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The Most Affordable MBA Programs to Help Avoid Student Debt

If your master plan involves climbing the corporate ladder you may be considering heading to grad school to get your MBA. It’s a serious investment—business school doesn’t come cheap.

But an MBA could help you advance your career and increase your income potential by a fairly substantial amount. If you decide to go to business school, part of your search will likely involve finding the most affordable MBA program for you.

The Cost of Getting an MBA

Tuition costs for MBA programs can vary dramatically. At the lower end, tuition starts around $27,864 per year, and at the higher end, it’s closer to $80,000 per year. At Elite schools students can expect tuition costs over $100,000.

On top of tuition costs, there are other fees and expenses associated with attending school: You’ll have to account for housing, or room and board, plus books and other supplies; some clubs, which are important for networking, have fees that you may want to cover; and certain MBA programs offer study-abroad opportunities, also at an additional cost.

For example, at MIT, the estimated cost of tuition, housing, books, and other fees for the 2020-2021 school year was $120,846 .

Affordable MBA Options

Finding an affordable MBA program may require some research, but there are options out there. Here are a few avenues to consider when looking for one of the most affordable business schools.

Affordable Full-Time MBA Programs

Take the time to do a quick search and compare the going rates of MBA programs. Attending a state school where you qualify for in-state tuition could ultimately lower the cost of earning your MBA.

For the 2020-2021 school year, in-state residents at Oklahoma State University Sears School of Business pay a tuition of $18,814.80 per year, while tuition for out-of-state students is $42,069.00. The University of Central Arkansas offers online, on-campus, and hybrid programs with a base tuition rate of $325.00 per credit hour .

Online MBA Programs

There are a variety of universities that offer online-only MBA programs , at relatively low costs. Tuition for some online MBA programs under $10,000. Online programs can also offer flexibility for students who are still working while pursuing their degree.

Depending on the program courses may be offered synchronously, at-set times where lectures take place live, or asynchronously, where lectures are recorded and students may be able to set their own schedules.

However, some online programs (especially ones that are not accredited) aren’t as well regarded by industry professionals as full-time or in-person programs, which may mean less return on investment after you graduate.

Another potential downside to an online-only education is there is limited opportunity to network with other students in the program.

Part-Time MBA Programs

Part-time MBA programs allow students to complete their MBA while still working full- or part-time. This allows students to continue earning an income and supplement what they are learning in their classes with the real-life experience they are getting from their work. Many of these programs can take two to three years to complete.

Depending on the school, the part-time MBA program may also be on the expensive side, so read the details on tuition and fees at the schools you are comparing.

One-Year MBA Programs

While two year, full-time programs are traditional, one-year MBA options are popular in Europe. These are accelerated courses of study where students enroll in an intensive program to earn their degree. The cost of tuition may be less than for a full-time MBA program since students spend just one year taking classes and out of the workforce.

More programs in the U.S. are starting to offer one-year MBA options, including Northwestern University and Cornell University .

Cost-Benefit Analysis of MBA Programs

When it comes to applying to an MBA program, the cost of tuition (and books, housing, other fees, etc.) will likely all factor into the equation. It’s also worth reviewing the average salaries of graduates from specific programs you are considering.

Some programs have a fairly low salary-to-debt ratio (highest average salary, with lowest debt incurred), while others leave their student under a mountain of debt with less than ideal income prospects after graduation.

Beyond just the cost of tuition, there are other intangible factors that may come into play, like the network you are (hopefully) building as you make your way through your MBA program plus other transferable skills you’ll hopefully gain.

It can be difficult to place a monetary value on these items, but it’s not a bad idea to consider them when making your decision. For example, if there is a strong alumni network, it could help you find a job after graduation.

How you plan on paying for your MBA should also be factored into your decision-making process. Some companies may offer to cover a portion or all of the program’s tuition.

This can be a great benefit for those able to cash in, but review company policies because there may be some strings attached: You may be required to work for a specified number of years at your current firm, which could be unappealing if you’re interested in exploring a new industry.

