9 Cheap Birthday Party Ideas

From hiring a video arcade on wheels to treating 10 little princesses to a spa day, today’s birthday parties have gone next level. You could easily drop $300 to $500-plus on your kid’s next shindig.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. It’s possible to host a fun and memorable birthday celebration for friends and family without breaking the bank.

Here are some inexpensive party ideas to consider when planning your next birthday bash:

1. Being Selective with the Guest List

As tempting as it might be to invite everyone in your child’s class or the whole soccer team, limiting the guest count is a simple way to save money on a birthday party.

Less people means less food, less party supplies, and fewer favors–but not necessarily less fun. It’s possible to have a close knit vibe at a birthday party that gets people talking to each other and enjoying themselves even more than they would have at a big event.

If your child is willing to invite only one or two friends, you might consider skipping a party altogether and opting for an experience. Going bowling or spending a couple of hours at a play space, zoo, or museum can suddenly become an affordable option.

2. Sharing the Party with a Friend

If your child’s birthday falls around the same time as one of their close friends, you might want to consider teaming up and having a dual birthday party.

This enables you to share the costs and responsibilities with another family and, if the kids have a similar friend group, it would not necessarily have to be a much larger party.

It can be a good idea, however, to make sure each child gets their own cake and presents.

3. Choosing a Cheap (or Free) Venue

While hosting a party at a local climbing gym or other entertainment venue can be appealing, you can end up dropping as much as $300 just for the space.

One way to throw a birthday party on a budget is have the party at home. That said, you may want to keep in mind that the wear and tear on your floors and furnishings might not be worth the savings.

In good weather, a backyard party can be a great, low-cost option. Or, you might consider having the party in a local park or garden.

If your child’s birthday lands in a cold weather season, you can save money on a venue by limiting the guest list and going with the most basic package (such as just food and drinks for each child), and providing your own cake and goody bags.

You can also check deal websites for discounts and promotions or ask the venue about a discount for having the party at an off-peak time or day.

4. Sending Digital Invites

Skipping the paper and going with digital invitations can be kinder to the environment and also cut down on birthday party costs.

You can design your own digital invitation and send via email or text, or you may want to take advantage of one of the many online (and free) e-invitation sites.

5. Getting Creative With Decorations

One of the best things about the internet is that somebody’s probably already created precisely what you need. Rather than drop a chunk of money at the party store on themed decor, you may want to check out Pinterest for free printables.

You can also find ideas for DIY decorations on Pinterest (along with many other sites) using low cost supplies, possibly even things you already have on hand. Dollar stores can also be great places to shop for decorations and supplies.

If you do hit the party store, you may want to consider going with just one or two premium themed items and keeping the rest of the decor colorful and fun.

6. Making a Semi-Homemade Birthday Cake

Custom bakery cakes can run from $3.50 to $5.50 per slice, according to Thumbtack , a company that connects customers with local professionals. If you multiply that by 15 guests, you could easily drop $50 to $80 on the birthday cake alone.

A cheaper option is to buy a cake mix, then make it look and taste homemade with a few simple baking hacks, such as swapping butter for oil and milk for water, adding an extra egg, and making your own buttercream frosting.

To make cupcakes that look like they came from a bakery, you can pipe icing on top using a ziplock bag with a tiny hole snipped in the corner.

7. Timing the Party Right

If the party takes place during lunch or dinner time, there’s a good chance people will expect to be fed a meal.

Choosing an off-time to celebrate–such as 10:30am or 2:30pm–means you can steer the party away from heartier fare (like freshly delivered pizzas or a sandwich platter) and stick to serving finger foods and snacks instead.

8. Buying in Bulk for Gift Bags

If you’ll be giving each guest a swag bag, consider buying toys and trinkets in bulk sets and then dividing them up. This can be a real cost saver when compared to purchasing items individually (even at the dollar store).

Fun items like paper airplanes, wooden yoyos, squishy toys, stampers, fidget spinners and Slinkys can often be purchased in packs at stores as well as online.

9. Playing Some Free Games

You don’t necessarily have to rent a bouncy house or hire live entertainment to keep a birthday party lively and fun. There are a number of inexpensive ways to make sure there is plenty of action, activity, and laughter. Here are a few fun, free games you might consider:

•   Duck Duck Goose
•   Charades
•   Musical Chairs
•   Red Rover
•   Rock Paper Scissor Tournaments
•   Three Legged Races
•   Marco Polo (you can even play on land)
•   Hot Potato
•   Simon Says

Recommended: Money Tips for Teenagers

The Takeaway

It can be tempting–and easy–to spend a lot creating a memorable birthday party.

But with just a few cost-cutting strategies, such as trimming your guestlist, shifting the time of the party, choosing an inexpensive venue, and organizing some free games, you can throw a festive birthday bash without breaking the bank.

You can also make birthday celebrations more affordable by setting a budget and saving up in advance.

If you’re looking to start saving, opening a SoFi Money® cash management account can be a good option. With SoFi Money’s “vaults” feature, you can separate your savings from your spending while earning competitive interest on all of your money.

Start saving for your next big celebration with SoFi Money.



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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.
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Source: sofi.com

Bitcoin Hash Rate and Why It Matters

Recently, Bitcoin has been at or near a record high hash rate. In April 2021, hashing power hit more than 198 quintillion hashes per second (h/s)—a record.

What is Bitcoin’s hash rate? And why is this important for investors? Read on for a full explanation.

What Is Bitcoin’s Hash Rate?

Bitcoin’s hash rate refers to the amount of computing and process power being contributed to the network through mining. Bitcoin mining is a vital process that keeps the digital currency’s network maintained. This happens via a mammoth global network of mining machines (powerful computers built for this task). These machines mine bitcoins by solving complex mathematical computations that verify Bitcoin transactions.

To solve these problems, each machine has to make millions of guesses per second. This requires a lot of electricity. Bitcoin miners consume around 129 Terawatt-hours of energy, which is around 0.6% of the world’s total, according to The University of Cambridge’s Bitcoin electricity consumption index .

And this energy-intensive mining network is still growing. It takes a lot of electricity to keep the blockchain network up to date.

Blocks and the Blockchain

Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies are built using blockchain technology. Blocks are similar to files which hold data about the most recent transactions made throughout the network—and in a blockchain, they make a chain, each one dependent on the others.

purchases Bitcoin or uses it as payment, the transaction is recorded on the blockchain. All transactions can be viewed publicly (though anonymously), and they cannot be changed. The Bitcoin blockchain is a decentralized, digital ledger containing a record of all past transactions. The network confirms those transactions, and since the network is decentralized, the ledger’s record is secure.

