What Is Gamma in Options Trading?

What Is Gamma in Options Trading?

Gamma is one of the indicators that comprise the Greeks, a model for pricing options contracts and discerning their risks. Traders, analysts, portfolio managers, and other investment professionals use gamma — along with delta, theta, and vega — to quantify various factors in options markets. Gamma expresses the rate of change of an option’s delta, based on a $1 price movement — or, one-point movement — of the option’s underlying security. You might think of delta as an option’s speed, and gamma as its acceleration rate.

Understanding Gamma

In the Greeks, gamma is an important metric for pricing options contracts. Gamma can show traders how much the delta — another Greeks metric — will change concurrent with price changes in an option’s underlying security. An option’s delta is relevant for short amounts of time only. An option’s gamma offers a clearer picture of where the contract is headed going forward.

Expressed as a percentage, gamma measures an option’s, or another derivative’s, value relative to its underlying asset. As an options contract approaches its expiration date, the gamma of an at-the-money option increases; but the gamma of an in-the-money or out-of-the-money option decreases. Gamma can help traders gauge the rate of an option’s price movement relative to how close the underlying security’s price is to the option’s strike price. Put another way, when the price of the underlying asset is closest to the option’s strike price, then gamma is at its highest rate. The further out-of-the-money a security goes, the lower the gamma rate is — sometimes nearly to zero. As gamma decreases, alpha also decreases. Gamma is always changing, in concert with the price changes of an option’s underlying asset.

Gamma is the first derivative of delta and the second derivative of an option contract’s price. Some professional investors want even more precise calculations of options price movements, so they use a third-order derivative called “color” to measure gamma’s rate of change.

Recommended: What Is Options Trading? A Guide on How to Trade Options

Calculating Gamma

Calculating gamma precisely is complex and requires sophisticated spreadsheets or financial software. Analysts usually calculate gamma and the other Greeks in real-time and publish the results to traders at brokerage firms. Below is an example of how to calculate the approximate value of gamma. The equation is the difference in delta divided by the change in the underlying security’s price.

Gamma Formula

Gamma = Difference in delta / change in underlying security’s price

Gamma = (D1 – D2) / (P1 – P2)

Where D1 is the first delta, D2 is the second delta, P1 is the first price of the underlying security, and P2 is the second price of the security.

Example of Gamma

For example, suppose there is an options contract with a delta of 0.5 and a gamma of 0.1, or 10%. The underlying stock associated with the option is currently trading at $10 per share. If the stock increases to $11, the delta would increase to 0.6; and if the stock price decreases to $9, then the delta would decrease to 0.4. In other words, for every 10% that the stock moves up or down, the delta changes by 10%. If the delta is 0.5 and the stock price increases by $1, the option’s value would rise by $0.50. As the value of delta changes, analysts use the difference between two delta values to calculate the value of gamma.

Using Gamma in Options Trading

Gamma is a key risk-management tool. By figuring out the stability of delta, traders can use gamma to gauge the risk in trading options. Gamma can help investors discern what will happen to the value of delta as the underlying security’s price changes. Based on gamma’s calculated value, investors can see any potential risk involved in their current options holdings; then decide how they want to invest in options contracts. If gamma is positive when the underlying security increases in value in a long call, then delta will become more positive. When the security decreases in value, then delta will become less positive. In a long put, delta will decrease if the security decreases in value; and delta will increase if the security increases in value.

Traders use a delta hedge strategy to maintain a hedge over a wider security price range with a lower gamma.

Gamma as an Options Hedging Strategy

Hedging strategies can help professional investors reduce the risk of an asset’s adverse price movements. Gamma can help traders discern which securities to purchase by revealing the options with the most potential to offset loses in their existing portfolio. In gamma hedging, the goal is to keep delta constant throughout an investor’s entire portfolio of stocks and options. If any of their assets are at risk of making strong negative moves, investors could purchase other options to hedge against that risk, especially when close to options’ expiration dates.

In gamma hedging, investors generally purchase options that oppose the ones they already own in order to create a balanced portfolio. For example, if an investor already holds many call options, they might purchase some put options to hedge against the risk of price drops. Or, an investor might sell some call options at a strike price that’s different from that of their existing options.

