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Tips for Easier Traveling With Kids

No matter your age or your experience, traveling can be stressful. Add kids to the equation and the stress levels multiply: tickets, boarding times, passports, strollers, snacks, tablets, tantrums—you name it. There is so much to keep track of while traveling with children that it can be easy to forget to enjoy the incredible experience of traveling itself.

Whether you’re anticipating freezing in the cold winter and know you’ll want to get away, or ready for the summer months so you can comfortably explore a new city, you’re ready to book that next trip to look forward to as a family. These tips for traveling with kids could make your next family vacation seamless and memorable—for all the right reasons.

Before you even leave for your trip, you might want to set the foundation for a relaxing vacation. Here are some ideas to help minimize stress on the road.

Planning Ahead: Beyond Airfare and Hotels

When it comes to tips for traveling with children, a great idea might be to try to stay ahead of events. Inevitably, there will be unforeseen challenges along the way, but the more you plan, the fewer you might face.

Of course, it might be a good idea to schedule travel and accommodations far in advance to not only secure your reservations but also to save some money.

Beyond the essentials, you could pre-book a lot of activities, sightseeing excursions, or even meals. This might help ensure your family is experiencing a new place to the fullest and that the kids will be kept busy.

While having activities planned might be a lifesaver, it’s ok to have a little bit of downtime too. Exhausted children can be difficult to tame, so you might include some time for naps or relaxation to avoid a meltdown.

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Selecting the Right Place to Stay for the Entire Family

Researching and booking the right hotel ahead of time might help you find one with fun features for the kids, like a pool or complimentary breakfast. You could also talk with the hotel staff once you get there to inquire about upgrades, cots for the kids, or extra pillows.

If you’re not interested in the hotel experience, you might consider staying in a vacation rental property, which could give your family more space and feel more like a home.

Packing Smart

When you’re traveling with children, especially more than one, you might have a lot of stuff to manage. Why make it more complicated by packing more than you need? You could plan out the days ahead of time based on any activities or travel and anticipate what you and your kiddos might wear each day.

If it’s a long trip or you need to pack lots of layers, you could roll the clothes rather than fold them, which might free up some space for those extra outfits your little ones (and maybe you!) might need in case of spills. As for shoes, you could wear slip-ons if you’re going through airport security and save the sneakers for the suitcase.

Getting the Kids Excited

You might want to talk to your kids before the trip about where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how you’re getting there. If your child is a first-time traveler, they may feel nervous doing something so new if they don’t understand what’s going on.

Even months in advance, you could talk about this fun trip on the horizon and all the fun things you will see and do when you get there.

You’ve packed the suitcases, prepped the kids, and are on your way. Travel days can be taxing for everyone, but these suggestions might help you keep your cool.

Leaving Plenty of Time

On the big day, you might want to plan to leave early to get to the airport. Not only could this give you plenty of time to check bags and get through the security, it might also give your kids some time to explore all the interesting things at the airport and get some snacks.

If you’re traveling by train or car, there may be fewer pressures, but preparation might help you make the most of your trip.
Before you leave the house, you might want to check that you have all necessary documentation (for you and the kids) and have any essential medicines in your carry-on before you leave.

Bringing the Proper Gear

For the plane, you might take a backpack or bag that can hold everything you need. From baby wipes and hand sanitizer to chargers and snacks, all the little things could help you feel more prepared for any surprises. If your little one needs a stroller, you could consider swapping your day-to-day one out for something that might be easier to travel with.

Depending on the flight, if you or the kids plan on sleeping, you may want to bring small pillows or blankets to help them be comfortable. While new presents are fun and exciting (more on that later), you might also want to keep your child’s comfort toys or blankets nearby. They might feel more at ease if they have something familiar.

Remembering Car Seats

If you plan to rent a car at your destination, you might want to pack car seats for the trip. This may be an annoyance to travel with, especially while flying, but it might cost far less than buying a whole new set of car seats.

If you’re not renting a car, many ride services and rental car companies now have car seat options . Alternatively, if you’re staying near or with friends or family, you could ship travel car seats to your destination and ask your ride to bring them along when they pick you up from the airport.

