What to Know About a Market Sell-Off

Often, the word sell-off is used in conjunction with market volatility, but you may wonder what, exactly it means, especially when it comes to your money. A market sell-off occurs when a large pool of investors decide to sell stocks. When they do this, stock prices fall as a result.

A market sell-off may be due to external events, such as when regional lockdowns were announced following the escalation of the COVID-19 crisis. But sometimes sell-offs can be triggered by earnings reports that failed expectations, technological disruption, or internal shifts within an industry.

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

There is no “right” answer for whether to buy, hold, or sell a stock during a market sell-off, but understanding the nature of a sell-off—as well as the purpose of your investments—can help investors decide on the right strategy for them.

Understanding Bull Market vs. Bear Market

Understanding the overall market environment (as well as common stock market terms) can help investors understand how sell-offs exist within the market.

It’s not uncommon to see references to a bull market and a bear market. A bull market is when the stock market is showing gains. There are no specific levels of increase that indicates a bull market, but the phrase is commonly used when stocks are “charging ahead”—and is generally considered a good thing. A bear market, on the other hand, is typically used to describe situations when major indexes fall 20% or more of their recent peak, and remain there for at least two months.

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

What To Do During a Market Sell-Off

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

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

online ETFs that can help you build a more diverse investment portfolio to hedge against ups and downs.

Protecting a Portfolio From Sell-Offs

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

Stop Losses

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

Put Options

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

Limit Orders

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

The Takeaway

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

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

Digital investing tools can help investors keep track of stocks. One such online investing platform is SoFi Invest®. SoFi lets users buy and trade stocks in an easy-to-use app, as well as access professional research, daily business news, and actionable market insights. Investors can also build a portfolio through automated investing, buying pre-selected groups of stocks curated by investment professionals.

Find out how SoFi can help you build and reach for your financial goals.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Digital Assets—The Digital Assets platform is owned by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, http://www.sofi.com/legal.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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Source: sofi.com

6 Places to Get a Cheap or Free Flu Shot This Year

A mother receives a flue shot as her daughter holds her hand.

Darcie Magnuson, daughter of Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, receives her flu vaccination from certified medical assistant Sirena Brito at Denver Health, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Kailani Magnuson, 3, holds her mother’s hand. David Zalubowski/AP Photo

If there was ever a time to get the flu shot, it’s probably amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having two potentially deadly viruses that share some of the same symptoms makes getting the flu vaccine important for both protecting yourself from the flu and reducing the strain on healthcare facilities responding to the coronavirus.

The good news: Flu activity in the U.S. is unusually low at this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It attributes the drop to precautions taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, including a record high number of Americans receiving doses of the flu vaccine.

But getting vaccinated doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s where to get a flu shot for cheap or free — plus where you could actually snag a little extra spending money by taking your shot.

Where to Get a Free or Low-Cost Flu Shot

The annual flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu and reduce the severity if you do contract it.

The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Although September and October are the ideal times to get vaccinated, the CDC notes that you can get a vaccine so long as the flu virus is circulating — flu season doesn’t officially end until around April or May.

If you have health insurance, you’ll likely be able to get a free flu shot. But even if you don’t have insurance, you can still find affordable — and sometimes free — options.

Pro Tip

Under the Affordable Care Act, all marketplace insurance plans must cover the cost of the vaccine. However, check your plan for details, as some set limitations on where you can get the shot for free.

Ready to protect yourself from the influenza virus? Here’s where to go for your shot.

1. Local Retailers, Grocery Stores and Pharmacies

Just by showing your insurance card, you can get a free flu shot at many places you’re already visiting, which makes this a convenient option for most people.

Pro Tip

Some providers may have limited supplies of the flu vaccine remaining — check with your location before you go.

If you don’t have insurance, you can typically get the shot for less than $50 at the following businesses:

2. Your Doctor and Urgent Care Clinics

If you have health insurance, you can get a free flu shot at a variety of places, including your doctor and urgent care clinics.

While the shot may be free, the office visit may not be — check before you make an appointment or show up at a clinic.

3. Your Workplace

If your office closed due to the pandemic, your employer might not be offering free flu shots this year. However, if you’re still showing up to work, it doesn’t hurt to ask your human resources department if your company would sponsor an on-site flu vaccination.

4. Your College Campus

If campus is open, there’s a good chance your college is still offering free flu shots to college students. Most times, all you’ll need is your student ID.

5. Community Health Centers

Community-based health centers are available in areas with limited access to affordable health care services. They provide services regardless of a patients’ ability to pay and charge for services on a sliding scale.

Depending on where you live, your local health center may offer free flu shots, regardless of your insurance status. Locate a center near you by clicking here.

6. VA Health Centers

If you’re a veteran enrolled in the VA health care system, you can get a flu shot for free at a VA health care facility or an in-network retail pharmacy or urgent care location near you. Just present a valid, government-issued identification and this flyer.

And if none of these places work for you, check with VaccineFinder.org for vaccination locations near you. Regardless of where you choose to , get your shot as soon as possible.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How Much Should I Spend on Food a Month?

Whether eating at home or out on the town, you might be shocked by the amount you spend on food each year. In fact, the average U.S. household spends $7,967 on food every year, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure survey. That amount —about $664 a month—represents nearly 13% of consumers’ average yearly expenditures and 10% of their income.

Of course the amount people spend on sustenance can vary widely, depending on age, gender, dietary restrictions, and where they live. A smorgasbord of meals delivered, takeout food, snack addictions, and a yen for impulse grocery buys all affect the bottom line. We’re not even talking about the beer that goes with those Funyuns®, the chardonnay perfectly paired with the white cheddar nachos.

