All You Need to Know About a Foreign Currency Certificate of Deposit

All You Need to Know About a Foreign Currency Certificate of Deposit

A foreign currency certificate of deposit (CD) is similar to an ordinary CD in that an investor can lock up funds for a period of time and earn a set interest rate. But with a foreign CD, the money is converted into another currency for the duration of the term; the funds earn interest in that currency, and the money is converted back to dollars at the maturity date.

Foreign currency CDs sometimes offer much higher returns than other types of CDs. However, they do come with some potential downsides and these CDs can be affected by volatility in the currency markets.

Here’s what you need to know about how foreign currency CDs work, their pros and cons, and how to start investing in them.

How Foreign Currency CDs Work

There are a number of ways to invest in foreign currency. How does a foreign currency CD work? An investor deposits their U.S. dollars in the CD account for a specified period of time known as the term (typically three months to five years). The dollars are then exchanged for a foreign currency or basket of currencies, and the money earns interest in that currency.

At the end of the term the total is converted back to U.S. dollars, and the investor receives their principal plus the interest — similar to an ordinary certificate of deposit.

Typically CD interest rates are somewhat higher than traditional interest-bearing savings or checking accounts, to compensate for the fact that the investor’s money is inaccessible for the term — and foreign currency CDs tend to have higher rates owing to the higher risk.

The longer the term of a foreign currency CD, the higher interest rate the investor earns.

Foreign currency CDs can be a way for investors to hedge against the risk of the U.S. dollar depreciating in value.

How You Can Make Money With Foreign Currency CDs

Returns earned on foreign currency CDs depend on the current interest rates in the country of the chosen currency. Every country has different interest rates, some of which are much higher than the U.S. rates. By investing in another country one may be able to earn those higher rates.

If the currency exchange rates work in the investor’s favor, the value of the CD could also increase – and they could see a higher return in addition to the interest gained.

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How You Can Lose Money With Foreign Currency CDs

Although there is an opportunity to earn high interest rates on foreign currency CDs, this type of CD is risky. Other types of CDs are known to be safe investments, so it’s important to understand the difference.

Currency markets have high volatility and are unpredictable, so the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the chosen currency may fluctuate a lot between the beginning and end of the CD term. If a foreign currency loses value compared to the U.S. dollar, an investor will lose money at the end of the term, and the interest gained may not be more than the loss. However, if a foreign currency rises in value compared to the U.S. dollar, investors will earn an even higher return than the interest alone.

The intricacies of currency markets are one reason why foreign currency CDs aren’t recommended for retail investors who don’t have the tools or experience to anticipate what might happen to any particular currency.

One catch to be aware of is that the countries that have the highest interest rates tend to have the most volatile currencies. So it can be tempting to invest to earn those higher rates, but there is a higher risk of loss as well.

How Risky Are Foreign Currency CDs?

Foreign currency CDs are fairly risky investments because currency markets can be quite volatile. For this reason, these CDs tend to be used by institutional investors more so than retail investors.

Investing in currencies requires an in-depth understanding of many different factors that can affect their values. Institutional investors often buy into foreign currency CDs if they know they have an upcoming payment to make in that currency. They can exchange the money and earn interest on it until it becomes time to make the payment.

How to Protect Your Investment

There are a few key ways to protect investments in foreign currency CDs.

Temper Currency Risk

One of the greatest risks in investing in foreign currency CDs is that global currencies can fluctuate a lot in a short amount of time. It can be tempting to buy into currencies that have the highest interest rates, but those are the most volatile and risky.

Instead, it’s better to choose stable currencies with lower interest rates, or invest in a basket of foreign currencies. It’s also recommended to only put a small amount of money into foreign currency CDs for portfolio diversification and exposure to foreign markets.

Look for FDIC Protection

The FDIC insures CDs up to $250,000, but this only applies to CDs opened with U.S. banks. Although an investor can buy into a CD from a foreign bank, it won’t be insured and will come with higher risk, so it’s best to look for foreign currency CDs backed by U.S. banks.

Another important fact to keep in mind is that FDIC won’t protect against currency fluctuations for foreign currency CDs.

