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

The Cost of Living in Portland in 2021

From rent to healthcare, here’s what it costs to live in the City of Roses.

Portland is known for its free-wheeling, laidback lifestyle. It’s the place to go for third-wave coffee and craft brews. Its foodie scene is one of the best in the United States. It has the buzz of a major art city but is extremely close to nature. It’s the home of major corporations like Nike but also is great for small businesses and start-ups. True, it does rain a lot, but there’s no better weather for nursing a coffee and spending an afternoon browsing books at Powell’s.

But the Portland dream is shifting. Housing, rent and cost of living prices are on the rise following population growth, largely due to an influx of new residents.

The demand has made the local real estate market boom, with homes going for hundreds of thousands over the asking price. The pandemic pushed demand up even higher. Factoring in other costs of living categories like healthcare and transportation, the cost of living in Portland is 33.7 percent higher than the national average.

Even though living in Portland is expensive, it’s worth it for the culinary scene, access to nature, abundant arts and culture and diverse job opportunities.

From housing to transportation, here is the cost of living in Portland, Oregon.

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Housing costs in Portland

As mentioned above, Portland is pretty pricey these days, both for renters and buyers. The average rent in Portland for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,734. While high, the rate is down 7.59 percent from last year. And housing costs in Portland are 81.3 percent higher than the national average.

However, depending on what part of the city you want to live in, this average cost can widely vary. For example, the most expensive neighborhood in Portland with an average rent of $2,400 is Central Northeast Portland.

Another big-spender neighborhood is the Pearl. Last year, the average rent for a one-bedroom was $1,925. However, the pandemic hit the area hard and the average dropped nearly 43 percent to $1,093.

More affordable neighborhoods are found across the Willamette River in Buckman, the Hawthorne District, Hazelwood and North Portland. Average rents in these neighborhoods instead ranged from the $600s to the $800s

Neighborhoods that were close to the city-wide average include Old Town Chinatown, the Lloyd District and the Northwest/Nob Hill areas.

For home buyers looking to buy a home in Portland, be ready to both fight and pay through the nose. With so much demand, Redfin reported that in March 2021 the average home cost in Portland is $515,000. The Oregonian put it even higher at $542,000. Real estate agents say that the houses get jumped on immediately by potential buyers, offering significantly higher than the asking price.

Food costs in Portland

One of the best parts of living in Portland is the amazing dining scene. While casual dining at food trucks isn’t too costly, sit-down meals for two at a mid-range restaurant run an average of $60. There are so many great spots to try, it’s almost not worth cooking for yourself. With new restaurants and bars opening all the time, there’s always an incentive to dine out.

When you do go food shopping, be prepared for elevated prices. Portland’s average grocery and food costs are 12.6 percent higher than the national average.

A dozen eggs cost $2.36, bread will run you $4.68 and a half-gallon of milk will be $2.12. Meat-lovers will find steak, ground beef and chicken at averages of $11.98, $4.74 and $1.58 a pound, respectively.

Portland is an extremely vegetarian and vegan-friendly city. So there’s never a shortage of fresh, delicious produce at reasonable rates. A head of lettuce costs $1.76 and a five-pound bag of potatoes costs $2.34.

Utility costs in Portland

The Pacific Northwest has gorgeous weather. In the summer, it’s sunny and beautiful. While the winters are rainy and overcast most of the time, it’s rarely too cold. If you want proper winter weather with plenty of snow, Mount Hood is a quick drive away.

All that goes to show that, compared to other categories of cost of living in Portland, utilities aren’t the highest because the weather is typically agreeable.

The cost of utilities in Portland is 10.9 percent cheaper than the national average. Your energy costs for the month average about $143.85.

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Transportation costs in Portland

Ask both long-term and new residents and they’ll agree: Portland’s traffic problem is growing. Before the pandemic, Portland ranked 14th in the nation for bad traffic.

Luckily, Portlanders have an excellent mass transit system in TriMet. Operating throughout the metro area, TriMet offers affordable public transit via commuter rail, light rail and bus.

The easiest way to ride is with a Hop FastPass, which covers rides on all three transit options and also allows you to transfer to the C-TRAN and the Portland Streetcar. A day pass costs $5 and a 2 ½ hour stint costs $2.50. These fares apply throughout TriMet’s service area.

Frequent commuters like to save on transit by buying monthly or yearly passes. Instead of offering these types of passes that require upfront payment, TriMet Hop does things a little differently. You pay as you go and once you pass a certain spending threshold, you earn free ride passes. For example, once you’ve spent $100, the cost of a monthly pass, you’ll ride the rest of the month for free. This allows commuters to only pay for rides they use while still earning rewards.