Here’s a look at some rules of thumb about how much to spend on food and how to work the cost into your budget.

A Food Budget Benchmark

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a series of monthly food budgets that represent the cost of a healthy diet at four price levels: thrifty, low cost, moderate cost, and liberal. These budgets can serve as a benchmark against which you can measure your own.

cut back on spending, redirecting money to other goals like building an emergency fund.

Finding Wiggle Room in Your Budget

The USDA’s budgets only take into account food prepared at home, yet a food budget will likely also need to account for restaurant meals. The BLS reports that the average household spends $4,533 a year on food at home and $3,434 a year on food away from home. So while about 57% of people’s food spending tends to be on groceries, 43% is spent eating out.

Eating at restaurants is more costly than preparing food at home, so when looking for wiggle room in a food budget, restaurant spending can be a good place to start making cuts.

Coupons are another money saving option. Grocery stores often offer discounts in the form of coupons, which may be available online or in the grocery store flyer, or may be sent to you in the mail.

creating a household budget starts by tallying your monthly income after taxes.

Next, total up necessary expenses, including food, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, car payments, and debt, such as student loan payments. Subtract this amount from your net income. The resulting amount is what is left to cover discretionary spending, such as entertainment, vacations, or a new TV.

This is also the part of a budget where there is room to set aside money for savings or other financial goals, like paying off debt faster. Making cuts to discretionary spending can free up more money to pursue these goals.

Budgeting Strategies

There are a number of budgeting strategies that can help you keep track of your spending.

The 50/30/20 Rule

The 50/30/20 rule is a simple strategy for proportional budgeting that was originally popularized by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi in their book, “All Your Worth.” This strategy breaks down a budget into three categories of spending. Here’s how it works:

•   50% goes to essential needs. These are necessary expenses, such as rent, groceries, and health insurance.
•   30% goes to discretionary spending. These are fun purchases that you don’t technically need in order to survive.
•   20% goes to savings. The 50/30/20 method separates discretionary spending and saving for financial goals, such as retirement, a down payment on a house, or paying off debt faster.

The 50/30/20 rule is a relatively simple form of budgeting, so it can help individuals keep their eyes on the big picture and avoid getting bogged down in minute details. That said, because it isn’t detail oriented it can be hard to pinpoint problem areas, such as places where overspending occurs.

The Envelope Method

The envelope method seeks to make budgeting more concrete by limiting most spending to cash transactions. It works by allocating a set amount of cash each month to different spending categories, such as groceries or entertainment.

At the beginning of the month, write each category on individual envelopes. Decide how much you want to spend in each category over the course of the month, and put enough cash to cover that amount in each respective envelope.

This method takes discipline. You can only use the cash in each envelope to make purchases in that category. When the cash is gone, it’s gone for the month. That means you can no longer do any spending in that category.

Zero-based Budgeting

A zero-based budget is one in which you assign each dollar of your income a specific purpose. For example, you may decide to spend $1,000 on rent, $325 on food, $200 on student loan payments, $100 on savings, and so on until there are zero dollars left without a job to do. While this type of budget can take a lot of effort, it can help you think carefully about every dollar you spend and be mindful of setting aside savings.

With your food and household budget on track, you’ll have enough to work toward financial goals, like paying off student loans and saving for retirement.

There’s an App For That

Envelope and spreadsheet averse? A SoFi Money® cash management account allows a look at weekly spending and saving right in the app. After a few months of tracking, you’ll have a better idea how to put purchases into categories that work as part of a bigger budget.

Signing up can take less than 60 seconds.

Track your spending, organize your finances, and even earn cash-back rewards with SoFi Money®.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

SOMN20072

Source: sofi.com

Does Buying in Bulk Save Money?

Conventional financial wisdom says buying in bulk is smart. When you buy en masse, the price per unit tends to drop. So the thinking goes, if you buy more, the less each unit winds up costing you. Seems simple enough, but like anything financial, there’s a bit more to the story.

It’s worth doing a deep dive on buying in bulk. What do you need to know, what mistakes should you avoid, and do you really save money?

The Pros of Buying in Bulk

Who isn’t looking for ways to save money? A firm financial foundation starts with saving. While the big deal is the potential for saving money on the cost per item, there are other reasons to shop in bulk.

For one thing, it’s typically more socially conscious and environmentally friendly because bulk purchases usually have significantly less packaging per use than smaller purchases have. (Envision a mammoth pickle jar or tub of frosting.)

Ideally, buying in bulk also means you shop less, and that’s less time spent on the road and burning gas.

Then too, who knows what additional savings you might rack up just by being in the store less frequently and having fewer opportunities to pick up things that weren’t on your list?

If you’re the organized type who is big on preparing meals in advance, cooking lots of food and freezing it, buying in bulk can make that endeavor easier.

For sure it’s cost efficient to prepare your family’s favorite pasta dishes and soups and have enough for today and whenever you’re ready for round two, or three.

Finding the Price Per Unit

This is one time you need to do the math. To capitalize on a bulk buy, determine the cost per unit. What is a unit? Think measurements like ounces, square feet, grams, and gallons.

A bottle of olive oil is not a unit. A fluid ounce of olive oil is.

A roll of paper towels is not a unit. A square foot of paper towels is.

Figure out how many units you are buying. Take the total cost of your purchase and divide that by the number of units.

Then compare the unit prices of a few packages of the same product to determine which is the better value.

Ideally, the cost per unit of a bulk buy should be at least 50% below what you would normally pay.

Although a supersized item usually has a lower cost per unit than its smaller brethren, crunch the numbers to see.

