How Does Inflation Affect Retirement?

How Does Inflation Affect Retirement?

For retirees on a fixed income, inflation can have a significant influence on their ability to maintain their budget. That’s because as inflation rises over time, that fixed income will lose value.

That could mean that retirees need to scale back their spending or even make drastic changes to ensure that they don’t run out of money. The average rate of inflation was 8% in 2022, the highest inflation rate in 40 years. By January 2024, the inflation rate had dropped to 3.1%.

When it comes to their retirement money, 90% of Americans ages 60 to 65 say inflation is their biggest concern, according to a 2023 survey by Nationwide. However, by planning ahead, it is possible to minimize some of the impact of inflation on your nest egg.

Read on to learn more about inflation and retirement and what you can do to help protect your savings.

What Is Inflation?

Inflation is the rate at which prices of goods and services increase in an economy over a period of time. This can include daily costs of living such as gas for your car, groceries, home expenses, medical care, and transportation. Inflation may occur in specific segments of the economy or across all segments at once.

There are multiple causes for inflation but economists typically recognize that inflation occurs when demand for goods and services exceeds supply. In an expanding economy where more consumers are spending more money, there tends to be higher demand for products or services which can exceed its supply, putting upward pressure on prices.

When inflation increases, the purchasing power of money, or its value, decreases. This means as the price of things in the economy goes up, the number of units of goods or services consumers can buy goes down.

How does inflation affect retirement? When purchasing power declines, the value of your savings and investments goes down. While the dollar amount does not change, the amount of goods or services those dollars can buy falls. In retirement, inflation can be especially harmful, since retirees typically don’t have an income that goes up over time.

Concerns about inflation and retirement may even push back the age at which some people think they can afford to retire.

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5 Ways that Could Potentially Minimize the Impact of Inflation on Retirement

While inflation can seem like a challenging or even scary part of retirement, there are several investment opportunities that may help you maintain purchasing power and reduce the risk of inflation.

1. Invest in the Stock Market

Investing in stocks is one way to potentially fight inflation. A diversified portfolio that includes equities may generate long-term returns that are higher than long-term inflation. While past performance does not guarantee future returns, over the past 10 years, the average annualized return for the S&P 500 has been 12.39%. Even when inflation is factored in, investors still have substantial returns when investing in stocks. When adjusted for inflation, the average annualized return over the past 10 years is 9.48%.

However, stocks are risk assets, which means they are sensitive to market volatility. These price swings may not feel comfortable to investors who are in retirement so retirees tend to allocate a smaller portion of their portfolio to stocks to help manage market risk.

How much you may decide to allocate to stocks depends on a number of factors such as your risk tolerance and other sources of income.

2. Use Tax-Advantaged Retirement Vehicles

To maximize the amount of savings you have by the time you reach retirement, start investing as early as you can in young adulthood in retirement accounts such as employer-sponsored 401(k)s or Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). The more time your money has to grow, the better.

With 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, the money in them grows tax-deferred; you pay income tax on withdrawals in retirement, when you might be in a lower tax bracket than you were during your working years.

Another option is a Roth IRA. With this type of IRA, you pay taxes on the money you contribute, and then you can withdraw it tax-free in retirement.

3. Do Not Over-Allocate Long-Term Investments With a Low Rate of Return

Risk averse investors may be tempted to keep their nest egg invested in securities that are not subject to major price swings, or even to keep their money in a savings account. However, theoretically, the lower the risk investors take, the lower the reward may be. When factoring in fees and inflation, ultra-conservative investments may only break even or perhaps lose value over time.

While they offer a guaranteed return, high-yield savings accounts, for example, typically don’t earn enough interest to beat inflation in the long run. Since savings account rates are not higher than inflation rates, the buying power of your savings will continue to decline. That’s particularly important for retirees who are often living off their savings and investments, rather than off of an income that rises with inflation.

Because of this, retirees may want to consider keeping a portion of their investments in the stock market.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re opening a brokerage account for the first time, consider starting with an amount of money you’re prepared to lose. Investing always includes the risk of loss, and until you’ve gained some experience, it’s probably wise to start small.

4. Make Sure You Understand Inflation-Protected Securities

Treasury inflation-protected securities or TIPS, which are backed by the federal government, are designed to help protect investments against inflation. The principal value of the investment increases when inflation goes up and if there’s deflation, the principal adjusts lower per the Consumer Price Index.

However, for some investors, TIPS may have disadvantages. TIPS typically pay lower interest rates than other government or corporate securities. That generally makes them less than ideal for individuals like retirees who are looking for investment income. Also, unless inflation is quite high, and unless they are held for the long-term, TIPS may not offer much inflation-protection. There are also potential tax consequences to consider when the bonds are sold or reach maturity.

Finally, because they are more sensitive to interest rate fluctuation than other bonds, if an investor sells TIPS before they reach maturity, that individual could potentially lose money depending on the interest rates at the time.

