Save for Retirement or Pay Down Student Loans: Where Should You Focus?

Money talks. And student debt proves you’ve made a massive investment in your career. While most people want to pay student loans off as quickly as possible, it can actually be smart to take a little longer to do so and start saving for retirement sooner.

Sure, retirement isn’t a trendy topic at happy hour. But concerns over investing in your future have a way of creeping up on you. In fact, respondents to a nationwide May 2019 survey , indicate that not saving enough for retirement is a major financial regret (27% of people).

The good news? Paying down your student loans while contributing towards your retirement (e.g. cruising the Mediterranean) is not only possible, but also very doable with the right strategy and just a little bit of patience.

Making At Least Minimum Student Loan Payments

When you have outstanding student loans, your first financial obligation is to make the minimum payments. If you don’t, you risk default, which could harm your credit score and, worse, lead to higher monthly payments and higher interest rates.

Automatic payments are a great way to help ensure you never miss a due date. Autopay can also potentially save you money too, as many private and government loan servicers offer an autopay discount.

Taking Advantage of Employer Matching Benefits

When you start a new job, you’re pummeled with decisions regarding insurance, 401(k) plans, and other benefits. Sure you get a big 401(k) information packet, but many people just scan that material or skip it altogether. A tip: don’t do that. You could miss out on a big opportunity—namely employer-matching benefits.

Many 401(k) plans include a match on employee contributions as a percentage of your annual salary. That is free money each year contributed to your retirement account. To get the match, you usually do have to contribute to the plan yourself. Make sure you don’t leave that money on the table.

Making Extra Loan Payments When Possible

If you have leftover income each month that’s not used for living expenses, loan payment minimums, or to supplement your emergency fund, you could pay more toward your student loans to lower the balance.

For example, if you get a tax refund or a bonus at work, you could put it toward an extra student loan payment. It’s money you don’t rely on for your monthly budget, so use it as a tool to get out of debt as fast as possible.

Making extra payments can save you a little bit in interest every month for the entire life of the loan. To get an idea of how much you would save by paying your loans off early, you can use this student loan calculator.

If you focus on paying off your student loans early, you could save money on interest over the life of the loan and then take those savings and put them towards retirement.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Another option to help speed up your student loan payoff date and put saved money towards retirement is to refinance your student loans. When you refinance, you take out a brand new loan with a private lender at a new rate and new terms. You can usually refinance both private and federal student loans, but keep in mind you’ll lose access to federal benefits (such as deferment, forbearance, and forgiveness) if you refinance federal student loans with a private lender.

Refinancing can be a great idea if you have a stronger financial profile currently than when you took out your original student loans. If you qualify for a lower interest rate on your new refinanced loan, that could help save money over the life of the loan. Those extra savings could then go towards your retirement savings. You can check out this student loan refinancing calculator to see how much you could save by refinancing.

Stepping Up Retirement Savings

If you keep true to your budget, make student loan payments responsibly, and still have income to set aside at the end of each month—then you could funnel those extra dollars into retirement savings.

For most young professionals, a Roth IRA—a retirement account that allows you to set aside after-tax income for tax-free withdrawal in retirement—can be a solid investment option once you are taking advantage of the full 401(k) employer match. Prepare for retirement with an online IRA from SoFi Invest.

While the name is stodgy, the impact on your bank account is anything but. Roth IRA investments are typically preferred for professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s due to how they are taxed. All of the money going into your Roth IRA is taxed, so that when you take out your money in the future it will be tax-free. Younger people are generally in a lower tax bracket, so choosing a Roth IRA could make sense compared to a Traditional IRA where you would be taxed for taking your money out later (when you may be at a higher tax bracket). For more information on which IRA account could be right for you, you can check out our IRA calculator.

For a more complex retirement savings system aimed at investors with retirement dates farther into the horizon, consider the following in terms of priority:

– Investing in your employer 401(k) until reaching a full employer match.

– Putting money in a Roth IRA until reaching the annual maximum or income limit. The 2022 limit is $6,000 for individuals under age 50.

– Dropping more into an employer 401(k) up to the annual maximum, which is $20,500 for 2022.

– Depositing additional dollars into a regular investment account through your favorite brokerage or through SoFi Invest®, which also offers IRAs.

Getting on Track Today

Retirement might seem a long way off, but every year counts when your goal is financial comfort. It’s okay to start small, especially while keeping your loan debt in check.

