Adopting A Rescue Pup? Here’s How 15 Dog Experts Recommend Introducing A New Dog To Your Home

Here’s how to help your rescue dog go from shelter life to the good life!

With approximately 3.1 million dogs ending up in U.S. animal shelters each year, it’s safe to say — there are rescue dogs aplenty anxiously awaiting to find their furrever homes. May is National Pet Month and while there’s no perfect time to adopt a rescue, there’s a lot to consider before introducing a new dog to your home. Here’s what 15 dog experts recommend you do when it’s time to welcome Fido into the fold.

1. Build trust little by little

Woman with a rescue dog on her couch.

Woman with a rescue dog on her couch.

“If your new dog is fearful or shy, help your dog by guiding the dog to different options than being afraid, without feeling sorry for the dog,” says Julie Hart of Rescue Dogs Responsibly. “Encouraging a dog to engage his nose will help him understand scary objects and new environments. Fearful dogs thrive with predictability and routine, so try to do approximately the same things with the dog every day until the dog gets more comfortable. Use a leash or a long line to move the dog around the house and yard to be in the same area as you, but not too close.”

“Building trust in small steps with fearful dogs and laying a good foundation will lead to greater progress in the long run,” says Hart.

2. When introducing a new dog to your home, let your pup explore at their own pace

“When introducing a new dog your home, keep the first week quiet and low-key,” says Debi McKee from Rescue Dogs 101. “Start by allowing your dog one room or area before overwhelming them with the entire house. Allow the dog to go at their own pace.”

3. Feed your new best friend the right dog food

Dog looking up from its food bowl.

Dog looking up from its food bowl.

“Bringing home a new rescue pup can be stressful for your pup,” says Danielle Marchessault, a pet wedding planner and coordinator and owner of For the Love of Paws. “There are so many changes happening, which can cause stress-related tummy issues. To help reduce any potential tummy upset, ask the shelter staff what your pup has been eating so that you can replicate it for the first few meals at home!”

4. Establish a routine that you and your pup can stick to

“One of our biggest tips for new dog owners is establishing a routine for your new dog right away! There’s so much stimulation and new things going on for your pup when it first arrives home that it can be super overwhelming.” says the OC Pom Rescue.

“For you new owners, decide when mealtime will be, when and where the pup will go potty, when you want to take the dog for a walk and when it’s time for bed. Getting into a routine promotes comfort and stability, which will make that transition into the home that much more comforting and seamless!”

5. Keep your rescue dog active and stimulated

Dog standing in the doorway next to a welcome mat.

Dog standing in the doorway next to a welcome mat.

“To help your new rescued family member feel comfortable in its new home and environment, stimulate your furry friend with activity. Just like with people, young and old, it’s important to keep your furry family member’s brain active,” says Healing4Heroes, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting military service members and veterans by connecting wounded service members, as well as those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries with A.D.A compliant service dogs.

“As a renter, you can drop pieces of kibble indiscriminately around your home. This will keep their brain active as they search for yummy treasures while getting them comfortable with the different rooms in their new environment. Congratulations on adopting a family member that will love you forever, no matter what you do!”

6. Practice patience

“Patience is the most important part of welcoming a rescue dog into your home,” says Molly Weinfurter and Mabel the rescue dog. “Most dogs have moved between shelters and foster homes their whole lives, so it will take some time for them to get comfortable and let their true personalities show. Watching a dog come out of their shell and thrive is the most rewarding experience, so give your new dog plenty of space in the beginning.”

7. Pick up some eco-friendly, doggy-approved products

Rescue dog with toys in his mouth at home.

Rescue dog with toys in his mouth at home.

“As a new pet parent, providing a comforting safe space for a new rescue pet is a must. Part of making a safe space for them is providing mental and physical stimulation through toys that help keep them entertained mentally and physically,” says the Gone to the Dogs team.

“Sustainably- and ethically-made toys are great for both pets and pet parents alike! You can find eco-friendly toys made out of materials like wool, hemp, cotton or wood. These are all-natural materials that won’t harm animals or the environment in the manufacturing process like some plastics do. If you’re just starting out as a fur mom or dad, then it might be worth considering the idea of buying eco-friendly cat and dog products!”

8. Keep safety and stability top of mind

“Take things slow and understand your new dog might be confused or frightened, so your No. 1 priority is keeping him feeling safe. You don’t want him to learn that you’re the person who scares him or will force him to do things he doesn’t feel safe doing. Now is the time for trust-building, never intimidation,” says Kate LaSala CTC, CBCC-KA, PCBC-A, CSAT from Rescued By Training.

9. Lean into crate training

Two rescue dogs in a crate.

Two rescue dogs in a crate.

Photo courtesy of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue

“When bringing a new dog to their home, we recommend getting settled into a reliable routine with plenty of exercise right off the bat!” says Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “Long walks and trips to the dog park are great ways to tire your pup out so they have less desire to get into things at home. Teaching your dog that the crate is a safe space for them to stay when you’re not home, taking them out on regular intervals and rewarding desirable behavior are all great ways to set a routine.”

10. Stock up on doggy necessities

“Homecoming day is an exciting time, both for you and your new rescue, but it’s important to keep it low-key when introducing a new dog to your home,” says Janice Jones from Small Dog Place. “Your new dog will be anxious so having everything prepared beforehand is a must. Stock up on a comfortable bed and blanket, dog bowls, leash, harness and, last but not least, assure you have a good supply of toys and treats.”

“This special day should be reserved for you, your family and your new rescue — a time to get acquainted in a peaceful environment. Your dog will not only want to explore his new home but also where to find his bed, the water bowl and where to eliminate. This is also a good time to show your neighbors just how responsible a pet parent you are during walks, by picking up immediately after him and keeping the grounds clean.”

11. Show affection through playtime and walks

A dog walking on a leash outside.

A dog walking on a leash outside.

“The most important thing you can do when introducing a new dog to your home is creating a space they can call their own to help comfort them as they adjust to their new surroundings,” says Jennifer Dew, the founder and owner of 9 to 5 Pets.

If you’re looking for an easy transition with your rescue pup, Dew recommends the following:

  • Take your rescue dog on regular walks and give them lots of playtimes to release their energy and help lower their stress as they’re wrapping their paws around the transition and change.
  • Shower your new pup with affection to help reassure them that everything’s OK and make plans to stay at home with them as much as possible that first week to help reinforce their sense of security (which is you) in their new home.

And lastly, Dew shared, “Dogs thrive on routine, so when they experience a lot of change (good or bad), it causes stress and anxiety which can lead to unwanted behavior like accidents in the house or excessive barking. So, stay patient with them and keep in mind that this behavior is relative to the stress and anxiety they’re feeling and that they are doing the best they can. With love, patience, routine and positive reinforcement, any negative behavior should subside in time as they settle into their new home with you.”

12. Repeat the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race”

“Forget Me Not Rescue highly encourages slow introductions to other pets in the home. We specialize in hard-to-place pets like seniors so it may take several visits to make the adoption successful. Patience, time and a loving touch are very important,” says Margarita Fazioli from the Forget Me Not Rescue.

13. Keep calm and carry on

A woman holding a dog.

A woman holding a dog.

“When preparing for your new rescue pup to arrive, make sure to have a sense of calmness be your focus,” says The Peaceful Pack. “This will help when you start introducing a new dog to your home and promote a greater feeling of peace, stability and trust for your pup. Control what you can in your environment by creating cues for calmness, such as playing classical music, giving your pup their own space & providing enrichment-filled playtime.”

