9 High Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

Conventional wisdom often tells us that a college degree is needed to land a secure, high-paying job. However, going to college can be expensive and require taking on considerable debt.

Alternatively, there are a variety of rewarding jobs that pay well without a degree. Instead of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, these careers often prepare interested candidates through certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

Read on to learn about careers that pay well but don’t require a college degree.

1. Elevator Technician

Though it may appear as a niche industry, there are approximately 28,900 people employed as elevator and escalator installers and repairers in the United States.

To enter the field, the National Association of Elevator Contractors offers two types of certification: Certified Elevator Technician (CET) and Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician (CAT). Completing CAT Education Program involves two years of coursework and paid on-the-job training, whereas the CET Education Program is a four-year program.

Both programs require applicants to be at least 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma or equivalent.

Although the training and certification requirements parallel the time it takes to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, this field has some of the best jobs without a degree from a financial standpoint. In 2020, the median salary for elevator technicians was $88,540, and the sector is projected to grow 7% by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

2. Computer Programmer

Obtaining a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in computer science or a related field are common paths to computer programmer jobs. However, it’s still possible to forgo a formal degree program to enter this career path with the right skills and knowledge of programming languages, such as Java, SQL, and Python.

There are a variety of platforms offering free coding classes for beginner and experienced programmers, including Coursera, Udemy, Codecademy, and edX. In some cases, these courses are drawn directly from top universities.

With a median 2020 salary of $89,190, computer programming is one of the top-earning jobs without a degree. It’s worth noting that computer programmer jobs are expected to decline 9% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS.

3. Commercial Pilot

There are several levels of certification for pilots, ranging from recreational purposes to a career flying commercial and passenger aircraft. Becoming a commercial pilot requires a high school diploma or equivalent and a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The commercial pilot certification process involves a minimum of 250 hours of flight time in varying conditions and in-depth training requirements.

Commercial airline pilots are able to operate charter flights, rescue operations, and aircraft used in large-scale agriculture and aerial photography. To work for an airline, such as Delta or JetBlue, pilots generally need a bachelor’s degree and an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

The median annual wage for commercial pilots was $93,300 in 2020. This is competitive with many of the highest paying jobs out of college.

4. Real Estate Broker

Looking for high paying jobs without a degree or serious mechanical or tech skills? A career in real estate could be an option worth considering.

Every state has its own set of requirements for obtaining a real estate license. Generally speaking, this entails taking a set module of coursework and passing an exam.

Once certified, real estate agents are authorized to help clients buy, sell, and rent real estate for a sponsoring broker or brokerage firm. Depending on the state, real estate salespersons may also need to complete additional training or work a certain number of years to become a real estate broker.

Brokers are able to start their own firm and hire agents to work under them. This extra training and work can pay off, as the median salary in 2020 for real estate brokers was $60,370, compared to $49,040 for real estate agents.

5. Flight Attendant

The airline industry offers other high-paying jobs, with no degree required. Working as a flight attendant can be a well-paying job that also affords the ability to travel.

Requirements can vary somewhat between airline carriers, but some universal qualifications include being at least 18 years old, passing a background check, and holding a valid passport.

Flight attendants may also need to pass physical and medical evaluations and meet certain vision and height requirements based on the airline.

Once hired, flight attendants will complete training with the airline, which typically runs from three to six weeks. Training can cover emergency procedures, first-aid, and soft skills related to customer service.

The median flight attendant salary was $59,050 for 2020, and total jobs are expected to grow 17% from 2019 to 2029.

6. Electrician

As of 2019, there were over 739,000 electricians employed in the United States, and the number of jobs is expected to increase by 8% by 2029, says the BLS .

Instead of finding a job that pays for your college degree, how about getting paid for learning on the job? Through paid apprenticeship and education programs, that’s exactly what most electricians do to begin their careers. Typically, apprenticeships span four to five years and include a combination of classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training every year.

Rules for electrician apprenticeship programs vary by state and location. A handful of industry groups, such as Independent Electrical Contractors and the National Electric Contractors Association , provide resources for finding apprenticeship programs.

Electrician earnings are impacted by specialization and location, but the median wages for the industry totaled $56,900 in 2020.

7. Plumber

Installing and repairing piping and plumbing fixtures can be counted among jobs that pay well without a degree. Plumbers accounted for 490,200 people in the workforce in 2019, and the BLS predicts the profession will grow 4% over the next ten years.

The path to becoming a plumber parallels the apprenticeship and training requirements for electricians. A standard plumber apprenticeship spans four to five years and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and classroom coursework. In most cases, a high school diploma or its equivalent is required to be accepted into a program.

Apprentices can be sponsored by plumbing companies or trade unions. This map , managed by Explore the Trades, is a helpful tool to find apprenticeships by state in plumbing, HVAC, and electrical professions.

Plumbers can be called in on evenings and weekends to respond to emergencies, such as burst pipes. This, among other factors, is why the median annual pay for plumbers ($56,330) is higher than some other trades.

