ESG Is Not ‘Ethical Investing.’ And That’s OK.

As enthusiasm about ESG investing has been on the rise, so too has controversy. ESG is an acronym that refers to the environmental, social and governance considerations relating to investing. It’s an approach that, by some estimates, may become integrated into half of all U.S. managed accounts by 2025.

Why should investors and companies care about ESG? The argument is that in the long run, those risks will impact the business — companies that consider these non-financial, yet material, metrics in their strategy are best poised to mitigate risk and succeed. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, rising prices for oil and gas, and spiraling discontent among workers provide early evidence of how environmental and social concerns will impact investors.

Where ESG Draws Criticism

Criticism about ESG generally falls into two broad categories.  One view holds that ESG is systemic “greenwashing.” Companies publish glossy reports about their social and environmental engagement and hope that investors take interest or include them in sustainability indices. This view maintains that companies are rewarded for publishing a report that reveals some good practices, while ignoring the bad ones, and thus get a bump up in their third-party ESG ratings.

The second category of criticism is that if environmental and social challenges in business are so fundamental to long-term good management, and thus good financial performance, then the market will eventually price it into corporate valuations. This view believes that markets are efficient; it then follows that better social and environmental outcomes will prevail, if we keep the eye on the ball, which is financial performance.

A consistent assumption among the critics, however, is that ESG is designed to enable better ethical and social outcomes.  But that’s not necessarily the case — ESG is not the same as ethical, socially responsible or impact investing. And that’s OK, because we need all these strategies.

Impact investors seek measurable impacts on people, planet and profits with respect to how they allocate their money. A socially responsible or ethical investment strategy might seek to exclude from their funds companies that are deemed unethical. But an ESG strategy remains invested in the company, even if there are activities not aligned with their values, and will push for change.

For example, ESG investors might use their investment stewardship and proxy voting team to engage with the companies’ boards and CEOs about their plans to address climate risk, or even vote against the re-election of certain board members. The recent proxy battle victory by activist investor Engine No.1 at Exxon Mobil demonstrates this point (see my analysis here).

The Impact ESG Has on the Economy and Companies

Advocates for ESG investing indicate that their interest in climate and social factors stems from their view that poor management of those risks will impact financial portfolios and long-term business performance. The analytical focal point is impact on the economy and on the financial performance of companies, not the other way around.

Regulators also point to the risks that ESG considerations pose to the financial portfolios.  The Department of Labor, for instance, recently proposed rules that, if passed, would permit fiduciary investment managers to take ESG risks into consideration, namely because they “may have a direct relationship to the economic value of the plan’s investment.”  If there are any positive effects on people and the planet, it’s considered a “collateral benefit.”

The NY Department of Financial Services also provided guidance about climate change risks to the financial firms under its jurisdiction.  They indicated that financial firms, particularly insurance companies, should integrate into their governance and risk-management processes how various climate change scenarios are likely to impact their business

The frame of analysis, thus, is the impact on business and financial systems. The success of ESG depends on further expanding, measuring and defining the business case for ethics. This is one reason why making “the business case” for social challenges has become a feature of academic research and the business press (as I argue here, sometimes it goes too far).

Maintaining Principles Is a Key to Success

A principled ESG fund will therefore present investments that are at the intersection of financial performance and social or environmental good, so that investors can align their values with those opportunities. As Tariq Fancy describes in The Secret Diary of a Sustainable Investor, think of a Venn diagram where purpose and profit seek to intersect — that intersection constitutes the ESG integration approach for social and environmental good. 

For ESG to continue to grow and succeed, the intersection in that Venn diagram needs to expand. Financial firms, companies, rating agencies and other intermediaries need to collaborate to improve the consistency of data, the accuracy of marketing and continued standardizations in disclosures. 

To be sure, there is greenwashing in ESG, and some companies take advantage of sustainability reports by, for example, highlighting only marginal efforts around stakeholder engagement without any change in their core operations.  Governments and regulators should help define the space and provide oversight with respect to these practices.

We all need to speak, write and report more precisely around this topic. Conflating ESG, sustainability, impact and ethical investing can confuse the aims of adherents to each approach.  The longevity of the movement depends on it.

Executive Director, American College Center for Ethics in Financial Services

Azish Filabi, JD, is Executive Director of the American College Center for Ethics in Financial Services and an Associate Professor of Ethics at the American College of Financial Services. She joined The College in 2020. Before that, Filabi worked at BlackRock as Vice President for Investment Stewardship, where she was involved with topics such as executive compensation, board quality, diversity and composition, and disclosure of environmental and social risks.

Source: kiplinger.com

What Can You Use Student Loans For?

To attend college these days, many students take out student loans. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to afford the hefty price tag of tuition and other expenses.

According to U.S. News & World Report, among the college graduates from the class of 2020 who took out student loans, the average amount borrowed was $29,927. In 2010, that number was $24,937 — a difference of about $5,000.

Student loans are meant to be used to pay for your education and related expenses so that you can earn a college degree. Even if you have access to student loan money, it doesn’t mean you should use it on general living expenses. By learning the answer to, “What can you use a student loan for?” you will make better use of your money and ensure you’re in a more stable financial situation post-graduation.

Recommended: I Didn’t Get Enough Financial Aid: Now What?

5 Things You Can Use Your Student Loans to Pay For

Here are five things you can spend your student loan funds on.

1. Your Tuition and Fees

Of course, the first thing your student loans are intended to cover is your college tuition and fees. The average college tuition and fees for a private institution in 2021-2022 is $38,185, while the average for a public, out-of-state school is $22,698 and $10,338 for a public, in-state institution.