14. Regularly remind yourself and your family that introducing a new dog to your home takes time

“Our No. 1 tip for welcoming a new rescue dog into your home is to provide the new dog with time to become accustomed to their surroundings,” says Amber L. Drake from the DogBehaviorBlog. “There will be new sights, smells and sounds, which can be overwhelming to a new dog. Waiting one or two days to begin introducing new guests or pets to your rescue dog is recommended. And, as with any new adventure, patience is key.”

15. See what your pup gravitates toward

A woman scratching a dog under its neck on the couch.

A woman scratching a dog under its neck on the couch.

“When you start introducing a new dog to your home, especially a rescue animal, you need to provide the most comfort possible,” says Lauren Farricker from WoofRepublic.com. “Patience is very key during this time of transition as you learn how to integrate with each other. So, for new rescue pup parents, I advise trying to obtain their existing bed, blanket or a toy that gives them a sense of comfort in the new space that provides a semblance of where they’ve been as they are learning their new safe spaces. Shelter dogs may not have any existing items, so observe what they gravitate towards in their first few days to see how they find comfort.”

No bones about it

Welcoming a new animal into the family is just as much of a transition for you, as it is for the dog. So, while you show patience in welcoming your new best friend into your apartment, make sure to show a little grace for yourself. After all, this is an adjustment period for everyone.

Source: rent.com

The 10 Best Stocks for a Bear Market

Bear markets are an inevitable if particularly unpleasant part of the market cycle. But investors who hold the best stocks to buy for bear markets can mitigate at least some of the damage.

No, the S&P 500 isn’t in a bear market – a 20% decline from its peak – just yet. It has, however, been flirting with one for some time. The Nasdaq Composite, for its part, fell into a bear market a while ago. 

Either way, 2022 has been a dismal year for equities with no clear end in sight. Bottoms are hard to call in real time anyway, and, besides, stocks can trade sideways for as long as they feel like it. 

And so if this is how things are going to continue, investors might want to arm themselves with the best stocks they can find. And right now, those stock picks should focus on resiliency during deep downturns.

The best bear market stocks tend to be found in defensive sectors, such as consumer staples, utilities, healthcare and even some real estate equities. Furthermore, companies with long histories of dividend growth can offer ballast when seemingly everything is selling off. And, of course, low-volatility stocks with relatively low correlations to the broader market often hold up better in down markets.

To find the best stocks to buy for bear markets, we screened the S&P 500 for stocks with the highest conviction consensus Buy recommendations from Wall Street industry analysts. We further limited ourselves to low-volatility stocks that reside in defensive sectors and offer reliable and rising dividends. Lastly, we eliminated any name that was underperforming the broader market during the current downturn.

That process left us the following 10 picks as our top candidates for the best stocks to buy for a bear market.

Share prices, price targets, analysts’ recommendations and other market data are as of May 17, courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence and YCharts, unless otherwise noted. Stocks are listed by conviction of analysts’ Buy calls, from weakest to strongest.

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10. Berkshire Hathaway

A Berkshire Hathaway (ticker: BRK.B) signA Berkshire Hathaway (ticker: BRK.B) sign
  • Market value: $694.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: N/A
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.25 (Buy) 

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B, $314.81) gets a consensus recommendation of Buy with only modest conviction, but then a mere four analysts cover the stock.

One pro rates it at Strong Buy, one says Buy and two have it at Hold, per S&P Global Market Intelligence, which means the latter two analysts believe Buffett’s conglomerate will only match the performance of the broader market over the next 12 months or so.

That’s a reasonable assumption if stocks do indeed avoid falling into bear-market territory. BRK.B, with its relatively low correlation to the S&P 500, tends to lag in up markets. 

By the same token, however, few names generate outperformance as reliably as Berkshire does when stocks are broadly struggling. That’s by design. And Buffett’s wisdom of forgoing some upside in bull markets to outperform in bears has proven to be an incomparably successful strategy when measured over decades. 

Indeed, Berkshire’s compound annual growth (CAGR) since 1965 stands at 20.1%, according to Argus Research. That’s more than twice the S&P 500’s CAGR of 10.5%.

As one would expect, BRK.B is beating the broader market by a wide margin in 2022, too. The stock gained 5.2% for the year-to-date through May 17, vs. a decline of 14.2% for the S&P 500. 

If we do find ourselves mired in a prolonged market slump, BRK.B will probably not go along for the ride. That makes it one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

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9. CVS Health

A standalone CVS Health (ticker: CVS) businessA standalone CVS Health (ticker: CVS) business
  • Market value: $130.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.92 (Buy) 

The healthcare sector is a traditional safe haven when markets turn south. Where CVS Health (CVS, $99.60) stands out is that few sector picks possess its unique defensive profile.

CVS is probably best known as a pharmacy chain, but it’s also a pharmacy benefits manager and health insurance company. Analysts praise the company’s multi-faceted business model for both its defensive characteristics and long-term growth prospects.

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“We are bullish on CVS tied to its unique set of assets, robust clinical capabilities and expanding presence in the attractive Medicare business,” writes Truist analyst David MacDonald, who rates the stock at Buy. “We view CVS’ integrated pharmacy/medical benefits as well positioned. Significant scale across its business lines, a strong balance sheet and robust cash flow generation provide dry powder for ongoing capital deployment activities over time.”

MacDonald has plenty of company in the bull camp. Nine analysts rate CVS at Strong Buy, nine call it a Buy and seven have it at Hold. Meanwhile, their average target price of $118.82 gives the stock implied upside of about 27% in the next 12 months or so.

Investors can also take comfort in the stock’s low volatility. Shares have a five-year beta of 0.77. Beta, a volatility metric that serves as a sort of proxy for risk, measures how a stock has traded relative to the S&P 500. Low-beta stocks tend to lag in up markets, but hold up better in down ones.

That’s certainly been the case with CVS stock this year. Shares were off 3.7% for the year-to-date through May 17, but that beat the S&P 500 by nearly 11 percentage points. Such resilience makes the case for CVS as a top bear market stock to buy.

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8. Coca-Cola

Cans of Coca-Cola (ticker: KO) in iceCans of Coca-Cola (ticker: KO) in ice
  • Market value: $285.2 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.6%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.88 (Buy) 

Few names in the defensive consumer staples sector can match Coca-Cola (KO, $65.79) when it comes to blue-chip pedigree, history of dividend growth and bullishness on the part of Wall Street analysts.

Coca-Cola’s blue-chip bona fides are confirmed by its membership in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But the company also happens to be an S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrat, boasting a dividend growth streak of 60 years and counting.

Oh, and Coca-Cola also enjoys the imprimatur of no less an investing luminary than Warren Buffett, who has been a shareholder since 1988. At 6.8% of the Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio, KO is Buffett’s fourth-largest holding. 

Coca-Cola’s more immediate prospects are bright too, analysts say. It’s an unusually low-beta stock, for one thing, and that has been very helpful during this dismal 2022. Shares in KO have gained more than 11% for the year-to-date through May 17, beating the broader market by more than 25 percentage points.

True, KO was hit hard by pandemic lockdowns, which shuttered restaurants, bars, cinemas and other live venues. But those sales are now bounding back. Analysts likewise praise Coca-Cola’s ability to offset input cost inflation with pricing power. 

“We think KO’s strong fourth-quarter results reflect its brand power and ability to thrive in an inflationary environment, as top line improvement was entirely driven by price and mix,” writes CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson (Buy). 