Be Aware of Fees and Charges

All types of CDs tend to have early withdrawal fees, although there are some no penalty CDs. Foreign currency CDs also have conversion fees that are sometimes included in the price of the CD. Be sure to inquire about the cost of any foreign currency CD.

How to Open a Foreign Currency CD

Most U.S. banks don’t offer foreign currency CDs, so investors interested in buying into them will need to do some research to find them. Banks that do offer foreign currency CDs tend to offer multiple foreign currency choices. Some also offer CDs that have a group of foreign currencies in them to provide investors with broader exposure.

Investors can open foreign currency CDs with overseas banks, but they are not FDIC insured so they come with greater risks.

Banks offering foreign currency CDs sometimes require a certain minimum deposit amount, and there may be fees associated with currency exchange.

Other Ways to Invest in Foreign Currency

In additional foreign currency CDs, there are other ways investors can gain exposure to foreign currencies:

•   Mutual funds

•   Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and leveraged ETFs

Investing in mutual funds and ETFs is just as easy as investing in stocks, and more CDs are becoming available to retail investors, so these are simple ways to buy into foreign currency markets. Forex trading is more complicated.

The Takeaway

Foreign currency certificates of deposit are one way investors can gain exposure to foreign markets. Although this type of CD can earn a higher interest rate than traditional CDs, they also come with a higher degree of risk. Global currency markets are complex and difficult to predict — often volatile — with the potential for higher returns but also steep losses for foreign currency CD holders. This type of savings option is recommended only for more experienced investors.

If you’re looking to open a checking or savings account, you might want to consider SoFi’s mobile banking app: an easy all-in-one account. You can open a Checking and Savings on your laptop or phone. There are no account fees, and if you use direct deposit you can earn a competitive APY. The online platform lets you set personal savings goals, and you can see all your financial information in one simple dashboard.

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

FAQ

Are foreign CDs FDIC insured?

If a foreign CD is purchased through a U.S. bank it will be FDIC insured, but if it is purchased through a foreign bank it is not.

Which US banks offer foreign currency accounts?

The most well known bank offering foreign currency CDs is TIAA bank, formerly known as Everbank.

Can US banks hold foreign currency?

Yes, U.S. banks can hold foreign currency.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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How Do You Open a Business Checking Account?

How Do You Open a Business Checking Account?

Opening a business checking account isn’t much different from opening a personal account, but it’s an important step when it comes to running your business. A business account can help you keep your personal finances separate from your professional transactions. This, in turn, can make growing your credibility and completing your taxes easier, among other benefits.

The requirements to open a business checking account tend to vary, depending on the financial institution and other factors like your location and business entity. But, in most cases, it’s generally a straightforward process to start one.

Let’s take a closer look at:

•   What a business checking account is

•   How it works

•   How to open a business checking account.

What Is a Business Checking Account?

If you have a personal checking account, you may wonder, “What is a business checking account anyway? Do I really need a separate account?” Let’s get those questions answered. A business checking account is similar to a personal checking account in that you have flexibility in your day-to-day banking. Depending on the type of account, you may be offered features such as unlimited transactions, a debit or ATM card, and check-writing capabilities.

In some cases, you may even be able to earn interest. But, and this is important, business checking accounts are meant to house a company’s funds. Therefore, there may be different features and requirements to maintain the account. Check with a few banks to get acquainted with the details.

Now, for that second question — “Do I need a separate business account?” — the answer is probably “yes” if you own a business. Even a brand new, currently part-time endeavor may need a small business account. In terms of a business vs. personal checking account, you want to keep that biz income separate for tax purposes and to gain legitimacy for your enterprise. Also, if you need to be paying employees or vendors, a business account is the way to go, so as not to get those kinds of transactions mixed up with, say, your home-loan payments and other personal expenses.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

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


How Does a Business Checking Account Work?

Business checking accounts are quite similar to personal checking, but they typically have different limitations, fees, and balance requirements. For instance, business checking accounts may come with higher bank fees, especially if your business deals with a large amount of transactions. In that same vein, there may also be higher minimum balance requirements to waive monthly fees or to earn interest.