How Much Can You Save By Buying in Bulk?

study from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business found that people shopping at warehouse clubs were spending more on packaged food, making more shopping trips, and taking in more packaged food calories than if they didn’t shop at a club store.

fun way to save money, but don’t get so giddy grabbing great buys that you forget important things like expiration dates. Products like bleach and sunscreen expire in 12 months or less.

Be sure you can use what you buy before you have to throw it out. Another option is to buy, share, and split the costs with your friends. That avoids waste and saves money for all involved.

The Takeaway

Buying in bulk has its advantages. You can save money, but you’ll need to be savvy. Buy only what you need and what you can use in a timely fashion.

Like all shopping, but particularly in warehouse stores, temptation is everywhere. It’s best to know how to compare cost per unit and to have a list.

Speaking of planning, track your spending with SoFi Money®, a cash management account that has no account fees or monthly fees.

Sign up for SoFi Money in just one minute.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products 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.

SOMN20130

Source: sofi.com

Here Are 9 Options for Finding Free or Cheap Audiobooks

Though I own hundreds of books, I rarely find time to sit down and crack one open. I do, however, make use of my time in the car to listen to audiobooks.

But how do you get the audiobooks you want without paying a lot of money? There are a number of audiobook services available, but the options can be overwhelming.  Finding the right audiobook service is a matter of finding the right one for how you like to read.

9 Services for Cheap Audiobooks

Here’s our rundown of some of the best services where you can grab a book for your ears.

1. Audible

Audible is a big name in audiobooks. As a part of Amazon, it’s heavily marketed and easily available, but it has its pros and cons.

Pros

  • Audible boasts one of the largest audiobook libraries out there with more than 600,000 titles and 100,000 podcasts, according to a company spokesperson. Whatever you like to read, you can probably find it on Audible.
  • You get to keep any titles you read even if you cancel your subscription.
  • Your membership also gets you access to a number of podcasts, as well as subscriptions to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
  • You also get daily deals and an extra 30% discount on additional book purchases.
  • You can download the books you choose and listen offline.
  • You can try Audible out with a no-cost, 30-day trial period.

Cons

  • Audible is a subscription service with five different subscription plans, the cheapest being $7.95 per month. At that lowest tier, though, you are unable to earn extra credits, and you won’t get discounts on premium selection titles or access to exclusive sales.
  • The other membership plans are pricy. They include monthly subscriptions of $14.95 for one credit per month or $22.95 for two credits per month. Annual plans are also available; they cost $149.50 for 12 credits per year or $$229.50 for 24 credits per year.
  • Unused credits expire after one year. They also expire when you cancel your membership.

2. Audiobooks.com

Audiobooks.com is another subscription service, much like Audible.

Pros

  • Very large selection with over 200,000 titles.
  • Access to over 88 million podcast episodes for free.
  • Your subscription includes one book per month.
  • You can buy extra credits as needed. One credit equals one book.
  • You get free extra VIP books each month with no additional charge. VIP titles are older, less popular books, but they aren’t all obscure. For example, one book currently on the list is Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.”
  • With a  free 30-day trial you get one book free and can also select from the VIP collection.
  • You can stream books or download so you can listen offline.

Cons

  • It’s expensive at $14.95 per month.
  • VIP titles are limited and may not be of interest to you.

3. Scribd

A woman listens to something on her headphone while laying on a bean bag chair.
Getty Images

Scribd is a subscription service that allows you to access “unlimited” audiobooks and also offers features like ebooks, podcasts and even sheet music.

Pros

  • At $9.99 it’s cheaper than Audiobooks.com and you get to listen to as many books as you want.
  • There are a lot of extras like Kindle books, magazines and even sheet music available with your subscription.
  • It includes a 30-day free trial.

Cons

  • The term “unlimited” isn’t 100% accurate. Users in the iPhone app store complain that after two or three popular books, your ability to read new and popular titles  becomes very limited for the rest of the month.
  • You’re renting rather than buying the books, so you cannot keep them.
  • The platform is not loaded with extras like some of the other services.

4. Downpour

For $12.99, subscription service Downpour gives you one credit (good for any one book) per month. You can spend them as you go or save them up. Or you can simply rent or buy books without a subscription, but you’ll pay a little more for each title.

Pros

  • Less expensive than Audiobooks.com.
  • You own the books and can keep them even if you cancel.
  • You can download and listen offline.
  • You have the option to buy or rent books outside of the membership. Rentals are less expensive, but, if you buy the book, you’ll pay more than you would with a membership.

Cons

  • Smaller selection with just 80,000 titles (and counting).
  • No free trial.
  • Each credit expires after 12 months.
  • Books for purchase are pricy, though there is a tab for “Daily Deals” with sections for downloads under $15, $10 and even $5.

5. Chirp

Chirp is a sister site of Bookbub, an e-book site. When you sign up for the service, you get a daily email featuring special deals. Many of the deals are $3.99 or less for each book.

Pros

  • No subscription needed, so you only pay for what you buy.
  • You buy rather than rent the books, so they’re yours to keep.
  • You can purchase from a wide selection of books at regular price.
  • There is a “my wishlist” section where you can list out the books you want to listen to and get alerts if they go on sale.

Cons

  • The deals are random and not catered to your taste, so you may or may not see books on sale that you actually want to read.

6. Apple Books

A couple listen to an audiobook from one of their devices.
Getty Images

Apple Books is a store for iPhone and Mac users to purchase audiobooks. It’s not a subscription site, just a pay-for-what-you-want store.

Pros

  • New and popular books are available, as well as classics.
  • Apple editors curate general lists to help readers find new books.
  • You keep your audiobooks right on your phone.
  • You can download books and listen to them from your Apple Watch while you workout.
  • No pressure to download books to justify a monthly expense.

Cons

  • Limited to iPhone and Mac users.
  • Individual books can be expensive.