But since blocks are like data files, larger blocks require more power to verify. That’s where hashing enters the picture. “Hashing” a block is the process of ensuring the validity of the network transactions. As a reward for hashing, miners receive bitcoins.

To successfully mine a block and receive bitcoins, a machine has to hash the block’s header, which is a summary of the information contained within a given block (similar to metadata).

It’s a complex process, but the important thing to know is that the Bitcoin network is designed to make sure that a consistent number of Bitcoins are released into the market over time. To keep this consistent, bitcoin mining becomes more difficult over time.

Miners find the target by trying different combinations of possible numbers and letters in the block header. This varied value field in the block header is called the “nonce.”

The miners always begin with a nonce of zero, and increase it each time they guess, until the target is reached. Important: The chances of landing on the correct hash are very low—hence, the difficulty in mining Bitcoins.

The Bitcoin hash rate is a measurement of how many times the Bitcoin network attempts to complete those calculations each and every second. It’s the approximate average of all the hash rates of each individual miner in the network.

A higher hash rate is better, because it increases the miner’s chances of finding the next block and receiving a Bitcoin reward.

How the Bitcoin Hash Rate Is Measured

The Bitcoin hash rate is expressed as hashes per second (h/s). Bitcoin’s network is large and powerful, and as a result, can calculate quintillions of hashes every second. For reference, a quintillion is a million million millions, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Fluctuations in Bitcoin’s daily mining power can be significant. Increases or decreases of 10% or more each day are common. But these fluctuations don’t necessarily mean that thousands of miners are joining or leaving the network each day.

Bitcoin’s mean hash rate calculation is not precise. With so many machines running all over the world, analysts can only look to recent market activity to create an estimate of the current hash rate.

Because of that, looking up the current hash rate may yield different results. To get a better sense of the hash rate, looking at longer-term trends—weekly versus daily hash rates, for instance—may be more useful.

Why Hash Rates Matter to Miners

For individual miners, calculating a hash rate can help them predict their profitability.

There are many types of mining machines, and new ones are constantly debuting. Each cryptocurrency is mined with different machines, and they don’t all have the same hash rate—as mining requires different amounts of power, memory, and processing bandwidth.

Individual miners can calculate their personal hash rate using a hash rate calculator. By inputting information about their mining equipment, power and electricity consumption, mining fees, and other relevant information, the hash rate calculator can spit out an earnings estimate.

When mining equipment is upgraded with more powerful machines, the network hash rate might increase as a result. However, a more powerful network doesn’t necessarily result in bitcoins being mined more quickly, as the network is built to release a certain amount at a time.

Changes to hashing power are also related to mining difficulty, the number of miners in the network, and ultimately, profitability for miners.

If new miners join the network, the mining difficulty increases because miners now need to make more guesses each second to solve the calculation and win the block reward.

If the Bitcoin network’s difficulty increases, the hash rate also increases.

Electricity Prices and Profitability

Bitcoin miners must invest in mining machines, storage for those machines, and electricity to keep the machines running. Many mining operations also pay for precise temperature and humidity controls to keep the machines running at an optimized pace.

Double spending can be thought of in this way: If a bank kept two different ledgers of transactions, they could each have different information on them and the same money could be spent multiple times.

How Hash Rate Can Affect Investors

A high hash rate indicates a healthy network, which may, in turn, lead to higher Bitcoin values.

Currently, hash rates are significantly higher than in years past, and should continue to increase. That may mean that Bitcoin values follow—though given the volatility of cryptocurrency, there is no guarantee. Plus, simple supply and demand could become the dominating factor determining Bitcoin’s price going forward.

Past trends are not predictions for the future, and you should do your research and consider your risk tolerance before making any moves.

The Takeaway

The Bitcoin hash rate is the number of times per second that computers on the Bitcoin network are hashing data to verify transactions and perform the encryption that secures the network. The hash rate is an indicator of how healthy the Bitcoin network is at any given time, and is driven primarily by difficulty mining and the number of miners. Generally, a high hash rate is considered a good thing.

Learning about Bitcoin hash rates may only be the beginning of your investing journey. With SoFi Invest®️, members can trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, right on the SoFi app.

Find out how to invest in crypto with SoFi Invest.


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.
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 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.

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Source: sofi.com

Using Collateral on a Personal Loan

There are a lot of reasons someone might need an injection of cash and seek out a loan from a bank: For emergencies, home repairs, to pay off credit card debt with a lower interest rate loan.

One consideration when taking out a personal loan is whether it is secured or unsecured. A secured loan is backed by an asset, called collateral, such as a home or car. An unsecured loan, on the other hand, is not collateralized, which means that no underlying asset is necessary to qualify for financing.

Whether to pursue a secured or unsecured loan will depend on a number of factors, such as your credit score, whether you have collateral, the type of financing you need, and when you need it. These personal loan requirements will be covered in full below, as well as discussing what can be used for a personal loan with collateral and financing options that don’t require collateral.

Of course, not all loans are created equal. If you’re planning to take out a loan, it’s important to do your research and find a loan that best fits your needs and financial situation. Learn more about when someone may borrow a personal loan with collateral.

Why Secured Loans Require Collateral

If collateral is used, a lender may be able to offer larger loans, more favorable interest rates, and better terms. That’s because the lender can take possession of the collateral if the loan isn’t repaid as agreed. This is not the case with an unsecured loan.

Because of the lack of collateral, unsecured loans are often limited to borrowers who are viewed as trustworthy. For example, higher credit scores are usually necessary for an unsecured loan.

fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate is just as it sounds; The personal loan interest rate stays fixed throughout the duration of the loan’s payback period, which means that each payment will be the same.

A variable-rate loan, on the other hand, is pegged to a floating rate that is typically associated with a benchmark such as the Fed or LIBOR. Usually, variable rates start lower than fixed rates because they come with the long-term risk that rates could increase over time.

Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit

An installment loan is issued for a specific amount to be repaid in equal periodic installments over the duration of the loan. These are generally good for borrowers who need a one-time disbursement.

For example, borrowers looking for a credit card consolidation loan or a mortgage to buy a home will need an installment loan. An installment loan can be both secured and unsecured. With a mortgage, typically the loan uses your house as collateral.

With a line of credit (also called revolving credit), a borrower can spend up to a designated amount on an as-needed basis. For example, if you have a $10,000 line of credit, you can spend up to that limit using what is similar to a credit card.

Related: How to Pay Tax on Personal Loans

Lines of credit are generally recommended for recurring expenses, such as medical bills or home improvements, and also come in secured and unsecured varieties. If you took out a home equity line of credit, it would often be secured (again, using your house as collateral).

What Can Be Used as Collateral on Personal Loans?

