What Is Liquidity In Stocks?

Liquidity in stocks generally refers to how quickly an investment can be bought or sold and converted into cash. The easier an investment is to sell, the more liquid it is. Plus, liquid investments generally do not charge large fees when you need to access your money.

For the average investor, liquidity is an important consideration when building a portfolio, as it’s an indicator of how easy it is to access their savings. That can be important to know and understand when sizing up your overall strategy.

Types of Liquidity

Liquidity comes in two forms: Market liquidity and accounting liquidity. Here’s how the two are different.

Market Liquidity

Market liquidity refers to how quickly a stock can be turned into cash. High market liquidity means there’s a high supply and demand for an asset. That, in turn, makes it easy for buyers to find sellers and vice versa. As a result, transactions can be completed quickly, even when stock values are dropping.

Accounting Liquidity

Accounting liquidity is related to an individual’s or company’s ability to meet their financial obligations, such as regular bills or debt payments.

For an individual, being liquid means they have enough cash or marketable assets (such as stocks) on hand to meet their obligations.

Companies measure liquidity slightly differently by comparing current assets and debt. In addition to cash and marketable assets, current assets also include inventories and accounts receivable, the money customers owe on credit for goods or services they’ve purchased.

Investors may pay attention to company liquidity if they are researching that company’s stock as a potential buy. Companies with higher liquidity may be in better shape than those in risk of defaulting on their debt.


💡 Quick Tip: Before opening any investment account, consider what level of risk you are comfortable with. If you’re not sure, start with more conservative investments, and then adjust your portfolio as you learn more.

How Liquid Are Different Assets?

An investor’s financial portfolio may be made up of a number of different assets of varying liquidities, including cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, and savings vehicles like certificates of deposit (CDs). Cash is the most liquid asset; there is nothing an investor needs to do to convert it into spendable currency.

On the other hand, an investment property is an example of a relatively illiquid asset, as it might take a long time for an investor to sell it should they need access to their money.

CDs are also relatively illiquid assets because they require investors to tie up their money for a preset period of time in exchange for higher interest rates than those available in regular savings accounts. Individuals who need their money early may have to pay hefty fines to access it.

Stocks generally fall on the relatively liquid side of the liquidity spectrum. Stocks that are easy to buy and sell and said to be highly liquid. Stocks with low liquidity may be tougher to sell, and investors may take a bigger financial hit as they seek buyers.

What Is Liquidity Risk?

Liquidity risk is the risk that an individual won’t be able to find a buyer or seller for assets they wish to trade during a given period of time, which can lead to adverse effects on the price. Liquidity risk is higher for complex investments or investment vehicles like CDs that may charge penalties to liquidate or access funds early.

Are Stocks a Liquid Asset?

For the most part, stocks that are traded on a public exchange are considered liquid assets. Some stocks, like those traded on foreign exchanges, may be less liquid as it takes more time to execute a trade.

Generally speaking, when an individual wishes to execute a trade, they use a brokerage account to issue a buy or sell order. The broker then helps match the individual with other buyers and sellers hoping to take the opposite action.

This process can take a little bit of time. Most stock trades settle within a two-day period. A stock trade executed on a Wednesday would typically settle on Friday. Settlement is the official transfer of stocks from a seller’s account to the buyer’s account, and cash from the buyer to the seller.

Because it can take some time for trades to be executed, there can be a difference in price between when an individual places an order and when that order is fulfilled.

How to Calculate a Stock’s Liquidity

One way to figure out a stock’s liquidity is by looking at a metric known as share turnover. This financial ratio compares the volume of shares traded and the number of outstanding shares. A stock’s volume is the number of shares that have been bought or sold over a given period. Outstanding shares refer to all of the shares held by a company’s shareholders.

Higher share turnover indicates high liquidity; investors have an easier time buying and selling. Investors might want to pay close attention to low share turnover, as this can indicate they may have a difficult time selling shares if they need to.

Another measure of a stock’s liquidity is the bid-ask spread. Bid price is the price an individual is willing to pay at a given point in time. The ask price is the price at which a buyer is willing to sell. The bid-ask spread is the difference between the two.