Benefits of Gamma for Long Options

Gamma in options Greeks is popular among investors in long options. All long options, both calls and puts, have a positive gamma that is usually between 0 and 1, and all short options have a negative gamma between 0 and -1. A higher gamma value shows that delta might change significantly even if the underlying security only changes a small amount. Higher gamma means the option is sensitive to movements in the underlying security’s price. For every $1 that the underlying asset increases, the gamma rate increases profits. With every $1 that the asset increases, the investor’s returns increase more efficiently.

When delta is 0 at the contract’s expiration, gamma is also 0 because the option is worthless if the current market price is better than the option’s strike price. If delta is 1 or -1 then the strike price is better than the market price, so the option is valuable.

Risks of Gamma for Short Options

While gamma can potentially benefit long options buyers, for short options sellers it can potentially pose risks. The gamma rate can accelerate losses for options sellers just as it accelerates gains for options buyers.

Another risk of gamma for option sellers is expiration risk. The closer an option gets to its expiration date, the less probable it is that the underlying asset will reach a strike price that is very much in-the-money — or out-of-the-money for option sellers. This probability curve becomes narrower, as does the delta distribution. The more gamma increases, the more theta — the cost of owning an options contract over time — decreases. Theta is a Greek that shows an option’s predicted rate of decline in value over time, until its expiration date.

For options buyers, this can mean greater returns, but for options sellers it can mean greater losses. The closer the expiration date, the more gamma increases for at-the-money options; and the more gamma decreases for options that are in- or out-of-the-money.

How Does Volatility Affect Gamma?

When a security has low volatility, options that are at-the-money have a high gamma and in- or out-of-the-money options have a very low gamma. This is because the options with low volatility have a low time value; their time value increases significantly when the underlying stock price gets closer to the strike price.

If a security has high volatility, gamma is generally similar and stable for all options, because the time value of the options is high. If the options get closer to the strike price, their time value doesn’t change very much, so gamma is low and stable.

Start Investing With SoFi

Gamma and the Greeks indicators are useful tools for understanding derivatives and creating options trading strategies. However, trading in derivatives, like options, is primarily for advanced or professional investors.

If you’re ready to invest, an options trading platform like SoFi’s is worth exploring. This user-friendly platform features an intuitive design, as well as the ability to trade options from either the mobile app or web platform. You can also access a library of educational resources to keep learning about options.

Trade options with low fees through SoFi.


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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.

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

Disclaimer: The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.
Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
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Why Are Bitcoin and Other Cryptos So Volatile?

Why Are Bitcoin and Other Cryptos So Volatile?

In 2020 and 2021, one of Bitcoin’s defining features was that its price always seemd to be rising.

In reality, however, the price of Bitcoin doesn’t always go up. To get these screaming vertical price increases, there needs to be some death-defying falls as well. Bitcoin’s very volatility makes this popular crypto a tempting investment for some, and a quite dangerous one for others. Trading crypto might not be for all investors — especially those with a low tolerance for risk.

Bitcoin Price Volatility

Graph: Bitcoin volatility from 2017-2021

There’s no denying that cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, are volatile. For instance, in the first half of 2021, Bitcoin doubled in value, reaching a record-breaking high price of $64,000. But it tumbled back to less than $30,000 during the summer months. Then in November, Bitcoin’s price soared again; this time to $68,000 (for another all-time high) only to slip to below $35,000 in January 2022.

And this is just one example. Since its launch in 2009, Bitcoin’s price history has been impressive and experienced more than a few conspicuous crashes.

Volatility is essentially a given across all types of cryptocurrencies, given the general air of legal, political, institutional, and technological uncertainty that floats around them. But it’s more noticeable with Bitcoin. Bitcoin was the very first cryptocurrency created. Not only is it the most expensive crypto, but likely the most visible, and has become a flagship for the entire crypto/blockchain space. Arguably, Bitcoin could be the coin that led the government, the public, and traditional financial services companies to take cryptocurrencies seriously. Increasingly, millions of ordinary people view Bitcoin as a vehicle for investing, trading, and saving. But before investing in cryptocurrency, an investor would want to consider its volatility seriously.

Why Does Cryptocurrency Volatility Matter?

