From Bitcoin to GameStop to SPACs: 8 Tips for Mania Investing

Market speculation is seemingly everywhere.  From new SPACs being issued, to the prevalence of Reddit stocks such as GameStop to the popularity of electric vehicle stocks and the rise of cryptocurrency – speculation is alive and well in the markets today. 

“Mania” is a good word to describe the energy surrounding these types of investments.  Dramatic daily swings are the new normal in these holdings.  Hollywood elites and business moguls are attaching their names to crypto and the latest SPAC investments. 

The top mania investment areas are electric vehicles, cryptocurrency, Reddit stocks, space, SPACs, precious metals and pot stocks.  The dictionary definition of mania describes “excessive or unreasonable enthusiasm.”  That seems about right.  The result has been a meteoric rise in value not tied to business fundamentals but tied to hype, expectations or projections. 

Investors looking to boost performance often wonder how much exposure to these types of investments should they have.  With strong appreciation in some of the holdings, it is tempting to get into the game.  Here are our top eight tips for mania investing. 

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1. Admit that it is a mania

A woman is swept away on waves of water.A woman is swept away on waves of water.

Have some honest reflection about the investment environment you are in.  Mania investing can be fun, it can be thrilling and, ultimately, it can be painful.  But mania investing is not your conventional long-term investing strategy.  Admit you are being swept up in a mania and acknowledge what that might mean regarding your tactics.  It’s impossible to explain to yourself or your friends the fundamentals of a company with no earnings, so stop trying to make sense of it.  It is a mania, not an investment based on fundamentals. 

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2. Have an exit strategy & set a price target

Price tags.Price tags.

How far are you willing to watch your investment drop before you pull out?  Set a price target and stick to it.  Some of the biggest mistakes happen with investors who fall in love with a company or a product and hold it while closing their eyes.  Mania investments are not typically long-term plays, and you must plan for how much risk you are willing to take.  Set a target to get out and limit your downside exposure.

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3. Limit your overall portfolio exposure

A colorful pie chart.A colorful pie chart.

If you are going to be a mania investor, maybe you limit your exposure to 3%, 5% or 10% of your total portfolio.  Understand it is the high-risk portion of your portfolio and do not allocate more than you are willing to lose.  The older you are and the closer to retirement, the less you can afford to lose.  The younger you are, the more you might be willing to allocate to more aggressive strategies. 

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4. Diversify your manias 

A woman balances a bitcoin on a red tightrope.A woman balances a bitcoin on a red tightrope.

Maybe you like cryptocurrency — go ahead and invest in it, but buy into three different types, instead of just one, to diversify.  Maybe you like electric vehicles. If so, consider adding some exposure to space or precious metals as well.  Even in your mania investing, you do not want to concentrate all that allocation to just one mania strategy.  Diversification can help reduce risk even in a risky space.  Although, be careful of too much diversification.  In a world like electric vehicles, there is a possibility of there being few winners and many losers. 

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5. Understand performance in context 

Woman standing under an orange umbrella in the rainWoman standing under an orange umbrella in the rain

The S&P 500 10-year average over the past 100 years is around a 10% return per year.  Warren Buffett has averaged about 15% per year.  If your mania investments have made 100% in a year, understand how rare that is and that the odds of duplicating that performance year after year are incredibly remote.  Part of good investment performance is not just making money in good times, but also weathering losses during challenging times. 

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5. Know the difference between investing and speculating

A stack of gambling chips tumbles over.A stack of gambling chips tumbles over.

Investing for the long term carries its own set of disciplines and rules and expectations.  Mania investing is more akin to speculating or even gambling.  It often has dramatic movements in price over a short period of time.  It might include hype in the media, memes on social networks and inexperienced people giving investment advice.  Be careful and realize speculating is a high-risk game — it is not the same as sound investment on fundamentals.   

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6. Take some winnings off the table

A man cashes in his gambling pot.A man cashes in his gambling pot.

Maybe you own one of the stock names that have doubled or tripled in value over the past year.  Consider selling some of the holdings and locking in your gains.  Maybe reduce your exposure by 50%.  Keep some of the holdings a bit longer, but diversify into something more stable or consistent.  Setting a price target on the upside can be just as important as setting one on the downside. 

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7. Do not gamble the farm

The sun sets over the red barn of a farm.The sun sets over the red barn of a farm.

A smart gambler, if they go to Vegas, will set their own personal limit on what they are willing to lose.  Whether that is $100, or $10,000 — set a limit when it comes to mania investing.  Also, do not raid all your retirement money on a whim to chase manias.  While a portion could make sense, the lion’s share of your retirement should be focused on fundamental investment strategies that are consistent.  Pulling all your retirement money to buy into different manias would likely be a crazy idea, just like putting your house keys in the pot of a poker table would be ill advised. 

Investing in some of these sexy stocks and industries has appeal, and there is money to be made.  But there is also money to be lost, and it is important to have a rule set for investing even if you are investing in mania stocks.  Finally, know how risk taking can fit in your overall financial plan and realize that the risk you are willing to tolerate is likely to be different from someone else. 

Investing carries an inherent element of risk, and it is possible to lose principal and interest when investing in securities. Strategies are used to assist in the management of your account. Even with these strategies applied to the account, it is possible to lose money. No strategy can guarantee a profit or prevent against a loss. There may be times when the strategy switches between equities or fixed income at an inopportune time, causing the account to forfeit potential gains.

CEO – Senior Wealth Adviser, Sterling Wealth Partners

Scot Landborg has over 17 years of experience advising clients on retirement planning strategies. Scot is CEO and Senior Wealth Adviser for Sterling Wealth Partners. He is host of the retirement planning podcast Retire Eyes Wide Open. Scot is a regular contributor to Kiplinger.com and has been quoted in “U.S. News & World Report,” Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq and Investopedia. He also formally hosted the nationally syndicated radio show “Smart Money Talk Radio.”