For highly liquid assets, the bid-ask spread tends to be pretty small — as little as a penny. This indicates that buyers and sellers are generally in agreement over what the price of a stock should be. However, as bid-ask spread grows, it is an indication that a stock is increasingly illiquid.

A wide spread can also indicate that a trade may be much more expensive to execute. For example, there may not be enough trade volume to execute an entire order at one price. If prices are rising, an order can become increasingly pricey.


💡 Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

Examples of Liquid Stocks

The most liquid stocks tend to be those that receive the most interest from investors. The large companies that are tracked by the S&P 500 Index.

Why Stock Liquidity Is Important for Investors

The relative liquidity provided by stocks can be a boon to investors. Stocks help provide the growth needed for investors to meet their savings goals. They are also relatively easy to buy and sell on the market, allowing investors to access their savings quickly when they need it.

The Takeaway

Liquidity is a measure of the ability to turn assets into cash without losing value. So it’s an important metric for investors to pay attention to as they construct their portfolios. But liquidity is just one of many factors to consider when investing.

Investors may want to know how liquid their holdings are so that they can choose the appropriate mix of investments that align with their risk tolerance. It may be comforting to some to know that they can sell investments with relative ease, rather than have their money tied up for the long-term.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

What is good liquidity for a stock?

Good liquidity for a stock refers to an investor’s ability to sell the stock in exchange for cash. If a stock is liquid, then it should be relatively easy to sell. If a stock is illiquid, or has bad liquidity, it may be more difficult.

What is a “Liquidity Ratio?”

A liquidity ratio is a financial ratio that can help an investor determine a company’s ability to pay off its debt obligations, particularly in the short-term. There are several liquidity ratios that can be utilized.

Is a higher liquidity better?

Generally, yes, a higher liquidity is better for investors, as it can signal that a company is performing well, and that its stock is in demand. It can also be easier for an investor to sell that stock in exchange for cash.


Photo credit: iStock/insta_photos

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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.

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What to Know About a Market Sell-Off

A market sell-off occurs when a large pool of investors decide to sell stocks. When they do this, stock prices fall as a result. A market sell-off may be due to external events, such as public health emergencies or natural disasters. But sometimes, sell-offs can be triggered by earnings reports that failed expectations, technological disruption, or internal shifts within an industry.

During a market sell-off, stock prices tumble. That stock volatility might lead other investors to wonder whether they should sell as well, whether they should hold their current investments, or whether they should buy while stock prices are low. There are a lot of things to consider.

Understanding Bull Markets vs Bear Markets

Understanding the overall stock market environment can help investors understand how sell-offs exist within the market.

It’s not uncommon to see references to a bull market and a bear market. A bull market is when the stock market is showing gains. There are no specific levels of increase that indicates a bull market, but the phrase is commonly used when stocks are “charging ahead” — and is generally considered a good thing.

A bear market, on the other hand, is typically used to describe situations when major indexes fall 20% or more from their recent peak, and remain there for at least two months.

💡 Looking for more differences? Check out our bear vs bull market comparison.

There are also “corrections.” This is when the market falls 10% or more from a recent stock market high. Market corrections are called such because historically, they “correct” prices to a longer-term trend, rather than hold them at a high that’s not sustainable. Sometimes, corrections turn into a bear market. Other times, corrections reach a low and then begin to climb back to a more level price, avoiding a bear market.

What to Do During a Market Sell-Off

A sell-off can make news, and can make investors feel on-edge. After all, investors don’t want to lose money and some investors fear that a sell-off portends more bad news, like a bear market.

Other investors see sell-offs as an opportunity to buy stocks at lower prices before the market bounces back. But a sell-off or correction may not trigger a dramatic change in every investor’s portfolio. That’s because a sell-off or correction may be limited to a certain market sector or group of stocks, such as if a tariff impacted select companies.

So, what should an investor do during a market sell-off? That depends on the goals of an investor. Market sell-offs are “normal” fluctuations of the market, and investors who have a diversified portfolio may not do anything. Others may choose to either buy or sell—and neither decision is one-size-fits-all.