By taking practical and responsible steps today to put your student loans behind you, you could be debt-free in no time, and on track for that dream retirement.

Consider refinancing your student loans with SoFi. You could qualify for a new interest rate and loan terms to potentially free up some money for your retirement savings. Check your rate in 1 minute!



SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, LLC and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.

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.


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.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

WM16101

Read more
What Is a Box Spread & When to Use One?

A Guide to Box Spreads: What They Are and How They Work

A box spread, or long box, is an options strategy in which a trader buys a call and sells a put, which yields a similar trade profile of a long stock trade position. Depending on which strike prices the trader chooses, the spread will come close to the current market value of the stock.

The arbitrage strategy involves a combination of buying a stock at one strike price and selling stock on another strike price. These trade quotes, when connected form a box and make the difference between the two strike prices.

What Is a Box Spread in Options Trading?

A box spread is an arbitrage options trading strategy used by traders attempting to profit by taking little to no risk. To do this, they’re using both long and short strategies.

This options trade involves a four-legged spread, buying a bull call spread with the corresponding bear put spread with both vertical spreads having the same strike prices and expiration dates. The box spread trading strategy is a delta neutral strategy because the trader is neither bearish or bullish, rather the goal of the trade is to lock in a profit.

Recommended: Popular Options Trading Terminology to Know

Traders using box trades are mostly professional traders such as market makers or institutional traders. Box spreads are not the best trading strategy for retail traders because they don’t yield high profits and transaction costs can impact potential returns. Large investment firms have the tools and resources to execute on box spread trades quickly and efficiently.

How Do Box Spreads Work?

To form a box spread, traders start out by buying a bull call spread and a bear put spread. These two options positions have the same strike prices and expiration dates. These trades must take place at the same time to execute a profit effectively.

The bear spread starts out with the trader taking a fixed profit, then after a period of time, the trader loses money then, the trader has a fixed loss. A bull spread is the opposite. Initially the trader incurs a fixed loss, then after a period time, the trader takes a fixed profit.

By taking both of these vertical spread positions, traders can lock in a profit that could potentially be risk free. In both corresponding positions there is either a fixed loss or fixed profit. This is why many traders see box spreads as a low risk trading option.

The bear spread bets that the stock price will decline while the bull spread bets that the stock price will increase. By combining both positions, the profit and loss offset one another, leaving the trader with a small profit, known as the box spread.

Recommended: Guide to Options Spreads: Definition & Types

How to Use the Box Spread Strategy

Traders make money on a box spread based on the difference between the two strike prices. When executed correctly, this is worth the difference in strike prices at expiration. This means, if a trader purchases a $100/$110 vertical spread, that trade would be worth ten dollars at expiration, no more, no less.

This is a guaranteed profit regardless of market volatility or whether the stock price increases or decreases. Traders execute on box spreads when an options contract is mispriced, or more specifically when spreads are underpriced.

If traders believe the outlook of the stock market will change in the future, they may take advantage of a scenario where put options are less expensive than call options, a perfect set up for box spreads.

When the trader believes the spreads are overpriced in relation to their value at expiration, the trader would employ a short box spread, selling a bull call spread with its corresponding bear put spread with the same prices and expiration dates. If the trade yields an amount higher than the combined expiration value of the spreads for selling these two spreads, that’s the trader’s profit.

Box Spread Risks

Many sophisticated investors think of box spread options trading as a risk-free trading strategy but in reality there is no such thing as a risk-less trade. When asset prices are misplaced, this is the ideal time to execute on a box spread. However, the market moves fast and prices can change quickly, so these trades can be difficult to fill and hard to identify in the first place.

Profits from box spreads tend to be small. Traders also need to consider expenses associated with these trades like brokerage fees, taxes, and transaction costs, which could eat at overall returns. This is why box spreads typically make the most sense for institutional traders who are able to do a high volume of trades and manage other expenses.

Another risk for traders to consider is early exercise. This is when a trader decides to exercise an option before expiration. If traders are in a box spread and exercise one of their positions early, they are no longer in a box spread and their risk/reward profile has changed. When employing a box spread trading strategy, early exercise could impact the initial desired outcome.

Box Spread Example

To execute on a box spread, traders buy the call spread at the lower strike price and the put spread at the higher strike price. By making these positions traders are “buying the box.” A lower strike call and a higher strike put have to be worth more to secure a profit.