Investment Adviser Representative of USA Financial Securities. Member FINRA/SIPC A Registered Investment Advisor. CA license # 0G89727 https://brokercheck.finra.org/

Source: kiplinger.com

Bitcoin Gold (BTG): Creation, Controversy, and How it Stacks up to BCH

Any conversation about cryptocurrency has to start with Bitcoin. It was the first crypto (it’s been around since 2009), it is the most valuable (worth over $1 trillion), and it’s the most traded (over $60 billion in daily volume). It also has the most spinoffs, or “forks,” that have become widely-used cryptos in their own right.

Perhaps the most well-known forks are Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which came out in 2017, and Bitcoin Gold(BCG), which was the product of a fork from Bitcoin a few months later.

What is Bitcoin Gold?

Bitcoin Gold was a hard fork from Bitcoin with the intent of further decentralizing Bitcoin. The idea was to use a new algorithm for the mining process that would not prioritize major mining operations, as some believed Bitcoin did.

Bitcoin Gold was an implicit criticism of Bitcoin, essentially arguing that it had betrayed or at least strayed from its initial roots as a decentralized currency with its increasingly centralized mining operations. Even if anyone can buy Bitcoin, it’s much harder (or at least not profitable) for anyone to create it.

Developers wanted to make it easier for normal computer users to mine on their own machines, a contrast to the massive Bitcoin mining industry, which is mostly done on specialized computer equipment purchased and operated by big-time operators in places like Iceland, where electricity is cheap. With Bitcoin Gold, however, the humble graphics card could carry the load.

Bitcoin Gold Controversy

Bitcoin Gold has been controversial almost since its inception. Typically with hard forks, owners of the initial cryptocurrency also receive units of the new one. For example, when Bitcoin Cash forked from Bitcoin, all Bitcoin owners got Bitcoin Cash.

When the Bitcoin Gold fork occurred, on the other hand, Bitcoin owners did not immediately get their new cryptocurrency. Instead, developers kept the Bitcoin Gold blockchain private for a few weeks so that they could mine BTG without competition—which they described as a “premine”. Critics opposed this practice, as it left fewer coins available for others to mine and also amounted to “free money” for the BTG developers.

As a result, cryptocurrency exchange and service provider Coinbase said it would not support BitcoinGold, explaining that because developers hadn’t made the code available for review by the public, it posed a security risk.

BTG Security Issues

Bitcoin Gold was worth over $8 billion when it launched, but fell dramatically in value as security issues emerged.

BTG has experienced multiple “51% attacks,” where an entity or individual or hacker is able to do the one thing that cryptocurrency is supposed to prevent: take control of transactions and “double spend” them, essentially stealing money. After one of the attacks, Bitcoin Gold was delisted from some exchanges.

In 2020, the developers behind Bitcoin Gold were able to fend off another attempt on the cryptocurrency’s network.
In early March 2021, the Bitcoin Gold team posted on its blog that its “hibernation has come to an end”—the 51% attacks that plagued the coin last year were ultimately defeated by the BTG miners and community.

What is Bitcoin Gold Worth Now?

Bitcoin Gold is ranked 73rd among cryptos according to CoinMarketCap (as of late April 2021) and has a total value of around $1.6 billion and a value per coin of around $90. Bitcoin Gold’s value was over $470 per coin at least twice in 2017, but has been under $100 since early 2018.

Bitcoin Gold vs. Bitcoin Cash Value

When comparing Bitcoin Gold vs Bitcoin Cash, the numbers speak for themselves: the original fork has a total value of almost $11 trillion, volume of almost $3 billion, and a value per coin of over $500. Bitcoin Cash is about 87 percent from its absolute peak value but is still substantially more valuable than its forked cousin on a “per coin” basis, at least so far, when it comes to Bitcoin Cash vs Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Cash is winning.

How to Invest in Bitcoin Gold

Bitcoin Gold is not available to buy and sell on mainstream exchanges like Coinbase, but, according to its organizers, it is available to trade on exchanges like Binance and Bitfinex.

The Takeaway

Bitcoin Gold is yet another hard fork of Bitcoin, like Bitcoin Cash. What distinguishes Bitcoin Gold is its intent: To further decentralize and democrative mining, making it more accessible to individual miners, rather than large groups with massive computing power.

For investors interested in building a crypto portfolio, buying crypto on SoFi Invest® can be a great way to start trading crypto. You can get started with just $10, we keep your crypto secure and protected from fraud, and you can manage your account in the SoFi app.

Find out how to invest in crypto with SoFi Invest.


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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . 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.
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Source: sofi.com

Pairs Trading, Explained

Pairs trading is a market-neutral trading tactic that allows investors to use the historical performance of stocks to place long and short bets to make big profits.

Pairs trading was first used in the mid-1980s as a way of using technical and statistical analysis as a way to find potential profits. It remained the province of Wall Street professionals until the internet opened online trading and real-time financial information to the public. Before long, there were seasoned amateur investors using pairs trades to make money, while managing their risk exposure.

What Is Pairs Trading?

Pairs trading is a day trading strategy in which an investor takes a long position and a short position in two securities that have shown a high historical correlation, but which have fallen momentarily out of sync.

The correlation between the two securities refers to the degree that two securities move in relation to one other. More specifically, correlation is a statistical measurement that measures the relationship between the historical performance of two securities. It’s usually expressed as something called a correlation coefficient. This measure falls between -1.0 and +1.0, with negative 1 indicating that two securities move in exactly opposite ways. A correlation coefficient of positive one indicates that the two securities move up and down at exactly the same times under the same conditions.

Pairs Trading Example

In a pairs trade, an investor will look for two securities that have a historically high correlation, but have fallen out of sync. If “stock Alpha” and “stock Beta” have historically risen and fallen in step, they’d have a very high correlation, maybe as high as positive of 0.95. But, for whatever reason, the two stocks have diverged, with Alpha racking up big gains, while Beta languished. That has knocked the short-term correlation coefficient between the two down to paltry 0.50.

This is the most common scenario for a pairs trade. In it, an investor will take a long position on stock Alpha, which has underperformed. At the same time, they’ll short stock Beta, which has outperformed. What they’re doing in a pairs trade is betting that the relationship between the two stocks will return to their historical norm, either by one security falling, the other one rising, or some combination of the two.