Pros & Cons of Selling During a Sell-Off

Some investors may get spooked and sell stocks in fear that the market will slide further. But while taking money out of the market may give investors confidence and cash in their pockets, removing money from the market might make it hard for investors to decide when to re-invest in the market in the future. As a result, they may miss opportunities to take advantage of compounding interest in investments.

Pros & Cons of Buying During a Sell-Off

Other investors may see a sell-off as an opportunity to invest when the market is down. They might buy stocks at a lower price, then wait for the market to bounce back. But a market sell-off may not necessarily be the optimum time to buy stocks, especially if it’s unclear what’s driving the sell-off.

Many investors pride themselves on their perceived ability to “time the market,” or buy stocks right before they begin to rise again. But the truth is that “timing the market” often relies on luck, deep knowledge of the industry, timing, or a combination of all three.

For many investors, the best way to “time” the market may be to invest when they can afford to do so in a diversified portfolio, and allow their money to ride out the highs and lows of market movements.

Why Risk Tolerance Matters During Market Sell-Offs

Understanding your own risk tolerance — and investment goals — can help an investor decide how to handle a market sell-off. Risk tolerance is the amount of risk an investor is willing to take, and depends on several factors.

•   Risk capacity. This is your ability to handle a risk. For example, people who are depending on their investment portfolio to fund their lives, such as retirees, may have a lower risk tolerance than young people who have years for their portfolio to make up losses.

•   Benchmarks. Are there benchmarks their portfolio has to hit at set periods of time so that their portfolio reaches the goals they have set?

•   Emotional tolerance. All investors have different emotional capacity for risk tolerance, that may be independent from the actual amount of money within the portfolio.

Understanding your personal risk tolerance can help you build an investment portfolio that may be less vulnerable to market sell-offs and can also give you less trepidation during a sell-off.


💡 Quick Tip: When people talk about investment risk, they mean the risk of losing money. Some investments are higher risk, some are lower. Be sure to bear this in mind when investing online.

How Diversification Can Help Protect a Portfolio From Sell-Offs

A portfolio diversification strategy may be different between investors, but the underlying logic of any diversification strategy is that they shouldn’t put all of their eggs in one basket. Since it’s not unusual for a sell-off to affect only parts of the market, a diverse portfolio may be able to better ride out a market sell-off than a portfolio that is particularly weighted toward one sector, industry, or exchange.

Some investors may diversify with a range of assets in their portfolio. Others may diversify their portfolio with a range of domestic and international stocks. And others may see diversification as a way to invest beyond the market, such as investing directly in real estate, art, or other different types of investments that are independent of market movement.

Another way some investors ensure diversification within their portfolio is to focus the majority of their portfolio on exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds, instead of individual stocks. ETFs and mutual funds can contain hundreds or even thousands of securities across asset classes, which can potentially make the fund less vulnerable to market dips.

Protecting a Portfolio From Sell-Offs

In addition to building a portfolio that’s less vulnerable to market volatility, investors have several options to further protect their portfolio. These preventative investment measures can remove emotion during a market dip or sell-off, so that an investor knows that there are stopgaps and safeguards for their portfolio.

Stop Losses

This is an automatic trade order that investors can set up so that shares of a certain stock are automatically traded or sold when they hit a price predetermined by an investor. This can protect an investment for an individual stock or for an overall market drop. There are several stop loss order variants, including a hard stop (the trade will execute when the stock reaches a set price) and a trailing stop (the price to trade changes as the price of the stock increases).

Put Options

Put options are another type of order that allow investors to sell at a set price during a certain time frame; “holding” the price if the stock drops lower and allowing the investor to sell at the higher price even if the stock drops further.

Limit Orders

Investors can also set limit orders. These allow an investor to choose the price and number of shares they wish to buy of a certain stock. The trade will only execute if the stock hits the set price. This allows investors freedom from tracking numbers as price points shift.


💡 Quick Tip: When you’re actively investing in stocks, it’s important to ask what types of fees you might have to pay. For example, brokers may charge a flat fee for trading stocks, or require some commission for every trade. Taking the time to manage investment costs can be beneficial over the long term.