Bringing Surprises

Kids love surprises, so you could buy some new toys or coloring books to keep the kids occupied during travel time.

Beyond activities, one great tip for traveling with kids is to bring lots of snacks. If you want to maintain a healthy food regimen while traveling with little kids, great!

Fresh and dried fruits are easy to take on the road. But if all rules go out the window and its candy and snacks galore, that’s fun too. And while some parents rarely let their kids watch TV, changing that up for travel time might be one great exception. TV shows and fun games on the tablet might be a nice activity to keep kids busy on a long flight.

Enjoying Your Vacation

You’ve put in the time to plan a vacation your entire family will remember. Now you can get ready to enjoy it! But you might want to accept that things will go wrong. No amount of planning or outfit coordinating will allow you to avoid every single mishap or meltdown, and that’s okay. You could adjust the plan as needed so you and your family can still have fun on your trip.

For all those moments when you need emergency snacks, ibuprofen, or a quick meal at a restaurant, you might want to have a debit card that doesn’t tack on extra fees for using ATMs or traveling abroad.

With SoFi Checking and Savings® you can save, spend, and earn all in one bank account online. And there are no account fees, plus use any ATM worldwide within the Allpoint® Network and you won’t get charged a fee. That way you can have access to your money no matter where your trip takes you.

Hopefully, these ideas for traveling with children will make your upcoming travel plans as a family easier and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. Our big takeaways?

Planning ahead, packing smart, and having all the tools at the ready, from snacks to presents, might make your trip one for the books. And using smart financial tools, like SoFi Checking and Savings, might help you save extra cash that could add up to more fun family vacations. Cheers to that.

Learn more about how SoFi Checking and Savings can help you minimize stress on your next family vacation.


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.
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 Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
FINRA / SIPC .
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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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Should You Hire a Student Loan Consultant?

Does anyone relish the thought of paying student loans? Are there former students out there eagerly awaiting the money that gets withdrawn from their bank accounts each month? Probably not.

Nonetheless, if you’re dreading your student loan payments each month because you aren’t sure whether you’ll be able to cover the minimum payment, there are solutions you could consider. One option graduates struggling to make the minimum payments on their student loans might consider is hiring a student loan consultant to help create a customized repayment plan.

There are pros and cons to hiring a student loan consultant. On the one hand, their advice and advocacy can be invaluable, but on the other hand, some consultants may not be worth the expense.

We want to be clear that we’re neither advocating nor dissuading readers from hiring a student loan consultant—this article is not meant to be advice. We just want to make sure you have some key facts to help with an informed decision. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering a student loan consultant.

What is a Student Loan Consultant?

Americans owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans, according to Pew Research Center . As student loan debt has increased, student loan consultants have emerged to help students navigate the loan process. Most student loan consultants work independently from colleges or universities, and are not affiliated with specific repayment programs. Student loan consultants work one-on-one with borrowers to identify their repayment needs and try to set them up on a path of debt payoff success.

Knowing What They Can Help With

The five basic things student loan consultants can help you with include recommending a student loan repayment strategy, offering personalized guidance specific to your finances, explaining student loan jargon, researching your loan details, and calling lenders on your behalf.

Before seeking out a student loan consultant, it might be helpful to identify your specific needs. If you don’t understand the difference between consolidation and refinancing, for example, then talking with a consultant about student loan jargon could be helpful.

If calling lenders sends you into a panic, maybe that’s where you want the consultant’s help. And if you’re struggling to make your minimum monthly payments, you could potentially talk to a consultant about finding a better student loan repayment plan.

Understanding What You’re Paying For

The cost of a student loan consultant can vary from around $300 to a much higher monthly or yearly rate. Making sure their services are worth the money you are paying is important, of course, and that can be done by confirming that their services aren’t something you could do on your own—like finding a federal income-driven repayment plan (which we’ll get into below). It’s also important to ensure that the cost doesn’t prevent you from making your student loan payments.

Before speaking with a consultant, doing some research on the topic and finding out what is possible and what sounds too good to be true can help you weed out any not-legit (read: scammy) student loan consultants. And when you’re trying to understand what you can do on your own (without a consultant’s help), a good place to start is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau .

Knowing What Programs Are Available for Free

A fair number of programs are available to everyone, without paying a fee. Something to look into before seeking out a student loan consultant could be federal repayment plans.

Typically, when you graduate from college or reduce your attendance to under half-time, you’re automatically put on a 10-year Standard Repayment Plan. However, borrowers looking to reduce the monthly payments on their federal student loans could consider income-driven repayment plans, which brings your monthly payment to 10% to 20% of your discretionary income (depending on the plan).

Because these repayment plans extend your loan term, you may pay more interest over the course of your loan, but it should reduce your monthly payments in the immediate.

Asking a Neutral Party for Help

If you have questions about a federal student loan, you can ask for help from the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group , which serves as a neutral party. They can resolve discrepancies with loan balances and payments, and help identify loan repayment options. You can also try to resolve the dispute before contacting the Ombudsman Group. Or you can file a complaint through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Considering a Nonprofit Credit-Counseling Agency

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can help you find a qualified credit-counseling agency if that’s a service that appeals to you. The U.S. Department of Justice also offers an online database of credit-counseling agencies .

Making Sure the Consultant Isn’t Providing a Redundant Service

It’s important to make sure the consultant’s service isn’t something you could do on your own. For example, you could lower your monthly payment on your federal student loans by opting for an income-driven repayment plan without paying a consultant for their services.

You can also consider consolidating your federal loans through a Direct Consolidation Loan . A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to combine all of your federal loans into one, and gives you a new interest rate that’s a weighted average of your current interest rates, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent. This is a step that may help get you a lower interest rate, lower monthly payments, or a more flexible repayment plan.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

If you’re looking for alternative ways to pay off your student loan debt, you could also consider student loan refinancing with a private lender. When you refinance your student loans, you essentially apply for a new loan and then use that loan to pay off one or more existing student loans. And the refinanced loan might come with a better interest rate or loan term (hopefully).

Extending your loan term through refinancing can make your monthly payments more manageable—though it would likely mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

Alternately, a refinanced loan with a lower interest rate and shorter loan term could cost you less in interest over the life of the loan. Keep in mind, however, that refinancing with a private lender means you’ll no longer be able to access federal loan benefits like income-driven repayment plans.

If you are looking to better manage your student loan debt, consider refinancing your loans with SoFi. You can find your new rate in just a few minutes.


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.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

CLICK HERE for more information.


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


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

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Are Checkbooks Still Useful?

Checkbooks may seem like an out-of-touch relic from an earlier era, but the reality is that they are worth keeping around. You may not often need your checkbook, but when you do, you’ll be happy to have it.

There’s no denying that we live in a world of digital payments, debit and credit cards, and occasional cash usage. But when was the last time you saw someone whip out a checkbook? It can seem like the only people still using their checkbooks are older folks who always happen to end up right in front of you at the grocery store.

However, there are circumstances where paying by check is actually the easiest and safest option. For example, although numerous electronic money transfer services exist, many landlords only accept rent by check.

Of course, you could run out and buy a money order or cashier’s check every month, but both will set you back a few bucks in fees. Likewise, money orders and cashier’s checks are not as easily traceable as checks.

In order to trace money orders and cashier’s checks, you need to remember to save your purchase receipts and the stubs. Your checkbook, on the other hand, helps you keep carbon copies of your checks, including the check number, recipient, and amount all in one place.

How To Use A Checkbook

Okay, so you’ve decided not to trash your checkbook quite yet, but what do you need to know about actually using it?

First, when you are writing checks, make sure to use pen in order to keep a clear record on the carbon copy underneath your check. (You also don’t want to risk someone erasing and rewriting the amount, which could happen if you use pencil.)

You’ll need to include all the required information on your check in order for it to be accepted. Normally, that means you’ll need to write the date, the name of the person or business you’re making the check out to, the amount of the payment included on the check in digits, and the number written out in words.

You also need to sign the bottom of the check to verify that you’ve consented for the funds to be withdrawn from your checking account. Checks also include a memo line where you can (and should!) record the purpose of your check, whether you’re sending birthday money to your niece or paying January’s heating bill.