Lenders may accept a variety of assets as collateral on a personal loan. Some examples include:

House or other real estate

For many people, their largest source of equity is the home they live in. Even if you don’t own your home outright, it is possible to use your partial equity to obtain a collateralized loan.

If you use a home as collateral on a personal loan, the lender can seize the home if the loan is not repaid. Furthermore, it might take a while to get approved for the personal loan, because the bank has to verify your asset, which means you have to supply plenty of home-related paperwork.

Bank or investment accounts

In some instances, obtain a personal loan with collateral by using investment accounts, CDs, or cash accounts as collateral. Every lender will have different collateral requirements for their loans. Using your personal bank account as collateral can be risky, because it ties the money you use every day directly to your loan.

Vehicle

A vehicle is typically used as collateral for an auto title loan, though some lenders may consider using it as backing for other types of secured personal loans. A loan backed by a vehicle may be a better option than opting for other short-term loans, such as payday loans, but you run the risk of losing your vehicle if you can’t make your monthly loan payments.

Pros and Cons of Using Collateral on a Personal Loans

Using collateral to secure a personal loan can have pros and cons. While it can make it easier to gain approval from the lender, it’s important to review the loan terms in full before making a borrowing decision. Here are some more pros and cons of using collateral to back a personal loan.

Pros of Using Collateral

•   Using collateral can improve a borrower’s chances of being approved for a personal loan.
•   Borrowers may be able get approved for a larger sum, thanks to the collateral mitigating some of the lender’s risk.
•   Borrowers may be able to secure a lower interest rate with a secured loan than they would with an unsecured loan.

Cons of Using Collateral

•   If the borrower defaults on the loan, the asset being used as collateral could be seized by the lender.
•   In some situations, the lender could go even further to try and get the money owed by the borrower, sending the debt to a collection agency. As with any loan, missing payments could impact the borrower’s credit score.
•   Some lenders may have restrictions for how borrowers can use the money from a secured personal loan.

Qualifying for a Personal Loan

With a secured loan, a lender will likely require proof that you own the asset you are using as collateral. This is a simpler process if you are using bank accounts as backing for your loan, because bank statements are easier to obtain and verify.

When you use your home as collateral, it’s usually a more involved process because they require additional paperwork and an updated appraisal to determine the equity value of your home.

If you need a loan quickly, or don’t own a home or car (or don’t want to put either up as collateral), there are still options. Acquiring an unsecured personal loan can be a fast and simple process compared to obtaining a secured loan, and you aren’t putting your home or car at risk.

With both secured and unsecured loans, you will have to provide the lender with information on your financial standing, including your income, bank statements, and credit score. With most loans, the better your financial standing, the better the rates and terms you’ll qualify for.

improving your credit score while making sure that your credit history is free from any errors.

Shop around for loans, checking out the offerings at multiple banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Each lender will offer different loan products that have different requirements and terms.

With each prospective loan and lender, make sure you understand all of the terms; This includes (but is not limited to) the interest rate, whether the rate is fixed or variable, and all additional fees (sometimes called “points”).

Ask if there are any prepayment fees that would prevent you from paying back your loan faster than on the established timeline.

The loan that’s right for you will depend on how quickly you need the loan, what it’s for, and your desired payback terms. If you opt for an unsecured loan, it might allow you to expedite this process—and you have the added benefit of not putting your personal assets on the line.

The Takeaway

Using collateral to secure a personal loan can help borrowers qualify for a lower interest rate, a larger sum of money, or a longer borrowing term. However, if there are any issues with repayment, the asset used as collateral can be seized by the lender.

The right choice will vary depending on the borrower’s financial situation, including factors like the borrower’s credit score and history, how much they are interested in borrowing, and what item they have available to be used as collateral.

Looking for a personal loan that doesn’t require collateral? Check out SoFi personal loans, which have competitive rates and no fees.



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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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

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Source: sofi.com

What is The Synthetix Network?

According to the Synthetix white paper, Synthetix is a decentralized synthetic asset issuance protocol built on Ethereum. What this means is that the Synthetix network allows people to create synthetic assets, or “synths”.

Synthetic assets are the decentralized finance (DeFi) equivalent of derivatives in traditional finance. Synths take the form of ERC-20 smart contracts that track the returns of a real asset without requiring investors to own that asset. In effect, it can be said that an investor can gain “synthetic” exposure to regular assets in this fashion.

How Do Synths Work?

A synth is a virtual representation of another asset in the form of an ERC-20 smart contract. The smart contract serves to tie the price of the synth to the asset.

Synths can be traded on Kwenta, Synthetix’s decentralized exchange (DEX), and can represent cryptocurrencies, indexes, gold, and more.

Synths utilize decentralized “oracles”, which are price discovery protocols based on smart contracts. These oracles automatically track the price of the asset that a synth represents, allowing investors to hold a synth as if it were actually the underlying asset.

In this way, synths can give crypto investors exposure to assets they wouldn’t normally be able to access through the cryptocurrency ecosystem, such as gold and silver.

Synths are issued on Ethereum, which means users can deposit them on other decentralized finance platforms and earn interest. Some participants in this newly emerging financial system believe that synthetic assets and derivatives are important for the space to mature and become legitimized, as synths and derivatives can help hedge against volatility and facilitate price discovery.

Recommended: What is Ethereum and How Does it Work?

Synths vs Tokenized Commodities

Synths differ from tokenized commodities like Pax Gold (PAXG), created by Paxos, a cryptocurrency backed by physical gold bars. Holding PAXG is intended to give investors a piece of an actual gold bar—someone who holds PAXG has a claim on physical gold that Paxos is holding.

Synths, by contrast, only provide exposure to the price of the underlying asset. For example, a synth for gold would give investors a token they could hold that would mimic the price of gold.

How Does Synthetix Exchange Work?

Users can trade synths on Kwenta, the decentralized exchange (DEX) for Synthetix, as well as across a variety of different DeFi protocols. Unlike other exchanges, Kwenta has no order book that contains buy and sell orders. Instead, Kwenta uses peer-to-contract trading, meaning all trades get executed via smart contracts.

Proponents of Synthetix claim this type of exchange has a few key advantages.

Infinite liquidity: Traders don’t have to worry about “slippage,” or driving prices down when they place large sell orders, reducing their overall profits.
Censorship resistance: Since the system is decentralized and governed by smart contracts, it is free and open to everyone (and resistant to censorship). In fact, users don’t even have to create an account to start using Kwenta.