There’s a reason that nearly anyone who’s well-versed in cryptocurrency would caution novice crypto investors to invest no more than you’re willing to lose. With a highly volatile asset like cryptocurrency, an investor’s overall portfolio value could suddenly shoot much higher or much lower than they would expect, or are prepared for, based on big changes in its price.

Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency to experience big price swings that can lead to large gains or losses for investors. Volatility does not play favorites, and most crypto coins, even more familiar assets, like plain vanilla stocks, can experience the phenomenon of volatility. From the second-largest crypto, Ethereum — and popular established coins like Dogecoin and Uniswap — to crypto projects you might not know, all have experienced price volatility.

Is Bitcoin Particularly Volatile?

There are at least a few reasons why Bitcoin’s price is so unstable.

Liquidity

In financial markets, liquidity is a concept that relates how much a given purchase or sale of an asset will move its overall price. Liquidity, in general, supports overall asset values. Say you have an item that costs $500 but when you go to sell it, there’s no one to buy it; In that case, the $500 price tag is not very meaningful. Low liquidity may be rendering the price of Bitcoin unstable.

A particular concern with Bitcoin is that a huge portion of all the Bitcoin circulating in the world — at this writing, more than 18.5 million bitcoin — will never be bought or sold by anyone. This could be because the coin is stranded in wallets for which the private keys have been forgotten or because they’re held by investors who will never sell, no matter the price. Moreover, Bitcoin’s existence is finite; no more than 21 bitcoin will ever be mined.

By shrinking the amount of Bitcoin in circulation beyond the limits built into the system, Bitcoin’s liquidity could dry up. This means that movements to buy or sell could quickly influence its price, driving it up or down violently.

Speculation

One of the biggest debates surrounding cryptocurrencies is, what’s it for, exactly? Why are people buying it? For individuals who live in countries with unstable or despotic governments, Bitcoin can be a lifeline of stable value. But for many, it is not an especially convenient payment mechanism compared to the fiat currency of existing banking systems.

And yet, many people are buying Bitcoin and willing to pay ever-higher prices for it. The main reason seems that they expect the price to get even higher in time. Some people think the price will go up because Bitcoin is protected against inflation because of its 21-million cap on coin. Some expect wider adoption of Bitcoin as a payment protocol. And some expect it to become widely used by financial services institutions as a store of value.

The FOMO Factor

Essentially, interest in Bitcoin is generated by the idea that other people are going to buy it in the future, at a higher price than it’s selling for today. This expectation is fed by regular headlines about a company or celebrity buying into Bitcoin and the massive profits people are generating from Bitcoin they bought years — or even weeks — ago. In the crypto community, this behavior is known as fear of missing out (FOMO). Speculative investing like this often leads to volatility, because the price can turn down as sharply as it turns up.

At this time, many analysts believe that the questions surrounding cryptocurrency, as well as FOMO, are precisely what are keeping Bitcoin’s prices high. An asset’s price likely would swing if a large portion of investors are trying to get in front of buyers who come in later. Those who buy a crypto immediately when it comes to market could dump the coin just as quickly. This could happen if an investor made a profit, or they no longer believe that more investors will buy into the crypto.

The Takeaway

Bitcoin’s volatility is based on at least two factors: its potentially low liquidity, and the plethora of unanswered questions about crypto, a still-new asset class. Investors and anyone who follows the news are aware of shocking highs and lows in Bitcoin’s value.

FAQ

In general, are cryptocurrencies more volatile than stocks?

Yes. Investing in the stock market has been a mainstay of the U.S. economy since the late 1700s. Stocks are also regulated, subject to oversight by the SEC, and other government agencies. Cryptocurrencies as an asset class are quite new, not fully regulated, and do not yet have a proven track record in U.S. markets. As we discussed, crypto is considered a speculative investment. Complex assets — like high-yield bonds, options, mortgage-backed securities, and other derivatives, including crypto — are subject to greater volatility than are plain vanilla stocks.

Which cryptocurrency is the most volatile?

The answer: It changes every day. And, volatility is not selective. Popular coins, like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), take their turns at being “most-volatile” just as often as do the tiny cryptos you might not have
heard of
. Cryptocurrency’s volatility has spawned a number of reliable indexes that track and report its daily price fluctuations, including Yahoo Finance and Shufflup .