Most of the Street concurs with that assessment. Twelve analysts rate KO at Strong Buy, six say Buy, seven have it at Hold and one calls it a Sell. With a  consensus recommendation of Buy, KO looks to be one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

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7. AbbVie

A picture of an AbbVie (ticker: ABBV) buildingA picture of an AbbVie (ticker: ABBV) building
  • Market value: $273.5 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.5%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.88 (Buy) 

Pharmaceutical giant AbbVie’s (ABBV, $155.30) defensive characteristics stem from it being part of the healthcare sector, as well as a low-volatility Dividend Aristocrat. 

But the Street is outright bullish on the name for other reasons as well. 

High on analysts’ list are ABBV’s growth prospects and its pipeline. AbbVie is best known for blockbuster drugs such as Humira and Imbruvica, but the Street is also optimistic about the potential for its cancer-fighting and immunology drugs.

“After the recent weakness in ABBV, we revisited the model, and we came away even more confident regarding the growth prospects and pipeline,” writes Wells Fargo Securities analyst Mohit Bansal, who rates AbbVie as his Top Pick. “We think the consensus forecast significantly underestimates post-2023 growth. There are multiple pipeline catalysts in the 2022 to 2023 timeframe which are not in consensus models.”

At Truist Securities, analyst Robyn Karnauskas (Buy) largely agrees with that view. Although ABBV is suffering with the expected erosion of sales of Humira, newer drugs such as Rinvoq and Skyrizi are rapidly gaining momentum, the analyst says.

The bottom line is that bulls outweigh bears on this name by a comfortable margin. Twelve analysts rate ABBV at Strong Buy, four say Buy, seven call it a Hold and one says Sell.

AbbVie also stands out as a top bear market stock to buy because of a half-century of annual dividend increases. Same goes for ABBV’s low beta. The latter indicates relatively low correlation to the S&P 500, and is evidenced by ABBV stock gaining 14% for the year-to-date through May 17. That beat the broader market by 28 percentage points.

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6. Medtronic

A Medtronic (ticker: MDT) glucose monitorA Medtronic (ticker: MDT) glucose monitor
  • Market value: $142.6 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.4%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.85 (Buy) 

Medtronic (MDT, $106.39) is another low-volatility healthcare stock with a long history of dividend growth that analysts say remains poised for even more market-beating returns.

Shares in one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medical devices gained nearly 3% for the year-to-date through May 17, a period in which the S&P 500 shed more than 14%. Even better, with an average price target of $123.18, the Street gives MDT implied upside of 17% in the next 12 months or so.

That’s why analysts’ consensus recommendation stands at Buy, with fairly high conviction. Of the 26 analysts surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence covering MDT, 13 rate it at Strong Buy, four say Buy and nine call it a Hold.

Part of MDT’s appeal stems from its reasonable valuation. Shares change hands at 18.8 times analysts’ 2022 earnings per share (EPS) estimate. And yet MDT is forecast to generate average annual EPS growth of nearly 10% over the next three to five years.

“We see this as an attractive valuation,” notes Argus Research analyst David Toung (Buy), adding the company “has solid post-pandemic growth opportunities from both current and soon-to-be-launched products.”

Indeed, the Street singles out MDT’s strong portfolio of existing products, as well as promising new ones under development.

“We believe Medtronic’s deep product pipeline should drive improving revenue growth and enable margin improvement resulting in high single-digit EPS growth and multiple expansion,” writes Needham analyst Mike Matson (Buy).

The best stocks to buy for bear markets often return cash to shareholders, too. And MDT’s history in that regard is as solid as they come. This Dividend Aristocrat has increased its payout annually for 44 years and counting.

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5. General Dynamics

An F-16 Fighting Falcon, made by General Dynamics (ticker: GD)An F-16 Fighting Falcon, made by General Dynamics (ticker: GD)
  • Market value: $64.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.81 (Buy) 

Shares in defense contractor General Dynamics (GD, $232.02) benefit in down markets both from their relatively low volatility and dependable dividends. That alone makes GD worth considering as one of the better bear market stocks to buy.

What puts General Dynamics over the top, however, is its robust long-term growth forecast and potential for high share-price appreciation, analysts say.

GD’s defensive characteristics have certainly been well documented so far in 2022. Shares gained 11% for the year-to-date through May 17, a period in which the S&P 500 fell more than 14%. 

And the Street sees more outperformance ahead. Of the 16 analysts issuing opinions on the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine call it a Strong Buy, two say Buy, four have it at Hold and one calls it a Sell.

Analysts forecast General Dynamics to generate average annual EPS growth of 11.6% over the next three to five years. And, notably, their average target price of $266.07 gives GD implied upside of about 15% in the next 12 months or so.

“Over the long term, GD management is focused on driving growth through modest sales increases, margin improvement, and share buybacks,” writes Argus Research analyst John Eade (Buy). “The company also aggressively returns cash to shareholders through increased dividends (most recently with a hike of 6%).”

If we do find ourselves slogging through a bear market – or just a sideways market – 15% price upside would be outstanding. And as a Dividend Aristocrat with 31 consecutive years of payout increases to its name, shareholders can at the very least count on GD for equity income.

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4. Iron Mountain

An Iron Mountain (ticker: IRM) datacenter against a white backgroundAn Iron Mountain (ticker: IRM) datacenter against a white background
  • Market value: $15.6 billion
  • Dividend yield: 4.6%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.71 (Buy) 

Iron Mountain (IRM, $53.99) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) with a twist. While the company is growing out a more modern datacenter arm, its legacy business is to store, protect and manage documents. In some cases that means it merely shreds them. The good news is that when corporate customers do indeed store paper documents, they tend to do so for very long periods of time.

That sort of predictability not only helps Iron Mountain maintain a generous dividend, but it allows IRM stock to trade with relatively low volatility. No wonder analysts particularly like Iron Mountain as one of the best bear market stocks to buy. 

“We view IRM as a defensive stock in the current environment, with significant valuation discounts to more traditional REITs (storage and data centers), an improving organic revenue growth story, and the very strong likelihood that the dividend will start to be raised at a 5% to 7% annual pace starting in 2023,” writes Stifel analyst Shlomo Rosenbaum (Buy).

Only seven analysts cover the stock, per S&P Global Market Intelligence, but their consensus recommendation comes to Buy with fairly high conviction. Four pros rate IRM at Strong Buy, two say Buy and one has it at Sell. Meanwhile, their average target price of $61.67 gives IRM implied upside of nearly 20% in the next year or so. 

Such returns would be extraordinary in a bear market, but then, IRM has been holding up its end of the bargain on defense so far. Shares have improved by 2.3% for the year-to-date through May 17 to beat the S&P 500 by about 12 percentage points.

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3. Mondelez International

A stock of Oreo cookies made by Mondelez International (ticker: MDLZ)A stock of Oreo cookies made by Mondelez International (ticker: MDLZ)
  • Market value: $91.0 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.67 (Buy) 

Consumer staples giant Mondelez International (MDLZ, $65.45) is one of the best stocks for a bear market for many of the same reasons that it’s one of the best stocks to stave off sizzling inflation. 

The company’s vast portfolio of snacks and foods include Oreo cookies, Milka chocolates and Philadelphia cream cheese, to name a few. Sales of such consumer favorites tend to hold up well amid rising prices thanks to fickle palates and brand loyalty. 

Where MDLZ stands out among analysts, however, is in its ability to handle higher input costs thanks to a longstanding hedging program. The company also has been successful in passing higher costs on to consumers.

“We hold a strong growth outlook for Mondelez as its sales growth continues to outperform our expectations driven by strong market share performances and strong category growth rates,” writes Stifel analyst Christopher Growe (Buy). 