2. Books and Supplies

Beyond tuition and fees, student loans can be used to purchase your textbooks and supplies, such as a laptop, notebooks and pens, and a backpack. Keep in mind that you may be able to save money by purchasing used textbooks online or at your campus bookstore. Hard copy textbooks cost, on average, between $80 and $150; you may be able to find used ones for a fraction of the price. Some students may find that renting textbooks may also be a cost-saving option.

Recommended: How to Pay for College Textbooks

3. Housing Costs

Your student loans can be used to pay for your housing costs, whether you live in a dormitory or off-campus. If you do live off-campus, you can also put your loans towards paying for related expenses like your utilities bill. Compare the costs of on-campus vs. off-campus housing, and consider getting a roommate to help you cover the costs of living off-campus.

4. Transportation

If you have a car on campus or you need to take public transportation to get to school, work, or your internships, then you can use your student loans to pay for those costs. Even if you have a car, you may want to consider leaving it at home when you go away to school, because gas, maintenance, and a parking pass could end up costing much more than using public transportation and your school’s shuttle, which should be free.

5. Food

What else can you use student loans for? Food would qualify as a valid expense, whether you’re cooking meals at home or you’ve signed up for a meal plan. This doesn’t mean you should eat out at fancy restaurants all the time just because the money is there. Instead, you could save by cooking at home, splitting food costs with a roommate, and asking if local establishments have discounts for college students.

Recommended: How to Get Out of Student Loan Debt: 6 Options

5 Things Your Student Loans Should Not Cover

Now that you know what student loans can be used for, you’re likely wondering what they should not be used for as well. Here are five expenses that cannot be covered with funds from your student loans.

1. Entertainment

While you love to do things like go to the movies and concerts and bowling, you should not use your student loans to pay for your entertainment. Your campus likely offers plenty of free and low-cost entertainment like sports games and movie nights, so pursue those opportunities instead.

2. A Vacation

College is draining, and you deserve a vacation from the stress every once in a while. However, if you can’t afford to go on spring break or another type of trip, then you should put it off at this time. It’s never a good idea to use your student loans to cover these expenses.

3. Gym Membership

You may have belonged to a gym at home before you went to college, and you still want to keep up your membership there. You can, as long as you don’t use your student loans to cover it. Many colleges and universities have a gym or fitness center on campus that is available to students and included in the cost of tuition.

4. A New Car

Even if you need a new car, student loans cannot be used to buy a new set of wheels. Consider taking public transportation instead of buying a modest used car when you save up enough money.

5. Extra Food Costs

While you and your roommates may love pizza, it’s not a good idea to use your student loan money to cover that cost. You also shouldn’t take your family out to eat or dine out too much with that borrowed money. Stick to eating at home or in the dining hall, and only going out to eat every once in a while with your own money.

Student Loan Spending Rules

The federal code that applies to the misuse of student loan money is clear. Any person who “knowingly and willfully” misapplied funds could face a fine or imprisonment.

Your student loan refund — what’s left after your scholarships, grants, and loans are applied toward tuition, campus housing, fees, and other direct charges — isn’t money that’s meant to be spent willy-nilly. It’s meant for education-related expenses.

The amount of financial aid a student receives is based largely on each academic institution’s calculated “cost of attendance,” which may include factors like your financial need and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your cost of attendance minus your EFC generally helps determine how much need-based aid you’re eligible for. Eligibility for non-need-based financial aid is determined by subtracting all of the aid you’ve already received from your cost of attendance.

Starting for the 2024-2025 school year, the EFC will be replaced with the Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI will work similarly to the EFC though there will be some important changes such as adjustments in Pell Grant eligibility.

Additionally, when you took out a student loan, you probably signed a promissory note that outlined what you’re supposed to be spending your loan money on. Those restrictions may vary depending on what kind of loan you received — federal or private, subsidized or unsubsidized. If the restrictions weren’t clear, it’s not a bad idea to ask your lender, “What can I use my student loan for?”

If you’re interested in adjusting loan terms or securing a new interest rate, you could consider refinancing your student loans with SoFi. Refinancing can allow qualifying borrowers to secure a lower interest rate or preferable terms, which could potentially save them money over the long run. Refinancing federal loans eliminates them from all federal borrower benefits and protections, inducing deferment options and the ability to pursue public service loan forgiveness, so it’s not the right choice for all borrowers.

The Takeaway

Student loans can be used to pay for qualifying educational expenses like tuition and fees, room and board, and supplies like books, pens, a laptop, and a backpack. Expenses like entertainment, vacations, cars, and fancy dinners cannot generally be paid for using student loans.

If you have student loans and are interested in securing a new — potentially lower — interest rate, consider refinancing.

There are no fees to refinance a student loan with SoFi and potential borrowers can find out if they pre-qualify, and at what rates, in just a few minutes.

Learn more about student loan refinancing with SoFi.


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.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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.
SOSL18266

Source: sofi.com

How to Get the Best Price on a Rental Car – 10 Simple Steps

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

Do you recognize this scenario? You’re planning to rent a small car for a vacation or business trip. Yet somehow, when you walk away from the car rental counter, you’re holding the keys to a much bigger car with a much bigger price tag. 

If this has happened to you, it was no accident. You were a victim of upselling — one of the many tricks car rental companies use to squeeze more money out of you. They lure you, scare you, or badger you into driving away with a bigger car than you planned. 

To save money on car rentals, you need to beat the agencies at their own game. First, do some research to figure out exactly what car you need. Then, shop around and use discounts to make sure you pay the lowest possible rate for it. 

How to Get the Best Price on a Rental Car

Getting the best rate on your car rental is largely a matter of doing your homework. You have to know what kind of car you need, when to book it, and where to shop for the best prices. You also need to know how to avoid tricky upsells and hidden fees.