7. Google Play Books

Google Play Books is much like Apple Books, but for Android and PC users, and with a few more perks.

Pros

  • No subscription, just buy what you like.
  • Listen to previews before committing.
  • Good sales and prices overall.
  • Can be used on iPhones and Macs.
  • Large selection of audiobooks.

Cons

  • No freebies.

8. Librivox

The Librivox audiobooks website declares “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain.” So what does that mean? Basically, it’s a free library of audiobooks that are old enough to have outlasted their copyright. They are read by volunteers.

Pros

  • Completely free to use.
  • Lots of great classics like “Moby Dick,” “Frankenstein” and “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglas.”
  • Available in the Apple app store.

Cons

  • Limited selection (50,000) with no recent titles.
  • No extras, such as podcasts..

9. Your Public Library System

Of course, you can go to your local library and check out audiobooks on CD, but that’s so 2005. These days most library systems are hooked up with apps like Overdrive or Hoopla so you can check out audiobooks digitally on your phone.

Pros

  • With a library card, it’s completely free.
  • Not limited to your local library but connected to a large network of libraries, so there are many titles available.
  • You can place holds on titles you want if they are not currently available.

Cons

  • You may not find every book you want.
  • Books are checked out just like non-digital copies, so they are limited and you may have to wait for certain books.
  • New and popular books frequently have a very long waiting list.
  • You do not keep the titles, just borrow.

Happy listening!

Tyler Omoth is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to File for a Tax Extension

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

Depending on your financial circumstances, you might have a lot of paperwork to get in order before April 15. If you feel like you just need more time, it is possible to file for an extension on your federal tax return.

But there are considerations to keep in mind. Most important, filing for an extension on your return does not mean you have more time to pay the taxes you owe. That money is still due to the government on the regular due date, and you may incur penalties if the payment is late.

Here’s what you need to know to file a tax extension for tax year 2020.

What Is a Tax Extension?

A tax extension extends the deadline for filing your federal tax return by six months, making the new due date Oct. 15. All you have to do to get an extension is file IRS Form 4868 by April 15.

Form 4868 from the IRS website, fill it out, and mail it in, along with a check for estimated income taxes owed. The document itself includes information about where to send the document, depending on where you live.

If you’re filing electronically with a tax preparation software product or using the services of a professional accountant, they can help you file for an extension using their system.

Finally, if you use the IRS’s electronic payment system, you don’t need to file Form 4868 to request an extension. According to the form itself, “The IRS will automatically process an extension of time to file when you pay part or all of your estimated income tax electronically.” This applies to both online and telephone payments.

Can I File for a Tax Extension If I Owe Money?

Yes, you can still file for a tax return extension if you owe the government money—but the money itself is still due on the original due date.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to file for an extension of taxes owed. Rather, you should pay as much as you can of your estimated taxes when you file for the extension on the return, and then contact the IRS directly to learn about your options for complete repayment.

How to Know If You Owe Taxes

You may be wondering whether or not you owe taxes to the government at all—and if so, how to find out how much. While self-employed individuals must estimate their taxes and pay on a quarterly basis, those who file using W-2 wage reports may not often do this kind of taxation math.

online tax account system that allows you to see how much you owe in taxes simply by logging in. This user profile also allows you to pay any owed taxes directly and takes only a few minutes to set up.

Finally, you can always call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to confirm any amount of back taxes you might owe.

The Takeaway

Filing for a tax extension isn’t difficult, it turns out—and indeed, many tax time to-dos aren’t actually that hard. It’s all about getting the knowledge you need to get things done right the first time. (And, OK, maybe a bit of Virgo-esque organization.)

That’s why SoFi put together a comprehensive resource portal for all things Tax Season 2021, from understanding how your student loans might affect your taxes to figuring out which of your retirement contributions are tax-deductible.

Ready to turn tax time into a breeze? Check out the Tax Season 2021 Guide today.


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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The Ultimate Guide to Studying in College

College is a place for learning new things, preparing for a career, expanding one’s point of view, making new friends, and, odds are, partying. But putting more emphasis on a good time than on academics can lead to bad grades and worse.

One way that students can ensure they thrive in school is a no-brainer: to study.

Self-discipline is the key, and self-awareness is a first step in improving self-control. You can try to recognize and avoid temptation, either by steering clear of it or distracting yourself from it.

For students who could use some help, here are study tips for college they can try.

Get Enough Sleep

fatty fish that contain omega 3s , dark chocolate, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, nuts, eggs, oranges, and green tea, according to Healthline.

Drinking water and tea instead of soda and sugary fruit juices is also a good idea.

Get a Study Partner

A good study partner can hold you accountable as well as keep you focused.

If students have a tough time sitting down and reading from a book or computer all night, learning with a study partner may be easier and ensure that the information actually sticks.

Find a Quiet Space

Many people are unable to concentrate when they’re in a noisy environment. Unfortunately, a college dorm room can be loud because it’s where social gatherings often take place. Plus, there are so many students crammed into one area, nobody has any personal space. That’s why the hunt for a quiet study space is advised.

Quiet spaces on campus could include a library, where students might be able to reserve a private room; a secluded place outside; the campus cafe when it’s not busy; or an empty classroom.

If students have a car, they can drive off campus to a park, uncrowded eatery, or public library.

Put on Some Focus Music

Listening to music is one of the best study tips for college students. As long as the music isn’t distracting, students can log on to Spotify, Pandora, or YouTube and find focus music for free.

According to research cited by Business Insider, the best types of focus music include nature sounds, songs without lyrics, songs played at medium volume, and songs with a specific tempo.