Be sure to carefully weigh all the pros and cons of TIPS to decide if they make sense for your portfolio.

5. Buy Real Estate or Invest in REITs

Retirees may also consider investing in real assets. Real estate is typically an inflation hedge because it holds intrinsic value. During periods of inflation, real estate may not only be able to preserve its value, but it might also increase in value. One of the daily costs impacted by inflation is the cost of housing.

That’s why rental income from real estate historically has kept up with inflation. Investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs), may be another way for retirees to diversify their investment portfolio, reduce volatility, and add to their fixed-income. Just be sure to understand the potential risks involved in these investments.

Inflation Calculator for Retirement

It’s important to factor inflation into your plans as you’re saving for retirement. One way to do that is using a retirement calculator, like this one from the Department of Labor, which accounts for how inflation will impact your purchasing power in the future. That calculator uses a 3% inflation rate for retirement planning, but inflation fluctuates and could be higher or lower in any given year.

The Takeaway

While inflation can have an impact on a retirement portfolio, there are ways to protect the purchasing power of your money over time. Allocating a portion of your portfolio to stocks and other investments aimed at minimizing the impact of inflation may help.

Another way to curb the impact of inflation during retirement is to reduce expenses, which allows the money that you have to go further.

And starting to save for retirement as early as possible could help you accrue the compounded returns necessary to counteract rising prices in the future.

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Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

Is inflation good or bad for retirees?

A small amount of inflation each year is a normal part of the economic cycle. But over time, inflation eats away at the value of the dollar and purchasing power of your nest egg is diminished. This can have a negative effect on a retirement investment portfolio or savings.

How can I protect my retirement savings from inflation?

There are several Investing strategies you can use to protect retirement savings from inflation. These include diversifying your portfolio with inflation hedges including TIPS (treasury inflation-protected securities) and investments that typically provide a high rate of return. It’s important to keep saving for retirement even if you don’t have a 401(k).

Does your pension increase with inflation?

Some pensions have a cost of living adjustment on their monthly payments, so they increase over time. However, this is not the case for all pensions. When inflation increases this can affect your benefits.


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

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.

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.

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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.
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What Is the Rule of 55? How It Works for Early Retirement

What Is the Rule of 55? How It Works for Early Retirement

The rule of 55 is a provision in the Internal Revenue Code that allows workers to withdraw money from their employer-sponsored retirement plan without a penalty once they reach age 55. Distributions are still taxable as income but there’s no additional 10% early withdrawal penalty.

The IRS rule of 55 applies to 401(k) and 403(b) plans. If you have either of these types of retirement accounts through your employer, it’s important to understand how this rule works when taking retirement plan distributions.

What Is the Rule of 55?

The rule of 55 is an exception to standard IRS withdrawal rules for qualified workplace plans, including 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Normally, you can’t withdraw money from these plans before age 59 ½ without paying a 10% early withdrawal penalty. This penalty is only waived for certain allowed exceptions, of which the rule of 55 is one.

Specifically, the rule of 55 applies to “distributions made to you after you separated from service with your employer after attainment of age 55,” per the IRS. It doesn’t matter whether you quit, get laid off or retired — you can still withdraw money from your retirement plan penalty-free. If you’re a qualified public safety employee, this exception kicks in at age 50 instead of 55.

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How Does the Rule of 55 Work?

The rule of 55 for 401(k) and 403(b) plans allows workers to access money in their retirement plans without a 10% early withdrawal penalty. This rule applies to current workplace retirement plans only.

You can’t use the rule of 55 to take money from a 401(k) or 401(b) you had with a previous employer penalty-free unless you first roll over those account balances into your current plan before separating from service.

This rule doesn’t apply to individual retirement accounts (IRA) either. So, you can’t use the rule of 55 to tap into an IRA before age 59 ½ without a tax penalty. There are, however, some exclusions that might allow you to do so. For example, you could take money penalty-free from an IRA if you’re using it for the purchase of a first home.

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Rule of 55 Requirements

To qualify for a rule of 55 401(k) or 403(b) withdrawal, you’ll need to:

•   Be age 55 or older

•   Separate from your employer at age 55 or older

•   Leave the money in your employer’s plan (rule of 55 benefits are lost if you roll funds over to an IRA)

You also need to have a 401(k) or 403(b) plan that allows for rule of 55 withdrawals. If your plan doesn’t permit early withdrawals before age 59 ½ , then you won’t be able to take advantage of this rule.

Also keep in mind that IRS rules require a 20% tax withholding on early withdrawals from a 401(k) or similar plan. This applies even if you plan to roll the money over later to another qualified plan or IRA. So you’ll need to consider how that withholding will affect what you receive from the plan and how much you may still owe in taxes on your 401(k) later when reporting the distribution on your return.

Example of the Rule of 55

Here’s how the rule of 55 works. Say you lose your job or decide to retire early at age 55, and you need money to help pay your bills and cover lifestyle expenses. Under the rule of 55, you can take distributions from the 401(k) or 403(b) plan you were contributing to up until the time you left your job. You will not be charged the typical 10% early withdrawal penalty in this instance.