1. Know What You Need

If you’ve ever rented a car before, you know rental companies often try to upsell you. When you arrive to pick up your vehicle, they don’t hand over the keys right away. 

Instead, they suggest you upgrade to a larger model than the one you booked. Often, they say it will offer more comfort, more power, or even better gas mileage. 

That last statement is unlikely to be true. In general, bigger cars use more gas than smaller ones. If you let the rental clerk talk you into a bigger model, you’ll end up paying more for gas and the car itself.

As for the extra room and extra power, they probably don’t matter. If you’re driving by yourself or with just one or two other people, a compact car should have enough space. And you’re unlikely to need more power unless you’re planning to drive up steep mountain roads or in deep snow.

If there’s any doubt in your mind about how much car you need, do some research before you book. Look for reviews of the model you’re considering and see what owners say about its comfort, mileage, and power. 

Then, when the clerk starts trying to sell you on a bigger model, you can say with confidence that the one you booked is just fine for your needs.

2. Book Early, Especially During Peak Travel Times

Car rental companies have a limited number of cars in their fleets. During peak travel times, every vehicle is in demand as customers flock to travel destinations. And when demand outstrips supply, prices go up. That’s simple economics.

So if you’re traveling during a busy travel season, reserve your car as far in advance as possible. You’ll avoid paying a premium for booking during the busy season or, worse still, finding the vehicle you want is unavailable.

3. Take Advantage of Discounts

Never pay full price for a rental car without checking for discounts first. There are all kinds of programs that can offer you a better price on a rental, including:

  • Military Discounts. Many car rental companies, including Alamo and Budget, offer discounts for military service members and veterans. Some also have special deals for other government employees or first responders, such as firefighters and police. If you belong to any of these groups, always ask about discounts when booking a rental.
  • USAA Rates. If your spouse or parent is in the military, you could get a discount through USAA. This financial provider serves active military members, veterans, and their spouses and children. Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz have special USAA rates. 
  • Senior Discounts. Several rental car agencies work with AARP to provide discounts for older adults. AARP members can save up to 30% at Avis, Budget, and Payless. And all travelers over 50 can get lower prices from Hertz through its Fifty Plus program.
  • Corporate Codes. Many businesses have partnerships with car rental companies. Their employees get better rates, and the agencies benefit from the extra business. Check your corporate travel site to see if your company has such a program. 
  • University Codes. Universities also cut deals with rental car agencies. Both students and alumni can get lower daily rates and other perks, such as a free additional driver. Check the student benefits or alumni deals page for rental car discounts.
  • Frequent Flyer Programs. Some frequent flyer programs can get you a reduced rate on a car rental. For instance, United MileagePlus members enjoy discounts and earn bonus miles when they rent through Hertz.
  • AAA. Being a member of AAA gets you discounts on all kinds of services, including rental cars. Currently, members can save between 8% and 20% off the base rate with Thrifty, Dollar, or Hertz. Check your local AAA website for the latest deals.
  • Costco. This warehouse club offers discounts on a lot more than groceries. One of the many benefits of Costco membership is its discounts on car rentals from Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise. Visit the Costco Travel site to access the latest exclusive deals.

4. Join a Loyalty Program

Many rental car agencies have loyalty programs that offer various discounts and perks. Most loyalty programs are free to join, and it takes only a few minutes to sign up.  

Joining one of these programs could get you benefits like:

  • Free upgrades
  • The ability to skip the line when you pick up your rental
  • A guarantee the car you sign up for will be available
  • An account that stores your rental preferences for future use
  • Rewards points you can cash in for free rentals or upgrades

And there’s nothing to stop you from signing up for multiple programs. You could join one for each rental agency you use. In fact, if you’ve already reached elite status with one company, you can usually carry over that status when you sign up for another agency’s program as well.

Some agencies, such as Avis and Hertz, also have special programs just for small-business owners. If you own a small business, these programs can give you a percentage off the base price every time you rent a car.

5. Compare Prices

Joining a loyalty program doesn’t mean you have to be loyal to one car rental company. It always makes sense to shop around and see if another company can offer a better price.

You could do that by calling several companies for quotes, but you don’t have to. There are several websites you can use to check rental prices across multiple agencies. 

One leading comparison site is AutoSlash. This free site factors in discounts from AAA and Costco and searches for online coupons to cut your rental price. It even notifies you if the rental rate drops after you book your car. That allows you to cancel it and rebook at the lower price.

However, AutoSlash isn’t the only site in the business. Other places to look for deals include CarRentals.com, Kayak, and Priceline.

6. Check Smaller Car Rental Companies

When you’re comparing prices, don’t limit yourself to the major rental car agencies. Small off-brand agencies such as Fox Rent A Car can offer significantly lower rates than the big companies.

These small agencies aren’t available everywhere, and they may not show up in results from sites like AutoSlash. But if there’s one in your area, it’s worth a call to see if they can beat the big companies’ prices. To find small local agencies, search the Internet for “car rental near me.”

7. Look for Coupon Codes

When you’re searching for rental car prices, do an extra search for coupon codes you can tack on at checkout. With the right code, you can save as much as 50% off the regular rental rate. 

On top of that, you can often combine these coupon codes with other discounts. For instance, they sometimes stack with savings from loyalty programs or frequent flyer programs.

If you shop through AutoSlash, it automatically seeks coupon codes for you. Other places to look for deals include Groupon and LivingSocial. Also, money-saving browser extensions like Capital One Shopping search for coupon codes and apply them every time you shop. 