Students can also listen to their favorite upbeat bands that make them excited, as it may help them study and get their work done faster.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Practitioners of the fine art of procrastination often pay a price.

Procrastination may lead to bad grades , higher levels of stress, and negative feelings, Psych Central notes. Procrastinators are likely to not have a great study session because they are rushed.

To stop postponing the inevitable, students can put reminders on their phones and notepads that tell them when to study and how to minimize stress before a test.

A study partner can help put feet to the fire. If students procrastinate over and over again, perhaps it’s a sign that they are not interested in their studies and may want to pursue a different major.

Procrastinating may also be a sign of ADHD, so students could make an appointment with their doctor to see if that’s the case and if there is treatment available.

Get Organized

If students’ papers are scattered everywhere, they don’t know where their important books or files are, or they forget when their tests are scheduled, they could use a few simple tips to get everything in order.

They can set up a Google Calendar and put every test, class, and appointment in there. They can set reminders that will show up on their computer or phone when they need to study.

They could also clean their room at least once a week, filing papers in folders, putting books in a neat pile, and storing backpacks, clothes, and other items in closets. Students could also purchase storage systems from places like IKEA and the Container Store so they have a place for everything.

They can also create ongoing to-do lists and check off each task as they complete it. The night before they go to class or in for a test, they can organize their backpack and put everything they need into it instead of rushing the morning of the test.

Shut Out Distractions

The noise in a dorm room or on a college campus can be distracting. Social media, text messages, and emails also take focus away from studying.

To buckle down, students could log out of social media and email and put their phones on do not disturb, only allowing emergency contacts to reach them.

If they are addicted to their phones or social media, they can install apps like SPACE, QualityTime, and Flipd that turn off distractions and track how much time they’re spending on their phones.

Put Together a Study Schedule

Studying isn’t just going to happen. That’s why one of the most important study tips is to put together a study schedule that is realistic.

For instance, if students like to go to bed at 2 a.m., they can’t plan to study at 6 a.m. the day they have a test because they’ll be exhausted. Instead, they can plan to study the evening before the test.

They should also schedule a time when they can find a quiet place to study or when their dorm room is going to be less noisy. They will likely not be able to concentrate on a Friday or Saturday night in their dorm because of surrounding shenanigans. They could block out time on a calendar when the dorm is quieter and make sure they stick to it.

Take Breaks

Studying for hours without a break could learn to burnout. Instead, pause to walk around, get some fresh air, or grab a glass of water or a healthy snack.

The most productive people focus on intense work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break, a Reader’s Digest article notes.

getting good grades—a stepping stone to a fulfilling career.

Students focusing on their studies are better off not adding worries about paying all of the costs associated with college. After exhausting federal aid, a private student loan from SoFi can come in handy. There are no fees, which some other lenders charge.

Students can easily apply online, with or without a co-signer. Co-signing may help a student qualify for a lower rate and may help their chances of approval.

SoFi also offers private parent student loans. Parents with strong credit and income may find lower rates than they would with federal parent PLUS loans, which involve fees, though the federal loans come with generous deferment and forbearance availability.

Learn more about private student loans with SoFi today.



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How to Transfer Your 401(k) When Changing to a New Job: 401(k) Rollover Guide

It’s easy to forget about old 401(k) plans when changing to a new job. Some people simply forget about it because the company that manages it never reminds them. Others didn’t forget about their old account, but they’ve been putting off the rollover because it sounds hard.

Many companies don’t make the process easy for customers to roll over their 401(k) accounts from previous jobs. But it can be worth the inconvenience.

By not rolling it over, you might be losing some serious cash. That’s right—losing money, so it’s easy to miss. Here are a few key reasons to prioritize a 401(k) rollover.

3 Reasons to Transfer Your 401(k) to a New Job

There are three main reasons to rollover a 401(k):

1. To reduce fees. If the fees are too high with your previous employer’s 401(k), rolling over a 401(k) can be advantageous.
2. To maximize your money. If you aren’t happy with the investment options in your old 401(k) and your new employer accepts rollover 401(k)s, you might be able to save money while investing in a broader range of investment vehicles.
3. To streamline your investments. If you leave your 401(k) where it is, you may not think about it very often. It’s important to keep tabs on all of your investments so you can make sure they are on track and appropriate for your time horizon and goals.

You May Be Paying Hidden Fees

There are all sorts of fees that go into effect when you open a 401(k), including recordkeeping fees, maintenance fees, and fund fees. Expressed in a percentage, these fees inform the expense ratio of a plan.

Employers may cover those fees until you leave the company. Once you’re gone, that cost might shift to you without you even realizing it.

Fees matter: When you pay a fee on your 401(k), you’re not just losing the cost of the fee; you’re also losing all the compound interest that would grow along with it over time. The sooner you roll your plan over, the more you could potentially save.

You Might Be Missing Out on Better Investments

401(k) accounts grow at different rates depending on which assets you invest in. If the retirement savings plan at your new company—or an individual retirement plan (IRA)—offers a selection of stocks and bonds that better aligns with your financial goals, it might be time to initiate a rollover.

The money that’s sitting in your old 401(k) could potentially grow at a faster rate if you roll it over into a new plan or into an IRA—it’s certainly worth investigating the growth rates of each. Keep in mind that investors can lose money when investing, too, so it always makes sense to consider your personal risk tolerance when deciding how to invest your retirement accounts.

You Could Lose Track of the Account

It’s not your fault, it’s just logistics. It’s harder and more time-consuming to juggle multiple retirement accounts than it is to juggle one. Until you retire, you’ll be managing two (or more) websites, two usernames and passwords, two investment portfolios, and two growth rates for decades.

