50 Charities to Support This Year

34 Charities To Support This Year

There are plenty of reasons people want to give to charities. Not only can it be a great way to support a cause you care about, there can be tax benefits as well. So how do you narrow down which charities to donate to?

What constitutes a good organization to donate to may vary depending on how much you’re donating, if you want to give money, time or other donations, and what causes are close to your heart. As a rule of thumb, though, it’s smart to research any organization you plan to support.

In order to help you do that, we reached out to CharityWatch , an independent watchdog organization founded in 1993. CharityWatch specializes in reviewing and ranking charities based on their financial reporting, including their:

•   Audited financial statements

•   Tax forms

•   Annual reports

•   State filings

Methodology: Ranking the Best Charities to Support

We used CharityWatch’s list of top charities to put together our list, using only those charities with an A+ ranking.

CharityWatch ranks charities based on the following calculations:

•   Program Percentage: The percent of total expenses the charity spends on charitable programming (as opposed to expenses such as fundraising, management, and operations)

•   Cost to Raise $100: How much it costs a charity to bring in $100 in cash donations from the public.

CharityWatch then assigns charities a letter grade, ranging from A+ to F. CharityWatch’s full methodology for ranking top charities to donate to can be found online.

Of the more than 600 charities the organization has ranked, only 34 have an A+ ranking at the time of this writing. (Please note CharityWatch updates rankings regularly, which is why we’ve linked to their rankings for each of the following organizations. Each charity’s website is linked on each of CharityWatch’s rating pages.)

1. Action Against Hunger-USA

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Action Against Hunger-USA ‘s mission statement is to prevent, detect, and treat under-nutrition. The organization aims to tackle the underlying causes of hunger, and they also help regions experiencing conflict or natural disasters meet their nutritional needs.

2. All Hands and Hearts

Program Percentage: 96%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

All Hands and Hearts aims to address short- and long-term needs of communities after natural disasters. This includes helping rebuild homes, schools, and infrastructure.

3. American Kidney Fund

Program Percentage: 97%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

American Kidney Fund helps those suffering from kidney disease during every step of the process. That includes prevention, early detection, disease management, and post-transplant. The organization provides those in need with financial support and other resources they need to manage their kidney disease.

4. Animal Welfare Institute

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

Animal Welfare Institute helps animals who have suffered because of human cruelty. The organizations aims to reduce animal cruelty through advocacy and education.

5. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America (National Office)

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America (National Office) pairs children facing adversity with a “brother” or “sister” mentor who can provide them support. They also offer training and workshops about child safety.

6. Catholic Relief Services

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $10

Catholic Relief Services assists the poor in the U.S. and across the globe. Its goal is to prevent and end poverty regardless of the races, religions, or nationalities of those in need.

7. Child Find of America

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Child Find of America aims to both prevent child abductions and find abducted children. Part of that work involves responding to the family conflicts and crises that may lead to potential abduction or abuse.

8. Comic Relief

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $8

Comic Relief uses entertainment to eliminate poverty, improve children’s lives, and help disadvantaged individuals around the world. The organization is well known for its Red Nose Day fundraiser, in which people can buy a red clown nose to raise money to help end child poverty.

9. Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS)

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) helps families and coworkers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The organization provides them with resources to help rebuild their lives after the death, and it also provides training to law enforcement on how to help surviving co-workers and families.

10. Conservation Fund

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Conservation Fund helps protect America’s land and water resources with the help of public, private, and nonprofit partner organizations. The fund also helps educate the public about sustainability, resource management, and creating environmental goals for individuals, communities, or organizations.

11. Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation’s mission is to prevent and treat diabetes. It helps fund new research to help cure diabetes and diabetes-related illnesses and complications.

12. DonorsChoose.org

Program Percentage: 94%
Cost to Raise $100: $5

DonorsChoose.org aims to help raise awareness about accountability issues and educational inequality in public schools. It seeks to create a world in which all American children have equal access to high-quality education by engaging the public in educational issues and reform.

13. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $9

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s mission is to prevent pediatric HIV infections. Through education, research, advocacy, and treatment, the organization aims to help end pediatric AIDS.

