What Is a CEF?

Closed-End funds, or CEFs, are a lesser-known type of investment fund that may benefit income investors who are looking to build a portfolio that provides both diversification and passive income. Similar to other funds such as index funds, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), CEFs pool together funds to purchase a basket of different types of assets, including stocks, bonds, and more. By investing in them individuals gain exposure to a variety of investments through a single portfolio asset.

Many retirees’ investment strategies include CEFs because of their high yields, which average 7.3%, according to BlackRock.

Recommended: Types of Investment Funds Explained

What Makes CEFs Unique?

The main difference between CEFs and other funds is that they are ‘closed,’ meaning that investors can’t buy into them at any time they want. Instead, CEFs hold an initial public offering (IPO), similar to a stock IPO, when investors can buy into them and then close sales once the offering ends.

It’s useful to evaluate CEFs based on their Net Asset Value (NAV), which is the sum of the assets in the fund’s portfolio. Brokerage firms post CEF Net asset values on a daily basis. The NAV differs from the CEF’s market price. CEF shares may sell for a discount to their market value, making it beneficial to buy them through the market rather than in their initial offering.

CEFs vs ETFs: How They Compare

CEF and ETF Similarities

•  Trade on exchanges during daily trading hours like stocks

•  Fund portfolios can be leveraged

•  Can offer capital gains and distributions to investors

•  Have fee schedules and expense ratios

•  Hold portfolios of investments that have a total value

•  Investors can trade shares like stocks using margins, shorting, and limit orders

•  Can focus on specific sectors or broad indexes

CEF and ETF Differences

•  ETFs usually track the performance of an index, whereas CEFs are actively managed

•  Investors are more likely to pay capital gains with CEFs than with ETFs

•  ETFs can’t issue debt or preferred shares, while CEFs can use these tools to create leverage

•  ETFs have features that ensure their share price doesn’t differ very much from their net asset value. In contrast, it’s common for a CEF’s net asset value and share price to be different.

Recommended: ETFs vs Index Funds

CEFs vs Mutual Funds: What’s the Difference?

CEF and Mutual Fund Similarities

•  Can pay out income and capital gains distributions to investors

•  Run by professional management teams

•  Have fee schedules and expense ratios

•  Have a net asset value and contain multiple investments

CEF and Mutual Fund Differences

•  Mutual funds issue and redeem shares daily, whereas CEFs trade on exchanges

•  CEFs can issue debt and preferred shares in order to leverage their net assets, which can increase the amount of their distributions as well as the fund’s volatility

Recommended: Mutual Funds vs ETFs

Types of CEFs

Like other types of funds, every CEF has a different investment strategy and asset size. Funds may hold millions of dollars in assets or billions. Each has its advantages and downsides.

The main issue with small CEFs is they generally don’t trade at high volumes. That means that if an investor holds a large position they can actually affect the price when they buy or sell.

CEF Distributions

CEFs pay out distributions on a regular basis. These are similar to dividend payments but have some key differences.

Since CEFs include both stocks and bonds, distributions can include bond interest payments, equity dividends, return of capital, and realized capital gains. The tax on the investment income from those earnings may differ between funds since they each have a different asset makeup.

CEF distributions can change over time, so a fund that has a very high payout may make cuts to it. So while an investor may choose a CEF with a high yield, it’s important to keep in mind that it could change over time.

One way to find a fund with an ideal yield is using the distribution-to-NAV ratio. CEFs are actively managed, and the managers need to earn money in order to pay out distributions. So by looking at the net asset value of the CEF compared to it’s distributions, investors can see whether a CEF will be able to maintain its current yield rate. If the NAV isn’t high enough to maintain a high distribution, the manager may cut the distributions.

One main benefit of CEFs is since they are actively managed, the managers can redistribute investments to maximize returns. However, like any asset, CEFs don’t always perform well. Some CEFs focus on a particular industry, and if that industry isn’t doing well the CEF may not perform well either. The success of a CEF also depends on the management team.

Recommended: How Often Are Dividends Paid?

How to Buy and Sell CEFs

It’s simple to buy and sell CEFs on major stock exchanges, and both beginning investors and those with more experience can participate in the CEF market. Investors can trade them during regular trading hours just like ETFs and stocks, although there are far fewer CEFs available on the market and they have much smaller trading volumes.

CEF Fees

One major downside of investing in CEFs is the high fees. The average annual CEF fee is 2.2%. However, the fees are taken out of the fund so investors may not notice them immediately. Proponents of CEFs claim that they have high fees because they have high quality managers who help the fund earn more money.

Fees can also include the cost of leverage, which is a tool CEFs use to make the fund more profitable. CEFs have more borrowing ability than individuals, so they can greatly benefit from using leverage, making the high fees worth it for investors. Of course, using leverage for investment also brings on additional risk.

It’s important for investors to consider whether paying high fees is worth it based on the performance of any particular CEF.

The Takeaway

CEFs are a type of investment fund that typically offers diversification and passive income. CEFs have several similarities to exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, but they are closed investments that typically have higher fees and smaller trading volumes.

If you’re interested in building a portfolio using other types of investments, a good place to start is by opening an account on the SoFi Invest® brokerage platform. You can use it to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and even cryptocurrencies with just a few clicks on your phone. The platform offers both active and automated investing strategies.

Photo credit: iStock/ayagiz


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.
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Source: sofi.com

Preferred Stock vs. Common Stock

Preferred stock and common stock are two different classes of shares that publicly traded companies may issue.

It’s important to understand the difference between common stocks vs preferred stocks so that you can properly evaluate potential investments and determine whether they fit into your overall portfolio strategy.

What are Common Stocks?

Common stock is what people generally think of when they refer to a stock. All publicly traded companies issue common stock, which provides you a share in a company with the requisite voting rights in that company.

Common stocks may offer dividends if the company chooses and can also increase (or decrease) in value based on the stock price. If a stock increases in value from when you bought it, then you may be able to sell the stock for a profit.

But dividends are only paid out if the company decides to distribute earnings via dividends to shareholders. If the company goes bankrupt, common stockholders will be paid last, if at all, after creditors and preferred stockholders.

What are Preferred Stocks?

Preferred stock also represents a share in a company but it has a few characteristics that make it similar to a bond. Preferred stocks, sometimes referred to as simply “preferreds” pay an annual dividend that companies determine in advance and pay ahead of dividends to other shareholders.

Those dividends are often a fixed amount but can be adjustable based on preset specifications. (Dividends on common stock vary based on the company’s finances.) That means preferred stockholders receive dividends whether the stock loses or gains value.

Preferred stockholders also get preferential treatment in the case of corporate bankruptcy or collapse. Preferred stock, however, does not generally come with voting rights, and the company can buy back preferred stock at a predefined price.

Convertible Preferred Stock

Convertible preferred stock may convert to common stock in a few scenarios: if the board of the company votes for conversion, if you decide to convert based on the stock price, or if at a predetermined price date. Private companies often issue early investors preferred, which converts to common stock if the company completes an initial public offering (IPO).

