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.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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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Guide to Refinancing Your Student Loans After Marriage

After getting married, you’ll start to merge your life, your home, and possibly your finances with your partner. As you plan for the future, it’s helpful to consider the implications of student loans and marriage—which can affect your credit, your ability to get a home mortgage, and even the repayment of your student debt.

Consolidating your federal loans or refinancing student loans after marriage may be options to consider as you begin handling finances in your marriage and working together to reach your financial goals

Student Loans and Marriage

There are currently over 45 million borrowers in the U.S. and the total amount of student loan debt is $1.7 trillion. So the odds are high that either you or your partner may have student loans. As you begin planning for your financial future together, it’s helpful to look at how marriage can affect student loan payments.

Recommended: What is the Average Student Loan Debt?

What Happens to Student Loans When You Get Married?

If you haven’t already had a conversation about student loans and marriage before tying the knot, you and your partner should sit down and discuss your individual student loan debt: how much you have, whether you have federal or private student loans, as well as what your balances, payment status, and monthly payments are. It’s important to share this information since getting married may change your debt repayment plans.

If someone has federal student loans and is on an income-based repayment (IBR) plan when they get married, for example, their monthly payments may increase post-marriage as income-based repayment plans are determined by household income and size. Depending on how a couple chooses to file their taxes, the government may take a new spouse’s salary into account when determining what the borrower’s monthly payments should be.

Because federal student loan borrowers on an income-based repayment plan have to recertify each year, the current year’s income is taken into account which may be higher after marriage if both spouses work. If the borrower’s new spouse doesn’t earn income then they may actually see their monthly payment requirements drop as their household size went up, but their household income remained the same.

Household income also affects how much student loan interest a borrower can deduct on their federal taxes. It’s worth consulting an accountant if a newly married couple needs help figuring out where they stand financially post-marriage.

It’s also important to be aware of how marriage affects your credit score as how someone manages their student loan debt is a factor. Since spouses don’t share credit reports, marrying someone with bad credit won’t hurt your credit score. That said, when it comes time to apply for a loan together, a bad credit score can make getting approved harder—which is another reason it’s key to get on the same page about repaying any debt on time.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

Refinancing Student Loans After Marriage

Refinancing student loans gives borrowers the chance to take out a new student loan with ideally better interest rates and terms than their original student loan or loans. Some borrowers may choose to consolidate multiple student loans into one newly refinanced loan to streamline their debt repayment process.

The result? One convenient monthly payment to make with the same interest rate and the same loan servicer instead of multiple ones.

As tempting as it may be to combine debt with a spouse and work toward paying it off together, married couples typically cannot refinance their loans together and each spouse would need to refinance their student loans separately. But even though a couple can’t refinance their student loan debt together, they’ll still want to be aware of what’s going on with their partner’s student loans.

Recommended: Top 5 Tips for Refinancing Student Loans in 2022

How to Refinance Student Loans After Marriage

Refinancing student loans after marriage looks the same as it does before marriage and is pretty straightforward. The student loan borrower will take out a new loan, which is used to repay the original student loan.

Ideally, this results in a better interest rate which will help borrowers save money on interest payments, but this isn’t a guarantee. Before refinancing, it’s important that borrowers shop around to find the best rates possible as factors like their credit score and income can qualify them for different rates.

Borrowers have the option of refinancing both federal and private student loans, but it’s worth noting that refinancing a federal student loan into a private one removes access to valuable federal benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness for public service employees.

Refinancing vs. Consolidating Student Loans After Marriage

Borrowers can choose to refinance or consolidate their student loans before or after marriage.

If a borrower has multiple federal student loans, then they can choose to consolidate their different loans into one Direct Consolidation Loan. This type of loan only applies to federal student loans and is offered through the U.S. Department of Education.

This type of loan takes a weighted average of all of the loans consolidated to determine the new interest rate, so generally this is an option designed to simplify debt repayment, not to save money. If a borrower chooses to consolidate through a private lender, they will be issued new rates and terms, which may be more financially beneficial.

