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How to Buy in Bulk: Beginners Guide

Lately, it’s been hard to avoid the news that inflation is rising and fast. It’s been equally hard to not feel the sting when paying for groceries or other basics. Those are ka-ching moments, but not in a good way.

One option for dealing with high prices, whether now or during a period of less intense inflation, is to buy food and household items in bulk. It can help reduce your monthly spending.

How much money you can potentially save will vary depending on the item, but some experts estimate that bulk buying can cut your bills by 20%, and sometimes significantly more.

Keep in mind, though, that buying in bulk doesn’t always save. Indeed, buying multiples or large quantities of some items can be a losing proposition if much of it ends up going unused or entices you to consume more than you normally would.

To help you avoid the potential downsides, here are some smart shopping strategies for buying in bulk, including:

•   The pros and cons of buying in bulk.

•   What to stock up on?

•   What you may want to skip?

•   What tips to try when buying in bulk?

•   Where to buy in bulk.

Why Buy in Bulk?

As mentioned above, inflation can be intense; it soared to 9.1% in June of 2022. Food prices are heading upwards, too. The average cost of groceries to feed a family of four in the United States runs between $682 to $1,361 a month.

Families, as well as individuals, may be able to reduce spending on food and other household goods and improve their financial health by buying in bulk, since the cost per unit (or ounce) is generally lower. Here are some of the key benefits of shopping this way:

•   Lower costs, as noted above. A benefit of buying in bulk is saving cash.

•   Convenience, since your home will be well-stocked. You’ll save time since you won’t have to run out and purchase items as often.

•   Lower gas costs. Fewer trips to the store, in turn, saves on gas.

•   Eco-friendliness. Driving to the store less often reduces your carbon footprint. What’s more, buying one, say, 10-pound bag of rice is likely to involve less packaging than 10 one-pound containers.

•   An easier time managing emergencies. Another reason why stockpiling can be a smart buying habit is that if there’s a bad storm or heatwave, you’ll be well-supplied and won’t have to brave the elements.

Drawbacks of Buying in Bulk

Despite all the great reasons above to opt for jumbo sizes of toilet paper and family packs of drumsticks, buying in bulk isn’t always a smart money rule to follow. There are few downsides to consider. These include:

•   Having to pay upfront, rather than spacing out the purchases. For instance, a grocery run with a mega-pack of burgers and loads of juice boxes will cost more than a small-scale supermarket visit.

•   When you have a large quantity of something on hand, you might be tempted to overuse it or overeat it.

•   Buying in bulk requires storage space (plus a large enough car to transport purchases).

•   Buying in bulk means less variety in the products you use.

•   Items bought in bulk can sit around past their expiration or “best by” dates. It can be hard to use up a large container of, say, fresh fruit before they go bad.

•   Bulk buying for many products requires a warehouse club membership or other additional cost.

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Things To Buy in Bulk

Bulk buying can be a great way to save on household items and foods that you use or consume daily or have a long shelf life. These include:

•   Household supplies (e.g., toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, tissues, trash bags)

•   Cleaning supplies

•   Laundry detergent

•   Pet food (though keep in mind that some pet food is perishable)

•   Pasta

•   Rice

•   Dry beans

•   Toiletries (e.g., shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, moisturizer, soap)

•   Canned goods

•   Peanut butter

•   Cereal

•   Flour

•   Vitamins

•   Diapers/wipes

•   Beverages that are safe to store at room temperature

•   Batteries

•   School and office supplies

•   Lightbulbs

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

What Not to Buy in Bulk

While there’s often lots of temptation when buying in bulk, hit the pause button in some cases, or you may be wasting your hard-earned money. In general, buying perishables in bulk may not make good economic sense. For instance:

•   Fruits and vegetables. While the jumbo packages of strawberries or avocados may be cheaper per unit than your grocery store, that’s only a good deal if you actually eat them all.

•   Buying meat in bulk may only make sense if you have a large freezer where you can store it (keeping in mind that some meats should not be frozen for more than six months).

•   Avoid stocking snack foods and treats in bulk if you think that you or other members of the household might overindulge.

Recommended: How to Protect Yourself from Inflation

Tips for Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk can be an easy way to save money. To get the most out of it, you may want to keep some of these shopping strategies in mind.

Shop With a List

Write a shopping list before going to buy in bulk. Otherwise, you might be tempted to buy more than you need or can afford. For instance, products you sample in store or see at the end of the aisle, as you make your way to the registers, can cause you to blow your weekly budget.