Recommended: Buying IPO Stocks: What You Need to Know

When companies have a lot of convertible preferred stock or convertible bonds it can impact the way that investors value them. In that case, investors may look at both the company’s earnings per share and their diluted earnings per share, which factors in the potential impact of what would happen if all their convertible securities were turned into common shares.

Why Companies Issue Preferred Stock

Companies may issue preferred stock for several reasons, including a desire to access more capital without taking on more debt or diluting existing voting rights. Companies may also consider preferred stock less risky, since they may have the option to call it at a later date.

Preferred Stock vs Common Stock: Benefits and Drawbacks

When looking at preferred vs common stock, both have benefits and drawbacks, and both can be good investments depending on your overall strategy.

Preferred Stocks Benefits

•  Higher Dividends. Preferred stock typically pays higher dividends than common stock because the company sets dividends when issuing the stock. However, if the company decides to issue a more significant dividend, the dividend on a common stock could go above the dividend on preferred stock.

•  Less Volatility. Given their guaranteed dividends, preferred stock may have less price volatility than common stocks, while remaining more volatile than a bond.

•  Preferred Stockholders Have Priority. One of the things that makes preferred stock slightly less risky is what happens in the case of a company becoming insolvent. If a company has to declare bankruptcy and pay creditors and bondholders, then preferred stockholders get paid before those who have common stock in the company.

Preferred Stock Drawbacks

•  Interest Rate Risk. Because preferred stocks have many similarities to bonds, their value correlates to interest rates. Thus, as interest rates rise, preferred stock becomes slightly less valuable because other investments may appear to be more valuable.

•  Limited Growth Potential. Although preferred stocks may have higher dividends than common, they may not have the same upside. Investors are more likely to see stock appreciation with common stock than with preferred stock. So, if investors are looking for a long-term strategy, they might be better off with common stock.

•  Potential for calls. Companies may be able to call or redeem convertible preferred stock, meaning you’d get paid for the value of the stock but would no longer own it. The stock may also convert to regular stock.

Common Stock Benefits

•  Voting Rights. The voting rights that come with common stock may not be especially valuable unless you own enough stock to have a significant percentage of voting rights, but some investors enjoy the opportunity to make their voices heard.

•  Appreciation. Common stocks are more likely to appreciate than preferred stocks. So, for investors wanting to capitalize on a company’s growth potential, purchasing common stocks can help them achieve this goal.

•  Availability. While every publicly traded company offers common stock, not every company offers preferred stock

Common Stock Drawbacks

•  Volatility. Common stock’s value can go up or down depending on the company. That means that common stock may have greater investment risk, with the potential for both greater gains and greater losses.

•  No Dividend Guarantee. Common stock does not guarantee a dividend, which means it won’t provide a set income, although some stocks do provide relatively reliable dividends.

When You Should Buy Preferred Stock vs Common Stock

When evaluating the difference between common and preferred stock, preferred stocks may appear to be a better deal, given their guaranteed dividends and preferred access to assets if the company goes bankrupt.

Whether or not investing in preferred stocks is suitable for your portfolio will depend on your investment goals and risk tolerance. For example, if you’re looking for a steady stream of income, a preferred stock might make a good addition to your portfolio since they have the potential to offer higher and consistent dividends.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for more of a long-term growth strategy to save for retirement, there might be better options since companies can call back their preferred stock and common stock may have more potential for gains.

As with any investments, there is no guarantee for either common stocks or preferred stock. Before you decide which is better for your investment mix, determine what role they will play in reaching your financial goals.

Common vs Preferred Stock: Getting Started Buying Stocks

Whether you’re buying preferred or common stocks, you can make the purchase via a broker licensed to trade on the exchanges, or using an online trading platform that allows you to make individual trades yourself or invest in a diversified fund made up of a mix of stocks, bonds, and other assets.

Whichever way you go, it’s often easier to access common stocks, but you can get exposure to both through ETFs (exchange-traded funds) as well. There are preferred stock ETFs, which offer the ability to buy a share of the ETF, granting a proportionate share of all the preferred stocks that make up that ETF.

Individual investors don’t have access to all preferreds. Participating preferred stock is a special type of preferred stock typically only available to private equity or venture capital firms making an investment in an early-stage company.

The Takeaway

If this all sounds a little complicated, then professional advice can also help you figure out how stocks—both preferred and common—can fit into a diversified portfolio that helps you achieve your financial goals.

The SoFi Invest® brokerage platform offers both active investing and automated investing, which means you can either pick and choose your own stocks or you can have an algorithm help set you up with an investment portfolio tailored to your risk tolerance and goals.

Still debating common vs. preferred stock? Get some one-on-one financial advice from SoFi Invest wealth advisors.


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.
IPOs: Investing early in IPO stock involves substantial risk of loss. The decision to invest should always be made as part of a comprehensive financial plan taking individual circumstances and risk appetites into account.
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Source: sofi.com

Apartment Application Fees: Why You Pay Them and What They Cover

Apartment application fees are a one-time charge that covers the cost of things like the background check, credit check and other processing fees.

Moving into a new place is always an exciting time. You have everything figured out — you’ve found the right apartment, you know exactly how you’ll decorate it and you’ve planned out a budget. But have you thought about the apartment application fee? Do you know what the application fee is? These are all things you should know about before moving into a new apartment. In this article, we’ll go into what the application fees are, what they cover and why or if they’re required.

Application for an apartment.

What is an apartment application fee?

Almost every apartment complex or landlord requires some form of application fees when you move in. When deciding to rent out an apartment, a landlord wants to make sure they have an ideal candidate for renting, therefore, they use application fees to do just this.

Application fees cover costs such as background checks and credit checks and to process the rental application itself. By running credit and background checks, they are able to ensure that you are able to pay your rent on time and make sure that they keep the apartment safe from crime.

In some scenarios, the fees go to covering when the landlord takes the apartment off the market to secure it for you. While it is rare, sometimes there will be a no application fee apartment and the landlord will simply ask you these questions and not make you pay a fee.

How much are apartment application fees?

Fees vary greatly from state to state. Generally speaking, they are usually affordable and cost anywhere between $20 and $50. That being said, there are some that can cost upwards of $100. One of the things you should watch out for is getting scammed with application fees.

In some cases, there are landlords that try to take advantage of new tenants and will charge outrageous application fees. If this is the case it’s probably best to walk away. In some states, there are laws that cap the amount a landlord can charge for application fees. It’s important for you to look into this and know what you can and cannot be charged.

Woman working on a budget.

Is an apartment application fee different from a security deposit?

Security deposits and application fees are two different fees you’ll pay when moving into a new place. As mentioned, the application fees cover the costs of credit and background checks, as well as other paperwork. The security deposit however is a sum of money — typically around the price of the first month’s rent — you give to your landlord when you first move in and they’ll hold onto it until you move out.

Typically, the security deposit covers damage to the apartment that is beyond usual wear and tear, such as ruining a wall or having to replace the carpet. Your landlord will deduct these costs from your security deposit when moving out. If the damage is too bad, they might keep the entire deposit to fix the apartment for the next tenant.

Are apartment application fees refundable?

There are some cases in which you’ll be refunded the application fee but it’s very situational. For instance, if the landlord decided to rent the apartment to another tenant before they processed your application. Sometimes the landlord will refund you if they did all the checks but decided to go another way. However, it’s important to note that this is a rare occurrence.