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Accidentally misspell the name of the recipient or write $10,000 instead of $1,000 on your check? No worries. Simply write “void” in large letters across the entire face of the check in marker or pen and stash it away with your checkbook to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

If you are paying by check at a business, they may require you to present your identification to compare the name and signature on your check. Usually, a driver’s license or official ID card will suffice.

And even though it may seem intangible at the moment (a thin slice of paper with a bunch of numbers on it), you do want to make sure you have the funds to cover your purchase. Be warned, some businesses may charge a bounced check fee, so make sure you have enough money to cover your purchase in your account before you hand over a check.

What about if you receive a check written out to you? You’ll need to endorse the check by signing the back on the line provided. Many banks make depositing checks easier than ever through mobile deposit, which requires you to snap a picture of the front and back of your check on your bank’s app in order to send the funds to your checking account.

Some banks require that you write “mobile deposit” or “deposit only” underneath your signature before depositing your check, and it never hurts to add your checking account number below your signature as well. Just make sure not to write below the line that marks back of the check back for bank-use only.

It’s the 21st Century, so you’d be forgiven for wondering, do you need to balance a checkbook still? When checks originally came out, you needed to keep on top of balancing your checkbook so that you would know exactly how much money you had left in your bank account and wouldn’t accidentally write a check that would bounce. Online and mobile banking have made it easier than ever to monitor your bank account, which means that balancing your checkbook isn’t quite so important.

That being said, it is still important to keep track of the checks you are writing and whether or not they have been cashed. You can do this by writing your checks down in the register that comes with your checkbook and making sure to hang on to the carbon copies of the checks you write.

To keep your check register up to date, make sure to record the check number, the name of the recipient of the check, the purpose of the check, the date you issued the check, and the amount. This will help you reconcile the checks you have written with your bank account, so you can ensure that the checks you write are being cashed and that no fraudulent checks are coming out of your account. Once you see that a check has cleared your bank account, you can put a checkmark next to that check in your register so that you know it’s been deposited.

Choosing The Right Account

SoFi Checking and Savings® offers free checks with your checking and savings account. That means that even though you might not need to write a check very often when you do, SoFi has your back with checks on the house.

Plus, SoFi Checking and Savings’s easy-to-use online and mobile platform takes the hassle out of balancing a checkbook with easy access to your balance information on the go.

Get started with SoFi Checking and Savings.


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.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

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Applying to Scholarships in Grad School

Back to school, and back into student loan debt? Not so fast. Pursuing a graduate degree can have an excellent return on investment and enrich your educational experience, but it doesn’t necessarily have to send you into a student loan debt spiral. Getting money for graduate school doesn’t have to be as challenging as getting the degree itself.

You can try supplementing the cost of graduate school with scholarships. Turning to scholarships to help fund grad school can be a smart way to subsidize your education. The tricky part can be tracking the right scholarship down and applying. It’s back to the books and back to scholarship applications. In this article, we’ll discuss finding and applying to graduate school scholarships.

Scholarships are available through many different avenues, including states, organizations, nonprofits, companies, and more. Scholarships are typically merit-based and typically don’t need to be paid back. But to get one, you’d need to first apply.

Graduate School Scholarships & Grants

Federal and state governments offer a lot of grants and scholarships for graduate students. While scholarships and grants are similar in that they are often considered “gift aid”, many grants can come with need-based stipulations. When applying for any scholarship or grant, it’s important to read the fine print to make sure to qualify and can hold up your end of the bargain if you are indeed awarded the money.

State Scholarships & Grants

To find scholarships and grants at the state level, you can try contacting your state’s Department of Education for assistance and resources. Scholarships and grants vary state by state.

Federal Scholarships & Grants

The federal scholarship and grant application process is a little more streamlined than the state process. However, only some of these grants are available for graduate school programs.

For example, graduate students do not qualify for Pell grants, except for post-baccalaureate certification programs. Again, paying close attention to the qualifications for a grant before applying is crucial.

There are several types of federal grants available:

•  Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
TEACH grants are available to graduate students at many universities (make sure your school is involved in the program before applying). The grant offers up to $4,000 a year for students who intend to teach after their studies. However, if you have a TEACH grant, you’ll be required to teach in a high-need field in a low-income area for a certain amount of time after your degree.

•  Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
You may be eligible for this grant if your parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Afghanistan or Iraq.