Consolidating through a private lender is a form of refinancing that allows borrowers to take out one new loan that covers all of their different sources of student loan debt. While some private lenders will only refinance private student loans, there are plenty of private lenders that refinance both private and federal loans. As mentioned earlier, refinancing a federal loan means losing access to federal protections and benefits.

Refinancing can be advantageous if the borrower is in a better financial place than they were when they originally took out private student loans. If they’ve improved their credit score, paid down debt, and taken other steps to improve their financial picture, they may qualify for a better interest rate that can save them a lot of money over the life of their loan.

Another option in refinancing student loans after marriage is co-signing a partner’s loan. Doing so may mean that you can leverage greater earning power and possibly better credit, but it also means both partners are responsible for the loan, and can put one partner at risk in the event of death or divorce.

Student Loan Refinancing With SoFi

SoFi refinances both federal and private student loans, which can help borrowers save because of our flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates. Borrowers won’t ever have to worry about any fees and can apply quickly online today.

Learn more about refinancing student loans with SoFi.

FAQ

What happens when you marry someone with student loan debt?

If someone’s new spouse has student loan debt, this indirectly affects them. While the debt won’t be under their name or affect their credit score when it comes time to apply for credit products with their spouse (such as a mortgage loan) their credit score and current sources of debt will likely be taken into account.

Is one spouse responsible for the other’s student loans?

No one spouse is directly responsible for their spouse’s student loans, but it’s important to work together to pay off student loan debt. Again, once it comes time to apply for a joint loan, any student loan debt can have an effect on eligibility.

Does getting married affect student loan repayment?

Getting married can affect student loan repayment if a borrower is on an income-based repayment plan for their federal student loans. This type of repayment plan takes household size and income into account when determining what the borrower’s monthly payment should be. If their spouse brings in an income they may find their monthly payments are higher, but if their spouse doesn’t have an income their payments may become smaller.


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SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 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.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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How to Invest in Agriculture

Many people think of investing in agriculture as owning farmland and operating a farm. Many investors overlook this business area when deciding where to put their money because they don’t see themselves toiling the land. But there are various options to invest in agriculture without being a farmer.

Farmland investing is just one way to invest in agriculture. Additionally, investors can invest in farming-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) or trade commodities to take advantage of the agricultural markets.

What Are Agriculture Investments?

Investing in agriculture is more than just owning some farmland and working the land. Agriculture can be an alternative investment that diversifies an investor’s portfolio. Investors can get exposure to agriculture and farming by investing in businesses involved in the whole farming process, from the seeds in the ground to the distribution of products to grocery stores.

4 Ways to Invest in Agriculture

1. Agriculture Stocks

Investors can put money into various publicly-traded companies that provide services in the farming industry. These agribusiness firms range from those involved in actual crop production — though many crop producers are privately held — to companies in the farming support businesses. The farming support businesses include companies that make fertilizer and seeds, manufacture farming equipment, and process and distribute crops.

Companies in the agriculture industry include, but are not limited to:

•   Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM): A large food processing and commodities trading firm

•   Deere & Company (DE): Known as John Deere, this company manufactures agricultural machinery and heavy equipment

•   Corteva, Inc. (CTVA): An agricultural chemical, fertilizer, and seed company

•   The Mosaic Company (MOS): A large company that produces fertilizer and seeds

•   AppHarvest Inc (APPH): A small-cap company involved in indoor farms and crop production

2. Agriculture ETFs and Mutual Funds

Investors who don’t want to pick individual stocks to invest in can always look to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that provide exposure to the agricultural industry. Agriculture-focused mutual funds and ETFs invest in a basket of farming stocks, commodities, and related assets, allowing investors to diversify farming exposure.

3. Farm REITs

Farm and agricultural real estate investment trusts (REITs) own farmland and lease it to tenants who do the actual farming. REITs that invest in farmland can be a good option for investors who want exposure to farmland without actually owning a farm.