Oracles from another DeFi protocol called Chainlink (LINK) provide the price feeds that set exchange rates for each synthetic asset. This differs from traditional exchanges, where prices are determined by the point at which buyers and sellers are willing to meet. Trades come with fees of between 0.3% and 1%, and the proceeds get sent to a pool where SNX stakers claim them as rewards for staking tokens.

Is Synthetix a Good Investment?

As with all altcoins, trading SNX can be highly volatile and is widely considered to be a speculative investment.

There are thousands of altcoins, and over the years many of them have seen their values fall to zero or very close to it. These coins tend to make a few people large profits during the speculative mania phase, and then bring large losses to everyone else afterward.

Some investors might believe that certain cryptocurrency projects like Synthetix have the potential to grow into something large and significant in the future (although altcoins in general have failed to do so yet). It’s possible that DeFi protocols like Synthetix could wind up becoming part of a new financial system, in which case the SNX token might perform well.

It’s also possible that decentralized finance as a whole could fail for a variety of potential reasons, in which case SNX and other tokens like it would all go to zero.

Recommended: 2021 Guide to Crypto Trading

How Do You Make Money on Synthetix?

There are a few ways to potentially profit from Synthetix.

Buy SNX, the Synthetix network token, on an exchange. If the price rises, then a profit will be realized.

Trade synthetic assets on Kwenta. If a trader holds synthetic gold or Bitcoin, for example, and the price of those assets rise, then the price of the synths should also rise.

Users can stake their SNX tokens and earn passive income rewards on a regular basis.

How Do You Trade On Synthetix?

There are two ways to start trading synths.

A user can purchase ETH on an exchange before exchanging that ETH for sUSD on Kwenta. The sUSD can then be exchanged for other synths.

A user can obtain SNX tokens on an exchange, then stake their SNX on a decentralized application created by Synthetix called Mintr. At this point, users can create synths and start trading them on Kwenta.

As of March 2021, Kwenta users have the option to trade 13 different cryptocurrencies and their inverse counterparts (inverse cryptocurrencies inversely track the price of cryptocurrencies, providing a way to short them), synthetic gold and silver, and several synthetic government-issued fiat currencies. The Synthetix website lists five categories of synths, including commodities, fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, inverse cryptocurrencies, and cryptocurrency indexes.

There are also two synthetic cryptocurrency indexes offered by Synthetix: sDEFI, an index that tracks a basket of DeFi assets, and sCEX, which tracks a basket of exchange tokens (e.g., Binance coin).

The Takeaway

Synthetix enables cryptocurrency users to invest in certain assets via proxy mechanisms called synthetics or “synths” for short. Powered by the Synthetix network token (SNX), users can create their own synths and trade them on a decentralized exchange. To create synths, users must stake a certain amount of SNX to collateralize the new synthetic assets.

For some crypto investors, Synthetix might be a step too deep into cryptocurrency waters. Looking for a more straightforward way to invest in crypto? With SoFi Invest® crypto trading, members can buy coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, starting with just $10, right from the SoFi app.

Find out how to invest in cryptocurrency with SoFi Invest.


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 . 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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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) Cryptocurrency is offered 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, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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.
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 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.
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Source: sofi.com

What Are NFTs (Non-fungible Tokens)?

Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are cryptographic digital assets that each have uniquely identifiable metadata and codes. Their data is stored on the blockchain, ensuring they can’t be replicated or forged.

The tokens act as a representation, like an IOU, for either digital or tangible items. For instance, one could create NFTs that stand for digital artwork, virtual real estate in a game, collectible Pokemon cards, or even someone’s personal identification information.

Currently the majority of the NFT market is focused on collectibles like sports cards and digital art. But there are other highly priced NFTs on the market as well, such as a tokenized version of the first-ever tweet, created by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Let’s dive into the details about how NFTs work, what they’re important, and what makes them valuable.

What are NFTs Used For?

The concept of digital representations of material items is not new. But the addition of blockchain technology makes NFTs important. As part of a blockchain, NFTs are easily verifiable and unique, each one able to be traced back to the original issuer.

NFTs are revolutionizing gaming, art, and the collectibles market. They also have the potential to transform real estate, travel, and identity management. Millions of dollars have been spent on NFTs over the past few years, and their popularity is increasing amongst both collectors and crypto traders.

NFTs and Gaming

For the first time, immutable ownership and efficient sale of collectible and in-game items is possible. This opens up many opportunities for online gaming and world creation. For instance, within virtual worlds like Decentraland and The Sandbox, players can create pretty much any business one might create offline—design and sell hats, create avatars, or sell theme park tickets. Players can even create in-game currencies to sell to other users.

NFTs and Art

NFTs are revolutionizing the art world. Using an NFT exchange, artists can sell digital art directly to buyers, removing the need for a gallery or auction house. Typically, middle men can take a large percentage of sale profits, which means artists may be able to increase their profits using NFTs. It’s even possible for artists to earn royalties each time their artwork or music is sold. The most expensive digital art sold so far was a group of NFTs created by Beeple which sold for over $69 million.

NFTs and Identity Management

There are also use cases for NFTs in identity management. Currently people around the world travel with physical passports, which can easily be lost or stolen, and even replicated or forged. Storing identity information on the blockchain has the potential to eliminate these risks and may one day make travel processing more efficient.

NFTs and Real Estate

Another use case for NFTs is in real estate. Dividing up a property is difficult, but dividing digital real estate is easy. Multiple people can invest in and exchange property if it has been digitized. This principle can also be applied to other material assets.

NFTs and Supply Chain

NFTs can also help improve and validate supply chains. For instance, a coffee company could prove that their beans are fair trade. A wine company could create an NFT for each bottle of wine to keep track of every step of its production.

NFT Standards

Most NFT tokens are currently created using one of two Ethereum token protocols, ERC-721 or ERC-1155. These are essentially blueprints for tokens that were created by the Ethereum team. The blueprint creates a template for certain information that must be included for any new NFT, such as security and ownership information. By standardizing the way this information is created, NFTs are easily distributed and exchanged.

Starting with a blueprint, software developers can create NFTs that are compatible with large public exchanges and NFT wallets such as MyEtherWallet and MetaMask. This ensures that people can buy and sell the NFT and hold it in their own personal wallet.

Other blockchain networks such as Tron, Neo, and Eos are also building out NFT token standards. Each one has different token functionality, so software developers can choose which platform is best for the token they are creating.

What Makes NFTs Valuable?

As with any type of asset, supply and demand drives the price of NFTs. Since there are only so many of each collection of NFTs or individual NFTs, this can make the demand for them very high.

One might wonder what the value would be in owning a representation of a limited edition item as opposed to the real thing. NFTs are both easily verifiable and completely unique. This makes them easily tradable online. Their code is also useful because each NFT can be traced, including past transactions of that token. This provides security, transparency, and prevents fraudulent items from being sold.