8. Read the Fine Print

It’s not unusual to see online ads promising car rentals as low as $15 per day. These prices sound too good to be true — and they are. The price you pay is usually much higher due to taxes and fees excluded from the advertised rate. 

You can’t avoid all these extra fees. However, you can at least be aware of them to avoid any surprises. And you can always say no to extraneous car rental fees.

When comparing prices, look at the final price with all taxes and fees included. That way, you know you’re comparing apples to apples. 

9. Prepay

Most car rental companies offer two different daily rental rates: one for prepayment and a higher one for paying when you pick up the car (or simply renting on the spot). For instance, Budget charges rates up to 35% less when you pay ahead.

But despite the savings, prepaying isn’t always the smart move. If you prepay for your car and have to change your plans, you could get hit with a hefty cancellation fee. 

For instance, Alamo charges $50 for canceling a prepaid rental or $100 if you cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice. Canceling a regular reservation is only $50 with less than 24 hours’ notice and free if you cancel earlier than that. 

To avoid these fees, don’t prepay for your rental unless your travel schedule is fixed.

10. Use a Rewards Card

Once you’ve decided which car to rent and where, there’s still one more way to save: by choosing the right card to pay with. Many travel rewards credit cards, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer special perks and discounts on car rentals. 

Depending on the card, you could pay a lower daily or weekly rate or earn extra rewards points. You could also get perks like free upgrades, free rental car insurance, a free additional driver, or a grace period on late returns.

Moreover, if you already have rewards points on one of these cards, you can sometimes get a bonus by cashing them in for travel deals, including car rentals. If your card offers a 50% bonus on travel, you could book a $30-per-day car rental with only $20 worth of rewards.


Final Word

There’s one tip that could potentially save you more than anything else. When planning your trip, think carefully about whether you need a rental car at all. 

In some cases, you can get by without a car. Instead, you can rely on a combination of rides from friends, public transportation, and ridesharing. 

That works particularly well if you only need the vehicle to get to and from the airport. In that case, paying by the ride is probably cheaper than renting a car that will spend most of the trip parked.

Another option is to take advantage of the sharing economy. It’s often possible to get a car through a peer-to-peer service like Turo for much less than a traditional rental. 

These services can offer access to vehicles rental agencies don’t have, such as sports cars or electric vehicles. And you don’t have to deal with any high-pressure sales tactics at the rental counter.

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Source: moneycrashers.com

Fixed Expense vs Variable Expense

Budgeting is the best way to get a better handle on where your money is going — which can help you get a better handle on where you’d like to see your money go.

But before you dive into the nitty-gritty of each individual line item on your ledger, you first need to understand the difference between fixed expenses and variable expenses.

As their name suggests, fixed expenses are those that are fixed, or unchanging, each month, while variable expenses are the ones with which you can expect a little more wiggle room. However, it’s possible to make cuts on items in both the fixed and variable expense category to save money toward bigger financial goals, whether that’s an epic vacation or your eventual retirement.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is a Fixed Expense?

Fixed expenses are those costs that you pay in the same amount each month — items like your rent or mortgage payment, insurance premiums, and your gym membership. It’s all the stuff whose amounts you know ahead of time, and which don’t change.

Fixed expenses tend to make up a large percentage of a monthly budget since housing costs, typically the largest part of a household budget, are generally fixed expenses. This means that fixed expenses present a great opportunity for saving large amounts of money on a recurring basis if you can find ways to reduce their costs, though cutting costs on fixed expenses may require bigger life changes, like moving to a different apartment — or even a different city.

Keep in mind, too, that not all fixed expenses are necessities — or big budget line items. For example, an online TV streaming service subscription, which is withdrawn in the same amount every month, is a fixed expense, but it’s also a want as opposed to a need. Subscription services can seem affordable until they start accumulating and perhaps become unaffordable.

Recommended: Are Monthly Subscriptions Ruining Your Budget?

What Is a Variable Expense?

Variable expenses, on the other hand, are those whose amounts can vary each month, depending on factors like your personal choices and behaviors as well as external circumstances like the weather.
For example, in areas with cold winters, electricity or gas bills are likely to increase during the winter months because it takes more energy to keep a house comfortably warm. Grocery costs are also variable expenses since the amount you spend on groceries can vary considerably depending on what kind of items you purchase and how much you eat.

You’ll notice, though, that both of these examples of variable costs are still necessary expenses — basic utility costs and food. The amount of money you spend on other nonessential line items, like fashion or restaurant meals, is also a variable expense. In either case, variable simply means that it’s an expense that fluctuates on a month-to-month basis, as opposed to a fixed-cost bill you expect to see in the same amount each month.

To review:

•   Fixed expenses are those that cost the same amount each month, like rent or mortgage payments, insurance premiums, and subscription services.

•   Variable expenses are those that fluctuate on a month-to-month basis, like groceries, utilities, restaurant meals, and movie theater tickets.

•   Both fixed and variable utilities can be either wants or needs — you can have fixed-expense wants, like a gym membership, and variable-expense needs, like groceries.

When budgeting, it’s possible to make cuts on both fixed and variable expenses.

Recommended: Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Benefits of Saving Money on Fixed Expenses

If you’re trying to find ways to stash some cash, finding places in your budget to make cuts is a big key. And while you can make cuts on both fixed and variable expenses, lowering your fixed expenses can pack a hefty punch, since these tend to be big line items — and since the savings automatically replicate themselves each month when that bill comes due again. (Even businesses calculate the ratio of their fixed expenses to their variable expense, for this reason, yielding a measure known as operating leverage.)