This type of investment can provide investors with various benefits. For example, a REIT is a type of liquid asset, meaning an investor can quickly sell the investment on the stock market. In contrast, if an investor were actually to own farmland, trying to sell the land could be a drawn-out and complex process. Other benefits include regular dividend payments and geographical and crop diversification.

Recommended: Pros and Cons of Investing in REITs

4. Commodities

Agricultural commodities are the products produced by farms, like corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Trading commodities can be a profitable, though risky, endeavor. Investors who trade commodities look to take advantage of the market’s volatility for short-term gains. Usually, this is done by trading futures contracts, though large investors may actually purchase and sell the physical commodities.

Commodity trading can be risky, especially for a novice investor. ETFs with exposure to commodities may be better for investors with lower risk tolerance.

Recommended: Why Is It Risky to Invest in Commodities?

Benefits and Risks of Investing in Agriculture

Benefits

One of the significant benefits of agriculture investments is that people always need to eat, so there will usually be some demand support for businesses in the industry. Because of this, some investors view the sector as somewhat recession-proof and a good way to diversify a portfolio.

Another benefit is that farmland REITs and certain agriculture stocks can provide passive income through regular dividend payouts. Additionally, farmland investments can provide a hedge against rising inflation.

Risks

The agricultural and farming sector can be fickle, as it’s subject to various risk factors that can impact investments. Uncertainties stemming from weather to government policies to the global commodities markets can cause volatile swings in prices and income that affect investments in the sector.

Here are some risks facing agricultural investments:

•   Production risk: Major weather events, crop diseases, and other factors can affect the quantity and quality of commodities produced.

•   Market risk: The global markets for commodities can affect farming and agricultural business as prices can swing wildly, making crop production and agribusiness demand uncertain.

•   Financial risk: Farms and related businesses often use debt to fund operations, so rising interest rates and credit tightening can hinder companies in the industry.

•   Regulatory risk: Changes in taxes, regulations, subsidies, and other government actions can impact agricultural businesses and investments.

Are Agriculture Investments Right for You?

It might seem like agriculture investments are risky, but with that risk comes reward. If an investor’s risk tolerance allows for it, agricultural investments can provide diversification in a portfolio.

The Takeaway

Fortunately for investors who want to put money into the agriculture sector, they don’t necessarily need to buy a farm. Several investment vehicles can fit their needs to get exposure to farming. Farmland REITs, agribusiness stocks, and farming and commodity ETFs can be options to build wealth in the farm business.

Investing in agriculture doesn’t have to be as hard as owning a farm and working the land. Investors can start investing in agriculture by trading stocks and ETFs for as little as $5 with SoFi Invest®.

Check out how to start investing with SoFi today.

FAQ

Is agriculture worth investing in?

Agricultural investments can help diversify a portfolio. Depending on what areas of the agriculture business you invest in, the assets can produce steady income and long-term capital gains.

How much should I invest in agriculture?

Determining how much you should invest in any asset class depends on your financial goals and personal risk tolerance. It would be best if you didn’t put too much of your money into the agriculture sector; you want a diversified portfolio.

How do I invest in a farm?

Buying a farm can be difficult; you would need a lot of capital for a down payment, just like any other piece of real estate. If you want exposure to farmland, agriculture and farm-related REITs can be a good option, especially for retail investors.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages
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Source: sofi.com

5 Popular Investing Trends of 2022

Heading into 2022, many investors had a brighter outlook on the U.S. economy and financial markets. Both staged impressive rebounds in 2021 after Covid-19 quarantine measures triggered wild volatility. Vaccine breakthroughs and stimulus checks further stoked optimism that the finances of many businesses and individuals were on the mend.

However, rising inflation, higher interest rates, and geopolitical conflict have been several headwinds getting in the way of continued economic and financial market growth in 2022. Year-to-date, the benchmark S&P 500 Index is down about 7% through April 20, 2022, after rising nearly 27% in 2021.