And if you leave this next job to go to a third (or a fourth, or a fifth), the 401(k) plans could pile up, creating even more tracking work for you. Plus, when you’re no longer with an employer, you might miss alerts about changes that may occur with an old retirement plan.

What to do With Your 401(k) After Getting a New Job

While it’s generally allowed to leave your account in your former employer’s plan when you switch jobs, there are other options.

•  Cash out the account. If you take this route and you’re younger than 59½ years old, you will owe taxes and might also owe early withdrawal penalties depending on how you use the money.
•  Roll over the 401(k) account. You could roll the account into your new employer’s retirement plan (if allowed) or into an IRA.

Cashing Out Early

Should you choose to cash out your 401(k), you will have to pay taxes on the money, and perhaps an additional 10% early withdrawal fee.

That said, there are some circumstances when the 10% fee is waived (but not the income tax), such as when the funds will be used for eligible education expenses, certain medical expenses, or expenses related to a first-time home purchase, among other circumstances.

Rolling Over a 401(k) to Your New Employer’s Plan

The process of rolling over a 401(k) might seem intimidating or inconvenient at first, especially if you’re moving onto your second job and this is the first time you’ll be rolling over a 401(k). In actuality, the actual process of rolling over a 401(k) isn’t too complicated once you’ve decided where your existing funds are going to go.

Advantages of Rolling Over Your 401(k)

Rolling over your 401(k) to a new plan can be advantageous to your overall financial plan. Here are a few ways this transition might be beneficial to your financial well-being.

One Place for Tax-Deferred Money

Transferring your 401(k) to your new employer’s plan can help consolidate all of your tax-deferred dollars into one account. Keeping track of and managing one account may simplify your money management efforts.

A Streamlined Investment Strategy

Not only does consolidating your previous 401(k) with your new 401(k) make money management easier, it can also streamline your investment strategies.

Financial Service Offerings

Some 401(k) plans offer financial services, such as financial advisor consultations, to help employees achieve their retirement goals. If your previous employer didn’t offer this service and your new plan does, taking advantage of this offering may help you achieve an investment plan that meets your exact goals rather than a standardized option.

Access to a Roth Option

An increasing number of employers are offering a Roth 401(k) option in addition to the traditional 401(k) option. With a Roth 401(k), the money you contribute is after-tax—it doesn’t minimize your taxable income. But when you take distributions in retirement, you won’t have to pay taxes on the withdrawal amount. As long as the account has been open for five years and you’re over 59 ½, you can receive tax-free distributions.

A Roth 401(k) option can be appealing if you feel your income in retirement will be higher than your current income. If your new employer offers this benefit and you think it will be advantageous to your financial situation, then rolling over your 401(k) to a Roth 401(k) plan may make sense.

How to Roll Over Your 401(k)

So, how do you transfer your 401(k) to a new job? If you decide to roll your funds into your new employer’s 401(k), you’ll most likely need to:

1. Contact the plan administrator to arrange the rollover. You may need to choose the types of investment you would like before you initiate the rollover. If not, you can take a lump-sum transfer and allocate the funds gradually to different investments of your choosing.
2. Complete any forms required by your employer for the rollover.
3. Request that your former plan administrator send the fund via electronic transfer or a check so you can move the funds directly to the administrator of the new plan.

It’s possible that you might have to wait until your employer’s next open enrollment period to complete the rollover, but you might consider using that time to research the plan’s investment options so you’ll be ready when the time comes.

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Rolling Over a 401(k) Into an IRA

If you choose to roll your 401(k) funds into an IRA that’s not employer-sponsored, a direct rollover is the method that takes most of the guesswork out of the transfer. This means that the funds will be taken from your previous account and rolled directly into the new account.

Doing it this way should avoid your previous lender sending you a check and resulting in any unforeseen early withdrawal tax situations.

Opening a new retirement account online is fairly straightforward, but there are some steps to opening an IRA that might be worth reviewing before you start. Once your funds are rolled over, you’ll be able to choose the investments that work for your retirement goals.

401(k) Rollover Rules

When requesting a transfer, you may either select a direct and indirect rollover. With a direct rollover, the check is made out to the financial institution (for your benefit). Because the funds are directly deposited into the new account, no taxes are withheld.

With an indirect rollover, the check is payable to you, with 20% withheld for taxes. You’ll have 60 days to roll over the funds (80% of your previous plan) into an IRA or other retirement plan. If you want to contribute the full amount of your previous plan, you can add money to bring the lump contribution back up to the balance before rollover. At that point, you’d be able to count the 20% withheld as taxes paid.

The Takeaway

There are many benefits to rolling over a 401(k) after switching jobs, including streamlining your retirement accounts and directing your money so that it suits your individual financial needs and goals. While some may view it as inconvenient, it’s actually a straightforward process whether you want to roll over a 401(k) into your new employer’s plan, or into an IRA.

Not sure which rollover strategy is right for you? SoFi Invest® offers retirement savings plan options. With a SoFi Roth or Traditional IRA, investors have access to a broad range of investment options, member services, and our robust suite of planning and investment tools.

Find out how to take control of your retirement options with SoFi Invest.


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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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How To Convince Your Spouse You Need A Budget

Being able to convince your spouse you need a budget can be challenging.  You know it is important that you have a budget, but how to you get your partner on board?

Learn tips on how to convince your spouse you need a budget -- and learn how to create a budget

Learn tips on how to convince your spouse you need a budget -- and learn how to create a budget

You might be the saver in your relationship and your partner is a spender.  Your situation could be that your spouse just does not care or have enough understanding of the topic of money.

Whatever the case, the place to start to resolve any differences in money begins with one word – BUDGET.  This is not optional.  It is required if you plan on gaining control of your finances.