The Takeaway

A market sell-off is triggered when a large group of investors sell their stocks at once, causing stock prices to drop. A sell-off can be caused by world events, industry changes, or even corporate news.

There is no single smart way to react to a sell-off. Different investors will gravitate toward different strategies. But by researching companies and setting up a portfolio based on risk tolerance, an investor can feel confident that their portfolio can withstand market volatility.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


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.

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

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


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.
Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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What Is the U.S. Debt Ceiling?

The US Debt Ceiling, Explained

These days, the U.S. debt ceiling is in the headlines and on everyone’s mind. Although the debt ceiling is technically the amount of money the country can legally borrow to pay its bills, that doesn’t do justice to the hotly debated issue the debt ceiling has become.

As the country’s fiscal obligations continue to grow, Congress periodically must increase the limit the government can borrow, so that the U.S. can issue bonds to have enough money to continue to operate. The U.S. reached its current debt ceiling on January 19, 2023.

Many lawmakers and economists worry that increasing the debt ceiling continually could have a negative impact on the U.S. economy over the long term, as it allows the federal government to spend more than it takes in.

The danger, however, is that failing to raise the debt ceiling would have an immediate negative impact because the U.S. could default on its debts — pushing domestic and global markets into turmoil.

What Is the Debt Ceiling?

The U.S. debt ceiling — sometimes called the debt limit — is the legal limit on how much money the U.S. federal government can borrow to fund government operations. The debt ceiling only authorizes borrowing to cover existing obligations; it does not allow for new spending.

The U.S. government owes more than $31 trillion, which it accrues by issuing bonds. That includes more than $24 trillion owed to the public, including individuals, businesses, and foreign governments, and nearly $7 trillion to itself, borrowed from government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration.

💡 Recommended: Who Owns the U.S. National Debt?

Recent Changes to the Debt Ceiling

When federal spending pushes up against this limit, as it is right now, Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling.

For example, in August of 2021, Congress reinstated the debt ceiling to about $28.5 trillion after suspending it in 2019. In October 2021, Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling limit by $480 billion to keep the government running through early December.

Next, Congress passed a $2.5 trillion increase in the debt ceiling in December 2021, which President Biden promptly signed, bringing the debt limit up to about $31.4 trillion. Analysts expected the U.S. government to hit the debt ceiling in January 2023, which it did on January 19.

What Will Happen to the Debt Ceiling?

As of May 9, 2023, the debt ceiling battle was front and center, with a few possible outcomes:

•   Congress could vote to raise the debt limit, as it has done since the debt ceiling was first created in 1917 (see more on the history of the debt ceiling below).

•   Both parties could negotiate a way forward, by agreeing to cut spending while also raising the debt ceiling.

•   The president could use his executive powers to bypass the debt ceiling.

Finally, although very unlikely, the government could default on its debts. This has never occurred, and would be unprecedented — potentially leading to a global financial crisis.

Where Did the Debt Ceiling Come From?

Congress first enacted the debt ceiling in 1917 at the beginning of World War I through the Second Liberty Bond Act. That act set the debt ceiling at $11.5 billion. The creators of the debt ceiling believed it would make the process of borrowing easier and more flexible. In 1939, as World War II loomed on the horizon, Congress established a debt limit of $45 billion that covered all government debt.

Before the creation of the debt ceiling, Congress had to approve loans individually or allow the Treasury to issue debt instruments for specific purposes. The debt ceiling granted the government greater freedom to borrow funds via issuing bonds, allowing it to spend as needed. And over time the ceiling was often raised, and rarely contested.

The debt ceiling has, however, become a partisan pain point in recent years.

Benefits and Drawbacks of the Debt Ceiling

The debt ceiling has several advantages. It allows Congress to fund government operations and simplifies the process of borrowing. It also, theoretically, serves as a way to keep government spending in check because the federal government should consider the debt ceiling as it passes spending bills.

However, there are also some drawbacks. Congress has consistently raised the debt ceiling when necessary, which some analysts claim dampens the legislative branch’s power as a check and balance. And if Congress does not increase the debt ceiling, there is a risk that the government will default on its loans, lowering the country’s credit rating and making it more expensive to borrow in the future.