14. Environmental Defense Action Fund

Program Percentage: 98%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

The Environmental Defense Action Fund seeks to educate the public about the environment and conservation. The organization also advocates for legislation and policies it believes will protect the environment.

15. Fisher House Foundation

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

The Fisher House Foundation creates and furnishes “Fisher Houses” for military and veteran families to stay at while a loved one is in the hospital. The organization also provides further financial assistance and scholarships to military families.

16. Friends of Animals

Program Percentage: 94%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Friends of Animals aims to help animals experiencing cruelty or institutional exploitation. They help fund and create litigation for no-free shelters, protect wild animals’ ability to roam freely, and more.

17. Hearing Health Foundation

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Hearing Health Foundation works to prevent hearing loss and tinnitus. It also hopes to develop a cure for both by supporting research and hearing health education.

18. Hispanic Federation

Program Percentage: 94%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Hispanic Federation is a Latino nonprofit organization aiming to advocate and advance Hispanic communities and families. It provides communities with a variety of services and resources for education, health, immigration, civil engagement, economic empowerment, and more.

19. Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

Hispanic Scholarship Fund provides scholarships and student services to help Hispanic students prepare for and earn their college degree. The organization provides students with support services and other resources they need to not only make it into the college classroom, but to succeed in college and after graduation.

20. Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $5

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund helps military members who have traumatic brain injuries or PTSD. The organization provides them access to treatment centers to help them continue to serve or enjoy life post-service.

21. Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $6

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation seeks to invest in research and education to find a cure for multiple myeloma. The organization also helps fund innovative new ways to treat myeloma and extend the lives of those affected by it.

22. National Alliance to End Homelessness

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

National Alliance to End Homelessness aims to help prevent and end U.S. homelessness. The organization seeks to educate the public on the causes of homelessness and potential solutions.

23. National Council on Aging

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

The National Council on Aging seeks to help older Americans who may be struggling financially, physically, mentally, or experiencing other issues. It also educates caregivers and advocates on how best to serve the elder community.

24. Pathfinder International

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Pathfinder International works to ensure that everyone around the world has the right to a healthy sexual and reproductive life. During COVID-19, the organization is also helping vulnerable communities survive the crisis.

25. PetSmart Charities

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

PetSmart Charities helps pets find life-long homes. The organization hosts adoption events and centers, as well educational and training programs to help humans learn how to support pets in need.

26. Population Services International

Program Percentage: 92%
Cost to Raise $100: $1

Population Services International provides those in developing countries with products and services to plan families and lead healthier lives. The organization also develops programming to help address gender-related health issues, including violence against women and women’s access to health services.

27. Prevent Child Abuse America (National Office)

Program Percentage: 90%
Cost to Raise $100: $6

Prevent Child Abuse America (National Office) aims to prevent child abuse and neglect in America. The organization educates the public on ways to build healthy environments for children using science and advocates for policies that protect children.

28. Scholarship America

Program Percentage: 95%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

Scholarship America helps American students make it into college classrooms through scholarships and educational support. The organization also provides mentorship to students and emergency grants for students at risk of dropping out for various reasons.

29. Semper Fi & America’s Fund

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

Semper Fi & America’s Fund helps combat-wounded, critically ill, or catastrophically injured veterans and their families with financial, family, and wellness support programs. The program also helps veterans transition back into their communities after a serious combat-related injury.

30. Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation seeks to honor fallen firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on duty on September 11, 2001. The organization helps the families of fallen firefighters and police officers pay off mortgages, among other programs.

31. Unbound

Program Percentage: 93%
Cost to Raise $100: $4

Unbound partners with families living in poverty to help them become self-sufficient and reach their full potential. The organization works with those experiencing poverty in 19 countries using Catholic theology to foster family and community relationship-building and self-empowerment.

32. United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)

Program Percentage: 98%
Cost to Raise $100: $3

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) aims to alleviate human suffering around the world caused by conflicts, war, natural disasters, and other causes of suffering. The organization has helped with refugee resettlement and other humanitarian missions.

33. Waterkeeper Alliance

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $7

Waterkeeper Alliance creates a network of global leaders to help protect peoples’ rights to clean water around the globe. The organization also has several campaigns to promote clean and safe energy, clean water, and to battle pollution caused by industrial meat farms, among other causes.

