9 Best Books to Read Before Buying a Home

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For most people, buying a home is the biggest purchase decision of a lifetime. In fact, it’s one of the biggest decisions, period. 

Your mortgage is probably the largest debt you’ll ever take on, and taking care of a house is one of the largest responsibilities. Next to getting married or having children, it’s hard to think of anything that will have a greater impact on your life. 

With so much at stake, it makes sense to learn as much as possible about the process before you take the plunge. You can find lots of articles about home buying online, of course, just like any other subject. But for a really in-depth take on the topic, you can’t beat a good book.

Best Books to Read Before Buying a Home

There are literally hundreds of books on home buying, covering the subject from every possible angle. Some real estate books provide a walk-through of the whole process. Some focus on the legal details. And some are all about getting the best deal on a mortgage.

With so many books to choose from, how do you find one that’s useful for you? To get started, look at what books other people have found most helpful. The books on this list all get good reviews from finance professionals, as well as ordinary homeowners.


1. “Home Buying Kit for Dummies” by Eric Tyson & Ray Brown 

All the books in the “Dummies” series explain complex topics — from computer languages to sports — to people who know nothing about them. “Home Buying Kit for Dummies” takes the same approach. It covers all the basics of buying a home in an easy-to-digest form.

This comprehensive guide covers every step of the home-buying process, including:

The book is ideal for first-time home buyers because it assumes no prior knowledge. It’s all in plain English, with no fancy lingo. You can read it from cover to cover or dip into it as needed to learn about specific topics.

To aid reading, the pages are peppered with icons marking key points. These include a light bulb for tips, a warning sign for pitfalls to avoid, and a deerstalker cap for topics to research on your own. They make it easy to spot important info at a glance.


2. “Buying a Home: The Missing Manual” by Nancy Conner 

The “Missing Manuals” series deals mostly with computer software and hardware. But it’s branched out into finance, another subject that ought to come with instructions. In this volume, Conner, a real estate investor, walks you through the home-buying process from start to finish.

“Buying a Home: The Missing Manual” is a step-by step guide to all the ins and outs of home buying. Its includes chapters on:

  • Choosing a real estate agent, mortgage lender, and lawyer
  • Choosing the right neighborhood
  • Finding your dream home 
  • Figuring out how much to offer on a house 
  • Financing your down payment
  • Comparing mortgages
  • Inspections
  • Closing costs

And it does all this with simple language and handy, bite-size chunks of information. Fill-in forms throughout the book help you apply the author’s expert advice to your specific situation.


3. “NOLO’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home” by Ilona Bray J.D., Alayna Schroeder & Marcia Stewart 

The legal website NOLO is the top place to find legal advice online. Along with its free articles, the site offers an array of do-it-yourself forms, books, and software. This walk-through guide to homebuying is just one example.

“NOLO’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home” covers most of the same topics as the Dummies and Missing Manual books, but from a different angle. It focuses on all the legal ins and outs of the home-buying process.

Although three attorneys wrote this book, it doesn’t rely on their knowledge alone. It draws on the knowledge of 15 other real estate professionals, including Realtors, loan officers, investors, home inspectors, and landlords. It’s like having your own private team of experts. For example:

  • A real estate agent offers tips on how to dress for an open house. 
  • A mortgage broker explains the risks of oral loan preapprovals. 
  • A closing expert discusses the importance of title insurance. 

Along with the expert advice, the book provides real-world stories from over 20 first-time home-buyers. Their experiences let you preview the process before jumping in yourself.


4. “Home Buyer’s Checklist: Everything You Need to Know — But Forgot to Ask — Before You Buy a Home” by Robert Irwin 

Every home-buying guide talks about the need for a home inspection. However, there are many problems home inspectors don’t always look for. The only way to detect them is to ask the right questions. In “Home Buyer’s Checklist,” Robert Irwin tells you what those questions are.

Irwin is a real estate professional with over three decades of experience. He knows all about the hidden flaws in homes and how to track them down. Irwin walks you through a house room by room and points out possible problem areas, such as:

  • Doors and door frames
  • Windows and window screens
  • Fireplaces
  • Light fixtures
  • Floors
  • Woodwork
  • Attic insulation

For each area, he notes possible problems and how to spot them. He also explains what they cost to fix and what damage they can cause if you don’t fix them. And he helps you use that information to your advantage in negotiating the price of the house.

Armed with this information, you can avoid unpleasant surprises when you move into your new home. It won’t make your house’s problems go away, but it will prepare you to deal with them — and keep the money in your pocket to do it.


5. “The 106 Common Mistakes Home Buyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)” by Gary Eldred

To first-time homebuyers, the real estate market is a big, confusing place. In “The 106 Common Mistakes Home Buyers Make (and How to Avoid Them),” Gary Eldred offers you a map to help you find your way around.

Eldred’s guide draws on the real-world experiences of homebuyers, home builders, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders. They shed light on the mistakes homebuyers make most often, such as:

  • Believing everything a real estate agent says
  • Underestimating the cost of owning a home
  • Buying in an upscale neighborhood that’s on the decline
  • Paying too much for a house
  • Letting your agent handle the price negotiations
  • Staying out of the housing market due to fear

With the help of Eldred’s examples, you can avoid these pitfalls and find a house that’s both a comfortable home and a sound investment.


6. “No Nonsense Real Estate: What Everyone Should Know Before Buying or Selling a Home” by Alex Goldstein 

As both a Realtor and a real estate investor, Alex Goldstein has been on both sides of a real estate transaction. This gives him a unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t in the home buying process.