Think about it this way: if you quit your morning latte habit (a variable expense), you might save a grand total of $150 over the course of a month — not too shabby, considering its just coffee. But if you recruit a roommate or move to a less trendy neighborhood, you might slash your rent (a fixed expense) in half. Those are big savings, and savings you don’t have to think about once you’ve made the adjustment: they just automatically rack up each month.

Other ways to save money on your fixed expenses include refinancing your car (or other debt) to see if you can qualify for a lower payment… or foregoing a car entirely in favor of a bicycle if your commute allows it. Can you pare down on those multiple streaming subscriptions or hit the road for a run instead of patronizing a gym? Even small savings can add up over time when they’re consistent and effort-free — it’s like automatic savings.

Of course, orchestrating it in the first place does take effort (and sometimes considerable effort, at that — pretty much no one names moving as their favorite activity). The benefits you might reap thereafter can make it all worthwhile, though.

Saving Money on Variable Expenses

Of course, as valuable as it is to make cuts to fixed expenses, saving money on variable expenses is still useful — and depending on your habits, it could be fairly easy to make significant slashes. For example, by adjusting your grocery shopping behaviors and aiming at fresh, bulk ingredients over-packaged convenience foods, you might decrease your monthly food bill. You could even get really serious and spend a few hours each weekend scoping out the weekly flyer for sales.

If you have a spendy habit like eating out regularly or shopping for clothes frequently, it can also be possible to find places to make cuts in your variable expenses. You can also find frugal alternatives for your favorite spendy activities, whether that means DIYing your biweekly manicure to learning to whip up that gourmet pizza at home. (Or maybe you’ll find a way to save enough on fixed expenses that you won’t have to worry as much about these habits!)

The Takeaway

Fixed expenses are those costs that are in the same amount each month, whereas variable expenses can vary. Both can be trimmed if you’re trying to save money in your budget, but cutting from fixed expenses can yield bigger savings for less ongoing effort.

Great budgeting starts with a great money management platform — and a SoFi Money® cash management account can give you a bird’s-eye view that puts everything into perspective. You’ll also have access to the Vaults feature, which helps you set aside money for specific savings purposes, no matter which goals are the most important to you, all in one account.

Check out SoFi Money and how it can help you manage your financial goals.

Photo credit: iStock/LaylaBird


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.
SOMN0621048

Source: sofi.com

James Glassman’s 10 Stock Market Picks for 2022

Last December, after beating the S&P 500 index five years in a row, I wrote, “This kind of streak isn’t supposed to happen, and readers should be warned that there’s no guarantee it will continue.”

Well, it’s over. My annual selections for 2021 performed just fine, with an average return of 17.4%, but the S&P did much better, gaining 35.8%. (Returns and data throughout the story are through Nov. 5.)

Since 1993, I have offered a list of 10 stocks for the year ahead. Nine are culled from the choices of experts I trust, and I include one of my own. For 2021, I’m happy to say, my pick was the biggest winner: ONEOK (OKE), the 115-year-old natural gas pipeline company, which benefited from the rise in petroleum prices and was up 139.9%.

I’ll get to my choice for 2022 at the end. Let’s start with one from the Value Line Investment Survey, a font of succinct research that has a strong forecasting record as well. My strategy is to pick from stocks that Value Line rates tops (“1”) for both timeliness and safety. That list right now is short: nine companies, including obvious ones like Apple (AAPL) and Visa (V).

The outlier is T. Rowe Price Group (TROW), the Baltimore-based asset manager, whose earnings have risen each year since 2009 despite the growing popularity of low-cost index funds. Value Line notes that “shares have staged a dramatic advance over the past year. However, our projections suggest … worthwhile appreciation potential for the next 3 to 5 years.”

Parnassus Endeavor (PARWX), a socially responsible fund – one that invests with an eye toward environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures, has returned a sparkling annual average of 18.3% over the past 10 years. In 2021, Jerome Dodson stepped back from managing Endeavor and other Parnassus funds, but he’s still a guiding force at the firm he founded 35 years ago. My picks from the portfolio for 2019 and 2020 were microchip companies that scored average gains of nearly 100%.

For 2022, I like PepsiCo (PEP), which Billy Hwan, the fund’s new solo manager, acquired for the first time in July. In addition to its soft drinks, the company has such respected brands as Lay’s, Quaker and Gatorade. Revenues have risen consistently, and PepsiCo may be able to benefit from general inflation with aggressive price increases.

Another big winner in 2021 came from Dan Abramowitz, of Hillson Financial Management in Rockville, Maryland, who is my go-to expert in smaller companies. His choice was IEC Electronics, which was purchased by Creation Technologies in October for 53% more than the stock’s price when I put it on the list, noting, “IEC is also a potential takeover target.” 

For 2022, Dan recommends DXC Technology (DXC), a midsize in­formation technology company based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. It is in the midst of a turnaround, Dan writes, “yet we are still in the early innings here.” Profits are improving, but the stock “is valued at under 10 times current fiscal year earnings.”

A few months ago, I recommended AB Small Cap Growth (QUASX), a fund that has notched a sensational 29.8% annualized return over the past five years. The fund has been adding to holdings of Louisiana-based LHC Group (LHCG), a provider of post-acute care, including home health and hospice services, in more than 700 locations. The stock appears well priced after setbacks from hurricanes and because healthcare workers were forced to quarantine due to COVID-19. As the population ages, healthcare is a growth industry.

Fidelity Advisor Growth Opportunities (FAGAX) is red-hot, ranking in the top 3% of funds in its category for five-year returns. The problem is that it carries a whopping 1.82% expense ratio and is sold mostly through advisers. Still, you can scan its port­folio for ideas. Most of the fund’s holdings are tech stocks, but the only new purchase for 2021 among its top 25 holdings was Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), the minerals (copper, gold, silver) and oil and gas producer. The stock has doubled over the past year, but its price-earnings ratio, based on analysts’ consensus projections for 2022, is just 11.