Debt Ceiling and Congress

In the last 10 or 15 years, Congress has found itself embroiled in partisan battles over raising the debt ceiling. For example, during the Obama administration, there were two high-profile debt ceiling standoffs between the president and Congress. In 2011, some members of Congress threatened to allow the U.S. government to hit the debt ceiling if their preferred spending cuts were not approved.

This standoff led Standard & Poor’s, a credit rating agency, to downgrade U.S. debt from a AAA to a AA+ rating.

Moreover, in 2013 there was a government shutdown when members of Congress would not approve a bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling unless the president made their preferred spending cuts. This standoff ended after 16 days when Congress finally approved a spending package and a debt ceiling increase partially due to the potential for a further downgrade of U.S. debt.

However, only some debt ceiling increases have been a partisan battle. Congress has raised or made changes to the debt ceiling nearly 100 times since World War II, usually on a bipartisan basis.

What Happens if Congress Fails to Raise the Debt Ceiling?

The current debate centers on finding a long-term solution for raising the debt ceiling. If the executive and legislative branches can not reach an agreement, there could be several consequences.

•   The government will swiftly run out of cash if it can not issue more bonds. At that point, the money the government has coming in would not cover the millions of debts that come due each day. The government may default, at least temporarily, on its obligations, such as pensions, Social Security payments, and veterans benefits.

•   A U.S. government default could also have a ripple effect throughout the global economy. Domestic and international markets depend on the stability of U.S. debt instruments like Treasuries, which are widely considered among the safest investments.

•   Interest rates for Treasury bills could rise, and interest rates across other sectors of the economy could follow suit, raising the borrowing cost for home mortgages and auto loans, for example.

•   A default could also create stock volatility in global equity markets, turmoil in bond markets, and push down the value of the U.S. dollar.

💡 Recommended: What Is the U.S. Dollar Index?

Even the threat of a default can have serious economic ramifications. In 2011, delays in raising the debt limit increased the cost of borrowing by $1.3 billion, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates.

What Are Extraordinary Measures?

When the government hits the debt limit, there are certain “extraordinary measures” it can take to continue paying its obligations. For example, the government can suspend new investments or cash in on old ones early. Or it can reduce the amount of outstanding Treasury securities, causing outstanding debt to fall temporarily.

These accounting techniques can extend the government’s ability to pay its obligations for a very short amount of time.

Once the government exhausts its cash and these extraordinary measures, it has no other way to pay its bills aside from incoming revenue, which doesn’t cover all of it. Revenue from income tax, payroll taxes, and other sources only cover about 80% of government outlays, according to the U.S. Treasury.

Can Congress Get Rid of the Debt Ceiling?

As noted above, the debt ceiling debate has become fertile ground for partisan fighting in Congress, but theoretically, it doesn’t have to be that way. For example, Congress could give responsibility for raising the debt ceiling to the president, subject to congressional review, or pass it off to the U.S. Treasury. Congress could also repeal the debt ceiling entirely.

The Takeaway

A failure to raise the debt ceiling and a subsequent default could have a significant impact on financial markets, from increased volatility to a decline in the value of the dollar to a lower national credit rating or even a recession. Given such consequences, it’s likely that Congress will continue to find ways to raise the debt ceiling, although political battles around the issue may continue.

Even if the debt ceiling continues to go up, the growing national debt could lead to economic instability, according to some economists. It’s hard to predict, since the debt ceiling has been raised about 100 times since World War I, when it was first established, and the U.S. has yet to face grave consequences as a result.

While it’s important to keep an eye on macroeconomic trends, it’s also wise to stay focused on your own investment goals. One way to start is by opening an investment account with SoFi Invest®. With a SoFi online brokerage account, you can build a portfolio suited to your financial needs.

Take a step toward reaching your financial goals with SoFi Invest.


Photo credit: iStock/William_Potter

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.

In our efforts to bring you the latest updates on things that might impact your financial life, we may occasionally enter the political fray, covering candidates, bills, laws and more. Please note: SoFi does not endorse or take official positions on any candidates and the bills they may be sponsoring or proposing. We may occasionally support legislation that we believe would be beneficial to our members, and will make sure to call it out when we do. Our reporting otherwise is for informational purposes only, and shouldn’t be construed as an endorsement.