Gamers, investors, and collectors have been flocking to the NFT market because they see the potential for market growth and significant profits.

Within certain online games, for example, real estate is a prized possession. If one owns a plot of land on a main road in a virtual world where they could open up a casino, that has the potential to make a lot of money. So that plot of land is very valuable.

Are NFTs Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies, like physical money, are fungible assets, which can be exchanged and used for financial transactions because they are identical to one another. For example, one USD is always equal in value to another USD. Although NFTs are built on blockchain technology, they aren’t the same as cryptocurrencies, in that they can’t be exchanged with one another. Think of an NFT like a passport or a ticket to an event. Each one is unique.

An NFT that represents a baseball card can’t be directly exchanged for one that represents a piece of digital art. And even an NFT that represents one baseball card can’t be exchanged for one that represents a different baseball card. The reason for this is that each NFT is unique and contains specific identification information.

However, NFTs are similar to cryptocurrencies in that they have attributes and metadata that makes them easily transferable and identifiable.

Key Characteristics of NFTs

There are several characteristics of NFTs that make them different from other types of assets and that appeal to investors. They are:

•   Indivisible: Unlike Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency, NFTs can only be bought and sold in their entirety. They can’t be divided into smaller portions.
•   Non-interoperable: Just as NFTs can’t be exchanged for one another, one type of NFT can’t be used in another NFT system or collection. NFTs used in online games, for instance, are like a playing card or game piece. Just as a Monopoly piece can’t be used in the game of Life, the owner of a CryptoKitties NFT can’t use that NFT in the Gods Unchained game.
•   Indestructible: Token information is securely stored on the blockchain using smart contracts. This means NFTs can’t be erased or copied.
•   Immutable: One important characteristic of NFTs is that the person who buys one actually has possession of it. They can sell it or hold it. It’s not held by a company the way iTunes holds music and licenses it out for users to listen to.
•   Verifiable: The creation, transaction, and identification information for NFTs can be traced and verified without a third party. This allows anyone interested in buying an NFT to make sure it’s legitimate and do their own vetting before purchase. It prevents the creation and sale of fraudulent tokens.
•   Extensible: Two NFTs can be combined to create a new, unique NFT.
•   Capable of storing metadata: NFT creators and owners can add metadata to NFTs. For instance, an artist could sign their digital artwork.

The Takeaway

The NFT market is still new and full of potential for creators and investors. However, before investing in cryptocurrencies, NFTs, or any other digital asset, it’s important to research and understand the market.

One way to get started investing in digital assets is with SoFi Invest®. Members can trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, right from the convenient mobile app.

Find out how to invest in crypto with SoFi Invest.



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 . 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) Cryptocurrency is offered 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, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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.
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.

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Source: sofi.com

How to Use the Fear and Greed Index to Your Advantage

CNN’s Fear and Greed Index tries to track which emotion is driving the stock market. The index is based on the premise that fear and greed influence investment behavior, with investors selling shares when they’re scared and buying them when they desire greater profits.

Here’s a closer look at how the Fear and Greed Index (FGI) gets calculated, as well as how investors can use the gauge to inform their investment decisions.

Understanding the Fear and Greed Index

The Fear and Greed Index uses a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the reading, the greedier investors are, with 50 signaling that investors are neutral. To give some historical context, on Sept. 17, 2008, during the height of the financial crisis, the Fear and Greed Index logged a low of 12.

Seven different indicators are used to calculate the Fear and Greed Index.

CNN tracks how much each indicator has veered from its average versus how much it normally veers. Then each indicator is given equal weighting when it comes to the final reading. Here are the seven inputs.

  1. Stock Price Momentum: The S&P 500 versus its 125-day moving average. Looking at the benchmark equity gauge relative to its own history can measure how the index’s 500 companies are getting valued.

  2. Stock Price Strength: The number of stocks hitting 52-week highs and lows on the New York Stock Exchange. Share prices of public companies can signal whether they’re getting overvalued or undervalued.

  3. Stock Price Breadth: The volume of shares trading in stocks on the rise versus those declining. Market breadth can be used to gauge how widespread bullish or bearish sentiment is.

  4. Put and Call Options: The ratio of bullish call options trades versus bearish put options trades. Options give the right not the obligation to buy or sell an asset. Therefore, more trades of calls over puts could indicate investors are feeling optimistic about snapping up shares in the future.

  5. Junk Bond Demand: The spread between yields on investment-grade bonds and junk or high-yield bonds. Bond prices move in the opposite direction of yields. So when yields of higher-quality investment-grade bonds are climbing relative to yields on junkier debt, investors are seeking riskier assets.

  6. Market Volatility: The Cboe Volatility Index, also known as VIX, is designed to track investor expectations for volatility 30 days out. Rising expectations for stock market turbulence could be an indicator of fear.

  7. Safe Haven Demand: The difference in returns from stocks versus Treasures. How much investors are favoring riskier markets like equities versus safer assets like U.S. government bonds can indicate sentiment.

On its website for the Fear and Greed Index, CNN gives a breakdown for how each indicator is faring. For instance, whether each measure is showing Extreme Fear, Fear, Neutral, Greed, or Extreme Greed among investors.
“Stock Price Strength” might be showing Extreme Greed even as “Safe Haven Demand” is signaling Extreme Fear.

Dos and Don’ts of Using the Fear and Greed Index

Why is the Fear and Greed Index useful? For the same reason why it can be helpful to check the temperature of any setting.

Gauging how hot or cold can help determine which move you want to make next as an investor. Are you being too greedy? Too fearful? Is now the time to think about herd mentality?

Also generally, some investors often try to be contrarian, so when markets appear frothy and the rest of the herd appears to be overvaluing assets, investors try to sell, and vice versa.

Recommended: Should I Pull My Money Out of the Stock Market?

Do’s

Use the index to realize that investing can be emotional but it shouldn’t be.

Use it to determine when to enter the market. Let’s say for instance you’ve been monitoring a stock that becomes further undervalued as investor fear rises, that could be a good time to buy the stock.

Recommended: Timing the Stock Market

Don’ts

Don’t only rely on the Fear and Greed Index or other investor sentiment measures as the sole factor in making
investment decisions. Fundamentals–like how much the economy is growing or how quickly companies in your portfolio are growing revenue and earnings–are important.

For instance, the FGI may be signaling extreme greed at some point, with all seven metrics also flashing greed. However, this extreme bullishness may be warranted if the economy is firing on all cylinders, allowing companies to hire and consumers to buy up goods.