Nine consecutive years of dividend increases and a stock that trades with much lower volatility than the S&P 500 should also serve investors well in a tough market. Indeed, MDLZ was essentially flat for the year-to-date through May 17, vs. a decline of more than 14% for the broader market. 

Stifel is in the majority on the Street, which gives MDLZ a consensus recommendation of Buy, with high conviction. Twelve analysts rate it at Strong Buy, eight say Buy and four have it a Hold. 

Pricing power, market share gains and low volatility all help make the case for MDLZ as one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

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2. UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (ticker: UNH) signUnitedHealth Group (ticker: UNH) sign
  • Market value: $462.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 1.2%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.63 (Buy) 

Blue-chip stocks in defensive sectors such as healthcare tend to hold up better in bear markets, which is why it’s no surprise to see UnitedHealth Group (UNH, $492.93) make the cut.

This Dow Jones stock is the market’s largest health insurer by both market value and revenue – and by wide margins at that. But UNH’s sheer size alone is hardly a reason to hold it through a market downturn.

Shareholders can also take comfort in 13 consecutive years of dividend increases, a stock that’s historically been much less volatile than the broader market, and an outsized profit-growth forecast.

Analysts praise UNH on a number of fronts, with contributions from the Optum pharmacy benefits manager business being a regular highlight. A steep decline in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is also a welcome relief.

“We maintain our Strong Buy rating on UNH as we believe shares continue to offer an attractive risk-reward tradeoff, and expect management to execute on its mid-teens EPS growth target,” writes Raymond James analyst John Ransom. 

The Street, which gives the stock a consensus recommendation of Buy with high conviction, expects the company to generate annual EPS growth of nearly 14% over the next three to five years. 

Lastly, this low-vol stock is performing as expected in 2022. It is off less than 2% for the year-to-date through May 17. That’s better than the S&P 500 by 12 percentage points.

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1. T-Mobile US

T-Mobile (ticker: TMUS) storeT-Mobile (ticker: TMUS) store
  • Market value: $161.2 billion
  • Dividend yield: N/A
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.55 (Buy) 

Telecommunications stocks have always been favored for dividends and defense, and those are good attributes to have in a bear market. Where T-Mobile US (TMUS, $129.00) stands out is that shares in the wireless carrier have tremendous price upside too, analysts say.

You can chalk TMUS’s bright future up to the company’s $30 billion merger with Sprint. The deal closed two years ago, but the benefits have been escalating ever since. 

That’s because the “trove” of mid-band spectrum Sprint brought to TMUS allowed the telco to rapidly build out its next-generation 5G mobile wireless network, notes Argus Research analyst Joseph Bonner (Buy). The high-speed network, in turn, gave the company a competitive advantage over Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T).

“The success of the company’s service plan innovations has been evident in its robust subscriber acquisition metrics,” Bonner writes. “T-Mobile remains the best positioned of the national carriers to take market share.”

T-Mobile’s clear advantages over peers is key to the Street’s consensus recommendation on the stock, which stands at Buy, with high conviction. It also factors into analysts’ average price target, which, at $167.55, gives TMUS implied upside of 30% in the next year or so.

With a five-year beta of 0.51, TMUS can kind of be thought of as being half as volatile as the S&P 500. That low-vol character has paid off handsomely so far this year. TMUS is up nearly 11% for the year-to-date through May 17, a period in which the broader market has fallen more than 14%. 

If the recent past is prologue, TMUS will prove itself as one of the best bear market stocks to buy.

Source: kiplinger.com

5 Places To Work Remotely That Aren’t In Your Apartment

Trains, local parks and even bars can all double as workspaces.

If you haven’t noticed, the world beyond your window has recently acquired a sheen of normalcy not experienced since the halcyon days of early-2020. Go roll your eyes at “The Batman” and you’re bound to scarf popcorn astride a legion of maskless neighbors. Head to your neighborhood dive, and you’re liable to recognize a few people by face, some of whom you literally haven’t seen in decades, or at least since mid-2021. It’s truly wild, this dance with nostalgia.

And yet.

And yet more than a few things (remember menus?) won’t revert to their pre-COVID ways any time soon, particularly those in which we work. For folks with the means and inclination to clock in via laptop, the benefits of remote work — no commute and greater flexibility to perform one’s professional and/or parental obligations — have been widely reported. Conventional wisdom suggests our new definition of work/life balance will long outlive the pandemic.

That’s why we thought we’d compile a brief list of places to work remotely to power you through the rest of 2022. If variety really is the spice of life, you’d be well-served to refresh your office setting every now and again.

1. Coffee shops

Coffee shop is a traditional place to work remotely.Coffee shop is a traditional place to work remotely.

Let’s go ahead and get the obvious choice out of the way. After all, it’s more than plausible that every (sane) person you know loves a good coffee shop. Many cafés have the decency to open far too early, which lets us delude ourselves with thoughts of getting an early start tomorrow morning.

They also — duh — serve pastries and other savory breakfast staples. Some even sell doughnuts. And then, of course, there’s the reason we bother in the first place, the perennially-necessary caffeine itself, a drug not merely sanctioned but beloved, and the very fuel which makes possible the nascent growth in WFH policies. Combine these elements and you have a near-perfect work environment.

2. Bars and breweries

Brewery

Brewery

Here in Portland, you can’t pass a Heart Coffee or retail weed shop without also passing a brewery. It’s honestly one of the most compelling reasons to move here (not that all of us are suggesting you do so). What folks may not know is that beyond offering a rotating list of delectable concoctions and locally-hopped collabs, a good brewery makes a stellar office.

Think about it. Breweries gift us with spaciously-placed water stations and a variety of pub food, not to mention an array of long wooden tables and reliable Wi-Fi (often with kitschy network names!). Although unique, it’s definitely one of the best places to work remotely. Trust us: a laborer in modern-day America could do far worse than whichever brewery is nearest their home.

3. Parks

Picture of the woods, a great place to work remotely.

Picture of the woods, a great place to work remotely.

OK, hear us out on this one. Yes, the Wi-Fi in your local park is usually atrocious (and often non-existent). And sure, you’re not going to finish that project from atop whichever tree stump just ripped your shoelace, causing you to collapse in an awkward, moss-strewn heap. But before you dismiss the idea that these saintly spaces can, and often do, double as places of productivity, remember what you are likely to accomplish with a traipse through a public wood.

Our guess is that you’ll find inspiration in all that clean oxygen circling your senses, a little motivation tucked beneath the varied scents and burrows bordering your every step. Writers much smarter than yours truly have educated us on the many cognitive benefits of walking outside. We take them at your word, which is why this article was written (i.e., dictated) in a narrow tree hollow somewhere in Forest Park (pictured above).

4. Planes, trains and…well, just those two

Working on a train

Working on a trainLate last year, while in the throes of some such variant, I discovered that trains and airplanes are fine places to conduct business, so long as the project entails light, ideally Internet-free work. Experience has proven that railway travel through the countryside doesn’t provide the most reliable signals.

Except for the world whirring beyond or beneath your window, there’s little to distract you while working aboard a train or plane. Unwanted conversations are easily avoided thanks to handy pair of noise-canceling headphones. The fold-out trays in front of your seat double as effective enough desks, providing you don’t bend them to the other side of their limits. Plus, the overhead light helps those COVID-weary eyes better identify the maddening number of typos littering your work. With snacks at your service and multiple bathrooms in either direction, you may find that your best workdays are those spent barreling across or above the country.

5. Libraries and bookstores

Working in a library is a great place to work remotely.