If the landlord approves and you decide to rent the apartment, most of the time the application fee will go towards your security deposit. Application fees are also a one-time fee, so you won’t get charged this amount monthly.

Family talking with a landlord.

How to find no application fee apartments

Finding no application fee apartments is difficult. Because of the Fair Housing Act, many landlords are wary of not doing an application fee or waving it for certain people but not others.

Depending on where you are and what type of apartment you are looking for will also vary finding no application fee apartments. In some cases, people renting their apartments themselves or subletting won’t charge an application fee. That is one of your best chances of finding a place with no fee, or you could try and discuss fees with your landlord.

Apartment application fees are part of the process

Renting an apartment is exciting and the start of a new journey and you don’t want it ruined by not knowing about certain fees. Before deciding on a place make sure to sit down and figure out a budget that includes all apartment fees. This way when you go to rent you know exactly what you’re in for. Also, check in your state to see if there is an apartment application fee cap so that you don’t get overcharged.

Knowing all this information will save you time and make the moving process much more fun.

Source: rent.com

How Much Are ATM Fees?

If seeing a “cash only” sign causes you to roll your eyes and heave a heavy sigh, it could be because you’ve developed a healthy aversion to ATM fees.

Depending on where you bank and what ATMs are nearby, you could end up paying much more than you need to when withdrawing your money. If the ATM is out of network, fees can run anywhere from $2.50 to $5 or more just for one transaction.

Fortunately, you can ​​save money on ATM fees if you plan ahead. Here’s a breakdown of how ATM fees are determined, along with ways to avoid getting stuck giving over cash to access your cash.

What Are ATM Fees?

Bank account holders typically pay no fees for using in-network ATMs. However, these machines may not always be conveniently located.

Indeed, more than half of ATMs today are owned and serviced by independent operators and their affiliates—not banks. If you use an out-of-network ATM, you could end up paying a fee to your bank, as well as a fee to the ATM operator.

The total cost of using an ATM that’s not part of your bank’s network now averages around $4.64, according to a recent Bankrate survey. In some cases, you could pay even more.

Here are some typical fees charged for using an ATM:

Non-Network Fee

This fee can be charged by your bank for using a non-branded or non-partner ATM. It’s kind of like going to a doctor that’s not on your insurance plan—you might be able to do it, but it could be more expensive.

On average, this charge accounts for about $1.50 of the total fee, according to Bankrate. The fee can apply to any type of transaction performed at an ATM, including withdrawals, transfers, and even balance inquiries. Typically, you won’t be told about such fees at any time during your ATM transaction.

ATM Surcharge

This one comes from the ATM owner, and is often labeled as a “convenience charge.” The average U.S. surcharge currently runs just over $3. However, surcharges can vary by state and venue, and you may encounter higher amounts in places where ATMs are in greater demand.

If you’re at an entertainment venue in a popular tourist destination, for instance, you could pay as much as $25.
When using an ATM that isn’t part of your bank’s network of machines, the machine usually notifies you about a fee charged by the bank or company that operates the ATM.

Foreign ATM Fees

Traveling overseas can come with even more watch-outs, such as foreign transaction fees on both purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Taking out money at a foreign ATM can incur a fee of around 1% to 3% of the transaction amount. Some financial institutions, however, have no foreign transaction fees, and can be worth looking at if you frequently travel overseas.

How to Steer Clear of ATM Fees

If having to pay money to access your money grinds your gears, there’s some good news—it is possible to avoid ATM fees or at least encounter them less frequently.

Here are some strategies:

Scouting out ATMs in Advance

Finding out where your financial institution’s in-network ATMs are located in your area, or where you are traveling to, can save you money and hassle. These may be ATMs branded with the institution’s name and logo, or in a network of partner ATMs, such as Allpoint or Star . You can research this on your bank’s website or app.

Getting Extra Cash When You Go

Fees are typically charged per transaction, so one way to avoid charges is to withdraw more cash than you need whenever you go to the ATM, and then keeping it in a safe place. This can yield significant savings when you are traveling overseas, where surcharges can be significantly higher than domestic ATM fees. You may want to keep in mind, however, that there are usually some ATM withdrawal limits.

Asking for Cash Back at the Register

Many retailers and convenience stores offer cash back when you make a purchase using your debit card. This can be a convenient way to get cash without paying an ATM fee. It can be a good idea, however, to make sure that neither the retailer, nor your bank charges a cash-back fee.

Switching to a Different Bank

Not all banks charge out-of-network ATM fees. If you’re getting hit with fees, especially double fees, you may want to consider switching to an institution that has a larger ATM network, doesn’t charge ATM fees, and/or refunds ATM fees charged by machine providers.

Online banks often have generous policies regarding ATM fees. They typically don’t have their own ATM networks, but will partner with large networks, like Allpoint, and may refund some fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers.

Using a Peer-to-Peer Payment App

With a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app, like Venmo, or a similar service offered by your financial institution, you can easily pay your friends without cash with just a few taps on your phone-–and avoid a trip to the ATM entirely.

The Takeaway

If you need cash and the nearest ATM is not in your bank’s network, you may end up paying a fee to your bank, plus a fee to the ATM provider, which can total around $5.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid paying ATM fees. One is to always make sure you are taking money out of one of your banks branded ATMs or one of their partner networks.

Other options include asking for cash back when you make a purchase, using a peer-to-peer payment app, or switching to a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees and even refunds fees charged by ATM providers.

Looking for Something Different?

Another easy way to avoid ATM fees, as well as many other annoying fees, is to open a SoFi Money® cash management account.

SoFi Money offers free ATMs at 55,000+ locations worldwide. Plus, users can make quick and easy (and free) P2P payments right through the SoFi app.

Ready to eliminate fees and earn interest? Get started with a SoFi Money account.


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.
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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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

The Greeks in Options Trading

When it comes to trading options, learning to speak “Greek”—or, understanding the relationship between “the Greeks” and options—is incredibly important. That means studying up so that terms like delta, gamma, theta, and vega make sense when you’re navigating the markets.

Options Greeks may sound like a foreign language (and it is!), but to options traders, the Greeks are incredibly important to understanding how, or if, they’re making any money, since it can be so difficult to understand the true value of an option.

A Quick Look at Options

Before we go all Greek on you, let’s do a quick refresher on options.

“Options” is short for “options contracts,” which are a type of investment that traders buy and sell much like stocks and bonds. But options are derivatives—that is, they aren’t really assets in and of themselves. Instead, their value (or lack thereof) derives from another underlying asset, typically a specific stock.

Traders buy different types of options, when they think that stock prices will go up (a call) or down (a put). They also use options to hedge or offset investment risks on other assets in their portfolio.

In a nutshell, though, traders typically buy options through an investment broker. Those options give investors the option, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a security at a later date, and at a specific price. Investors can buy an option for a price, called a premium, and then buy or sell that option.

So, while an option itself is a derivative of another investment, it can gain or lose value, too. For example, if an investor were to buy a call option on Stock A—basically, a bet that Stock A’s share price will increase—the value of that call option would go up if Stock A’s price goes up.