A disappointment in 2021 was Upland Software (UPLD), down 47%. It was the choice of Terry Tillman, a software analyst with Truist Securities whose previous selections on my annual list had beaten the S&P 500 index for an incredible nine years in a row. Tillman recently initiated coverage on Engage­Smart (ESMT) with a Buy rating. The firm, which helps healthcare professionals manage their practices, went public only in September, but it already has a market value of $5 billion, and Tillman sees the price going much higher.

It has not been a good year for China’s big companies, which China’s government apparently thinks have become big enough to threaten the Communist Party. As a result, my 2021 list’s worst performer was Alibaba Group Holding (BABA), the e-commerce giant, with shares falling by nearly half.

Still, if you have a stomach for risk, Chinese stocks present remarkable value these days. Matthews China (MCHFX), my favorite Asian stock fund, has held on to Tencent Holdings (TCEHY), which is down by about 40% from its February peak. Tencent, with a market cap of $576 billion, operates worldwide and offers social media, music, mobile games, payment services and more.

Last year, I turned for the first time to Schwab Global Real Estate (SWASX) and was pleased with the 21% return from its choice, Singapore-based UOL Group (UOLGY), with an office, residential and hotel portfolio. The fund’s third-largest holding is Public Storage (PSTG), owner of 2,500 facilities in 38 states. Is there a better business? Every year, I get an e-mail notice telling me my storage-unit rental has risen in price, and what am I going to do about it? Moving my stuff out is a horrifying thought. I have always wanted to own this stock. It is expensive, but waiting may make it more so.

Over the years, the assets of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), Warren Buffett’s holding company, have become more and more diversified. At last report, the company owned 40 publicly traded stocks. Berkshire Hathaway’s largest holding by far is Apple, at about $135 billion. Guess what’s second? Bank of America (BAC), at $49 billion. I am a longtime fan and shareholder of BofA as well, and it looks especially good at a time when interest rates are rising.

My contrarian bias paid off last year when I shook off my disastrous 2019 choice of Diamond Offshore Drilling (it went bankrupt) and scored a double with ONEOK. Searching for value again, I have arrived at Starbucks (SBUX), which took a big (and to my mind, unwarranted) hit over the summer when the company warned of a slower recovery in China. So I’m taking advantage of skittish investors and recommending Starbucks, one of the world’s best-run companies, growing steadily with 33,000 outlets worldwide.

I’ll end with my usual warnings. These 10 stocks vary by size and industry, but they are not meant to compose a diversified portfolio. I expect they will beat the market in the coming 12 months, but I do not advise holding stocks for less than five years. Buy and hold works! Finally, these are my recommendations, but consider them suggestions for your own study and decision-making. No guarantees.

James Glassman stock picks for 2022James Glassman stock picks for 2022

Source: kiplinger.com

Cardless Existing Cardholders $100 Bonus With $1,000 Spend

The Offer

Direct Link to offer (holiday footer)

  • Cardless is offering their existing cardholders a bonus 10,000 points when they spend $1,000 between November 24 and December 31, 2021.

The Fine Print

  • * HOLIDAY BONUS POINTS OFFER: To be eligible to receive 10,000 bonus points, you must be an existing cardholder as of 12:00pm PT November 24, 2021 with no other open Cardless credit card accounts and you must complete $1,000 in Eligible Purchases between 12:00pm PT on November 24, 2021 and 11:59pm PT on December 31, 2021.
  • Allow up to 2 statement cycles for the bonus to appear in your rewards account.
  • To receive the bonus, your account must remain current and in good standing for the duration of this offer.
  • Eligible Purchases do not include transactions that are returned, disputed, unauthorized, fraudulent, exceed your credit limit, are made while your account is in default, or any other transaction that First Electronic Bank or Cardless may determine in their discretion is not eligible to earn points. Any bonus points earned through this offer will not be doubled per the Double Points Promotion if a cardholder is simultaneously enrolled in that promotion. This offer is not valid if you violate the terms of this offer, your Cardholder Agreement, or the Rewards Terms.
  • Still working towards your Cardless sign-up offer? We have great news: eligible purchases will count towards your currently enrolled spend bonus offers.

Our Verdict

I’m not positive if this promotion is for all Cardless members, but it seems to be showing on the footer of many/all Cardless cards. Hopefully you got an email about this as well or else you can try contacting customer support to confirm that it applies to you.

Sounds like any $1,000 of spend will count, as stated in the email: “Eligible airfare, hotel stays, restaurant meals, gas, grocery transactions and other eligible purchases will count toward the 10,000-point bonus, which you’ll automatically earn after spending $1,000.”

Hat tip to FearTheZ

Source: doctorofcredit.com

Food Delivery Advice from an Uber Eats Driver Who Made Bank

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The Salem, Oregon, resident made thousands of dollars in June 2020 delivering food for Uber Eats, an app for gig work that proved especially popular during the pandemic.
The very premise of Lyon’s challenge is a goal. It gave him something to focus on and the motivation he needed to make it through grueling 12-hour days.
What you earn from Uber Eats is heavily determined by your market — the city or metropolitan area you deliver in.
“Make sure you look approachable,” Lyon said.

Uber Eats Tips and Tricks From a Driver Who Made $8,357 in One Month

Of the hundreds of orders Lyon completed in June, he got some pretty weird requests from customers. One person asked if he could deliver a pack of cigarettes along with the food order. Lyon told the guy that he didn’t have the money on him to buy the cigarettes on his own, thinking it would end there.
Results may vary in your market. The key is to adapt to your locale. “My days were long,” he said. “I would do all that stuff to kind of break it up and have fun.”