A one-year pass is available for $1,100.

However, it’s still a good idea to keep a car. Popular nature areas like Mount Hood or the Oregon Coast are not readily accessible by public transit. So if you want to get out into nature a lot, you should plan on keeping at least one car. In April 2021, a gallon of gas cost $3.28. According to SpotHero, parking rates average $7 a day or $205 a month.

And don’t forget that in Oregon, you don’t pump your own gas. Gas stations have attendants to do that for you — it’s actually illegal for you to pump your own.

Portland’s overall walk score is 76. Some parts of the city aren’t the best to navigate on foot, namely around the highways and interstate. Compact neighborhoods like the Pearl, Hawthorne and St. Johns are great for strolling.

It’s also extremely bike-friendly, with a high score of 85. There are tons of urban cycling paths and most roads have bike-exclusive lanes. Drivers here are also very aware of cyclists, so it’s a safe environment.

Overall, Portland’s transportation costs are 29.2 percent above the national average.

Healthcare costs in Portland

Unlike other expenses, determining the cost of local Portland healthcare is a bit tricky. Everyone’s health is different and everyone requires different care, plus there is also a diversity of healthcare options ranging from private to public. Although there are a lot of variables, here are some averages that can give you a general idea of what to expect.

Portland ranks 16.3 percent higher than the national average for healthcare. But it also provides comprehensive and affordable healthcare options through public and private providers. Some top options include Oregon Health & Science University, Legacy Health and Oregon Health Plan.

A general check-up at the doctor will run you a bill of $168.67 and a trip to the dentist is around $101.75.

If you just need some Ibuprofen for a quick headache cure, it will cost $9.57. But for prescription drugs, without insurance, costs can cost an average of $495.37.

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Goods and services costs in Portland

As you’ve seen by now, most Portland-area costs are above the national average. The same goes for assorted fees for different goods and services are also higher. Miscellaneous activities like going to the vet or getting a haircut rank 19.6 percent higher than the nationwide average.

Take the example above: taking your furry friend to the vet. Portland is a great dog city. There are plenty of urban parks and most businesses are very pet-friendly. This is especially true of breweries since there’s nothing better than drinking beer on a patio with friends and your dog. An average vet visit will cost $64.50.

Need a haircut? Be prepared to dish out an average of $33.67 for a visit to the hairdressers.

Portland is also a very wellness-oriented city, so yoga is a big deal here. But it doesn’t come cheap with the average class costing $19.95.

And as for that most timeless of pastimes, movie tickets cost around $11.10.

Taxes in Portland

One of the best parts of living in Oregon? No sales tax! That applies to Portland as well. So if you go shopping at a Portland-area store and spend $100, your total will be $100 exactly.

Consequently, Oregon’s income tax rate is one of the highest in the nation. Oregon’s income taxes divide up into four different tax brackets. The taxable percentage runs from 4.75 percent in the lowest bracket to 9.9 percent in the highest.

Single filers making between $9,050 – $125,000 per year pay an 8.75 percent tax. Those under that income threshold pay between 4.75 percent to 6.75 percent. For example, if you make $50,000 a year, you’ll be in the 8.75 percent tax bracket and can expect to pay $3,524 in state taxes as a single filer.

The highest rate applies to single taxpayers who make at least $125,000 a year.

For Portlanders, there are also some city taxes you’ll need to take into account. For example, you’ll have to pay an annual Arts Tax. This $35 per person tax supports public school teachers and non-profit art programs in the city.

Taxes from payroll and self-employed individuals also support the operation of the TriMet mass transit system.

How much do I need to earn to live in Portland?

Between rent, food and other costs, living in Portland is on the expensive side. As we said above, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,734.

Based on wanting to only spend 30 percent of your income on housing, you’d need to make at least $60,195 to live comfortably in Portland. However, as seen in the housing section, there are many neighborhoods that offer cheaper housing and rental options. So there are many different ways to live comfortably in Portland on lower incomes.

According to the U.S. Census, in 2019, the average household income was $71,005.

To see if a Portland lifestyle will fit your goals and budget, use our rent calculator to learn more about your options.

Living in Portland

Portland is definitely not the cheapest option for city living. Many of its cost of living expenses are above the national average. But you’ll find the residents agree that it’s worth it.

