crypto, or you can send out your full public address.

Note: Depending on which cryptocurrency you are using, it can take as much as an hour for your transaction to finish. Don’t panic if your funds don’t transfer immediately.

Yes, SoFi offers crypto trading.

With 30 coins to trade from and no-fee crypto purchases1, our app offers a secure way to trade crypto 24/7.

Get up to $100 in Bitcoin after your first trade2.


Types of Cryptocurrency Wallets

Cryptocurrency wallets are used to store your private keys. These keys must be matched with your public keys to move crypto from one wallet to another. Some wallets can be used to store multiple types of cryptocurrency, while others can store only one kind of crypto.

Some wallets are convenient for buying and selling crypto quickly, but other kinds of wallets may be more secure.

Public and Private Wallets

Your public wallet address is what you give to someone when you want them to send you cryptocurrency. Anyone can look up that address and see how much you hold and your past transactions. However, the address is simply a string of numbers and letters, so unless someone knows it belongs to you, your holdings and transactions are anonymous. This transparency combined with anonymity is part of what appeals to many people about cryptocurrencies.

Crypto holders do not publish their private wallet address, nor do they give it to anyone. That would be like giving someone the password to your email account or a password-protected document containing personal information. The private key is what’s used to sign off on transactions. So, if someone has access to both your public and private keys, they now have control over your holdings. However, the chances of a hacker matching up potential public and private keys are highly improbable because of the way they’re encrypted.

The two main categories of crypto wallets are hardware (“cold”) and software (“hot storage”) wallets.

Hot Crypto Wallets (Software)

When you choose to have a crypto exchange store your holdings, the exchange uses what’s called a “hot wallet.” The reason it’s hot is that it’s connected to the internet at all times — so, always online, hot with electricity.

Web-based wallets:

You can access hot storage wallets on the internet by logging into exchanges or wallet-service providers. Some popular hot storage exchanges include Coinbase and Gemini. These exchanges hold your private keys. Although they implement the best, multi-layered, and most current security tech possible, exchanges are still vulnerable to hacks.

In general, it’s best not to store large amounts of crypto in online exchanges. You can move your crypto holdings into the exchange when you want to send or sell it, but otherwise it’s wise to keep it in cold storage.

Desktop wallets:

Desktop wallets are types of software that you can download onto your PC or Mac desktop computer. They store and manage your private keys, just like any other wallet would, but they frequently have a few more features than you’ll find in other types of wallets. These are somewhat more secure, as they often give you access to your private keys, and are stored directly on your computer.

However, if your computer or phone breaks or gets lost, your crypto holdings could be lost along with it. In the unfortunate event that this does happen, if you have written down both your public and private keys, you likely would be able to recover your funds. If given the option, it’s always a good idea to keep a second copy of your address written down in a safe place.

Mobile wallets:

A mobile wallet is software that you can install on your mobile smartphone if you intend to manage your finances from your hone. As with an old-fashioned physical wallet (with all the slots), mobile wallets can store the important cards you use frequently — your credit, debit, ID, gift, and transit cards. In this way, you can conduct transactions using a mobile device instead of a physical card.

Hot Wallets (Software): Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

Disadvantages

Don’t need to worry about losing your private keys; exchange keeps them If your computer or mobile device is lost or stolen, you could lose all your funds
Reputable exchanges have state-of-the-art security Even with top-notch security, exchanges are still vulnerable to hacks because always online
Immediate access to your funds; convenience; always online Third-party dependent; most exchanges don’t give access to your private keys; you never have full control of your account
Ease of use; good for beginners to store small amounts of crypto Centralized servers sometimes cannot handle unlimited number of transactions: possibility of periodic delays

Cold Wallets (Hardware)

Cold storage hardware wallets are offline, and may be in the form of a physical hardware device or a piece of paper. Yes, you can simply write down your public and private address on a piece of paper and use that to recover your funds.

Although vulnerable to loss, fire, or flood, a paper wallet is arguably the most secure type of wallet, as it doesn’t connect to any device, software, or network which could be broken or compromised. You can even create a printout of a QR code for your cold wallet to make it easier to use.

It’s possible to generate paper wallets from reputable sources such as Bitcoinpaperwallet and BitAddress. If you do use one of these services, make sure you go through the steps to disconnect from the internet as you create the wallet. Once your wallet is created, you might want to laminate it or seal it in a plastic bag to store in a safe place.