Nonetheless, there are opportunities in some areas of the financial markets for investors looking beyond Covid-19. Here’s a look at five popular investment trends for 2022.

1. Looking Beyond Covid-19

Some of the success stories in the stock market in 2020 and 2021 were companies that benefited from coronavirus-related stay-at-home measures, like entertainment streaming businesses, video conferencing services, and at-home workout companies. But many companies in these sectors are losing their luster as the country reopens; investors are looking for other opportunities as the world returns to normal.

Investors have wagered that airline, cruise line, travel website operators, and other transportation stocks will benefit now that most Covid-19 restrictions are in the rearview mirror. While these sectors, like the rest of the economy, may be hindered by rising interest rates and inflation, many investors still see them poised to grow because of pent-up demand.

2. ESG Investing Movement

Financial advisors often tell clients to take their emotions out of investing. However, a new breed of ethically-minded investors has become increasingly interested in putting their money where their values are in recent years.

This strategy is known as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. A Bloomberg study estimated that ESG investments may hit $41 trillion globally by the end of this year and $50 trillion by 2025, a third of global assets under management.

In early 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine set off global protests and pronouncements against the unprovoked conflict. Many American companies followed by pulling their business operations out of Russia and issuing statements on their commitment to Ukrainian democracy. This development is just one example of companies looking beyond the bottom line in their business decisions. Moreover, shareholder advocacy groups are applying pressure on some companies to back their pledges with transparency on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.

3. Web 3.0

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were among the most discussed investments in 2021, with wild swings in prices as investors put money into these digital assets. The prices of crypto assets cooled off in the early portion of 2022, but they are still in the front of the minds of a lot of investors.

Because of the success and attention paid to crypto over the past several years, investors are looking to put money into related investments: companies involved in what is known as Web 3.0, or the next phase of the internet. Web 3.0 companies include those involved with blockchain technology, decentralized finance (DeFi), the metaverse, and artificial intelligence.

4. Commodities Markets

After years of muted returns, commodity prices rebounded in 2021. Investors wagered that recovering economies would lead to more construction, energy usage, and food consumption. Tight supplies also boosted these markets.

Moving into 2022, the attention paid to the commodities market has only intensified, especially with the geopolitical turmoil in Ukraine and Russia affecting critical commodities like oil, natural gas, and wheat. Prices of these key commodities have spiked as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict constrains supplies.

Rising prices of agriculture, lumber, and industrial and precious metals have sparked a debate about whether commodities are going through a new supercycle. A supercycle is a sustained period, usually about a decade, where commodities trade above long-term price trends.

Recommended: Commodities Trading Guide for Beginners

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5. Hot Housing Market

The housing market will continue to be an area of focus for investors, policymakers, and potential homebuyers in 2022. During 2020 and 2021, rock-bottom mortgage rates, a shortage of housing supply, and homebuyers looking to purchase larger houses to accommodate working from home led to houses selling quickly and at high prices. Additionally, investors and real estate investment trusts (REITs) bought an increasing share of homes on the market.

During the first quarter of 2022, mortgage rates are rising at a record pace, with the average 30-year mortgage nearing 5% for the first time since 2018. Analysts are looking to see if rising mortgage rates will cool the hot housing market or if buyers will continue to purchase homes.

Recommended: Pros & Cons of Investing in REITs

The Takeaway

Putting hard-earned dollars into any investment — whether it’s trendy or traditional — can be daunting. Investors should be aware that, while momentum can feed investment fads for long periods, some market trends can become vulnerable because of frothy valuations and turn on a dime.

However, if investors still want to try their hand at choosing popular investment trends themselves, SoFi’s Active Investing platform makes it easy by making it easy to track their picks of stocks, ETFs and fractional shares. Investors can also make trades without incurring management fees from SoFi Invest®.