Working in a library is a great place to work remotely.

Libraries and bookstores are an excellent choice for those looking for a new work environment. And they’re quieter than their coffee shop brethren. The Wi-Fi is strong and almost always free. In either case, one has at their disposal an immense collection of hard copy productivity boosters (i.e., books). On those rare days in which you feel like socializing with a coworker in person, it’s more than likely that your local library offers private conference rooms to help you brainstorm (i.e., doom-scroll and catch up).

If you go the bookstore route, it’s a safe bet you’ll have an espresso bar on site. One that may even feature a light collection of sugary treats and an unsettling amount of bottled kombucha. All of which is to say, one simply can’t go wrong when hauling their laptop to a library or bookstore. Within the comfy confines of a space dedicated to learning and curiosity, one immediately feels calmer, smarter and far more responsible than one might when working in, say, a bar or brewery (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

You do you

Daily life is shifting back into a gear we sort of, kind of recognize, but many things remain forever changed. If you’re one of those people who have no problem brandishing the term “digital nomad” in public, it’s time to embrace our new reality and find new places to work remotely. Much like the world beyond your laptop, this new work/life paradigm is your oyster. Go forth and Slack.

Source: rent.com

Thinking about Rolling Your 401(k) into an IRA? 7 Deciding Factors to Consider

The Department of Labor has outlined new rules for advisers to follow when rolling over retirement plans. Whether it is a 401(k) to an IRA or an IRA from one custodian to another, there are several considerations that need to be evaluated before making a change. If you are initiating a rollover on your own, it may be beneficial for you to evaluate these items as well.

You should be able to get all the information you need on your plan from your statements, Annual Participant Fee Disclosure and Summary Plan Description. If you do not have access to these documents, you can usually request them from your human resource department.

All-In Fees and Expenses

Before deciding whether to do a rollover, you will want to compare the fees within your 401(k) plan vs. the fees for the IRA. Fees in the 401(k) could include any mutual fund loads, plan expenses and any underlying fees. Sometimes the fees may be higher in your 401(k), but there may be additional benefits to keeping your funds in the 401(k) wrapper.

It would be up to you to decide whether any benefits are worth the fees. For example, if you are opening an IRA and moving over to an investment adviser there will be additional management fees paid to your adviser, but you may also receive financial advice, retirement planning or wealth management services.

Available Services

Some retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, provide added creditor protection, the ability to take out a loan or take hardship withdrawals, which are not available with IRAs. In certain circumstances you may be able to keep some asset protection if 401(k) funds are rolled into a separate IRA and not commingled with other IRA funds. Some 401(k) providers provide investment education to participants that may be valuable if you are a younger investor.  You will also want to look at your vesting schedule and company match to determine whether they may be affected. In addition, some retirement plans offer Roth 401(k) contributions, which may not be available to you otherwise.

Available Investments and/or Products

Several 401(k)s offer participants limited investment options. On one hand, that could be viewed as a positive, because when there are too many choices it can confuse participants and make it harder to manage the plan. However, some plans’ limited options may be  more expensive, such as actively managed funds, and they might not offer any low-cost index options.

If you roll over funds into an IRA you then have access to a much wider universe of investments. That said, this should not be your only decision criteria. Some company retirement plans offer a “BrokerageLink” option, which allows you to move funds from the “core” 401(k) account to a brokerage account –  another way to access more investment options. Some plans have restrictions on what can be invested in a BrokerageLink so you would want to consult the plan document before deciding.

Guaranteed Income/or Interest Rates

Are you invested in anything earning a guaranteed interest rate that you will lose by moving from a 401(k) to an IRA or other plan? For example, TIAA CREF’s 401(k) offering has TIAA Traditional, which could be earning 3%-4% –  a great return in this environment. You may not want to roll out funds into an IRA and lose access to this option.

Tax Considerations

If you are required distribution age but still working past retirement (providing you are not an over 5% owner in the company), you can defer taking money out of your 401(k). Unfortunately, if you have an IRA on the side, that IRA is subject to required distributions at age 72, even if you continue to work. If you leave the funds in the 401(k) you can still contribute and don’t have to take money out.

One caveat related to the Roth part of a 401(k): If you are age 72 and a greater than 5% owner or retired you have to take a distribution from the Roth side. A way to get around this is to roll the Roth 401(k) balance into a Roth IRA prior to age 72.

Also, if you happen to be in a zero-income year and all you have is retirement funds and need cash, it may make sense to take a taxable distribution rather than do a rollover.

Distribution Considerations

If your 401(k) retirement account is invested in an insurance product or annuity you will want to evaluate whether there are any surrender charges. Usually annuities cannot be moved to IRAs in kind. Some annuity products may have certain benefits that will be lost if liquidated, so you will want to make sure you understand how your product works before making a decision.

Some plans may offer annuity options rather than a lump sum, which would be lost if you roll your 401(k) over to an IRA. You will want to look at the financial implications of the lump sum vs. the annuity options to see which option is better for your situation, especially if you have a spouse who can receive survivor benefits.

You will also want to check if there are any in-service distributions options or guaranteed payment options.

Beneficiary Considerations

If you are married, your 401(k) must list your spouse as beneficiary unless your spouse signs a waiver. You can list anyone on an IRA as a beneficiary, so you may want to review your estate planning and beneficiaries if you make any changes.

Senior Financial Adviser, Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial Wealth Management

Roxanne Alexander is a senior financial adviser with Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial handling client analysis on investments, insurance, annuities, college planning and developing investment policies. Prior to this, she was a senior vice president at Evensky & Katz working with both individual and institutional clients. She has a bachelor’s in accounting and business management from the University of the West Indies, she received an MBA at the University of Miami in finance and investments.

Source: kiplinger.com

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Explained

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is a type of self-regulation that a business uses to enhance the well-being of communities and society through ethical, environmental, and social measures.

By investing in companies that practice CSR, investors have the opportunity to use their own wealth-building strategies to make a positive impact on the world.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a company’s dedication to establishing business decisions that positively impact society. Usually, these business decisions support socially responsible movements, like environmental sustainability, ethical labor practices, and social justice initiatives.

Ideally, CSR strategies work in tandem with the traditional business objectives of hitting revenue and profit goals, and other metrics investors may find on a financial statement.

There is no codified set of standards that explain corporate social responsibility. Companies choose to enact CSR policies on their own initiative. It can take many forms depending on a company or an industry, but generally, CSR policies promote economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

However, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released guidelines for corporate social responsibility in 2010. Known as ISO 26000:2010 , these guidelines are suggestions, not requirements, that can help put companies on track to further CSR principles.

Why CSR Is Important

Corporate social responsibility is important because companies can use their financial position and operations to build more ethical business models and a better world. When the companies enact socially responsible policies prosper, those practices become more commonplace and widespread.

Additionally, investors increasingly focus on more than traditional business valuation methods when making investment decisions. Investors want to put money into companies that support socially responsible movements, so they may be attracted to companies with CSR policies.

In other words, investing in companies that practice corporate social responsibility gives investors the chance to vote with their wallets on how they want the companies around them to behave.

Recommended: What is ESG Investing?

4 Types of Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is an umbrella term that captures a wide array of policies that a company can enact. CSR-focused companies may target their efforts on one or more specific social, economic, or environmental areas of concern. The following are some of the most common areas of CSR:

1. Environmental Sustainability

Companies are increasingly focusing on environmental sustainability when making business decisions. With climate change threatening to cause severe impacts worldwide, companies are committing to creating sustainable production methods, distribution, and overall business practices to reduce carbon footprints.