34. World Resources Institute

Program Percentage: 91%
Cost to Raise $100: $2

World Resources Institute aims to help people learn how to live in ways that better protect the environment for current and future generations. It educates the public on ways to make cities, energy, food, and businesses more environmentally friendly.

Making a Difference with Your Finances

Budgeting for charitable donations can be a good way to ensure your money helps the causes you care about. It can also benefit your finances if you receive a tax deduction for your donation. You could use that deduction to invest, reach your savings goals, contribute more to your retirement, or build up your emergency fund.

Recommended: How to Make End of Year Donations

The Takeaway

Need help learning how to make your money work for you and causes near and dear to your heart? Consider opening a SoFi Money® cash management account.

SoFi Money offers a special Vaults feature where you separate your savings from your spending, while still earning competitive interest on all your money. You can even set up a vault for your future charitable giving.

Photo credit: iStock/busracavus


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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.
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How to Sell a Car You Still Have a Loan On

How to Sell a Car You Still Have a Loan On

When someone wants or needs to sell a vehicle, but they still owe money on it, the process can be different from selling one without a loan balance — in other words, with a vehicle that’s been paid off in full. This post will guide you through how to sell a car with a loan under a few different scenarios and then will offer tips on buying the next vehicle.

How to Sell a Car You Still Owe Money On

At a high level, selling a vehicle with a loan has three main steps:

1.    Gather important info.

2.    Determine if you have positive or negative equity.

3.    Pick a selling option.

We’ll explore each of these steps in more depth next.

Gather Important Info

First, get a sense of what the car is worth. This will depend upon its condition, so objectively look at your vehicle. How clean is it? How well has it been maintained? What does the body and interior look like? Examine other used cars like yours for sale and see how they’re priced.

Look at used car valuation guides, as well. They will have different values for trade-ins (when working with a dealership) than for private-party sales (when selling to an individual), and will also list retail values. Look at the one that will fit the situation.

Also, verify the payoff amount on the vehicle’s loan. This will include the principal balance plus any accrued interest and is often available online or can be obtained by calling the lender. During the conversation about selling a vehicle with a loan, you can also find out how to send the payoff amount to the lender and when the lender wants to receive it (before or after the sale of the car).

Recommended: 31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

Determine If You Have Positive or Negative Equity

The vehicle’s equity is the difference between the resale value and the amount owed on it, and this number can be positive or negative.

Let’s say that a vehicle is valued at $20,000 with a loan amount of $10,000; that car has a positive equity amount of $10,000. If, though, the vehicle is valued at $20,000 and the outstanding loan amount is $25,000, then it has negative equity of $5,000. Loans on cars with negative equity are referred to as “upside-down” or “underwater.”

So, when figuring out how to sell a car with a loan, the processes will differ based on whether the vehicle has positive or negative equity as well as the selling option you select.

Pick a Selling Option

If you have a car with an outstanding loan balance — and it isn’t practical or even possible to pay it off — then selling a car with a loan can typically be handled in one of three ways:

•   Selling it to a used car dealership.

•   Selling it privately to another person.

•   Trading it in.

Selling a Car to a Used Car Dealership

If a car dealership will buy used cars without requiring that you buy one from them during the transaction, then the process will probably be pretty straightforward. The dealer will offer you a certain dollar amount and, if you agree, they will pay off the lender in exchange for getting the vehicle’s title.

If there is positive equity on the vehicle, then you’ll get the money that remains after the loan balance is paid off. If it’s a negative equity situation, then you’d need to pay the difference between what the used car dealer is willing to pay and what it takes to pay off the loan.

For example, If a dealer offers $15,000 on a vehicle that has a $10,000 loan, then the dealer would take care of the loan payoff and provide the person selling the car the remaining money (minus any fees involved). In a negative equity situation, for example, if the vehicle’s value is $10,000 and the outstanding loan is $13,000, then the seller would need to chip in the difference (in this case, $3,000 plus any fees) to complete the sale and transfer the title to the buyer.

Recommended: Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

Selling a Car Privately

With a private sale, you might get more money than you would from a used car dealer (who needs to re-sell the vehicle at a profit), but you’d also need to take on more responsibility for managing the sale. This includes the transfer of title and payment of fees among other duties.