Pairs Trading Strategy: Market Neutral

The pairs trade is considered a “market-neutral” strategy. There are many of these strategies, which share a common aim to profit from both rising and falling security prices, while sidestepping the risks of the broader market.

Many hedge funds will employ market-neutral strategies, because they are paid based on their absolute returns. A common market-neutral trade may involve taking a 50% long and a 50% short position in one industry, sector or market. They usually do so to take advantage of pricing discrepancies within those areas. In addition to earning a return, their main goal is often to hedge out as much systematic risk as possible.

For less affluent investors, there are market-neutral mutual funds. Because there are so many market-neutral strategies, and ways to execute them, these funds can vary widely in their returns. Interested investors may want to learn the fund’s particular approach to the strategy before jumping in.

How to Successfully Execute a Pairs Trade

For investors who are ready to incorporate pairs trading into their investment strategy, there are several steps they need to take in order to be successful.

Step One: Decide on Trading Criteria

The first step is to decide what securities to consider for the trade, and can be the most time-consuming in the entire process. This involves researching a vast array of possible investment pairs to find ones that have a historically high correlation coefficient but have since drifted apart. Then investors will want to build and test a model for those securities, using those results to arrive at the best possible buy-and-sell guidelines, as well as how long they intend to stay in a trade.

Step Two: Select Specific Securities

After the investor has settled on a process to select candidates for a pairs trade, it’s time to put that process into action and find securities that currently meet that criteria. Some investors may use manual research, while others prefer mathematical models. Regardless, investors need to think of how they want to use a pairs trade. For investors who want to get in and out of a trade in a matter of hours or days, they’ll need to run their process to find possible trades on a regular basis. But investors whose trades will last for months won’t need to run their research as often.

Step Three: Execute the Trade

Once an investor has confirmed that a trade fits all their criteria, it’s time to execute the trade. With a pairs trade, there are small but important details to consider. For instance, most experienced pairs traders will execute the short side of the trade before making the long side.

Step Four: Manage the Trade

With the trade in place, the investor now has to wait and watch. This means sizing up the activity of the two securities in the trade to see if they’re approaching the criteria that would trigger one of the predetermined buy-and-sell rules. It also means watching the broader market, as well as any news that might have an impact on either security in the trade. Experienced traders will also constantly adjust the trade’s risk/return profile as markets shift and other news emerges.

Managing the trade is as important as setting it up. If a trader has a pairs trade they expect to last a month, but it reaches 50% of its profit objective in the first day after execution, what should they do? They may choose to close out of the trade that day, because the additional return isn’t worth the risk or the opportunity cost. But they also have other options. They might initiate a trailing stop loss level in the two positions as a way of locking in a portion of the profit. The decision isn’t easy, and may involve a host of other considerations.

Step Five: Close the Trade

The final step is to close the trade. But even this can come with questions and challenges, especially with trades that haven’t worked out, and whose predetermined durations are coming to an end. But it can also be the case with trades that have succeeded and are nearing their time limit. The urge to give a trade more time to turn around—or to do just a little better—has the potential to be the undoing of an otherwise successful trader.

That’s why experienced pairs traders often stress discipline as being as important as research, close monitoring and clear rules when it comes to earning consistent profits with the strategy.

The Takeaway

Pairs trading is a trading strategy that involves the simultaneous purchase and sale of securities in anticipation of a price trend. The idea is that the two securities typically have shown a high historical correlation, but have fallen momentarily out of sync. The investor making the pairs trade is betting that the two stocks will return to their historical norm.

Investors looking for a hands-on trading experience might consider opening an opening an online brokerage account. SoFi Invest® offers an active investing solution that allows you to choose stocks, ETFs, crypto, and more, and manage your account from the convenient mobile app.

Find out how to get started 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.
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.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
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Source: sofi.com

How Are Employee Stock Options and RSUs Different?

Two of the most common employee stock plans, employee stock options (ESOs) and restricted stock units (RSUs), both give you the chance to eventually become a shareholder in your company.

While these benefits may sound very similar, there are significant differences between them. An employee stock option is the promise that at a future date, an employee has the option to buy company stocks at a certain price. A restricted stock option is the promise that at a future date (or upon the accomplishment of another milestone or benchmark), an employee will receive company stocks.

An employee stock plan may be offered to everyone as a companywide benefit. Other times, it’s a custom plan that’s baked into an executive job offer as either a recruitment and retention incentive, a way to cover the lack of cash flow in a startup, or both.

Sometimes, employees get a choice between ESOs and RSUs. Understanding how each stock plan works, how they differ, and exactly what the risks are with each can help you make a decision that best aligns with your financial goals.

This guide outlines the key features of ESOs and RSUs, and breaks down the differences between them, so you can better decide what’s right for you.

Employee Stock Plans: Key Terms and Phrases

Having a grasp of stock market vocabulary can help you decipher quickly what your employer is offering, the terms and restrictions, and whether it’s a good deal for you.

The Grant/Strike/Exercise Price

These are three different words with the same meaning: grant, strike, and exercise price all refer to the price at which your plan says you can purchase company stock. It’s most often based on the stock’s current market value.

If your strike price is 1,000 shares at $1 per share, for example, that’s what you’ll pay for those shares if you decide to exercise your stock options, regardless of their current market price.

Being ”In the Money” and “Out of the Money”

When the stock is currently trading above the strike price, it’s called being “in the money” and may mean big profits.

Conversely, if the stock’s market price falls below the strike price, your options are considered “underwater” or “out of the money” and don’t hold any value. In that situation, it may be cheaper to buy your company’s stock on the open market.

What Are Employee Stock Options (ESOs)?

An ESO is an option to buy shares in your employer company in the future for a price set today. The “option” part means you can buy the stock later if it suits you, but you aren’t obligated.

Unlike an outright stock purchase, an option doesn’t give you actual shares until you decide to buy them, which is called exercising. Another difference from a traditional stock purchase is that options become null and void if you don’t exercise your stock options before the expiration date.

How do ESOs Work?

Generally, ESOs operate in four stages—starting with the grant date (aka strike date or exercise date) and ending with the exercise, or actually buying the stock.