Popular hardware wallets include the Trezor and Ledger devices. These are physical devices that plug into your computer, and store your private keys. This way, your private keys are never online, but you can still conveniently buy and sell digital assets without needing to upload an address from a piece of paper. Both Trezor and Ledger support multiple types of cryptocurrencies.

You can also purchase physical coins, such as physical Bitcoin (BTC) that come preloaded with a certain amount of the cryptocurrency. These can be useful for offline trading, may be a fun collector’s item, and generally are created with a tamperproof seal to hide the private key. A further delineation of hardware wallets are hardware security modules (HSMs). These devices handle only the keys and signing of data, but not the signing of complete transactions.

Cold Wallets (Hardware): Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

Disadvantages

Very secure; don’t connect to any device, software, or network that could become compromised Vulnerable to loss, fire, or flood, or other kind of destruction
Highly portable; can carry with you, attached to any computer Might need technical knowledge to set up
Come with option to set up recovery phrase Longer transaction times; can be expensive

Storing and Securing Your Crypto Wallet

The most important part of selecting your wallet type is making sure that your stored crypto and your crypto transactions are secure. Many of the most popular exchanges store your private keys for you, but don’t give you access to them. Though it can be convenient to hold crypto in exchanges, not having access to your private keys could make you vulnerable to hackers and even scams. So, you may decide to use cold storage for your crypto holdings, moving only as much into hot storage as you plan to send or sell at any given time.

Part of trying to keep your information secure might include being wary of any emails you receive that come from exchanges or wallet apps. Check the email address to make sure it’s legitimate, and never send your private keys over email; even better, don’t send them at all. It’s always wise to double-check all of your transactions before hitting the send button, And check the website address when you visit an exchange or online wallet. Fake email and website addresses can look convincingly similar to the real ones.

Crypto Wallets: A Quick Review

Although cryptocurrency wallets are used mainly to store and transact cryptocurrencies, there are other uses for this technology. Tokens or digital information stored on a blockchain could represent anything from goods in a supply chain, or a plane ticket, to a set of dental records. Blockchains can also store personal information such as your identity, tax history, voting information, and more. In the future, we may find ourselves using blockchain-based wallets in many facets of our lives.

Before you purchase cryptocurrencies, think about how you plan to use and access them. If you’re planning to purchase crypto and hold it for the long term, a secure cold storage wallet is probably your best option. If you want to access cryptocurrency from your phone, you may want to download an app from a particular exchange or wallet provider.

Also, think about which cryptocurrencies you want to hold and look into the options available for each coin. Doing your due diligence on both the coin and the wallet might help keep you from getting scammed. Despite that some exchanges have been hacked, there are plenty of reputable options to choose from.

Getting Professional Insights and a New Cryptocurrency Wallet

Cryptocurrencies are still new, volatile, and risky. For this reason, you may not be ready to start trading them.

Or, you may be excited about jumping in early while the industry is young. Either way, gaining professional insights into your investment strategy and using state-of-the-art tools can help you build a strong, diversified portfolio.

On SoFi Invest, investors can start trading cryptocurrencies with as little as $10. New SoFi members who buy at least $50 worth of crypto in the first seven days are eligible for a bonus of up to $100 in bitcoin. See full terms at sofi.com/crypto. You may trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Cardano, Dogecoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, 24/7. Plus, SoFi takes security seriously and uses a number of tools to keep investors’ crypto holdings secure from theft.

Get started trading crypto on SoFi Invest today.

FAQ

What is a paper crypto wallet?

Typically, a paper wallet contains both a public and a private key, which is what you need to trade on your crypto account. These keys are just two strings of characters and two quick response (QR) codes that you may print out on a piece of paper — thus, a paper wallet. They are considered noncustodial cold-storage wallets, which means that you control the keys yourself (some are controlled by crypto exchanges), and they are not connected to the internet.

The cryptocurrency industry no longer recommends using paper wallets, as today there are safer methods of storing and trading crypto. Some still like them, however, and you can still create a paper wallet if you wish.

Do you need to have a crypto wallet to trade cryptocurrencies?