Steps to take include the following:

•   Get the current loan payoff from the lender (there will likely be interest owed beyond the principal amount).

•   Find out what paperwork they’ll need and how they want the process to work.

•   Have the buyer follow the lender’s procedures when paying for the car.

From the lender’s perspective, they want to ensure that they get paid. So, as just one possibility, they may have a buyer pay them the agreed-upon price for the vehicle. If it’s more than what’s owed, then the lender could give you the overage. If it’s less than what’s owed, you could give the bank the difference between the price and loan amount.

When selling a car with a loan privately, you’ll also need to handle any fees and forms with the motor vehicle department of your state.

Trading In a Car You Still Owe Money On

As a third possibility, you could trade in the car with a loan balance to a dealer as part of purchasing either a new or used car. The dealer will offer a certain amount of credit for the trade-in vehicle and if its value is more than the loan amount, that difference would go towards the purchase of the replacement vehicle.

If the loan amount is higher than the value, then the dealer may agree to combine the vehicle’s negative equity with the loan for the replacement vehicle. If this is the chosen route, the term may need to be extended to create affordable payments and this will potentially lead to more interest being paid on the new loan.

Recommended: Leasing vs. Buying a Car: What’s Right for You?

The Takeaway

Selling a car with a loan is a little different from selling one that’s paid in full. When thinking about how to sell a financed car, it’s easier to do so if you have positive equity in your car but still can be doable with negative equity. Some options include selling to a dealer or to an individual or trading in the vehicle towards another one.

Setting up a SoFi Money® Vault as a car fund can be a good option for saving towards a new car if you’re considering selling your current vehicle. Account-holders earn interest on their deposits and pay zero fees, so more of your hard-earned money can be put toward your financial goals.

Learn how you can save, spend, and earn all in one place with SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/Sakkawokkie


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.
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When Should You Pay In Cash?

When Should You Pay in Cash?

It may seem old school to whip cash out of your wallet to pay for your purchases. But there are times when good-old greenbacks can actually be a better way to pay than tapping your credit card.

While credit can be a quick and convenient way to pay, using cash for many of your routine transactions can be more secure. Paying in cash can also help you save money, stick to your monthly spending budget, as well as duck savvy marketers.

Read on to learn when it’s better to pay with cash, and when plastic may be the ideal way to go.

The Benefits of Cash

You May Get a Discount

You may be rewarded for paying cash, like paying a lower price at the gas station or when you get take-out at a restaurant.

Many businesses pay a fee for accepting credit and debit cards, so they may be willing to charge you less if you’ll pay in cash. If you frequently fill up your tank, saving even 10 to 20 cents per gallon can add up to significant savings over time.

It Can Help You Avoid Overspending

When you tap or swipe your credit or debit card, you don’t physically see your money leaving your account. Since there’s no sense of immediacy or consequence, it can be easy to spend more than you originally intended.

If, on the other hand, you leave home with only the amount of money you need for the day in cash, your spending is likely to be more mindful and you may have a better chance of sticking to your budget.

Recommended: 9 Tips to Stop Overspending

There are Fewer Security Risks

Yes, someone could rob you when you are carrying cash. However, there is less risk of identity theft or your information getting stolen when you pay with cash vs a debit or credit card.

You Can Avoid Fees

Cash is a one-shot deal — the purchase you made won’t end up costing you a penny more. With credit and debit, however, you can end up paying additional charges down the line, from late fees and overdraft charges to interest payments on debt.

Recommended: How to Avoid Overdraft Fees

Times When You Should Pay in Cash

Your Tab is $10 or Less

It can be a good idea to carry cash for small purchases. Many retailers have a minimum amount of money you must spend in order to use debit or credit. If your purchase is under, you’ll have to throw in extra things (you probably don’t need) to meet the minimum.

When Shopping at a Small or Local Business

Small businesses often offer discounts for cash payments, since it helps them save on bank fees. This can be an easy way to support your local businesses and save a few dollars at the same time.

You Want to Keep Advertisers at Bay

You may have noticed that after you buy something with a credit or debit card, you often get hit with ads and offers for similar products. That’s because retailers can track their customers’ spending and share their information with a third party, who can then target them with ads.