Another option is MBA student loans, either private or federal. While federal student loans come with attractive protections, like deferment, forbearance, or income-driven repayment plans, private student loans could be an option as well.

In general, private student loans are borrowed as a last-resort option. Federal student loans, scholarships or grants, and other fellowships are generally preferable to private student loans.

Review the loans you are eligible for, including their terms, student loan repayment plans, interest rates, and any additional fees. Take the time to see how much you could be paying in interest over the life of the loan to get an idea of what your degree could truly be costing you.

When it comes right down to it, to help ensure you’re getting an affordable and valuable degree, do your research. Finding the best program for you may take a little time, but if you’re passionate about advancing your education and pursuing a career in business, the right MBA program can be a great step in the right direction.

The Takeaway

An MBA can be a solid step for those pursuing a career in business. Graduates learn valuable skills for the workplace and could improve their earning potential.

What may be a disadvantage to some considering graduate school is the cost of some MBA programs. There are alternatives that may make getting your MBA a more affordable goal. These options include part-time, online, one-year, or even some full-time in-person MBA programs.

MBA grads with student loans may find themselves in a position where they’re interested in refinancing after entering (or re-entering) the workforce.

Student loan refinancing lenders use criteria like borrower credit history and earning potential (among other financial factors) to determine the new interest rate and terms.

As a newly minted MBA holder, you’re on the path to upward mobility and may benefit from refinancing your student loans. Refinancing any federal student loans will eliminate them from federal benefits, things like income-based repayment plans or Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But, a lower interest rate could mean you’ll pay less money over the life of the loan. To see what your new loan could look like, check out our easy-to-use student loan refinance calculator.

Check out what kind of rates and terms you can get in a few minutes.


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If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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3 Ways to Use Your Stimulus Check

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans received stimulus checks from the federal government. As of March 2021, a year into the pandemic, the third round of stimulus checks have been approved with the American Rescue Plan Act.

This package includes one time payments of $1,400 for individuals making $75,000 or less and per person for couples earning $150,000 or less. Additionally, those with dependents would qualify for another $1,400 per child. The IRS sent out “Economic Impact Payments” as checks in the mail or electronically via direct deposit.

The stimulus checks are a measure to provide financial relief to millions of Americans. Many people used the proceeds of the checks to pay for food, utilities, credit card bills and other expenses while others saved the money for future emergencies.

The federal government also provided stimulus checks in 2008. The amount was much lower—individuals received $600 and couples filing jointly received up to $1,200.

These economic impact payments could be used by consumers in several ways, including paying off debt such as credit cards or private student loans, starting an emergency fund, or by investing the money for retirement.

Paying Off Debt

The additional $1,400 can come in handy for people who want to pay off their debt, especially higher interest debt such as credit cards. Consumers could use all or a portion of the stimulus payment to make extra payments on a credit card, loan, or other debt. Additional payments could go towards the principal portion of what is owed, or what the consumer originally borrowed, helping pay down the interest faster; if you want to do this, it’s smart to contact the lender to let them know and ensure those extra payments are applied to the principal balance.

People who still have other credit card debt could look into obtaining a personal loan. Generally, personal loans have lower interest rates than credit card debts. Securing a lower interest rate could potentially help expedite debt repayment, so long as the repayment term is not extended.

For some, student loan debt may be a focus. In March 2020, the CARES Act temporarily paused federal student loan payments, reduced interest rates to 0% on all federal student loans, and temporarily halted collections on federal student loans in default. These protections have now been extended through Aug. 31, 2022. This does not apply to private student loans. The stimulus payment could help a borrower pay down their federal student loans or make extra payments.

Some may consider refinancing their student loans, should they be able to qualify for a lower fixed or variable interest rate, or preferable lending terms. This can make sense for some borrowers, especially those who already hold private student loans, but won’t be right for everyone. Federal loans offer borrower protections that private loans do not, so borrowers with federal student loans may want to consider all of their options carefully. Refinancing federal student loans eliminates them from all federal benefits, including the temporary relief offered by the CARES Act.