In “No Nonsense Real Estate,” Goldstein puts that experience to work for you. He offers a step-by-step guide to the home buying process in language a first time home buyer can easily understand. This comprehensive guide covers:

  • The economics of the housing market in simple terms
  • The pros and cons of working with a real estate agent
  • What to look for in a home
  • Assembling a real estate team
  • Types of homes, such as single-family homes, condos, and co-ops
  • Traditional home loans and non-bank financing
  • Tips for sellers to get the best price on a home
  • The five elements of a successful real estate negotiation
  • Real estate contracts and closing costs
  • The eight steps of a real estate closing
  • The basics of real estate investing
  • A real-world case study of a home purchase
  • A list of frequently asked questions
  • A glossary of real estate terms

As a bonus, all buyers of the book gain access to a library of training videos and materials. They can help you find a real estate agent in your area, evaluate investment properties, and more.


7. “The Mortgage Encyclopedia” by Jack Guttentag

One of the most intimidating parts of buying your first home is getting your first mortgage. Not only is it likely the biggest loan you’ve ever taken out, there are dozens of options to consider. And the jargon loan officers use, from “escrow” to “points,” doesn’t make it any easier.

Jack Guttentag’s “The Mortgage Encyclopedia” offers a solution. The author, a former professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, tells you everything you need to know about how mortgages work and what your options are. The book includes:

  • A glossary of mortgage terms, from “A-credit” to “Zillow mortgage”
  • Advice on nitty-gritty issues such as the risks of cosigning a loan and the pros and cons of paying points versus making a larger down payment 
  • The lowdown on common mortgage myths, traps, and hidden costs to avoid
  • At-a-glance tables on topics like affordability and interest costs for fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages

For first-time homebuyers grappling with the details of choosing and signing a mortgage, it’s a must-read.


8. “How to Get Approved for the Best Mortgage Without Sticking a Fork in Your Eye” by Elysia Stobbe 

Another book that focuses on mortgages is “How to Get Approved for the Best Mortgage Without Sticking a Fork in Your Eye.” As the whimsical title suggests, mortgage expert Elysia Stobbe understands how frustrating the mortgage approval process can be. 

To keep you sane, she helps break the process down into bite-sized chunks of info that are easy to manage. Her guide walks you through such details as types of mortgages, loan programs, interest rates, mortgage insurance, and fees. 

Stobbe explains how to find the right lender, choose the best real estate agent to handle negotiations, and find an appropriate type of loan. She also devotes a lot of space to mistakes you should avoid. And she supports it all with interviews with top real estate professionals.


Buying a home is such a huge, complicated process that it’s often hard to figure out where to start. In “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask,” Ilyce R. Glink addresses this problem by breaking the process down into a series of questions.

This approach makes it easy to find the information you want. Look through the table of contents to find the question that’s on your mind, then flip to the right page to see the answer. Glink tackles questions on all aspects of home buying, such as:

  • Should I buy a home or continue to rent?
  • How much can I afford to spend?
  • Is a new construction home better than an existing home?
  • What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a broker?
  • Where should I start looking for my dream home?
  • What should I look for at a house showing?
  • How does my credit score affect my chance of getting a mortgage?
  • How do I make an offer on a home?
  • Do I need a home inspection?
  • What happens at the closing?

Glink combines advice from top brokers, real-world stories, and her own experience to provide solid answers to all these questions. And she wraps it up with three appendices covering mistakes to avoid and simple steps to make the home-buying process easier.


Final Word

All the books on this list offer a good grounding in the basics of home buying. But if you’re looking for more details on any part of the process, there’s sure to be a book for that too.

You can find books on just about every aspect of home buying. There are books on every stage of the process, from raising cash for a down payment to preparing for your closing. There are books about home buying just for single people and books on buying a home as an investment.

And once you move into your new home, there are more books to help you organize it, decorate it, and keep it in repair. Just search for the topic that interests you at Amazon, a local bookstore, or your local public library.

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Stock Market Corrections – What Are They and How to Handle Them

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People look to the stock market as a way to build and protect wealth, but experienced investors know it doesn’t always work out that way. The market moves through a series of peaks and valleys, often leading to overvaluations or undervaluations. 

When a long-term bull market takes place, investors know that a dreaded downturn on Wall Street is likely ahead. 

These drawdowns, or market corrections, are periods when stock valuations fall. They tend to cause some investors to panic, but there’s no need to be alarmed. These occasional declines are perfectly normal, and most consider them necessary in a healthy U.S. stock market. 

Here’s everything you need to know about market corrections. 

What Is a Stock Market Correction?

A correction is a downward market trend characterized by the value of a financial asset falling at least 10% from its most recent peak. 

For example, imagine stock ABC was trading at a peak of $100 per share 45 days ago. Today, the stock is trading at $89 per share, down $11 or 11% from recent highs. Since the decline is greater than 10%, the move would be considered a correction. 

These market declines are often riddled with volatility as investors race to sell, hoping to protect themselves from further financial pain. 

However, as you’ll learn below, a sudden drop in stock prices from recent highs isn’t always a reason to sell. In fact, corrections are often the best time to buy more shares of your favorite stocks, practicing dollar-cost averaging and increasing your overall return potential. 

Here are a few important facts about corrections:

There Are Different Levels of Stock Market Corrections

First and foremost, market corrections take place on varying levels:

Individual Stocks

Like in the example above, corrections often happen on individual stocks. They can be spurred by bad news like missed earnings or revenue expectations, or they can come completely out of the blue as a group of investors decides it’s time to take a profit. These corrections only tend to affect a single stock. 

