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At SoFi Wealth, our mission is simple: We want to help you make the smartest investment decisions possible so that you can continue on the path to your goals. That’s why we constantly monitor the market, the economy, and your personal Wealth portfolio. Each month we discuss the economy, update our forecasts based on what the market is doing, and every now and then tweak the allocations within our member portfolios. This is one of those times. Below, we’re sharing the updates we’ve made to all five risk strategies: Conservative, Moderately Conservative, Moderate, Moderately Aggressive, and Aggressive. When it comes to your investments, we always want to be transparent and keep you in the loop about adjustments that we’re making to help your money grow. Conservative Our lowest risk portfolio invests heavily in bonds, which may be appropriate for someone investing with a lower tolerance for risk or a shorter time horizon, like under three years. With bonds, there are three options: Short-term bonds are considered lower-risk/lower-reward, intermediate-term bonds are considered moderate-risk/moderate-reward, and long-term bonds are considered higher-risk/higher-reward. Please do keep in mind that all investing comes with the risk of loss. The Conservative strategy investments are tilted towards short-term bonds because they offer the lowest risk and often perform better when interest rates are rising (the environment we’re in currently). However, we’re currently reducing some of the short-term bonds in favor of some intermediate-term bonds. Overall, this is still a cautious approach, but we believe that these new allocations will better position the portfolio. New Target Weights Retirement Accounts conservative target weight for retirement accounts Taxable Accounts conservative target weight for taxable accounts Moderately Conservative The Moderately Conservative strategy is also weighted toward short-term bonds, so it’s a fairly cautious approach. Historically, we’ve selected both investment-grade bonds (lower risk, lower interest rate) and high-yield bonds (higher risk, higher interest rate). Now, we’re reducing some of that high-yield exposure and increasing the amount of investment-grade bonds to lower the overall risk of this portfolio. This strategy also invests a bit in the stock market. Our approach here (and in other strategies) is to balance our investments across the globe. We’re putting a little less in Emerging Markets, less in U.S. Markets, and more in Developed Markets outside the U.S. (like Japan, parts of Europe, and Canada). We believe that these new allocations will give this portfolio a relatively better chance to grow. New Target Weights Retirement Accounts moderately conservative target weight for retirement accounts Taxable Accounts moderately conservative target weight for taxable accounts Moderate Similarly to the Moderately Conservative strategy, we’ve significantly reduced investments in high-yield bonds and increased the amount of investment-grade bonds. We’ve also added two new core bond ETFs. Overall, this approach gives a diversified approach to bonds and reduces the anticipated risk of this portfolio. In the stock market, we’re again balancing our approach: putting a little less in Emerging Markets, less in U.S. Markets, and more in Developed Markets outside the U.S. (like Japan, parts of Europe, and Canada). New Target Weights Retirement Accounts moderate target weight for retirement accounts Taxable Accounts moderate target weight for taxable accounts Moderately Aggressive In the Moderately Aggressive strategy, we wanted to increase stock investments in Developed Markets outside of the United States (such as parts of Europe, Canada, and Japan). To do this, we reduced stock investments in Emerging Markets and U.S. Markets, as well as reduced investments in high-yield bonds in favor of core U.S. bonds. We believe this offers a more optimal risk/reward trade-off, based on the current market environment and the potential for rising interest rates. New Target Weights Retirement Accounts moderately aggressive target weight for retirement accounts Taxable Accounts moderately aggressive target weight for taxable accounts Aggressive Over the past year and a half, we have seen solid performance in stock markets in U.S. and Emerging Markets. We upgraded our anticipated relative stock investment performance in Developed Markets outside the United States (such as parts of Europe, Canada, and Japan), so we’ve increased investments there. While U.S. markets still make up the largest portion of this portfolio, the current approach aims to balance out investments across the globe. New Target Weights Taxable & Retirement Accounts aggressive target weight for taxable and retirement accounts Have questions about the strategy you’re investing in, and if it’s still the right one for you? As always, SoFi Wealth advisors are always available to answer any questions you have. Schedule a complimentary financial check-in for personalized support to help you achieve your goals. SoFi Wealth, LLC does not render tax or legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and we recommend that you consult with a qualified tax advisor for your specific needs. The SoFi Wealth platform is operated and maintained by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Brokerage services are provided to clients of SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a member of FINRA / SIPC. Investments are not FDIC Insured, have No Guarantee and May Lose Value. Investing in securities involves risks, and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