For example, a trader takes two strike prices $95 and $100 and buys a long $95 call and sells the short $100 call, this is a long $95/$100 vertical spread. To form the box spread, the trader would have to buy the $95/$100 put spread. This means buying the $100 put and selling the $95 put.

These trading positions are synthetic, meaning, the trader copies a position to mimic another position so they have the same risk and reward profile.

For this example, at the $95 strike price, the trader is synthetically long and for the $100 strike, the trader is synthetically short. In other words, the trader in these positions is buying shares at $95 and selling them at $100 and the most the trader can make is $5 at expiration.

Start Trading Stocks with SoFi

The best time to use a box spread is when a trader believes the underlying spreads are underpriced relative to their value at expiration. While considered a low-risk, low-reward trading strategy, box trades may not be the best trading strategy for the retail investor. Still, understanding box spreads can be beneficial to understand the relationship between how different options can work together.

For market participants who want to start trading options, SoFi’s options trading platform is a great way to get started. The platform offers an intuitive, user-friendly design, as well as access to a slew of educational resources about options. Investors can trade options from the mobile app or the web platform.

Trade options with low fees through SoFi.


Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

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.

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.
SOIN1121487

Read more
Loss of Use Insurance: What is It, and What’s Covered?

Loss of Use Insurance: What Is It and What Does It Cover?

When most of us think of homeowners insurance, we think about getting coverage for major home repairs — the big-ticket items the insurance company can pay out for in the event of a loss or damage. We’re talking about things like a tree falling over in a storm and wrecking your roof or a robber making off with your electronics and jewelry.

Sure, you need that kind of protection, but your homeowner’s insurance policy should also include a very important kind of coverage beyond that: loss of use coverage. This is also sometimes known as additional living expenses (ALE) coverage or Part D coverage. Loss of use coverage is an important part of your home insurance (and some rental insurance policies) that kicks in when your home is rendered uninhabitable. Let’s say in the example above, where your roof needs major repair work. You may not be able to live in your home while this is underway. Since you have “lost the use” of your typical living space, the policy will help you pay for lodging and other expenses.

Read on to learn more about the loss of use coverage, including coverage limits and policy conditions. It’s an important consideration if a worst-case scenario ever happens to your home sweet home.

What Does Loss of Use Coverage Mean?

Loss of use coverage is the part of your homeowner’s insurance policy that covers the costs you’ll incur if you lose the usage of your home.

For example, if a fire destroys a significant portion of your house and it needs to be rebuilt, your typical home insurance policy will cover the cost of repairs. But (and this is a biggie) you may find yourself suddenly facing a whole lot of living expenses you otherwise wouldn’t. Hotel rooms and restaurant meals can add up quickly, and without your own kitchen and bedroom to cook in and retire to, you’d be pretty much forced to take advantage of these expensive options. Or perhaps you have to put your possessions in storage as your home is rebuilt, or even rent an apartment. These are the kinds of expenses that loss of use coverage will typically reimburse.

Recommended: Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

Coverage Limits

Like most other forms of insurance, loss of use coverage does come with certain limits — you don’t have carte blanche to go out and stay at a swanky hotel for months and eat exclusively Wagyu beef on the insurance company’s dime.

Generally, loss of use insurance is calculated and expressed as a percentage of your dwelling coverage limit — the amount of money up to which the insurer will pay out to repair or rebuild your home in the event of a qualified loss.

For example, if your dwelling insurance limit is $350,000, and your loss of use coverage is 20%, you’d have up to $70,000 to put toward living expenses during the time your home is being repaired. That may sound like a lot of money, but you’re likely to face a lot of expenses, especially since you’ll still be responsible, during that time, for paying your mortgage, insurance premiums, and other normal monthly bills.

Loss of use coverage is most commonly between 20% and 30% of the dwelling coverage limit, but it is possible to find plans with a higher loss of use limit — or a lower one.

In fact, although loss of use coverage is fairly standard, it is possible to purchase a homeowners or renters insurance policy that doesn’t include it, so always be sure to read your paperwork in full, including the fine print, to ensure you know what you’re getting.

Recommended: What Is Renters Insurance and Do I Need It?

Policy Conditions

Loss of use coverage is subject to additional conditions along with the coverage limit. For example, you’ll most likely be asked to prove your expenses to the insurance company in order to get the claim paid — so be sure to keep the receipts for all those hotel-room breakfasts!