You get amazing food and drink available throughout the city, not just in one or two trendy districts. You can realize your own small business dreams or work for top-tier corporations. There is endless art, culture, music, theater and other forms of entertainment. And when you tire of cosmopolitan amenities, the great outdoors is right there in the nearby forest, mountains and coastline.

Browse through great Portland apartments and homes for sale to see what’s available.

Cost of living information comes from The Council for Community and Economic Research.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.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.
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

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

Puppy Proofing Your Apartment in 13 Simple Steps

A dog is a man’s (or woman’s) best friend. Those four-legged, fluffy creatures with wagging tails and endless loyalty are hard to resist, especially as puppies. For as cute as puppies are, they can also be a lot of work and cause a lot of damage to an apartment.

If you’re thinking about getting a puppy, you also need to think through puppy-proofing your apartment. That way, when you bring Rover home, your home is now a puppy apartment.

Here are 13 ways for puppy-proofing your apartment that’ll keep your doggie safe and help ensure you get your security deposit back at the end of your lease.

Creating the perfect puppy apartment

You’ve found the perfect pup to bring home to your apartment. Now, it’s time to turn your place into a puppy apartment. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on puppy-proofing products to create a safe and secure place. With a little puppy feng-shui and a few simple hacks, your puppy apartment will be ready to go.

1. Troubleshoot potential problems

The first step when puppy-proofing your apartment is to walk through it and scan for potential problem areas.

Remember, puppies are small and can maneuver their way into small spaces like the area under the couch or behind a dresser. Notice all the areas where your new friend could hide, assess if it’s a hazardous area and if so, find ways to block it off.

Once you’ve made a list of all the areas in your apartment that could cause problems for you and your puppy, you can start to solve them.

Dog that made a mess.

2. Tidy up daily

Like babies, puppies like to chew anything they can get their paws on. So, you’ll want to tidy up your apartment and get any small objects off the floor so your puppy doesn’t chew and choke on them.

You’ll want to make sure you tidy up frequently. A puppy is a lot of work, but at least you’ll have a clean apartment free from clutter.

3. Hide cords and chargers

TV cords and phone chargers are tempting to chew for puppies. Not only is it annoying if your puppy chews through your laptop charger but it’s also dangerous.

When puppy proofing your apartment, make sure you hide or remove all cords that are at eye level for your dog. You could bundle the cords together and place them out of reach, tape them to the back of the TV or piece of furniture, or buy protective casings to wrap them in.

No matter which option you take, you need to make sure cords are not a temptation for puppies.

4. Spray your furniture with bitter spray

Dogs love sticks. It’s a cute trick at the park, but it’s not so cute when your dog starts to chew your wooden kitchen table or the legs of the chairs.

To prevent furniture from being damaged by an eager puppy, buy a spray that you can use to deter chewing. Simply spray it on the furniture and it’ll taste bitter to the puppy and they’ll learn not to chew that item.

5. Remove rugs

When you first bring a puppy home, you may want to remove rugs so they don’t go to the bathroom on them or drag them around the house.

You can re-introduce rugs to your home once your puppy is a little older, but it can save time and stress if you put your expensive rugs away to start with.

6. Get puppy pads for potty training

Like children, puppies need potty training. While you’ll probably have a few accidents at first, there are ways to keep your apartment clean and minimize accidents around the house.

First, buy puppy pads and place them throughout the house so when your dog needs to do his business, he knows where to go. Second, you can buy a pet deodorizer to remove the smell off the carpet if he has an accident.

Having the right equipment for potty training from the beginning will save you time.

Dog playing with ball.

7. Buy the right toys

Puppies love to chew and play. If you want to train them to chew the right things—and avoid the walls, baseboards and furniture — buy the right toys upfront.

Get toys specifically made for puppies. These include toys that squeak or that are fun to chew. You can positively reinforce what toys make great toys for your pup to avoid them from going after less than desirable objects.

8. Create a dog-friendly zone

When puppy-proofing your apartment, you need to decide which areas are dog-friendly and which areas are off-limits.

Once you’ve created your boundaries, you can create your dog-friendly zones. Simple things like closing doors to off-limit areas or installing baby gates to block off certain rooms will teach your puppy that she can play in some rooms but cannot enter others.

Your puppy will soon learn that she has her own safe space if you teach her which areas are on and off-limits.

9. Get a kennel or crate

Speaking of safe spaces, dogs like to have their own area where they can relax.

When your dog is a puppy, they need to have a kennel or crate. This is a great space for your puppy to hang out when you’re leaving the house, when they need a nap or when they need a time out.