Is volatility a good thing for crypto?

Volatility is neither good nor bad. Rather, it’s a phenomenon that exists in all financial markets for a mix of reasons. Cryptocurrency skeptics might see crypto’s volatility as a danger sign, a reason to stay away. However, sometimes volatility can benefit a new fast-growing asset, like crypto.

This is happening currently, with profit-seeking traders and wealthy venture capitalists streaming toward crypto. Venture capital funding can help seed new start-ups and advance technical innovation. And new money flowing into a sector often brings heightened liquidity, which makes for healthy financial markets.

The FOMO factor, which we discussed above, and just plain curiosity also can have a positive effect on crypto. For example, some large traditional financial services (TradFi) institutions that were prior crypto-naysayers are now showing an interest in the crypto sector.


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.

Disclaimer: The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.
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.

Stock Bits
Stock Bits is a brand name of the fractional trading program offered by SoFi Securities LLC. When making a fractional trade, you are granting SoFi Securities discretion to determine the time and price of the trade. Fractional trades will be executed in our next trading window, which may be several hours or days after placing an order. The execution price may be higher or lower than it was at the time the order was placed.


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How to Open a Bank Account For a Minor

Guide to Opening a Bank Account for a Minor

Is it time for a young person in your life to start understanding how banking works? Do they get an allowance? Are they raking in some cash for odd jobs? Or perhaps they are just plain curious about how money works, or you’re eager to get them in the habit of saving?

Whatever the trigger, there are plenty of benefits a kid can reap from learning how to bank before they leave the nest. Gaining financial literacy and responsibility is a very good thing. Fortunately, an array of banks and credit unions offer minor accounts designed for exactly this purpose.

Because most state laws and corporate policies don’t enter into contracts with minors — and opening a bank account is a kind of contract — most banks require a child to have an adult as a joint account owner.

That’s where you come in. It’s tempting to simply open an account for your young one at the place you do your banking. But it can also be worth comparing accounts to see which institution offers the best fees, rates, and other features specifically for minor accounts.

To help with your search, here are answers to several frequently asked questions regarding opening a bank account for a minor.

What Do I Need to Open a Bank Account for My Child?

As you shop around for an account, you’ll see that each financial institution has its own rules regarding documentation needed to open a bank account for a minor. In most cases, whether you are opening an account online or in person, you will need the following, in addition to a sum of money (often between zero and $25) to open the account:

Driver’s License

Government-issued photo identification is a gold standard for proving you are who you say you are. If you don’t have a driver’s license, a passport will likely be acceptable.

Social Security Card

You may or may not need the actual card in front of you; just knowing your Social Security number should do the trick.

Child’s Social Security Card

Many people apply for their child’s Social Security number at birth; it’s an important thing to have for obtaining medical coverage or government services. Have those nine digits at the ready.

Child’s Birth Certificate

The bank will want to document that your child is who you say they are. That birth certificate is an important way to do just that.

Proof of Address

A typical way to authenticate your address is with a recent utility bill. If you don’t have a hard copy of your bill lying around, you should be able to easily download a bill from your provider’s online portal.

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!


Types of Bank Accounts for Children

As with standard banking, checking and savings are the most common types of accounts for minors. There are, however, some special aspects of both types of accounts when the child is under age 18. These accounts can help teach good money management and support your family savings efforts. Let’s take a closer look at how they work.

Checking Accounts for Children

Minor checking accounts are common offerings at banks. Most accounts are designed for kids ages 13 to 17; in other words, kids who are a little older and ready to learn the budgeting skills needed to balance a checking account. Some teen checking accounts offer interest, and the best of the bunch offer very low or no fees. This is important since teens are unlikely to carry large balances in their checking or savings accounts. You don’t want fees eroding or even erasing their money.

Savings Accounts for Children

Lots of banks offer special savings accounts for kids. Age restrictions vary, but these may be designed for younger children (the 12-and-under set). There are even savings accounts designed for babies. Check at a couple of banks you are considering for this kind of account and compare offerings.

Many of these accounts have competitive interest rates Some, however, require a minimum deposit to earn those rates. In addition to looking into those details, also see what kind of parental controls are available. These typically allow you to monitor the account and control access. This can be a good thing to have in place in case your child decides to go splurge on videogames or the like.