The short answer is “Yes.” Crypto wallets are not flat, physical objects with storage slots that can be made of fine leather or synthetics. But, as with your fiat cash, cryptocurrency is an asset that needs to be stored somewhere safe when you’re not using it. So, in that sense, you do need to have a place to keep your crypto holdings — whether we call it a “wallet,” or something else.

You do have choices, however, as there are various types of wallets. Among the first things to decide is whether you want to keep your own wallet or have a crypto exchange store your holdings for you. Some believe that a good goal might be to work toward keeping your crypto holdings yourself, in a cold storage wallet. But, if you’re just getting started in crypto, or if you lose or misplace things easily, then it might be wise to keep the crypto in hot storage with a regulated, reputable exchange.

What kind of crypto wallet is safest?

One way of answering this question would be to search the internet for “safer, safest, secure, and most secure,” crypto wallets. You’ll find that more than 150 makes and models of hardware wallets return — some with pictures of the small electronic devices and some with just descriptions. You also may choose to limit your search to your favorite news feeds, crypto portals, and so on — whatever’s most comfortable. Just make sure that they are professional and reputable sites.

You could start with say the first 10 hits that come up. Check to see if any makers’ names recur repeatedly. Then, note how many times those repeat names are cited as being the “best for security,” or something like that.

Once you’ve determined that XYZ model has the best security features, then you may consider other qualities that are important for you, personally. After safety, the sites rank the wallets’ features in terms of “the best for…” android users, advanced users, digital storage, beginners, mobile users, Bitcoin-only investors, desktop, simplicity, durability, coins supported, accessibility, software, and — well you get the picture.

In this way, you can be assured that you’ve found a highly rated safe wallet, with the extra features and conveniences you want and need.

How easy is setting up a cryptocurrency wallet?

In this instance, the word “easy” is highly relative. While setting up a crypto wallet might be relatively easy for a developer or engineer, it might be confusing, frustrating, or downright painful for those who are not technically minded.

As a newcomer to crypto, can you even imagine reading through a set of small-print instructions that are long, dense with new terminology that you may not know, and which might even have been (poorly) translated from another language!

For some, the concept of a crypto wallet may indeed be easier to grasp than its setup instructions. But here’s where technology might come to our rescue — in the form of online videos! It could be a good place to start. And written instructions don’t usually come with devices any more anyway. So, browse the internet for videos about how to set up XYZ crypto wallet in a style that appeals to you, and enjoy!


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.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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 pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.


Photo credit: iStock/Elena Perova
SOIN19149

1 SoFi will assess a fee for each crypto transaction outside of automatic direct deposit purchases. For more information, visit sofi.com/invest/buy-cryptocurrency.

You need both a SoFi Invest crypto account and a SoFi Invest active investing account to get access to no-fee crypto purchases with direct deposit. Active investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC. Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

2 Terms 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 June 30th, 2022. 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
Low High
$50 $99.99 $10
$100 $499.99 $15
$500 $4,999.99 $50
$5,000+ $100
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Is There a $50,000 Student Loan Forgiveness Program?

Is There a $50,000 Student Loan Forgiveness Program?

While on the campaign trail, not-yet President Joe Biden tweeted , “Additionally, we should forgive a minimum of $10,000/person of federal student loans, as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues. Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis. It shouldn’t happen again.”

At a virtual summit on student loan debt, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Senate called for President Joe Biden to forgive $50,000 in student debt through executive action for all borrowers.

The U.S. Department of Education has said $50,000 student loan cancellation would take care of 36 million individuals’ loans and put a dent in the student loan debt that currently sits at about $1.5 trillion. Student loans represent the second largest portion of household debt after mortgages — more than credit card debt. About 43 million Americans have student loans.

At this point, the White House and Congress have not enacted legislation for $50,000 student loan forgiveness. In this piece, we’ll touch on $50,000 student loan forgiveness, preexisting forgiveness programs, and other ways to pay for school.

Is the $50,000 Student Loan Forgiveness Program Real?

Currently, no widespread federal student loan forgiveness order exists to wipe out student loans. Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, senior United States senator from Massachusetts, believe that one-time student loan forgiveness could relieve students of their debt burden as well as potentially:

•   Reduce wealth gaps, including racial wealth gaps

•   Help those without a degree who have lower lifetime earnings but owe on student loans

•   Economically stimulate the middle class

•   Increase home purchases and stimulate small businesses

•   Help more people save for retirement and start a family

•   Boost the economy

In April of 2021, President Biden asked the U.S. Department of Education to see if his executive authority gives him the ability to order student loan forgiveness without the approval of Congress.