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Starting an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund comes in handy to pay rent or a mortgage, auto loan, student loans, or credit cards if you lose your job or your hours are slashed. Finding another full-time or part-time job could take several weeks or months and the additional money could be useful.

Saving for an emergency fund can be difficult after paying your bills each month. The money from the stimulus check could provide a boost to help start a rainy day fund. Having the extra savings can help prevent someone from having to rely on their credit cards and rack up more debt in case there is an emergency, say something like a last minute car repair or a sudden illness.

Having the extra money can also be a relief in the event of a job-loss since it can take several weeks for unemployment funds to arrive.

General recommendations suggest that people save three to six months of expenses in their emergency fund. In some situations, it may make sense to save more than three to six months worth of expenses. For example, freelancers with a fluctuating income may want to have more saved up. If you are not sure how much money you need, look at your monthly bills and determine which ones you can’t ignore if you lost your job for an extended period.

Another way to gauge how much to save in an emergency fund is to factor in things like the deductibles for your car and health insurance in case there is an accident and you need to make repairs to the auto or you get injured.

Starting an emergency fund with the money from your stimulus check is one way to get started. From there, more money can be added to your savings account whenever you get the opportunity. There are many ways to stash more money into your rainy day fund. Clean out your closet and see if there are any items you can sell online such as electronics, clothing, a bike, or musical instrument.

Save the money earned from a part-time job, freelance work, or your annual tax refund. Or review your budget and see if there is anything you can cut such as a streaming service you rarely use.

Those in a comfortable financial position, could transfer some money automatically from your weekly or bi-weekly paycheck into a new savings account. The amount could be small, but even $25 a week adds up over a year.

Investing the Stimulus Check

The extra money from the stimulus check could also be an investment. Depending on individual financial circumstances, the stimulus check could be used to make a contribution to a retirement account like an IRA. Others may be focusing on other goals like a downpayment for a house, a vacation, a wedding, or a home remodel.

Once you open an account and start putting money towards it weekly or even monthly, you may see the balance grow, especially as the investments appreciate in value and interest compounds

The Takeaway

The stimulus checks are intended to provide temporary relief to those struggling due to the unprecedented challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. How you use the money will depend on your individual circumstances. Some options include paying down debt, establishing an emergency fund, or investing.

A SoFi checking and savings account could be one place to stash your stimulus check. Getting started is as easy as depositing the stimulus check. From there, SoFi Checking and Savings makes it easy to earn interest and receive cash back on purchases. A SoFi Checking and Savings account allows you to spend, save, and earn money from one place. There are no account fees and your cash balance earns interest. The interest rate and fee structure is subject to change at any time, but SoFi aims to offer competitive interest rates and not charge any account fees.

With SoFi, account holders can create financial vaults within a SoFi Checking and Savings account for different reasons such as an emergency fund or investing account.

Building an emergency fund is a huge accomplishment. Get started with SoFi Checking and Savings.



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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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 Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

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What is a cashback credit card?

What is a Cashback Credit Card?

Some things in life sound too good to be true, and getting cash back for purchases may seem like one of those deals. But an increasing number of credit cards, called cashback cards, offer clients money back when they charge what they buy.

Many people are familiar with the concept of credit card rewards, when lenders give clients a little something back—points, airline miles—as an incentive for using their card.

In the case of cashback cards, that reward is, well, cash.

How Does a Cash Back Credit Card Program Work?

Cashback credit cards reward clients based on their spending, providing a credit that is a small percentage of the total purchase.

If a cashback card provides 1% back, for instance, the cardholder would generally earn 1 cent on every dollar spent, or $1 for every $100 they charge to their card. If, over the course of the year, a person charges $10,000 in purchases to their cashback credit card, they’d earn $100 in cash back for that time period.