Recommended: How Does a Savings Account Work?

What to Look for in Bank Accounts for Kids

As you look for the best checking and savings accounts for kids, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Interest. As mentioned before, you may want to compare interest rates on a number of children’s savings accounts. Some are quite competitive but may come with other requirements.

Fees. You want a minor banking account that doesn’t charge the same types of fees you find on an adult account. Many banks waive an application fee and the monthly maintenance fee. But debit card and ATM fees may still apply. Because an adult is the joint account owner, sometimes overdraft and other fees are eased. Be sure to check specific fees on the minor account carefully.

Balance Requirements. Sure, you’ll start the account with an initial deposit, but after that, how much do you need to keep at the bank? Kids’ accounts may require a minimum balance to avoid monthly fees or earn the best interest rates.

Aging Out of the Account. Many banks convert kids’ accounts to standard accounts once the child turns 18. This often takes both adults and the account holder by surprise. The conversion can mean adult account fees, minimum balance requirements, overdraft fees, and changes in withdrawal and deposit protocols. With savings accounts, it may mean a change in interest rates and balance requirements.

On the other hand, some banks allow children to keep their minor account well into their twenties. And there may be special considerations for kids who turn 18 and are students. Be sure to understand what your child’s account allows.

Apps and Financial Literacy Features. Many minor accounts offer apps that help you monitor the account and your child’s activities. Some even go so far as to allow you to assign chores and make the decided-upon payments. In addition, you may be able to get a preloaded debit card for your child, which can help teach budgeting in a very hands-on way. When all the money’s gone, your child will likely understand the value of careful tracking expenses.

Notifications. Many banks allow you to sign up for automatic notifications whenever a transaction has taken place on the minor’s account. This not only lets you know that your child may be overspending but you may also be alerted to any suspicious account activity.

Tax Implications

Sometimes, a minor’s account has a small amount of money that slowly accrues as your child deposits birthday money and some summer-job earnings. Other times, a budding entrepreneur or devoted saver might have a higher balance. In either case, interest income on your child’s account may be subject to taxes, specifically what’s known as the “kiddie tax,” which applies to children under 19 and full-time college students under the age of 24. Any unearned income over $2,100 is taxed at the rates that apply to trusts and estates. This is to avoid parents putting large amounts of money in their children’s name and likely lower tax rate.

In addition, funds in your child’s bank accounts can affect their financial aid awards. Because money in a child’s name is weighted more heavily in financial aid formulas than it is for parents’ accounts, you may find high bank account balances work against your student when it comes time to apply for financial aid.

Now that you understand the ins and outs of opening an account for a minor, you can take the next step and figure out the best place for your child to start banking. Congrats on taking this step to foster a healthy financial life for your child.

Open a Bank Account With SoFi

Currently SoFi Bank does not offer accounts to minors. But while you’re researching minor bank accounts, why not take a fresh look at your own banking needs?

If you want an account where you can earn interest, spend, and save all in one place, check out SoFi Checking and Savings. Sign up for direct deposit, and you’ll earn a competitive APY. Plus, you won’t pay account fees and you’ll have access to 55,000+ fee-free 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® 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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Investing in Your 20s

Deciding how to invest money in your 20s can seem overwhelming at first; many people have differing opinions, and it’s hard to know where to start. But remember that you don’t need to have a lot of money upfront to be a successful and savvy investor. The most important thing is to start investing early, even if your initial investments are small.

Thanks to advancements in investment technology and options available to investors of all income brackets, investing has never been more accessible. Here are a few different strategies for investing money in your 20s.

Think About Financial Goals

When determining your financial goals, you may want to break down short-, medium-, and long-term milestones. You want to ask yourself what you want from your money and figure out when you’ll need to use the money. For example, the money you save for a medium-term goal, like a down payment on your first home, should be treated differently than the retirement savings you won’t touch for 40 or more years.

If you have not earmarked savings for a specific financial goal, take some time to think about what purpose you’d like to apply it to. A great first saving goal is to have three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. After that, it might be good to turn your attention toward savings and investing for longer-term goals, like retirement.