A kennel or crate can become your dog’s designated bedroom and it enables you to leave them without worrying that they’ll destroy the apartment.

Dog in a crate.

10. Close the toilet seat

You’ll likely have a water bowl set out for your dog, but a toilet bowl is often oh so tempting to a thirsty puppy. Remember to always shut the toilet seat so they can’t get water that way and will learn to go to their water bowl only.

11. Remove toxic materials from easy reach

There are obvious items that are toxic to pets, for example, cleaning materials and medications. But, there are other things like essential oils, plants and certain food items that are also deadly to pets.

Before you bring a curious puppy home, walk through your apartment and remove all toxic materials from places that your puppy could get to.

Remember, puppies are curious and want to get into everything. So, if it’s not at human eye level, it’s fair game for your pooch.

12. Have your vet’s number on hand

Accidents happen. So, it’s important to have your vet’s number easily accessible so you can quickly call if your puppy gets into something he wasn’t supposed to reach.

Post your vet’s number or the pet poison control number on your fridge or in your contact list. This will make puppy training easier and keep your dog safe.

13. Consider hiring a trainer

These hacks are all DIY. But, you may want to consider hiring a dog trainer to come and teach you ways to train your dog, too.

Dog trainers can teach you tools that’ll make raising a puppy easier and make you feel more comfortable with your new friend more quickly.

Welcome home puppy

Now that you’ve gone through every nook and cranny of your apartment and created a safe puppy apartment, it’s time to bring that bundle of joy home!

Puppies are great and if you’ve done all the steps for puppy-proofing your apartment, you’ll be able to enjoy your new friend so much more. These hacks make it easy to create a safe space for your dog without having to worry that he or she will ruin your place. Woof woof!

Source: rent.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

The Best Cities for Hipsters in America

Do you listen to indie rock? Are your politics progressive? And have you ever rocked an ironic mustache or dyed your hair gray — on purpose? As much as you loathe labels, you, my friend, are a hipster.

Look, we get it. You’re unique. A true individual. And you should never be lumped into a group of like-minded folk. How is it even possible to determine the best cities for hipsters?

Well, since you asked …

Finding the best cities for hipsters

It’s difficult to define the undefinable, but we did our best. First, we looked at the percentage of the population between the ages of 20 and 34. Then we crunched some numbers, from a city’s median income to the average rent price for a studio apartment. The bike-a-bility score came into play, along with the density of hipster-friendly businesses. Think: local coffee shops, craft breweries, record stores, organic markets … you get the picture.

So where are the best cities for hipsters? On a map, these spots trend toward the edges of the country with a few surprises sprinkled into the mix. Geographically, it looks a little something like this:

Best Cites for Hipsters

The top 10 cities for hipsters

While there are some surprises in our top 50 (we see you there, Schaumburg, IL), the top 10 features the usual suspects. You’ve got tech hubs, college towns and a few places that really take their coffee seriously. Oh, and a couple of ties (hence our pair of number 6s and 9s).

So load up that vintage suitcase with your vinyl and beard oil (just not together) and set your sights on one of these 10 best cities to live the ultimate hipster lifestyle.

9*. San Francisco, CA

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*tied

Our first No. 9 should come as no surprise — though with the recent influx of Silicon Valley bros, perhaps San Francisco isn’t as much of a hipster given these days.

From seaside parks that are perfect for puffing those American Spirits to a slew of beloved coffee outposts like Ritual Roasters and Sightglass Coffee, this city has endless hipster-friendly hangouts. You’ll also find a killer indie music scene and more tattoos than you can shake a wrist arrow at.

As hip as this city is, coolness comes at a premium. SF is easily the most expensive city on our top 10 — and ranks up there among the most expensive cities in America. However! If you work at one of the many successful hipster-driven startups in town, you’ll be fine.

While the average rent for a wee studio is a whopping $2,639, the median income here is an incredibly healthy $112,376.

Find apartments for rent in San Francisco
Buy a house in San Francisco

9*. Madison, WI

madison wisconsin

*tied

Madison is a cool Midwestern city — no, that’s not an oxymoron. Home to the University of Wisconsin, which has been showing up on lists of the best party schools for years, Madison also draws more millennials than any other city. So why are the young and hip flocking here? The beard-sporting, PBR-drinking set knows that Madison is a hub for music, art, food and beer.

To make the city even more attractive, the cost of living is lower than the national average. Rent prices for a studio here are among the lowest on our top 10, at around $1,190 per month.