This can be annoying, and also lead to more spending if you’re enticed by an offer. Using cash makes it much harder for businesses to collect and share your information.

Times When You Shouldn’t Pay With Cash

Buying a House

If real estate is hot where you live, you may be tempted (if you can) to plunk down cash to ensure you get that dream house before someone else does.

While buying a home with cash vs getting a mortgage may get you the house, it may not be the most prudent move in the long run, especially if it wipes out all of your savings.

A mortgage has tax benefits and timely payments can help you build good credit. Also, there could be better uses for all that cash, like investing in the stock market or elsewhere.

Business Expenses

If you own your own business, have a side gig, or do freelance work, it can be better to use credit (or even a check) to pay for business-related purchases. You’ll likely want a paper trail so you can deduct these expenses on your tax return.

Another potential perk of using credit is that it may offer some purchase protection in event something you buy for your business that breaks or gets stolen soon after you purchase it.

Paying Service Providers

You may think a service provider, whether it’s an electrician or an auto mechanic, did a good job, but only time will tell. Using credit can offer you some protection in the event that you experience problems with a service after you’ve already paid for it.

Renting a Car

Often your credit card will provide insurance on car rentals, but only if you use that form of payment, as opposed to debit or cash. Using credit for the car rental can help you avoid paying for something you don’t need to purchase.

Recommended: 10 Tips for the Cheapest Way to Rent a Car

You’re Looking to Build Credit

If you need to build your credit score, one way to accomplish that is to use your credit card on a regular basis and show that you’re responsible by paying what you owe each month, consistently and on time.

When Buying Electronics

Using your credit card instead of cash for electronics can be a big advantage if your credit card offers extended warranties as a cardmember benefit. This allows you to get peace of mind without having to pony up for the store’s warranty. And, you can simply pay off the balance as soon as the bill comes.

You’re Looking to Track Your Spending

If you’re looking to see where your money is going so you can track your spending and set up a monthly budget, it can be easier if you pay with credit or debit.

Your financial institution may even offer you a pie chart of your spending, broken down into categories. Seeing everything in black and white can help you become better at budgeting.

Alternatives to Using Cash

Cash vs Credit cards

A credit card can be a good alternative to cash if you are able to pay it off in full every month, and you do. If managed well, credit cards (even secured credit cards) can help you build credit to buy a home or another large purchase in the future.

Cash vs Debit cards

A debit card can be a good substitute for cash, as long as you know there’s money in the bank. By using a debit card, you’re not incurring any new high-interest debt. As long as you are not incurring any overdraft fees, or withdrawing money from ATMs that charge high fees, debit cards can be a simple way to make purchases.

Cash vs Financing or Loans

It can sometimes be better to pay for a major purchase, like a car or a home, with a loan rather than cash if the interest rate is lower than what you could likely earn by investing that money.

However, you’ll also want to keep in mind that there is risk involved in investing in the stock market, so there is always a chance that you could lose money.

Recommended: Leasing vs. Buying a Car: What’s Right for You?

The Takeaway

Even as we move towards a more cashless society, it can be important to keep cash in your wallet and use it for certain everyday expenses.

Paying in cash can help you garner discounts at local businesses, stick to your budget, avoid paying overdraft and interest fees, protect against identity theft, and keep advertisers from targeting you.

There are times, however, when it can make more sense to pay with credit rather than cash. These can include: when you’re making business purchases and buying electronics and/or you’re looking to build credit or closely track your spending.

Another easy way to keep close tabs on your everyday spending is to open a SoFi Money® cash management account. With SoFi Money, you can easily track your weekly spending — and make sure you’re not going overboard — right in the dashboard of the app.

Learn how SoFi Money can help you keep better track of your money today.

Photo credit: iStock/towfiqu ahamed


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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
.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Implied Volatility: What It Is & What It's Used For

Implied Volatility: What It Is & What It’s Used for

Implied volatility (IV) is a metric that describes the market’s expectation of future movement in the price of a security. Implied volatility, also known by the symbol σ (sigma), employs a set of predictive factors to forecast the future changes of a security’s price.

Investors sometimes use implied volatility as a way to understand the level of market risk they face. They calculate the implied volatility of a security using either the Black-Scholes model or the Binomial model.