That’s not to say they aren’t budget-friendly options. Many online business checking accounts are being offered to smaller businesses or sole proprietors, though they may not offer interest earnings.

You can use a business checking account to conduct transactions such as bill paying, receiving funds, and writing checks. In many cases, you may even be able to order debit cards for you and your employees to withdraw money and make purchases. The primary account holder (such as the business owner) can set ATM withdrawal limits and spending limits for employee cards.

Can Anyone Open a Business Checking Account?

Almost anyone can open an bank account as long as they have the right type of documentation. In general, you’ll need to prove that you own a business. Now, what if you’re a sole proprietor or an independent contractor (say, a gig worker)? Even if you don’t have the usual kind of paperwork, you may still be able to open a business checking account. However, you’ll probably need to speak with the bank to see how you can do so.

What You Need to Open a Business Checking Account

The types of documentation you’ll need to provide depends on the bank at which you’re opening a business bank account and also on your legal business entity. Typically, sole proprietors will only need to provide their personal information, whereas LLCs and corporations will need documentation about the company and details from each of the majority owners.

Here’s a list of what kind of identification and documentation you’ll most likely need to provide to start your account. This applies whether you are heading to a bricks-and-mortar branch or opening an online business checking account:

•   Personal information: Financial institutions will require some form of government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. If you have multiple business owners, then banks may require personal details of each owner.

•   Employer Identification Number (EIN): Every business should have an EIN, though sole proprietors and single-member LLCs may be able to submit their Social Security number in their application.

•   Business details: You’ll need to provide your business name, address, and, if applicable, your DBA (doing business as) name. In many cases, you’ll also need to disclose the industry your business falls under.

•   Documentation: Depending on your business entity, you’ll have to provide your business name registration certificate, business license, articles of organization, partnership agreement, and operating agreements.

•   Opening deposit: To finalize your business account opening, you may be required to deposit a certain amount of money. Check with your financial institution to determine what that amount would be.

Do I Need Revenue to Open a Business Bank Account?

Most banks don’t require you to be earning revenue in order to open a business checking account. That means if you’re starting a business, you don’t need to wait until you earn a certain income to open that account. So it can be a smart move to put opening your business checking as one of the first items on your to-do list when you start your enterprise. As long as you have the required documentation needed, you should be able to open an account.

Benefits of a Business Checking Account

Opening a business checking account comes with a myriad of benefits, including:

•   Liability protection: If you use a personal checking account for business purposes and have legal issues, it’s more likely that a court will have the right to go after your personal assets. That’s because it doesn’t look like you’re operating a separate business. Opening a business account generally shields you from this potential issue, especially if you’re registered as an LLC or corporation.

•   Tax simplification: Having a business checking account allows you to completely separate your personal and business finances. That way, it can help you include all the transactions you need to file your taxes accurately and efficiently. Plus, it’ll be easier to scrutinize your expenses to see whether you can identify further deductions.

•   Credibility: Your business may be taken more seriously if you used a business checking account. Your clients or vendors may be more likely to trust you if your payments or checks are coming from an account with your business name on it. These types of accounts also help when you decide to apply for small business financing or credit card. In other words, establishing your business could show business credit bureaus you’re serious enough of an entity to create a credit report for your company.

•   Potential future growth: Having a business checking account can help prevent any potential hiccups down the road, such as having to find ways to make payroll for your employees.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Business Checking Account

Many banks offer different business checking accounts suited to a variety of needs, so it’s important to look at the following features when making your decision. There’s probably an account available that fits your needs just about perfectly:

•   Fees: Most business checking accounts charge monthly maintenance fees. You may be able to have them waived, but you’ll need to meet certain requirements such as maintaining a certain balance.

•   Interest rates: In general, interest rates for business checking accounts are lower when compared to savings or money market accounts. However, you may still be able to earn a small return on your deposits. Assuming the fees may be higher for interest-bearing accounts, do some calculations to determine whether the APY makes it worth paying them.

•   Transaction limits: Business checking accounts tend to come with deposit and withdrawal limits per month. If you go over a certain limit, you may be required to pay an additional fee.