Open an Active Investing account with SoFi today.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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Source: sofi.com

Student Loan Forgiveness for Mental Health Workers

Working in mental health can be a challenging, but rewarding, career. But sometimes the rewards of a fulfilling mental health career are not necessarily monetary. And, because many mental health career tracks require a graduate degree as well as an undergrad degree, you may be wondering about options to pay down student loans.

How To Plan For the Future With Student Loan Debt As A Mental Health Professionals

Student loan debt can be challenging to navigate. It can also be challenging to navigate career opportunities when you know that you have student loans to repay. The good news: You’re not alone. And there is no one right path to pay back student loan debt.

It can be helpful to talk to graduates and see how they paid off student loans. One big crossroads can be whether to take a higher paying job in the private sector or work in a nonprofit role that could give you an avenue toward loan forgiveness through a program like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). Another option to manage repayment is to use income-driven repayment plans, like Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE)

There may also be programs unique to your career. For example, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a government branch, offers loan repayment programs for mental health professionals who meet certain criteria, such as serving in a health professional shortage area. Speaking with your supervisor, your colleagues, and keeping abreast of news within professional organizations can help alert you to unique repayment opportunities.

Recommended: REPAYE vs PAYE: What’s the Difference?

What is a Student Loan Forgiveness Program?

A student loan forgiveness program operates the way it sounds: Student loans can be forgiven if certain criteria within the program are met. But each student loan forgiveness program has different criteria. It’s important to completely understand the scope of the forgiveness program. Reading this student loan forgiveness guide can help you understand where the national conversation is regarding loan forgiveness in the future as well as options available for forgiveness now.

When student loans are forgiven, usually after a set amount of payments, the balance is forgiven. But that balance may be taxed, depending on the program. For example, forgiveness received under PSLF is not considered taxable, according to the IRS. But under PAYE and REPAYE programs, any canceled student loan debt is considered taxable.

There may also be loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) for your profession or field. There may also be state-sponsored loan forgiveness programs.

Will Student Loans be Forgiven After Ten Years?

Loans are not automatically forgiven after ten years. But one potential avenue for mental health student loan forgiveness is the federal Public Service and Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This program requires eligible candidates to work with a qualifying organization and make 120 qualifying monthly payments. It also requires that the loans you hold be federal Direct Loans (or that the federal loans you currently have are consolidated into a Direct Loan).

Qualifying for PSLF can be challenging and requires borrowers to certify their employment to be sure their payments count toward the program. In addition to making 120 payments while working at a qualifying employer, you have to be working for a qualifying employer when you submit the forgiveness application and when the loan is forgiven.

Consult with your loan servicer if you have any questions and be sure to read all of the details about the program.

Over the years, there has been legislation for student loan forgiveness, including the student loan forgiveness act. But despite bipartisan support for student loan forgiveness, nothing has happened on a national level. While there may be legislation in the future for forgiveness for federal or even private student loans, right now those seeking forgiveness can go through the federal programs already in place.

Typical Requirements for Student Loan Forgiveness

In general, forgiveness programs have criteria. These may include:

•  A history of payments, with no payments skipped

•  Working at a qualifying organization, in a qualifying capacity (ie, full-time instead of part-time)

•  Correctly filling out paperwork for forgiveness

•  Potentially paying taxes on the amount forgiven

Understanding the criteria, reading the fine print, and researching any points of confusion can be helpful in ensuring that your application is processed successfully. The eligibility and forgiveness requirements may vary depending on the forgiveness program, so be sure to fully understand the criteria for the loan forgiveness option you are pursuing.

Difference Between Loan Forgiveness, Loan Cancellation, and Loan Discharge

These three terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Quite simply, all three terms mean you’re no longer required to pay some or all of your loan. But there are no “easy” ways to get out of paying student loans.

Usually, forgiveness and cancellation mean that, due to either a forgiveness application or your current job, you no longer have to pay loans. Discharge refers to a situation beyond your control, such as total and permanent disability or the closure of your school. In very rare cases, student loans are discharged due to bankruptcy. You will likely have to apply for cancellation, forgiveness, or discharge and will likely need to continue making payments while the application is processed.