Got student loans? We’ve got you covered with our Student Loan Smarts blog series. Our expert tips and hacks will help you save money, pay off loans sooner and stress less about student loan debt. Read the other posts in the series here—and get all the info you need to make intelligent decisions about your student loans. And while you’re at it, check out SoFi’s new Student Loan Debt Navigator tool to assess your student loan repayment options.
One of the biggest student loan myths out there is that borrowers can’t consolidate federal student loans and private student loans into one loan.  It’s understandable why people think that, since this wasn’t an option for many years.  But now that the choice is available, it’s important to understand whether federal and private loan consolidation is right for you – especially when there’s the potential for significant cost savings on the line.

Can I Consolidate Federal and Private Student Loans?

While it’s not possible to use the federal Direct loan consolidation program to combine your federal student loans with private loans, it is possible to combine private and federal student loans by refinancing them with a private lender.  Through this process, you actually apply for a new loan (which is used to pay off your original loans) and you’re given a new—ideally lower—interest rate.
Why would you want to do this?  In addition to the advantages of loan consolidation (like having one, simplified monthly payment), refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate can mean big benefits, like lowering monthly payments or reducing the time it takes to pay off your debt, and cutting down on the total interest you pay over time.
Before you refinance federal student loans, there are a couple of things to think about.  Here’s an easy decision tree to help you understand whether refinancing federal loans is right for you:

Federal Student Loan Interest Rates, Revealed

Some people assume that federal loans always offer the best rates, but this just isn’t true.
Depending on loan type and disbursement date, your federal student loan rate could range from about 3% to 8%.  With prevailing interest rates at historic lows, some private lenders offer rates that are significantly better than a high-rate federal loan.  This is particularly true for grad school borrowers who use unsubsidized Direct loans and Graduate PLUS loans to finance their education.
So how important is interest rate, really?  Let’s compare a 10-year term, $80,000 loan at 6.84% (the current fixed rate on Grad PLUS loans) and 5.68% (the average 10-year fixed interest rate for SoFi refinance borrowers in 2015).*
Interest RateMonthly PaymentTotal Interest

In this example, refinancing would mean both lower monthly payments and a total savings of more than $5,600. 

Things to Understand About Federal Student Loan Benefits

Some federal student loans offer benefits and protections that do not transfer to private lenders.  This is often the reason that people cite when they say you shouldn’t combine federal and private loans.  But before you dismiss the idea of refinancing, you should first take a look to see if any of these benefits apply to you.
For example, under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP), your Direct Loan balance may be eligible for forgiveness after 120 payments if you’ve worked in the public sector that entire time.  Similarly, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is available for teachers who work in schools that serve low-income families full-time for five consecutive years. These are clearly great programs for people who choose careers in public service or education, but if that’s not you, they won’t do you any good.
There are also a number of federal loan repayment plans that can ease the burden for borrowers facing tough economic times. For example, the government’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income-Based Repayment (IBR) programs allow borrowers to make reduced monthly payments based on financial hardship.  But if your income is over a certain threshold, you won’t benefit from these programs.  And if you do qualify, but you’re at the high end of the spectrum, your slightly lowered payments may come at a disproportionate price in the form of accumulating interest.
It’s important to note that some private lenders offer their own benefits and protections.  At SoFi, for example, if you lose your job, we’ll not only pause your payments, we’ll help you find a new one.
Combining federal student loans and private loans through the refinancing process won’t make sense for every borrower, but it provides great benefits for some.  Now that you know it’s an option and you understand how it works, you can better assess whether it’s right for you.
*Click here  to see student loan refinance examples that depict APR, monthly payment and total finance charges.
Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of a post we originally published in December 2013. We welcome new comments and questions below.


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