1. The grant date. This is the official start date of an ESO contract. You receive official information on how many shares you’ll be issued, the strike price (aka grant price or exercise price) for those shares, the vesting schedule, and any requirements that must be met along the way.

2. The cliff. If a compensation package includes ESOs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re available on day one.

Contracts often contain a number of requirements that must be met first, such as working full time for at least a year. Those 12 months when you are not yet eligible for employee stock options is called the cliff. If you remain an employee past the cliff date, you get to level up to the vest.

3. The vest. When you pass your cliff date, your vesting period begins, which means you start to take ownership of your options and the right to exercise them. Vesting can either happen all at once or take place gradually over several years, depending on your company’s plan.

One common vesting schedule is a one-year cliff followed by a four-year vest. On this timeline, you’re 0% vested the first year (meaning you aren’t eligible for any options), 25% vested at the two-year mark (you can exercise up to 25% of the total options granted), and so on until you own 100% of your options. At that point, you’re considered fully vested.

4.The exercise. This is when you pull the financial trigger and actually purchase some or all of your vested shares.

One common timeline is 10 years from grant date to expiration date, but specific terms will be in a contract.

Pros and Cons of Employee Stock Options (ESOs)

If you land a job with the right company and stay until you’re fully vested, exercising your employee stock options could lead to instant, huge gains.

For example, if your strike price is $30 per share, and at the time of vesting the stock is trading at $100 or more per share, you’re getting a great deal on shares.

On the other hand, if your strike price is $30 per share and the company is trading at $10 per share, you might be better off not exercising your employee stock options.

Tax Implications of Employee Stock Options

Generally speaking, employers offer two types of stock options: nonqualified stock options (NSOs) and incentive stock options (ISOs). NSOs are the most common and often the type offered to the general workforce.

NSOs are subject to income tax on the difference between the exercise price and the market price at the time you purchase the stock. (ISOs are “qualified”, meaning you don’t pay any taxes when you exercise the options—only when and if you sell them at a profit later on.)

Any money you make above and beyond that if you sell your shares later can also be subject to the capital gains tax. If you hold your shares less than a year, the short-term capital gains tax rate equals your ordinary income tax rate, which could be up to 37% for the highest tax bracket.

For assets held longer than a year, the long-term rate can be 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your taxable income and filing status.

What Are Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)?

Restricted stock units, or RSUs, fall somewhere in between stocks and options—they are a promise of stock at a later date. When employees are granted RSUs, the company holds onto them until they’re fully vested.

The company determines the vesting criteria—it can be a time period of several years, a key revenue milestone, or even personal performance goals. Like ESOs, RSUs can vest gradually or all at once.

How Do Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) Work?

RSUs are priced based on the fair market value of the stock on the day they vest, or the settlement date. This means that you don’t have to worry about falling out of the money—the company stocks you receive from your company will be worth just as much as they would be if you purchased them on your own that same day.

As long as the company’s common stock holds value, so do your RSUs. Upon vesting, you can either keep your RSUs in the form of actual shares, or sell them immediately to take the cash equivalent. Either way, they will be taxed as income.

Pros and Cons of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)

One good thing about RSUs is the incentive they can provide to stay with the company for a longer period of time. If your company grows during your vesting period, you could be very far in the money when your settlement date rolls around.

But even if the stock falls to a penny per share, they’re still awarded to you on your settlement date, and they’re still worth more than the $0 you paid for them.

In fact, you may only lose out on money with RSUs if you leave the company and have to forfeit any units that aren’t already vested, or if the company goes out of business.

Tax Implications of RSUs

When your RSU shares or cash equivalent are automatically delivered to you on your settlement date(s), they’re considered ordinary income and are taxed accordingly. In fact, your RSU distributions are actually added to your W2.

For some people, the additional RSU income may bump them up a tax bracket (or two.) In those cases, if you’ve been withholding at a lower tax bracket before your vesting period, you could owe the IRS even more.

As with ESOs, if you sell your shares at a later date and make a profit, you’ll be subject to capital gains taxes.

Feature ESOs RSUs
The benefit An employee can buy company stock at a set price at a later date. An employee receives stock at a later date.
The stock price The “strike price” is determined when ESOs are offered to an employee—even if they can’t purchase shares for a year or more (until they’re vested). The share price is based on the fair market value of the stock on the day they vest.
Tax implications The difference between the strike price and the stock’s value when you exercise your options is considered earned income and added to your W-2, where it’s taxed just like your salary. If you sell your shares later at a profit, you may also be subject to the capital gains tax. RSU shares (or cash equivalent) are considered ordinary income as soon as they are vested, and are taxed accordingly.

The Takeaway

Knowing how ESOs and RSUs work—and understanding the differences between them in terms of terms, pricing, and tax implications—can help you make an informed decision if and when you are offered one or both of these workplace perks.

Having the option to own stock in your employer company has the potential to provide attractive financial benefits, especially if you believe in the company and its future. However, one key investing strategy that many investors follow is portfolio diversification—making sure your investments are spread out across companies, industries, and assets.

Here’s why: Because if all your investments are in company stock and the business folds or takes a downturn, you risk losing both your salary and your stock.

With SoFi Invest®, members can Trade stocks, ETFs, crypto, and may be able to participate in upcoming IPOs—diversifying in a way that best suits individual risk tolerance, preferences, goals, and more.

Find out how to get started 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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
IPOs: Investing early in IPO stock involves substantial risk of loss. The decision to invest should always be made as part of a comprehensive financial plan taking individual circumstances and risk appetites into account.
SOIN19122

Source: sofi.com

Why Is the Housing Market So Hot?

Real estate Q&A: “Why Is the Housing Market So Expensive Right Now?”

If you asked me this same question a few years ago, I would have had the same basic answer I’m about to explain.

And since that time, home prices have surged much, much higher, which basically tells me the same fundamentals have been at play for quite a while now.

Additionally, they may continue to more years to come.

Similar to a market downturn, when things are hot, they remain hot for years, which is why it can pay to hold on, just like those who didn’t sell their bitcoin at first-profit.

Reason #1: There Is Very Limited Inventory and Lots of Buyers

The top reason why the housing market is so high right now has to do with limited inventory, or supply.