Recommended: Using Fundamental Analysis on Stocks

The Takeaway

The Fear and Greed Index is one of many gauges that tracks investor sentiment. Investors generally use it to take a contrarian view of the markets, so when the rest of the herd appears fearful, they buy, or if they’re greedy, they sell. While it can be a useful tool to decide timing on certain investments, it shouldn’t be used as the only determinant in investment decisions.

Ready to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, fractional shares, or cryptocurrencies on your own? Online trading with SoFi Invest offers an Active Investing platform, where investors can make their own decisions on how they want to build their portfolios. If choosing your own investments is not for you, the Automated Investing services takes into account your preferences and manages a diversified portfolio for you.

Start trading on SoFi Invest today.


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 . 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) Cryptocurrency is offered 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, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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.
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.
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Source: sofi.com

Angel Investors: What They Are and How to Find Them

Getting a startup off the ground is a daunting task, and finding money is one of many hurdles facing a would-be entrepreneur. There are several ways a new small business might try to secure money for expansion or growth, from friends to bank lenders to joining a startup accelerator program. Angel investors are another option, and can provide capital or financial support to startups in exchange for a share of ownership.

What Is an Angel Investor?

An angel investor is typically a high-net-worth individual or a group of wealthy individuals who invest their money in a venture—usually a startup or small business in its early stages—in return for an equity share in it.

Angel investors typically invest in startups that have the potential to grow and have minimal downside risk in the long term. An angel investor may provide a one-time investment in a company, or they may provide ongoing support. They may also be called private investors, seed investors, or just “angels,” for short.

If you’ve ever watched the show Shark Tank, you’ve seen angel investors in action. On the show, a group of wealthy investors listen to pitches from entrepreneurs who are looking for funding for their small business or startup. In exchange for funding, these investors generally ask for an ownership share in the business.

Who Can Be an Angel Investor?

Angel investors used to have to be accredited investors, which required, among other things, that they have a net worth of $1 million in assets, not including personal residences, or yearly income greater than $200,000 alone or $300,000 household for the previous two years. (Anyone who holds a Series 7, Series 65, or Series 82 in good standing also qualifies).

This was meant to limit angel investing—which is a risky practice—to those who ostensibly had enough assets to safely dabble in it. In recent years, however, anyone can be an angel investor.

Ways to Become an Angel Investor With Less Cash

Angel investing is undoubtedly risky—businesses fail all the time. However, lately it is possible to get involved in angel investing without putting tens of thousands of dollars on the line. (A smaller investment won’t reduce the risk, but it may potentially reduce an investor’s total loss.) These crowdfunding platforms enable smaller investors to dip their toes in the water:

•   WeFunder is an equity crowdfunding site that allows you to invest as little as $100 in startups and small businesses. The site encourages investors to invest in companies and products they love and believe in. Although the investment is smaller than might be typical, the site still describes these investments as risky and advises that people don’t invest money they can’t afford to lose.

•   SeedInvest is an equity crowdfunding site that allows users to get started with $1,000. The company vets all startups on the platform and offers a variety of investment opportunities. The site notes that early-stage investors should expect to hold their investments for at least five years, and that there is no guarantee on returns.

What are the Pros of Using Angel Investors?

There are a number of benefits to using angel investors to help finance a venture.

Less risk

If you take out a loan to finance your business, you’ll still be expected to pay it back, whether or not your venture is a success. Angel investors generally understand the risk of investing in a startup business, and may not expect any return on capital if the business goes south.

Expertise

If angel investors also happen to be experts in your business, they can offer advice and guidance based on their years of experience.

Credibility

Angel investors are often well-known in their field, and if they invest in your idea, it can boost your reputation and status to have them on board.

They’re Willing to Take a Leap

Unlike a bank, which may need more concrete proof that you’re onto something big, an angel investor might be more willing to gamble on your great idea.

Better Chance of Success

Companies with angel investor interest stand a greater chance of survival than those with less angel investor interest, according to 2016 findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research . Though there hasn’t been a more recent study to confirm these findings in the current economic climate, it’s possible that simply having angel investors on board can strengthen your outcome.

What are the Cons of Angel Investors?

There are also some potential disadvantages to having angel investors.

Loss of Full Ownership

Angel investors often provide funding in return for a share of the business, so involving angel investors means giving up some of your control. It also means that if the business succeeds, they’ll share in the proceeds.

They May Add Pressure

Angel investors aren’t giving you money out of kindness and good will. They may be aggressive investors who expect to see a high return on their investment. If they’re sinking money into your venture, it may feel there’s more riding on your success or failure.

Funding May Be Slow

Finding angel investors can take time, and the process of securing backers—and for the cash to find its way to your venture—can take even longer.

It’s a Competitive Market

Even if you have a brilliant idea, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find backers for it. Although there were 323,365 active angel investors in 2019, only 63,730 entrepreneurial ventures received angel funding, according to an analysis by the University of New Hampshire Center for Venture Research.

Where to Find Angel Investors

Startups looking for early-stage investors can look in several places.

Friends and family

Most commonly, startups get much of their initial investment from friends and family who believe in their idea and want to support the venture.

High-Net-Worth Individuals

Networking within your business community may allow you to make connections with people who’d be interested in helping to back your idea. It can be helpful to join local business, trade, and community organizations. Attend meetings and trade fairs, and have your elevator pitch well-honed.

Angel Funding Groups

There are a number of sites that seek to match entrepreneurs with angel investors, including:

Angel Capital Association : A collective of accredited angel investors
Golden Seeds : A group whose members focus on women-led ventures
Angel Investment Network : A network that seeks to connect entrepreneurs with business angels

Crowdfunding sites

While traditional angel groups seek to match entrepreneurs with accredited investors, crowdfunding sites allow lots of smaller investors to pitch in to move your venture along. (Picture a GoFundMe for your business idea.) These include SeedInvest ,LocalStake , WeFunder , and Fundable .

You’ll likely have to apply to have your idea or business vetted by the site before they’ll present your ask to their members.

The Takeaway

Angel investors are typically high-net-worth individual or group backers that support startup and early-stage business ventures. But lately, opportunities have opened up for individuals of all types to invest in companies that have recently launched.

For entrepreneurs, an angel investor can be an enormous help, both in terms of financing their dream as well as providing guidance if they have relevant business experience. On the flip side, some entrepreneurs may find there is added pressure to deliver when an angel investor is backing their startup.

No matter your reason for managing your own investments—whether to fund your dream, or to one day help fund someone else’s— a SoFi Invest® online brokerage account might be a great place to start. Members can purchase fractional shares, trade stocks, ETFs, and crypto, or try automated investing for a more hands-off approach.

Find out how to make the most of your investments with SoFi.