For investors, sustainable investing could mean seeking out companies that promise to hold to sustainable business practices—and doing the research to ensure they’re keeping that promise in real life. Additionally, it could mean focusing on companies that are specifically involved in creating the products that allow for environmental sustainability in the long term, such as renewable energy, biofuels, or hybrid cars.

Recommended: How to Invest in EV Stocks

2. Philanthropy

One of the ways large companies might align themselves with CSR values is by supporting philanthropic efforts. By donating money, products, or services to nonprofit organizations and social causes, a company can show the public what it values and how its furthering causes.

Recommended: How to Make End-of-Year Donations

3. Ethical Labor Practices

Corporations that commit to ethical labor practices, such as focusing on diversity and inclusion or having a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment, may garner more favor among investors looking to support a socially responsible company.

Recommended: How to Combine Financial Well-Being and Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

4. Volunteering

Another way almost any business can get in on CSR might be to support local volunteering efforts by sending out their representatives or fundraising for other volunteering organizations and movements.

Companies might also support volunteerism by offering their employees paid time off specifically for that activity. Some companies provide employees several days off per year, which they can use to participate in any volunteering effort they choose.

Recommended: 34 Charities To Support This Year

Examples of CSR

Many companies have enacted corporate social responsibility initiatives, and the trend is growing. According to one study, 92% of companies in the S&P 500 published sustainability in 2020, up from 20% in 2011. Here are a few examples of CSR policies at large corporations:

•   Starbucks (SBUX): The coffee giant has committed to hiring a diversified workforce, including hiring thousands of veterans, refugees, and disadvantaged youth.

•   Levi Strauss (LEVI): The apparel maker launched the Levi’s® Music Project, an initiative that looks to provide young people with music education and community resources.

•   Ford Motor Company (F): The carmaker is pushing to have 50% of its global sales be electric vehicles (EV) by 2030 to help address climate change.

•   Salesforce (CRM): The software company says it has given about $240 million in grants, 3.5 million hours of community service, and provided donations to more than 39,000 nonprofits and education institutions.

•   The Coca-Cola Company (KO): The beverage company is focusing on water conservation, saying it will push to responsibly use water in its production process and advocate for smart water policies.

Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility

There are many reasons for a company to adopt and execute corporate social responsibility policies. First and foremost, CSR practices help promote a relatively better society and environment. By following socially responsible protocols, companies could have the opportunity to make significant social, economic, and ecological changes. As noted above, investors are increasingly looking to put money into companies that adhere to CSR.

Beyond these direct positives, CSR policies can also boost a company’s competitiveness by benefiting the firm in the following ways:

•   Stronger brand image: Corporate social responsibility policies can help create a positive image for a company, attracting consumers, employees, and other stakeholders.

•   Employee retention: Talented employees may stay with a company longer when they feel they are working for a business that has strong CSR policies. Additionally, this reputation can help attract new employees.

•   Reduced regulatory burden: A comprehensive CSR policy can help a company navigate relationships with regulatory bodies, especially as governments establish more rules around sustainability.

The Takeaway

Corporate social responsibility is one of several business models companies are using to navigate a changing world. By investing in companies that support those practices, investors could have the opportunity to positively impact the world while also potentially building their nest eggs.

However, it can take a lot of work for investors to determine what companies have the best CSR policies and what companies are truly adhering to their initiatives. So if you want to invest in companies that support CSR policies, it may be best to start small rather than build a whole portfolio around CSR stocks.

SoFi Invest® allows you to start investing today and build a portfolio with whatever strategy you desire. With active investing, you can trade stocks of brands you know and believe in and discover new opportunities based on your interests along the way.

Get started today with SoFi Invest.


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Source: sofi.com

American Women Quarters Program

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

While a handful of women have appeared on coins and special-edition bills throughout the years – Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea and Helen Keller, for example – the number of women featured on U.S. currency is about to be significantly expanded.

Beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will issue up to five new quarter designs each year featuring historically prominent women. Here are the women being honored in 2022.

Maya Angelou

Celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou is most well-known for her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The book was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 best and most influential non-fiction books.

A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Angelou also worked with Dr. Martin Luther King as a coordinator for his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was also the first African-American woman to read an original poem at a presidential inauguration.

Dr. Sally Ride

The first American woman in space, astronaut Dr. Sally Ride inspired generations of girls to pursue careers in science and technology. Ride flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984.

In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded her a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. After her death, it was revealed that Ride was a lesbian, making her the first LGBTQ person to appear on a US quarter.

Wilma Mankiller

As the Principal Chief of the Cherokee, Wilma Mankiller is the first woman ever elected chief of a major Native American tribe. She oversaw the growth of the Cherokee nation from 68,000 members to 170,000.

Ms. Magazine named Wilma Woman of the year in 1987, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Nina Otero-Warren

One of the few Hispanic suffragists in history, Nina Otero-Warren helped publish suffragist literature in Spanish, encouraging Hispanic women to vote. She also served as chairman for the Board of Health in New Mexico, was a board member for the American Red Cross and was the Inspector of Indian Schools for Santa Fe County, overseeing the schools for Native American children.

Anna May Wong

As the first Chinese-American movie star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong paved the way for countless other Asian actors. She acted in Broadway plays and both American and European films. Anna was also a fashion icon and was once named the world’s best-dressed woman.

She appeared in movies and plays with acting legends like Laurence Olivier, Douglas Fairbanks and Marlene Dietrich. Though Hollywood remained a hostile environment for people of color during her time, Wong stood up against Chinese stereotypes and advocated for fairer portrayals.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok

Source: mint.intuit.com

How Rising Inflation Affects Mortgage Interest Rates

While the inflation rate doesn’t directly impact mortgage rates, the two tend to move in tandem. Rising inflation can shrink purchasing power as prices of goods and services increase. Higher prices can then influence the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy, affecting the cost of borrowing for lending products like mortgages.

Homebuyers looking for a home loan and homeowners who want to refinance a mortgage need to know that mortgage rates may rise as inflation increases. Therefore, understanding the difference between the inflation rate, interest rates, and what affects mortgage rates matters for all home finance consumers.

Inflation Rate vs Interest Rates

Inflation is a general increase in the overall price of goods and services over time.

The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, tracks inflation rates and inflation trends using several key metrics, including the Consumer Price Index (CPI), to determine how to direct monetary policy. A target inflation rate of 2% is considered ideal for maintaining a stable economic environment over the long run.

When inflation is on the rise and the economy is in danger of overheating, the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates to cool things down.

Interest rates reflect the cost of using someone else’s money. Lenders charge interest to borrowers who take out loans and lines of credit as a premium for the right to use the lender’s money.

Higher rates can make borrowing more expensive while also providing more interest to savers. People borrowing less and saving more can have a cooling effect on the economy.

When the economy is slowing down too much, on the other hand, the Fed can lower interest rates to encourage borrowing and spending.

Recommended: Federal Reserve Interest Rates, Explained

What Affects Mortgage Rates?

Inflation rates don’t have a direct impact on mortgage rates. But there can be indirect effects because of how inflation influences the economy and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions. Again, this relationship between inflation and mortgage rates is related to how the Federal Reserve adjusts interest rates to cool off or jump-start the economy.

The Federal Reserve does not set mortgage rates, however. Instead, the central bank sets the federal funds rate target, the interest rate that banks lend money to one another overnight. As the Fed increases this short-term interest rate, it often pushes up long-term interest rates for U.S. Treasuries. Fixed-rate mortgages are tied to the 10-year U.S. Treasury Note yield, which are government-issued bonds that mature in a decade. When the 10-year Treasury yield increases, the 30-year mortgage rate tends to do the same.