•  Fulbright Grants
Fulbright grants can be very competitive and have specific eligibility requirements. The application process can be rigorous, so pay special attention to deadlines and directions.

There are even more grants offered by other federal institutions and departments. For a comprehensive search, you can look through Grants.gov or the U.S. Department of Labor’s database. On these sites, you can search for your program, field of study, or other qualifiers.

Both federal and state scholarships will require you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to apply. Before you take any additional steps, you may want to start by filling out the FAFSA, which is used to determine federal aid, scholarships, and grants.

Private Graduate Scholarships

When it comes to finding money for grad school, there are plenty of organizations, companies, and nonprofits that offer scholarship opportunities. The scholarships could be merit-based, need-based, or simply granted based on your affiliation or application.

Some scholarships are on the smaller side, others much larger, but any amount of aid can help. You may want to consider these elements while you’re on the hunt for private scholarships for graduate school:

•  Your College or University
Your school might offer merit-based scholarship or grant opportunities. Possible action item: connecting with your department, as well as the office of financial aid to see if you qualify for some scholarship from the school and what additional steps you may need to take to apply.

•  Your Course of Study
You may be able to find scholarships related to your field of study . Possible action item: searching national foundations, or even companies that might provide a scholarship. This might be especially helpful in STEM fields, or other careers where there’s a high need for employees in the workforce.

•  Your Neighborhood
Are you involved in any community organizations? Possible action item: seeing if your religious organizations, local civic groups, and other community organizations you belong to offer scholarships. You could reach out to see what may be available and perhaps complete the necessary applications.

•  Your Background
Based on your ethnicity or cultural heritage, you may be able to qualify for several grants. Possible action item: reaching out to national foundations or local community groups to see what they offer.

These are only a few avenues to consider when looking for private graduate school scholarships. Databases and search engines can help, but don’t be afraid to get creative.

Fellowships

Fellowships are also great ways to find money for graduate school. Unlike a grant or scholarship, fellowships are money typically tied to an opportunity. If you get a fellowship , it’s likely you’ll be required to study, research, or work in a field for a short period. Not only will fellowships help you pay for graduate school, but they can also be an opportunity to gain valuable experience in your field.

Finding a fellowship will be specific to your field of study. You can start your search process by talking to your academic department for assistance, or finding a nonprofit institution specializing in your field of study. Applicants should be aware that fellowships typically require a fairly rigorous application process.

Using Student Loans to Cover Grad School

If scholarships, grants, and fellowships just aren’t cutting it, it may be time to consider student loans as well as alternative funding.

If you’re applying for federal or private loans, it’s worth noting that the process is different than applying for undergraduate loans. You can borrow more as a graduate student, but you might be looking at higher interest rates.

Other than taking on student loans, there are several alternatives to funding your graduate degree. If you’re able to work while attending school, you can save and budget to cover a portion or all of your tuition. If you are working, you can speak with your employer to see if they offer a tuition reimbursement program. Employee tuition reimbursement might require you to stay at the company for a number of years, or pursue a specific degree. Program requirements will vary by company.

It could also be worth exploring student loan forgiveness programs. While a loan forgiveness program doesn’t mean cash upfront for grad school, it could help lower or eliminate monthly payments after you finish your studies. Depending on where you land after grad school, you might qualify for Public Service Loan
Forgiveness
. Also, hundreds of companies now offer student loan assistance as a perk for employees, which might be something to consider down the line.

Refinancing Your Graduate School Debt

If you do end up borrowing student loans to complete your graduate degree, you could consider refinancing them when you’ve completed your program of study. With a graduate degree, you may have increased your earning potential and secured a new job.

Depending on your credit history, you could qualify for a lower interest rate when you refinance. If you borrowed federal student loans, know that refinancing means you’ll no longer be eligible for federal protections or forgiveness programs.

With SoFi student loan refinancing, you can find out what rate you qualify for in just a few minutes. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. And when you refinance with SoFi you’ll have access to member benefits like unemployment protection and exclusive member events.

Get started with SoFi’s student loan refinancing.


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.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

CLICK HERE for more information.