What Is Volatility?

Volatility, as it relates to investments, is the pace at which the market price of a security moves up or down during a given period. During times of high volatility, prices experience frequent, large swings.

What Is Implied Volatility?

Implied volatility is, in essence, a prediction, based on probability. While it shapes the price of an option, it does not guarantee that the price activity of the underlying security will indeed be as volatile, or as stable, as the expectation embedded in its implied volatility. While implied volatility isn’t a window onto the future, it does often correlate with the broader opinion that the market holds regarding a given security.

To express implied volatility, investors typically use a percentage that shows the rate of standard deviation over a particular time period. As a measure of market risk, investors typically see the highest implied volatility during downward-trending or bearish markets, when they expect equity prices to go down.

During bull markets on the other hand, investors implied volatility tends to go down as more investors believe equity prices will rise. That said, as a metric, implied volatility doesn’t predict the direction of the price swings, only that the prices are likely to swing.

How Implied Volatility Affects Options

So how does implied volatility affect options? When determining the value of an options contract, implied volatility is a major factor. Options implied volatility can also help options traders decide whether and when to exercise their option.

Recommended: 10 Important Options Trading Strategies

An investor buying options contracts has the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a particular asset at an agreed-upon price during a specified time period. Because IV options forecast the size of the price change investors expect a security to experience in a specific time span, it directly affects the price an investor pays for an option. It would not help them determine whether they want a call or a put option.

It can also help investors determine whether they want to charge or pay an options premium for a security. Options on underlying securities that have high implied volatility come with higher premiums, while options on securities with lower implied volatility command lower premiums.

Recommended: Popular Options Trading Terminology to Know

Implied Volatility and Other Financial Products

Implied volatility impacts the prices of financial instruments other than options. One such instrument is the interest rate cap, a product aimed at limiting the increases in interest charged by variable-rate credit products.

For example, homeowners might purchase an interest rate cap to limit the risks associated with their variable-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans. Implied volatility is a major factor in the prices that people pay for those caps.

How Is Implied Volatility Calculated?

There are two implied volatility formulas that investors typically use.

Black-Scholes Model

One of the most widely used methods of calculating implied volatility is the Black-Scholes Model.

Sometimes known as the Black-Scholes-Merton model, the Black-Scholes model is named for three economists who developed the model in 1973.

It is a complex mathematical equation investors use as a way of projecting the price changes over time for financial instruments, including stocks, futures contracts, and options contracts.

Investors use the Black-Scholes Model to forecast different securities and financial derivatives. When used to price options, it uses the following factors:

•   Current stock price

•   Options contract strike price

•   Amount of time remaining until the option expires

•   Risk-free interest rates

The Black-Scholes formula takes those known factors and effectively back-solves for the value of volatility.

The Black-Scholes Model offers a quick way to calculate European-style options, which can only be exercised at their expiration date, but the formula is less useful to accurately calculating American options, since it only considers the price at an option’s expiration date. With American options, the owner may exercise at any time up to and including the expiration day.

Recommended: The Black-Scholes Model, Explained

Binomial Model

Many investors consider the binomial option pricing model more intuitive than the Black-Scholes model. It also represents a more effective way of calculating the implied volatility of U.S. options, which can be exercised at any point before their expiration date.

Invented in 1979, the binomial model uses the very simple assumption that at any moment, the price of a security will either go up or down.

As a method for calculating the implied volatility of an options contract, the binomial pricing model uses the same basic data inputs as Black-Scholes, along with the ability to update the equation as new information arises. In comparison with other models, the binomial option pricing model is very simple at first, but becomes extremely complex as it accounts for multiple time periods.

By using the binomial model with multiple periods of time, a trader can use an implied volatility chart to visualize the changes in implied volatility of the underlying asset over time, and evaluate the option at each point in time. It also allows the trader to update those multi-period equations based on each day’s price movements, and new market news emerges.

The calculations involved in the binomial model can take a long time to complete, which makes it difficult for short-term traders to utilize.

What Affects Implied Volatility?

The markets fluctuate, and so does the implied volatility of any security. As the price of a security rises, that can change its implied volatility, which translates to changes in the premium it costs to buy an option.