Sectors

Some corrections wreak havoc on entire sectors, sending nearly every stock in an industry down a slide. For example, sudden shocks to the price of oil might put the oil and gas sector into a correction, or new legislation targeting drug prices might send the pharmaceutical sector into a slump. 

Regional

Some events can lead entire financial markets in a specific region on a spiral downward. For example, when tariffs were placed on Chinese goods entering the United States, Chinese stocks took a dive, resulting in a regional correction.

Market

Finally, corrections can happen across the global market. During a stock market correction, the entire market drops. These events are characterized by simultaneous declines of 10% or more throughout major market indexes around the globe. 

Corrections Are Generally Short-Lived

While some market corrections lead to long-lasting bear markets, the vast majority of corrections are actually short-term sell-offs. In fact, only 10 out of the past 37 corrections from 1980 to 2018 resulted in bear markets, with the rest turning out to be short-term blips. 

In general, corrections last between three and four months. Once the event is over, the market generally rebounds quickly, resulting in tremendous earnings potential. So, it’s important not to panic when these events take place; keeping a level head and paying attention to market conditions will likely open the door to several profitable opportunities.  

A Correction Isn’t the Same as a Bear Market

Both corrections and bear markets are characterized by stock market crashes. However, there are a few important differences between the two:

  • Percentage Declines. Bear markets are generally characterized by declines of 20% or more from recent peak values rather than 10% declines. 
  • Term. When the bears take hold of a sector, region, or the whole market, they tend to maintain control for some time. According to Hartford Funds, the average bear market lasts 9.6 months, which is substantially longer than the three to four months the average correction takes to subside. 
  • Cause. Corrections can take place out of the blue when the investing masses decide it’s time to take profit. However, bear markets are generally more meaningful. These long-standing declines are usually signs of concerning economic conditions, geopolitical conditions, or a mix of the two. 

Corrections Happen Often

As mentioned above, 37 corrections took place from 1980 to 2018, working out to slightly less than one per year on average. That stands as evidence that you shouldn’t panic when it happens. 

While the talking heads on financial media will make a big deal out of any correction that takes place, level heads prevail in the stock market. 


Examples of Corrections

One of the best ways to get an understanding of the nature of stock market corrections is to look at a few examples from history. 

One of the most recent market-wide corrections was caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. As the virus spread, hair salons, movie theaters, amusement parks, and shopping malls were considered nonessential and forced to shut down for months. This led to widespread job loss, corporate bankruptcies, and reduced consumer spending. 

As a result, the market started to tank. 

Soon, the correction caused by the pandemic became an all-out bear market, leading the S&P 500 index, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq all down by more than 30%. It took 10 months for all three indexes to make a full recovery. 

Another example occurred in February 2018, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index fell by more than 10% each. While the correction was prompted by inflation-related concerns, the profit-taking proved to be overblown in the long run. By mid-March 2018, prices began to rise, eventually making a full recovery.


What Corrections Tell You

Market corrections aren’t always as informative as you might think. They can be a sign of healthy market and economic conditions as valuations balance themselves out, acting as a perfectly normal part of the financial system. 

For example, if a correction happens out of the blue at a time when economic growth is at its peak, corporations are experiencing growth in profitability, and geopolitical conditions are stable, the move is likely nothing more than investors taking profits, and it will soon be over.

On the other hand, when coupled with concerning fundamental data, corrections can be signs of tough times to come.

For example, if recent economic reports show slowing new home sales, increasing unemployment insurance claims, and declining consumer spending, and stocks slide by 10% or more, the move could be a sign that an economic recession and all-out bear market is on the horizon. 


What to Do if a Stock Market Correction Takes Place

Although it may come as a surprise, many long-term investors do nothing at all when market downturns set in. These investors know that the vast majority of corrections won’t last long, and they avoid knee-jerk reactions when it happens. Riding out corrections is the favored approach of buy-and-hold investors, especially those with a long-term outlook. 

On the other hand, some seasoned active investors take steps in order to make the declines work to their advantage. Here’s how:

1. Rebalance

If you’ve been following a solid investment strategy, your asset allocation was thoughtfully chosen to provide diversification. 

Unfortunately, over time, your allocation will fall out of balance as some assets move at faster rates and in different directions than others. When imbalance happens, it can leave you either overexposed to risk or underexposed to opportunity. 

With the market edging down, it’s crucial to make sure your allocation isn’t out of balance and the protections you’ve put in place are able to work to your advantage. Now is the time to rebalance your investment portfolio. 

2. Assess the Correction

Next, you’ll want to determine what type of correction you’re seeing and whether the move is likely to continue into a bear market. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How Widespread Is the Correction? Are you noticing the move on a single stock or single index? Take time to look around and see if it’s more widespread. Look into what the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq composite index, and S&P 500 index are doing. If they’re all falling at a similar rate, the correction is a widespread one. 
  • Is There a Clear Cause? Corrections can come out of nowhere with no rhyme or reason, or they may be the result of deep underlying issues. The only way to find out is to do a bit of research. 
  • How Deep Is the Cause? Did the U.S. Federal Reserve raise interest rates by a quarter of a percent? If so, although the move may slow lending slightly, it’s a sign that the U.S. economy is doing well, and the market will likely recover quickly. On the other hand, if war was just declared or jobs reports have shown months-long declines in hiring, there may be cause for long-term concern.

3. Act On What You’ve Learned

There are several different actions you could take based on your answers to the questions above, but they’ll all boil down to one of the following:

If it’s a Single Stock or Sector Correction With No Apparent Cause

If the move is in a single stock or sector, and there’s no clear rhyme or reason to it, you’re in luck — you’ve found a buying opportunity. 