But the opposite would be true if an investor purchased a put option on Stock A, betting that Stock A’s price would go down. Similar to shorting a stock, the investor would effectively lose their bet (and see the value of their option fall) if Stock A’s share price increased.

Recommended: How to Trade Options: A Beginner’s Guide

What Are Option Greeks?

The Greeks, as they relate to options, are different ways to measure an option’s position.
Options traders use these letters to describe their option positions and make their best guess as to what might happen next with those positions as they relate to the underlying stocks.

In short, the Greeks look at different factors that could impact the price of an option. Calculating the Greeks isn’t an exact science. Traders use a variety of formulas, usually by a mathematical model. Because of that, these measurements are usually all theoretical.

Here’s a look at the most common Greeks used by traders.

Delta

The delta Greek measures how much an option’s price will change if the underlying stock’s price changes. Specifically, it measures the option’s price change in relation to every $1 change in the underlying stock. It’s usually expressed as a decimal, like “0.50,” for example.

So, if an option has a delta of 0.50, in theory, that means that the option’s price will move $0.50 for every $1 move in the stock’s price. Another way to think of delta is that it gives an investor an idea as to the probability that they’ll make money from an option. If delta is 0.50, for example, that can equate to a 50% chance or so that an option will expire in the money—that an investor’s bet will have paid off.

Gamma

The second Greek, gamma, tracks the sensitivity of an option’s delta. If delta measures how an option’s price changes in relation to a stock’s price, then gamma measures how delta itself changes in relation to a change in the stock’s price.

Think of an option as a car going down the highway. The car’s speed would be its delta. The car’s acceleration would be its gamma, as acceleration is measuring the change in speed. Gamma is also typically expressed as a decimal. If we go back to our earlier example—that delta is 0.50—and delta changes to 0.6, then gamma would be 0.1.

Theta

Theta measures an option’s sensitivity to time. It gives investors a sense of how much an option’s price decreases the closer it gets to expiration.

Similar to the “car on a highway” analogy, it may be useful to think of an option as an ice cube sitting on a countertop. The ice cube melts away—or, the option’s time value diminishes—and the melting becomes more rapid over time.

Theta is typically expressed as a negative dollar amount, and represents how much value an option loses each day as it approaches expiration.

Vega

Finally, vega is a measure of an option’s sensitivity to implied volatility.

Markets are volatile, and securities (and their derivatives) are subject to that volatility. Vega attempts to measure how much an option’s price will change as it relates to the underlying security’s volatility.

Volatility refers to the turbulence a security’s value experiences. We don’t know what level of volatility a security or option will experience in the future, however, so there’s a certain amount baked into the mix—that’s implied volatility. It’s the expected future level of volatility.

Changes in stock volatility can change an option’s value. That’s what vega is measuring—not volatility itself, but the option’s sensitivity to volatility changes.

And like delta and gamma, vega is expressed as a number, rather than a dollar figure.

Other Options Terminology to Know

The specific options (a call versus a put, for example) and the underlying stock’s performance determines whether an investor comes out ahead on their bet. That brings us to a few other key options terms that are important to know:

In the Money

A call option is “in the money” when the strike price is below the market price. A put option is “in the money” when the strike price is above the market price.

Out of the Money

A call option is “out of the money” when the strike price is above the market price. A put option is “out of the money” when the strike price is below the market price.

At the Money

The option’s strike price is the same as the stock’s price.

Recommended: Options Trading Terms You Need to Know

The Takeaway

There’s no getting around it: Options, and the Greeks, can get complicated, and may not be the best investment strategy for beginners. But experienced traders, or those willing to spend time to learn how to understand options, find them a valuable tool in creating an investment strategy.

If you feel more comfortable keeping things simple, however, the SoFi Invest® brokerage platform can be a great place to start. SoFi Invest lets you build your own portfolios with stocks, and ETFs, or to use an automated service that builds it for you.

Photo credit: iStock/photolas


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.
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Source: sofi.com

The Best Apartments for Rent in Las Vegas in 2021

Las Vegas has always been a popular vacation destination, but it’s now becoming a sought-after living destination. With more affordable housing prices than surrounding states, Nevada is attracting new residents every day. These are the best apartments in Las Vegas.

And while many are flocking to the desert city of Las Vegas, commonly known for casinos, lights and shows, those moving to the city have very different preferences when it comes to apartments.

Avion.
Photo source: Avion at Sunrise Mountain / Rent.com

Right at the base of Sunrise Mountain on the northeast side of the Las Vegas metro area, Avion at Sunrise Mountain has the best view of the city you can get. Furthermore, it boasts not one, but two pools, a 24-hour fitness center and a business center.

Resident can choose from apartment plans with up to three bedrooms, with furnished units available for those that would like them.

Trend in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Trend! / Rent.com

Living up to its name, Trend! is a contemporary apartment community with amenities galore—on-site dry cleaning, electric vehicle charging stations, a heated pool and water bottle and towel services are only a handful of the many.

These luxury apartments have one-, two- and three-bedroom plans to choose from and are in the mellow Silverado Ranch neighborhood.

Tamarus Park in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Tamarus Park at Heritage Square / Rent.com

Tamarus Park at Heritage Square lies within walking distance of UNLV and only a few minutes away from the Strip by car. There are studio, one and two-bedroom units giving the perfect space for anyone at any stage of life, whether a student, young professional, or growing family.

The added benefits of a pool, hot tub and fitness center, not to mention on-site patrol make it a safe environment to live and relax without needing to leave the community.

La Villa Estates in Las Vegas.
Photo source: La Villa Estates / Rent.com

La Villa Estates is in the coveted Summerlin neighborhood, with trendy boutiques and cafes and views of the mountains across the city.

There are one, two and three-bedroom options, along with access to a business center, hot tub, pool and even racquetball courts. Safety is a priority at La Villa Estates, with gated community access, controlled access to each building and on-site patrol.

Wynn Palms in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Wynn Palms / Rent.com

On just the other side of the freeway from the Strip, you’ll find the Wynn Palms. Living here will put you within walking distance from many high-end restaurants, casinos and other entertainment options.

A business center, playground and pool come with these one-and two-bedroom apartments. There is also on-site patrol to give further privacy and protection to Wynn Palms residents.

Maverick in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Maverick & Hidden Village / Rent.com

Minutes away from downtown Las Vegas, Maverick & Hidden Village is comfortably settled within the Arts District and Orleans Square, putting great food and art right at your doorstep.

These one- and two- bedroom units allow for short-term rentals to accommodate any time period for which you might need an apartment. There’s also the option of renting a furnished apartment, so you only need to bring your clothes and personal items.

20 Fifty One in Las Vegas.
Photo source: 20 Fifty One / Rent.com

Offering units with up to three bedrooms, 20 Fifty One is truly a family-friendly community. It includes a shared barbeque area with a children’s playground, a clubhouse for indoor gatherings and multiple safety measures put in place, including on-site patrol and controlled access to each building.

Not only does 20 Fifty One allow for up to two pets (dogs and/or cats), but it’s located near a pet park where residents can easily take their furry friends to get some fresh air and let out their energy. You will want to see this complex because it’s one of the best apartments in Las Vegas.