Student Loan Forgiveness Options For Mental Health Workers

Depending on your place of employment, you may have other options for forgiveness through specific mental health worker programs. There also may be scholarships and grants available in your field of study. Also something to consider: Some private employers offer student loan repayment as part of their packages. This can be worth asking potential employers as you look for jobs. There are also other federal programs to know about:

PPACA and HERA Student Loan Programs for Counselors

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, legislation expanded opportunities for student loan forgiveness for healthcare professionals, including mental health counselors. While many of these forgiveness programs are state-run, this act did ensure that any forgiven funds would not be considered taxable income for people seeking forgiveness through programs supporting health care professionals working in underserved areas.

Under the Higher Education Reconciliation Act (HERA) certain federal loans, including Stafford Loans, and Direct Loans (both Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans) are eligible for a graduated repayment plan. Under this plan, your federal loan repayments start low and gradually increase every two years. This can be an option if you expect your income to increase over the years.

National Health Services Corps Loan Repayment Program

The National Health Services Corps offers loan repayment programs through your state. Each state has different eligibility requirements, including eligible disciplines. These state-run programs also may differ in terms of service commitments but usually, the commitments start at two years for an eligible position. These will generally be at centers funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Mental Health Loan Forgiveness Alternatives

The criteria and requirements for some forgiveness programs can be challenging to fit. But that doesn’t mean there’s no way to pay down loans. Understanding all your options can help you navigate the best potential avenue for you.

Refinance Your Mental Health Student Loan

Refinancing your student loans could help save you money in the long term, and may potentially give you more flexibility in your budget. When you refinance, you take all your loans and consolidate them into one loan. For qualifying borrowers, this loan may have a lower interest rate, which could reduce the amount of money you owe in interest over the life of the loan. It also may have a different payment term, so that you are paying the loan off over a longer (or shorter) period of time. Keep in mind that while a longer loan term may result in lower monthly payments, but might also mean paying more in interest. This type of customization can be helpful in taking control of your finances.

You can check your loan refinance rate without affecting your credit score and choose terms that work for you.

Scholarships and Grants

There may be scholarships and grants, either from your institution or your place of work. This can help pay down student loan debt. It’s also worth remembering that some private-sector employers may offer student loan repayment as a perk. Talking with colleagues, supervisors, and the financial aid office at your school may help you find programs that may be specific to your field or your school.

Pay Off Student loan Debt

In some cases, it may make sense to prioritize paying down student loan debt. This may include considering a personal loan to cover student loan debt, if the interest rate is lower than refinancing options. Other ways to pay off student loan debt include taking on part-time work, decreasing living expenses or otherwise try to carve out opportunities to pay more than the monthly student loan payment.

The Takeaway

Working as a mental health professional can be rewarding, but might require students to borrow student loans to pay for their education. There are options for paying back student loans. Some mental health professionals may qualify for certain types of loan forgiveness, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, if they have federal student loans and depending on their profession and employer. Refinancing some or all of your student loans can be another option to help give some monthly leeway in your budget while allowing you to potentially save money on interest over time.

But one thing is a cliche in the mental health field — and in the world of paying back student loans: No one is alone. Talking to colleagues about their student loan pathway, joining professional organizations, and keeping an ear to the ground regarding grants, scholarships, and employers paying back student loans can all be beneficial in finding a payback plan that works for you — and your career goals.

Learn more about how refinancing your student loans with SoFi could help you repay your student loans.

FAQ on Mental Health Forgiveness

How do counselors and mental health professionals plan for the future with student loan debt?

Understanding options for paying back loans can be helpful for mental health professionals. Sometimes, this includes looking into all repayment opportunities, including the opportunity to refinance and save money on interest over time. Sometimes, mental health professionals and counselors may expand their job search into private sector work which may pay more to comfortably cover loan payments.

Do healthcare workers qualify for loan forgiveness?