Traders take profits all the time, and this profit-taking can lead to painful, short-term declines. Although there’s no telling where the bottom will be, now is the time to strategically buy more shares in a company you like. Here are a few tips for doing so:

  • Set the Floor. If the sell-off has no rhyme or reason, it’s likely a technical move in which traders are taking profits. This means that there will likely be a clear point of support. Use technical analysis to find the support level. 
  • Buy Even Blocks of Shares. As the stock continues to fall to support, make consistent, equal purchases of blocks of shares. This process of dollar-cost averaging ensures you don’t lose too much with a large purchase before further declines or miss out on opportunities when the rebound happens. As the stock falls, your average cost per share will fall as well. When the rebound happens, that reduced average cost means larger gains. 
  • Set Stop-Loss Orders. Set stop-loss or stop-limit orders just below the support level. If the stock falls below this point, there may be a significant underlying reason for the declines. It’s time to exit the position and reassess the situation. 

If it’s a Single Stock With a Short-Term Cause

In some cases, there will be good reasons for a single stock taking a dive, but those reasons will only lead to short-term movement. 

For example, a company may miss earnings or revenue expectations in a single quarter, leading to fear among investors. In this case, the company’s stock will likely fall, but if the company is solid, it will make up the losses and then some in the long run. 

If this is the case, consider using the dollar-cost averaging method described above to gain further exposure to the rebound. 

If it’s a Single Stock With a Serious Problem

If the correction takes place in a single stock and the reason is both clear and long term, it’s time to sell and accept your losses. 

For example, imagine a biotech company you’ve invested in has been working to find the cure for a devastating ailment. Things looked great. However, the FDA rejected the drug, and the company decided it’s going to cut its losses and go back to the drawing board. At this point, the stock’s losses are likely to continue for some time. 

In this case, it’s best to cut your losses and look for a more promising opportunity elsewhere. 

If the Entire Market Is Falling

If you’re looking at a market-wide correction, there are a few things to consider. In the majority of cases, if the entire market is falling, there’s a reason, regardless of how clear or unclear that reason may be. 

One of the most common reasons for market-wide corrections is high valuations. Movement in the market takes place through a series of ebbs and flows. However, when the market flows up too fast without enough ebbs in between, overvaluations happen, and investors begin to take profits. 

These are generally short-term moves and nothing to be concerned about. As a result, outside of buying in on undervalued opportunities as prices fall, there’s not much action that needs to be taken. 

On the other hand, corrections can be signs of deep economic or geopolitical concerns. For example, if job growth in the U.S. seems to be plateauing, home sales are slowing, and unemployment lines are growing during a market correction, all these signs together point to a potential economic recession, which could cause the correction to turn into a long-term bear market. 

Even in this case, it’s important not to panic. After all, panicking leads to poor decision making.

Instead, consider making adjustments to your asset allocation to reduce your overall risk. To do so, move a portion of your money out of stocks and into fixed-income securities and other safe-haven assets. 

After doing so, keep a close eye on economic data. When the economy begins to improve, it’s time to go shopping for discounts in the stock market. At this point, long-term declines will have led the valuations of many quality companies into the dumps, which is great news for buyers. Buying in at these lows will often lead to jaw-dropping profits.

4. Consider Speaking to a Financial Advisor

If the market’s experiencing declines, and you’re not sure what to do, one of the best courses of action is to speak to a professional. 

Sure, it may cost a few hundred dollars to get a financial advisor’s ear for an hour, but those few hundred dollars could save you thousands — or, even better, help you turn a profit in a down market. 

When you have a leak, you call a roofer, even though you know that will cost you more money than doing the research and fixing the roof yourself. There’s no reason to be ashamed to call a financial pro when you have questions about your money and activities in the market. 


Pros and Cons of Market Corrections

Although corrections may be concerning at first glance, they’re not all doom and gloom. In fact, there are several benefits to corrections happening as well. Here are the pros and cons of these moves:

Market Correction Pros

1. Discounted Buying Opportunities

The basic concept of making money in the stock market is the act of buying low and selling high. If you’re looking for a strong entry point, there are few better than in the midst of a correction. During these times, stocks are undervalued, offering discounted opportunities to get in on future gains. 

2. Market Health

Financial markets are complex systems with multiple moving parts, and for those systems to work properly, there have to be checks and balances. Corrections help to keep the market balanced, which is necessary for a healthy system overall. An occasional round of profit-taking helps to keep euphoria in check. 

3. Set the Stage for Bull Markets

A far smaller portion of corrections become bear markets than are followed by bull markets. Statistically, these moves are more often than not signs of a bull market on the horizon. 

Market Correction Cons

Unfortunately, market corrections come with some drawbacks, the most important being:

1. Retail Investor Panic

The biggest victims of corrections are often inexperienced retail investors who panic and sell when stocks fall. While the retail crowd sells for a loss, savvy investors — often institutional investors or experienced traders — are picking up their shares and enjoying the gains the average investor would have had if they’d simply kept a level head. 

2. Can Be Signs of Bear Markets

Although a market correction is more likely to be followed by a bull market than a bear market, there are times when bear markets do set in. If economic conditions are troubling, a correction can be a signal of something even worse ahead. It’s important to understand the reason for the correction and determine whether a long-term bear market is likely before deciding how to react. 

3. Short-Term Financial Pain

Finally, stock market corrections aren’t significant points of pain for everyone. Although nobody likes to see short-term losses, for some investors, the moves can come with significant financial concern. 

This is particularly the case for investors with a short time horizon, like retirees. Investors who are dependent on the income generated through their portfolios often have to withdraw money to survive during market corrections. Unfortunately, these investors don’t always have the option of waiting for the correction to end and may be forced to realize significant losses. 