Park at Spring Valley in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Park at Spring Valley / Rent.com

Park at Spring Valley is in the desirable Rancho Manor neighborhood, which is near the popular Fremont Street and connects directly to the central freeways of Las Vegas. It offers various layouts, ranging from large 3-bedroom layouts to smaller studio options.

Amenities include tennis courts and two pools, along with a private park for residents—all patrolled for safety.

Buena Vida on Palms in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Buena Vida on Palms / Rent.com

Located just outside of the main city action, Buena Vida on Palms is in a fairly quiet area, but still within close driving distance from downtown. Residents can choose layouts with one or two bedrooms and have a swimming pool and gated community access.

While Buena Vida on Palms may not have as many luxury amenities, the location paired with the price makes it a solid option for those wanting to live in a relaxed area without being too far from the city buzz.

Summerhill Pointe in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Summerhill Pointe / Rent.com

Summerhill Point is in a convenient location right on Saraha Avenue, making it easy to get to other parts of the city when needed. It’s perfect for dog owners with its own gated dog run and no breed restrictions, so whatever type of dog you have is welcome! It’s one of the best apartments in Las Vegas.

These one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments have private patios and additional storage lockers. The property also boasts of three resort-style pools and two spas for taking it easy after a long day.

Eagle Trace in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Eagle Trace / Rent.com

For those who like being in more secluded areas, Eagle Trace is as far from the city center as you can get, just outside of Nellis Air Force Base. Its one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are great for any individual or family accommodations.

Eagle Trace is a fitness fan’s paradise, with multiple swimming pools and hot tubs, along with basketball and tennis courts, all lighted for day and evening use.

2one5 in Las Vegas.
Photo source: 2one5 / Rent.com

2one5 apartments are luxurious and hi-tech. It offers more amenities than most apartments you’ll find, including smart home technology, a sunbathing pool, a fitness center with classes, a dog park with a washing area, electric vehicle charging stations—and the list goes on.

It offers floor plans with up to three bedrooms, all of which have high-end finishings and appliances.

Town Villas in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Town Villas / Rent.com

Family-friendly Town Villas offers two- and three-bedroom floor plans and a safe community for residents. Gated access provides additional safety from the bustling streets of central Las Vegas.

The complex is near hiking and biking trails and a pet park. There’s also a business center for tenants to use and a playground for the younger kids to run around and have fun.

Tiffany Place in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Tiffany Place / Rent.com

Offering plenty of amenities for an affordable price, Tiffany Place has tanning beds, indoor and outdoor pools, sports courts, an indoor fitness center and a car wash area.

It has one- to three-bedroom units with the option to have an additional garage with storage outside of the apartment for extra belongings.

Sonoma Hills in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Sonoma Hills / Rent.com

Sonoma Hills is in a fantastic location—while it’s not near the center of Las Vegas, it is close to plenty of stores and the base of the mountains and hiking trails. Its one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments have some units with extra storage space in case it’s needed.

Additional benefits are on-site patrol and a list of amenities, like tennis and basketball courts, a pool, a clubhouse and a fitness center.

Capri.
Photo source: Capri / Rent.com

The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments of Capri offer high-end living. Renovated interiors include a fireplace, stainless steel appliances and large closets. It also boasts a swimming pool, hot tub, tennis courts and a fitness center.

It’s close to McCarran International Airport for those with the travel bug, as well as shopping and plenty of great restaurants.

Silver Stream in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Silver Stream / Rent.com

On the edge of the quiet Spring Valley suburb, just east of the Strip is Silver Stream. Here you’ll find updated apartments with high-end stainless steel appliances, large balconies, and amenities such as a business center, pool and fitness studio.

Additionally, There are layouts containing up to three bedrooms and a patrolled parking lot, making it safe for all ages and perfect for all family sizes.

outside in Vegas.
Photo source: Park Arms / Rent.com

Within walking distance of the Strip and monorail, you’ll find spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at Park Arms. For such an exciting and convenient location, the price is far below the state average of $1,709—in fact, it’s less than half, starting at $720.

There’s also a pool and gated access to the complex, leaving it as a safe, relaxing community among the buzz of the Strip.

stairs to an apartment
Photo source: Rosewood Park / Rent.com

Rosewood Park is part of a quieter area and offers floorplans for studio, one-, two- and three-bedrooms, all of which have renovated interiors with vinyl flooring and resurfaced countertops.

Along with nearby parks, the complex contains its own basketball courts, pool, hot tub and fitness center. Plus, there’s extra storage on the property for those belongings that don’t fit into your apartment!

211.
Photo source: The 211 / Rent.com

The 211 is right at the center of all the city hustle and bustle! In one of the most convenient spots in the middle of downtown Las Vegas, it has a 24-hour gym on the property, an 800-square-foot hot tub and a rooftop patio with views of the city. Plus, you’re also getting a gated entry with controlled access to the building for extra safety.

There are one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at this exciting complex to accommodate everyone, whether you’re an individual living on your own or a family.

Montecito Pointe in Las Vegas.
Photo source: Montecito Pointe / Rent.com

On the furthest, northwestern corner of the city lie Montecito Pointe apartments, where safety is a top priority. While it’s already in a quiet, safe area, the additional benefits of a gated access and on-site patrol makes Montecito Point one of the safest complexes you’ll find.

Furthermore, these one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments have endless amenities and perks—extra storage space, a pool, fitness center, and access to trails for hiking and biking.

Not close to downtown or many shopping areas, but it’s right off the freeway, so you can quickly hop on and get anywhere in the city.

palm trees outside.
Photo source: Wyandotte / Rent.com

Nestled on the outskirts of the Strip, Wyandotte has large, newly-renovated, affordable apartments with up to 4 bedrooms. For someone interested in the night life and the Arts District, this apartment complex is perfect. Plus, you have a business center, playground and pool at the ready.

green kitchen
Photo source: Viridian / Rent.com

Being only minutes away from the Strip, Viridian is a surprisingly affordable apartment community close to all the action and shopping of Las Vegas. With being so close to the Strip, you’ll also get to enjoy the view of the cityscape right from your living room.

Choose between anything from a studio to three-bedroom layouts and enjoy a dip in the pool after playing on one of Viridian’s sports courts—all starting at $685 per unit.

Apartment.
Photo source: Cooper Creek / Rent.com

While Copper Creek is further from downtown, it’s in a relatively new part of Las Vegas—much quieter and more mellow. Its oversized closets, high ceilings and other high-end finishings make these luxury apartments appealing to most.

There are additional perks to these one-,two- and three-bedroom apartments, such as a resort-style pool, spa and fitness center.

Apartment.
Photo source: San Michele / Rent.com

Settled between up-and-coming North Las Vegas and trendy Summerlin, San Michele is northwest of the downtown area. Being in a quieter area, right by an elementary school, it boasts proximity to both the boutique shops. In Summerlin, there is also exciting nightlife of downtown.

It offers newly renovated one- and two-bedroom apartment layouts with a clubhouse, pool and children’s play area.