This scenic “green” city also offers ample outdoor activities, festivals and bike paths.

Find apartments for rent in Madison
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8. Portland, OR

portland or

Portland is the city that put hipsters on the map, and “Portlandia” helped cement the city’s claim to fame (much to the dismay of actual Portland hipsters, who definitely don’t love the “h” word). The city not only boasts forests, mountains and nature galore, it’s also an absolute haven for local coffeehouses, divey music venues, craft breweries and the like.

Unfortunately, the secret has been out for quite a while now and Portland has seen a steady influx of transplants led by the hipster set.

The good news? Prices haven’t caught up to some of the more cost-prohibitive Western cities … yet. Expect to pay around $1,358 for a studio apartment in Stumptown.

Find apartments for rent in Portland
Buy a house in Portland

6*. Ann Arbor, MI

ann arbor mi

*tied

Located on the other side of Lake Michigan from Madison, Ann Arbor has a lot in common with its neighbor to the west. Home to the University of Michigan (another top party school), this college town reaps the benefits of housing nearly 45,000 coeds.

With an impressive number of coffee shops per capita, you’ll also find endless indie rock shows, trendy foodie destinations and more fixies than you can shake a spoke at.

So how much will it cost you to call Ann Arbor home? Studios aren’t exactly cheap here — remember, you’re competing with 45K coeds for a place to live. Budget around $1,536 for your monthly rent.

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6*. Washington, DC

washington dc

*tied

The second No. 6 on our list may come as a surprise. D.C. is often characterized as a hotbed for politics and not much else, but it’s also home to a lot of young people — including a slew of hipsters.

Don’t believe us? Belly up to a local watering hole like American Ice Co., order a beer served in a mason jar (try local DC Brau) and then catch a show at the nearby venue like the 9:30 club. Now, report back: Are you not surrounded by hipsters? You’re welcome.

Ready to call the U.S. capital home? Find the best DC neighborhood for you (there’s even a quiz), and start packing your bags. You’ll pay around $1,686 in rent for a studio, but you can probably afford it — the average income here is $85,203.

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5. Berkeley, CA

berkeley ca

We know what you’re thinking: Is a hippie the same as a hipster? Not exactly, though admittedly there is some overlap. While you’ll still find plenty of tie-dyes, nature marts and protesters in Berkeley, you’ll also find a growing number of handlebar mustaches, cuffed pants and V-necks. Immerse yourself in all of the above here in the home of UC Berkeley — and beyond.

Hipsters flock to Berkeley to soak up all that eclectic culture and proximity to San Francisco Bay.

Remember those “cost-prohibitive” Western cities we referenced in the Portland section? Yeah, this is one of them. While paying $2,250 every month for a studio apartment may sting — it’s not quite as bad as San Francisco, which is around $400 more per month. Silver lining?

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4. Fort Collins, CO

Fort Collins, CO.

How do you feel about quaint houses from the 1800s? Vintage trolleys? Craft beer? Pretty great, right? Well, Fort Collins’ Old Town historic district has it all — so hipsters have taken notice.

From grungy rock clubs to more than 20 craft breweries, it should come as no surprise that witty banter and counter-culture vibes are taking over this northern Colorado city.

Let me guess, you’re stuck on the 20-plus craft breweries … we don’t blame you. This is, after all, the home of Fat Tire brewer New Belgian Brewing Co.

If you’re ready to set up shop in this cool corner of Colorado, we’ve got some good news: Rent prices are the second-lowest among our top 10. You’ll pay just $1,150 a month for a studio here.

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3. Tempe, AZ

tempe az

Isn’t the desert a little too hot for hipsters? Nope, not according to our data.

Located just east of Phoenix, Tempe attracts a ton of millennials for its unique neighborhoods, eclectic eats, plentiful dive bars and low cost of living. There’s also a strong indie music scene, plus Tempe Town Lake, an ideal place to cool off on a paddleboat or kayak.

If you’re not afraid of the brutal summer sun, this hidden gem has a lot to offer beyond tattoo shops and vintage stores. The low cost of living in Tempe is no joke. At under $1,000 ($993), monthly rent prices for a studio apartment are the lowest on our top 10 list.

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2. Minneapolis, MN

minneapolis

Surprised to see the better half of the Twin Cities in the number two spot? Clearly, you didn’t know that Minneapolis is the unofficial hipster capital of the Midwest. Consider yourself schooled.