Unlike sale items, when an item is discounted at the time of purchase—meaning, of course, the shopper pays a cheaper price—cashback cards work more like a rebate. The customer buys something at the posted rate and gets money back at a later date.

The average American had a credit card balance of $5,315 in 2020, according to Experian. Assuming that full balance is eligible for cash back, it would earn $53.15 with a credit card providing 1% cash back and $106.30 for one giving 2% cash back.

Do All Cashback Credit Cards Work the Same Way?

Yes and no. While all cashback cards typically use the same model—money back based on a percentage of total purchases—the differences are typically in the details.

Things like the rate of cashback earnings, interest rate, the process for redeeming cash back, and so on vary by card and lender. Some lenders may even offer several cashback credit card products with different rates and benefits.

As such, before signing up for a cashback credit card, it’s smart to spend some time researching and comparing cashback cards to find the one that best suits your needs.

What to Look for in a Cashback Card

There are a number of considerations when choosing a cashback credit card that will determine just how profitable the card will be for a specific person.

Because people have different spending habits and financial preferences, the best type of credit card will ultimately depend on the individual. Here are some things to consider.

Rate of Cash Back

Not all cashback credit cards offer the same rate of return, so it’s best to comparison-shop. Though differences in percentages may sound negligible, getting 2% instead of 1% means double the cash back—and those small amounts can add up over time.

Some credit cards also provide different rates of cash back depending on the spending category or how much money the cardholder charges in a year. For example, some credit cards may provide a higher percentage on expenditures such as gas, travel, or groceries and a different rate for other types of purchases.

Tiered cashback cards may provide a higher (or even lower) rate when annual purchases exceed various thresholds.

Some credit cards also offer higher introductory cashback rates.

How a person chooses to redeem cash back may also determine the final payout. A travel rewards card, for example, may provide a higher rate of return for cardholders who redeem the money they earn on flights, and a lesser amount for those who redeem their rewards on statement credits or other purchases.

It can be difficult to tell at a glance how much the cashback percentage rate may actually net an individual, especially when considering categorized and tiered rewards. But when comparison-shopping for a cashback credit card, it is worth crunching some numbers to get an idea.

One way to estimate how much in cashback rewards a card will actually end up earning is to apply the posted cashback rates to previous credit card statements or to the spending allocations within an individual’s annual budget.

Annual Fees

Though some cashback credit cards have no annual fee, others do. It’s a good idea to factor in any annual fee when estimating the cashback rewards based on your spending habits. Calculating the returns on fee vs. no-fee cards can help to assess whether it’s worth shelling out extra.

If a bank charges $99 for a cashback card earning 2%, the bank fees would essentially cancel out the $100 in cash back earned on the first $5,000 in annual spending.

Someone who charged $7,500 annually would net $51 with the 2% cashback card, and $75 with a no-fee 1% cashback card. But if they charged $20,000 annually, the $99/2% cashback credit card would net $301, while the no-fee card would only earn $200 in cash back.

APR

The nearly half of Americans who carry a balance on their credit cards each month will want to pay close attention to a credit card’s annual percentage rate. This is the amount of interest cardholders will have to pay if they do not pay off their credit card balance in full each month.

The average credit card APR was 14.65% in late 2020, according to the Federal Reserve—a rate that can quickly cancel out any cashback benefits.

Recommended: What is a Good APR?

Redemption Terms

A good question to ask a lender before signing up for a cashback credit card is “Where can I get cash back?” The terms of redemption can vary across credit card products.

In some cases, cardholders may see an annual one-time credit for the full amount earned. Other cards allow cardholders to redeem their cash back at any time.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Cashback Card

While signing up for—and using—a cashback credit card is the first step to getting money back on everyday purchases, there are some ways to optimize the returns.

Pay Off Your (Whole) Credit Card Bill on Time

With few exceptions, credit card charges are not subject to interest until after the statement payment due date. But after that payment becomes due, extra interest and fees can quickly add up—erasing any cashback benefits.