Where do you start and what do you do?  Let me start by saying the things you should not do when it comes to money and your partner:

  • Do not nag or annoy your partner.
  • Never manipulate or act like a parent.
  • Don’t try to talk about it when he or she is doing something else.
  • Do not say that they have to do this “or else” (ultimatums rarely work).

Now that you know what you should not do, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what you can so you and your spouse or partner are truly on the same page.

Read More:

TALKING TO YOUR SPOUSE ABOUT YOUR BUDGET

Set a Budget Date

This may sound strange, but it works.  When you set aside time for a financial meeting, you both can work together without distractions.

Make sure that the kids are entertained or even away at a friend’s or grandma’s house. It may mean setting up time after they are in bed.  Turn off the television.  Put the phone on silent (or even in the other room).

Allow yourself no more than one hour for your meeting.  If you go longer than that, you both my lose focus.  If you find that one hour is not enough time, set up another meeting.

Then, once your budget is working, continue to have regular meetings with your spouse or partner to go over your finances.  As your budget begins to take hold, these sessions will be shorter and shorter (and also much less stressful).

Play the Budget Game

Many times, people do not want a budget because they really don’t know what their finances look like.  A good way to see if you both agree is to do your own “dummy budget.”

To do this, you both will get a sheet of paper.  Set the timer for 10 minutes.  During that time, write down all of the bills you pay each month – as well as the mount.  Make sure to also include the total income you bring in as a family.

Once the timer is up, go over your lists together.  You may find that you both are well aware of your finances, which makes it easier to move into the next step.

However, you might also find that one of you has no idea what your financial situation looks like.  Allow time to go over both lists and figure out why there is such a disconnect between what you really pay vs. what you think you pay.

Have a heart to heart talk

During your meeting, make sure you talk about more than just the amount of bills and income.  You need to really understand one another and how you feel about money.  These topics could include:

  • If you love to save or spend and why
  • Your financial fears
  • What money means to you
  • What your goals are with your finances

Once you better understand money for your partner, the easier it will be to work together towards achieving financial goals.

Set goals as a couple

As I shared above, you need to talk about your goals as individuals.  Once you learn that about one another, see what you can do to create set goals as a couple.

Your goals could include to pay for college for the kids, buy a new car in 15 months or even take that dream vacation with the kids.  Your individual goals then morph themselves into family or couple goals.

Now, you can create a plan to actually move forward together to reaching your financial goals.

Use the right tools

Once you have completed the above, you are now ready to get started creating a budget — together.

There are many types of budgets you can use.  You might find you are old school and want to use a paper and pencil.  However, a spreadsheet may work better.  Or, you and your spouse might be the couple who loves to use an app.  The thing is that none is better than the other.  One is not right nor wrong.

Find out the type of budget that works best for you as a couple.  Then, sit down to tackle the creation of your budget. Using something such as our free budget calculator can help you work together to make your budget work.

Being on the same page financially lays the ground work to helping improve your relationship.  Your budget is the first step into turing this dream into a reality.

hand on calculator

hand on calculator

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How Does Bill Pay Work?

Automatic bill pay allows users who’ve signed up for this service to pre-schedule regular and repeat payments from their money accounts to pay down recurring or monthly bills. For some, it can reduce the likelihood of forgetting to pay a bill or incurring late-payment fees—as the payment is automatically deducted once the bill is due.

Nobody enjoys parting with hard-earned cash. For many people, spending money is just one reason paying bills can feel like a burden. Different bills are due on different dates. It can be hard to remember where, when and how much to pay.

Online bill pay is one way to ease some of the frustration associated with paying regular bills. Before answering the question “how does bill pay work?” it’s helpful to understand some of the reasons bills can give people so much grief—including factors such as, scheduling logistics and personal finances.

Keeping Track of Outstanding Bills and Extra Fees

One research report (spanning 2,000 individuals) indicates that 28% of Americans report difficulty in paying their bills on time. In this group, 52% of those earning less than $25,000 or less noted difficulty with paying bills, while only 11% of those earning $125,000 or higher reported the same bill-paying challenges.

how to pay bills.

The high volume of bill payments most Americans have to make each month certainly doesn’t make things easier. Americans spend nearly 3 trillion dollars , annually, on regularly due bills—including common expenses like mortgage or rent, internet, and utilities.

And, many of these bills, if not paid on time, can incur late or overdraft fees that add up. One recent report notes that the average American home spends an extra $577 per year in added bill fees or costs.

Below is an overview of common obstacles to that can get in the way of paying bills on time, including an explanation of what is bill pay:

Understanding the Cost of Overdue Bills

Naturally, it’s not a great idea to ignore bill payments, or to pay bills only when there’s some extra cash lying around. Most bills arrive in the mailbox (inbox) with a clearly marked due date. Failure to pay on time can impact a payee’s access to service (e.g., utilities) or negatively affect their credit history. Either scenario might strain an individual’s everyday life or finance in the future. Here are some consequences of not paying bills on time:

Imposing Late Fees

One of the ways companies or service providers enforce on-time payments is by penalizing people for, well, paying late. Whether it’s a credit card, utility bill or simply missing a payment date by a single day, submitting a late payment can result in late fees, higher interest rates, or other charges. Put another way, not paying right now can cost individuals more in the long run. It’s worth noting that these fees or penalties can be higher if a person has a previous history of late or unpaid bills.

Accruing Interest Charges

On top of late penalties, some providers may also charge interest on the balance owed, essentially creating a double-wallop of fees if you’re late paying a bill. In some cases, the interest may be charged starting the day an account becomes overdue. In others, it may accrue going back to the purchase date or transaction day. Depending on the interest rate charged and how frequently that interest compounds, this fee could quickly balloon to more than the initial fee assessed.