Final Word

All told, corrections aren’t quite as scary as they’re cracked up to be. Sure, losses can and often do happen during these downward moves. However, they’re important cycles that help to keep the overall financial machine healthy. 

Not to mention, savvy investors can make corrections work to their advantage by strategically buying undervalued stocks for a discount to take advantage of the gains that are likely to follow. 

No matter what your plan is during a market correction, it’s important not to panic. Level heads make educated decisions, and educated decisions usually equate to profits in the stock market.

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Source: moneycrashers.com

Buying Options vs Stocks: Trading Differences to Know

Stocks and options are two of the popular investment types that investors might include in their portfolio. There are reasons to invest in each, and they both come with their own risks, timelines, pros, and cons.

When deciding whether to invest in stocks vs. stock options, or any type of security or asset, it’s important to consider your personal investing goals, experience, risk tolerance, and timeline.

What Are the Differences Between Options and Stocks?

Stocks Options
Type of Investor Beginners and long-term investors Experienced and active traders
Potential Downsides Risks, Taxes, Fees Risks, Costs, Effort
Type of Investment Equity Derivative

Options

Options, or stock options, are a type of derivative investment. Rather than buying shares of stock, options traders give investors the right to buy or sell shares at a specified price, (known as the strike price in options terminology,) on a particular date in the future.

With call options, traders typically are not obligated to buy, so they can make a decision based on how the market moves. The investor does not have any ownership in the company unless they choose to exercise the option and buy the shares.

Over the time period of the option, it gets exponentially less valuable. This is known as time decay. A purchase of an options contract is known as a call, and a sale is known as a put.

Recommended: Call vs Put Option: The Differences

Some investors exercise the right to buy or sell and use that option trading strategy to make a profit. Others never exercise the right to buy, instead focusing on trading the options contracts themselves for a profit. Options trading strategies can get complicated, involving buying and selling multiple options on the same underlying security.

Recommended: A Guide to Options Trading

Stocks

Stocks are portions of ownership in companies, also known as shares. Investors can buy shares in companies and become fractional owners of that company in proportion to the number of outstanding shares that company has. For instance, if a company has 100,000 shares and an investor buys 10,000, they own 10% of the company.

Investors who purchase stocks typically hope to buy them at a lower price then sell them later at a high price to make a profit. There are also other ways investors can earn profits on stocks. For instance, some stocks pay out dividends to owners. Every month, quarter, or year, an investor can earn money based on the number of shares they own.

Recommended: How to Start Investing in Stocks

5 Key Differences in Stocks vs Options

Both stocks and options are popular investments, and there can be a place for both of them in a diversified portfolio. Here’s a look at some of of the differences to keep in mind when it comes to trading options vs. stocks:

1. Risk

Both stocks and options come with risks. For stocks, the risk is that the value of the security will fall lower than the investor expected. For options, there are additional risks, including the risk that they will expire without being exercised.

2. Ownership

When an investor buys stock, they become partial owners of that company. When they buy options, they only have the right to buy or sell stock, but not actual ownership of shares.

3. Quantities

When buying stock, the number of shares an investor buys is the total number they have and control, and they can purchase any number of shares, including fractional shares. When buying options, each contract represents 100 shares of stock.

4. Timeline

Options are contracts that are only valid for a certain period of time until the expiration date. They lose value over time until they are worthless when the contract expires. When an investor buys stock, they can hold it as long as they want.

5. Time Commitment

Investors can buy stock and hold onto it without doing much work, whereas options traders are often hands-on and prefer an eye on the market for the duration of the contract.

When to Consider Trading Stocks

There are several reasons to consider trading stocks, depending on your goals, timeline, and risk tolerance. Like any asset, stocks come with their share of risks and downsides. Some of the pros and cons of stocks include:

Pros

It can be relatively easy to start investing in stocks. There are several other benefits as well:

•   Investors don’t have to sell their stocks on any particular date, so they can choose the best time to sell.

•   Some stocks pay out dividends to investors.

•   Stocks are easier to research than options since they have market history.

•   Being an owner of a company allows you to vote on certain corporate issues that can affect their investment.

•   Stocks typically have more liquidity than options, meaning it’s easier for traders to buy and sell them at any given time.

Cons

Like all securities, there are risks involved with investing in stocks. Those include:

•   Whether you buy and sell stocks quickly as a day trading strategy or hold onto them for years, you will need to pay short or long-term capital gains taxes if you sell for a profit.

•   While trading stocks can be very profitable, it’s generally best as a long-term strategy, which means it can take many months or years.

•   It can be emotionally challenging to watch the market, and one’s portfolio, go up and down in value over months or years.

•   Making a big profit on stocks can require a large upfront investment.

•   When investing in stocks, traders risk losing all the money they put in. With options, they only risk the upfront premium.

•   If investors short a stock, they can lose much more money than they even put into the investment.

•   Stocks in certain companies are very expensive, making it difficult for smaller traders to even buy one.

When to Consider Trading Options

There are several reasons investors choose options trading vs. stocks trading. But like stocks or any investment, options come with their share of risks and downsides. Some of the main pros and cons of trading options are:

Pros

Options trading can be complicated, but once you understand how it works, there’s significant upside potential. Other benefits include:

•   Options may be an inexpensive way to participate in the market without tying up as many funds as stock trading requires.

•   Options provide investors with leverage. Essentially the investor has some control and access to shares worth more than the money they put into the contract.

•   Options can provide an investor with a certain degree of predictability about their investment, since they know the strike price and expiration date of the contract. This makes the investor’s decision whether to exercise the option or sell it easier.