Your policy may include other terms and conditions as well. Yet again, another good reason to get nice and cozy with that fine print.

Which Living Expenses Are Covered By Loss of Use Insurance?

Although the loss of use insurance covers many different kinds of living expenses while your home is being rebuilt or repaired, it doesn’t cover everything.

Once again, the only place to get verified information about what your specific policy covers is — you guessed it — your specific policy paperwork, but here are some of the most common covered costs.

•   Temporary housing, such as hotels, motels, or a temporary apartment

•   Moving costs

•   Public transportation

•   Grocery and restaurant bills beyond your typical expenditure

•   Storage costs

•   Costs to board a pet

•   Laundry costs

•   Parking fees

Once again, refer to your policy documentation in order to confirm which expenses are covered under your plan.

What Else Does Your Home Insurance Cover?

Loss of use coverage is only one small part of your overall homeowner’s insurance policy, which likely has several different coverages built in. A standard homeowners insurance policy offers coverage in the following categories:

•   Dwelling coverage, which covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your house up to the given limit

•   Personal property coverage, which covers the costs of replacing your belongings in the event they are stolen, lost or damaged as part of a covered event

•   Personal liability coverage, which pays out to cover the medical or legal expenses you might incur if someone is accidentally hurt on your property (for example, if they’re bitten by your dog)

•   Additional coverages, such as coverage for additional structures on the property, specific damaging events (or “perils”) that aren’t listed in the standard policy, excess coverage for expensive belongings, etc.

As you can see, homeowners insurance is about way more than insuring the four walls of your home, though it should cover that, too. Keep in mind that each of these coverages comes with its own limits and policy conditions. (We’d remind you to read the fine print again, but at this point, you’ve probably got it. Right?)

In addition, homeowners insurance generally involves — as do most forms of insurance — paying a deductible when it comes time to file a claim. That means you’ll be responsible for a certain out-of-pocket cost to cover even coverage-eligible sustained damages, although the insurance company will likely pay out significantly more. (For example, a homeowners insurance deductible might be $1,000, which isn’t nothing… but is a lot better than paying $30,000 out of pocket to replace your entire roof. In this instance, you’d pay $1,000 while the insurer would pay $29,000.)

Deductibles are charged in addition to the premiums you pay on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis simply to keep the insurance policy active. (Typically, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium, and vice versa.) Again, it may feel like a pain to have to pay so much money simply to have insurance just in case something happens, at which point you’d have to pay out your deductible as well… but for most of us, our homes are the single largest purchase we ever make and the biggest asset to our names. It’s an investment worth protecting, especially when you consider the often astronomical cost of even basic home repairs.

The Takeaway

Loss of use insurance is a type of coverage baked into most homeowners and many renters’ insurance policies. This coverage pays out toward the extra living expenses you’ll incur if your home is rendered uninhabitable by a qualified loss, such as the cost of hotel rooms, additional food expenses, pet boarding, and public transportation.

While homeowners insurance is a valuable financial tool, it’s not the only one to keep in your tool belt. If you have family members and loved ones who rely on your income in order to maintain their lifestyle and comfort, life insurance can be a great way to ensure your death is primarily an emotional, rather than financial, loss.

SoFi has teamed up with Ladder to offer high-quality life insurance plans that are quick to set up and easy to understand, and our overall policy limits go up to $8 million. You can get a decision in minutes today, right from the comfort of your home — which, after all, already has its own insurance policy. (Right?)

Photo credit: iStock/Ridofranz


Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance, LLC (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.


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

SOPT1121008

Read more
Covered Calls: The Basics of Covered Call Strategy

Covered Calls: The Basics of Covered Call Strategy

With most things in life, it helps to be covered — by a coworker, an insurance policy, or a roof over your head. In investing, it can also pay to be covered. When it comes to options contracts, a covered call is an option trading strategy worth knowing about.

Here’s all you need to know about putting together a covered call strategy, when to consider it, and how it may — or may not — pay off.

What is a Covered Call?

A covered call is an options trading strategy that opens up an additional avenue to generate income. In a covered call transaction, an investor sells call options on a security they own. This strategy can be beneficial to the investor if they don’t expect the value of the stock price to move much in either direction during the terms of the option.