Who Qualifies for $50,000 Student Loan Forgiveness?

Right now, nobody qualifies for $50,000 student loan forgiveness because a blanket forgiveness order hasn’t come from the Biden administration or Congress. That’s not without pressure from progressive Democrats, who have repeatedly asked the president to issue an executive order for $50,000 student loan forgiveness.

Instead, the administration has been focusing on already-established student loan forgiveness programs , including approving $1.5 billion in borrower defense claims and providing $7.1 billion in relief for borrowers eligible for total and permanent disability discharges. This includes $5.8 billion in automatic student loan discharges to 323,000 borrowers and the reinstatement of $1.3 billion in loan discharges for another 41,000 borrowers.

Is the $50,000 Student Loan Forgiveness for Private Lenders?

If a $50,000 student forgiveness legislation came to fruition, the measure would likely only apply to federal student loans. Those with private student loans would still have to continue making their payments unless individual private student loan companies make changes to authorize student loan forgiveness.

An income threshold may also go into effect. In that case, the amount of forgiveness you could hypothetically receive would depend on how much money you make. If you make more than what federal guidelines suggest, you may face restrictions on the $50,000 threshold.

Can the Government Forgive $50,000 in Student Loan Debt?

Warren says that the president has the power to take care of $50,000 of student loan debt with the flick of a pen. However, Biden does not plan to support Warren’s and Schumer’s calls for action, nor does Speaker Nancy Pelosi believe Biden can unilaterally make that call on his own.

In a town hall meeting a few weeks after he took office, a citizen asked about the possibility of $50,000 student loan forgiveness. Biden said in no uncertain terms that he did not support the idea.

Preexisting Forgiveness Programs for $50,000 Student Loan Debt

So, if $50,000 in loan forgiveness isn’t an option, what are the possibilities? Several loan discharge options might be available to you. Loan discharge means you no longer have to repay your loan as long as you meet certain requirements. Let’s walk through Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge, Closed School Discharge, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Keep in mind that these forgiveness programs only apply to federal student loans.

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

A Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge absolves you of having to repay a few types of federal loans or grants:

•   William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loan

•   Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loan

•   Federal Perkins Loan

•   TEACH Grant service obligation

You must complete and submit a TPD discharge application and documentation from one of these three sources: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Social Security Administration (SSA), or a doctor.

Closed School Discharge

Closed School Discharge means that you may be eligible for discharge of your federal student loan if your college or career school closes during or soon after you leave it.

You may qualify for a percent discharge of the following types of loans:

•   William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans

•   Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans

•   Federal Perkins Loans

You may qualify if you were enrolled when your school closed or you were on an approved leave of absence during the period when your school closed. You may also qualify if your school closed within 120 days after you withdrew (as long as your loans were first disbursed before July 1, 2020) or your school closed within 180 days after you withdrew (as long as your loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020).

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan. You must work full-time for a qualifying employer (a U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government, or nonprofit organization) in order to qualify for PSLF.

Other Ways to Pay for School

Let’s explore the various options available to you, rather than waiting for the government to help out with relief that might not come. It may be helpful to know the differences between grants vs. scholarships vs. loans.

Private Student Loans

Just like federal student loans, you can use private student loans to pay for college or career school costs, but they come from a bank, credit union or online lender — not the federal government.

Generally speaking, federal grants and loans should be prioritized before you take on private loans because you’ll usually pay higher interest rates for private student loans. The amount you can borrow depends on the cost of your degree as well as personal financial factors (such as your credit score and income). Private lenders also aren’t required to offer the same borrower protections and benefits as federal lenders — things like income-driven repayment plans or the forgiveness options discussed previously.

Recommended: Private vs. Federal Student Loans

Credit Cards

You can use a credit card to pay for books or other school supplies but your college or university bursar’s office may or may not let you pay for college tuition with a credit card. Speak with the bursar’s office to find out whether it’s possible to pay using a credit card as well as the fees you’ll incur to pay using this method.

Paying for college costs with credit cards carries some added risks. For example, fees from the bursar’s office may outstrip any rewards you earn. It’s also highly likely that you’ll pay more in interest on a credit card than you would with a student loan.