•   Bundled services: Some business checking accounts may offer unlimited employee debit cards, dispense free checks, or waive fees if you sign up for a business credit card or merchant services.

Do You Need a Business Checking Account?

Getting a business checking account is a smart move for anyone looking to launch and grow their business. Even if you’re the only employee (and plan to be for a long time), having this type of account still makes sense.

However, if you’re running a side business, are a gig worker, and don’t intend on venturing away from your full-time job, it might not be necessary. As long as you keep meticulous records to ensure you know what your business transactions are, you may be able to get away with only having a personal account. Note the use of the word “may.” If your business grows or just keeps chugging along for a number of years, you may at a later date regret not having gotten a separate business account. It can simplify and clarify your finances.

The Takeaway

If you’ve started or are running your own biz, it’s a smart idea to open a separate account to differentiate your business and your personal transactions. Applying is typically quite straightforward, involving presenting identification and other business documents. In return, you’ll get the flexibility, legitimacy, and services you need to conduct business professionally. Plus, you’ll keep your enterprise separate from your personal finances and avoid confusion.

If you’re looking to rev up your personal banking, however, give SoFi a look. Open linked Checking and Savings with direct deposit, and you’ll have access to your paycheck up to two days early, you won’t pay any account fees (including no overdraft fees) and you’ll earn a competitive APY.

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

FAQ

What is the difference between a personal and business checking account?

Both types of accounts are similar, except business checking accounts are meant for corporations and business owners, and they feature services that cater to professional needs.

What is the purpose of a business checking account?

The purpose of a business checking account is to facilitate banking for businesses with needs like paying vendors and employees and paying for supplies. It also separates personal and business assets for liability purposes. What’s more, a business account provides a company with more legitimacy.

What makes an account a business account?

Business accounts are designed for professional needs, which may mean many more transactions than a personal account typically engages in, as well as ways to pay employees and vendors. They may have merchant services too, which incorporate credit and debit card payments.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Photo credit: iStock/Halfpoint
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Do I Need a Will? Who Needs a Will (And When?)

Do I Need a Will? Who Needs a Will (and When?)

If you’re thinking, ‘Do I need a will?’ chances are, the answer is yes. Thinking about a will can feel morbid and unnecessary, especially when you’re young, healthy, and still growing your wealth. And it’s true that not everyone needs a will, especially if you’re single and growing your worth. What’s more, because the term “will” can be used to encompass end-of-life directives, it can confusing to know exactly what people mean if they say, “You should have a will.”

So, we’re here to clarify the topic. Read on to learn exactly which documents are needed if the worst were to happen and you were unable to make your end-of-life wishes known.

What Does a Will Really Do?

Simply speaking, a will dictates what will happen to your assets when you die. It can also be used to provide direction for who will care for any children and pets you have. Without a will, your property will be passed on according to state law, which means that your belongings may go to your spouse or nearest surviving relative, like a parent or sibling.

In some cases, this can be fine. But for people with children or people who own a home, this may not be ideal. Not only that, but dying without a will may put a burden on surviving relatives, leading to a costly and complex process.

In short, a will can communicate your wishes. For instance, it can:

•   Dictate who the executor (the person who administrates the will) is

•   Make a plan for how property will be distributed

•   Make a plan for how children or pets will be cared for

•   Make a plan for how debts and taxes will be paid

Creating a will does not need to be a long and complicated process. But it does need to be legal. While handwritten wills are acceptable in some states, they may be subject to additional scrutiny and may still need a signed witness to be valid.

Recommended: How To Make a Will: 7 Steps

What Does a Will Not Cover?

Let’s review some terms to see what different documents do:

•   A simple will determines what happens to your assets after you die.

•   A living will and other advance directives dictate what may happen if you were incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions. Both can be drawn up at the same time. These are legal documents that spell out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive. It typically communicates your preferences about other decisions, such as pain management or organ donation. In addition, if you have very specific wishes about whom you want to make financial and healthcare decisions if you were to be incapacitated, a living will can document those. This can be helpful if, for example, you’re not married but would want your partner (and not your parents) making these decisions if you were unable to make them yourself.