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 . 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) Cryptocurrency is offered 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, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
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.
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.
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.

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Source: sofi.com

Find the Frequent Flyer Programs Right for You

Air travel is expected to soar this summer and beyond as more people get vaccinated and receive the greenlight from the CDC to travel. It’s not likely there will be many deals as the airlines make up for lost revenue — so this is a good time to take advantage of frequent flyer programs.

Here’s everything you need to know about frequent flyer miles and loyalty programs.

Choosing a Frequent Flyer Program

Every major airline has one, and while you can join every single program (it’s usually free to join) — your best bet is to choose one and stick with it. That way, you’ll accrue all the points toward a single flight rather than getting a few points on every airline that may not amount to anything.

The smart move is to find an airline that stops at your hometown airport and has regular and convenient flights to the cities you travel to frequently. Do you plan on using your points toward upgrades? Check out the perks of that given airline (for example, Southwest doesn’t have a first class section).

Best Travel Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: This has an annual fee of $95 and an introductory offer of 100,000 points. You earn unlimited 2X miles for every dollar you spend, and you can redeem those miles for any airline, hotel or rental car. When you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first year, you’ll earn up to 100,000 bonus miles. Or, if you spend $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll earn 50,000 miles. APR starts at 17.24% depending on your credit.

Best Frequent Flyer Program, U.S.

Delta Sky Miles: The miles don’t expire, and they can be used on more than 20 partner airlines. You receive five frequent flyer miles for every dollar you spend on a Delta, Delta Connection or Delta Shuttle flight. You also earn miles on Delta’s partner airlines (these vary by carrier). Earn additional points on hotels and credit cards and even Airbnbs. All points can be used for flights, upgrades and hotels. While this rewards program is fantastic, you do need to book ahead, as there are limited seats available on flights for award travel.

Best Frequent Flyer Program, Alaska or Western U.S.

Alaska Airlines: Earn miles based on the distance you travel on Alaska Airlines or its partner airlines. Additionally, earn points through hotel stays and credit cards, which can be used to book flights, upgrade flights and for hotel stays. You can also transfer up to 100,000 miles annually to other mileage plan accounts for $10 per 1,000 miles plus a $25 transaction fee. One con for this program: Points do expire after 2 years of inactivity.

Best program for Holiday Travel

Got kids and don’t want them to miss school to travel? Then Southwest Airlines is for you. That’s because their Rapid Reward program doesn’t have any blackout dates, and your rewards can be used for any available seat. Redeeming your points is super easy, and your points may also be used for hotels or car rentals. Plus, the points never expire.

How Frequent Flyer Programs Work

Each airline runs their loyalty programs a little different so make sure you read the big and small print. The following categories are what you want to pay the most attention to so that you can reap maximum benefits.

Earning Points

You can accrue points on frequent flyer programs by flying, shopping, staying in specific hotels or by using a frequent flyer credit card. Here’s a detailed look at how you can earn frequent flyer miles by doing everything you already do, like shopping online, taking surveys and dining out.

Spending Your Miles

So you’ve racked up some miles. What’s the best way to spend them? Airline miles/points are worth 1 cent. So a fair rate would be using 40,000 miles for a flight that would typically cost $400. A good rate would be booking that $400 flight for 25,000 (this would be 1.6 cents per mile). Before booking, understand how the airline calculates its miles/points. Some require more miles for desirable flights or times. Note that you can’t use your miles through online travel booking sites like Travelocity or Orbitz. You’re also required to pay for the taxes and fees, which could add up to a few hundred dollars for international flights.

Frequent Flyer Miles Expire

Most airlines’ frequent flyer miles do have expiration dates ranging from just a few months to two years. But some airlines, such as Delta and Southwest, have miles that don’t expire. There are also ways you can prevent your frequent flyer miles from expiring, ranging from staying at a hotel to shopping to using your airline credit card. Make sure you look at the fine print.

The Penny Hoarder contributor Danielle Braff is a Chicago writer who specializes in consumer goods and shopping on a budget. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Real Simple and more. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Guide to Crypto Staking: What it is, How it works, and How to Get Started

Generally, when investors contemplate investing in cryptocurrencies, they think about either mining crypto or purchasing it outright on a crypto exchange. But crypto staking—or staking coins, as it’s often called—is another viable alternative for the crypto-curious to get assets in their wallets.

While “staking” may be a relatively new addition to the financial lexicon, it’s important for those interested in crypto investing to understand what it is, how it works, and what cryptocurrencies it can be used to obtain.

Crypto staking may feel like it’s a step beyond simply learning how to buy Bitcoin or how a crypto exchange works, but learning about cryptocurrency staking can broaden your knowledge, making you a more informed investor.

This article will run through it all, from staking basics to the platforms investors can use for staking coins.

Crypto Staking 101: What is Staking Coins?

Crypto staking is the process of locking up crypto holdings in order to obtain rewards or earn interest. Cryptocurrencies are built with blockchain technology, in which crypto transactions are verified, and the resulting data is stored on the blockchain. Staking is another way to describe validating those transactions on a blockchain.

Depending on the types of cryptocurrency you’re working with and its supporting technologies, these validation processes are called “proof-of-stake” or “proof-of-work.” Each of these processes help crypto networks achieve consensus, or confirmation that all of the transaction data adds up to what it should.

But achieving that consensus requires participants. That’s what staking is—investors who actively hold onto, or lock up their crypto holdings in their digital wallet are participating in these networks’ consensus-taking processes. Stakers are, in essence, approving and verifying transactions on the blockchain.

For doing so, the networks reward those investors. The specific rewards will depend on the network.

It may be helpful to think of crypto staking as similar to depositing cash in a savings account. The depositor earns interest on their money while it’s in the bank, as a reward from the bank, who uses the money for other purposes (lending, etc.). Staking coins is, then, similar to earning interest.

How crypto staking works

For the investor, crypto staking is a passive activity. When a crypto investor stakes their holdings (in other words, leaves them in their wallet), the network can use those holdings to forge new blocks on the blockchain. The more crypto you’re staking, the better the odds are that your holdings will be selected.

Information is “written” into the new block, and the investor’s holdings are used to validate it. Since coins already have “baked in” data from the blockchain, they can be used as validators. Then, for allowing those holdings to be used as validators, the network rewards the staker.

Pros & Cons of Staking Coins

Because staking coins is a passive form of investment, there is little downside. But it helps to consider the block rewards associated with staking coins you hold, as well as to recognize the volatility of cryptocurrency in general—if the value of the coin drops, that would impact the value of your staking interest earned.