In some cases, healthcare workers qualify for eligible forgiveness programs. This depends on the state the healthcare worker resides, as well as their place of employment.

What are some student loan forgiveness options for mental health workers?

Mental health workers who work in underserved areas may be able to apply for forgiveness programs run at their state level for healthcare professionals. Eligibility depends on criteria including place of employment. Student loan forgiveness options may also include the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) as well as some income-based repayment options.


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Should I Put My Bonus Into My 401k? Here’s What You Should Consider

If you’re wondering what to do with bonus money, you’re not alone. Investing your bonus money in a tax-advantaged retirement account like a 401(k) has some tangible advantages. Not only will the extra cash help your nest egg to grow, you could also see some potential tax benefits.

Of course, we live in a world of competing financial priorities. You could also pay down debt, spend the money on something you need, save for a near-term goal — or splurge! The array of choices can be exciting — but if a secure future is your top goal, it’s important to consider a 401k bonus deferral.

Here are a few strategies to think about before you make a move.

Receiving a Bonus Check

First, a practical reminder. When you get a bonus check, it may not be in the amount that you expected. This is because bonuses are subject to income tax. Knowing how your bonus is taxed can help you understand how much you’ll end up with so you can determine what to do with the money that’s left. The IRS considers bonuses as supplemental wages rather than regular wages.

Ultimately, your employer decides how to treat tax withholding from your bonus. Employers may withhold 22% of your bonus to go toward federal income taxes. But some employers may add your whole bonus to your regular paycheck, and then tax the larger amount at normal income tax rates. If your bonus puts you in a higher tax bracket for that pay period, you may pay more than you expected in taxes.

Also, your bonus may come lumped in with your paycheck (not as a separate payout), which can be confusing.

Whatever the final amount is, or how it arrives, be sure to set aside the full amount while you weigh your options — otherwise you might be tempted to spend it, as behavioral finance research has shown.

What to Do With Bonus Money

There’s nothing wrong with spending some of your hard-earned bonus from your compensation. One rule of thumb is to set a percentage of every windfall (e.g. 10% or 20%) — whether a bonus or a birthday check — to spend, and save the rest.

To get the most out of a bonus, though, many people opt for a 401k bonus deferral and put some or all of it into their 401k account. The amount of your bonus you decide to put in depends on how much you’ve already contributed, and whether it makes sense from a tax perspective.

Contributing to a 401k

The contribution limit for 401k plans in 2022 is $20,500; for those 50 and older you can add another $6,500, for a total of $27,000. If you haven’t reached the limit yet, allocating some of your bonus into your retirement plan can be a great way to boost your retirement savings.

In the case where you’ve already maxed out your 401k contributions, your bonus can also allow you to invest in an IRA or a non-retirement (i.e. taxable) brokerage account.

Contributing to an IRA

If you’ve maxed out your 401k contributions for the year, you may still be able to open a traditional tax-deferred IRA or a Roth IRA. It depends on your income.

In 2022, the contribution limit for traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs is $6,000; with an additional $1,000 catch-up provision if you’re over 50. But if your income is over $144,000 (for single filers) or $214,000 (for married filing jointly), you aren’t eligible to contribute to a Roth. And while a traditional IRA doesn’t have income limits, the picture changes if you’re covered by a workplace plan like a 401k.

If you’re covered by a workplace retirement plan and your income is too high for a Roth, you likely wouldn’t be eligible to open a traditional, tax-deductible IRA either. You could however open a nondeductible IRA. To understand the difference, you may want to consult with a professional.

Contributing to a Taxable Account

Of course, when you’re weighing what to do with bonus money, you don’t want to leave out this important option: Opening a taxable account.

While employer-sponsored retirement accounts typically have some restrictions on what you can invest in, taxable brokerage accounts allow you to invest in a wider range of investments. So if your 401k is maxed out, and an IRA isn’t an option for you, you can use your bonus to invest in stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and more in a taxable account.