Recommended: Understanding the Different Types of Mortgage Loans

So in terms of what affects mortgage rates, movement in the 10-year Treasury yield is the short answer. Higher yields can mean higher rates, while lower yields can lead to lower rates. But overall, inflation rates, interest rates, and the economic environment can work together to sway mortgage rates at any given time.

A simple way to see the relationship between inflation rates and mortgage rates is to look at how they’ve trended historically . If you track the average 30-year mortgage rate and the annual inflation rate since 1971, you’ll see that they often move in tandem.

They don’t always move perfectly in sync, but it’s typical to see rising mortgage rates paired with rising inflation rates.

Inflation Trends for 2022 and Beyond

In March 2022, the U.S. inflation rate hit 8.5%, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. This increase represents the largest 12-month increase since 1981 and moving well beyond the Federal Reserve’s 2% target inflation rate.

While prices for consumer goods and services were up across the board, the most significant increases were in the energy, shelter, and food categories.

Rising inflation rates in 2022 are thought to be driven by a combination of things, including:

•   Increased demand for goods and services

•   Shortages in the supply of goods and services

•   Higher commodity prices due to geopolitical conflicts

The coronavirus pandemic saw many people cut back on spending in 2020, leading to a surplus of savings. In addition to government stimulus, these savings created a pent-up demand for purchases once the economy got back on track. However, the supply chains have not been able to catch up to demand.

Supply chain disruptions and worker shortages are making it difficult for companies to meet consumer needs. This has resulted in rapidly rising inflation to levels not seen in decades.

In March 2022, the Fed started to raise interest rates to tame inflation and will likely continue to raise interest rates throughout the year. Many analysts believe that inflation is peaking and will steadily decline throughout 2022. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the economy that makes forecasting price trends difficult.

Recommended: 7 Factors that Cause Inflation

Is Now a Good Time for a Mortgage or Refi?

There’s a link between inflation rates and mortgage rates. But what does all of this mean for homebuyers or homeowners?

Rising inflation and higher interest rates have caused mortgage rates to spike at the fastest pace in decades, though mortgage rates are still near historic lows. As the Fed continues to pursue interest rate hikes, it could lead to even higher mortgage rates. It simply means that if you’re interested in buying a home, it could make sense to do so sooner rather than later.

Buying a home now could help you lock in a better deal on a loan and get a reasonable mortgage rate, especially as home values increase.

The higher home values go, the more important a low-interest rate becomes, as the rate can directly affect how much home you can afford.

The same is true if you already own a home and are considering refinancing an existing mortgage. However, when refinancing a mortgage, the math gets a bit trickier. You might need to determine your break-even point — when the money you save on interest payments matches what you spend on closing costs for a refinanced mortgage (a refi).

To find the break-even point on a refi, divide the total loan costs by the monthly savings. If refinancing fees total $3,000 and you’ll save $250 a month, that’s 3,000 divided by 250, or 12. That means it’ll take 12 months to recoup the cost of refinancing.

If you refinance to a shorter-term mortgage, your savings can multiply beyond the break-even point.

If your current mortgage rate is above refinancing rates, it could make sense to shop around for refinancing options.

Keep in mind, of course, that the actual rate you pay for a purchase loan or refinance loan can also depend on things like your credit score, income, and debt-to-income ratio.

Recommended: How to Refinance Your Mortgage — Step-By-Step Guide

The Takeaway

Inflation appears to be here to stay, at least for the near term. Buying a home or refinancing when mortgage rates are lower could add up to a substantial cost difference over the life of your loan. From a savings perspective, it’s essential to understand what affects mortgage rates and the relationship between the inflation rate and interest rates.

SoFi offers fixed-rate mortgages and mortgage refinancing. Now might be a good time to find the best loan for your needs and budget.

It’s easy to check your rate with SoFi.


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External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Source: sofi.com

When Should You Lock in a Mortgage Interest Rate?

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On a $400,000 mortgage, the difference between a 4% and a 5% interest rate comes out to almost $240 per month. That’s over $2,800 per year. 

You could do a lot with that kind of money. And claiming it could be as simple as locking your mortgage rate as soon as you’re ready to make an offer on your house.

Lock too early, though, and you could lose your choice rate — and the savings that come with. So it pays to understand both how closing timelines and mortgage rate locks work. 


What Is a Mortgage Rate Lock?

Mortgage interest rates can bounce around like a pinball. But mortgage loans usually take a month or so to close, so how do you know at the start of the process what your final mortgage rate will be by your closing date?


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Enter: the mortgage rate lock. 

When you apply for a mortgage, you first submit a mortgage application form — called a 1003 form — along with mountains of paperwork documenting your income, assets, liabilities, and firstborn child. The lender reviews your loan application, and (hopefully) preapproves you for a mortgage. 

But that doesn’t mean you’re ready to move forward. If you’re buying a new house or investment property, you need to submit the mortgage preapproval letter with your purchase offers, after all. 

Once you sign a real estate sales contract however, the clock starts ticking. The “time is of the essence” clause isn’t just flowery legalese — it means you need to close by a certain date, or the contract (and your earnest money deposit) become forfeit.

At this point, you call up your loan officer and tell them you’re ready to roll. They can then lock in that moment’s mortgage rate for you, guaranteeing that you get that interest rate if you settle within a certain timeframe. You must do the same if you’re refinancing your current mortgage, though in that case there may be less urgency to close within a specific timeframe.

Rate locks apply to both fixed-interest and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). With the latter, they determine your initial introductory rate.


How a Mortgage Rate Lock Works

No matter how much higher interest rates climb between that moment and when you settle, you still get the interest rate from the moment the loan officer locked it. 

Of course, the reverse is also true. If interest rates fall, you still pay the higher interest rate from the date you locked in your rate. 

Unless you buy a float-down option, that is.


What Is a Float-Down Option?

To hedge against the risk that interest rates fall after you lock in your rate, you can pay your lender for a “float-down option.” If interest rates drop after you locked your rate, this lets you close your loan with the subsequent lower rate. 

But float-down options come at a cost. That cost could come in the form of an up-front fee or higher lender fees at settlement. If the option doesn’t kick in, you could be saddled with a higher interest rate.

Before you can take advantage of a float-down option, interest rates must fall by a certain minimum amount. For example, the lender might set the minimum drop distance at 25 basis points,or 0.25%. If rates only drop by 0.2%, you can’t call in the float-down option. 

Which raises another point: You’re responsible for redeeming your own float-down option. Your lender won’t volunteer the information. You have to keep an eye on interest rates yourself and specifically ask your lender to redeem your option if rates fall. You can only redeem the option once, and after that your rate locks normally.

So make sure you understand the specific rules and costs for your lender’s float-down option before opting for it.


Mortgage Rate Lock Fees

The longer your rate lock, the more likely it is to come with fees. 

For example, your lender may offer a 30-day lock for free, but if you want a 60-day lock, the lender might charge an extra fee that’s expressed as a fraction or multiple of a mortgage point. A mortgage point is 1% of the total loan value — for example, $4,000 on a $400,000 loan. Your lender might cut you a break and charge a fraction of a point rather than a full point, however. 

If you fail to settle within your rate lock period, you can opt to extend your lock, but often at a comparable fee. If mortgage rates have since dropped, you may be in luck, but don’t count on that happening. 


When Should You Lock in a Mortgage Interest Rate?