The guidelines and requirements for creating these documents can vary state by state. Attorneys, as well as online planning templates, can provide the documents to cover all potential end-of-life what-ifs, including creating a living will and advance directive, as well as a standard will to cover all bases.

Recommended: What Happens If You Die Without A Will?

When Do You Need a Will?

In a nutshell, you need a will if you have a spouse, children, or considerable assets. A will can take the guesswork out of matters if you were to die and can avoid legal complications.

Even if your life is relatively “simple” to unpack, a will can ensure there are no uncertainties and that your survivors are crystal clear about your wishes. Some times to consider a will:

•   When you want to leave things to family and friends. These may not be valuables but could be meaningful, sentimental items

•   When you own property

•   When you have a spouse and/or children

•   When you want to provide to a charity

•   When you have a positive net worth

•   When you have a complicated financial picture

In short, a will can help answer any questions your survivors may have, simplifying a process that may be emotion-filled. It can also help provide peace of mind that if you were to die, your loved ones will have a road map.

Are You Married? You Need a Will

You may think a will isn’t necessary if you’re married. After all, your assets will simply go to your spouse, right? It’s not that simple. State laws do differ. Typically, but not always, spouses, domestic partners and blood relatives are first in line when it comes to receiving inheritance. Having a will ensures that you direct where you want your estate to go, protecting the interests of those closest to you.

Another issue comes up when you pass away without a will, which is known as being intestate: the state gets involved in a potentially lengthy process called probate. A court-appointed administrator will identify legal heirs and determine how your estate is divided and bills are paid, according to the laws of your state. This can make for a complicated situation in which your spouse must wait for an inheritance, potentially causing financial hardship.

There’s another reason why a will is valuable if you’re married. It’s likely you and your spouse will create what’s known as a mutual will (these should be created with a lawyer’s help). After one partner dies, the remaining party is bound by the terms of the mutual will. This kind of document can, for example, be used to ensure that property gets passed to the deceased’s children rather than to a new spouse. In this way, a will can smoothe family dynamics in the future and ensure that your wishes are followed.

Recommended: Joint Will: What Is a Mutual Will?

Do You Have Kids? You Need a Will

One motivating factor for creating a will is when a couple has children. A will not only allows you to choose a guardian for your children, but it also allows you to name a guardian for your children’s finances — and they don’t necessarily need to be the same person.

It’s important to create a will even if the assumption is that the child’s other parent will look after the children. Not only can a will provide a template for a what-if situation if both parents were to pass away, but it can also ensure that your children will receive the share of your estate that you desire when they’re older.

Having a will can minimize disruption in case the worst were to happen and one or both parents were to pass away. If there is no will, the court will decide, and while the court will keep the best interests of the children in mind, the parents are the ones who know the kids best and may have the best solution.

In short, a will allows you to make sure:

•   Children are cared for by the people you wish

•   Children’s finances are cared for by the people you wish

•   Adult children will receive the inheritance you desire them to have

•   Any unique circumstances regarding child care is taken into account

Do You Have a Positive Net Worth? You Need a Will

Even if you’re single, a will may make sense if you have a positive net worth (aka, more assets than debt), which may include owning a house. Depending on your net worth, you may consider creating a trust. This can help your family avoid the probate process.

You can also be very specific about how you want your assets allocated in the future. For example, you may want to provide gifts to charity upon your death.

You also want to check your beneficiaries for any accounts, including retirement accounts and life insurance policies. The named beneficiary takes precedence over who’s named in a will, so it can be a good idea to double check that the named beneficiary is the person you want to receive those assets.

Are You Young, Single, Asset-free, or Without Kids? You Don’t Need a Will (Yet)

While you may not need a will if you don’t have any dependents, property, or assets, it’s still worth thinking through what you do own. For example, if you have a life insurance policy or retirement account, make sure the beneficiary you name matches who you would want to have those funds as time passes.

But a will can ensure there is no confusion over your wishes, especially if you have pets to be cared for or mementos you know would be meaningful to the people in your life.