The City of Lakes is known for its proximity to parks, lakes (duh) and the Mississippi River, but it’s also home to a thriving contemporary art scene. And there are record stores. A LOT of record stores. Not to mention coffee shops, vintage stores and horn-rimmed glasses. Okay, we made that last one up. Plus, Minneapolis was recently named one of the best cities for millennials to live in.

So yes, it gets cold here. Really cold. But now you have a good reason to wear that vintage scarf and wool fedora that’s been collecting dust in the back of your closet. If you don’t mind the occasional May snowfall, budget around $1,236 every month to rent a studio apartment.

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1. Seattle, WA

seattle wa

Sorry Portland, Seattle is the country’s best city for hipsters. If you smoke a pipe, rock vintage specs and frequent indie-rock house parties — you’ll feel right at home here. While Portland may have a few more coffee shops and Madison may beat out Seattle on breweries, it simply doesn’t get any more hipster than the Emerald City.

Need more convincing? How about an impressive bike score and a healthy annual salary that puts you just shy of six figures? For a city of this size — and cool factor — rent prices are a relatively reasonable $1,481 per month.

Oh, and when you’re scoping out the best neighborhoods in Seattle, don’t miss the hipster havens in uber-cool Capitol Hill.

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The 50 best cities for hipsters

Looking to cast a wider net? Or perhaps you’re plotting a year of #VanLife so you can soak up the hipster vibe from coast to coast. Here are the 50 best cities for hipsters across the country.

The 10 worst cities for hipsters

What, you don’t drink PBR or ferment your own kombucha? OK, fine.

If the counter-culture makes you cringe, set your sights on the 10 worst cities for hipsters. We can almost guarantee you can go an entire week without spotting a newsboy cap or lumberjack beard in these ten hipster-free cities.

Methodology

To find the best cities for hipsters, we looked at cities with at least 50,000 people according to 2019 U.S. Census population estimates and ranked them on the following factors:

  • Earnings Potential: Median household income numbers according to the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Housing Affordability: The average cost of a studio apartment based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
  • Prevalence of Local Businesses: The total number of local businesses per square mile. Businesses include coffee shops, breweries, music stores, vintage clothing and thrift shops, tattoo parlors, barbershops, organic food markets and farmers’ markets.
  • Percentage of Population Between 20 and 34 Years Old: Population breakdown from the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Bikeability: Bike Score for each city

We ranked each city according to these five categories and assigned a score for each one. We then added the scores for each city to come up with a final ranking. Our methodology allows for ties.

We excluded cities with insufficient data or rental property inventory.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.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.
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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

Navigating Eviction During the Pandemic

Emergency rental assistance, legal protections and the CDC moratorium can keep renters in their homes — but they have to act fast.

More than 10 million U.S. renters owe back rent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. This fact puts millions at risk of evictions during the pandemic.

But there’s still time to stop pandemic evictions. The Centers for Disease Control implemented the CDC eviction moratorium to delay evictions during COVID and stop the spread of disease. It prevents evictions for non-payment of rent through June 30, 2021. Several states created additional eviction moratoria to keep renters in their homes.

In addition, the U.S. government allocated $52 billion dollars in emergency rental assistance for COVID-specific programs. Combining this funding with other assistance programs can help renters repay back rent before the CDC moratorium expires and emergency rental assistance budgets dwindle.

Hope for CDC eviction moratorium extension

Housing experts warn that lifting state and CDC eviction moratoria without providing adequate financial assistance for renters in need could create an evictions cliff, where delinquent renters go into homelessness. This will have devastating financial, emotional and health consequences for individuals. States that lifted their eviction moratoria discovered that evictions influence the health of a community as well.

Two recent studies confirm what medical professionals suspected; when evictions increase, the rates of COVID-19 and COVID-related deaths also rise.

Across the county, lifting eviction moratoriums led to an additional 433,700 COVID-19 cases and 10,700 deaths. However, it’s unknown if the CDC eviction moratorium will get an extension. It was originally scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020, but it has had an extension once by the legislature and twice by the CDC. The last CDC extension came on March 29, 2021 — just two days before its expiration date.

If the CDC moratorium gets extended, renters probably won’t know until just before the expiration date. It’s risky to depend on a variable that renters can’t control or predict. Instead, renters should use the tools that are currently available to pay as much back rent as possible — doing this can delay or even prevent evictions.

What to do when you get an eviction notice during the pandemic

When a renter receives an eviction notice, it’s important to determine the reason and to act fast. Once the eviction process begins, it moves very quickly, even during a pandemic. There are sometimes just a few days between steps.