It’s one of those fundamental concepts even a child can comprehend. When you have a small or finite amount of something, and people want it, its value goes up.

This is basically what’s been going on with real estate since the market bottomed in 2012.

In reality, supply has been tight ever since the market peaked and the foreclosure crisis took hold because banks were careful to flood the market.

Even back then, it was difficult to scoop up a property because many of them were either foreclosure sales, which aren’t for novice home buyers, or short sales, which took bank approval and months and months to close.

I remember looking at homes in 2012 and it wasn’t much different than today. Sure, home prices were significantly lower, but inventory wasn’t all that great.

Much of what was listed either needed work or wasn’t in the most desirable area. For me, that hasn’t changed over the past decade.

Yes, a good property comes on the market here and there, but if and when it did/does, it becomes a “hot home” and a bidding war ensues.

It’s for this main reason that home prices are at all-time highs nationwide, with the median home valued at roughly $273,000, up from $215,000 in early 2007, per Zillow.

Reason #2: Record Low Mortgage Rates

  • Despite a recent uptick mortgage rates are lower than they were a year ago
  • This has allowed purchasing power to stay strong while home prices rise
  • The only increased burden is a higher down payment for prospective buyers
  • It may remove some buyers from the picture but not enough to lower prices

Now if reason number one weren’t reason enough for real estate to be booming, sprinkle in some record low mortgage rates.

To get this straight, there’s a short supply of something people want and it’s on sale from a financing point of view. No wonder everyone is going wild.

While the listing price might be quite a bit higher than it was five or 10 years ago, the fact that mortgage rates are roughly half the price they were then is huge.

This has kept home purchasing power intact despite a big run-up in home prices, basically only making the required down payment an issue for some prospective buyers.

And remember, because there’s a limited supply of homes available, it doesn’t really matter if some would-be buyers are shut out of the market due to affordability constraints.

There are still enough willing and able buyers to come in and pick up any slack, of which there isn’t much of to begin with.

So the bidding war might only have 20 participants instead of 30 – that’s not going to make any impact whatsoever on the final sales price.

Reason #3: Rising Incomes and Inflation

home price affordability

Lastly, we can’t simply look at unadjusted (nominal) home prices and say whoa, they’re even higher than they were back in 2006 when real estate was in a massive bubble. They must crash!

Yes, unadjusted home prices are about 22.2% above the peak seen in 2006 when the housing market last boomed, per First American (see the blue line above).

But that alone isn’t enough to determine whether the market is overvalued or not.

Ultimately, you have to factor in inflation, mortgage rates, and wages to get a complete picture.

Speaking of wages, median household income rose 6.2% year-over-year in January and is up 74.8% since January 2000.

Meanwhile, real house prices (those adjusted for inflation) were about 25.6% less expensive to begin the year than in January 2000.

And so-called “house-buying power-adjusted house prices” are still 47.8% below their 2006 housing boom peak, meaning rather incredibly, there’s still a lot of room to run.

Just check out the chart above – from October 1993 to December 1994, nominal home prices barely budged one percent, but the Real House Price Index (RHPI green line) increased over 20% because purchasing power decreased by 16% due to rising mortgage rates.

Then from January 2005 to March 2006, nominal house prices surged about 13% while mortgage rates remained mostly steady, pushing the RHPI up a big 15%.

At that time, affordability was eroded because nominal home price appreciation far outpaced purchasing power.

Finally, nominal home prices increased more than 13% year-over-year in January 2021, but house-buying power (yellow line) jumped 19% as the RHPI fell nearly five percent.

Why did housing affordability improve despite rising home prices? Because median household income increased and the 30-year fixed fell from 3.62% in January 2020 to 2.74% in January 2021, per Freddie Mac.

In other words, you can’t look at nominal home prices in a vacuum, aka firing up the Redfin app and saying OMG, that $500,000 home from last year is now selling for $600,000!

You need to consider the big picture and factor in wages and how cheap/expensive financing is.

If you look back at that chart, nominal home prices (blue line) have risen steadily since around 2012, and are now above the scary 2006 housing peak levels.

But the RHPI has reached its lowest point since the series got started in 1990, and at the same time the House-Buying Power Index has surged higher, especially recently.

All of this may explain why despite double-digit year-over-year gains and nominal home prices that might be up nearly 100% from 2006, the buyers are still coming. And they’re bidding over asking!

It also supports the idea that the next housing crash (or beginning of a decline) won’t happen for a while still, perhaps my longstanding prediction of 2024.

In other words, if you’re a prospective home buyer, don’t get your hopes up for a discount anytime soon, though if mortgage rates do rise, we might see a moderation in home price appreciation and perhaps less competition.

But the only real relief will come from increased home building, which is beginning to ramp up as housing starts and housing completions are both up significantly year-over-year.

As to how real estate could go from red hot to ice cold again, picture a scenario a few years out when home builders overshoot the mark and mortgage rates are back at 4-5% for a 30-year fixed.

Oh, and asking prices are up another 10-20% from today’s levels. That’s where you can start to imagine another major correction, especially if the wider economy hits another snag.

Read more: 2021 Home Buying Tips

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

How Do Employee Stock Options Work?

Perhaps you’ve been offered a job package with a combination of salary, benefits, and employee stock options. In order to make an informed decision, it helps to know how employee stock options (ESOs) work. Knowing the basics can be especially important if you’re considering taking a lower salary offer in exchange for ESOs.

Or maybe your current employer has already given you employee stock options, but you’re still not clear on how to exercise them. This is an incentive that could be valuable—so you probably don’t want to ignore it.

Employee stock options have the potential to make an employee some extra money, depending on the market, which may be a nice perk. Stock options can also give employees a sense of ownership (and, to a degree, actual ownership) in the company they work for.

Here is everything you need to know about ESOs—from how they work to the different types, and all the details in between.

What Are Employee Stock Options?

Employee stock options give an employee the chance to purchase a set number of shares in the company at a set price—often called the exercise price—over a set amount of time. Typically, the exercise price is a way to lock in a lower price for the stock.