Experiencing Service Disruptions

In some cases, a provider may have the right to shut off your service if you pay a bill late. Not only are such disruptions a major interruption to daily life (ahem, no water, ahem) individuals may also have to pay a reinstatement fee once account has been paid—just to reactivate the service, such as electricity, natural gas, or the internet.

Declining Credit Rating

Think no one other than the service provider will notice a missed bill payment? Not so, in many cases. Payment history on outstanding debts makes up 35% of a FICO credit score. So, things like, overdue credit card bills, unpaid mortgage or car payments, and other late payments can erode an individual’s credit score.

It’s worth recalling that lenders and landlords can rely in part on credit scores when evaluating the risk of doing business with someone. So, dings to a credit score—things like late payments—can impact the likelihood of being approved for a loan or a lease. (Generally speaking, lenders consider a score below 580 a sign that the borrower is at a higher risk of not paying back the money loaned).

Even if approved, having a lower credit score could increase the rate of interest charged on a loan or credit card, potentially costing the borrower thousands of dollars over time.

Weighing the Benefits of Bill Pay

Not having enough money is just one reason people pay bills late. In many cases, the complexity of managing competing bills is a factor. It can be difficult to stay on top of each individual due date, especially for one-off bill payments or those bills that get paid less frequently, such as quarterly and annual bills. If you pay different bills from separate accounts, paying bills can become even more tangled.

Forgetting to pay a bill from time to time is surprisingly common. One report from June 2020 noted that close to 40% of American financial decision makers skipped or only partially paid a bill in the last month.

And as innocent as this oversight may sound, an unintentional late payment does not always remove the consequences. Adopting regular strategies for paying bills can help solve remembering when to pay each bill (and with which account).

One payment strategy is to turn to modern technology, such as online bill pay tools. Bill pay automates the act of paying bills. Instead of remembering to pay each individual bill, while keeping track of competing due dates and amounts, bill pay allows users to set to schedule a payment in advance and then, essentially, to forget about it.

Automatic bill payments are a key way to prevent late payments and to simplify this important aspect of managing one’s finances—but, not all who can actually use automated bill pay services available to them.

What’s standing in the way? For many, it comes down to simply not knowing the answer to the question, “how does bill pay work?” Below is a step by step overview of how bill pay works—naturally, there may be internal differences between specific banks, credit unions, and financial institutions.

How to Use Bill Pay

While bill pay can help make managing finances simpler, it does require some initial manual set-up. But, once you’ve learned how bill pay works, this automatic feature can make keeping track of and paying bills less obersome. Here are some ways to get started:

1. Finding a Financial Partner that Offers Bill Pay

While many financial institutions offer digital payment tools, like bill pay, it’s worth investigating the features that are included at each, before opening up an account. Online billing is free with some accounts, while some providers may charge for each transaction—either per bill or on a repeating monthly basis.

2. Determining which Bills to Autopay

Utility bills, loan payments, credit card bills—you can pay just about any bill using bill pay. One benefit of centralizing bill payments is that, whether it’s a one-off charge payment or recurring bill, the user can rest assured that the bill will get paid on time—assuming bill pay has been set up correctly and there are sufficient funds in the linked account.

To streamline bill payments even further, it may be helpful to think about which ongoing bills you want to automate on a revolving basis through bill pay. Every month, bill payment could go out automatically, on a schedule determined by you, to the businesses or service providers where the money is due.

Predictable expenses that don’t fluctuate from month to month, such as loan and mortgage payments or the internet bill, are solid candidates for recurring automated payments. After all, it can be easier to budget for an expense that won’t go up and down from month to month. For bills that always cost the same, you may want to schedule payment for a time each month when you know they’ll be sufficient funds in your account to cover what’s come due. Some service providers may even allow you to change the due date on certain bills.

3. Gathering Together All Bills

Once a person has figured out which bills to pay automatically, they still might want to gather together all their regular bills in one place. While individual bills are generally due at the same time each month, bills from different businesses or providers will have different due dates.

With all the bills in one place, you can then enter the various billing accounts into your money management provider’s bill pay system. It could be useful to research each bill ahead of time, determining whether they’re delivered by snail mail, paperless emails, or both.

4. Logging on to Personal Finances

As with other personal finances, bill pay is generally managed through a financial institution’s website or mobile app. A person interested in accessing bill pay could simply sign on to their secure account and search for the “Pay a Bill” or “Online Bill Pay” function.

5. Inputting Billing Information

Once logged on, you might follow the prompts to add individual billing accounts, indicating for each the funds you wish to pay with. You’ll likely be asked to input the name of the business or service whose payments you’re seeking to automate. You may also be asked for more specific details, such as your individual account number.

If you can’t find the business or service provider listed, you want to try spelling out the full name, removing abbreviations. If you still can’t find the payee, it’s possible that you can still utilize bill pay, but you may need to manually add in the payment details.

Having printed or saved digital copies of previous bills handy can be helpful here. (One other potential option is to set up automated payments, linked to your money accounts, directly through the provider—for instance, the water department of the city where you live).

When paying electronically, you’ll need to add your account number so that your payment is properly credited to you. You can also add the amount and frequency of payments, selecting a specific payment date (for one-time payments) or a regular schedule (for repeat bills that get paid on the same date every month).

Some financial institutions place a cap on the amount of money that can be transferred electronically through bill pay. If an automatic payment exceeds that designated transaction limit, users may then need to pay via a physical method, such as a personal or cashier’s check.

6. Taking Note of the Billing Schedule

SoFi Money®, users can pay bills automatically with no account fees. Members also have access to complimentary budgeting tools and financial planning advice.

Simplify your money management with SoFi.



SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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Source: sofi.com