Decide Where to House Your Money

where to put your money in your 20s

When deciding how to invest money in your 20s, it can help to think about immediate, mid-term, and long-term financial needs. Once you have outlined some money goals, you could consider setting up your accounts. The type of account you open often depends on when you need the money.

Where to Put Immediate Money

Food, bills, rent, and everything else you must pay for on a month-to-month basis are immediate needs. Often people keep this money — along with a cushion so as not to overdraft their account — in an online bank account. These types of accounts allow you to withdraw money instantaneously, generally without penalties, making them ideal for your immediate financial needs.

Where to Put Mid-term Money

Mid-term money is any money you might need in the next couple of years, such as a travel fund, wedding fund, or home down payment savings. It might make sense to keep this money in a high-yield savings account, which provides a better return on your money than traditional savings accounts.

High-yield savings accounts, along with other cash equivalents like certificates of deposits (CDs) and money market accounts, are considered to be lower-risk investments (though CDs are not helpful for emergency funds because of the early termination penalties).

Where to Put Mid- to Long-term Money

For money you’ll use in five to 20 years, you may be prepared to take slightly more risk than a high-yield savings account. You might choose to keep the money in your high-yield savings account or in CDs, or a online brokerage account where you can invest that money in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other asset classes. You can also do a combination of the different types of accounts.

Longer-term savings options, like a tax-advantage 529 plan, can also be appropriate if you’d like to start planning for higher education needs for current or future children.

Where to Put Long-Term Money

Think of long-term money as cash you won’t need for several decades. A retirement account is a great example of an appropriate place to hold long-term money. Retirement plans like a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or a 401(k) account can offer significant tax benefits.

💡 Ready to invest in your retirement? Consider opening a Traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi.

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*Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

Potential Assets to Invest in During Your 20s

potential assets to invest in during your 20s

One important thing to understand about investing in your 20s is the tradeoff between risk and reward when implementing your investing strategy. You cannot have one without the other. With this risk and reward calculation in mind, you need to determine what asset classes you might consider when investing in your 20s.

Stocks

A stock is a tiny piece of ownership in a publicly-traded company. When you invest in a stock, you could earn money through capital appreciation, dividends, or a combination of the two.

Stocks can be volatile because prices fluctuate according to supply and demand forces as they trade on an open exchange. Even though stocks can be volatile and experience losses, they tend to provide positive returns over time. The S&P 500 index has had an average annual growth rate of 10.5% from 1957 through 2021.

Bonds

Although not risk-free, experts generally consider bonds less risky than stocks because they are a contract that comes with a stated rate of return. Bonds backed by the U.S. government, called treasury bonds, are the safest within the category of bonds because it is unlikely that the U.S. government will go bankrupt.

Bonds are debt investments, meaning investors fund the debt of some entity. The money you earn on that investment is the interest they pay you for borrowing your money. In addition to treasuries and corporate bonds, there are municipal bonds, which state and local governments issue, and mortgage- and asset-backed bonds, which are bundles of mortgages or other financial assets that pass through the interest paid on mortgages or assets.

Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds

Some investors might want to utilize mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to gain exposure to certain asset classes.

A fund is essentially a basket of investments — stocks, bonds, another investment type, or a combination thereof. Funds are helpful because they provide immediate diversification: safety against the risk of having too much money invested in one stock, sector, or any other single asset.

Funds are either actively or passively managed. A fund that is passively managed is attempting to track a specific index. An actively managed fund is maintained with a hands-on approach to determine investments in a portfolio. ETFs tend to be passively managed, but there are many actively managed ETFs funds on the market. Mutual funds can be either passively or actively managed.

Tips on Investing In Your 20s

Once you’ve become familiar with the basics of investing, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. These tips can help you shape a strategy for how to invest money in your 20s and beyond.

Gauge Your Personal Risk Tolerance

gauging your risk tolerance

One of the key things to remember about investing in your 20s is that time is on your side. You have a significant time horizon window to allow your portfolio to recover from bouts of inevitable stock market volatility. Because of this, you could take more risks with your investments to achieve higher rewards, including the benefits of compounding returns.

Getting to know your personal risk preferences can help you decide where and how to invest in your 20s to achieve your investment goals. It’s also important to understand how risk tolerance matches your risk capacity and appetite.