Keep a Calculator Handy

When buying in bulk, it’s wise to keep in mind that it’s not the price of the item, but rather the price per unit (or ounce) that matters. If the unit price isn’t listed, using the calculator on your phone (or bringing a separate one) when bulk shopping can help ensure you are getting a good deal.

Recommended: The 50/30/20 Budget Rule, Demystified

Consider Quality

Typically, buying generic and store-brand versions of products is going to be cheaper than buying brand-name items. But before you go totally in that direction, remember that quality can count too. If a cheaper paper towel isn’t very absorbent, you may end up using more each time you use it, and erasing that savings. Buying a 12-pack of store-brand peanut butter, only to discover you don’t care for the taste at all is another example of why this is an important consideration.

Keep an Eye on Expiration Dates

Before purchasing something in bulk, it’s a good idea to check the expiration date and then calculate how long it will likely take you to consume the product.

If you won’t go through it before the expiration date arrives, any savings could be wiped out when you toss it in the garbage.

Protect Bulk Items From Pests

Because moths, roaches, and other pests may go after food, it’s a good idea to seal food products well when they are not being used.

Keeping flour, pasta, and other bulk food items in airtight containers can help with pest control.

Go in on Bulk Purchase With Friends

If you want to get the savings from buying in bulk but don’t have the storage or a large enough household for it to make sense, why not buddy up? You might want to ask some friends or neighbors if they want to split the product and the costs. Maybe you buy bulk meat, bread, snacks, and cereal, and a friend takes care of the produce and beverages. Then you each swap half to the other, and settle up costs as needed. That way, everyone can save money.

Where to Buy in Bulk

You can generally buy in bulk at any grocery store or mass market retailer, simply by buying larger than usual sizes. That said, there are certain stores that are specifically designed for it.

Popular bulk stores include Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Sam’s Club, Smart & Final, and Big Lots.

Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club all require a membership fee, which can range from $45 to $60 per year.

Along with being able to buy food and household products in bulk, these stores may also have perks, like convenient on-premises tire centers and pharmacies, plus discounts on entertainment and travel expenses, which can help defray that annual membership charge.

In addition to these locations, there are also a growing number of environmentally-friendly bulk food stores that may ask you to bring your own containers or sell reusable ones. Stocked with items like grains, nuts, dried fruits, coffee, tea, soaps, and more, they may describe themselves as “zero-waste.” You can find a directory in your area on Litterless .

The Takeaway

Buying in bulk can be a great way to save cash if the product bought is something you use regularly, won’t go bad before you can use it all, is cheaper per unit at a bulk store, and is not lower in quality than what you typically buy. While not appropriate for every item on your shopping list, it can help you make a dent in the costs of some basics and stay on budget.

Now, what to do with all that money you’re going to save by buying in bulk?

If you put it into an high-yield bank account, like SoFi Checking and Savings, you can start earning a competitive interest rate on that money right away, plus you won’t pay any account fees. Additionally, withdrawing cash is fee-free at 55,000+ Allpoint network ATMs worldwide.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://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.

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.

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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How to Buy and Invest in Ethereum

Cryptocurrency may be the new kid on the block in terms of investing, but some cryptos are rapidly gaining value. And while Bitcoin may get the lion’s share of attention among cryptocurrencies, other alternative assets, like Ethereum (ETH), are hot on its heels. For aspiring crypto investors, one of the first questions that comes to mind is how to buy Ethereum.

But before learning how to invest in Ethereum, it’s important to get to know the history, attributes, and other details of this popular cryptocurrency. In this article, we’ll address:

•   What Is Ethereum?

•   How to Buy Ethereum.

•   Buying Ethereum: Important for Investors.

Ethereum 101 Overview

Ethereum is a blockchain-based platform used to make peer-to-peer transactions and build applications. It may be easier to think of Ethereum as an application marketplace, rather than a currency. Ether (ETH) is the platform’s native coin, and it can be bought and sold by investors, like Bitcoin (BTC) and other types of cryptocurrencies on the market; but their underlying technologies and utility are quite different.

What is Ethereum, exactly? A goal of Ethereum is to provide programmers and developers with a platform to build decentralized programs; a way to create computer apps without getting involved with the middlemen who generally want to control access to the apps — like how Google or Apple have control over their respective app stores.

Ethereum’s value stems from key attributes: One, it has intrinsic value — people are willing to pay for it with cash (fiat currency, like the U.S. dollar), for example. And two, it comprises an actual platform with a degree of utility — a claim which many other cryptos cannot make. Today, hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses and industries use ETH as their foundation.