How to Set Up a Will

A 2021 survey of over 2,500 people from Caring.com, a caregiver website, found that the past year made more people realize the importance of having estate planning documents. However, 2 out of 3 people don’t yet have a will. One big justification: Not enough time to create a will.

However, creating a will does not need to be complex. Online templates can walk you through the process. An online template may be free or may cost $100 and up, depending on the complexity. More expensive templates may be state-specific and detailed.

One critical aspect: Make sure the will is legal in your state. This may mean the will needs to be notarized and signed in front of witnesses. Once you have a will completed, it can be a good idea to make several copies and let the person you’ve named executor know where they can find the will in case you were to die.

If you have multiple, complex assets (such as several jointly-owned properties or properties jointly-owned with different people) you may need an attorney. This may cost $1,000 and up but can give you the peace of mind that everything is covered.

The Takeaway

While creating a will may not exactly be a fun activity, it doesn’t need to be very time-consuming or expensive. It’s an important process that can deliver some valuable peace of mind for the future. It lets you know your “house is in order,” and that your wishes are clearly captured. With a will in place, your worldly goods go where you want them to go, and you ensure that loved ones are taken care of in the way you see fit. When you get these documents done, you’ll also save those nearest and dearest to you from having to deal with legal red tape during an emotionally challenging time. Yes, death and wills are a topic many of us would like to avoid. But being pragmatic and taking care of this important legal concern is the right, responsible step to take.

The Simple Way to Protect Loved Ones: SoFi and Trust & Will

To help you with this important process and make sure it isn’t arduous, SoFi has partnered with Trust & Will*, the leading online estate planning platform in the U.S. — to give our members 10% off their trust, will, or guardianship estate plans.

Interested in the fast, easy, and reliable route to estate planning? Check out what’s offered by SoFi in partnership with Trust & Will.

Photo credit: iStock/evgenyatamanenko


SoFi member benefits are provided by third parties, not by SoFi or its affiliates. Providers pay royalty fees to SoFi for the user of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of SoFi. Some provider offers are subject to change and may have restrictions. Please contact the provider directly for details.
*Trust & Will, a leading digital estate planning platform, is offering a 10% discount specifically for SoFi members. No promo code required. The 10% discount is automatically applied at checkout to the initial purchase of any Guardian, Will, or Trust-based estate plan.
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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 Save Money on Gas

How to Save Money on Gas

With gasoline and home heating oil prices surging since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, consumers are looking for ways to cut their gas bills.

Crude oil prices have risen to their highest level since 2014 amid the war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022 — and has no clear path for a ceasefire in sight. Gasoline and heating oil are some of the petroleum products derived from crude oil, so higher gasoline and heating oil prices may be around for some time.

Fortunately, motorists and homeowners can save money on gas by embracing energy-efficient practices. Here are some of the easiest ways to reduce the pain both at the pump and when paying for heating costs.

15 Ways to Pay Less for Gas for Your Car and Home

Here are 15 ways you can pay less on fuel for your car and home heating system:

1. Follow the Speed Limit

Following the speed limit can help you save money on gas. In general, gas mileage decreases rapidly as you accelerate above 50 mph. Driving 55 mph rather than 65 mph can improve your gas mileage by 15%, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

2. Avoid Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving, including speeding and rapid acceleration, can lower your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and by 5% on city roadways. Motorists who avoid aggressive driving can realize cost-savings by burning less fuel on roads and highways.

3. Remove Unnecessary Weight

Removing unnecessary weight from your vehicle can save money on gas. Storing an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

4. Use Cruise Control on Highways

Using cruise control on highways can help you save up to 14% on gas by maintaining a continuous speed. Constantly accelerating and decelerating burns more fuel, which gives you less bang for your buck on the road.

5. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by 3%. Conversely, driving with underinflated tires can decrease your gas mileage by 0.3% for each unit drop in pounds per square inch (psi) of air pressure.

6. Stick With Regular Gasoline

Gasoline prices vary by their octane level, with regular being the cheapest and premium being the most expensive. Unless your car requires premium fuel, you can save money by sticking with unleaded regular gasoline as opposed to choosing midgrade or premium alternatives.

President Joe Biden has predicted gas prices will go up further as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The potential for crude oil prices to continue rising may motivate some observers to invest in energy stocks. Others may see this as an ideal time to invest in utilities.

7. Don’t Idle When Parked

Allowing your car engine to run idle while parked is wasteful. Idling can consume up to half a gallon of fuel per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can save gas money by turning off your car when it’s parked.

8. Search Online for Cheapest Fuel Stations

Some gas stations may offer cheaper fuel than other gas stations in your geographic area. You can search online for the cheapest gas stations in your area. Websites or apps like GasBuddy can help you find the lowest gas prices in your city or town.

9. Reduce Aerodynamic Drag

Your vehicle has to overcome wind resistance or aerodynamic drag whenever you drive it in the open. Reducing aerodynamic drag can save money on gas, and motorists can reduce aerodynamic drag by driving with the windows closed.

10. Minimize A/C Usage

Minimizing your vehicle’s air conditioner usage can save gas money. Using the air conditioner in some cases can reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25%, which is akin to paying more at the pump over time, according to the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy.

11. Clean or Replace Air Filter as Necessary

Cleaning or replacing your vehicle’s air filter as necessary can save gas money, particularly if you’re driving an older vehicle manufactured before 1980. Older vehicles may feature a carbureted engine that becomes less fuel efficient when operating with a clogged air filter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

12. Get Engine Tune-Ups as Needed

Getting engine tune-ups as needed can improve gas mileage by an average of 4%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. An engine tune-up is a comprehensive inspection that determines whether any components of the engine need to be replaced.

13. Consider New Vehicle Options

You can consider buying a new or used vehicle with better gas mileage to save money on gas. Consumers can also consider buying all-electric vehicles to move away from gasoline and diesel fuel entirely.

14. Insulate Your Home

Homeowners can save up to 15% on heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics and other areas of the home, according to the EPA. This could be a worthwhile investment considering how the Ukraine invasion may affect oil, gas, and clean energy investments.

15. Lower Your Thermostat

Homeowners can save money on their home heating bills by setting their thermostats to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The Delaware Public Service Commission says you can save 5% on your home heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat below 70.

Considering the global economy and looking at oil and natural gas to understand Russia-Ukraine, homeowners in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states may consider thermostat adjustments as a cost-saving measure.

The Takeaway

The price of gasoline and heating oil may stay at its high level – or even rise as the conflict in Eastern Europe continues. Feeling the pinch in their wallets, consumers may want to try changing their habits and practices to be more energy efficient.

Another simple way to save money on gas is to pay for it using a credit card that offers cash back. [cc_three_percent]


Photo credit: iStock/ADragan

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

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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Marginal Propensity to Save: Definition & Formula

A Look at Marginal Propensity to Save (MPS)

The marginal propensity to save (MPS) refers to the amount of disposable income a consumer is able to save. It’s used to reflect the proportion someone is willing to save for each additional dollar of their income.

To understand why MPS is important when quantifying fluctuations in savings and income, we’ll go over how to calculate MPS and how to apply it to your budgeting strategy.

What is the Marginal Propensity to Save?

The marginal propensity to save is defined as the portion of an increase in income that goes towards household savings. In other words, it’s the percentage of additional income a household saves instead of spending on goods and services, and it offers insight into the consumption habits of consumers.

MPS is also referred to as leakage, where the savings is an amount (expressed as a percentage that doesn’t go back into the economy via consumption. Typically, the more a household saves, the more likely it indicates that there is a higher income and better equipped to cover their household expenses.

So, theoretically, if a household saves 10%, it means that for every additional dollar they earn, they’ll save 10 cents.

When consumers are more likely to save as their income grows, the chances are higher they’ll become wealthier. Plus, households will also be able to access services and goods that require more money, such as larger homes in higher cost of living areas, elaborate vacations, or luxury vehicles.

How Income Level Affects Marginal Propensity to Save

Given data on household income and household saving, economists can calculate households’ MPS by income level. This calculation is important because MPS is not constant—it varies by income level. Typically, the higher the income, the higher the MPS because as wealth increases so does the ability to satisfy needs and wants, and so each additional dollar is less likely to go toward additional spending. However, the possibility remains that a consumer might alter savings and consumption habits with an increase in pay.

The Multiplier Effect

The MPS plays an important part in regulating the multiplier effect. The multiplier effect looks at the proportional increase or decrease in income that comes from consumption or savings.

For instance, if there is spending at the government level, it’ll have a multiplier effect (much like how a snowball rolls down a hill) on different parts of the economy. This change is due to the fact there is now additional disposable income consumers can spend on consumption and savings.

By understanding what the MPS is, economists can see how increased government spending can influence savings. It’ll also help to determine how consumers’ saving habits will influence the overall economy. The lower the MPS, the more of an impact on changes in government spending there will be.

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Calculating the Marginal Propensity to Save

Calculating the MPS involves dividing the change in savings by a change in disposable income.

The following formula is used to calculate the MPS:

MPS = change in savings / change in disposable income

The savings represented by the value of the MPS will change if income changes by a dollar. Presented on a graph, the MPS is the equivalent of the savings line that’s created by plotting changes in income on the horizontal line (x-axis) and changes in savings on the vertical line (y-axis).

Another important point to note is that MPS will range between zero and one. If the MPS is zero, then it means changes in income doesn’t have an effect on savings (consumers spend all additional income). If MPS is one, then all additional income is saved.

Example

Jasmine successfully negotiated a promotion and annual bonus and received an additional $3,000 with her next paycheck. Jasmine decides she wants to spend this amount on a nice dinner out with friends totaling $150, and a vacation in Mexico for $2,000. The total she spends out of her bonus is $2,150, saving $850.

Using the above MPS formula, the calculation is as follows:

$850 / $3,000 = 0.283 = 28.3%

Therefore, Jasmine saved 28% of her additional income or 28 cents for each additional dollar she earns.

Remember, MPS isn’t constant since various factors in addition to changes in income will influence consumer spending habits. For instance, the time of the year can influence seasonal trends, which can correlate with higher spending.

Applying MPS to Your Budget Strategy

Though it seems like MPS is more for economists, you can apply this tactic to your personal budget.

When it comes to increasing your income, it might be tempting to spend a large portion of it. After all, you might want to celebrate a pay raise or promotion. Or, you might decide to increase your grocery budget, swapping out some of your regular produce for organic varieties.

However, there are benefits to saving some of the extra money. Perhaps you have a financial goal you can use it towards, like saving for a down payment on a house. Or you want to start investing and with this boost in income, you now have the means to do so.

If you haven’t yet decided what you’re saving for, just getting into the habit of saving will get you on the right track. Plus, you’ll learn how to budget effectively, no matter which type of budgeting technique you use.

Let’s say you want to be able to set aside 20% of each paycheck towards investments and a larger emergency fund. You received a $1,000 bonus from work this month and want to make sure you’re not tempted to spend it all.

Using the above formula, you want to have an MPS of 30%, or 0.3. That means with that bonus, you want to be able to save $300, allowing you to put $800 of it towards other areas in your budget. Once you have this number, you can take proactive steps to save that money. Automatically transferring $300 to a separate savings account is a good start.

Considering your income may fluctuate, you’ll probably want to revisit this formula on occasion to make sure you’re on track. Plus, it’s likely your spending habits will also change—such as spending more during the holidays—so if you need to spend more, then you can adjust your savings rate temporarily. At the end of the day, it’s all about being aware of where your money is going.

Recommended: 39 Ways to Earn Passive Income Streams

The Takeaway

Marginal propensity to save may seem like a term that doesn’t relate to your budget since it’s normally used to help economists. However, thinking about it in simple terms such as a savings rate is more helpful. That way, you can use it to apply it towards your savings goals and budgeting tactics as your income changes.

Saving money is half the battle: making sure your money is working for you is the other half. Opening a checking and savings account with SoFi can earn you more than the national interest average, squeezing even more value from your hard-earned dollars.

Check rates offered by SoFi Checking and Savings®.

Photo credit: iStock/Toxitz


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