As soon as you’re ready to proceed with your loan, you should lock in your interest rate. 

You could gamble on interest rates falling and delay locking in a rate, but it means exactly that: gambling. Unless you have a crystal ball lying around, just lock in your rate when you know you’re ready to proceed.

If you’re applying for a purchase loan, lock your rate once you sign the purchase agreement with the seller. If you’re refinancing, you don’t have the same time crunch because there’s no seller involved. Simply decide when you want to settle and work backward from there. 

Just remember that you have to settle within the lock period or you could end up paying a higher interest rate. It usually takes 30 to 60 daysfor mortgage loans to settle. Make sure your loan officer and underwriting team are working toward an on-time close.


How to Lock in a Mortgage Rate

Your mortgage broker or lender locks the rate on your behalf, so you don’t have to “do” anything but ask for it. In most cases, your loan officer will ask you whether you’re ready to lock in a rate when you tell them you’re ready to move forward.

Use the opportunity before locking in a rate to negotiate a lower interest rate, after comparison shopping. You can also negotiate a lower interest rate in exchange for higher lender fees. These are called “discount points” in the industry.

Confirm the length of the lock with your loan officer, and try to get a commitment in writing that they can close within that time period. This commitment won’t be legally binding, but it gives you that much more leverage if they fall behind schedule at your expense. 


Mortgage Rate Lock FAQs

While interest rate locks are pretty simple, first-time homeowners usually have plenty of questions about them. Keep the following in mind as you apply for a mortgage.

Should I Lock in My Mortgage Rate Today?

It depends. Did you sign a real estate sales contract today? If so, then yes. 

Likewise, if you’re looking to refinance your mortgage as soon as possible, then yes, lock in a rate once you choose a lender and get approved. You could wait and hold out for lower interest rates, but that could just as easily backfire on you. 

How Long Can You Lock in a Mortgage Rate?

You can typically lock in a mortgage rate for 15 to 60 days. That includes both conforming and non-conforming loans. 

The length of your lock period depends on the lender’s policies and market conditions. Lock periods may shorten when mortgage rates are rising and lengthen when they’re falling. 

Shorter lock periods — 15 to 30 days — often cost nothing. Longer lock periods often come with additional fees.

What Happens if My Rate Lock Expires Before Closing?

In most cases, you can ask your lender for a rate lock extension. But if you do, they may charge you for the privilege, even if they’re to blame for the delay. 

If you don’t extend the locked rate, you fall at the mercy of the current mortgage rates at the time the lock expires. In other words, your loan rate begins to float with the market once more. In a rising interest rate environment, this means you’ll have a higher monthly loan payment.

What Happens if Rates Fall After I Lock in a Rate?

If you opt for a float-down option and it triggers, your interest rate will drop according to the terms of that option. 

Likewise, if your lock period expires before the loan closes and rates have fallen, you may end up with a lower interest rate when the loan does close — and a lower monthly payment. 

Otherwise, you close on your loan at whatever rate you locked in, regardless of the market interest rate at the time your loan closes. 

Can I Back Out of a Mortgage Rate Lock?

Technically, yes. You can back out of a rate lock. But it comes with consequences. 

You’d need to cancel your entire mortgage application. The lender would effectively throw out your file, and you’d have to reapply for an entirely new loan. That could even mean paying for a whole new home appraisal.

This restarts the lengthy loan process, further pushing back your settlement date. If you’ve made an offer on a house, you’ll likely default on your sale contract and could lose the house to another buyer, putting your home search back at square one.


Final Word

While you have many options for types of mortgages, rate locks exist in nearly every one. 

Word to the wise: Don’t play interest rate roulette. Just lock in a home loan rate when you’re ready to move forward with a mortgage, and if you absolutely must, opt in for a float-down option. But just as you shouldn’t try to time the market in your investments, you shouldn’t try to time interest rates either. 

As a final thought, one surefire way to lower your interest rate is to improve your credit score. Market interest rates rise and fall, but lenders always charge a lower premium over benchmark rates for borrowers with strong credit. Not only does it lower your monthly payment, but it can also lower your down payment to boot. 

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

Source: moneycrashers.com

3 Ways to Restore your Financial Footing

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

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2020 has been a year like no other. Whether you’ve experienced a job loss or a loss of financial stability, there’s one thing to always remember: you do have the ability to restore your financial footing. Here are 3 steps on how to bounce back.

1. Create a Plan

It’s self-assessment time! In order to create a plan of recovery that actually works, you have to know what you’re wanting to recover from. Identify two to three areas of focus and commit to those areas only. Remember, as you complete one goal – you can always adopt a new goal. The key here is to build a momentum that fuels you to keep working on your plan. A lot of people tend to take on too much, creating feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. To avoid this from happening, limit your focus, generate positive feelings about your plan and how it’s going to work in your favor. For example, if you want to focus on rebuilding your emergency savings, you shouldn’t concern yourself with saving for a newer car at this time.

Make sure your goals are cohesive and not in competition with one another. Conflicting goals not only deter you but also distract you. Keep in mind that creating a plan that you feel confident about doesn’t happen in one day. If you notice an increased amount of frustration, take a step back and get back at it once you feel more refreshed to continue. While you want to set some timelines centered around crushing your goals, you don’t want to set unrealistic timeframes. Remember you should feel empowered after creating a plan for your finances.

2. Remain Patient

We live in a microwaveable world. There are so many things that we can easily acquire with the click of a button on our laptops or one tap on our phones. Drive-thrus are everywhere and quick convenience has become something embedded into our daily lives. As much as we’d all like our finances to operate on this same wave, it doesn’t – and never will. Most times the current state of our finances didn’t happen overnight, so in theory, we shouldn’t expect our recovery process to operate any differently.

Remember what it was like to learn how to ride a bike? Training wheels were the first step to get you acclimated with balancing yourself and learning how to steer. Once the training wheels were off, you probably quickly learned there were no reinforcements to ease the fall between you and the concrete. Many bumps, bruises, cry sessions, and attempts later.. you finally learned how to ride a bike with no assistance. What a euphoric feeling! As adults, we can experience that same level of contentment once you understand that patience and commitment will always pave the way to our desired level of financial freedom.

3. Commit to Temporary Sacrifices

Adulthood will throw some curveballs that send us into a frenzied state when we’re faced with something less than desirable. Anytime the word sacrifice is mentioned, many abandon their goals quickly, simply because they do not want to temporarily go without something for a greater good. However, sacrifice at any level is unavoidable. Everything that you currently have was acquired because of your commitment to sacrifice and your financial journey is no different. There are many ways to re-establish your finances that can be used at any time – not just in a situation of recouping.

For example, meal prepping versus spending a large amount of money on takeout can cut costs. Committing to limiting your entertainment budget can also be very impactful. Taking a break from attending all family or friend outings can put you right back on track. For those that prefer a more aggressive approach, picking up a part-time job or setting ‘no spend’ months also prove themselves to be very useful. You shouldn’t feel like it’s a punishment and instead set it up as a healthy challenge. Don’t want to do this alone? Rally your family and friends to see who can save the most money in a set amount of time. Create an environment that allows you to achieve your goals and re-establish yourself financially.

Which one of the methods mentioned can you commit to on a quest towards restoring your financial footing?

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Marsha Barnes

Marsha Barnes is a finance guru with over 20 years of experience dedicates her efforts to empower women worldwide to become financially thriving. Financial competency and literacy are a passion of Marsha’s, providing practical information for clients increasing their overall confidence in their personal finances. More from Marsha Barnes

Source: mint.intuit.com