Risk tolerance means the level of risk you’re comfortable taking. Risk capacity is the level of risk you prefer to take to reach your investment goals, while risk appetite is the level of risk you need to hit those milestones. When you’re younger, playing it too safe with your portfolio might mean missing out on significant investment returns.

Know the Difference Between Asset Allocation and Asset Location

asset allocation when investing in your 20s

People often invest in a combination of stocks and bonds, which is easy to do using mutual funds and ETFs. One strategy for investing in your 20s is to invest a higher allocation of your long-term investments in stocks and less in bonds, slowly moving into more bond funds the closer you get to retirement. This big picture decision is called asset allocation.

But asset allocation is only part of the picture. One might also consider asset location: the types of accounts where you’re putting your money, like savings accounts, an online brokerage account, a 401k, or an IRA.

Asset location matters when it comes to investing money in your 20s because it can maximize tax advantages if you’re utilizing a 401k or IRA. But these retirement accounts also have restrictions and penalties for withdrawing money. So if you want to be able to access your investments quickly, an online brokerage may be a complimentary investing account.

Take Advantage of Free Money

One of the simplest ways to start investing in your 20s is to enroll in your workplace retirement plan like a 401k.

Once you’ve enrolled in a plan, consider contributing at least enough to get the full company match if your employer offers one. If you don’t, you could be leaving money on the table.

And if you can’t make the full contribution to get the match right away, you can still work your way up to it by gradually increasing your salary deferral percentage. For example, you could raise your contribution rate by 1% each year until you reach the maximum deferral amount.

Don’t Be Afraid of Investment Alternatives

alternative investments in your 20s

Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds can all be good places to start investing in your 20s. But don’t count out other alternative investments outside these markets.

Real estate is one example of an alternative investment that can be attractive to some investors. Investing in real estate in your 20s doesn’t necessarily mean you have to own a rental property, though that’s one option. You could also invest in fix-and-flip properties, real estate investment trusts (REITs), or crowdfunded real estate investments.

Adding alternative investments such as real estate, cryptocurrency, and commodities to your portfolio may improve diversification and could create some insulation against risk.

Learn more: What Are Alternative Investments?

The Takeaway

Learning how to invest money in your 20s doesn’t happen overnight. And you may still be fuzzy on how certain parts of the market work as you enter your 30s or 40s. But by continually educating yourself about different investments and investing strategies, you can gain the knowledge needed to guide your portfolio toward your financial goals.

One thing to know about investing in your 20s is that consistency can pay off in the long run. Even if you’re only able to invest a little money at a time through 401k contributions or by purchasing partial or fractional shares of stock, those amounts can add up as the years and decades pass.

If you’re ready to start saving and investing for your financial goals, the SoFi investment app can help. With SoFi Invest®, you can begin building a portfolio of stocks, and ETFs for as little as $5 to meet all the critical financial goals and milestones in your life.

Find out how SoFi Invest® can help you take a big step towards reaching your financial goals.


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How Many People Have Student Loans in the United States?

How Many Americans Have Student Loan Debt?

Student loan debt and education continue to go hand in hand. According to the latest figures from the Federal Reserve, 30% of U.S. adults had student loan debt upon leaving school.

Federal student loan relief under the CARES Act, set to end on Aug. 31, 2022, has paused monthly federal student loan payments, enacted a 0% interest rate, and halted loan default collections.

However, as the relief window comes to an end, Americans must continue to face their outstanding student debt.

How Many People in the USA Have Student Loans?

The total federal student loan debt crisis amounts to $1.61 trillion in unpaid federal student loans. This outstanding balance is spread among 43.4 million U.S. borrowers.

A 2021 MeasureOne report found that unpaid balances within the federal student loan system account for 92% of U.S. student loan debt. However, U.S. adults are also burdened by private student loans.

As of Q2 2021, Americans have amassed a total of $131.1 billion in unpaid private student loans — accounting for nearly 8% of outstanding student loans in the country.

Who Is the Typical Borrower?

The CollegeBoard’s “2021 Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid” report found that the average four-year, bachelor’s degree graduate left school with an average $26,700 in student debt. Bachelor’s recipients from private nonprofit institutions left school with an average of $33,600 in student debt.