Optimize Redemptions

When it comes to redeeming cash back, it’s worth seeking the biggest bang for your buck.

If a card offers different rates of cash back depending on how rewards are redeemed, being strategic when cashing out can result in a greater windfall.

Consider Extra Fees

Though a cashback credit card can make it tempting to charge everything you buy, that’s not always the most cost-effective strategy.

Though it’s generally an exception, some merchants impose surcharges for using a credit card or may provide discounts for paying in cash. In such cases, it’s a good idea to crunch the numbers to ensure the extra fees don’t actually cost more than the cashback reward.

The Takeaway

Free money may be hard to come by—but not if you use a cashback credit card. When choosing a card, It’s best to look at the rate of cash back, any annual fee a card may charge, and the APR if you carry a balance.

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

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

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Are There Bitcoin ETFs?

Cold Wallet vs. Hot Wallet: Choose the Right Crypto Storage

In traditional finance, money is kept in a bank account, whereas in cryptocurrency, money is kept in an individual “wallet”—some digital, some paper. Like traditional bank accounts, there are cold wallets and hot wallets, each with its distinct uses and advantages.

To choose which type of wallet is right for you—a cold wallet or hot wallet—it can be helpful to compare which features best suit your crypto storage needs. In this article, we will explore all the aspects of each type of wallet:

•   What is a Cold Wallet?
•   What Is A Hot Wallet?
•   Cold Wallet vs. Hot Wallet: Which is Right for You?

What is a Cold Wallet?

A cold wallet is a digital wallet that allows users to store cryptocurrency offline. The wallet only ever accesses an internet-connected device when the user needs to send or receive funds using the wallet. This makes it an exceptionally secure option for crypto holders.

Unlike traditional currencies, cryptocurrency is not held nor protected by a bank or central governing body thus giving the user full authority over their funds. However, cryptocurrency must be kept somewhere, so individual wallets were created.

Types of Cold Wallets

Hardware Wallet

A hardware wallet is a digital wallet that allows users to store cryptocurrency on a physically-detachable device. When the hardware wallet is not in use, it remains disconnected from any other device, disabling any internet, local area network, or physical transferability.

When the user needs to send or receive funds using the cold storage wallet, the device connects to an internet-connected computer via a USB cable. Even then, the wallet is only accessible with the correct private key which is generated offline. This adds another layer of security to the already multi-layer encrypted security protocol.

Offline Software Wallet

Offline software wallets are similar to hardware wallets but are more complex to set up and use. An offline software wallet separates a wallet into two platforms—an offline wallet containing the wallet’s private keys, and an online wallet containing the public keys. The online wallet and offline wallet function separately to initiate new transactions that must be manually processed incrementally by the user. This allows transactions to be sequentially processed without the offline wallet ever connecting to the internet, securing its stored private keys.

Paper Wallet

A paper wallet is the most basic form of cold storage. It is an actual paper document with the public and private keys written or printed on it, using an offline printer. A paper wallet typically features a QR code to be easily scanned and signed to process transactions. Paper wallets are effective cold wallets, however, they are susceptible to being lost, damaged, illegible, destroyed, copied, or stolen, rendering the wallet’s funds irrecoverable.

Sound Wallet

A sound wallet is an audio device that records and stores a wallet’s private keys in encrypted sound files into mediums such as CDs and vinyl discs. Sound wallets are not common nor popular among cryptocurrency holders, yet they are a viable option for safely storing digital currencies. To retrieve the keys from a sound wallet, code hidden within these audio files can be deciphered with a spectroscope app or high-resolution spectroscope.

What is a Hot Wallet?

A hot wallet is an online storage tool that allows owners of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to send, receive, and store cryptocurrency. Hot wallets are cryptocurrency wallets provided by third-party entities and are connected to the internet. Because they are connected to the internet, hot wallets allow for fast and easy transactions at any time, regardless of location.