Call Options Recap

A “call” is a type of option (you may be familiar with calls versus puts), that allows investors to buy shares of an underlying asset or stock at a specific, prearranged price, called the strike price. Usually, an investor dealing with call options holds a long position — that is, they think that the underlying stock is going to appreciate.

This opens up the opportunity to profit from their position. If you thought that a stock’s price was going to increase, you might want to buy that stock, hold onto it, allow the price to increase, and then sell it in order to generate a profit.

Call options allow investors to do more or less the same thing, but without having to buy or pay the full price for the underlying shares. Instead, a premium is paid for the right to execute the trade at the strike price.

What’s the Difference Between a Call and a Covered Call?

The main difference between a regular call and a covered call is that a covered call is “covered” by an investor holding an actual position. That is, if an investor sells call options on Company X stock, it would be “covered” if the investor actually owns, or holds a position, on Company X stock.

Conversely, if an investor does not hold a position on, or own any Company X stock and sells a call option, they’re selling a regular call option. This is also known as a “naked” option.

Example of a Covered Call

The point of selling covered calls to other investors is to boost your own investment income. If, for example, you have 100 shares of Company X stock, and were looking for ways to potentially increase your annual return from that holding, you could try selling covered calls to other investors.

Here’s what that might look like in practice:

Your 100 shares of Company X stock are worth $50 each: $5,000 total, at current market value. To make a little extra money, you decide to sell call options to your friend Harris, at a strike price of $70. Harris pays you $10 for the premium.

Let’s say that Company X stock’s price only rises to $60, and Harris doesn’t execute the option, so it expires. You keep the $10, plus your 100 shares. You’ve turned a profit of $10 selling call options, and your shares have appreciated to a value of $6,000. So, you now have a total of $6,010.

For all intents and purposes, the best-case scenario, for you, is that your shares rise in value to near the strike price, (say, $69) but Harris doesn’t exercise the option. In that scenario, you still own your shares (now worth $6,900) and get the $10 premium Harris paid you.

But the risk of buying call options is that you could lose out on bigger potential gains.

So, if Company X stock rises to $90 and Harris executes his option, you would then be obligated to sell your 100 shares to him, which are now worth $9,000. You would still get the $10 premium, plus the value of the shares at the predetermined strike price of $70 — netting you $7,010. Effectively, you’ve turned a holding valued at $5,000 into $7,010. Not bad!

On the other hand, had Harris not exercised his option, your shares could be worth $9,000. That’s the risk you run when selling covered calls.

Recommended: How to Sell Options for Premium

When and Why Should You Do a Covered Call?

There is no definite right answer in terms of the right time to use a covered call strategy — it involves weighing the risks involved and doing a bit of reading the tea leaves in terms of the market environment.

It’s generally best to write covered calls when the market is expected to climb — or at least stay neutral. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future, and investors might want to be ready and willing to sell their holdings at the agreed strike price.

As for why an investor might use covered calls? The goal is to increase the income they see from their investment holdings. Another potential reason to use covered calls, for some investors, is to offset a portion of a stock’s price drop, if that were to occur.

Pros and Cons of Covered Calls

Using a covered call strategy can sound like a pretty sweet deal on its face. But as with everything, there are pros and cons to consider.

Covered Call Pros

The benefits of utilizing covered calls are pretty obvious.

•   Investors can potentially pad their income by keeping the premiums they earn from selling the options contracts. Depending on how often they decide to issue those calls, this can lead to a bit of income several times per year.

•   Investors can determine an adequate selling price for the stocks that they own. If the option is exercised, an investor profits from the sale (as well as the premium). And since the investor is receiving a premium, that can potentially help offset a potential decline in a stock’s price. So, there’s limited downside protection.

Covered Cons

There are also a few drawbacks to using a covered call strategy:

•   Investors could miss out on potential profits if a stock’s price rises, and continues to rise, above the strike price. But that just goes with the territory. As does the possibility of an option holder executing the option, and an investor losing a stock that they wanted to keep.

•   An investor can’t immediately sell their stocks if they’ve written a call option on it. This limits the investor’s market mobility, so to speak.

•   Investors need to keep in mind that there could be capital gains taxes to pay.

The Takeaway

A covered call may be attractive to some investors as it’s an opportunity to try and make a little more profit off a trade. That said, as with all trading strategies, it may pay off in your favor, and it may not. There are no guarantees.