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

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The Advantages of Automated Investing

You know that phrase, “Time is money?” It doesn’t just apply to unnecessary meetings and project schedule delays. The more time you spend trying to figure out your personal expenses, rainy day funds, and long-term investments, the less time you might have to actually put your money to work.

Thanks to a host of budgeting apps, crunching the numbers might be easier than ever. But whether you’re using 21st-century tech or pen and paper, a good starting point could be to look at your take-home pay and compare that to your expenses each month, and then start to figure out how much you can invest. You could do this on your own or with the help of a financial advisor, who could help you set up an investment portfolio.

One benefit of managing your investments the old-fashioned way is that face-to-face interaction with an advisor. But having access to that kind of expertise can come at a hefty price , from five-figure account minimums to 1% or more annual management fees.

And where some see a hands-on approach to money management as an advantage, others might consider it a drawback—especially if willpower is a factor. While you may have a grand plan to put away a good chunk of your paycheck every month, life can sneak up on you. The fridge breaks, or you get a flat tire. When that money is right there, it might be difficult to send it to your advisor instead.

Automated Investing Basics

Simply put, automated investing refers to a computer program that manages a portfolio on your behalf with little to no human intervention and at a fraction of the fees that can come with live human advising. (Imagine someday saying, “Hey Siri®️, optimize my portfolio.”)

Getting started can be as simple as downloading an app, linking a bank account, and filling out some profile information—the automated aspects kick in from there.

If you’re open to working with either automated investing or doing it yourself, SoFi Invest®’s investing platform, offers both options: to either let the algorithm do all the heavy lifting or choose your own investments. In addition, it offers access to human financial advice—on the house.

For many people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to financial advising, the low overhead, fees, and minimum deposits of robo-advising have potentially opened the door for them to participate.

The Benefits of Automated Investing

Beyond opening the world of wealth management to a wider audience, automated investing comes with a variety of other benefits. First, it costs less than most traditional financial advice.

Old-school firms may charge 1% to 2% or more in annual fees, which could take quite a chunk out of your balance over time. But many automated programs have either lower fees, or none at all.

Ease of setup and management are other attractive features of automated investing. After creating an account and setting the desired risk level and goals, an algorithm invests the money into ETFs (exchange-traded funds), which are generally diversified, tax-efficient, low-cost funds. To make sure your money is always working hard, many automated advisors also offer periodic portfolio optimization and real-time updates on how you’re performing.

Another perk that’s less tangible is the potential to remove the emotions that can sometimes cloud judgment when making investment choices. When your funds are held in a computer-controlled environment, there’s less temptation to make changes to your portfolio based on the ups and downs of the stock market.

Often when you open an investment account, you set your risk tolerance up front. Once you’ve established that, you can set a threshold at which you want your account to be rebalanced. Accounts can be adjusted based on specified limits—without having to babysit it.

But while automated investing can be efficient and proficient (the algorithm for many of the bots was developed based on Nobel prize-winning research in economics), it is also impersonal. To reintroduce a bit of human touch, some institutions offer robo-advising as an added service to traditional advising.

And just like brick-and-mortar banks, not all automated advisors are created equally. While some charge reasonable fees, others may not. That’s why you might want to do your research, read reviews, and study the fine print to make sure there aren’t any hidden fees, such as hourly rates or percentage commissions.

The Human Element

An automated advisor can efficiently manage thousands of accounts at the same time, which would be much more difficult for a single advisor. But gut instinct and experience might still go a long way when it comes to working with people, and a financial advisor with both could be worth their weight in account fees.

And while automated investing might be great for those just starting out, the approach may not be holistic enough if one’s financial needs are very complex. Complicated discussions about estate planning , taxes, and insurance may still be better handled by a human financial planner, or other qualified professional.

Investing With SoFi

SoFi has developed a hybrid approach that combines the real-life advice of financial planners with the ease and lower cost of online investing and management.

SoFi financial advisors can help you through the legwork, such as setting goals and creating a portfolio that’s right for you, then automated investing technology can help manage your investments.

The minimum investment is just $1, and if you ever have questions or need advice along the way, you can ask a real, live person—without the fees of traditional wealth management.

Learn more about SoFi Invest and how it can help you achieve your investment goals.


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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 . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.

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