This gives an employee the chance to exercise their ESOs at a point when the exercise price is lower than the market price—with the potential to make a profit on the shares.

Sometimes, an employer may offer both ESOs and restricted stock units (RSUs)—RSUs are different in that they are basically a promise of stock at a later date.

Employee Stock Option Basics

When talking about stock options, there are some essential terms to know in order to understand how options work. For investors who know their way around options trading, some of these terms may be familiar.

•  Exercise price/grant price/strike price: This is the given set price at which employees can purchase the stock options.
•  Market price: This is the current price of the stock on the market (which may be lower or higher than the exercise price). Typically an employee would only choose to exercise and purchase the options if the market price is higher than the grant price.
•  Issue date: This is the date on which you’re given the options.
•  Vesting date: This is the date after which you can exercise your options per the original terms
•  Exercise date: This is the date you actually choose to exercise your options.
•  Expiration date: This is the date on which your ability to exercise your options expires.

How Do Employee Stock Options Work?

When you’re given employee stock options, that means you have the option, or right, to buy stock in the company at the established grant price. You don’t have to exercise options, but you can if it makes sense to you.

Exercising your ESOs means choosing to actually purchase the stock at the given grant price, after a predetermined waiting period. If you don’t purchase the stock, then the option will eventually expire.

ESO Vesting Periods

Typically, employee stock options come with a vesting period, which is basically a waiting period after which you can exercise them. This means you must stay at the company a certain amount of time before you can cash out.

The stock options you’re offered may be fully vested on a certain date or just partially vested over multiple years, meaning some of the options can be exercised at one date and some more at a later date.

ESO Example

For example, imagine you were issued employee stock options on Jan. 1 of this year with the option of buying 100 shares of the company at $10/share. You can exercise this option starting on Jan. 1, 2021 (the vesting date) for 10 years, until Jan. 1, 2031 (the expiration date).

If you choose not to exercise these options by Jan. 1, 2031, they would expire and you would no longer have the option to buy stock at $10/share.

Now, let’s say the market price of shares in the company goes up to $20 at some point after they’ve vested on Jan. 1, 2021, and you decide to exercise your options.

This means you decide to buy 100 shares at $10/share for $1,000 total—while the market value of those shares is actually $2,000.

Exercising Employee Stock Options

You don’t have to exercise your options unless it makes sense for you. That may depend on your financial situation, the forecasted value of the company, and what you expect to do with the shares after you purchase them.

If you do plan to exercise your ESOs, there are a few different ways to do so. It’s worth noting that some companies have specifications about when the shares can be sold, because they don’t want you to just exercise your options and then sell off all your stock in the company immediately.

Buy and Hold

Once you own shares in the company, you can choose to hold onto them. To continue the example above, you could just buy the 100 shares with $1,000 cash and you would then own that amount of stock in the company—until you decide to sell your shares (if you do).

Cashless Exercise

Another way to exercise your ESOs is with a cashless exercise, which means you sell off enough of the shares at the market price to pay for the total purchase.

For example, you would sell off 50 of your purchased shares at $20/share to cover the $1,000 that exercising the options cost you. You would be left with 50 shares.) Most brokerages will do this buying and selling simultaneously.

Stock Swap

A third way to exercise options works if you already own shares. A stock swap allows you to swap in existing shares of the company at the market price of those shares and trade for shares at the exercise price.

For example, you might trade in 50 shares that you already own, worth $1,000 at the market price, and then purchase 100 shares at $10/share.

When the market price is higher than the exercise price—often referred to as options being “in the money”—you may be able to gain value for those shares because they’re worth more than you pay for them.

Why Do Companies Offer Stock Options?

The idea is simple: If employees are financially invested in the success of the company, then they’re more likely to be emotionally invested in its success as well and it can increase employee productivity.

From an employee’s point of view, stock options offer a way to share in the financial benefit of their own hard work. In theory, if the company is successful, then the market stock price will rise and your stock options will be worth more.

A stock is simply a fractional share of ownership in a company, which can be bought or sold or traded on a market.

The financial prospects of the company influence whether people want to buy or sell shares in that company, but there are a number of factors that can determine stock price, including investor behavior, company news, world events, and primary and secondary markets.

Tax Implications of Employee Stock Options

There are two main kinds of employee stock options: qualified and non-qualified, each of which has different tax implications. These are also known as incentive stock options (ISOs) and non-qualified stock options (NSOs or NQSOs).

Incentive Stock Options (ISO)

When you buy shares in a company below the market price, you could be taxed on the difference between what you pay and what the market price is. ISOs are “qualified” for preferential tax treatment, meaning no taxes are due at the time you exercise your options—unless you’re subject to an alternative minimum tax.

Instead, taxes are due at the time you sell the stock and make a profit. If you sell the stock more than one year after you exercise the option and two years after they were granted, then you will likely only be subject to capital gains tax.

If you sell the shares prior to meeting that holding period, you will likely pay additional taxes on the difference between the price you paid and the market price as if your company had just given you that amount outright. For this reason, it is often financially beneficial to hold onto ESO shares for at least one year after exercising and two years after your exercise date.

Non-qualified Stock Options (NSOs or NQSOs)

NSOs do not qualify for preferential tax treatment. That means that exercising stock options subjects them to ordinary income tax on the difference between the exercise price and the market price at the time you purchase the stock. Unlike ISOs, NSOs will always be taxed as ordinary income.

Taxes may be specific to your individual circumstances and vary based on how the company has set up its employee stock option program, so it’s always a good idea to consult a tax advisor for specifics.

Should You Exercise Employee Stock Options?

While it’s impossible to know if the market price of the shares will go up or down in the future, there are a number of things to consider when deciding if you should exercise options:

•  the type of option—ISO or NSO—and related tax implications
•  the financial prospects of the company
•  your own portfolio and how these company shares would fit into your goals

You also might want to consider how many shares are being made available, to whom, and on what timeline—especially when weighing what stock options are worth to you as part of a job offer. For example, if you’re offered shares worth 1% of the company, but then the next year more shares are made available, you could find your ownership diluted and the stock would then be worth less.