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The Risks of Playing the Stock Market

Playing the stock market is a common but misleading phrase: The stock market is not a game and it does come with investment risks.

To some degree, those risks can be mitigated by using certain strategies, including using a more long-term, buy-and-hold strategy and embracing diversification, among other things.

And while investing is a serious business, playing the stock market can have an element of fun to it in the sense that investors who do their research — and tune into the news and business cycles — can take advantage of trends that might enable them to earn better returns on investment.

Playing the Stock Market: What Does It Mean?

Despite the phrase “playing” the stock market, it’s important to make the distinction between investing and gambling up front.

While both gambling and investing involve risk, investing actively attempts to manage various forms of risk, rather than relying on blind luck. Second, smart investing involves a strategy, something that a gambler pulling the lever on a slot machine can’t employ.

But because all investing involves an element of risk — there is no 100% safe investment — in a way each investment can feel like a gamble. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the market is not a casino, and just because there’s risk involved doesn’t mean that “playing the market” is the same as playing roulette.

Playing the Market: Risks and Rewards

Learning how to play the stock market — in other words, become a good investor — takes time and patience. It’s good to know the basics of the risks and rewards.

Potential Risks

In a broad sense, the most obvious risk of playing the market is that an investor will lose their investment. But on a more granular level, investors face a number of different types of risks, especially when it comes to stocks. These include market risk, liquidity risk, and business risks, which can manifest in a variety of ways in the real world.

A disappointing earnings report can tank a stock’s value, for instance. Or a national emergency, like a viral pandemic, can affect the market at large, causing an investor’s portfolio to deflate. Investors are also at the mercy of inflation — and stagflation, too.

For some investors, there’s also the risk of playing a bit too safe — that is, they’re not taking enough risk with their investing decisions, and as such, miss out on potential gains.

Potential Rewards

Risks reap rewards, as the old trope goes. And generally speaking, the more risk one assumes, the bigger the potential for rewards — though there is no guarantee because risk always entails the possibility of losses as well. Investors may earn returns in a couple of different ways:

•   By seeing the value of their investment increase. The value of individual stocks rise and fall depending on a multitude of factors, but the market overall tends to rise over time, and has fully recovered from every single downturn it’s ever experienced.

•   By earning dividend income. Dividends from stocks can also be reinvested, in order to further grow your investments.

•   By leaving their money in the market. It’s worth mentioning that the longer an investor keeps their money in the market, the bigger the potential rewards of investing are.

How to Play the Stock Market Wisely

Nobody wants to start investing only to lose money or see their portfolio’s value fall right off the bat. Here are a few tips regarding how to play the stock market, that can help reduce risk:

Invest for the Long-term

The market tends to go up with time, and has recovered from every previous dip and drop. For investors, that means keeping their money in the market for the long haul can be one strategy to mitigate the risks of short-term market drops.

As another common saying has it: “Time in the market beats timing the market.”

Consider: If an investor buys stocks today, and the market falls tomorrow, they risk losing a portion of their investment by selling it at the decreased price. But if the investor commits to a buy-and-hold strategy — they don’t sell the investment in the short-term, and instead wait for its value to recover — they effectively mitigate the risks of short-term market dips.

That said, you can’t rule out the risk of a downturn from which the markets never recover. It’s never happened, but no one has a crystal ball.

Do Your Research

It’s always smart for an investor to do their homework and evaluate a stock before they buy. While a gambler can’t use any data or analysis to predict what a slot machine is going to do on the next pull of the lever, investors can look at a company’s performance and reports to try and get a sense of how strong (or weak) a potential investment could be.

Understanding stock performance can be an intensive process. Some investors can find themselves elbow-deep in technical analysis, poring over charts and graphs to predict a stock’s next moves. But many investors are looking to merely do their due diligence by trying to make sure that a company is profitable, has a plan to remain profitable, and that its shares could increase in value over time.

Diversify

Another risk-mitigation strategy that investors can employ is diversification. Diversification basically means that an investor isn’t putting all of their eggs into one basket.