Upon creating a hot wallet, users are given a unique public wallet address which is shared with others to receive cryptocurrency, similar to a username or bank account number. A private key for the wallet is also provided, and functions much like a password. Finally, a recovery seed phrase is provided—this is a sequential list of random words similar to a password recovery secret question’s answer.

Despite the name, hot wallets don’t actually store cryptocurrency in the same way traditional wallets do. Hot wallets are primarily used for temporarily holding a small amount of funds used for everyday transferring, trading, or buying cryptocurrency. These wallets help facilitate any changes to the record of transactions permanently stored on the decentralized blockchain ledger for any given cryptocurrency.

Types of Hot Wallets

Wallets on Investing Platforms

When a cryptocurrency investor creates an account with a digital currency exchange or investing platform, they are provided with a hot wallet protected by the platform. These hot wallets are firmly protected by their respective exchanges, as the company’s success and survival depends on protecting customers’ funds from getting stolen. Some centralized exchanges may even insure their customers’ funds, providing reimbursement guarantees in the event of a security compromise or loss of funds.

Note that a decentralized exchange, an exchange with no central authority, offers no similar protections and requires users to use their own wallets.

Desktop Wallet

A desktop wallet is a computer or smartphone application installed on an internet-connected device that gives the user complete control over their wallet. Desktop wallets have a public address and allow the user to send or receive cryptocurrency, and they also have a private key to protect stored funds.

Web Wallet

Web wallets are hot wallets hosted by a company through a website or a web browser extension. Web wallets facilitate access to cryptocurrency from anywhere and are accessible on web browsers or mobile devices.

Mobile Wallet

A mobile wallet is similar to a desktop wallet, but is designed for mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Mobile wallets allow for mobile payments and transfers in physical stores, via touch-to-pay and scanning of a QR code.

Cold Wallet vs. Hot Wallet Security

Because cold storage stores cryptocurrency through an offline medium, it is the strongest form of security and self-custody for protecting cryptocurrency, similar to storing gold in a vault. Since the funds remain offline when not in use, it is nearly impossible to hack or gain unauthorized access to a cold storage wallet. A cold wallet is only susceptible to being physically lost, damaged, or stolen.

While hot wallets can be considered “safe,” they are technically more vulnerable to attacks because they are connected to the internet. Maintaining a constant internet connection provides the opportunity, however small, for malicious actors to gain unauthorized access to and steal funds from wallets even when a wallet isn’t actively being used by the owner.

Hot wallets are ultimately secured by the individual user. There are only two ways to access a wallet: A confidential “private key” and a recovery “seed phrase.” However, hot wallets ultimately have three attack vectors:

•   Back-end: via an unsecured exchange, web wallet company, a bug in desktop wallet’s code)
•   Front-end: if the individual wallet owner saves private key in an email which is then hacked)
•   Random: brute force attack

Experienced cryptocurrency investors typically only keep a small percentage of their holdings in a hot wallet to reduce risk, as there could be less chance for hackers to break into a hot wallet for a small sum of tokens. Hot wallets commonly will only have a small amount of tokens planned to be traded, spent, or sold in the near future. Otherwise, the core remaining assets may remain in a cold storage wallet until needed.

Cold Wallet vs. Hot Wallet: Which Is Right for You?

Choosing the right crypto storage can be a difficult task and there might not be one perfect solution. Deciding what kind of wallet to use depends on a multitude of factors such as:

•   Accessibility: If the wallet is purely for longer-term storage and will not be used often, a cold wallet with stronger security might make more sense.
•   Frequency of use: For someone who needs to access the wallet often for trading, sending, and receiving without much hassle, a hot wallet might be better suited.
•   Purpose of use: Spreading cryptocurrency across multiple wallets — with small amounts needed for daily transacting to hot wallets, and core holdings not needed for years to cold wallets — could reduce long-term risk and optimize day-to-day transacting.
•   Diversity: Individuals are not limited to only one wallet, making it not only possible but potentially advantageous to diversify cryptocurrency investments across multiple wallets.