Deferred Compensation

You also may be able to save some of your bonus from taxes by deferring compensation. This is when an employee’s compensation is withheld for distribution at a later date in order to provide future tax benefits.

In this scenario, you could set aside some of your compensation or bonus to be paid in the future. When you defer income, you still need to pay taxes later, at the time you receive your deferred income.

Your Bonus and 401k Tax Breaks

Wondering what to do with a bonus? It’s a smart question to ask. In order to maximize the value of your bonus, you want to make sure you reduce your taxes where you can.

One method that’s frequently used to reduce income taxes on a bonus is adding some of it into a tax-deferred retirement account like a 401k or traditional IRA. The amount of money you put into these accounts typically reduces your taxable income in the year that you deposit it.

Here’s how it works. The amount you contribute to a 401k or traditional IRA is tax deductible, meaning you can deduct the amount you save from your taxable income, often lowering your tax bill. (The same is not true for a Roth IRA or a Roth 401k, where you make contributions on an after-tax basis.)

The annual contribution limits for each of these retirement accounts noted above may vary from year to year. Depending on the size of your bonus and how much you’ve already contributed to your retirement account for a particular year, you may be able to either put some or all of your bonus in a tax-deferred retirement account.

It’s important to keep track of how much you have already contributed to your retirement accounts because you don’t want to put too much of your bonus and exceed the contribution limit. In the case where you have reached the contribution limit, you can put some of your bonus into other tax deferred accounts including a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

How Investing Your Bonus Can Help Over Time

Investing your bonus can help increase its value over the long-run. As your money grows in value over time, it can be used in many ways: You can stow part of it away for retirement, as an emergency fund, a down payment for a home, to pay outstanding debts, or another financial goal.

While it can be helpful to have some of your bonus in cash, your money is better suited invested in an investment vehicle where it works for you and doesn’t lose value due to inflation. If you start investing your bonus each year in either a tax-deferred retirement account or non-retirement account, this will ensure you are steps closer to enjoying greater financial security in the future.

Investing for Retirement With SoFi

The yearly question of what to do with a bonus is a common one. Just having that windfall allows for many financial opportunities, such as saving for immediate needs — or purchasing things you need now. But it may be wisest to use your bonus to boost your retirement nest egg — for the simple reason that you could stand to gain more financially down the road, while also potentially enjoying tax benefits in the present.

The fact is, most people don’t max out their 401k contributions each year, so if you’re in that boat it might make sense to take some or all of your bonus and fill up the gas tank, so to say. If you have maxed out your 401k, you still have options to save for the future via traditional or Roth IRAs, deferred comp, or investing in a taxable account.

A taxable account might offer you different or complementary investment options that could also round out your portfolio.

Keeping in mind the tax implications of where you invest can also help you allocate this extra money where it fits best with your plan.

If you get a bonus this year, you can help grow your retirement savings with SoFi Invest®. It’s easy to set up an Active Invest account and open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. With either an active or automated approach to investing in these retirement accounts, you can choose from a wide range of investment options and services, such as speaking with financial professionals at no additional cost. Learn more about how to take control of your retirement with SoFi Invest.

FAQ

Is it good to put your bonus into a 401k?

The short answer is yes. It might be wise to put some or all of your bonus in your 401k, depending on how much you’ve contributed to your workplace account already. You want to make sure you don’t exceed the 401k contribution limit.

How can I avoid paying tax on my bonus?

Your bonus will be taxed, but you can lower the amount of your taxable income by depositing some or all of it in a tax-deferred retirement account such as a 401k or IRA. However, this does not mean you will avoid paying taxes completely. Once you withdraw the money from these accounts in retirement, it will be subject to ordinary income tax.

Can I put all of my bonus into a 401k?

Possibly. You can put all of your bonus in your 401k if you haven’t reached the contribution limit for that particular year, and if you won’t surpass it by adding all of your bonus. For 2022, the contribution limit for a 401k is $20,500 if you’re younger than 50 years old; Those over 50 can contribute an additional $6,500 for a total of $27,000.


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