Four Steps to Buying Ethereum

If you want to purchase or invest in Ethereum, it’s not difficult to get started. While Ethereum itself is something of a complicated asset, buying it or investing in it is straightforward — particularly for investors who already have cryptocurrency among their assets. Here is a simplified, step-by-step guide to investing in Ethereum.

1. Get a Crypto Wallet

Anyone serious about investing in Ethereum would need to get a crypto wallet, which lets you store cryptocurrencies safely. Digital assets can be vulnerable to theft, so it’s important to keep your assets safe. Some wallets are made by the coin developers themselves, others are made by a third-party developer.

2. Create an Account on a Crypto Exchange

Investors would also need to create an account on a crypto exchange of their choosing, on which they may buy and sell cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum. Think of a crypto exchange as similar to a stock exchange. Crypto exchanges are either centralized, decentralized, or hybrid. Some investors find centralized exchanges useful because of the third-party oversight that helps transactions go through properly, and allows for exchanging fiat for crypto.

3. Fund Your Account

With a wallet and an exchange account, the next step is to have a medium to exchange for Ethereum. For most people, this simply means funding their account with good old dollars and cents (fiat). The process is similar to funding a brokerage account, so you can buy stocks or bonds. Once you fund an account, the resources will be at hand when you’re ready to trade.

4. Start Buying Ethereum!

With a verified and funded account, investors should be ready to start buying Ethereum with as little as $10. While the specific steps for buying or selling cryptocurrency will depend on the specific exchange, it’s generally similar to buying stocks through a brokerage.

Whatever the exchange, you’re now positioned to start trading or buying Ethereum. And once the trades have settled, remember to withdraw the assets into the aforementioned digital wallet for safekeeping.

Where to Buy Ethereum

You can buy Ethereum on almost every crypto platform; you may even see crypto ATMs, some of which might offer ETH.

The most common place to buy or sell ETH is on a cryptocurrency exchange. Crypto exchanges usually offer convenient ways to deposit and exchange fiat; along with reasonable fees, and a large selection of crypto assets. Some traditional finance (TradFi) brokerages also offer a limited selection of cryptos, along with the more conventional assets, like stocks and bonds. Most brokers and exchanges also have mobile apps to make it easy to trade on the go.

Selling Ethereum

Say you’ve been investing in Ethereum for a time, and the asset has performed well; such that you’re thinking about withdrawing some of your ETH to convert to fiat (USD) to pay for some badly needed home repairs (not all U.S. retailers accept cryptocurrencies as payment for goods and services). Can you do that, and is it difficult? Yes, and no. Selling Ethereum is pretty straightforward, too.

The most common way to cash out your ETH is by using a peer-to-peer crypto exchange, though it’s also possible to sell it to an individual user directly — either someone you know, or via advertising. If you opt to sell directly, it’s wise to keep safety at the forefront: Make sure that the person you’re trading with has the funds available and is ready to commit to the transaction. Double-check your data for any errors: Check the public exchange address, the amount you are selling, what you’re getting in return, the exchange rates, and fees.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying Ethereum

In 2022, the only crypto that could potentially exceed Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization and popularity is the second-largest crypto, Ethereum. However, it’s a mistake to think that BTC and ETH are rivals; they are not. Technically, Ethereum is not even a cryptocurrency. Rather, Ethereum is a powerful computer that runs on blockchain technology, on which developers can build all kinds of apps. It’s more accurate and appropriate to think of these two assets as complimentary — each with a critical role to fulfill.

Benefits of Buying Ethereum

•   Coming upgrades could resolve old issues: Ethereum has been working toward switching from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, which is slated to finish in fall 2022. Industry watchers believe that this initiative — called the Ethereum merge, or Ethereum 2.0 — could reduce ETH’s energy consumption by more than 99% of its current levels. In addition, the new upgrades could potentially make Ethereum more affordable for users to mint and develop products, as right now the service fees (gas) to use ETH are notoriously high.

•   ETH is highly liquid: One of the main reasons people are attracted to Ethereum is that it’s among the more liquid cryptocurrencies. You may exchange it quickly and easily.

•   A volatility play: Although the concept of volatility mostly presents a challenge for investors, a savvy and nimble trader could in fact turn a volatile Ethereum marketplace into a net positive event. How? By identifying patterns in the volatility, then customizing strategies to profit from them.

Risks of Buying Ethereum

•   Too-high expectations: The risks of buying ETH are similar to those of buying any other crypto. That said, each crypto can carry unique risks, endemic to that coin only. Moreover, some benefits can also be interpreted as risks, as is the case with the Ethereum merge cited above. Investors and the entire crypto/blockchain sector alike have high hopes for Ethereum 2.0 and eagerly anticipate the merge. As with any new tech, there’s a risk that it could go awry; might not achieve its hoped-for results, could prove more expensive than projected, or might not happen at all.