Using a credit card will also disqualify you from the perks of federal student loans — repayment plans, deferment, and the forgiveness programs listed above.

Borrow from Loved Ones

Will a trusted family member or close friend allow you to borrow from them? If so, you could rely on them to lend you money when you need money for school. However, this option can have both positive and negative consequences, the most negative being that you might tarnish your relationship with the individual who loans you the money.

Before you borrow from a loved one, set clear expectations, establish a realistic repayment plan, discuss what happens when you can’t make payments, draw up a formal contract and examine the tax implications for the other party when lending money.

You may also want to suss out the other party’s ability to loan you the money as well. If you think it’ll put the other person in a financial bind, you may want to consider alternative options.

Pay Cash

Do you or your parents have money set aside for you to attend college? This is one of the best ways to pay for college because you don’t have to pay interest on borrowed money. You can tap into money that’s earmarked for college or pull from monthly earnings as well.

The Takeaway

So far, $50,000 student loan forgiveness is not an option available to federal student loan borrowers. There are some options currently available, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which requires borrowers to make 120 qualifying payments while working for an eligible employer — such as one in the nonprofit sector.

If you’re looking for options beyond federal student loans to pay for college, private student loans may be an option to consider. SoFi’s private student loans make paying for your undergraduate or graduate education easier. You can receive up to 100% of school costs, including tuition and food, books, supplies, room and board, and other education expenses for your undergraduate, graduate school, MBA, and/or law school education. Specific undergraduate loans and graduate loans are available from SoFi.

Compare rates for SoFi’s private student loans now.

FAQ

Check out some FAQs for student loan forgiveness $50,000:

Can the President forgive $50,000 student loan debt?

It’s unlikely that President Joe Biden will unilaterally forgive $50,000 of student loan debt for every borrower. In fact, he stated in a town hall in February 2021 that he doesn’t think he “has the authority” to cancel $50,000 per borrower. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also flatly stated that he cannot do it, either.

What are ways to pay off $50,000 in student loan debt?

There are many ways to pay off $50,000 in student loan debt, including paying off student loans one month at a time through monthly payments. However, you can also look into loan forgiveness programs like the ones listed above or income-driven repayment plans. You can also put more money toward your student loans by making more than the required monthly payment each month.

You can target specific loan-payoff methods, including the debt avalanche or debt snowball methods. The debt snowball method means you pay off the lowest amount of money you owe. For example, if you have three student loans, worth $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000, you’d pay off the lowest amount first because you can more quickly pay it off.

The debt avalanche method means you pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

It’s also important to remember that student loan forgiveness is not completely free. It’ll affect your taxes. Here’s how:

Let’s say that a federal mandate does materialize and cancels $10,000 worth of student loans. The money from the $10,000 student loan forgiveness program would get added to your taxable income, under what’s called Cancellation of Debt (COD) income. You would also receive Form 1099-C.

When you do your taxes, you’d report $10,000 as COD income and you’d owe based on your individual tax bracket. If you’re in the 22% tax bracket, you’ll pay $2,200 in taxes ($10,000 x 22%).

Do private lenders offer $50,000 student loan forgiveness?

No, private student loan lenders do not offer $50,000 student loan forgiveness but you may be able to explore different payment options with your lender. Talk to your private loan lender if you’re having trouble making your monthly payments.

Student loan lenders want to work with you to give you the best possible options for paying off your loans, but don’t expect to receive $50,000 student loan forgiveness automatically from private lenders.


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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

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.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Health Savings Account (HSA) vs. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): Key Differences

Health Savings Account (HSA) vs Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): Key Differences

A health savings account (HSA) and a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) are both meant to help with medical costs, but there are vast differences between the two. An HSA acts as a personal saving account, where you can set aside tax-free dollars to be used toward out-of-pocket health care expenses. An HMO is typically a low-cost health insurance plan.

It’s tough to directly compare an HSA vs. HMO, as they serve different functions. But understanding how each works, and their pros and cons, can help lower medical costs and keep more money in your wallet. Here, you will learn:

•   How an HSA works

•   How to set up an HSA

•   The pros and cons of an HSA

•   How an HMO works

•   How to set up an HMO

•   The pros and cons of an HMO

•   The key differences of an HSA vs. HMO

•   How to fund healthcare costs.