Another factor that changes the implied volatility priced into an option is the time left until the option expires. An option with a relatively near expiration date will have lower implied volatility than one with a longer duration. And as an options contract grows closer to its expiration, the implied volatility of that option tends to fall.

Implied Volatility Pros and Cons

There are both benefits and drawbacks to be aware of when using implied volatility to evaluate a security.

Pros

•   Implied volatility can help an investor quantify the market sentiment around a given security.

•   Implied volatility can estimate the size of the price movement that a particular asset may experience.

•   During periods of high volatility, implied volatility can help investors choose safer sectors or products.

Cons

•   Implied volatility cannot predict the future.

•   Implied volatility does not indicate the direction of the price movement a security is likely to experience.

•   Implied volatility does not factor in or reflect the fundamentals of the underlying security, but is based entirely on the security’s price.

•   Implied volatility does not account for unexpected adverse events that can affect the security, its price and its implied volatility in the future.

The Takeaway

Investors use implied volatility to predict the changes in security prices that increase the odds of success. It is a useful indicator but it has limitations, so investors may want to use it in connection with other types of analysis.

While investing in options and analyzing them using implied volatility is one method of investing, you can also get started with a more straightforward approach investing in stocks and exchange-traded funds. You can start that today, by opening an account on the SoFi Invest® brokerage platform. SoFi Invest offers an active investing solution that allows you to choose your stocks and ETFs without paying SoFi management fees and commissions. SoFi Invest also offers an automated investing solution that invests your money for you based on your goals and risk.

Photo credit: iStock/nortonrsx


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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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12 Factors that Make the Price of Bitcoin Go Up

11 Factors that Make the Price of Bitcoin Go Up

In 2009, the Bitcoin network went live and the world changed forever. The first cryptocurrency started out with a value of $0, and it took years before bitcoins gained value in terms of any national fiat currency. But at the time of writing in late September 2021, the value of Bitcoin had risen to over $47,000, after beginning at $0 just twelve years earlier.

There are a number of factors that drive Bitcoin’s prices — including its soaring highs and lows. Here are 11 factors.

1. Supply and Demand

Part of what determines Bitcoin price is supply and demand. The Bitcoin protocol is designed to limit the supply of new coins. A new block of transactions is mined about every 10 minutes, and miners receive a set reward of new bitcoins for finding each block.

This reward amount is steadily reduced overtime and there are only 21 million bitcoins that can ever be mined. As of June 2021, about 18.74 million bitcoins had been mined, leaving 2.26 million bitcoins remaining. It’s estimated that the final bitcoin will be mined sometime around the year 2140.

On the other hand, the fiat currencies that prices are measured in have no supply cap and are always being created in ever-increasing amounts. This can result in more fiat currencies chasing fewer bitcoins, which can lead to higher Bitcoin prices.

2. Bitcoin Halving

Halving is part of the Bitcoin protocol that contributes to the supply and demand dynamics. Rather than new bitcoins being created at a steady or ever-increasing rate, the reward that miners receive for mining new blocks gets cut by 50% every 4 years or so.

In 2009, the block reward was 50 bitcoins. Over the next 11 years, the reward was “halved” three times, or reduced as follows:

•   2012: 25 bitcoins

•   2016: 12.5 bitcoins

•   2020: 6.25 bitcoins

In this way, Bitcoin remains a deflationary currency thanks to the process of Bitcoin mining. Fiat currencies, being inflationary, work in the opposite manner. Their supply increases each year with no limit on how many currency units can be created.

3. Monetary Policy

Because Bitcoin has a fixed supply limit, the price tends to correlate with the supply of new fiat currency being created. An increase in the money supply can be part of what drives up Bitcoin’s price. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule — and past performance doesn’t always indicate future results.

It is worth noting that throughout 2020 and early 2021, the money supply in the U.S. saw massive increases to the tune of trillions and trillions of new dollars being created. During this same period, the price of Bitcoin rose from under $4,000 in March 2020 to over $60,000 in April 2021. When it comes to questions of what affects the Bitcoin price, monetary policy is thought to be a key factor.

4. Regulatory Factors

Regulatory news can also affect Bitcoin price. Some people believe that national governments will one day create such strict crypto regulations around Bitcoin and companies that use it that the technology will not survive. Because of this fear, sometimes it only takes a simple statement from a regulatory agency to cause prices to tank.