For example, they might not want their portfolio to comprise only two airline stocks, because if something were to happen that stalls air travel around the world, their portfolio would likely be heavily affected. But if they instead invested in five different stocks across a number of different industries, their portfolio might still take a hit if air travel plummets, but not nearly as severely as if its holdings were concentrated in the travel sector.

Use Dollar-cost Averaging

Dollar-cost averaging can also be a useful strategy. Essentially, it means making a series of small investments over time, rather than one lump-sum investment. Since an investor is now buying at a number of different price points (some may be high, some low), the average purchase price smooths out potential risks from price swings.

Conversely, an investor that buys at a single price-point will have their performance tied to that single price.

The Takeaway

While playing the market may be thrilling — and potentially lucrative — it is risky. But investors who have done their homework and who are entering the market with a sound strategy may be able mitigate those risks to a degree.

By researching stocks ahead of time, and employing risk-reducing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification when building a portfolio, an investor is more likely to be effective at mitigating risk.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an Active Invest account with SoFi invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here). Members can access complimentary financial advice from a professional.

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


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

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.

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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Luxury for Less: How to Travel Posh

If you like to travel and appreciate the finer things in life, you might dream of a posh vacation. Maybe your fantasy is staying at a sprawling resort by the sea or an urban boutique hotel with a spectacular rooftop bar. Or perhaps you dream of immersive experiences, liking a private cooking class with a local chef or a wine-tasting tour through Napa Valley.

But then reality kicks in. You look at your actual budget and realize you probably can’t make that fantasy a reality.

Or could you? It just so happens there are a few ways to snag luxury travel for less. Learn more here, including:

•   Which destinations can help you afford luxury travel

•   Tips for traveling posh for less

Average Cost of an Affordable Luxury Vacation

It’s hard to give just one number here, since costs will vary depending on the number of travelers, your destination, and how long you plan to stay. But expect to pay a few thousand dollars.

Recent surveys indicate that the cost strictly for travel (airline tickets, parking, car rental) for a family of four on a four-day domestic trip can easily nudge close to $2,000. And that’s not including lodging or food, let alone expenses for attractions and entertainment, which can easily add another $1,000 to that sum.

So make sure to decide where to keep a travel fund and nurture it, and then work to keep your vacation’s price tag from busting your budget.

Destinations Where You Get More for Less

According to crowd-sourced travel expense site Budget Your Trip, here are a few places where you can get more bang for your buck. The average prices listed below are for two people for a week on a high-end trip. Your cost may vary, but this should give you an idea of destinations where you can travel luxuriously for less than you might think.

•   Thailand $4,675

•   Mexico $4,091

•   Portugal $3,807

•   Slovakia $3,311

•   Costa Rica $3,098

•   Vietnam $2,077

•   Morocco $1,475

Obviously, if you are traveling domestically, you’ll save money by avoiding air travel. If you can drive to a nearby city or resort, you can reallocate dollars to lodging or entertainment.

Recommended: Where to Find Book Now, Pay Later Vacations

7 Tips for Traveling Posh

If you want to travel in luxury on a budget, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Visit Off-Season

It’s generally true that if you want to visit a popular destination at the same time that everyone else wants to go there, you’re likely to pay more. If your summer travel takes you to a popular beach destination, you’ll pay more than if you visit it in the off season. A week of shopping and cafe hopping in Paris may be pricey in July, but what if you went in March or November? You might be able to afford a junior suite at the hotel you’ve been eyeing vs. a standard room. The more flexible that you can be with your travel dates or destination, the more likely you’re able to travel in luxury at a reduced cost.

One way that families afford to travel is by traveling during the off season or shoulder season, which is the bridge between high season, when everyone wants to go, and the low season, where demand is much diminished.

Book a (Semi-) Private Plane

Some ultra-glamorous experiences have a surprisingly manageable price. An example: With the rising cost of airfare, you may be able to fly a semi-private jet for not much more than flying commercial. While booking a private plane will likely cost more than flying with a traditional airline (especially if you usually travel basic economy), the added cost may be worth the trade off for the extra luxury and convenience. Plus, you get bragging rights to drop the phrase “private jet” into your conversation.