1. Set Goals. Even Tiny Ones Help

Lyon vowed not to fall into that temptation. He carried only in cash, and that was strictly for gas. If he had downtime, he’d listen to podcasts or practice Spanish — while positioning himself for his next order.
Many factors went into his paycheck but none more than his sheer determination. He drove 12 hours — the maximum Uber Eats allows — for 30 days without a single day off.
“When you’re starting, accept every single order and then find your own trends in your own area,” he said.
Lyon drove primarily in Salem, Oregon. If you were to do the same challenge in a different city, you may make more or less than he did. A perfect example of this played out over TikTok. About halfway through June, another Uber Eats driver posed a challenge to Lyon: Who could make more money in a day?
A bigger city doesn’t always equate to better profits though, Lyon noted. Heavy traffic is likelier and could slow you down. You may have to pay to park to make the delivery.

Pro Tip
Some Uber Eats drivers pass on smaller orders in hopes to land larger ones. But that can backfire for inexperienced drivers. Lyon said he put that strategy to the test and found, on average, he was making an order no matter how selective he was being.

2. Take a Great Profile Pic

And to cut down on costs, his own food was homemade.
“I knew I needed to do at least 20 trips to get around that 0-a-day mark,” he said. “So that was always my goal. Anything after that was icing on the cake.”
When the paychecks from your side hustle start rolling in, it’s easy to think all that money is profit. However, quite a bit of it actually goes toward expenses and taxes. It’s one of the biggest pains of being a 1099 worker.
Before we get started, let’s be clear: What Lyon earned is not typical. Far from it.
Uber Eats gives drivers a referral code that they can share with other people to get them to start delivering, too. Once the new driver completes a certain amount of deliveries, the recruiter earns money. But the amount fluctuates depending on the market. Sometimes it’s 0 per 50 trips. Other times, it’s per 50 trips.

This is the main photo used for Sam Lyon's Uber Eats account.
For his Uber Eats profile, Lyon used a selfie taken in his car — then realized he couldn’t change the picture once it was uploaded. Photo courtesy of Sam Lyon

3. Manage Expectations Based on Your Market

Referral bonuses are “definitely not worth the time,” according to Lyon.
Sam Lyon pushed his earning potential in the gig economy to its limits.
And if you’re keeping track of expenses like gas and car depreciation, you can factor that into the amount you’re withholding for Uncle Sam. Lyon’s system was pretty simple. He had a fixed amount for gas, a day. That totaled 9. He had one oil change (), and also factored in his car’s depreciation (0) based on the miles he drove.
“If I was delivering to a suburb, my downtime would be spent driving the extra mile or two to be parked next to a McDonalds, an Applebees, a Red Robin.”
They both delivered food for 12 straight hours. The difference was that the other driver lived 45 miles north in Portland, Oregon. That turned out to be a crucial factor— the challenger made 3 to Lyon’s 8.
Privacy Policy
Downtime between orders trips up many new delivery drivers. You’re delivering food all day, after all. You might be tempted to go through the drive-thru for yourself. But idle spending can eat into your earnings.

Need a banking service that’s built for freelancers, helping you save for taxes and keep track of your expenses? Check out Lili. (It’s free!)

4. Learn From the Trends in Your Area

And that’s coming from someone who had hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok.
“In pending invites, I would make ,320,” Lyon said as he read off of the stats in his driver profile. “In successful invites, I made “You know what? Why not? I’ll do it. I picked up the money and got him the cigarettes. When I got back, he paid me the change as well. And I made a quick [tip],” he said.
“You can stop by here. I’ll put the money downstairs and you can come grab it,” the customer responded.
“See what kind of restaurants you like and which ones you want to avoid, he said”
Lyon is a big proponent of the quantity-over-quality approach to accepting orders.
The first picture you choose is the one you’re stuck with. Uber policy allows drivers to change their picture only if something happens that alters their appearance since the original photo. In that situation, you’d have to contact customer support.
He challenged himself to make as much money as possible in that one month. To do so, he drove 12 hours a day for 30 days straight.

5. Occupy Your Downtime

Lyon went for it.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
His specific challenge may not be replicable (or even advisable) in every circumstance. But if you’re a current or aspiring delivery-app gig worker, you can apply Lyon’s tips for Uber Eats drivers to maximize your own profits.
“Depending on what city you’re in, there are a lot of moped Uber drivers, there are a lot of bike Uber drivers. You can’t really compete [in a car] in those urban, downtown areas,” he said.
Adam Hardy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 

6. Don’t Waste Time With Referral Bonuses

“Suburbs are just front porch and then you’re gone.”
In an interview with The Penny Hoarder, Lyon broke down his earnings and what he learned from his 30-day challenge. He also offered some Uber Eats driver tips that other gig workers can use.

“I think goal setting was huge for my success,” Lyon said. “Setting markers in what you want to achieve are extremely important.”
It breaks down like this: His total earnings were ,357. His expenses account for ,148, and he set aside an estimated 30% of the difference for taxes, about ,100. That brought his actual profits to roughly ,100.
“I would go home and spend 30 minutes to an hour preparing food and eating before going back on the road,” he said. “I did not have any fast food during that 30 days.”