What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

A health savings account (HSA) allows individuals to put away pre-tax dollars to be used for future medical purposes. These funds can be used for copays, dental and eye care, and a host of other expenses not covered by a healthcare plan.

Here’s the catch: You have to be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). An HDHP is geared to offer you lower monthly health-insurance payments. The downside, however, is that you could get hit with a lot of out-of-pocket expenses before meeting the plan’s high deductible.

That’s where a Health Savings Account (HSA) comes in. The money in your HSA can help bridge the gap between your high deductible and your pocketbook.

How Does a Health Savings Account Work?

A Health Savings Account works similarly to other kinds of saving accounts. You can transfer funds and pay bills online. You are free to withdraw HSA funds at any time to pay for health costs not covered by your high-deductible health plan.

Employers can contribute to your HSA, with direct deposits made straight from payroll. HSA funds can be used for you or any family member covered by your high-deductible savings plan.

The money in your HSA can remain in the account and rollover every year, accumulating tax-free interest. You can even use your HSA for retirement. After the age of 65, you can start withdrawing from your HSA with no penalty.

There are rules and limits to an HSA. As of 2022, the IRS limits contributions up to $3,650 for individuals, and up to $7,300 for families with HDHP coverage.

How to Set Up an HSA

Setting up a tax-advantaged HSA is pretty straightforward. If you are self-employed, take the time to compare different HSAs online. Many of them have reasonable fees (or none) and minimal requirements.

If your HSA is offered directly through your employer, that makes the decision easy.

The steps to enroll in an HSA are not unlike opening a bank account. You’ll need proof of a government-issued ID, your Social Security number, and proof of your enrollment in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).

Once you have set up an HSA, you may be able to opt for regular, automatic deposits straight from your paycheck or your bank account, and start reaping the benefits of using a health savings plan.

Pros of an HSA

A health savings plan provides a range of advantages, including:

•   Covering out-of-pocket medical expenses, including dental costs, copays, new eye glasses, and hearing aids. The IRS has a lengthy list of all the goodies you can buy with your tax-free dollars.

•   Lowering taxable income. HSA contributions go into your account before taxes, so you could pay less taxes down the line.

•   Investing for the future. You can opt to have your HSA money invested in chosen mutual funds once you reach a minimum requirement balance.

•   Covering health expenses for your family. HSA benefits anyone who is currently covered by your high-deductible savings plan.

•   Rollover contributions. Unused contributions don’t vanish. They rollover into the next year, growing and accumulating tax-free interest.

•   Retirement savings. Any unused funds can be used to boost retirement savings. They can be withdrawn after the age of 65, and spent as you please. You can put the money toward a beach vacation or any other purpose.

•   Portability. If you move or change jobs, the money is still yours. You don’t have to surrender it.

Cons of an HSA

There are some potential disadvantages to having an HSA, including:

•   Penalties for non-qualified expenses. Before the age of 65, the IRS can impose a substantial 20% penalty on monetary amounts spent on unapproved purchases. This money will also be viewed as taxable income.

•   Monthly/annual fees. Some health savings accounts may charge a low monthly service fee. Service fees tend to be no more than $5 per month. Some HSAs allow you to invest in mutual funds after your balance reaches a certain amount. If you choose this option, you will probably be charged an annual account management fee.

•   Unable to contribute. Budgets can get tight. There are times when you might not be able to regularly contribute money to your HSA.

•   Tracking for your taxes. HSA expenditures and contributions must be reported on your tax return. Keeping tabs on those transactions can be tedious.

•   Monetary losses. As with an IRA or 401(k), if you choose to invest your HSA money in mutual funds, your balance can experience gains and losses as the market fluctuates. These investments are not FDIC-insured like bank accounts are.

What is a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)?

A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is a type of health insurance plan. An HMO tends to offer lower monthly or annual premiums and a specific pool of doctors. If you stay within their network of healthcare providers, you may have lower out-of-pocket costs and, unlike with a HDHP, a lower deductible or even no deductible at all.

How Does a Health Maintenance Organization Work?

A health maintenance organization (HMO) plan consists of a group of insurance providers who have contracted certain doctors and hospitals to work with them. These medical professionals and facilities agree on a payment rate for their services, which can translate into reduced costs for you.