Also worth noting: If you decide to go back to work a year or two later at age 56 or 57, say, you can still continue to take distributions from that same 401(k) or 403(b) plan, as long as you have not rolled it over into another employer-sponsored plan or IRA.

Should You Use the Rule of 55?

The IRS rule of 55 is designed to benefit people who may need or want to withdraw money from their retirement plan early for a variety of reasons. For example, you might consider using this rule if you:

•   Decide to retire early and need your 401(k) to close the income gap until you’re eligible for Social Security benefits

•   Are taking time away from work to act as a caregiver for a spouse or family member and need money from your retirement plan to cover basic living expenses

•   Want to take some of the money in your 401(k) early to help minimize required minimum distributions (RMDs) later

In those scenarios, it could make sense to apply the rule of 55 in order to access your retirement savings penalty-free. On the other hand, there are some situations where you may be better off letting the money in your employer’s plan continue to grow.

For instance, if your employer’s plan requires you to take a lump sum payment, this could push you into a substantially higher tax bracket. Having to pay taxes on all of the money at once could diminish your account balance more so than spreading out distributions — and the associated tax liability — over a longer period of time.

You may also reconsider taking money from your 401(k) early if you still plan to work in some capacity. If you have income from a new full-time job or part-time job, for instance, you may not need to withdraw funds from your 401(k) at all. But if you change your mind later and decide to return to work, you can continue to take withdrawals from the same retirement plan penalty-free.

💡 Quick Tip: Want to lower your taxable income? Start saving for retirement with a traditional IRA. The money you save each year is tax deductible (and you don’t owe any taxes until you withdraw the funds, usually in retirement).

Other Ways to Withdraw From a 401(k) Penalty-Free

Aside from the rule of 55, there are other exceptions that could allow you to take money from your 401(k) penalty-free. The IRS allows you to do so if you:

•   Reach age 59 ½

•   Pass away (for distributions made to your plan beneficiary)

•   Become totally and permanently disabled

•   Need the money to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI)

•   Need the money to pay health insurance premiums while unemployed

•   Are a qualified reservist called to active duty

You can also avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty by taking a series of substantially equal periodic payments. This IRS rule allows you to sidestep the penalty if you agree to take a series of equal payments based on your life expectancy. You must separate from service with the employer that maintains your 401(k) in order to be eligible under this rule. Additionally, you must commit to taking the payment amount that’s required by the IRS for a minimum of five years or until you reach age 59 ½, whichever occurs first.

A 401(k) loan might be another option for withdrawing money from your retirement account without a tax penalty. You might consider this if you’re not planning to retire but need to take money from your retirement plan.

With a 401(k) loan, you’ll have to pay the money back with interest. Your employer may stop you from making new contributions to the plan until the loan is repaid, generally over a five-year term. If you leave your job where you have your 401(k) before the loan is repaid, any remaining amount becomes payable in full. If you can’t pay the loan off, the whole amount is treated as a taxable distribution and the 10% early withdrawal penalty also may apply if you’re under age 59 ½.

The Takeaway

Early retirement may be one of your financial goals, and achieving it requires some planning. Maxing out your 401(k) or 403(b) can help you save the money you’ll need to retire early, and you may be able to access the funds early with the rule of 55.

You may also consider investing in an IRA or a taxable brokerage account to save for retirement. A brokerage account doesn’t have age restrictions, so there are no penalties for early withdrawals before age 59 ½. You’ll have to pay capital gains tax on any profits realized from selling investments, but you can allow the balances in your 401(k) or IRA to continue to grow on a tax-advantaged basis.

Ready to invest for your retirement? It’s easy to get started when you open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Easily manage your retirement savings with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

Can I use the rule of 55 if I get another job?

Yes, you can use the rule of 55 to keep withdrawing from your 401(k) if you get another job. As long as it’s the same 401(k) you were contributing to when you left your job and you haven’t rolled it over into an IRA or another plan, you can still continue to take distributions from it whether you get a full-time or part-time job.

How do I know if I qualify for Rule of 55?

First, find out if your employer allows for the rule 55 withdrawals. Check with your HR or benefits department. If they do, and you are 55 or older (or age 50 or older if you are a public safety worker), you should qualify for the rule of 55 and be able to take distributions from your most recent employer’s plan. You cannot take penalty-free distributions from 401(k) plans with previous employers.

How do I claim the rule of 55?

To start taking rule of 55 withdrawals, typically all you need to do is reach out to your plan’s administrator and prove that you qualify — meaning that you are age 55 or older and that you’re leaving your job.

What is the rule of 55 lump sum?

Some 401(k) plans may require you to take a lump sum payment if you are using the rule of 55. That could create a big tax liability since you will need to pay income tax on the money you withdraw. In this case you might want to explore other alternatives to the rule of 55. It may also be helpful to speak with a tax professional.


Photo credit: iStock/bagi1998

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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

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

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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What Are High-Net Worth Individuals?

What Are High-Net Worth Individuals?

A high net worth individual (HNWI) is generally considered to be someone who has $1 million or more in investable assets. That includes liquid assets such as cash or cash equivalents.

Someone who has a high net worth may rely on specialized financial services for money management. For example, they may work with a wealth manager or open accounts at a private bank. In terms of financial planning, the needs of high net worth individuals may include estate planning, investment guidance, and tax management.

Achieving a high net worth is something that can be done through strategic investing and careful portfolio building. It’s important to keep in mind that high net worth individuals may have access to certain investments that the everyday investor would not. Minimizing liabilities is another part of the wealth-building puzzle, as net worth takes debt into account alongside assets.

Key Points

•   A high net worth individual (HNWI) is someone with $1 million or more in investable assets, including cash or cash equivalents.

•   HNWIs may rely on specialized financial services like wealth managers or private banks for money management, estate planning, investment guidance, and tax management.

•   Different metrics, such as income, investable assets, and net worth (assets minus liabilities), can be used to define high net worth individuals.

•   The SEC requires registered advisors to disclose information about high net worth individuals on Form ADV, and accredited investors are also considered high net worth individuals.

•   HNWIs may enjoy benefits like reduced fees, discounts on financial services, access to exclusive investments, and special perks and events.

What Defines a High Net Worth Individual?

When it comes to the high net worth definition, there are different metrics that can be used to calculate net worth and determine whether someone falls under the high net worth umbrella. Those can include a person’s:

•   Income

•   Investable assets

•   Total net worth when liabilities are deducted from assets

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires registered advisors to provide information about high net worth individuals on Form ADV. Specifically, the form asks advisors to list how many clients they serve who have $750,000 in investable assets or a $1.5 million net worth.

The SEC can also refer to high net worth individuals when discussing accredited investors. An accredited investor is defined as having:

•   Earned income of $200,000 or more (or $300,000 for couples) in each of the two prior years, with a reasonable expectation of the same income in future years

•   Net worth of over $1 million either alone or with a spouse, excluding the value of a primary residence

What is considered a high net worth individual to those who work with them? Private banks or wealth managers who serve high net worth individuals might choose to define them differently. For example, someone who wants to open an account with a private bank might need to have $5 million or $10 million in investable assets to qualify. Someone who has that much in assets may be relabeled as “very high net worth” instead. And at higher levels of assets, they enter the realm of ultra high net worth.

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Benefits Afforded to HNWIs

High net worth individuals may get a number of special benefits. For instance, they might qualify for reduced fees and discounts on financial services like investments and banking. They may also be granted access to special perks and events.

HNWI can also invest in things other investors or the general public can’t, such as hedge funds, venture capital funds, and private equity funds.

HNWI Examples & Statistics

The super rich, or HNWI, are tracked by Forbes on the Real-Time Billionaires List, which is updated daily. As of August 31, 2023, these were the HNWI at the top if the list:

•   Elon Musk with a net worth of $248.8 billion

•   Bernard Arnault and family with a net worth of $208 billion

•   Jeff Bezos with a net worth of $160.9 billion

•   Larry Ellison with a net worth of $152.3 billion

•   Warren Buffet with a net worth of $121.1 billion

Recommended: What’s the Difference Between Income and Net Worth?

How Is Net Worth Calculated?

Wondering how to find net worth? It’s a relatively simple calculation. There are three steps for figuring out net worth:

1.    Add up assets. These can include:

◦   Bank account balances, including checking, savings, and certificates of deposit

◦   Retirement accounts

◦   Taxable investment accounts

◦   Property, such as real estate or vehicles

◦   Collectibles or antiques

◦   Businesses someone owns

2.    Add up liabilities. Liabilities are debts owed. For example, a home’s value can be considered an asset for net worth calculations. But if there’s a mortgage owing on it, that amount has to be entered into the liabilities column.

3.    Subtract liabilities from assets. The remaining amount is an individual’s net worth.

Net worth can be a positive or negative number, depending on how much someone has in assets versus what they owe in liabilities.

Net Worth vs Liquid Net Worth

In simple terms, net worth is the difference between assets and liabilities. Liquid net worth, on the other hand, is the difference between liquid assets and liabilities. A liquid asset is one that can easily be sold or used to invest. So cash in a savings account is an example of a liquid asset while investments in a real estate investment trust (REIT) would be illiquid since they can’t be sold at short notice.

What Is an Ultra High Net Worth Individual?

Someone who fits the definition of an ultra high net worth individual (UHNWI) generally has personal financial holdings or assets of $30 million or more. People who are considered to be ultra high net worth individuals are among the top 1% wealthiest in the world.

So what is the net worth of the top 1%?

According to a report from Knight Frank, the typical net worth of the 1% falls far below the $30 million in assets required for ultra high net worth status. For example, in the U.S. someone would need $4 million in wealth to join the ranks of the top 1%. They’d need $7.9 million to belong to the top 1% in Monaco.

But what about the top 0.1%? Again, the level of wealth needed to qualify is still below the $30 million cutoff required for an UHNWI. In the U.S., you’d need $25.1 million to be considered part of the 0.1%. This is the highest amount of assets needed to qualify among the countries included in Knight Frank’s research.

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How to Get a Higher Net Worth

Reaching high net worth status can be a lofty goal but it’s one many HENRYs — high earner not rich yet — work toward. The typical HENRY makes most or all of their income from working. While they may earn an above-average income, they may not have sufficient disposable income to start building wealth to increase their net worth.

There are, however, some ways to change that. For example, someone who earns a higher income but doesn’t have the higher net worth to reflect it may consider things like:

•   Paying off student loans or other debts

•   Relocating to a less expensive area to reduce their cost of living

•   Rethinking their tax strategy so they’re able to keep more of their income

•   Finding ways to increase income

Coming up with a solid investment strategy is also important for boosting net worth. That includes diversifying to manage risk while investing in assets that are designed to produce income. For example, that might include such things as:

•   Purchasing shares of dividend stocks

•   Enrolling in a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP)

•   Buying dividend exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

•   Investing in REITs or real estate mutual funds

Creating multiple streams of income with investments or starting a side hustle while also reducing liabilities can help with making progress toward a higher net worth. At the same time, it’s also important to take advantage of wealth-building assets you may already have on hand.

For example, if you have access to a 401(k) or similar plan at work, then making contributions can be an easy way to increase net worth. If your employer offers a company matching contribution you could use that free money to help build wealth.

The Takeaway

High net worth individuals are typically described as people who have $1 million or more in investable assets. Those with more than $5 to 10 million in investable assets may be labeled as “very high net worth”, and those with more than $30 million are generally considered ultra high net worth individuals.

Individuals with a higher net worth often consider time to be an asset in itself. The thinking goes, the sooner you begin investing, the better.

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).


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FAQ

What are different types of high-net-worth individuals?

There are several types of high net worth individuals. Those who are high net worth have more than $1 million. Individuals with about $5 million are considered very high net worth. If a person has more than $30 million dollars they are considered ultra high net worth.

Where are most of the HNWIs located?

North America has the most high net worth individuals. There are 7.9 million HNWI in North America. The Asia-Pacific region has 7.2 million high net worth individuals, and there are 5.7 million HNWI in Europe.

Do high-net-worth individuals include 401(k)?

Yes. All of your different retirement accounts, including your 401(k), are included as assets when calculating high net worth.


Photo credit: iStock/Cecilie_Arcurs

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

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

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.
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Pros & Cons of Investing in REITs

REIT is the abbreviation for Real Estate Investment Trust, a type of company that owns or operates properties that generate income. Investors can buy shares of REITs as a way of investing in different parts of the real estate market, and there are pluses and minuses to this option.

While developing and operating a real estate venture is out of the realm of possibility for some, REITs make it possible for people to become investors in large-scale construction or other real estate projects.

With a REIT, an investor buys into a piece of a real estate venture, not the whole thing. Thus there’s less responsibility and pressure on the shareholder, when compared to purchasing an investment property. But there is also less control, and most REITs come with specific risks.

Key Points

•   REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) allow investors to buy shares of companies that own and operate income-generating properties.

•   Investing in REITs provides diversification and the potential for dividends.

•   REITs can be publicly traded or non-traded, with different risks and trading options.

•   Benefits of investing in REITs include tax advantages, tangibility of assets, and relative liquidity compared to owning physical properties.

•   Risks of investing in REITs include higher dividend taxes, sensitivity to interest rates, and exposure to specific property trends.

What Are REITs?

When a person invests in a REIT, they’re investing in a real estate company that owns and operates properties that range from office complexes and warehouses to apartment buildings and more. REITs offer a way for someone to add real estate investments to their portfolio, without actually developing or managing any property.

Many, but not all, REITs are registered with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and can be found on the stock market where they’re publicly traded. Investors can also buy REITs that are registered with the SEC but are not publicly traded.

Non-traded REITs (aka, REITs that are not publicly traded) can’t be found on Nasdaq or the stock exchange. They’re traded on the secondary market between brokers which can make trading them a bit more challenging. To put it simply, this class of REITs has a whole different list of risks specific to its type of investing.

Non-traded REITs make for some pretty advanced investing, and for this reason, the rest of this article will discuss publicly traded REITs.

💡 Quick Tip: All investments come with some degree of risk — and some are riskier than others. Before investing online, decide on your investment goals and how much risk you want to take.

Types of REITs

Real Estate Investment Trusts broadly fall into two categories:

•   Mortgage REITs. These REITs can specialize in commercial or residential, or a mix of both. When an investor purchases Mortgage REITs, they’re investing in mortgage and mortgage-backed securities that in turn invest in commercial and residential projects. Think of it as taking a step back from directly investing in real estate.

•   Equity REITs. These REITs often mean someone’s investing in a specific type of property. There are diversified equity REITs, but there are are specialized ones, including:

◦   Apartment and lodging

◦   Healthcare

◦   Hotels

◦   Offices

◦   Self-storage

◦   Retail

💡 If you’re interest in REITs, be sure to check out: What Are Alternative Investments?

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Pros of Investing in REITs

Investing in REITs can have several benefits, such as:

•   Diversification. A diverse portfolio can reduce an investor’s risk because money is spread across different assets and industries. Investing in a REIT can help diversify a person’s investment portfolio. REITs aren’t stocks, bonds, or money markets, but a class unto their own.

•   Dividends. Legally, REITs are required by law to pay at least 90% of their income in dividends. The REIT’s management can decide to pay out more than 90%, but they can’t drop below that percentage. Earning consistent dividends can be a compelling reason for investors to get involved with REITs.

•   Zero corporate tax. Hand in hand with the 90% payout rule, REITs get a significant tax advantage — they don’t have to pay a corporate tax. To put it in perspective, many dividend stocks pay taxes twice; once corporately, and again for the individual. Not having to pay a corporate tax can mean a higher payout for investors.

•   Tangibility. Unlike other investments, REITs are investments in physical pieces of property. Those tangible assets can increase in value over time. Being able to “see” an investment can also put some people at ease — it’s not simply a piece of paper or a slice of a company.

•   Liquidity. Compared to buying an investment property, investing in REITs is relatively liquid. It takes much less time to buy and sell a REIT than it does a rental property. Selling REITs takes the lick of a button, no FOR SALE sign required.

Compared to other real estate investment opportunities, REITs are relatively simple to invest in and don’t require some of the legwork an investment property would take.

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Cons of Investing in REITs

No investment is risk-free, REITS included. Here’s what investors should keep in mind before diving into REITs:

•   Taxes on dividends. REITs don’t have to pay a corporate tax, but the downside is that REIT dividends are typically taxed at a higher rate than other investments. Oftentimes, dividends are taxed at the same rate as long-term capital gains, which for many people, is generally lower than the rate at which their regular income is taxed.

However, dividends paid from REITs don’t usually qualify for the capital gains rate. It’s more common that dividends from REITs are taxed at the same rate as a person’s ordinary income.

•   Sensitive to interest rates. Investments are influenced by a variety of factors, but REITs can be hypersensitive to changes in interest rates. Rising interest rates can spell trouble for the price of REIT stocks (also known as interest rate risk). Generally, the value of REITs is inversely tied to the Treasury yield — so when the Treasury yield rises, the value of REITs are likely to fall.

•   Value can be influenced by trends. Unlike other investments, REITs can fall prey to risks associated specifically with the property. For example, if a person invests in a REIT that’s specifically a portfolio of frozen yogurt shops in strip malls, they could see their investment take a hit if frozen yogurt or strip malls fall out of favor.

While investments suffer from trends, REITs can be influenced by smaller trends, specific to the location or property type, that could be harder for an investor to notice.

•   Plan for a long-term investment. Generally, REITs are better suited for long-term investments, which can typically be thought of as those longer than five years. REITs are influenced by micro-changes in interest rates and other trends that can make them riskier for a short-term financial goal.

💡 Quick Tip: Distributing your money across a range of assets — also known as diversification — can be beneficial for long-term investors. When you put your eggs in many baskets, it may be beneficial if a single asset class goes down.

Are REITs a Risky Investment?

No investment is free of risk, and REITs come with risks and rewards specific to them. As mentioned above, they’re generally more sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates, which have an inverse influence on their value.

Additionally, some REITs are riskier than others, and some are better suited to withstand economic declines than others. For example, a REIT in the healthcare or hospital space could be more recession-proof than a REIT with properties in retail or luxury hotels. This is because people will continue using real estate associated with healthcare spaces regardless of an economic recession, while luxury real estate may not experience continued demands during times of economic hardship.

Risks aside, REITs do pay dividends, which can be appealing to investors. While REITS are not without risk, they can be a strong part of an investor’s portfolio.

Investing in REITs

Investing in publicly traded REITS is as simple as purchasing stock in the market — simply purchase shares through a broker. Investors can also purchase REITs in a mutual fund.

Investing in a non-traded REIT is a little different. Investors will have to work with a broker that is part of the non-traded REITs offering. Not any old broker can help an investor get involved in non-traded REITs. A potential drawback of purchasing non-traded REITs are the high up-front fees. Investors can expect to pay fees, which include commission and fees, between 9 and 10% of the entire investment.

The Takeaway

Investing in REITs can be a worthwhile sector to add to your portfolio’s allocation. They carry risks, but also benefits that might make them a great addition to your overall plan.

After all, REITs allow investors to partake of specific niches within the real estate market, which may provide certain opportunities. But owing to the types of properties REITs own, there are inevitably risks associated with these companies — and they aren’t always tied to familiar types of market risk.

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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.

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

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

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

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Pros and Cons of Automatic Bill Payment

It can be easy to forget important things: What time is that meeting? Where’s my phone? Did I pay my credit card bill yet?

While all of those examples are significant, forgetting to pay your bills can be the one with considerable financial ramifications.

According to a recent Census Bureau Household Pulse survey, 36% Americans say they have trouble paying all of their bills on time. Granted, some of that may be due to living paycheck to paycheck, but organization is likely also part of the problem.

Signing up for automatic bill payment can be one path to getting bills paid by the due date, avoiding late fees, and protecting your credit. Here, you’ll learn what automatic bill payment is, how it works, how to set it up, plus the pros and cons of this option.

Key Points

•   Automatic bill payment offers convenience by automatically deducting funds from your account to pay bills on time, reducing the risk of late fees or missed payments.

•   It helps simplify your financial life by eliminating the need to manually track and pay multiple bills each month.

•   Automatic bill payment can improve your credit score by ensuring timely payments, which is a key factor in determining your creditworthiness.

•   It provides peace of mind by reducing the chances of forgetting to pay bills and avoiding potential disruptions in services like utilities or internet.

•   Setting up automatic bill payment can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your life.

What Is Automatic Bill Payment?

So exactly what is automatic bill payment exactly? Autopaying a bill transfers money to the person you owe on the due date from a connected bank account — as long as there is enough money available to cover the bill, of course. This can usually be facilitated by the company you have an account with or by your bank.

After the initial set up, automatic bill payment can help pay recurring bills with minimum effort. Simply put, automatic bill payments, once they are in place, allow someone to transfer money from their own account to a creditor, like for a credit card company or service provider, like for a utility bill, without needing to actually initiate a payment every time. In other words, payments can happen automatically, without any effort on your part, such as writing and mailing a check.

💡 Quick Tip: Make money easy. Enjoy the convenience of managing bills, deposits, and transfers from one bank account with SoFi.

Advantages of Automatic Bill Payment

Automatic bill payment has a number of benefits to consider.

It’s Convenient

Automatic bill payment is an easy way to cross off one more “to do” from the list. First, it’s simply more convenient for a lot of people. Instead of remembering specific bill due dates and having to log in to different websites or sending paper checks through the mail, automating personal finances simplifies the experience.

Once payments are set up, some people can adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality, meaning they don’t have to worry about due dates. While it’s still important to be aware of when money will be leaving the bank, sometimes the reduced stress of not worrying about due dates every month is worth it.

Recommended: When All Your Money Goes to Bills

Automatic Bill Pay Is Secure

Automatic bill payment is also secure. According to Experian, online payments can be safer than traditional paper checks and statements because they are digitized and encrypted. Avoiding those physical bills and mailing in checks can help reduce exposure to fraud.

Plus, a digital transaction can be much easier to track in real-time and make sure the correct amount for each bill went to the right place, rather than waiting weeks to see if the company cashes a check.

Putting bills on autopay can help avoid the worry about whether a bill got paid, of course, but it could even give finances an eco-friendly boost and reduce the number of paper bills mailed out.

Impacting Your Credit Score

Here’s another benefit of automatic bill payment: Not only can it help you avoid late fees in the short term, it could also help protect your credit score. In fact, payment history affects 35% of someone’s FICO® credit score. (FICO reports that negative marks on credit history can fade over time with consistent on-time payments.) Autopay can help you avoid those late payments.

Saving Money with Automatic Bill Pay

One big advantage of automatic bill payments: Doing so can help you avoid late fees that could be incurred by failing to pay on time or missing a payment. Those fees can add up quickly.

Plus, some creditors, such as federal student loan servicers, offer a discount for setting up automatic payments. In some cases, this is an interest rate reduction, which could help reduce the total amount of debt paid overtime.

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Disadvantages of Automatic Bill Payment

Now that you know the benefits of automatic bill payments, consider the potential downsides.

Overdraft Fees

One major downside to putting bills on autopay is the fact that, well, the payments will be automatic. If there is not enough money in the connected bank account to cover the cost of the bill, there is a risk of overdraft and NSF fees from your financial institution.

If there is not enough money to cover the bill, there is a risk of overdraft fees.

Some payment amounts change month to month, such as utility bills. Without checking ahead of time how much the bill will be, it’s possible for the utility company to simply withdraw what is owed, causing the account to be overdrawn. Overdraft fees depend on the bank, but the average is around $35, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Forgetting about automatic withdrawals from financial accounts could lead to overspending, pushing account balances lower than the amount needed to cover those pre-set bill payments.

One possible solution to such cash flow issues: Spread out bill payment dates throughout the month, rather than having them all grouped together. Bills might be scheduled for the beginning or the end of the month, but it’s simple to change the date of automatic payments, with enough notice. You can contact the payee about moving a bill due date and then double-check when the change will go into effect to avoid any late payments.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a helpful worksheet to help visualize which weeks every month are the most hard-hit.

💡 Quick Tip: Fees can be a real drag when you’re trying to save money. SoFi’s online checking account has no account fees, including overdraft coverage up to $50.

Potential Late Fees

In addition to your financial institution charging you for an overdraft, if an automatic payment doesn’t go through, the payee (the company you were trying to send funds to) may also assess a late fee.

When these fees add up, especially on an interest-charging account, you can wind up having your debt increase.

Forgotten Subscriptions Can Be Costly

Another disadvantage of automatic bill pay is that it reduces your control over what money is going out at certain times. You might wind up with more money flowing out of your account than you realize.

For instance, you might sign up for a one-week free trial of a streaming service with every intention of canceling it after you binge-watch a series. But then you forget and autopay kicks in, which could lead to overdrafting your account over time.

Another scenario: You might move from one home to another and be so busy that you forget to cancel an automatic payment related to your former home or neighborhood. Perhaps you had signed up for one of those “all you can drink” monthly coffee deals at a cafe around the corner from your old place. Review your monthly statements to be sure you catch unwanted charges.

Vendors May Overcharge or Make Mistakes

Another downside of automatic bill payments is that a payee could overcharge you or charge you twice, and you might not be aware of the problem until you review your account or overdraft it. For this reason, it’s wise to check your bank account regularly and scan automatic bill payment transactions to be sure everything looks in good shape.

Whatever the case, whether paying bills manually or using automatic withdrawals, it’s important to still be intentional about making and keeping a budget.

How to Set Up Automatic Bill Payment

Here are the step-by-steps to setting up automatic bill payment for, say, a credit card by selecting the service offered by your card provider.

1.   Log into your credit card account online or in the app.

2.   Select the “recurring payment” or “autopay” option.

3.   Choose how much you want to pay. You may be given such options as minimum payment, a specific amount that you designate, or the total amount of your bill.

4.   You’ll then connect your credit card account to your bank account for payment.

5.   This typically involves adding your account number and routing number.
You will need to approve the autopay set-up, often by agreeing to terms and conditions.

Another option is to set up automatic bill pay directly with a financial institution. One advantage of this is that you don’t need to share your account information with the payee, which can make some people feel more secure about their financial accounts.

1.   Log into your bank account online or in its app.

2.   Find the link for automatic recurring payments; it is often labeled “Bill pay,” “Pay bills,” or something similar.

3.   Then add a payee and follow the prompts to set up a recurring or future payment. Have a recent bill on hand, since the bank will need information like the payee’s bank account numbers, addresses, due dates, and other important information.

Example of Automatic Bill Payment

Here’s an example of how automatic bill payment might work. Say you sign up for a gym membership on a monthly basis at $65 per month. However, the gym will lower that to $60 a month if you sign up for autopay on their site and save them the trouble of billing you.

If you take advantage of this offer, you would likely go to their website or app, log in, and head to your account details, and find the payment or billing section. There, you would opt into autopay and share your banking details or your credit card details (paying by debit card usually isn’t recommended; you have less protection if there’s a problem). You may be informed of what date funds will be deducted or you might be able to select a date.

You should be all set to have your gym membership payments automatically paid every month. It’s a good idea to verify this when you check your bank account. And, of course, if you decide to end your membership, be sure to cancel the automatic payment.

💡 Quick Tip: When you feel the urge to buy something that isn’t in your budget, try the 30-day rule. Make a note of the item in your calendar for 30 days into the future. When the date rolls around, there’s a good chance the “gotta have it” feeling will have subsided.

The Takeaway

Automatic bill payments can be a major convenience as you manage your personal finances. However, like most things in life, there are pros and cons. You can gain convenience and the ability to avoid late charges, but you also have less control over your money. By educating yourself about how this process works, you can decide whether it’s right for you, and, if so, for which payments.

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FAQ

Do automatic payments hurt your credit?

Automatic payments, like manual payments, could hurt your credit if you pay your bills late or experience insufficient funds.

What is the difference between bill pay and ACH?

Bill pay usually refers to sending funds electronically. One common way that funds may be transferred (but not the only way) is via the Automated Clearing House network, which is known as ACH.

What is the safest way to set up automatic payments?

The safest way to set up automatic payments is to do so through your bank or credit card; it’s not recommended that you use your debit card as you’ll have less protection if there’s a problem. Also, check your balance and statements carefully to make sure you have enough money in the bank to cover your autopayments and also scan for any incorrect or fraudulent transactions.

Should I use autopay for utilities?

Whether you should use autopay for utilities depends on your situation and financial habits. If you know you’ll be able to cover the amount every month, it could be a real convenience. However, utility costs can sometimes fluctuate greatly, like the cost of heating a home in winter, which might cause pricing spikes and lead to your overdrafting. You want to be sure you can always afford to cover bills that are on automatic bill payment.



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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.

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

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