Popular Types of Staking Coins

There are many different types of cryptocurrency, and many of them can be staked to earn rewards. While this is far from an exhaustive list, here are a few cryptos and coins that can be staked to earn returns:

•   Ethereum: Ethereum has become one of the most popular cryptocurrencies on the market—although it is not exactly a cryptocurrency itself. Staking Ethereum on your own will require a minimum of 32 ETH. Rewards vary, but it’s expected that the rate of return on Ethereum staking is 5-17% per year.

•   EOS: EOS is similar to Ethereum in that it’s used to support decentralized programs. EOS tokens are native to the EOS blockchain, and like other cryptos, can be staked to earn rewards. As of late April 2021, the expected rate of return for EOS staking is 3.2%.

•   Tezos: Like EOS and Ethereum, Tezos is an open-source blockchain network with its own native currency, with a symbol of XTZ. And it, too, can be staked on certain platforms and networks. The current expected rate of return for Tezos staking is around 6%.

How to Start Staking Crypto

To start crypto staking, an investor needs to decide where and what they want to stake. Here are four simple steps to get started.

1. Choose a crypto or coin to stake.
2. Choose and download a digital wallet in which to store your coins for staking. That may mean going directly to the specific crypto’s main website and downloading its corresponding wallet.
3. Purchase at least the minimum required number of coins. Some networks require that stakers have a minimum number of coins to participate (for example, Ethereum holders must have 32).
4. Make sure you have the necessary computing power and an uninterrupted internet connection.

With everything in place, the staking process can begin in earnest. From here, most people will only need to check in on their crypto holdings every once in a while to make sure everything is humming along as it should.

Where to Stake Crypto

There are numerous platforms that allow users to start staking coins, and quickly.

There are big-name platforms that most crypto investors are probably familiar with, including Coinbase and Kraken, which allow users to stake coins. On exchanges like these, investors must opt in to staking in order to benefit from rewards.

Enterprising stakers could also look at “staking-as-a-service” providers—which specialize in staking, rather than exchanging. Examples of those platforms include MyContainer, Stake Capital, and Staked.

It’s important to note that each of these platforms will have different offerings, rules, and fees. It’s worth the time spent researching a few to make sure your goals align with a certain platform before you jump in.

The Takeaway

Staking is a way to use your crypto holdings or coins to earn additional rewards. It can be helpful to think of it as along the lines of generating interest on cash savings, or earning dividends on stock holdings.

Essentially, coin holders allow their crypto to be used as a part of the blockchain validation process, and are rewarded by the network for the use of their assets. For crypto investors, staking can open up another potential avenue to generating returns.

Crypto piquing your interest? With Crypto trading from SoFi Invest®, you can trade crypto like Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin and more, 24/7 in the SoFi app.

Find out how to invest in crypto with SoFi Invest.



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 . 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) Cryptocurrency is offered 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, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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.
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 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.

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Source: sofi.com

How to Make Talking About Finances Fun, Not a Fight

Ask couples what they fight about most, and money is sure to be mentioned often. Decades of research have shown that some of the most common clashes are over major purchases, decisions about finances and children, a partner’s spending habits, and investment choices.

While dealing with money isn’t always easy, it doesn’t have to drive a wedge in your relationship. These strategies will ensure your financial discussions with your partner are productive and—dare we suggest—maybe even something to look forward to.

Schedule Timed, Regular Meetings

Set aside time in your calendars to have a monthly conversation about all things money. That’s a good amount of time to judge progress because you’ll have paid monthly bills and have gotten a couple of paychecks since your last sit-down.

At the meetings, plan to review your net worth (everything you own minus everything you owe) and cash flow (what money is coming in, being spent, and being saved), and track headway toward any joint financial goals, like buying a house, saving for childcare, or creating a will. If you haven’t already, this is also a great time to make a monthly budget.

While these sessions may seem uncomfortable at first, streamlining your financial conversations may actually prevent them from creeping into the rest of your life.

One way to time-box the conversation is to set a timer and spend no more than 30 minutes having an honest discussion about your finances. Once the timer goes off, go back to being a regular couple, knowing that there’s a special time and place for this type of a conversation.

If you can’t swing monthly meetings, then shoot for quarterly, biannual, or at least annual sit-downs—anything is better than nothing.

Make It a No-judgment Zone

These types of conversations can get very personal, and it’s important to make sure that you don’t judge your partner’s choices. After all, you wouldn’t want the same done to you. Being open with each other is key to having financial success.

If your partner is shy or tends to get defensive, it might help to start things off by revealing a spending habit that you’re not proud of. This might encourage your partner to reciprocate. You can even keep things light by making a joke about it. “So, I realize I blow $150 on a massage every month that I don’t technically need but am totally addicted to. What about you?” This can open up a dialogue about what’s important to each of you, and what expenses may be easy to curtail. (How about a massage every other month instead?)

Let Go of Resentment

Financial inequity between partners—say, if one person has a lot of debt or there’s a large disparity between incomes—can be a common source of tension.

If you feel like one person’s debt is holding you both back, remember that it doesn’t have to last forever. There are many strategies for paying off debt—talking it through will help you find the right path for you both. You might also decide to meet with a financial advisor who can help you prioritize, budget, and sometimes even refinance to break even faster.

In cases of income disparity, it may help to reframe each partner’s contribution to the household. Yes, one person may bring in more (or all) of the household income, but be clear on the non-monetary intangibles that the other person is contributing. Cooking, cleaning, watching the kids, caring for aging relatives—these duties all add up and represent what each of you is bringing to the household.

Reward Yourselves

Create incentives to stick with your financial meeting schedule. Maybe that means taking your laptops to your favorite coffee shop, or treating yourselves to a movie night afterward.

Another idea is to reward yourselves as a couple after you hit a predetermined financial goal or milestone. For example, every month you successfully increase your emergency fund by a target amount, you might choose to enjoy a nice restaurant meal.

Even a free indulgence—like a walk around your favorite lake after the discussion—can be effective. Just make it something that you both enjoy (bonus points if it’s something that you don’t do all the time so it feels extra special). That way, you’ll look forward to it.

The Takeaway

The best way to take the sting out of discussing finances with your partner is to make it a regular part of your life together. Scheduling time to talk monthly (or whatever cadence works for you) allows you to save that time for money talk, and get back to the fun of living your lives together the rest of the time. And make it fun—build in little incentives to stick with your regular financial check-in.

One topic of discussion that might come up during monthly money talks? Investing. SoFi Invest® might be a great place to start—members can trade stocks, ETFs, and crypto, and participate in upcoming IPOs at IPO prices, or start automated investing.

Find your own path to financial wellness with SoFi Invest.


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 . 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) Cryptocurrency is offered 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, please visit www.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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
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.
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.
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Source: sofi.com