A man checks his phone in his car.
Lyon encourages indulging customers’ odd requests, as it can lead to a big tip. Photo courtsey of Sam Lyon

7. Indulge Odd Requests. They Could Lead to Big Tips

Before you start your gig, have a professional or financial goal in mind. That can keep you on track — and keep you from burning out.
“I would definitely keep in mind you will have to pay those taxes later. It’s not automatically coming out of what you earned,” Lyon said. “Personally, I set aside 30% of what I make. That way, I have a little bit of wiggle room.”
“It started off as a beautiful day. The birds were chirping. The sun was shining,” Lyon said in a video. “The perfect day for two gladiators to enter the arena.”
When you’re making your Uber Eats driver profile, don’t blast through it thinking you can go back and change it later — especially the photo step.
Keep your side hustle in check. Here’s how to create an exit plan so that you can enter the gig economy, meet your goals and get out.
Setting aside 30% might seem steep, but it’s usually an overestimate. Lyon, like most taxpayers, would rather have a refund come tax time than a hefty tax bill.

8. Track Your Expenses

Ready to stop worrying about money?
In the end, Lyon made ,357 and documented his journey on the video-sharing site TikTok, where he goes by the moniker SabbiLyon. Each day, he recorded a short video to log his progress — amassing more than 200,000 followers and millions of views along the way. Lyon entertained just about every odd request he got. They usually led to big tips.
Once you get a sense of those trends, you can then experiment to try to maximize your pay.
In the time it would take him to land a big order, he says he could have been delivering three smaller orders.
After a week or so of driving, he was able to see how much money was possible to make given his parameters. So he aimed for a specific target: ,000 by the end of June.To reach that, he would try to make at least 20 deliveries a day. He didn’t worry much about the pay of each delivery because they ended up averaging about an order. <!–

–>




The app shows you potential earnings based on the amount you would have earned if all the people you invited completed their first 50 trips.

Stock Market Today: Nasdaq Sets New Highs in Polarized Session

One major market index closed out the week at a fresh all-time high, but that was only part of the story on a Friday that saw COVID-19 creep back into Wall Street’s spotlight.

Several cyclical sectors, energy (-3.9%) and financials (-1.1%) foremost among them, strongly sold off today in reaction to an escalating wave of coronavirus cases.

“A number of countries [have reimposed] restrictions, with a number putting in place specific restrictions for those still unvaccinated,” says Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Jayarajan. “Austria has gone further still, imposing a full national lockdown starting on Monday, and announcing compulsory vaccinations from Feb. 1.” Health officials are considering new measures in Germany, too.

Oil and gas companies such as Exxon Mobil (XOM, -4.6%) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY, -5.0%) were hit particularly hard, with COVID concerns bringing U.S. crude oil prices down 3.7% to a six-week low of $76.11 per barrel.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 0.8% to 35,601, while the S&P 500 suffered a more modest pullback of 0.1% to 4,697.

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The Nasdaq Composite, however, closed Friday with a 0.4% gain to a record 16,057, driven in part by mega-caps Tesla (TSLA, +3.7%) and Nvidia (NVDA, +4.1%). The former surged after Wedbush analyst Dan Ives raised his price target by 27% to $1,400 per share, while the latter continued to rise in the wake of Wednesday’s Street-beating Q3 earnings report.

stock chart for 111921stock chart for 111921

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 slipped again, shedding 0.9% to 2,343.
  • Gold futures slipped 0.5% to finish at $1,851.60 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) headed 2.3% higher to 17.99.
  • Bitcoin lost a little ground, declining 0.2% to $57,858.19. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
  • Farfetch (FTCH) slumped 13.9% after earnings. In its third quarter, the U.K.-based online luxury retailer reported a narrower-than-expected adjusted loss of 14 cents per share, but revenue of $582.6 million fell short of the consensus estimate. The company also reported lower-than-anticipated gross merchandise volume (GMV) for its digital platform business and cut its current-quarter and full-year GMV forecasts for the unit. Still, Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju maintained an Outperform (Buy) rating on the stock. “Management noted inventory levels remain healthy and demand has been improving throughout the fourth quarter,” Ju says. “In addition, contribution margins should improve to 30%-35% in Q4 (vs 27% in Q3) as demand generation expense moderates and shipping costs are passed to the consumer.”
  • Foot Locker (FL) this morning reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.93 per share and revenue of $2.19 billion, more than the $1.37 per share and $2.15 billion analysts were expecting. However, FL stock fell 12.0% today after Andrew Page, chief financial officer for the athletic apparel retailer, said in today’s earnings call that the company expects “global supply chain constraints, including factory shutdowns and port congestion to continue to be a headwind through the fourth quarter and into 2022.” CFRA Research analyst Zachary Warring maintained his Hold rating on the stock in the wake of earnings. “In a retail environment where many companies are experiencing massive top-line growth, FL continues to struggle,” he wrote in a note. “We see plenty of better opportunities in the space and expect FL sales to remain flat to down over the long-term.”

The 30 Best Stocks of the Past 30 Years

“You could invest in ‘the next Apple’ or ‘the next Tesla.'” Chances are, if you read enough financial media, you’ve been exposed to this phrase at least once, if not a few hundred times.

The reason is obvious: It creates a mental connection to stocks that have delivered mindblowing returns since coming public, minting numerous millionaires along the way.

But tech superstars aren’t the only path to riches.

Hendrik Bessembinder, a finance professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, has produced a study showing that the top-performing 2.4% of firms account for all of the $75.7 trillion in net global stock market wealth created between January 1990 and December 2020 – and those outperforming stocks come from a wide spectrum of industries.

In our “30 Best Stocks of the Past 30 Years,” we look at the 30 stocks from around the globe that Bessembinder identified as having generated the most wealth for shareholders. While a number of technology dynamos are on the list, so too are several less flashy companies that used both market returns and consistent dividends to richly reward investors over time.

Kyle Woodley was long NVDA and TSLA as of this writing.

Source: kiplinger.com