The Takeaway

When deciding where to store your cryptocurrency, it’s important for an investor to consider what’s more important: security or convenience.

A cold wallet is a cryptocurrency wallet stored on a device or medium that is not connected to the internet. Cold wallets are more secure and difficult to attack, but are inconvenient to use and can be damaged, lost, or stolen.

A hot wallet is a digital currency wallet stored on an online device that is connected to the internet. Hot wallets are more suitable for investors who actively buy, send, and trade cryptocurrency and need to be able to easily access their wallet from anywhere, though they are more vulnerable to hacks and loss of funds.



Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.

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

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

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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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How to Make a Monthly Budget

Some good news about budgeting: According to a 2020 Debt.com survey, as many as 80 percent of Americans are now doing some form of budgeting. The top reasons for using a budget, according to the survey, include increasing wealth and savings and managing debt.

While not everyone loves the idea of budgeting, taking a moment to assess and prioritize your spending can yield some real rewards. Even a basic monthly budget can help you reach your financial goals, whether it’s to have a financial cushion, put a downpayment on a new home, go on your dream vacation, or all of the above.

The most common reason cited for not budgeting in Debt.com’s survey was making too little money. But the truth is that you don’t have to make a lot to benefit from having a budget. Indeed, budgeting can be particularly helpful when money is tight.

Whether you’re brand new to budgeting or looking to improve your budgeting skills, read on. Below are some simple steps that can help you keep better tabs on your cash flow and improve your financial life.

Gathering All of Your Financial Information

While estimating your income and monthly costs can work in a pinch, to make your budget as complete (and accurate) as possible, you’ll want to start by gathering up at least three months worth of financial documents and receipts.

Here are some documents that may be helpful:

•   Pay stubs
•   Bank statements
•   Credit card statements
•   Rent/Mortgage bill
•   HOA
•   Electricity bill
•   Water bill
•   Internet bill
•   Cable bill
•   Childcare/School Tuition statements
•   Monthly public transportation passes
•   Recurring healthcare costs like deductibles or prescriptions
•   Student loan statements
•   Insurance statements

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


Figuring Out Your Monthly Take-Home Income

Although you may be able to rattle off your annual income without thinking, when creating a budget you’ll want to look more closely at your pay stub to determine your take-home pay. That’s how much is left after all of the deductions (such as federal, state, and local taxes, retirement savings, and insurance) are taken out.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to subtract your self-employment income tax before calculating your net monthly income.

Determining your take-home pay is important because if you use your annual income to make your budget, you might end up thinking that you have more money available to you every month than actually shows up in your checking account.

If you’re budgeting with another person, you’ll also want to tally up that person’s take-home pay as well. It’s a good idea to also include any additional household income, such as that from investments or social security.
All together, these will give you a good idea of how much actual cash you have to budget with each month.

Tallying Up Monthly Expenses

Once you’ve nailed down how much money you’re bringing in each month, it’s time to look at how much money you’re sending out into the world each month. This is where all the paperwork you gathered can really come in handy.

A simple way to start is to write down how much you’re paying for all your fixed (or recurring) monthly bills, such as rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, health care expenses, utilities, subscriptions.

Once you’ve got your regular bills accounted for, you can look at variable expenses, such as groceries, entertainment, and other discretionary expenses. With variable expenses, it’s helpful to look back at your bank statement, as well as receipts from the previous few weeks or months, and calculate an average.

If you tend not to save receipts, it can be useful to actually track your spending (by carrying a notebook, using a app, or collecting receipts and recording them later) for a week or more in order to better assess your daily spending.