As long as you use the doctors in the HMO network, you are eligible for medical services that cost less. HMOs typically require a referral from an in-network primary care physician in order to receive low-cost services from specialists, such as an oncologist or gynocologist.

Many health insurance companies offer HMO plans as a coverage option. An individual can choose the HMO plan and go through the steps of enrollment, either on paper or via an online form. The process includes selecting your primary care physician.

Pros of an HMO

The advantages of enrolling in an HMO plan can include:

•   Lower monthly premiums versus other insurance plans.

•   Lower out-of-pocket expenses when you see your GP or specialists, have tests done, and access other kinds of medical care.

•   Lower prescription costs for your medications.

•   Fewer medical claims, as the paperwork is filed in-network.

•   Appointing a primary care doctor, whose office may coordinate and advocate for your various medical services.

Cons of an HMO

There are disadvantages of having an HMO, including:

•   Limited access to doctors and facilities. You must stay within their network of providers or risk paying out-of-pocket, except in the case of certain emergencies.

•   A new primary care doctor. If your current doctor isn’t in the HMO’s network, you’ll have to find a new primary care physician. For some people, this may be a difficult switch to make.

•   Referral requirements. To see a specialist and have your HMO pay for those services, you’ll need referrals; you can’t just look up a specialist and see them.

•   Strict definitions. There are times when you must very specifically meet requirements to have medical services paid for. This can be important to know during emergencies and other medical situations.

Can You Have Both an HMO and HSA?

Yes. There is no real rivalry happening with HMOs vs. HSAs, as they are so different. But if you are wondering can you have an HSA with an HMO, here’s what you need to know. You can use an HSA with an HMO, as long as the HMO qualifies as a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). Since HMOs are often low cost healthcare plans, an HMO may not qualify as an HDHP. Check with your particular plan to see.

Key Differences Between an HMO vs HSA

•   An HSA acts like a savings account, an HMO is a health plan offering savings through lower-cost healthcare options.

•   An HSA does not offer a network of doctors, but can offer investment opportunities and help you save for retirement.

Ways to Fund Healthcare Costs

Besides enrolling in a low-cost HMO, or opening an HSA, there are other ways to save money and pay for medical expenses.

Flexible Spending Account

A flexible spending account (FSA) acts very much like an HSA. It is similar to a savings account, and can be used for medical expenses and saving for retirement.

An FSA, however, can only be obtained through an employer. Self-employed people cannot have an FSA.

Money Market Account

A money market account works like a traditional checking or savings account. You could use the money for healthcare costs, or any other purchases. Money market accounts can offer a higher interest rate than other saving accounts, but there may be a higher minimum account balance required and more costly fees.

Savings Account

A traditional savings account can be set up with a bank or a credit union. Funds in a savings account can be spent on anything. But savings accounts may offer lower interest rates than other types of saving options. However, high-yield savings accounts may help close that gap somewhat.

The Takeaway

Enrolling in a health savings plan (HSA) or a health maintenance organization plan (HMO) provides different advantages, with the same goal in mind: saving you money on healthcare costs. Enrolling in one (or both) can bring a sense of security for you and your family and help you hold onto more of your hard-earned cash.

Want to save even more money? Check out SoFi’s winning Checking and Savings account combo. We offer zero account fees and a 1.25% APY when you sign up with direct deposit. That means no monthly, minimum-balance, or overdraft fees are nibbling away at your fund, and your money earns more money, thanks to that great interest rate.

Bank smarter with SoFi.

FAQ

Is an HSA better than an HMO?

An HSA isn’t better; it’s just different. An HSA is a kind of savings account for people enrolled in a high-deductible healthcare plan and is used to pay for medical costs. An HMO is a low-cost health insurance plan that gives you access to a specific network of healthcare professionals.

What happens to an HSA if you switch to an HMO?

You can keep and use an HSA with any type of health plan, as long as it qualifies as a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). If not, you can keep and access the money in the HSA, but you can no longer contribute to it.

What happens to my HSA if I cancel my insurance?

You can continue to use the money in the HSA account, but can no longer contribute to it until you’re enrolled in another HDHP.


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 1.25% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Members without direct deposit will earn 0.70% APY on all account balances in their Checking and Savings accounts (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. Rate of 1.25% APY is current as of 4/5/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
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.
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.
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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