•   An evolving industry: The crypto and blockchain sectors are still new, and they’re changing all the time. In the midst of this, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other governing agencies are trying to catch up by drafting regulations for these sectors on the fly. We don’t know what will happen to the crypto sector in the future; nor how many of today’s crypto platforms and exchanges would even be around in the next decade.

•   More volatility: By now, you’re probably used to hearing the term volatility used synonymously with the crypto market. It’s a perfect example of how, as cited above, in different hands an asset can just as easily become a liability.

Ethereum: Investing Reminders

Remember that cryptocurrencies, and blockchain assets like Ethereum, are inherently risky investments. The rule of thumb here is the time-worn mantra not to invest more money than you’re prepared to lose. And, especially when the asset class, itself, presents a market risk. If you don’t have much of a stomach for wild fluctuations in value, then that’s something to consider before buying Ethereum.

Other Key Considerations

•   Largely unregulated: Ethereum exists in the same gray area as other cryptos when it comes to cryptocurrency regulations. Some exchanges are as regulated as they can be, considering that defining rules for cryptocurrency is a work in progress; while other exchanges are still primarily unregulated.

•   Possibility of theft: Other risks to consider include the possibility of theft and other prevalent crypto scams.

•   What about crypto forks?: Forks are complicated. In brief, there are hard and soft forks. If a blockchain experiences a fork, it means that there’s been a change in its protocol. Effectively, the network creates a new “chain,” and all users must upgrade to the latest software and new protocols. Essentially a change in rules, forks can happen at any time, and could cause some problems for Ethereum users who are caught unaware.

Ethereum and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Finally, as discussed above, it’s crucial to remember that you could owe taxes on your Ethereum holdings. As with writing government regulations for cryptocurrencies, creating tax laws for our newest asset class, is an ongoing enterprise that will continue to grow and change along with the blockchain and crypto sector.

💡 Recommended: Crypto Tax Guide 2022

FAQ

Has Ethereum typically been a profitable investment?

Historically, yes. Priced at $0.311 per share at its inception in 2015, ether (ETH) rose to its highest price of around $4,800 in late 2021. Ether’s return on investment (ROI) is almost 300% annualized, which means that early investors in ETH have nearly quadrupled their investment every year since the summer of 2014.

Ethereum has been profitable over time, but of course past performance is no guarantee of future results. And because of crypto’s extreme volatility, and ETH’s imminent transition to a PoS network, some experts are hesitant to speculate about ETH’s forward results.

Other experts think that Ethereum’s impending upgrade to a proof-of-stake network could make ETH even more appealing to investors, and sustainable for widespread use. On the heels of the merge (discussed earlier), some contend that Ethereum could grow in value by as much as 400% in 2022.

Can you buy just 1 ETH or even $1 of ETH, or do you need to buy more?

Yes, it’s possible to buy just one ETH. Buy as much or as little as you want. You can even buy a portion of an ETH in what are called fractional shares.

Is Ethereum likely to surpass Bitcoin?

The short answer is that nobody can know this answer precisely. Some experts, not dissuaded, have weighed in with 2022 ETH price forecasts that range from $4,000, $8,000, to more than $12,000 per share if the transition to Ethereum 2.0 is successful.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Ethereum and Bitcoin are not, as far as we know, rivals. They are completely different systems, whose needs are symbiotic. Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency, and Ethereum is the blockchain that cryptocurrencies, among other products, are built on.

As often happens in the capital markets, everyone — i.e., industry professionals, investors, crypto enthusiasts, and corporations — is waiting to see how everyone else will respond to the changes afoot at Ethereum.


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.

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.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.
SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

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Online Banking vs. Traditional Banking: What's Your Best Option?

Online Banking vs Traditional Banking: What’s Your Best Option?

Deciding between an online and a traditional bank? First, let it be known that no two people’s banking styles are exactly the same. For every person who loves popping into their local branch and chatting with their favorite teller, there’s someone else who avoids bank branches at all costs, preferring to seamlessly swipe their way through financial transactions on their mobile phone.

Traditional vs. online banks also have other important distinctions, including the dollars-and-cents bottom line. Their typical fees charged and interest rates paid differ as well.