Below are some sample budget categories and expenses that you may want to include:

Housing
•   Rent
•   Utilities
•   HOA
•   Maintenance costs
•   Home/renter’s insurance

Transportation
•   Gas
•   Tolls
•   Maintenance costs
•   Car Loan
•   Public transportation tickets or passes
•   Taxis or ride shares
•   Parking pass
•   Insurance payments

Children
•   Childcare expenses
•   After-school care costs
•   Tuition
•   Tutoring
•   Babysitting

Education
•   Tuition
•   Books
•   Student loans
•   Student fees

Food
•   Groceries
•   Take-out
•   Eating out

Financial
•   Bank fees
•   Service fees
•   Credit card payments
•   Life insurance
•   Disability insurance
•   Retirement fund
•   Investments
•   Emergency fund

Healthcare
•   Doctor appointment co-pays
•   Prescription costs
•   Over-the-counter medication costs

Entertainment
•   Movie tickets
•   Special events
•   Concerts
•   Streaming media services
•   Books
•   Nonbusiness travel

Pets
•   Pet insurance
•   Food and treats
•   Flea and tick preventative
•   Medications
•   Vet bills

Shopping/Personal Care
•   Clothing
•   Shoes
•   Accessories
•   Toiletries/Cosmetics
•   Haircuts/styling
•   Shaves/Manicures
•   Gym membership

When it comes to expenses that only occur in certain months, such as tuition for summer camp, you can divide the total by 12 in order to figure out how much you should be saving each month to cover these seasonal costs.

Once you have a list of all your monthly expenses, you may be alerted to trends you might not have noticed before (like $75 a month on morning coffees).

You’ll also be able to add it all up to see what your overall average monthly spending is. Ideally, this number is less than the amount of take-home pay you calculated above.

Planning and Creating a Budget

Now that you’ve got a grip on how much money you have coming in, and how much is going out, it’s time to actually create a plan for how you want to spend your money–in other words a budget–rather than spending haphazardly.

You can create a budget using pen and paper or a spreadsheet on your computer. There are also a number of budgeting apps, such as SoFi Relay, that can simplify the process.

There are several different ways to approach spending targets and savings goals in your budget.

One commonly recommended guideline it the 50/20/30 budget, which breaks up your spending and saving like this:

•  50 percent on “needs” or essential expenses (such as housing, utilities, auto payments, insurance, repairs, healthcare, childcare, minimum payments on debts, and education).
•  30 percent on “wants” or discretionary expenses (e.g., shopping, entertainment, personal care, travel).
•  20 percent towards savings (such as an emergency fund, paying more than the minimum on debts, retirement, and other savings).

These percentages are guidelines, however, and you may decide to re-jigger them based on your financial situation, current expenses, and goals.

If the cost of housing is high in your area, for example, you may need to allot more to the “needs” bucket. Or, if you have a big expense or a trip you want to take in six months, you may want to bump up savings, at least temporarily.

If you find that your spending is currently higher than your income, or doesn’t allow for monthly savings or debt reduction, you may need to find places where you can cut back.

It’s often simplest to do this in the “wants” category. For example, you might decide you can cook more and eat out less often, ditch that pricy cable bill, use the library instead of buying digital and audio books, or cut back on clothing purchases.

Once you’ve set up your spending and saving targets, you’ll want to track your progress, either by manually tracking your spending or using an app. Along the way, you may find that you have to adjust your spending to stay better aligned with your budget, or you might find that you need to adjust your budget to make it work better for you.

The Takeaway

A budget can help you achieve your financial goals, whether it’s knocking down debt, saving up for something fun, or funding your retirement.

While the process may sound intimidating, budgeting is really just a matter of figuring out what your current income and expenses are, seeing how they line up (or don’t), and then deciding how you may want to shift your spending in order to reach your goals.

It can also be helpful to remember that even if you have a budget, it will only be useful if you periodically track and update it to reflect any changes in your income, expenses, or financial goals.

If you need help tracking your spending, a checking and savings account with SoFi might be a great choice for you. With SoFi Checking and Savings, you can easily see your weekly spending (and make sure you’re on track with your budget) in your dashboard in the app.

Ready to take your budget to the next level? Find out more about how SoFi Checking and Savings can help you track your spending and budget effectively.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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