Landlords must have a legal reason to evict a renter. The eviction process is specific, although the length varies by state. Landlords must document every step in writing.

The process begins with an eviction notice. This document details the steps renters must take so they comply with their lease. If those steps haven’t been completed (and documented for the landlord) by the date provided on the eviction notice, an eviction summons and complaint are issued.

Next is a hearing date. At the hearing, a judge will issue a judgment. They may side with the landlord and remove the renter and their property from their home. Or they may find in favor of the tenant and allow them to stay.

Legal reasons for evictions during COVID:

  • Criminal activity
  • Violating community health and safety standards
  • Not vacating the home when the lease is up
  • Violating the term of the lease by subletting
  • Housing an unauthorized tenant or pet
  • Damaging property

Eviction notice.

Illegal reasons for evictions at any time

Tenant’s rights vary by state. But broadly speaking, landlords must provide safe, secure, habitable homes. They cannot change the locks, block entry to a home or throw renters out without warning or without following the eviction process.

Landlords can’t discriminate against or harass renters for any of the following reasons:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Physical or mental disability.
  • Marital or family status
  • English language proficiency

If a landlord uses any one of the reasons above, tenants can report it to the National Fair Housing Alliance. They can also contact a fair housing organization in their region to begin the process. Local staff can also help renters access rental assistance programs and other benefits. Some offices also retain lawyers to represent clients in court.

Renters at risk for eviction for non-financial reasons listed above should review what to do when they receive an eviction notice and take appropriate action. The remainder of this article will discuss evictions during COVID for financial reasons, including non-payment and partial payment of rent.

Evictions during COVID for non-payment of rent aren’t legal

Normally, it’s legal to evict a tenant for non-payment or partial payment of rent. But all that changed during the pandemic. The CDC moratorium temporarily stops evictions for financial reasons and keeps people in their homes through June 30, 2021.

Yet renters are still being evicted for not paying rent during the pandemic. In April 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim file rule that holds landlords accountable for illegal evictions during COVID.

It states that debt collectors can’t evict tenants covered by the CDC moratorium without providing written notice of the renter’s rights under the eviction moratorium. Anyone who misrepresents a renter’s rights can be prosecuted by federal agencies and state attorneys general for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Tenants may also bring private lawsuits against landlords.

“With COVID-19 killing hundreds of Americans every day, kicking families out into the street during this pandemic may literally be a death sentence,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio, “No one should be evicted from their home without understanding their rights, and we will hold accountable those debt collectors who move forward with illegal evictions. We encourage debt collectors to work with tenants and landlords to find solutions that work for everyone.”

Fill out the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration Form

Renters who lost their job or suffered financial hardship during the pandemic should fill out the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration Form and give a copy to their landlord immediately.

Renters who expect to make no more than $99,000 (or $198,000 when filing jointly) during the 2020-2021 calendar year are eligible. Tenants who didn’t report IRS income in 2019 and renters who received a stimulus check are also eligible.

Rent will still be due after June 2021. But this gives renters extra time to secure the financial resources they need to stay in their homes.

Make a payment plan or request rent deferral in writing

Tenants should create a plan to pay off the remaining back rent and present the written payment plan to their landlord. If full repayment isn’t possible, a rent deferral plan is an option.

Both documents should explain the reasons for non-payment and list sources of alternate funding. They should also present a specific timeline for rent repayment, including payment dates and dollar amounts.

Property managers may not accept the terms of these agreements, but they may present a counteroffer.

Use state eviction moratoria for additional protection

Many states passed their own eviction moratoria to stop evictions during COVID.

Renters can search the interactive map maintained by the Regional Housing Legal Services for state eviction guidelines and program expiration dates. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Apartment Guide Eviction Resource Guide also list state by state guidelines.

Renters should file any paperwork required to qualify for state eviction moratoria as soon as possible and provide a copy for their landlord. The additional work is worth it.

The Eviction Lab at Princeton University tracks the eviction rates in five states and 27 major metropolitan areas, roughly one-fifth of the nation’s rental population. Renters in states that offered additional eviction moratoria enjoyed additional protections.

“We’re at almost at 300,000 evictions filed during the pandemic,” said Benfer, “And the CDC Moratorium did not suppress filing to the same extent that local and state moratoria did.”

The Private Equity Stakeholder Project report over 57,000 new eviction cases in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Florida, Tennessee and Texas alone since the CDC moratorium went into effect.

Across the country, “judges are adhering to the CDC moratorium at various rates” in some cases on a “county by county basis,” said Benfer.