•   Some investors prefer a hands-on trading strategy, and options are a good choice for that type of investing.

•   Options can act as a hedge against market volatility

Cons

Since fewer traders buy and sell options than stocks, there can be lower liquidity making it difficult to get out of an options contract. Other drawbacks include:

•   If an investor buys a stock option, they must pay a premium to enter into the contract. If the stock doesn’t move the way they hope it will and they choose not to exercise the option, they lose that premium they had put in.

•   Trading options requires an understanding of the market and more in-depth research into the particular contract, the underlying asset’s fundamentals, and what the market looks like within the timeframe of the contract.

•   Options lose value over time.

•   Trading options may require a margin account with a certain amount of money in it at all times.

•   Trading options requires more ongoing management than stocks

•   Options are not as liquid as stocks, making them harder to buy and sell.

•   Not every brokerage offers options, so you’ll need to open an account at a broker that does.

The Takeaway

Stocks and options are two popular types of investments traders use to earn profits and build a diversified portfolio. Depending on your investment strategy, you might invest in just stocks, just options, or a combination of the two.

If you’re interested in starting to trade and build a portfolio with stocks, one great way is using the SoFi Invest® stock trading app. You can add your other investment accounts to easily see all your financial information in one simple dashboard.

Photo credit: iStock/fizkes


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.
Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
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Source: sofi.com

Glassdoor vs. Indeed: 2021 Comparison

There are so many job boards out there in the world — some being a better choice than others, depending on your needs. So let’s compare two of the top job search engines out there — Glassdoor vs. Indeed — to help you make a decision on which one you should be using, whether as a job seeker or an employer looking to post job listings.

Glassdoor and Indeed are owned by the same holding company, but they operate as separate entities. They both function as a way to improve recruiting and hiring, but they can serve different purposes. Many companies find success using both websites to complement their recruiting efforts.

Another website that addresses many of the options on both sides, in one location, is ZipRecruiter. If neither Indeed nor Glassdoor has everything job seekers or employers need, it may be a better choice to find qualified candidates or land your next role. Read on to understand which job board will help you achieve your professional goals.

What is Glassdoor?

Glassdoor goes beyond the typical job board and features employer branding solutions for companies in the hiring process and gives job seekers the ability to research companies before applying to the jobs posted. In addition to seeing job postings, job seekers can read more about potential companies, including their benefits and salary information. Employers can post photos of the office and from events, too, to give potential candidates a better understanding of what the company culture is like.

A particularly unique feature of Glassdoor is that current and former employees (as well as people who have only interviewed with them) can leave employee reviews for other candidates to see. Pros, cons, feedback on the interview process and what can be done to improve all help job seekers get a more in depth look into the company.

As for size, there are 50 million unique monthly users on Glassdoor, nearly 20 million less than Indeed.

What is Indeed?

Indeed is the largest job-searching website in the world — there are tens of millions of employers posting jobs and hundreds of millions of applicants hoping to find their next role. It’s main and only focus is as a job-search engine.

There are more than 70 million monthly users coming to Indeed to search for their next role, twice what Glassdoor has. With such a large audience, it’s a great option for employers to upload free job postings and for applicants to find plenty of job openings.

How Does Glassdoor Work for Employers?

When looking to hire for more niche roles, Glassdoor is a great solution for employers looking to showcase their business and company culture. The ability to create a brand that job seekers are interested in can be a huge advantage during the recruiting process.

Companies can create a brand page for free, as well as utilize the insights that Glassdoor provides to improve employee and interviewee experiences.

With a paid membership, hiring managers can use premium features on Glassdoor like competitor comparisons, branded advertising to get in front of more qualified candidates, and review analysis.

Because Glassdoor’s main focus isn’t the job search, but instead a branding site for companies, there aren’t as many features for recruiters to utilize as there are on a job site like Indeed or ZipRecruiter. There’s no applicant tracking system, nor can employers conduct a resume search.

How Does Indeed Work for Employers?

Employers can post a basic job opening for free on Indeed, making it an ideal platform for hiring managers working on a budget. But as great as the free option is, that also means the competition is stiff to get your job posting seen. How many other employers are competing for the eyes of qualified candidates?

Indeed’s solution to that problem is a paid job post. For as little as a few bucks a day, employers can post sponsored jobs and make sure the job postings get in front of the most applicants. When you pay for a post, you can invite people to apply for your job after finding resume matches.

Other free solutions for employers include adding screener questions and the ability to message and virtually interview candidates. It’s not possible to repost jobs from other websites onto Indeed.

Indeed also simplifies the screening process by grouping qualified applicants to the top of a dashboard, automatically declining applicants and helping to schedule interviews all within their website.

The Differences and Similarities for a Job Seeker: Glassdoor vs. Indeed

For job seekers, Glassdoor is a window into what it will be like to work for a company. When perusing the job board, they’ll be able to see not only the job postings, but an estimated salary range, company description and company reviews plus the benefits that are offered.

The uniquely detailed insight into an employer brand isn’t a feature that exists on Indeed, but if using both Glassdoor and Indeed together, candidates can pop back and forth between the two websites to get the information they need before applying on either website.

Another difference is the amount of available jobs and competition from other job seekers. Glassdoor jobs tend to be more niche, but there are  about 20 million less users searching for jobs on the site each month as there are on Indeed. On the flip side, Indeed can be overwhelming with the amount of available jobs to search through.

Glassdoor’s job board requires an account for all job seekers to be able to view jobs, salaries and reviews from previous and current employees — but it’s free to use.