Check out the best apartments in Las Vegas

No matter what your preferences are, there are plenty of apartment options in Las Vegas. Whether you’re after luxury living or a great location near the lights of downtown, each apartment community has a unique combination of offerings for every taste. You can find apartments for rent in Las Vegas to match your preferences.

We looked at all available multifamily rental property inventory from January to June 2021 on Rent.com to determine which properties with a Las Vegas mailing address are most viewed by organic internet searches. The information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice, availability or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

How to Make End-of-Year Donations

Making a charitable donation at the end of the year–or any time of year–can be a win-win-win.

The organization you give your money to benefits. You get to enjoy the good feeling that comes with supporting a project or cause that you believe in. And, you may also be able to lower your tax bill.

This year, the rewards for giving may be especially sweet. Two new tax changes for 2021 can boost donors’ tax deductions for charitable giving, meaning they may be able to give more to charity at a lower net cost.

Here are some things you may want to consider when planning and making your end-of-year charitable donations.

What Qualifies as Charitable Giving?

In the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a charitable donation is a gift of money, property, or other asset that you give to a qualifying organization, known as a 501(c)(3). To find out if an organization you’d like to support is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, you can search for it on the IRS’s database .

You may want to keep in mind that money or assets given to political campaigns or political parties do not qualify as tax-deductible donations. In fact, no organization that qualifies as a 501(c)(3) can participate in political campaigns or activities.

Organizations that engage in political activities without bias, however, can still sometimes qualify. So, a group can educate about the electoral process and remain within guidelines. They just have to go about it in a nonpartisan way.

It’s also possible for the IRS to implement measures that can affect charitable donating. For example, there was a tax relief provision passed in the form of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Under it, tax deduction limits shifted for both those individually and jointly filing. So, it’s essential to stay updated on current tax laws and provisions that may affect your charitable donations’ taxation.

Recommended: IRA Tax Deduction Rules

Can I Deduct My Year-End Charitable Donation?

In the past, charitable donations could only be deducted by tax filers who itemized their deductions. That means that rather than take the standard deduction, they chose the more complicated path of listing all of their eligible expenses.

However, the IRS has a special new provision that will allow individuals to easily deduct up to $300, and joint filers to deduct up to $600, in donations to qualifying charities in 2021, even if they don’t itemize.

This is basically an enhancement of the one-year tax break Congress put in for 2020 under the (CARES) Act that allowed a tax deduction for cash gifts to charity up to $300.

The difference is that for 2020, the deduction was limited to $300 per tax return. The new provision allows a married couple filing jointly to deduct up to $600 in cash gifts to charity for 2021.

The rules have changed for people who itemize as well. If you are itemizing on your return, the IRS has increased the limit for charitable tax deductions from 60% to 100% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). And, if you want to give more than that 100 percent threshold, the excess can be carried over into the next tax year.

Whether you’re looking to give $50 to your favorite local organization, or you’re considering a much larger charitable donation, these tax changes make it a particularly good time to do so.

Tips for Making End-of-Year Donations

To make the most of a charitable donation, here are some strategies you may want to keep in mind:

Making a Timely Donation

The deadline for charitable donations is December 31st. If you’re looking to deduct the donation in the current tax year, you will want to make sure your charity has ownership of whatever asset you are donating by the closing of business on the 31st. You may also want to make sure that your preferred payment method is accepted by the charity so it doesn’t get kicked back and cause delays.

Taking Advantage of Company Matching Programs

Your place of employment might have a matching program for charitable giving. They might, for example, match your donation amount dollar for dollar up to a certain amount. If so, it could significantly bump up the amount you could otherwise afford to give.

If you’re unsure about whether your company has a program, it can be worth reaching out to your HR department for further information.

Giving Rewards on Your Credit Card

If you are giving on a budget, you might consider donating rewards you earn on your credit cards, such as hotel points or airline miles. This can be a great way to use points or other rewards that would otherwise just expire. Many credit card companies, hotels, and airlines will make it easy to give your rewards to nonprofit organizations.

Recommended: Credit Card Rewards 101: Getting the Most Out of Your Credit Card

Donating Assets from your Brokerage Account

If you’re looking to lower your capital gains tax, you may want to consider donating assets from your brokerage account to a nonprofit. This may take some time and planning, but the benefits of donating an over-allocated position that’s outperforming can be worth it.

You may be able to receive tax advantages and rebalance your portfolio, while also helping an organization increase its assets.

Setting up a Recurring Donation

You can get a headstart on next year by creating a recurring contribution now. Many organizations allow you to donate monthly through their websites using a credit card, so you might be able to earn rewards at the same time. By establishing your donation plans now, you won’t have to even think about end-of-the-year giving next year.

Keeping Good Records

If you want to deduct your donation on your taxes, you’ll want to make sure you have the right receipts to back up the transaction.

For cash donations under $250, you’ll either need a bank record (like a canceled check or bank statement) or a written acknowledgment from the charity which includes the date and amount of your contribution.

For cash donations over $250, a bank record isn’t insufficient. Instead, you’ll need something in writing from the charity which includes the date and amount of your donation.

Noncash donations from $250 to $500 in value require a receipt that includes the charity’s name, address, date, donation location and description of items donated. If the noncash donation exceeds $500 in value, you’ll also need a record of how and when the items were acquired and their adjusted basis.

If the donation exceeds $5,000 in value, you’ll need to get a written appraisal from a qualified appraiser.

Speaking with a Professional

An accountant can help answer any questions you may have about how the new tax laws will impact your tax contribution, as well as help you make the most strategic and efficient charitable donation.

The Takeaway

Giving can be a good idea for a number of reasons, especially in 2021. In addition to helping a nonprofit organization meet its operating costs for the year, you can feel good about what you are doing with your money, and you may also benefit from special tax deductions.

Giving can also help you get the new year started on the right foot. If you’re looking for other ways to get your financial life in order (now, or any time of year), you may also want to consider signing up for SoFi Money®.

SoFi Money is a cash management account that allows you to earn competitive interest, spend, and save all in one place. And, since you won’t pay any account fees or other monthly fees, you can focus on putting your money towards more important things.

Start saving for the things in life that matter to you with SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/ThitareeSarmkasat


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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Source: sofi.com

Understanding Funds Availability Rules

When you deposit money into your bank account, those funds are not always immediately available for use. Your bank or credit union may place a hold on the deposit, and you may notice that your “available” balance is lower than the total balance of your account.

Each bank has its own policy about how long deposits take to become available. There are also federal regulations about how long banks can hold on to funds before making them available to their customers.

It can be a good idea to understand your bank’s policies on holding deposits in order to make sure you don’t accidentally overdraw your account.

Below are some key things you may want to keep in mind to make sure you have access to cash when you need it.

Why Do Banks Put a Hold on Deposits?

Banks hold deposits to protect themselves, as well as their customers, from losing money. If a check you deposit bounces or some other complication arises, the bank will have an opportunity to fix the problem before you have the opportunity to spend the funds.

While a delay in being able to access your own money may seem like a nuisance, holds can actually help protect you from fraud and fees.

If your bank allows you to spend funds from a check that later bounces, you would have to repay the bank the amount that they gave you, and likely also get hit with a hefty overdraft fee. This is the case regardless of who is at fault.

How Long Can a Bank Hold a Deposit?