Calls, puts, and options trading can get complicated, and fast. That’s why it’s helpful if your options trading platform isn’t more complicated than it needs to be. SoFi’s options trading platform has an intuitive and approachable design. You can trade options from the mobile app or web platform, and reference the offered educational resources about options.

Trade options with low fees through SoFi.

FAQ

There are a lot of details and terms regarding options, and it can be hard to keep track of everything. Here are a few common questions about covered calls.

Are covered calls free money?

Covered calls are not “free money”. But covered calls can provide a boost to one’s investment earnings — though an investor does have to assume some risks associated with selling options.

The strategy is more of a game of risk and reward, and there’s always the risk that the strategy could end up backfiring, particularly if your stock’s value increases much more than you anticipated.

Are covered calls profitable?

They have the potential to be profitable: If you’re selling call options on your holdings, then you should be receiving a premium in return. In that sense, you’ve turned a profit. After all, the entire point of selling calls on your holdings is to increase your profits, too.

But how profitable the strategy is, and the risks involved, will depend on a number of factors, such as the underlying stock, market conditions, and the specifics of the call option.

What happens when you let a covered call expire?

If you’ve sold a covered call option to someone else and it expires, nothing happens — you keep the premium, and nothing changes.

Because an option is only that — an option to execute a trade at a predetermined price for a select period of time — the option holder’s reluctance to execute during the time period means that the option will expire worthless.

Can you make a living selling covered calls?

Living strictly off of income derived from covered calls is theoretically possible, but you’d need a big portfolio (against which to sell those options) to make it work. There are a lot of things to consider, too, like the fact that a lot of the income your covered calls do generate is going to be taxed as capital gains, and that the market isn’t always going to be in a favorable environment for selling covered calls.


Photo credit: iStock/millann

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.

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

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

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.
SOIN0821348

Read more

What Is Credit Card Consolidation?

First you take out a credit card because it has a great airline rewards program. Then you take out a card because it gives you a fabulous discount at your favorite retail spot.

Maybe you had some bills you couldn’t pay off right away, and so you decided to open up another card to cover those costs. And on and on you went, until suddenly you have a wallet full of credit cards—and a hard time keeping track of them.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to stop and assess to be sure you haven’t set yourself up to overspend, forget to make payments, and run up a heap of credit card debt. Consolidating your cards can sometimes provide a solution, allowing you to ditch keeping track of your excess cards and focus your energy on just one bill.

How Credit Card Consolidation Works

Credit card consolidation is the practice of combining your credit card balances with one new loan from a financial institution or another credit card company. Ideally, the new loan or credit card consolidation terms will allow for multiple credit cards—perhaps some with sky-high or variable interest rates—to be consolidated with one loan, ideally at a more manageable interest rate.

If you’re not quite sure how that could help your debt management, think of it this way: We all have that one closet or drawer that is just filled to the brim with random stuff—knick-knacks, boxes, childhood toys, and clothes that you just don’t have room for. It gets so bad that either you’re too afraid to open your closet, or the closet is so full that you physically can’t open it.

That closet represents your credit card debt. You might have one, two, three, or four or more cards—and you may even be making minimum payments—but with so many cards to juggle, you may not be paying attention to details on the bill, like how much interest and fees you’re accruing.

It may seem easiest to put this debt out of sight and out of mind. This feeling is understandable; credit card debt can be overwhelming to the point that it seems easier to just keep the closet door closed.

When you consolidate your credit cards, instead of having to remember multiple payment deadlines (and accruing multiple separate fees and interest balances), you’ll only have one payment.

Not only is debt easier to manage and pay off when you only have one loan, consolidating your credit card debt may mean that you could also get a lower interest rate, which may help reduce how much you pay over the long-term.

This factor may be especially helpful considering that the average credit card interest rate hovers around a whopping 17%.

Here’s a look at some of the common methods you may consider using in order to consolidate your cards.

Consolidating with a Credit Card Balance Transfer

One common way to consolidate your credit card debt is with a credit card balance transfer that puts all of your credit card debt onto one new card. In fact, many credit card companies will offer low interest—or even 0% interest—transfers for a certain period of time to encourage you to use a balance transfer for consolidation.

However, if you’re considering this route, there are a few things to remember. First, as mentioned, the low or 0% interest rate may only be introductory rates, which means you’ll have a limited amount of time to take advantage of them.

After the introductory period, rates my skyrocket, perhaps becoming even higher than your interest rates from before. So, this strategy may work best if you have a manageable amount of debt and could pay it off within the introductory period or shortly thereafter.