The Takeaway

Employee stock options may be an enticing incentive that companies can offer their employees: the chance to invest in the company directly, and possibly profit from doing so. There are certain rules around ESOs, including timing of exercising the options, as well as different tax implications depending on the type of ESO a company offers its employees.

For some investors, owning shares in their employer company may be just one aspect of a diversified portfolio. With SoFi Invest®, members can participate in upcoming IPOs, trade stocks, ETFs, and crypto—or start automated investing—as a way to diversify their portfolios based on their personal goals, risk tolerance, and other preferences.

Find out how to get started 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.
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.
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.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
SOIN19125

Source: sofi.com

What Is Dogecoin? Your Top 8 Questions Answered

If you’d invested just over $18,000 in Dogecoin at the beginning of 2021, you’d be a Dogecoin millionaire as of this writing on Monday, April 19. Woof.

The bark of the Dogecoin pack has been heard throughout the world. In fact, enthusiasts have declared April 20 as #DogeDay.

So what exactly is Dogecoin? How do you even pronounce it? Can you actually buy anything with it? If you and your dog aren’t sure what to make of this canine-themed cryptocurrency, read on.

How Does Dogecoin Work? 8 Questions Answered

1. What is Dogecoin?

Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency created by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer in 2013. A cryptocurrency is a virtual form of money that you can also buy and sell as an investment. Like other cryptocurrencies, it runs on blockchain technology, which is basically a giant public record of transactions.

Markus and Palmer created Dogecoin as a joke, combining the Bitcoin craze with the then-popular Doge meme featuring a Shiba Inu dog. Both ended their involvement with Dogecoin in 2015. In fact, Markus recently wrote on Reddit that he sold his coins for about enough to buy a used Honda Civic.

2. Why am I suddenly hearing about it?

Dogecoin’s prices have rallied in 2021 for several reasons, including Reddit user activity, surging cryptocurrency prices and tweets from celebrities, particularly Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In February, after Musk tweeted “Doge” and “Dogecoin is the people’s crypto,” the price surged by 50%. On April 1, Musk tweeted — in what many believe was an April Fools’ Day joke — that his SpaceX company “is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon.”

Brands like Slim Jim, Snickers and Milky Way have jumped on the bandwagon with Dogecoin-related tweets.

3. How do you pronounce it?

Dohj coin.

4. What’s the point of #DogeDay?

Dogecoin enthusiasts are hoping to push the price of coins over $1. For most of the cryptocurrency’s history, they’ve been worth about half a cent. As of April 20, Dogecoins were trading for about 37 cents, down from last week’s high of 41 cents. The 4/20 date is, of course, celebrated by marijuana lovers and is said to be Elon Musk’s favorite holiday.

5. Is there a limit on the supply of Dogecoins?

No. That’s an important distinction between Dogecoin and Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s creators capped the amount of coins that can be mined at 21 million. Proponents of Bitcoin argue that the limited supply makes the cryptocurrency an effective store of value.

But no such limit exists with Dogecoin. As with Bitcoin, new coins are unlocked through a process called mining by solving complex mathematical problems with computers. But Dogecoin is much easier to mine compared to Bitcoin. Millions of Dogecoins are mined every day. Currently, more than 129 billion Dogecoins are in circulation.

6. What can I buy with Dogecoin?

Not much. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced in March that the team would accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Reportedly, the Mavericks have generated $122,000 worth of merchandise revenue through Dogecoin sales. Latvian airline airBaltic, electronics retailer Newegg, and luxury resort group the Kessler Collection are among those that accept Dogecoin payments. But overall, usage is pretty limited.

7. What’s the total value of Dogecoins?

As of Tuesday, April 20, aka #DogeDay 2021, about $50 billion. That makes Dogecoin worth more than Walgreens, Ford or Roku, all of which have market capitalizations just shy of $50 billion.

8. Should I invest in Dogecoin?

If you want to put a few extra bucks into Dogecoin just for fun, that’s your call. But you should only do so if you don’t have high-interest debt, your emergency fund is healthy, and you regularly contribute to a retirement account, like a 401(k) or Roth IRA.

You could make some cash on Dogecoin, but you could just as easily see the bulk of your money disappear. If Dogecoin buys you entertainment, great. But only invest if you can afford to lose.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Jim Cramer Just Paid Off His Mortgage with Bitcoin Gains

Posted on April 15th, 2021

File this one under bizarre, for several different reasons.

Mad Money host Jim Cramer disclosed yesterday that “he recently paid off a mortgage using profits from his investment in bitcoin.”

He apparently purchased a significant amount of the cryptocurrency back when it was trading at around $12,000, which was actually as recently as last October.

The price of a single bitcoin has launched since then, hitting a record high of around $64,000 this week.

For Cramer, that’s an investment return of about 433%, something he then moved into his mortgage account, which was probably earning a return of say 2-4%, which is the mortgage rate.

He said it was “great to pay off a mortgage,” likening it to using “phony money” to pay for “real money.”

But why would he pay off a home loan that was priced at 2-4%, which is essentially its annual rate of return?

Surely a big-wig investment guru like Jim Cramer could do better than a measly 2-4% in this market, or any market for that matter.

What Is Cramer’s Rush to Be Free and Clear?

  • Mortgage debt is typically the cheapest debt you can own, especially today
  • Yet homeowners are often in a huge rush to pay off their home loans
  • While this could make sense from an emotional or psychological point of view
  • It’s a bit of a head-scratcher coming from an investment guru like Jim Cramer

Now I understand it’s a common goal for homeowners to pay off their home loan(s) in full, to become free and clear on the mortgage.

It’s certainly an achievement, and not something to be frowned upon. But it also is just that, a celebratory moment, not necessarily a financial win.

This is especially true when mortgage rates are near their all-time record lows, with the 30-year fixed priced around 3% today.

Perhaps this infatuation with paying off the mortgage early got started back in the 1970s and ‘80s when interest rates hovered between 10-18%.

That would make a lot more sense, as you’d essentially be carrying what equated to credit card-style debt, and a lot of it.

But why go crazy paying off a 3% mortgage way ahead of schedule? Does it make sense to do so financially, or is it just the emotional victory?