The amount of time it takes for funds to become available can depend on a number of factors, including how long you’ve held your account, your financial history, the type of deposit (e.g., cash, check, direct deposit), and the amount of the deposit.

Generally, a bank or credit union has until at least the next business day (a business day is a weekday that is not a holiday) to make most deposits available.

Electronic deposits are typically available on the same day. So, one way to make sure your paycheck is available to you quickly is to sign up for direct deposit.

The longest a bank can hold funds is usually five business days for money deposited at an ATM of a different bank.
While each bank or credit union has its own rules as to when it will let you access the money you deposit, federal law establishes the maximum length of time a bank or credit union can make you wait.

Recommended: How Long Does a Direct Deposit Take?

Below are the rules set by the Federal Reserve .

• Direct Deposit: Day of Deposit

• Wire Transfer: Next Business Day

• First $200 of any non-”next-day” check deposited: Next Business Day

• Cash*: Next Business Day

• U.S. Treasury Check: Next Business Day

• U.S. Postal Service Money Order*: Next Business Day

• State or Local Government Check*: Next Business Day

• Casher’s, Certified, or Teller’s Check*: Next Business Day

• Checks and Money Orders Drawn on Another Account at the Same Financial Institution: Next Business Day

• Federal Reserve Bank and Federal Home Loan Bank Checks*: Next Business Day

• Any Other Checks or Non-U.S. Postal Service Money Orders: Second Business Day After the Day of Deposit

• Deposits of Items Noted by “*” at an ATM Owned by the Customer’s Financial Institutions: Second Business Day After the Day of Deposit

• Deposits Made at an ATM Not Owned by the Customer’s Financial Institution: Fifth Business Day After the Day of Deposit

* Deposited in person

You may want to keep in mind that the hold times listed above are the maximum allowed. It’s possible that your funds will be available sooner.

You can typically find specifics about your bank’s funds availability policy in the account agreement you received when you opened your account, or you can ask the bank for a copy of their holding policies.

Understanding Cut-Off Times

When you deposit a check, you may think you did it “today.” However, you may have missed the cut-off for starting the deposit process on that calendar day.

If you make a deposit after the cut-off time, your financial institution can treat your deposit as if it was made on the next business day. If the deposit was made late in the day on a Friday, it could actually take three or more days for the money to show up in your account.

By law, a bank or credit union’s cut-off time for receiving deposits can be no earlier than 2:00 p.m. at physical locations and no earlier than noon at an ATM or elsewhere. Sometimes banks have later deposit times for mobile deposits (made via the bank’s phone app), such as 5 pm.

Deposits That May Take Longer to Become Available

There are certain circumstances under which banks are allowed to hold deposited funds for longer than the times listed above.

When these exceptions apply, there isn’t always a clearly defined limit to the amount of time the bank can hold funds. The bank can generally hold funds for a “reasonable” amount of time.

Exceptions to standard holding times include:

Large Deposits

If a customer deposits more than $5,000, the bank will typically need to make the first $5,000 of the funds available within one business day, but they are allowed to put a longer hold on the remaining amount.

Redeposited Checks

If a check bounces and then is redeposited, banks may hold the funds for longer than one business day. (You may want to be cautious about accepting future checks from a person or business that has already bounced a check.)

Accounts That Have Been Repeatedly Overdrawn

If a customer has a history of overdrawing their account, the bank may hold funds for more time before making them available for use.

Repeatedly overdrawn means that the account has had a negative balance on at least six business days within the past six months, or the account was $5,000 overdrawn more than twice within the past six months.

Reasonable Doubt

If a customer deposits a check that seems suspicious, the bank may hold funds for a longer period of time. A check may seem suspicious if it’s postdated or it’s more than 60 days old.

New Bank Accounts

If your account is less than 30 days old, you may experience hold times of up to nine days. Official checks and electronic payments, however, may be partially available the next day.

Emergency Conditions

If there is a communications outage, a natural disaster, or another circumstance that impedes normal bank functions, banks can hold funds until they are able to provide the funds.

The Takeaway

When you deposit a check, you naturally expect the money to show up in your bank account. But there may be a delay between the time you deposit money and the time that those funds are actually available for you to spend.

Banks generally make funds available on the business day after you make a deposit, but there are exceptions.

Direct deposits are typically available sooner, and some checks, such as those larger than $5,000 or older than 60 days, can take longer than a day to clear. If your account is brand new, it may take up to nine days for a deposited check to become available.

Knowing your financial institution’s policies about holding times can help ensure that you’re able to pay your bills on time, have access to cash when you need it, and don’t get hit with overdraft fees.

Looking for Something Different?

If you’re looking for an easy way to access and manage your money, you may want to consider signing up for SoFi Money®.

SoFi Money is a mobile-first cash management account that allows you to earn competitive interest, spend, and save–all in one place. And, it’s simple to add your SoFI Money account as an option for your direct deposit.

Sign up for SoFi Money, then set up direct deposit into your new cash management account.

Photo credit: iStock/solidcolours


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 Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp 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.
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

How to Have a Baby Shower on a Budget

It’s an honor to be asked to throw a friend or family member a baby shower. But along with that honor, often comes a hefty price tag. Between the food, flowers, decor, and favors, the cost of these soirees can add up quickly.

Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune to throw a fun and memorable celebration for soon-to-be parents and their loved ones. From scoring a cheap (or free) venue to DIYing the centerpieces, there are a number of ways to cut baby shower costs without looking like you cut any corners.

Tips for Throwing a Great Baby Shower on a Budget

These inexpensive baby shower ideas can help you throw a memorable celebration for a mom-to-be and help her become better financially prepared for a baby.

Coming up with a Baby Shower Budget

Before you begin the planning process, it can help to determine the total you can spend on the event and then create a budget. You may also want to find out if family members from either side are willing to chip in financially or by offering to help make something for the party. When setting up your baby shower budget, you’ll likely want to include: the venue, invitations, decorations, food and drinks, entertainment and/or games, prizes and party favors.

Finding a Free (or Low-Cost) Venue

A baby shower doesn’t have to be at a fancy restaurant, hotel, or banquet hall to be festive. It could take place at your, or someone else’s, home. If you’re hosting a baby shower in warm weather. You might consider having it outdoors, such as in your backyard. You could even host a more casual shower with an outdoor barbeque or even a poolside party.

Other low-cost locales options include: a nearby park, the clubhouse of your (or someone else’s) apartment complex, or the meeting room at someone’s place of business.

Limiting the Baby Shower Guest List

Generally, the more people you invite to the shower, the more money you will spend. To keep costs in check, you may want to consider limiting the invite list to the parent-to-be’s closest family and friends. A smaller group not only cuts down on costs, but can also help to create a more intimate gathering that allows the guest of honor to spend time with each guest. It can be a good idea, however, to run the invite list by the expectant mom to be sure that you don’t exclude any important people.

Going Digital With Invitations

You can save money on baby shower invitations by using a digital service, such as Evite, MyPunchbowl, or Paperless Post. These sites and apps typically allow you to choose from a range of free baby shower invitation templates or, for a small fee, upgrade to a more elaborate design. These sites also make it easy to keep track of responses. And, guests will likely appreciate the ability to RSVP with the click of a button. You may, however, want to send paper invites to older guests, particularly if they don’t use an email address often.