Woman on the phone while reading a piece of paper.

Get a lawyer

Judges are enforcing the CDC moratorium unevenly. Landlords are still pursuing evictions. So renters may need to defend their rights in eviction court. That requires a lawyer.

Just 10 percent of tenants retain counsel in eviction cases, compared to 90 percent of landlords. That puts renters at a disadvantage.

The Kansas City Eviction Project showed that just 28 percent of tenants without a lawyer received won their eviction cases. The number jumped to 44 percent for renters who hired a lawyer. An article in The Appeal stated that 84 percent of New York City renters represented by an attorney won their eviction cases.

Free and discounted legal assistance if available to renters at risk of evictions during COVID. The American Bar Association lists federally-funded legal aid services and pro bono attorneys. LawHelp.org and JustShelter.org offer legal assistance resources and free legal aid programs across the country.

Use as much additional funding as possible

Renters should dedicate every possible dollar to paying rent and avoiding eviction. Supplemental funding is available from a variety of sources, including federal programs, tax credits and community-based nonprofit organizations. State, county and city programs also provide help.

Some community or country programs only offer renters rent assistance once a year. State and federal programs often have very long waiting lists. So it’s important to apply for as many forms of assistance as possible as soon as possible.

Access the Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Congress dedicated $52 billion in pandemic-related relief to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. It funds more than 200 programs in cities, counties and states across the country.

The number of programs operating changes constantly as the aid money goes into distribution and programs expires. Guidance and timelines for the last round of funding will come in May.

Use the child tax credit, if applicable

Rental households with children will get extra tax relief in 2021. The American Rescue Plan temporarily expands the child tax credit to $3,600 for children under the age of 6 and $3,000 for kids under age 17.

HUD

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers federal and state housing assistance, unemployment and nutrition assistance programs and non-legal advice for negotiating with landlords.

Renters can call 877-542-9723 for a HUD-approved counselor.

Renters that currently receive HUD assistance and have financial hardship due to the pandemic may qualify for lower rent for reduced rent through income recertification or hardship exemptions.

Tenants that meet these criteria should call 800-569-4287.

The NLIHC

The website maintained by the National Low Income Housing Association (NLIHC) tracks local and state rental assistance programs across the county, plus it’s updated frequently. Renters can search for programs by state or use the interactive map.

The CFPB

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides eviction resources in eight different languages. It features a list of city and county emergency relief programs across the country.

211

Calling 211 or searching 211.org connects renters with local health and human service agencies in their region. Common resources include food and clothing banks and utility assistance.

Grocery delivery.

Use nutrition assistance to offset housing expenses

Eviction risk and food insecurity go hand in hand. Nearly 18 million adults reported not having enough food. One in five children in rental housing didn’t have enough to eat.

“Housing expenses always come first. There are many food resources available such as food shelves and county assistance to help with food. It is much more difficult to find housing resources,” said Brittani Haas, an office technician who connects applicants with nutrition assistance through Wright County Health and Human Services in Buffalo, Minnesota. “An advantage of applying for food or cash assistance is it helps offset the cost of housing expenses. The money you ‘save’ by not having to purchase food from out of pocket, you can use those funds for rent or utilities.”

There are a variety of resources available at the federal, state and local levels.

  • SNAP: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides prepaid cards for use at grocery stores and farmer’s markets.
  • WIC: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) serve low-income pregnant women and mothers with children up to age five.
  • Benefits.gov: Find a state by state listing of available government food assistance programs.
  • Pandemic EDP Food Support: This program offers food to children who have lost access to free or reduced-price school lunches during the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Backpack Program: This nationwide USDA network distributes supplemental food for kids across the country when school is not in session.
  • Communal Meals: Faith communities and nonprofit organizations offer group meals and food-to-go for individuals in need.
  • Food pantries: Renters can stock up on staples at locations across the U.S.
  • Meal deliveries: Seniors, veterans and renters with disabilities may qualify for in-home meal delivery.
  • Community Gardens: Renters can reduce their food bills by growing their own produce at gardens across the country.

Take steps now

Renters have new tools to prevent or delay evictions during COVID. The CDC moratorium forbids eviction for non-payment of rent through June 30, 2021. State eviction moratoria and a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule offer additional protection.

Emergency rental assistance and other city, county, state and federal programs can help renters pay off back rent and stay in their homes.

But these tools are time-sensitive. And more than 10 million American renters are at risk of eviction during the pandemic. The moment to act is right now.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.

Source: rent.com