Indeed is free for every job seeker and doesn’t necessarily require an account to search for job postings  and apply for jobs. Job seekers can create an account to post their resume and make it easier for recruiters to contact them, but it’s not necessary.

The job search engines on both sites let job seekers filter their search results by job title or keyword and location. Plus, they can get email job alerts when a job posting that matches their search is added to the website.

Can’t Decide Between Glassdoor vs. Indeed? Try ZipRecruiter

If you’re comparing Indeed vs. Glassdoor to decide which job board to use, a third option is ZipRecruiter. It’s a more streamlined way to post jobs and recruit top talent without being behind an account wall — or having to flip between two different sites — and it also happens to be the No. 1 job search engine online.

ZipRecruiter has a free trial for companies (it’s always free for people looking for new opportunities), then prices start as low as $16 per day for one reusable job post. The features that come with the cost make it worthwhile, if you’re serious about filling your positions quickly.

Each job posting can be syndicated to more than 100 other job boards, multiplying the number of qualified job seekers that will see your listing. Employers can also conduct a resume search and see potential candidates’ employment history before inviting them to apply to a specific position instead of waiting for future employees to find them.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Should I Use the Standard 10-Year Repayment Plan?

Whether you’re considering taking out a federal student loan to pay for school, you’re in college and in debt, or you’ve just graduated, you may go with the default repayment plan of 10 years.

That isn’t the only option, however.

By learning more about the Standard Repayment Plan, you can decide if it’s the right choice for you or you want to go a different route.

What Is the Standard Repayment Plan for Student Loans?

Upon graduation from college or dropping below half-time enrollment, you’ll have a six-month grace period for a Direct Loan program loan (nine months for a federal Perkins Loan) when you don’t have to make payments.

Once that ends, you’ll begin the Standard Repayment Plan, the default for all federal student loan borrowers once they have left school, unless you choose a different plan, perhaps one where you make lower monthly payments, extend your repayment period, or both.

The standard plan sets your monthly payments at a certain amount so that you will have your loans paid off within 10 years.

Standard Repayment Plan Eligibility

As you explore student loan repayment plans, you can make sure you are eligible for the standard plan if it sounds fine.

Loans That Are Eligible

Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans and Direct Loans qualify for the Standard Repayment Plan. They include:

•   Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

•   Direct PLUS Loans

•   Direct Consolidation Loans

•   FFEL consolidation loans

•   FFEL PLUS loans

Keep in mind that you will only be able to use the Standard Repayment Plan if you have federal student loans, not private student loans.

How Does the Standard Repayment Plan Work?

The Standard Repayment Plan features fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Because the plan offers a relatively short repayment period and monthly payments don’t change, it will save you more money in interest than longer repayment plans at the same rate.

If you just graduated with the average student loan debt of $39,400 at 5% interest, you’ll pay $10,748 in total interest. Expanding to 25 years at the same rate will lower your monthly payment, but you’ll end up paying nearly $29,700 in total interest.

There’s a variation on the 10-year theme: the graduated repayment plan, which keeps repayment costs low for recent graduates who may have lower starting salaries but who expect to see their pay increase substantially over 10 years.

Payments on the Standard Plan

What may make the Standard Repayment Plan less appealing to some borrowers is that payments will likely be higher than on any other federal repayment plan, thanks to the short term.

For people with a large amount of student debt or high interest rates, the monthly payments can be daunting or unmanageable. You might face sticker shock when you receive your first bill after your grace period, so don’t let it come as a surprise.

To determine if the Standard Repayment Plan is a good option for you, you could use the federal Loan Simulator to calculate student loan payments. Or contact your loan servicer before your first payment is due to see what you will owe each month.

Changing Your Repayment Schedule

If you want to change your repayment schedule or plan, call your loan servicer and see what they can do.

You’ll need to contact each loan servicer if you took out more than one loan and want to change repayment schedules.

What Are the Pros and Cons of the Standard Repayment Plan?

There are upsides and downsides to weigh when considering the Standard Repayment Plan.

Pros

You will pay off your loans in less time than you would with other types of federal repayment plans, which would allow you to set aside money for things like purchasing a home.

You’ll save money on interest, since you’re paying your loan back faster than you would on other federal plans.

The plan offers predictability. Payments are the same amount every month.

Cons

Your monthly payments will probably be higher than payments made under other student loan repayment plans with extended repayment periods.

And monthly payments are going to be based on the number of years you’ll take to repay the loan, not on how much you can afford, as with income-based repayment plans.

The Takeaway

The federal Standard Repayment Plan of 10 years could be right for you if you’re able to keep up with payments and you want to pay off your debt quickly.

An option is to refinance your student loans to improve your interest rate and possibly change your loan term. Just realize that refinancing federal student loans into a private student loan means giving up federal benefits like income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness.

SoFi offers enticing interest rates on refinancing and charges no application or origination fees. Look for special offers.

It’s easy to check your rate on a SoFi refi.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF JANUARY 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SLR18234

Source: sofi.com

What Is a Direct Consolidation Loan?

A Direct Consolidation Loan combines different federal student loans into a single loan, resulting in one monthly payment. If you have multiple federal student loans, this could be one way to simplify the repayment process and more easily stay on top of student loan payments. It will also set you up for eventual loan forgiveness, based on some requirements for different loan types and income-driven repayment plans.

While consolidation of student loans can lower your monthly payment by extending your repayment timeline, you typically end up paying more overall due to the additional interest you pay when lengthening your loan term. Before you commit, make sure to run the numbers and consider the pros and cons of a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Is a Direct Consolidation Loan a Good Idea?

Deciding if consolidation is right for you depends on whether your desire to simplify your payments outweighs the potential loss of some benefits.