And why is Cramer boasting that he now owns a house “lock, stock and barrel.” What’s the good in that?

He’s proud to have a lot of money tied up in an illiquid asset?

Taking Profits Makes Sense, But Is Cramer Being Too Conservative?

  • He sold some of his bitcoin in order to take profits after a massive run
  • That sounds pretty smart because it’s not a gain until you actually sell it
  • But why did he turn around and settle for such a low rate of return (mortgage rate of 2-4%)
  • Could his profits be better served in an index fund where they might earn triple that conservatively?

Now I understand taking profits, reducing risk, and stashing gains in a safer place after such a historic and massive win.

But why the mortgage, which yields maybe 2-4% as noted, versus say anything else?!

For example, the S&P 500 Index has seen an average annual return of roughly 10%–11% since it got started back in 1926.

While there are certainly good years and bad years, those who hold long-term, which is the preferred method of investing, would see their money grow handsomely.

Cramer essentially settled for paying off a super-cheap mortgage instead of opting for relatively conservative double-digit annual gains, which is surprising.

To sum things up, paying off a mortgage in full can be a crowning achievement, assuming you do it on schedule over the course of several decades.

But rushing to prepay the mortgage might not make the best financial sense, especially with mortgage rates as low as they are now.

Simply put, there’s often a better place for your money. Now if rates go back to 10%, I might change my tune.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

What Are Altcoins? Guide to Bitcoin Alternatives

There are many alternative investments available for people who hope to grow their money—from age-old collectibles like baseball cards, to new and somewhat confusing assets, like NFTs. Another alternative investment is cryptocurrency—and within that category falls another “alt”: alt coins, better known as altcoins.

Altcoins are crypto coins that are an alternative to Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency and reigning crypto leader. There are many different altcoins—different types, and within those categories, different specific products.

This article covers everything you need to know about altcoins, including what they are, where to buy them, and examples of the more popular coins on the market. Familiarize yourself with altcoins here, then check out the top things you should know before investing in any cryptocurrency.

What Are Altcoins?

Bitcoin is just one of the myriad coins and tokens that comprise the cryptocurrency space. You’ve likely heard some of their names—such as Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin. These coins and cryptos are, in effect, alternatives to bitcoin.

“Altcoin” is a catch-all term for alternative cryptocurrencies to bitcoin. They’re altcoins. It’s that simple. Currently, there are more than 9,000 cryptocurrencies in existence. That’s a lot of altcoins.

How do Altcoins Work?

Like Bitcoin, altcoins rely on blockchain technology, which allows for secure, peer-to-peer transactions. But each altcoin operates independently from the rest, and each has its own sets of rules and uses. For example, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are mineable, whereas Ripple and Stellar are not.

That said, in general, most altcoins operate in much the same way: They’re traded among investors, with transactions recorded via blockchain in a distributed ledger.

Different Types of Altcoins

Most altcoins can be slotted into a few different categories, which can help potential crypto investors get a better grasp of the field. This is not an exhaustive list, as categories and subtypes are always changing. But here are some of the most prevalent types of altcoins:

Digital currencies

The digital currency category comprises most of the cryptocurrencies that investors are familiar with, including Bitcoin. They’re exactly what they sound like: currency in digital form. They can be acquired as a form of payment, through trading on an exchange, or through mining (when applicable), and are generally used to conduct transactions.

Tokens

Unlike crypto like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which can be used on any platform, tokens are tied to their parent platform. For example, Tether and Golem are tokens used only on the Ethereum platform.

A utility token provides holders with some sort of service. BAT (Basic Attention Token) is an example of a utility token, meant to be used specifically as a method of payment on the Brave open-source browser.

Stablecoins

Stablecoins are built to be stable—they are pegged to an existing asset like the Euro or the U.S. dollar. The logic is that by pegging the asset to an existing one, it should help stabilize value and reduce volatility.

In contrast, consider Bitcoin: while its value has risen substantially in recent years, its price is highly volatile. Values have dropped to less than $6,000 per coin to more than $60,000—all within a couple of years. Stablecoins are designed to reduce those wild fluctuations, and allow holders to sleep at night.

An example of a stablecoin is Libra (aka Diem), which is being developed by Facebook, and pegged to the dollar.

Common Altcoins

There are seemingly more and more altcoins hitting the market every day. Here are a few of the more common altcoins:

Ripple: Also known as “XRP,” this altcoin is used primarily on its namesake, the Ripple currency exchange system. It was designed for use by businesses and organizations, rather than individuals, as it’s most often used to move large amounts of money around the world.

Ethereum: Ethereum is a programmable internet platform used to build decentralized programs and applications, and its native currency, Ether (ETH), is the altcoin in question that can be traded by investors.

Litecoin: Litecoin is another popular altcoin, which is often referred to as “Bitcoin lite,” hence the moniker. It’s one of the largest and most popular cryptocurrencies on the market, and operates in a very similar way to Bitcoin.

Dogecoin: There are a bunch of “joke” altcoins that are on the market, and Dogecoin is perhaps the most recognizable right now. Dogecoin started as a joke (its genesis is actually an internet meme), although it has gained value in recent months.

Cardano: Cardano (ADA) allows developers to use the Cardano blockchain to write smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps). ADA crypto is required to run programs like dApps. Cardano is also used as a medium of exchange.

Where to Buy Altcoins?

Looking to buy altcoins? They’re available on most any cryptocurrency exchange, like Coinbase or Binance. You can even trade cryptocurrencies with SoFi Invest® (if you live in an eligible state). Not all altcoins may be available on every platform, so interested investors should do their research before choosing an exchange.

In terms of actually trading for coins, the process can be as simple as depositing money into an account on your preferred exchange, and then trading either dollars or crypto for a targeted altcoin.

The Takeaway

Altcoin is a catchall term for cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin, the original crypto. There are a variety of different altcoins—from tokens to stablecoins—but many are available for interested investors.

If you want to get your feet wet, you can get started trading certain cryptocurrencies and altcoins using SoFi Invest. You can get started with just $10, manage your transactions in the SoFi app, and rest assured that your holdings are securely protected against fraud and theft.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.


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