At the same time, some regulation can also be seen as a positive sign. It signals that the technology is seeing increased adoption and becoming more and more accepted. So, when regulatory agencies respond favorably to Bitcoin or announce new regulations that seem benevolent, this can be part of what makes Bitcoin go up.

5. Memes and Social Media

While technical matters and serious issues can contribute to what drives the Bitcoin price, more light-hearted factors can also influence what makes Bitcoin go up or down. Memes circulating on social media can sway sentiment toward crypto markets and possibly impact prices.

This could create a feedback loop where positive meme sharing leads to a bump in prices, which leads to more memes, leading to prices rising more, and the cycle continues. Some of the most popular Bitcoin memes involve phrases like “going to the moon” and references to sports cars like Lamborghinis.

Recommended: How to Use Social Media for Investing Tips: The Smart Way

6. Mainstream Media

In addition to social media, the regular news cycle can also influence Bitcoin price. Almost every time Bitcoin suffers a price correction, numerous mainstream media outlets begin publishing negative news.

Some of these can be so pessimistic that they fall into the category of what’s become known as “Bitcoin obituaries,” where a media outlet proclaims that Bitcoin has died. Sometimes influential politicians, bankers, or bureaucrats make negative statements about Bitcoin too, leading to similar effects on price.

On the other hand, when overall media coverage is positive, this can make the price of Bitcoin go up. In 2020 and 2021, news about famous influential investors making bullish bets on Bitcoin and large corporations adding Bitcoin to their balance sheets were seen as significant factors with regard to what makes Bitcoin go up.

7. Miners

In Bitcoin mining, powerful computers process transactions for the network, keeping Bitcoin running in a decentralized way. Mining operations continue running, at least in part, with funding from the bitcoins that they mine.

But miners have to be very careful about what they do with their new bitcoins. If miners believe the price of Bitcoin will go up in the future, they are likely to hold their coins for some time. If miners believe prices will go down soon, they might sell their coins immediately.

Miners refusing to sell new coins can be part of what makes Bitcoin go up, as new supply never makes it to crypto exchanges where it could drive prices down.

Recommended: What are Bitcoin Mining Pools? Should You Join One?

8. Hash Rate

The Bitcoin hash rate is one of the most important metrics in Bitcoin. The hash rate indicates how hard miners are working to solve the mathematical problems needed to process transactions. The more miners that are contributing computing power, the higher the hash rate.

While there’s disagreement about whether or not hash rate is part of what affects the price of Bitcoin, there does appear to at least be some correlation. If nothing else, a higher hash rate makes the network more secure and signals confidence in the near-term.

Recommended: What is a Good Hash Rate?

9. Network Adoption

Bitcoin is the world’s first decentralized monetary network. The more people using the network, the more valuable it tends to become. (This same principle holds true for things like social media networks, too.)

When it comes to the Bitcoin network, one of the main metrics used to measure adoption is the number of new crypto wallets being created. New wallets indicate that more people are using Bitcoin, some of them presumably for the first time. Sometimes when a lot of new wallets are coming online, this can be a sign of confidence in the technology and be part of what makes Bitcoin go up.

10. Risk Appetite

General sentiment in financial markets can be part of what makes Bitcoin go up. When investors feel comfortable taking on more risk than usual, they could be more likely to put money into Bitcoin.

On the other hand, some Bitcoin proponents believe Bitcoin to be more of a safe haven asset (the opposite of a risk asset). Bitcoin has a limited supply.

11. Technical Analysis

Crypto technical analysis can influence the price action of almost any tradeable asset. TA involves patterns identified by computer-generated data and from human eyes identifying patterns on charts. When a certain pattern emerges, it’s thought that prices could be about to move upward or downward, depending on the type of technical setup.

The Takeaway

When it comes to what makes Bitcoin go up, there are at least a dozen potential factors. Many of them are related to market sentiment, the status of the Bitcoin network, and supply-and-demand dynamics.

For individuals who want to invest in Bitcoin, SoFi Invest® may be a good place to start. With SoFi, you can trade cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Solana, Enjin Coin, Cardano, Litecoin, and more.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/cokada


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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