Before you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, make sure you calculate how much you could end up owing over time, based on your new repayment schedule. And if there are Direct Loans you don’t wish to consolidate, perhaps because they are nearly paid off, you’ll still want to factor in those payments when calculating how much you can afford to pay each month on your consolidated loan.

Pros of Direct Consolidation Loans

Can simplify repayment: The first thing to consider is if you currently have multiple federal student loans with different servicers, meaning you have to log in to two or more separate accounts to pay your student loan bills each month. In this instance, consolidation can make life a little easier because the process will give you a single loan with a single bill each month.

Can lower your monthly payments: Consolidation can also lower your monthly payment amount, since a Direct Consolidation Loan has a repayment period of anywhere from the standard 10 years to 30 years . Direct Consolidation Loans are eligible for multiple repayment plans, but on a Standard or Graduated plan, you must have less than $7,500 in total debt to have the maximum repayment time set at 10 years. If your total debt is $60,000 or more, your Graduated or Standard repayment plan will be spread over 30 years. For all debt amounts in between, the term will be between 12 to 25 years for repayment.

Can allow you to switch from a variable to a fixed rate: If you have any variable-rate loans, consolidation will make it so you can switch to a fixed interest rate.

Can make loans eligible for forgiveness: If you consolidate loans other than Direct Loans, such as Perkins Loans (drawn before the program was discontinued), those loans may become eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) once consolidated, whereas they were not eligible before.

Cons of Direct Consolidation Loans

Can lead you to make more payments and pay more in interest: As we mentioned, unless you have less than $7,500 in total debt, your repayment period will be extended beyond the standard 10 years. This means you will make more payments and pay more in interest, unless you switch to a different student loan repayment plan.

Can make you lose some benefits: Consolidation can also cost you some benefits that only non-consolidated loans are eligible for, including access to some loan cancellation options. It’s a good idea to check in with your loan program before opting for a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Can cause you to lose credit for payments toward loan forgiveness: One of the most important things to consider before consolidation is that if you are currently paying your loans using an income-driven repayment plan, or have already made qualifying payments toward PSLF, consolidating your loans will result in the loss of credit for payments already made toward loan forgiveness.

How to Apply for a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan

The Direct Loan Consolidation application process is available through StudentLoans.gov and comes with no fees. You simply fill out the online application, or if needed, you can print out a paper version and mail it. To make things easier, it may help to gather all of your loan records, accounts and bills on hand as you work through the form. The process takes about 30 minutes total.

Almost all federal student loans are eligible for consolidation. If you have private education loans, you cannot consolidate them with your federal loans. Also note that you can’t consolidate your loans while in school and must graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment in order to pursue consolidation. Parent PLUS loans can’t be consolidated with loans in the student’s name.

You can also select which loans you do and do not want to consolidate on your loan application. For instance, if you have a loan that will be paid off in a short amount of time, you might consider leaving it out of the consolidation, or if you have already made qualifying payments toward forgiveness on certain loans.

There might be other reasons you don’t want to include a certain loan in your Direct Consolidation Loan — consider the features of each individual loan before deciding whether to consolidate. Of course, if you keep one or more loans out of the Direct Consolidation Loan, you’ll end up with at least two different payment plans and monthly student loan bills.

Remember to keep making payments on your loans during the application process, until you are notified that they have been paid off by your new Direct Consolidation Loan. Your first new payment will be due within two months of when your Direct Consolidation Loan is first paid out.

Repayment Plans for Consolidation Loans

A Direct Consolidation Loan will have a fixed interest rate. The fixed rate will be the weighted average of all of the interest rates for the loans you are consolidating, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percent. This means that the interest rate on your largest loan will have the most impact on your consolidation interest rate, whether that interest rate is high or low.

When you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, you must also be prepared to select a repayment plan. Many repayment plans are available for Direct Consolidation Loans, including:

•   Standard repayment plan

•   Graduated repayment plan

•   Extended repayment plan

•   Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)

•   Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)

•   Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)

•   Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)

Consolidation for Defaulted Student Loans

Consolidation can also help student loans that are currently in default. Student loans will go into default after 270 days without payment, which can result in consequences and loss of benefits, such as damaging your credit score or possible wage garnishment.

Since loans in default are accelerated, and the entire unpaid balance becomes due when you enter default, consolidation is worth considering since it allows you to pay off one or more federal student loans with the new Direct Consolidation Loan.

Once your consolidated loan is out of default, you can repay the Direct Consolidation Loan under an income-driven repayment plan or make three consecutive payments. Direct Consolidation Loans are eligible for benefits such as deferment, forbearance and loan forgiveness.

Refinancing vs Consolidation for Student Loans

For those interested in a better interest rate or more favorable loan terms you could consider refinancing your loans instead. The process works much in the same way, but unlike consolidation, refinancing can combine federal student loans and private loans, if you are still looking to make only one monthly payment.

Keep in mind that refinancing can result in the loss of some of the benefits for federal student loans under consolidation since you’re working with a private company and not the government. However, for someone looking for lower interest rates or lower monthly payments, refinancing is another option to consider.

The Takeaway

Considering the pros and cons of a Direct Consolidation Loan, such as lowering your monthly payments, can help you determine if it’s the right repayment strategy for you. But make sure to run the numbers and see if the lengthened payback period or new interest rate will result in paying more than you are comfortable with in the long run.

If the idea of consolidation appeals to you, but the weighted consolidation interest rate won’t save you much over the life of your loan, you could consider applying for student loan refinancing with companies like SoFi.

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SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF JANUARY 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs.
SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

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Source: sofi.com