With a semi-private flight, 15 to 30 passengers fly on a predetermined route and schedule. Carriers include Aero, Blade, Surf Air, and Set Jet. Typical flights go from California to Mexican getaway destinations, or New York to vacation islands off the Eastern seaboard.

Prices can be similar to first-class flights: $200 and up for a short hop; into four figures for ones that are longer flights. Bonuses include avoiding the draining experience of going through long security lines at major airports, as these carriers often use smaller private terminals.

You may also be able to use credit card rewards to help defray some of the costs.

Book New Hotels

If you’re wondering how to save money on hotels and travel in luxury for less, look into booking a brand new hotel. Sometimes new hotels will offer discounts when they first open. They might not have all the kinks worked out yet, plus they need to start building a clientele.

Just make sure that you stay flexible with your plans, since hotels don’t always open on time — consider booking your stay with a travel credit card that offers trip insurance if your hotel is still under construction.

Recommended: How Does Credit Card Travel Insurance Work?

Skip the Hotel

Another luxury travel tip is to consider alternative forms of lodging. Rather than stay in a chain hotel, you might be able to find an alternate vacation rental that gives you a more elegant and authentic experience at a similar price point.

For instance, instead of booking into a small and expensive Los Angeles hotel room, you might stay in an Airbnb or VRBO apartment in a cool neighborhood. Having, say, a whole one-bedroom to yourself can make for a stay that’s more posh and memorable.

If you are traveling with pets, you may be able to find a place that is more pet-friendly and allows you to skip hotel pet fees.

Use a Travel Agent

If you prefer elegant travel, consider using a travel agent that specializes in luxury travel. Many travel agents have access to special deals or know of ways to travel in luxury on a budget. It’s possible to come out ahead even after paying the agent their commission.

Redeem Your Rewards

Another way to travel in luxury for less is to consider using your credit card miles or credit card cash back to travel. As one example, many airlines allow you to redeem miles for business class flights, often at very reasonable rates. Or if you don’t have enough miles for a free ticket, you could buy an economy class ticket and use your rewards to bump up to business class.

Either way, when you arrive at your destination relaxed and rested after using your miles to fly business class at a fraction of the cash cost, you’ll definitely feel like you’ve traveled in style.

You may also get other bonuses. Some hotel rewards programs will offer a free night when you book three, free breakfast, and other perks for being a member. Working those freebies and discounts can really pay off.

Also, you may have points from renting a car from the same agency every time. That can give you an affordable set of wheels for the weekend so you and your bff can stay at a posh spa together.

Plan a High-Low Trip

Another way to travel posh is to prioritize what’s important to you and allocate more of your travel budget there. For instance, if you want to go to London for the theater and high tea, you can fly economy and stay in a basic hotel so you can enjoy those luxurious experiences.

Or if it’s your dream to spend a week somewhere near Cancun or Tulum and snorkel every day, make that snorkel time your top priority, budget for it, and then find a small, relaxed hotel versus one of the mega-resorts to save on your lodging bill.

The Takeaway

A luxury trip doesn’t always have to break the bank. Instead, set a budget and decide beforehand what types of lodging, experiences, and activities are most important to you. If you have the money set aside for it, don’t be afraid to splurge on something that is meaningful to you. Often those types of experiences can make memories that stay with you forever. Remember, not every aspect of a trip needs to be five-star in order for you to savor a posh getaway.

SoFi Travel has teamed up with Expedia to bring even more to your one-stop finance app, helping you book reservations — for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more — all in one place. SoFi Members also have exclusive access to premium savings, with 10% or more off on select hotels. Plus, earn unlimited 3%** cash back rewards when you book with your SoFi Unlimited 2% Credit Card through SoFi Travel.

SoFi Travel can take you farther.


Photo credit: iStock/Astronaut Images

**Terms, and conditions apply: The SoFi Travel Portal is operated by Expedia. To learn more about Expedia, click https://www.expediagroup.com/home/default.aspx.
When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.
Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user.
You must agree to SoFi’s privacy consent agreement.
You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible.
You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.

SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.
Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities.
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1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

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

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

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