So how can you decide which kind of financial institution best suits your needs? Read on to get the intel you need, including:

•   The differences between traditional and online banking

•   How online banking vs. traditional banking works

•   The advantages of online banking

•   How to open an online bank account

Differences Between Online and Traditional Banking

Online and traditional banking both typically offer reliable ways to manage your money, but they do differ considerably in several ways. First, a little lesson in what they are:

•   Traditional banks are ones that have branches you can visit, have ATMs, and often have a website and app for conducting some business digitally. They tend to charge account fees and offer interest rates that may be lower than online banks.

•   Online banks offer many (most, even) of the same services as traditional banks, but they don’t have a footprint in the physical world. You won’t be able to visit a branch or use their branded ATMs (though they may partner with an ATM network or refund your fees). The lack of branches usually allows them to charge lower or no fees and pay depositors a higher interest rate.

Now, here’s a closer look at some key points of differentiation:

Security

If you keep your money at a traditional bank and visit a branch, you likely feel reassured by the presence of security guards and perhaps a glimpse of a massive vault inside. You might wonder if online banking is as secure as a bricks-and-mortar bank. If you use a strong password and avoid conducting online banking with a public WiFi connection or on a public computer, you are following good advice for keeping your account safe. While there are no 100% guarantees, your money should be well protected.

What’s more, both online and traditional banks abide by the same federal regulations. This means that if your financial institution is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, you are covered in the event of a bank failure up to $250,000 per depositor, per account type. Want to be sure of that safety net? You can use the FDIC BankFind to make sure your online bank is FDIC-insured.

Bank Fees and Interest Rates

As briefly noted above, online banks typically save big on real estate and staffing costs and pass that along to their customers. Many charge no or low fees. Which may be a very big deal: According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans pay more than $15 billion a year on bank overdraft fees, which are usually $30 to $35 a pop.

Online banks also likely offer higher interest rates on saving accounts and may offer interest on checking, too. For instance, at press time, SoFi was offering 1.80% APY on savings, while Chase offered 0.01%. That’s quite a noticeable gap. So if you don’t use traditional banking services, you can probably save money and earn more interest with online banking.

24/7 Banking

A few years ago, online banks tended to have the advantage here, providing services around the clock. Traditional banks, which may only be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, have been working hard to close the gap and offer services (from check deposits to money transfers) via their website or app at all hours.

Still, online banks may have the edge in terms of 24/7 support, since they have offered this kind of service from the get-go. Making mobile deposits or switching up your password at 2 a.m. is no problem for them, and if you hit a speed-bump, you can likely chat or phone your way to help.

ATMs

If you’re an account holder at a large traditional bank, you’ll probably have a good number of conveniently located ATMs that you can access without a fee. However, those who bank at a smaller, local or regional institution may have fewer options. They may have to make a special trip to get to their bank’s ATM or otherwise pay an out-of-network fee.

How about online banking and ATMs? Digital banks don’t have branches, so how can they have cash machines, you might wonder. The answer is: They don’t. Instead, they usually have work-arounds in this situation. Most online banks partner with a large cash-machine network that you can use for free for withdrawals or for depositing cash at an ATM. Or they may have an arrangement that refunds you for any bank fees you incur using an ATM. Online banks tend to work hard to level the playing field on this front.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


How Online Banking Works

If you’ve been used to traditional banking, online banking may seem like a brave new world, and a somewhat intimidating one at that. In truth, however, online banking closely mirrors what happens at a bricks-and-mortar bank, minus the bricks-and-mortar and those free lollipops.

For example, you can open checking and savings accounts, get a debit card, sign up for automatic bill pay, transfer funds, and more. The one challenge can be withdrawing or depositing cash; there’s no teller service, but you may be able to manage cash at a linked ATM (as mentioned above). You may find that the pros of mobile banking and online transactions make up for this inconvenience.

If you typically go into a branch for certain services, such as wire transfers, you’ll likely find you can do them online with a digital bank. And the fact that you can do them on a website or app means the bank isn’t paying the overhead of having a bricks-and-mortar location. So you are probably earning more interest and avoid account management fees than if you kept your money at a traditional bank.

Recommended: How Many Bank Accounts Should I Have?

Advantages of Online Banking Over Traditional Banking

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how online vs. traditional banking compares.

Feature

Online Banking

Traditional Banking

Interest ratesTypically have considerably higher interest rates since they can pass along their savings on overhead to the customerTend to have lower APYs (annual percentage yields) as they need to cover the costs of their branches and staffing
Bank feesUsually offer no fees or lower fees than traditional banksOften assess monthly account fees, minimum balance fees, overdraft charges, and more
ATMsProbably lack branded ATMs but likely partner with a network for fee-free transactionsTypically have a network of their own ATMs, which may or may not be conveniently located
Customer ServiceUsually offered 24/7 via chat or phoneUsually offered in person during business hours and by chat or phone 24/7
SecurityHigh-level online security and fraud protectionHigh-level online security and fraud protection at large chains

How to Know if Online Banking Is Right for You

Whether you choose to bank online or with a traditional financial institution is a very personal decision. Here are a few of the most important signs that online banks will be a good fit:

•   You prioritize high interest rates and low fees to help your money grow faster.

•   You are comfortable accessing a partner network of ATMs vs. a bank’s own branded machines.

•   You are satisfied with seeking customer service via chat or phone.

•   You are confident managing your money without having a personal banker at your local branch.

•   You are digitally savvy enough to conduct transactions online; you also know not to use public WiFi or computers for banking business or else you’ll risk bank account fraud.

Opening an Online Bank Account

With online banking, you don’t have to wait until Monday morning to open a new account. You can just log on from your couch on a Sunday afternoon to start a new account and otherwise manage your money.

Technology is allowing financial companies to change the entire banking experience and improve it for customers. One of these new ways is by opening an online bank account with SoFi. With our Checking and Savings, you’ll earn an amazing APY and pay no account fees.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How does online banking work?

Online banking allows you to manage your money without going into a bricks-and-mortar branch. Using the bank’s website and/or app, you can spend, save, transfer funds, and conduct other business.

What are the advantages of online banking over traditional banking?

Online banking can offer several advantages: Some people prefer using a website or app vs. going into a bank branch as often happens with traditional banking. What’s more, online banking usually offers lower fees (or none whatsoever) and higher interest rates than bricks-and-mortar banks.

What is a disadvantage of online banking?

Online banking doesn’t offer the opportunity to build a personal relationship with your banking team. Also, depositing cash can be a challenge.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://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.

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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Trying to Rent in a Tight Housing Market? 4 Steps to Win the Lease

Trying to Rent in a Tight Housing Market? 4 Steps to Win the Lease

If you’ve been looking for a rental of any kind, you know how tough the hunt can be. Dozens of applicants for each vacancy, stricter credit, income, and referral requirements from landlords, bidding wars. These are, unfortunately, all part of navigating today’s tough rental market.

The culprit is a national housing shortage that has been brewing for more than a decade. Ever since the housing crash of 2008, new construction of homes and rental units has slowed dramatically. Any recent building uptick has been offset by supply chain and other pandemic-related delays. Meanwhile, rising mortgage rates make owning a home less affordable, prompting lots of would-be buyers to stay put in the rental market.

The result? There are many more people who want to rent than the number of rental units out there. That rental market squeeze means higher prices, forcing most people to spend more on rent than the recommended 30% of income.

In the first three months of 2022, apartment occupancy hit an all-time high of 97.6%. During the same time period, asking rents jumped an average of 15.2% throughout the country.

These four steps can help you anticipate what landlords are looking for and help you present yourself as the ideal tenant.

Tips to Get Approved for a Lease

Step 1: Know Your Number

Determine just how much you can afford for housing costs.

The advertised or asking rent is just the beginning. You’ll also need to take any fees, utilities, maintenance, parking, and renters insurance into account. With inflation hitting a 40-year high, you may need to adjust your estimates for these costs upward.

Take into account the bidding war environment. In the heat of the moment, you may outbid the others but also end up with an apartment you can’t comfortably afford. To avoid this scenario, determine your ideal monthly payment and stick to that number, no matter how tired you are of the apartment hunt.

💡 Need help figuring out housing costs? Check out our cost of living by state breakdown.

Step 2: Prepare Your Rental Resume

Apply for a rental the same way you approach applying for a job. You want to make sure you fulfill all of the requirements, and then some.

The first step to getting approved for an apartment is usually filling out an application online. Be sure to do so accurately and thoroughly. When the time comes to see the place, you’ll help make your case if you bring the following:

Copies of Your Credit Reports

Landlords routinely do background and credit checks on applicants they are considering. Offering a copy of a credit report gives them on-the-spot information. If something on your report is confusing, you can attach your own letter of explanation.

Most landlords will look for a good FICO® score (670 to 739) or higher. Find your credit score on a loan or credit card statement or through an online credit score checker. Or get it for free from Experian.

Proof of Employment and Income

Landlords want to know that you can comfortably afford the rent. To prove you can, you could bring copies of your past three to six months of pay stubs, a copy of your most recent tax return, and contact information for your current employer. (This may be more than the landlord is asking for, but it helps build your case.)

Some, but not all, landlords also require employment history information. Having a list of former employers and their contact information on hand can help speed up this process. Even if it’s not required, the list helps paint a more complete picture of why you’re a trustworthy candidate.

References

Be ready to present credit references, which may include character references and asset documentation. Personal references from your boss, a co-worker, or another nonfamily adult who can vouch for you are a good idea. The landlord or agent may not call these people, but having them on your list is a sign of your professionalism and trustworthiness.

Landlords probably also will want the names, locations, and contact information of any previous landlords. A stellar rental history can help put you ahead of the crowd, so you want to make it easy for the agent or landlord to check on you.

If you’ve had trouble making rental payments, it’s best to be honest and offer an explanation.

Documentation for Service or Assistance Animals

According to the Fair Housing Act, a person with a disability may seek a “reasonable accommodation” from a housing provider so that they may have an equal opportunity as a nondisabled person to use a dwelling, even one that otherwise does not allow animals. The disability can be physical or mental.

Service animals, defined as dogs, are not considered pets, and housing providers cannot charge fees or deposits for them.

So-called emotional support animals have ruffled feathers throughout the country. First, applicants with assistance animals must make a request for reasonable accommodation, and not necessarily in writing. If the disability is not observable, they must provide reliable information — typically a letter from a medical provider or therapist — to the housing provider showing that the animal provides assistance.

Beyond that, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not allow housing providers to seek personal details of a person’s medical history. Importantly, HUD says that online certificates alone are not sufficient to reliably establish that a person has a nonobservable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.

So if you have assistance animals, it’s a good idea to bone up on the laws, which can be complicated, and have professional documentation.

Step 3: Show an Interest

It may sound trite, but landlords and rental agents are reassured when they know that someone really wants to live in the property. At a time when demand is high, this can be even more important as landlords become inundated with calls or online requests.

If you’ve visited the property before, have a friend in the same complex or nearby, love the neighborhood, or even appreciate the architecture or amenities, be sure to say so. Landlords want to know you’ll enjoy living there and, in turn, take good care of your new home.

Step 4: Prepare to Pay

Many leases have been lost when an early and promising applicant is ready to rent but doesn’t have the funds available.

Make sure you bring your checkbook or an electronic payment option so you can pay your security deposit, first month’s rent, and whatever else is required immediately. And, of course, make sure you have the funds available, even if your budget is having to also cover moving expenses.

Move-in money can obviously be a challenge to come up with. If it’s several thousand dollars, a personal loan could help.

Did you snag the apartment or house? Once you move in and exhale, renter-friendly updates can help you make the space your own.

The Takeaway

It’s a challenging time to look for a rental. But preparing thoroughly before you start your hunt and taking steps to show landlords your qualifications and genuine interest can help you stand out in the crowd.

In this rental squeeze, however, some house hunters may find that it makes more sense to build equity in their own home, and generational wealth, than pay rent.

If so, SoFi is here to help.

Consider that SoFi home mortgage loans come with competitive fixed rates and can call for as little as 3% down for qualifying first-time homebuyers.


Photo credit: iStock/cnythzl

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


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.


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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How to Prepare Your Finances for a Recession

How to Prepare Your Finances for a Recession

Recession warnings are everywhere. With interest rates rising, inflation hitting the highest levels in 40 years, and stocks plunging into bear market territory, most people are more than a little worried. Let’s face it, many of us are feeling the pain of the current economy every time we fill the tank, stock the fridge, or check our 401(k) balance.

But the reality is that, whether or not they fit the technical definition of a recession, these types of downturns are a normal (albeit painful) reality of economic cycles. When they happen, one of the most productive responses is to turn worry into action. Building a fortress around your finances can protect against tough times and put you in a better position when the economy bounces back.

So exactly what to do in a recession? These five steps can help you prepare for any type of economic slowdown, now and in the future.

💡 Recommended: What is a Recession and Why Do They Happen?

How to Prepare Yourself For a Recession

Step 1: Cut Expenses

Dramatic price increases across the board have already forced many consumers to cut back on their budget for basic living expenses such as groceries and travel. Now is also a good time to review bank and credit card statements to find other cost-cutting opportunities.

Maybe those streaming services that were a lifeline during COVID aren’t necessary any more. Or, it might make sense to put off some of those home improvements you were considering, keeping the equity in your home intact should you need it during the slowdown.

Revamping your budget can help you handle today’s higher prices and also help free up a few dollars for steps 2 and 3 below.