Ditching the Caterer

Feeding guests typically takes up the biggest portion of a baby shower budget. One way to help keep the cost of food down is to forgo the caterer and head to your local warehouse club (like Costco or Sam’s Club). You’ll likely be able to create a delicious spread of appetizers, finger foods, and desserts for a lot less than ordering trays from a catering company or restaurant.

Timing it Right

You can also cut down on food costs by not holding the shower right at lunch or dinner time. That way, guests won’t arrive expecting a full meal, and you’ll be able to serve a lighter menu that includes simple appetizers and snacks. A late-morning party can be particularly wallet-friendly–you might simply offer coffee, juice, fruit, and pastries. Or, you might opt for an afternoon tea and serve sweets and finger sandwiches.

Keeping the Cake Simple

A gourmet bakery cake can look beautiful, but it could easily bust your budget. According to CostHelper , an average bakery cake runs around $3 to $4 a slice. To cut costs without sacrificing on taste, you might consider ordering a cake at your local grocery store’s bakery or the bakery at a wholesale club, then having it personalized (which the store will often do free of charge).

DIYing Centerpieces

Fresh flowers look lovely, but they can get expensive if you order arrangements from a professional florist. Instead, you may want to head to your local farmers market, grocery store, or warehouse club to find flowers at reasonable prices that fit your color scheme, then make your own centerpieces. A simple way to get great results is to use flowers in the same color family (like shades of pink or all white). You can pick up vases at the dollar store, or go with Mason jars, which look trendy and can be used for other purposes after the shower is over.

Printing Decor and Games for Free

Instead of racking up a big bill at the party store, you may want to comb the web for free baby shower printables. You can likely find food signs, games (like baby shower bingo), decorations, and favor tags that you can simply print right from your computer.

Making Edible Favors

Sweets can make great baby shower favors, and you can easily bake them yourself without spending a lot. You may also find that there is a family member who would be delighted to take on this task. Edible favors can be as simple as iced sugar cookies (in your color scheme) or as elaborate as cake pops that look like baby rattles.

Considering a Virtual Baby Shower

If the guest of honor’s family and friends are spread out all over the country, having a virtual baby shower is one way to include everyone that’s important, and also keep costs down. You can set a celebratory mood by choosing a Zoom background that fits the theme of your shower, and also include a link so guests can download the background as well. Friends and family can watch the mom-to-be open gifts that were sent to her ahead of time. You can also organize games throughout the virtual baby shower and create a digital guest book that attendees can sign and share their words of wisdom for the expecting parents.

The Takeaway

You can plan a memorable baby shower even on a limited budget. And, spending less doesn’t mean the event will be any less special.

Some easy ways to trim the cost of having a baby shower include: hosting the shower in your home or backyard, heading to your local warehouse club (for food, flowers, and even the cake), using free printables for decor and games, and giving homemade sweets as favors.

You can also make a baby shower more affordable by setting a budget and saving up enough money to cover it in advance (so you don’t end up relying on credit cards).

Looking for a good place to build your party fund? 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. You can even set up separate vaults for separate savings goals.

Start saving for your next milestone celebration with SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/vejaa


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Source: sofi.com

How to Find Felon-Friendly Apartments After Getting Out of Jail

Yes, you can rent an apartment as a felon — just do your research.

Do you have a felony on your record and happen to need a new place to rent? Well, it may seem daunting to try and find a place that won’t require a background check but it is possible to find felon-friendly apartments.

No background check apartments are rarer but they do exist and are a great option for renters with a not-so-appealing stain on their background. Let’s dive into how to find felon-friendly apartments if you have a record.

Can I rent an apartment if I have a felony record?

Apartment for rent sign.

The short answer is yes, you can rent an apartment with a felony record. However, renting an apartment with a felony record is tricky because almost every landlord or apartment complex runs background checks on future tenants.

They’ll often check everything from your credit score to your criminal history, so it’s best to share with the landlord that you have a felony — it will definitely show up. Unfortunately, landlords can reject your application on the spot if they see a felony.

While some may do this, there are some landlords that will look past it.

How to find apartments that accept felons

Starting the search for apartments that accept felons is overwhelming. It’s difficult to know where to look, what to put on your application, what to leave out of your application and how much to disclose.

The best thing to do is to educate yourself and know where to start looking and how to best prepare for the application process. Here are four tips for finding felon friendly apartments:

1. Search for no background check apartments

Criminal background check.

A great place to start is by searching for apartments that don’t run a background check. While many apartments include a background check as part of the standard application process, not all do. This is great news for you as you’ll be able to apply for the rental without having to worry about your felony appearing on the background check portion of the application process.

You can also take the time to search for “second chance rentals.” Here, you’ll be able to find listings that don’t typically ask for background checks and are often felon-friendly apartments. Everyone needs a place to live and there are landlords who are willing to give felons that second chance they need to get back on their feet, find stable housing and have a place to call home.

2. Find an individual landlord

Another way to go about finding apartments that have no background check is to search for individual landlords or private renters as opposed to apartment complexes.

By having an individual landlord, you’ll be able to take the time to discuss your situation one-on-one. Be honest and upfront about your background check. By doing this, they may look past your felony as they get to know you personally and not purely based on your background check.

A realtor is also a good way to find places to rent. They have different resources and may already know where to look for you. Using a realtor may cost money compared to looking on your own, but, you’ll likely be able to find a place to rent more quickly and get settled into a new home right away.

3. Use local and national resources

There are many local and national resources that help those who have felonies get housing. Start by looking into your local non-profits and see if there are any programs that help people with felonies get back on their feet.

A great place to get help is with The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development aka HUD. They offer low-income housing to those in need and also have a list specifically for felon-friendly apartments.

Another place to seek help is with The Lion Heart Foundation. Their goal is to help give people the tools to restart their lives. On their website, they have a list of felon-friendly apartments in every state. Again, by starting your search with places that’ll work for you right away, you’ll save time and stress in the house-hunting process.

4. Be prepared for a more challenging application process

Handshaking over a contract.

Being prepared for the application process is crucial in finding apartments that accept felons. Here are some ways you can better prepare yourself:

  • Write a letter: Handwritten letters are personal and convey a sense of caring. Take the time to write the landlord your story. This way they can start to feel a personal connection. Also, telling your story about your felony and how you’ve changed might make it so they don’t reject your application right off the bat.
  • Have a character witness: Landlords want to make sure they’re renting to good tenants who pay on time and don’t cause trouble. Having someone else vouch for you and your good character is very helpful in convincing a landlord to rent to you.
  • Offer to pay more: Whether it’s a higher security deposit or maybe two months’ rent upfront, paying more might help you to rent an apartment. This also shows that you are serious about renting and can pay on time.

Finding a home

While finding a felon-friendly apartment is difficult, it’s not impossible. There are several different resources and tools to use when searching for a new home.

Having the knowledge of where to start and who to ask for help is the best place to start. By knowing what you’re getting into, the experience will be less stressful and daunting. Like anything, it might seem overwhelming but you can do it!

Source: rent.com