Student Loan Distribution by Institution

Borrowers who were enrolled in a public, four-year U.S. institution received the highest distribution of federal Direct Loan funding.

Nearly 45% of distributed Direct Subsidized Loan funds went toward students enrolled at a four-year school, as did 41% of Direct Unsubsidized Loan funding.

Similarly, 51% of disbursed Parent PLUS Loan funds — designed for parent borrowers on behalf of their college-bound dependant — were for a public, four-year education.

Graduate and professional students who attended a private nonprofit college also received a variety of federal loan funding. Graduate-level students enrolled at a private nonprofit institution saw the highest percentage of total dispersed Grad PLUS Loan funds (68%).

In some cases, student loans for certificate programs may also be borrowed. Some certificate programs are offered at two-year institutions, which make up about 11% of Direct Subsidized loans.

Student Loan Debt by Age

US Adults ages 35 to 49 have a total aggregated balance of $613 billion in federal loans across 14.3 million borrowers. On average, a borrower in this age group has a student debt balance of $42,900, according to CollegeBoard data.

Age

Total Balance

Average Balance per Borrower

Up to age 24 $113.7 billion $15,200
25 to 34 $500.6 billion $33.600
35 to 49 $613.0 billion $42,900
50 to 61 $273.7 billion $43,400
62 and older $92.7 billion $38,600

The next-highest total balance, at $500.6 billion, falls on borrowers ages 24 to 34. The 14.3 million borrowers in this age group have an average loan balance of $33,600.

Borrowers with the highest average balance ($43,400) are those who are ages 50 to 61 — this group accounts for 6.3 million borrowers in the U.S.

Student Loan Debt by Race and Gender

According to a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), two-thirds of the total U.S. student loan debt is held by women.

Men borrow an average of $29,270 in student loans. By contrast, each woman borrower carries an average of $31,276 in student debt.

Race/Ethnicity (Women)

Cumulative Debt

American Indian or Alaska Native $36,184.40
Asian $27,606.60
Black or African American $41,466.05
Hispanic or Latina $29,302.45
Pacific Islander/Hawaiian $38,747.44
White $33,851.98

Black women face the greatest hurdle when it comes to student loan debt. According to AAUW, one year after graduating, Black or African American women carry the highest cumulative student debt by race and ethnicity at $41,466.05. This figure includes the principal amount and student loan interest rate charges.

What Percentage of College Students Take Out Student Loans?

The percentage of students who borrow student loans vary, based on factors like degree type and institution.

According to the latest data published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the 2019-2020 academic year, 31.8% of undergraduate students received student loans from the federal student loan program.

About 47.6% of bachelor-seeking students attending a private nonprofit received federal student loans, while 13.5% of bachelor’s students enrolled at a public college received federal loan aid.

Among master’s degree students, 51.5% who attended a private nonprofit school received federal aid, compared to 40.5% who attended a public institution.

Finally, 57.4% of students pursuing a non-professional doctorate degree at a private nonprofit received federal loans. Of those who attended a public college, 33.4% of doctoral candidates got a federal loan.

What Is the Total Amount of Money Owed by Americans on Student Loans?

Collectively, Americans have an outstanding student loan balance of $1.61 trillion in federal student loans. This includes Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans, and Perkins Loans. However, this figure doesn’t include education loans from the private sector.

Total private student loans that U.S. adults still owe is estimated at $131.1 billion, according to MeasureOne.

The Takeaway

Americans are carrying a significant student debt burden after leaving school. New and currently enrolled college students will likely see continued rising education costs.

Despite these figures, one of the benefits of student loans is that they can provide access to college for students who might otherwise not be able to finance their education. SoFi Private Student Loans lets eligible students borrow up to the total cost of attendance, through a fast and completely digital process.

Find out if you pre-qualified in just a few minutes.

FAQ

Who holds the majority of student debt?

According to the CollegeBoard, borrowers ages 35 to 49 hold the majority of outstanding federal student debt at $613 billion, with an average balance of $42,900 per borrower.

What is the average student debt in the US?

The average student debt for a public, four-year bachelor’s degree graduate is $26,700, based on 2021 figures from the CollegeBoard.

What is the total amount of student debt owed by Americans?

Americans owe $1.75 trillion in federal and private student loans.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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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.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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