Step 2: Boost Emergency Savings

Hard as it may be to find extra cash right now, it’s important to make sure you are putting something aside for unexpected expenses. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the advice saying you should aim for three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Saving that much right now may sound more discouraging than helpful, especially for people who saw their emergency funds dwindle during the pandemic. Keep in mind, anything you can save (even $25 a month) is good, and even small weekly deposits add up over time. Whatever you can afford, know that it’s worthwhile to prioritize emergency funds.

With emergency savings, you may get to take advantage of one of the few benefits of rising interest rates. Savings accounts may begin to pay more interest soon. What kind of savings account should you get? You might look for high-interest accounts offered by online banks as they often pay more than bricks-and-mortar financial institutions. Your goal, of course, is to get the best rate. If you are employed full time, check with your benefits department to see if any emergency savings programs are available through your work. Having some cash in the bank can be a key step when you are wondering how to handle a recession. It can be a hugely helpful safety net.

💡 Recommended: Different Types of Savings Accounts

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Step 3: Pay Down Debt

Here’s the bad news about higher interest rates. The national average credit card rate rose above 17% for the first time in more than two years, according to a recent weekly rate report . The jump happened after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates. More rate hikes are expected throughout the year.

Check rates on all of your credit cards and other debts. Any variable rates may have already gone up. Next step? Pay as much as you can on your highest interest rate balances first to whittle down that debt; it’s the kind that can unfortunately snowball during tough economic times.

You might also look into balance transfer credit card offers. They can offer a period of no or low interest, during which you can pay down that debt. Another option is finding out how debt consolidation programs work.

Review Any Student Debt

The current economic turmoil hits just as federal student loan repayments are set to begin again in September, after a more than two-year reprieve during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another extension is expected (and hoped for by many) but has not been announced. Nonetheless, payments are likely to start again sometime.

If you’ve taken advantage of the pause, this is the time to get ready for repayment, whenever it comes. Contact the servicers of your federal student loans to make sure you know the monthly payment due date and other details that you may have forgotten or that may have changed during the pause.

If you’re worried about affording repayments, look into alternatives. Forbearance, for example, allows a qualified borrower to suspend federal student debt payments for a period of time, although interest continues to accrue. Government-sponsored income-driven repayment programs are another option. They cap monthly loan payments at a percentage of what is defined as discretionary income. Still other borrowers may find refinancing student loans through a private lender can be an affordable option. It can be worthwhile to do the research to find out what exactly your options are to stay current on your loans.

Step 4: Stay on Your Investment Course

When it comes to your long-term investments such as 401(k)s and other retirement accounts, the key to surviving a down market is simple: Hold tight. Nothing good is likely to happen when you sell in a panic. Not only do you risk selling at a loss, but you’ll miss out when the market rebounds, as it inevitably does.

Take a look at the most recent downturn. The Standard & Poor’s stock market index plunged almost 31% in March 2020 when Covid first hit. Then the index almost doubled just a year later. Investors who sold in a panic didn’t see any of those record-breaking returns.

If rising expenses are making it impossible for you to keep up with 401(k) contributions, you may want to try to deposit the minimum necessary to get any matching funds your employer offers. That’s free money, and you don’t want to miss out.

Also try to avoid making any withdrawals from your retirement accounts. In most cases, if you’re younger than 59 ½, you’ll pay a 10% penalty plus taxes. Even more important, a chunk of your money won’t be there to see the growth in your long-term savings account when the market rebounds.

Step 5: Recession-proof Your Career

Most recessions include high unemployment and mass layoffs. This slowdown is a little different. So far, the unusually strong labor market has protected the U.S. from rising unemployment, contributing to the one bright spot in the U.S. economy. Wages have also increased, but generally not enough to offset the current record inflation.

Economists warn the strong employment market may not last. That’s something to be ready for, especially if you work in an industry that typically suffers downturns in a recession. And employees who may be counting on finding a higher-paying position in this strong job market may find their window for doing so is closing. What’s more, in a worst case scenario, some people could find themselves figuring out how to apply for unemployment.

Reducing debt and building emergency savings, as mentioned above, are two important steps you can take to prepare for the financial shock of a layoff. In addition, this is a good time to work to recession-proof your career: Update your resume, boost your network, and get the extra education, skills or training you may need to protect your livelihood.

💡 Check out our Recession Survival Guide to learn more about living through a recession.

The Takeaway

Economic downturns are never pleasant and often painful. But with some thoughtful planning and the steps outlined above, you can protect your finances and better position yourself when the economy bounces back.

Better banking at SoFi can help. When you open an online bank account with direct deposit, your money can grow faster thanks to competitive rates and no account fees.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


Photo credit: iStock/tolgart

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://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.

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

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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