You may also have to pay a balance transfer fee, which may be a fixed fee or a percentage of the amount that you owe. If you carry a high balance on your cards, this fee could be prohibitively expensive.

Additionally, new purchases on this card may not be treated the same way as your transferred debt. For example, you may have to start making interest payments on new debt immediately.

Using a Debt Consolidation Loan

Your bank may offer a specific debt consolidation loan that allows you to corral your credit card debt—and even medical debt or personal loan debt—under one loan. One single loan can simplify your payments, and may even carry a lower interest rate than your credit cards.

As with credit card balance transfers, beware the teaser rate with these loans. Low interest rates may only last a short period of time before your bank hikes your interest rate. Consider the cost of fees to take out the loan as well.

Another important factor to consider is the term of the loan. While your interest rates may be lower, the length of time over which you’ll be paying may actually increase the amount of money you pay over time.

Taking out a Personal Loan

You may also want to consider a personal loan to help you consolidate your debt. Banks and lenders typically offer these unsecured loans. Interest rates may be lower than those you are currently paying, but you may want to consider that, depending upon your credit history and the lender’s criteria, the lowest interest rates may not be offered to you. Also, personal loans may come with origination fees, which may be between 1% and 8% of your loan.

Potential Benefits of Credit Card Consolidation

Credit card consolidation is an option to help make your debt more manageable. While it won’t magically whisk away your debt, better terms may give you the confidence, organization, and time you need to get rid of it altogether.

A credit card consolidation loan may help you pay the debt off sooner, or at a lower interest rate, and give you emotional and financial relief.

And because with consolidation all of your debt will be combined into one new loan, you’ll only have to remember one payment deadline, helping to reduce the likelihood of late payments and fees.

Unlike filing for bankruptcy or defaulting, although credit card consolidation may have an initial negative effect, if you do pay off your debt you may be able to raise your credit score in the long run. It may provide you with a tangible solution to tackle your credit card debt head on.

Should You Consider Credit Card Consolidation?

If you have a large amount of high-interest debt and want a simple, more streamlined way to manage your credit card payments, you may want to consider credit card consolidation via a fixed-rate, unsecured personal loan.

Understanding whether this is the right avenue for you also depends on your personal financial situation. Here are a few hypotheticals:

You…

Have a plan to pay off your debt.

Is credit card consolidation right for you?

Credit card consolidation isn’t a quick fix. It typically works best if you have a long-term debt management plan that includes budgeting and a plan to cut spending.

You…

Have manageable debt.

Is credit card consolidation right for you?

One possible way to figure out if your debt is manageable is if you answer “yes” to either of the following questions: Can you pay off your debt in five years? Is your debt less than half your yearly income?

You…

Are serious about paying off your debt.

Is credit card consolidation right for you?

Sometimes credit card consolidation can boost your confidence a little too much, resulting in a more relaxed approach to debt payoff. You can potentially avoid this pitfall by taking your debt payment plan seriously and committing to making the necessary payments (at least the minimums) each month.

You…

Can pay off your credit card debt in six months or less.

Is credit card consolidation right for you?

Probably not. If you can pay off your debt that quickly, then the savings you’d receive from consolidating your credit card debt would likely be minimal.

Potential Cons, and Other Factors to Consider

When you consolidate your credit cards, it’s easy to feel like you have a new lease on life. But in taking out a consolidation loan (or balance transfer), you are still taking on debt and will still need to make payments on time to avoid late fees and damaging your credit. Avoid simply kicking the proverbial can down the road by making a plan to pay off your new loan.

Lenders take your credit history, income, and other factors into account when considering you for a personal loan to consolidate your credit card or other debt.

If you’ve been making on-time payments, meet income criteria, and have a credit history that meets the lender’s eligibility requirements, then consolidating your credit card debt might be worth looking into. The sooner you can set yourself up to pay off your debt successfully, the better (generally), and credit card consolidation can be one way to go about it.

With a SoFi personal loan, you can check your rate and terms without affecting your credit score1 and if you like what you see you can apply to consolidate your credit card debt into a new loan with no origination, prepayment, or late fees—and that could help give you that confidence, organization, and time you need to get a better handle on your debt.

Visit SoFi to learn more about consolidating your credit card debt with a personal loan and see what rates you may qualify for.


Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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.


SOPL17107

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender