Guide to Investing in Your 30s

Guide to Investing in Your 30s

Turning 30 can bring a shift in the way you approach your finances. Investing in your 30s can look very different from the way you invest in your 20s or 40s, based on your goals, strategies, and needs.

At this stage in life you may be working on paying off the last of your student loan debt while focusing more on saving. Your financial priorities may revolve around buying a home and starting a family. At the same time, you may be hoping to add investing for retirement into the mix (or increase the amount you’re already investing) as you approach your peak earning years.

Finding ways to make these goals and needs fit together is what financial planning in your 30s is all about. Knowing how to invest your money as a 30-something can help you start building wealth for the decades still to come.

5 Tips for Investing in Your 30s

1. Define Your Investment Goals

Setting clear financial goals in your 30s or at any age matters. Your goals are your end points, the destination that you’re traveling toward.

So as you consider how to invest in your 30s, think about the end result you’re hoping to achieve. Focus on goals that are specific, easy to measure and best of all, actionable.

For example, your goals for investing as a 30-something may include:

•  Contributing 10% of your income to your 401(k) each year

•  Maxing out annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Account

•  Saving three times your salary for retirement by age 40

•  Achieving a net worth of two times your annual salary by age 40

These goals work because you can define them using real numbers. So, say for example, you make $50,000 a year. To meet each of these goals, you’d need to:

•  Contribute $5,000 to your 401(k)

•  Save $6,000 in an IRA

•  Have $150,000 in retirement savings by age 40

•  Grow your net worth to $100,000 by age 40

Setting goals this way may require you to be a little more aggressive in your financial approach. But having hard numbers to work with can help motivate you to move forward.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Risk

If there’s one important rule to remember about investing in your 30s, it’s that time is on your side.

When retirement is still several decades away, you typically have time to recover from the inevitable bouts of market volatility that you’re likely to experience. The market moves in cycles; sometimes it’s up, others it’s down. But the longer you have to invest, the more risk you can generally afford to take.

The best investments for 30 somethings are the ones that allow you to achieve your goals while taking on a level of risk with which you feel comfortable. That being said, here’s another investing rule to remember: the greater the investment risk, the greater the potential rewards.

Stocks, for example, are riskier than bonds, but of the two, stocks are likely to produce better returns over time. If you’re not sure how to choose your first stock, you may have heard that it’s easiest to buy what you know. But there’s more to investing in stocks than just that. When comparing the best stocks to buy in your 30s, think about things like:

•  How profitable a particular company is and its overall financial health

•  Whether you want to invest in a stock for capital appreciation (i.e. growth) or income (i.e. dividends)

•  How much you’ll need to invest in a particular stock

•  Whether you’re interested in short-term trading or using a buy-and-hold strategy

Past history isn’t an indicator of future performance, so don’t focus on returns alone when choosing stocks. Instead, consider what you want to get from your investments and how each type of investment can help you achieve that.


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

3. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

Investing in your 30s can mean taking risk but you don’t necessarily need or want to have 100% of your portfolio committed to just a handful of stocks. A diversified portfolio with multiple investments can spread out the risk associated with each investment.

So why does portfolio diversification matter? It’s simple. A portfolio that’s diversified is better able to balance risk. Say, for example, you have 80% of your investments dedicated to stocks and the remaining 20% split between bonds and cash. If stocks experience increased volatility, your lower risk investments could help smooth out losses.

Or say you want to allocate 90% of your portfolio to stocks. Rather than investing in just a few stocks, you could spread out risk by investing and picking one or more low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) instead.

ETFs are similar to mutual funds, but they trade on an exchange like a stock. That means you get the benefit of liquidity and flexibility of a stock along with the exposure to a diversified collection of different assets. Your diversified portfolio might include an index ETF, for example, that tracks the performance of the S&P 500, an ETF that’s focused on growth stocks, a couple of bond ETFs, and some individual stocks.

This type of strategy allows you to be aggressive with your investments in your 30s without putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. That can help with growing wealth without inviting more risk into your portfolio than you’re prepared to handle.


💡 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.

4. Leverage Tax-Advantaged and Taxable Accounts

Asset allocation, or what you decide to invest in, matters for building a diversified portfolio. But asset location is just as important.

Asset location refers to where you keep your investments. This includes tax-advantaged accounts and taxable accounts. Tax-advantaged accounts offer tax benefits to investors, such as tax-deferred growth and/or deductions for contributions. Examples of tax-advantaged accounts include:

•  Workplace retirement plans, such as a 401(k)

•  Traditional and Roth IRAs

•  IRA CDs

•  Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

•  Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

•  529 College Savings Accounts

If you’re interested in investing for retirement in your 30s, your workplace plan might be the best place to start. You can defer money from your paychecks into your retirement account and may benefit from an employer-matching contribution if your company offers one. That’s free money to help you build wealth for the future.

You could also open an IRA to supplement your 401(k) or in place of one if you don’t have a plan at work. Traditional IRAs can offer a deduction for contributions while Roth IRAs allow for tax-free distributions in retirement. When opening an IRA, think about whether getting a tax break now versus in retirement would be more valuable to you.

If you’re not earning a lot in your 30s but expect to be in a higher tax bracket when you retire, then a Roth IRA could make sense. But if you’re earning more now, then you may prefer the option to deduct what you save in a traditional IRA.

Don’t count out taxable accounts either for investing in your 30s. With a taxable brokerage account, you don’t get any tax breaks. And you’ll owe capital gains tax on any investments you sell at a profit. But taxable accounts can offer access to investments you might not have in a 401(k) or IRA, such as individual stocks, cryptocurrency or the ability to trade fractional shares.

5. Prioritize Other Financial Goals

Retirement is one of the most important financial goals to think about in your 30s but planning for it doesn’t have to sideline your other goals. Financial planning in your 30s should be more comprehensive than that, factoring in things like:

•  Buying a home

•  Marriage and children

•  Saving for emergencies

•  Saving for short-term goals

•  Paying off debt

As you build out your financial plan, consider how you want to prioritize each of your goals. After all, you only have so much income to spread across your goals, so think about which ones need to be funded first.

That might mean creating a comfortable emergency fund, then working on shorter-term goals while also setting aside money for a down payment on a home and contributing to your 401(k). If you’re still paying off student loans or other debts, that may take priority over something like saving for college if you already have children.

Looking at the bigger financial picture can help with balancing investing alongside your other goals.

The Takeaway

Your 30s are a great time to start investing and it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Taking even small steps toward getting your money in order can help improve your financial security, both now and in the future.

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).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

Photo credit: iStock/katleho Seisa


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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.

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Is Getting A Degree In Marketing Worth It?

When you’re in college, you likely want to choose a major that will lead to a successful and enjoyable career. If you’re a business marketing major, you may wonder whether the education you’re getting now will pay off in terms of the type of job you’ll qualify for after you graduate, and what you can earn.

Here’s a look at what you can expect as a marketing major — both during college and after you graduate.

What Does a Marketing Major Learn?

As a marketing major, you will learn various aspects and strategies for promoting a company or product, creating brand awareness, and building relationships with customers.

You may study marketing tools like social media, content marketing, and advertising, as well as public relations, sales, marketing strategy, and consumer behavior.

Once you complete your degree, you should have a thorough understanding of how to employ these tools and tactics in the real world on behalf of your employer.


💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

Who Is It Good For?

If you’re still trying to determine the best college major and are considering marketing, here’s some insight into the type of person who might thrive in a marketing career.

If you’re curious about how brands connect with customers and find yourself analyzing ads in magazines and on television, you might be a natural marketer. Marketers are typically creative and good communicators; you’ll need that ingenuity to come up with innovative marketing campaigns to compete with others in a given industry.

Depending on the job you get after college, you may work with a team on campaigns, or you may be solely in charge of doing multiple different tasks on your own. Ideally, you’ll be excited and confident about sharing your ideas for projects.

If you’ve got an analytical mind, so much the better. You’ll be able to analyze data to better understand what types of marketing efforts are working to reach your audience and which aren’t.

Recommended: 20 of the Most Popular College Majors

Why Consider Marketing?

Marketing isn’t a trendy or even industry-specific career; it’s one that every brand on earth needs. As a result, there will likely always be careers in marketing. Because marketing is what propels a company to sell products or services, it has a return on investment, and that means that companies are willing to also invest in smart marketing professionals.

Everywhere you look, there’s marketing, from the product placement in your favorite television show to the daily Instagram posts from influencers that offer “sponsored content.” Being a part of this exciting field gives you the opportunity to shape how consumers connect with brands.

Recommended: How Do You Change Your Major?

What Jobs Can a Marketing Major Get?

So you’ve majored in marketing and now you want to know your career options. What does a marketing major do after graduating? And what professional goals can you set down the road, once you’ve had more experience?

Entry-Level Marketing Jobs

Depending on your specific interest in marketing, there are several paths you could take after graduation.

If you enjoy working with advertising, you could get work as a media buyer, who is in charge of purchasing ads, both digital and print, to achieve marketing goals. Average annual salaries can be as high as $80,195.

If you enjoy dabbling in different aspects of marketing, you could be a marketing coordinator. You might be a part of planning and launching marketing campaigns and events, managing email marketing, and writing content for different platforms. The national average annual salary is $51,283.

If you lit up in your public relations coursework, a public relations assistant might be a good first job. You’ll be tasked with creating press releases and pitch letters, and connecting with the media to get interviews and media coverage for your brand. Salaries vary, but the average is around $42,642 a year.

Recommended: Return on Education for Bachelor’s Degrees

Marketing Jobs for More Experienced Professionals

Once you have a bit of experience in your entry-level marketing job, you may be eligible for a promotion or could qualify for a more advanced role with a different company like the following ones.

A public relations manager has approximately six to eight years of experience working in PR. In addition to building relationships with journalists and influencers and securing media coverage for a brand, this role may also hire and manage other PR roles as well as writers and designers. The average salary for this role is around $62,810.

A marketing director could be a good goal after you build experience as a marketing coordinator and have five to 10 years of marketing experience. This role is involved in the planning of marketing activities, building a budget, and forecasting sales. You may oversee a marketing team, including internal staff and freelancers. The average salary for this position is approximately $141,490, but can vary widely.

Another option once you have one to five years of experience, specifically in sales, is as a sales manager. This role analyzes sales data to shape sales and pricing strategy and may train or manage sales staff. The average salary for a sales manager is $107,500.

Launching Your Own Marketing Business

You’re not limited to working for someone else in your marketing career; many professionals get experience under their belt by working for companies of all sizes, then decide to open their own business. That could be a one-person content marketing business run out of your home or a PR firm with office space and staff.

Starting your own business gives you the flexibility of working when you want, and to choose exactly the marketing, advertising, or PR services you want to specialize in. It does, however, require plenty of hard work and dedication: without the stability of a regular paycheck, you aren’t guaranteed to make a certain amount of money.

Recommended: Ca$h Course: A Student’s Guide to Money

What Can a Marketing Major Earn?

Understandably, you want some reassurance that what you’ll make in your career after graduating will help you quickly pay off any student debt and help you become financially successful.

Generally, students can expect to make the least right after graduating, since they’ll have little to no work experience. Salary expectations for entry-level marketing positions can vary based on factors like where you live and the industry you want to work in. Some companies may offer hiring bonuses or commission on top of that salary.

As you build experience, your salary will generally increase. Again, this will depend on your specific experience and accomplishments as well as the industry and company you work for.


💡 Quick Tip: Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too. You can submit it as early as Oct. 1.

The Takeaway

Only you know whether marketing is a field that you will thrive in and enjoy being a part of, but suffice it to say that there is an opportunity to learn a wide range of marketing skills and career advancement potential if you’re willing to put in the work to climb that corporate ladder.

Of course, as a student, you’re still a long way from earning a sizable salary, and coming up with enough funds to cover the high cost of college can be challenging. Fortunately, no matter what you’re thinking about majoring in, you have a range of funding options, including grants, scholarships, federal work-study programs, and both federal and private student loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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

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What Is Academic Dismissal?

Academic dismissal is when a student is asked to leave a school because of continued poor academic performance. It typically follows a period of probation, which is when a student is given a warning and a set amount of time in which they can try to improve their grades and avoid dismissal.

While academic dismissal may seem like the end of the world, it doesn’t mean that the student can never go to college again. It simply means they have to stop attending their current school, at least for a certain period of time. In addition, there are a number of ways to get back on track after a dismissal and either overturn the decision and return to school, or start on a new path that’s a better fit.

Read on to learn more about academic dismissal, including how it happens, what you can do to appeal it, and how to bounce back after experiencing academic dismissal.

Reasons for Academic Dismissal

Everyone’s academic journey is different, and for some, the transition to college-level work can be more challenging than for others. A student may struggle with grades because they chose a major that’s not compatible with their specific skill set. Or perhaps they faced too many distractions, from personal events or hardships to an overwhelming list of extracurriculars.

When teachers and administrators notice a pattern of poor academic performance, including a GPA below 2.0 or a failure to attain enough credits (as a result of dropping or failing to complete enough courses in a semester), they may put a student on academic probation.

If a student fails to bring up their GPA by the end of their probation period, they may face academic dismissal. Academic probation is not meant to serve as a kind of punishment, but more as a wake-up call to students who are falling seriously behind.

Depending on the school, academic probation may make students ineligible for certain university activities. This makes sense, as probation is meant to be a time to focus seriously on grades in an effort to avoid eventual academic dismissal.

Academic probation or dismissal can also affect a student’s financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education requires students to maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degrees to receive financial aid — which may include federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships; work-study; and federal student and parent loans.

There are still options for students who lose their financial aid due to poor academic standing, including some private student loans. Keep in mind, though, that your GPA can also impact your ability to get a private student loan. Each private loan is different, so there’s no one magic number for a student’s GPA. It can be worth shopping around and comparing options from different lenders.

Recommended: How Grades Affect Your Student Loans

How to Appeal Academic Dismissal

If a student ultimately faces the prospect of academic dismissal, there are multiple routes they can take to try and handle the situation. First, it can be wise to take a moment to reflect on what may have caused the decision to dismiss, and reassess one’s priorities. Perhaps a student was up against too much pressure, or was pursuing a subject area that didn’t quite suit them.

If a student decides to appeal the decision, they should be prepared to present a strong and sincere case. Luckily, most schools will allow students to appeal academic dismissal. Most school authorities are receptive to select reasoning or excuses for a poor academic performance. These usually include extenuating circumstances like financial issues, psychological or mental issues, or a family crisis, including an unexpected death in the family.

Approach the case with understanding and humility instead of anger, and try to fight the battle without parents. Students may want to prove that they can handle the stress and academic rigor of college on their own, which involves a certain degree of maturity and independence.

Bouncing Back After Being Dismissed

Applying to college after academic dismissal can be a good idea, but only if a student has taken the time to reflect. This is especially true if a student is re-applying to the same school.

Some schools will require that students wait at least a year before re-applying, and some will have students show that they’ve received a certain number of credits from community college while on hiatus from the institution. Research each school’s particular policy on reapplying before taking any specific measures.

It can be helpful to talk to professors and academic counselors to determine if going back to college is the right decision, and if so, if a student should re-apply to the same school.

It can also be helpful to research schools that have lenient policies around past dismissals when looking to re-apply to school.

College is not for everyone. Other options may include getting a job, pursuing a trade at trade school, or completing an apprenticeship. There’s not one route to a career, so bouncing back may look a little different for everyone.

The Takeaway

It can be invaluable for a student to have a support system when dealing with the prospect of academic dismissal. At the same time, it’s key to let the student fight their own battles.

Academic probation can prevent a student from receiving financial aid, which can worsen any academic challenges they’re already facing. This is one reason why it’s important to handle academic probation and dismissal thoughtfully and methodically, assessing all available options and identifying the issues that may have caused a student to fall behind in the first place.

If college is still on the table, set a goal to improve grades, whether through tutoring, time management strategies, or a peer study group. There’s a lot you can learn from an academic incident like probation or dismissal, and ultimately, it can help you become a better and more dedicated student.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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 & Cons of the F.I.R.E Movement

Most people dream of the day that they clock into work for the very last time. In most cases, we imagine that’ll be when we’re in our 60s. But what if you could take the freedom and independence of retirement and experience it 20 or 30 years earlier?

That’s the basic principle of the Financial Independence Retire Early (F.I.R.E) movement, a community of young people who aim to live a lifestyle that allows them to retire in their 30s or 40s rather than their 60s and 70s.

While it may sound like the perfect life hack, attempting to live out this dream comes with some serious challenges. Read on to learn more about the F.I.R.E. movement and the techniques followers use achieve their goal of early retirement. That can help you determine whether any of their savings strategies might be right for you.

What Is the FIRE Movement?

F.I.R.E stands for “financial independence, retire early,” and it’s a movement where followers attempt to gain enough wealth to retire far earlier than the traditional timeline would allow.

The movement traces its roots to a 1992 book called “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. F.I.R.E. started to gain a lot of traction, particularly among millennials, in the 2010s.

In order to achieve retirement at such a young age, F.I.R.E proponents devote 50% to 75% of their income to savings. They also use dividend-paying investments in order to create passive income sources they can use to support themselves throughout their retired lives.

Of course, accumulating the amount of wealth needed to live for six decades or more without working is a considerable feat, and not everyone who attempts F.I.R.E. succeeds.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that opening a brokerage account typically doesn’t come with any setup costs? Often, the only requirement to open a brokerage account — aside from providing personal details — is making an initial deposit.

F.I.R.E. vs. Traditional Retirement

F.I.R.E. and traditional retirement both aim to help people figure out when they can retire, but there are major differences between the two.

Retiring Early

Given the challenge many people have of saving enough for retirement even by age 60 or 70, what kinds of lengths do the advocates of the F.I.R.E. movement go to?

Some early retirees blog about their experiences and offer tips to help others follow in their footsteps. For instance, Mr. Money Mustache is a prominent figure in the F.I.R.E. community, and advocates achieving financial freedom through, in his words, “badassity.”

His specific advice includes reshaping simple but expensive habits—like eliminating smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, and limiting dining out.

Of course, the basic premise of making financial freedom a reality is simple in theory: spend (much) less money than you make in order to accumulate a substantial balance of savings.

Investing those savings can potentially make the process more attainable by providing, in the best-case scenario, an ongoing passive income stream. However, many people who achieve F.I.R.E. are able to do so in part because of generational wealth or special circumstances that aren’t guaranteed.

For instance, Mr. Money Mustache and his wife both studied engineering and computer science and had “standard tech-industry cubicle jobs,” which tend to pay pretty well—and require educational and professional opportunities not all people can access.

In almost all cases, pursuing retirement with the F.I.R.E. movement requires a lifestyle that could best be described as basic, foregoing common social and leisure enjoyments like restaurant dining and travel.

Traditional Retirement

Most working people expect to retire sometime around the age of 65 or so. For those born after 1960, Social Security benefits can begin at age 62, but those benefits will be significantly less than they would be if an individual waited until 67, their full retirement age, to collect them.

People saving for traditional retirement typically save much of their retirement funds in tax-incentivized retirement accounts, like 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, which carry age-related restrictions. For example, 401(k)s generally can’t be accessed before age 59½ without incurring a penalty.

Even a traditional retirement timeline can be difficult for many savers. Recent data from the Federal Reserve shows that approximately 25% of Americans have no retirement savings whatsoever. Still, Americans between the ages of 25 to 40 plan to retire at age 59, according to a 2022 survey.

Online calculators and budgeting tools can help you determine when you can retire—and are customizable to your exact retirement goals and specifications.

💡 Haven’t started an IRA yet? Check out: How to Open an IRA

Financial Independence Retire Early: Pros and Cons

Although financial independence and early retirement are undoubtedly appealing, getting there isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are both strong benefits and drawbacks to this financial approach that individuals should weigh before undertaking the F.I.R.E. strategy.

Pros of the F.I.R.E. Approach

Benefits of the F.I.R.E. lifestyle include:

•  Having more flexibility with your time. Those who retire at 35 or 40, as opposed to 65 or 70, have more of their lifetime to spend pursuing and enjoying the activities they choose.

•  Building a meaningful, passion-filled life. Retiring early can be immensely freeing, allowing someone to shirk the so-called golden handcuffs of a job or career. When earning money isn’t the primary energy expenditure, more opportunities to follow one’s true calling can be taken.

•  Learning to live below one’s means. “Lifestyle inflation” can be a problem among many working-age people who find themselves spending more money as they earn more income. The savings strategies necessary to achieve early retirement and financial independence require its advocates to learn to live frugally, or follow a minimalist lifestyle, which can help them save more money in the long run—even if they don’t end up actually retiring early.

•   Less stress. Money is one of the leading stressors for many Americans. Gaining enough wealth to live comfortably without working could wipe out a major cause of stress, which could lead to a more enjoyable, and healthier, life.

Cons of the F.I.R.E. Approach

Drawbacks of the F.I.R.E. lifestyle include:

•  Unpredictability of the future. Although many people seeking early retirement thoroughly map out their financial plans, the future is unpredictable. Social programs and tax structures, which may figure into future budgeting, can change unexpectedly, and life can also throw wrenches into the plan. For instance, a major illness or an unexpected child could wreak havoc on even the best-laid plans for financial independence.

•  Some find retirement boring. While never having to go to work again might sound heavenly to those on the job, some people who do achieve financial security and independence and early retirement struggle with filling their free time. Without a career or specific non-career goals, the years without work can feel unsatisfying.

•  Fewer professional opportunities. If someone achieves F.I.R.E. and then discovers it’s not right for them—or must re-enter the workforce due to an extenuating circumstance—they may find reintegration challenging. Without a history of continuous job experience, one’s skill set may not match the needs of the economy, and job searching, even in the best of circumstances, may be difficult.

•  F.I.R.E. is hard! Even the most dedicated advocates of the financial independence and early retirement approach acknowledge that the lifestyle can be difficult—both in the extreme savings strategies necessary to achieve it and in the ways it changes day-to-day life. For instance, extroverts might find it difficult to forgo social activities like eating out or traveling with friends. Others may find it challenging to create a sense of personal identity that doesn’t revolve around a career.

Investing for F.I.R.E.

Investing allows F.I.R.E. advocates—and others—to earn income in two important ways: dividends and market appreciation.

Dividends

Shareholders earn dividend income when companies have excess profits. Dividends are generally offered on a quarterly basis, and if you hold shares of a stock you could earn them.

However, because dividend payments depend on company performance, they’re not guaranteed, those relying on them to live should have other income sources (including substantial savings accounts) as a back up income stream.

Market Appreciation

Investors can also earn profits through market appreciation when they sell stocks and other assets for a higher price than what they initially paid for them.

Even for those who seek retirement at a traditional pace, stock investing is a common strategy to create the kind of compound growth over time that can build a substantial nest egg. There are many accounts built specifically for retirement investing, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and 403(b) plans.

However, these accounts carry age-related restrictions and contribution limits which means that those interested in pursuing retirement on a F.I.R.E. timeline will need to explore additional types of accounts and saving and investing options.

For example, brokerage accounts allow investors to access their funds at any point—and to customize the way they allocate their assets to maximize growth.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re hoping to retire in a traditional fashion, shorten your retirement timeline, or are just looking to increase your wealth to achieve shorter-term financial goals, like buying a new car—investing can be one of the most effective ways to reach your objectives.

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).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.



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.

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.

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.

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Inherited IRA: Distribution Rules for Beneficiaries

Inherited IRA Distribution Rules Explained

When an IRA account holder passes away, they might choose to leave their account to a loved one. But whether the recipient is surprised or knew about the inheritance ahead of time, they may have questions about what to do with this inherited IRA.

How does an inherited IRA work? The key to properly handling an inherited IRA is to understand what it means for you as a beneficiary. Your relationship with the deceased, for example, could impact the tax consequences on the inheritance. Plus there are inherited IRA distribution rules you’ll need to know.

An inherited IRA can also be a tremendous financial opportunity, as long as you understand the inheritance IRA rules. Here’s what you should know about the beneficiary IRA distribution rules.

What Is An Inherited IRA?

An inherited IRA, also called a beneficiary IRA, is a type of account you open to hold the funds passed down to you from a deceased person’s IRA. The original retirement account could have been any IRA, such as a Roth, traditional IRA, SEP IRA, or SIMPLE IRA. The deceased’s 401(k) plan can also be used to fund an inherited IRA.

Spouses won’t necessarily need to open an inherited IRA, because spouses are allowed to transfer any inherited assets directly into their own retirement accounts. However, any other beneficiary of the deceased’s account — such as someone who inherited an IRA from a parent — will need to open an inherited IRA, whether or not they already have a retirement account.

Some people prefer to open their inherited IRA account with the same firm that initially held the money for the deceased. It can make it simpler for the beneficiary while planning after the loved one’s passing. However, you can set up your account with almost any bank or brokerage.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that opening a brokerage account online typically doesn’t come with any setup costs? Often, the only requirement to open a brokerage account — aside from providing personal details — is making an initial deposit.

How Does an Inherited IRA Work?

When it comes to IRAs, there are two types of beneficiaries: designated and non-designated. Designated includes people, such as a spouse, child, or friend. Non-designated beneficiaries are entities like estates, charities, and trusts.

This article focuses on designated beneficiaries. While your relationship with the deceased may impact your options and any inherited IRA distribution rules, as can the age of the deceased at the time of death, certain inheritance IRA rules apply to everyone:

1.    You cannot make additional contributions to the inherited IRA. You can only make changes to the investments or buy and sell assets held by the IRA.

2.    You must withdraw from the inherited IRA. The required minimum distribution (RMD) rules depend on your age and relationship to the deceased, but according to inherited Roth IRA distribution rules, withdrawals are required even if the original IRA was a Roth IRA (which typically does not have RMD requirements).

What are The RMD Rules For Inherited IRAs?

When it comes to required minimum distributions, there are different rules for inherited IRA RMDs for spouses and non-spouses.

One recent difference between the rules for spouse and non-spouse beneficiaries is a result of the SECURE Act, established in early 2020. It states that non-spouse beneficiaries have to withdraw all the funds from their inherited IRA within a maximum of 10 years. After that time, the IRS will impose a 50% penalty tax on any funds remaining.

Spouses, on the other hand, can take yearly distributions from the account based on their own life expectancy.

RMD Rules for Spouses

Once a spouse takes ownership of the deceased’s IRA account, they can either roll over the assets into their own pre-existing IRA within 60 days, or transfer funds to their newly opened inherited IRA they can withdraw based on their age.

Note that taking a distribution from the account if you are under age 59 ½ results in a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

RMD Rules for Non-Spouses

For non-spouses (relatives, friends, and grown children who inherited an IRA from a parent), once you’ve opened an inherited IRA and transferred the inherited funds into it, RMDs generally must start before December 31st following a year from the person’s death. All assets must be withdrawn within 10 years, though there are some exceptions: if the heir is disabled, more than a decade younger than the original account owner, or a minor.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that a traditional Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, is a tax-deferred account? That means you don’t pay taxes on the money you put in it (up to an annual limit) or the gains you earn, until you retire and start making withdrawals.

Multiple Beneficiaries

If there is more than one beneficiary of an inherited IRA, the IRA can be split into different accounts so that there is one for each person. However, in general, you must each start taking RMDs by December 31st of the year following the year of the original account holder’s death, and all assets must be withdrawn from each account within 10 years (aside from the exceptions noted above).

Inherited IRA Situation Examples

These are some of the different instances of inherited IRAs and how they can be handled.

Spouse inherits and becomes the owner of the IRA: When the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary of the IRA, they can opt to become the owner of it by rolling over the funds into their own IRA. The rollover must be done within 60 days.This could be a good option for someone who is younger than the original owner of the IRA because it delays the RMDs until the surviving spouse turns 73.

Non-spouse designated beneficiaries: An adult child or friend of the original IRA owner can open an inherited IRA account and transfer the inherited funds into it. They generally must start taking RMDs by December 31 of the year after the year in which the original account holder passed away. And they must withdraw all funds from the account 10 years after the original owner’s death.

Both a spouse and a non-spouse inherit the IRA: In this instance of multiple beneficiaries, the original account can be split into two new accounts. That way, each person can proceed by following the RMD rules for their specific situation.

How Do I Avoid Taxes on An Inherited IRA?

Money from IRAs is generally taxed upon withdrawals, so your ordinary tax rate would apply to any tax-deferred IRA that was inherited — traditional, SEP IRA, or SIMPLE IRA.

However, if you have inherited the deceased’s Roth IRA, which allows for tax-free distributions, you should be able to make withdrawals tax-free, as long as the original account was set up at least five years ago.

Spouses who inherit Roth accounts have an extra opportunity to mitigate the bite of taxes. Since spousal heirs have the power to take ownership of the original account, they can convert their own IRA into a Roth IRA after the funds roll over. Though the spouse would be expected to pay taxes on the amount converted, it may ultimately be financially beneficial if they expect higher taxes during their retirement.

Recommended: Is a Backdoor Roth IRA Right For You?

The Takeaway

Once you inherit an IRA, it’s up to you to familiarize yourself with the inherited IRA rules and requirements that apply to your specific situation. No matter what your circumstance, inheriting an IRA account has the potential to put you in a better financial position in your own retirement.

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).

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

Are RMDs required for inherited IRAs in 2023?

The IRS recently delayed the final RMD rule changes regarding inherited IRAs to calendar year 2024. That’s because rules regarding RMDs have changed in the last few years, leaving many people confused. What this means is that the IRS will, in some cases, waive penalties for missed RMDs on inherited IRAs in 2023 — but only if the original owner died after 2019 and had already started taking RMDs.

What are the disadvantages of an inherited IRA?

The disadvantages of an inherited IRA is knowing how to navigate and follow the many complex rules regarding distributions and RMDs, and understanding the tax implications for your specific situation. However, it’s important to realize that an inherited IRA is a financial opportunity and it could help provide you with money for your own retirement.

How do you calculate your required minimum distribution?

To help calculate your required minimum distribution, you can consult IRS Publication 590-B. There you can find information and tables to help you determine what your specific RMD would be.


Photo credit: iStock/shapecharge

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.
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.

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