8. Wind Turbine Technician

Considering careers without a degree but worried about long-term prospects? A job in wind energy could be a safe bet. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects wind turbine technician jobs to grow by 61%, making it one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States.

Wind turbine technicians may perform tasks related to maintenance, repair, inspection, and analysis of wind energy systems. Community colleges and technical schools often offer associate’s degrees and certificates in wind energy technology that can improve a candidate’s prospects.

Upon hire, technicians usually complete about 12 months of on-the-job training related to electrical safety, equipment operation, and climbing wind towers. Wages can vary by location, but the median pay for wind turbine technicians was $56,230 in 2020.

9. Court Reporter

If Court Reporter
Median income is $61,660 per year. No special degree is required. Short-term on-the-job training

Education: Postsecondary non-degree award
Median Income: $57,150
Job Growth: 7%

Court reporters type word-for-word transcriptions of a trial, deposition, or other legal proceeding, using shorthand, machine shorthand, or voice writing equipment. They may also be asked to read back portions of the transcript by judges.

Court reporters often work with private law firms or local, state and government agencies. There is some training required, but not a four-year college degree. Court reporting programs may be offered at community colleges, technical schools, or court reporter schools.

To enter a program, you may need to take an entrance exam that tests typing and English language skills.

In 2020, median income for a court reporter was $61,660 per year.

The Takeaway

Finding a high-paying and meaningful job doesn’t always require going to college.

But, while you may not need a bachelor’s degree for many of these rewarding careers, you will likely need some kind of education, such as an associate degree, some trade school, or other specific certifications or apprenticeships.

Whichever career path you choose, it can be a good idea to factor in education costs, and to start saving up these expenses as early as you can.

SoFi Money® is a cash management account that allows you to earn competitive interest on your savings without getting dinged by account fees. By signing up, you’ll also get access to SoFi’s team of career and financial advisors.

Learn how SoFi Money can help you put your money to work.

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.
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.
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.
Advisory services are offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC an SEC-registered Investment adviser. Information about SoFi Wealth’s advisory operations, services, and fees is set forth in SoFi Wealth’s current Form ADV Part 2 (Brochure), a copy of which is available upon request and at adviserinfo.sec.gov .


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25 Tips for Sharing Expenses with Roommates

Having roommates can be a great way to reduce your monthly living expenses. It can also mean living in a bigger apartment or a nicer area than you could otherwise afford.

But negotiating finances with friends (or strangers) also comes with potential pitfalls, especially if you have roommates who don’t always pay what they owe, when they owe it.

Luckily, whether you already won the roommate lottery or are just trying to make the best of living with someone you barely know, figuring out how to share roommate expenses doesn’t have to be hard.

What follows are tips for splitting expenses with roommates so that everyone feels like things are fair in your household.

Managing Money With Roommates

These 25 strategies can help ensure that monthly expenses get divvied up fairly–and everyone is on the same page from the moment you first move in together.

1. Making Decisions Together

Whether you and a friend are moving in together for the first time or you already live together and you’re bringing in someone new, it can be very helpful if you decide as a group how you’re going to handle finances. You might consider having a meeting right away to establish how you’ll be splitting costs.

2. Making a List of What You Both Own

Before moving in together, you and your roommates could make a list of what you both already own and can bring to the apartment for communal use. For example, if your roommate has a stand mixer and you have a nice collection of baking pans, that can be a useful combination. If you can contribute a couch, your roommate might be able to find a kitchen table.

3. Figuring Out How You’ll Split Monthly Expenses

Many roommates find that part of sharing a household might mean sharing more than just rent and utility bills. You may want to consider sitting down with your roomies to figure out what monthly expenses beyond rent and utilities will be shared and how you will split up these costs. This may include cable, wifi, and any subscription services like video streaming.

4. Splitting Costs Evenly…

Since it can be difficult to determine who used a certain amount of electricity or watched the most Netflix, it could make sense to simply split costs down the middle (or evenly among roommates). That can save a lot of time and energy and could be the most fair arrangement.

5. …Or Splitting By Percentage of Use

If you or your roommate uses certain utilities or services significantly more than other members of the household, you might want to consider splitting by percentage of use. For instance, perhaps your roommate is a photographer and is always plugging in lights to take photos, and maybe you’re only home four days a week. A percentage is more complicated, but could be more fair.

6. Deciding Who Will Pay the Bills

To streamline bill paying (and make sure no bills end up falling through the cracks), it can be wise to put one person in charge of actually paying the bills. You may want to designate that person from the get-go, and then everyone else can send this person the money before the bills are due every month.

7. Keeping a Written Document of Expenses

Whether you split each cost evenly, or by a percentage of use, it can make sense to write down each person’s share of expenses and what they can roughly expect to pay each month—so no one is blindsided when it comes time to pay the bills.

8. Figuring Out How to Divide Household Supplies

Once you have the details of the non-negotiable bills nailed down, you may want to next look at how you want to manage the cost of household supplies.

For example, while some roommates don’t mind toting their own roll of toilet paper into the bathroom, many find that it is easier and more economical to split the cost of a bulk package.

9. Deciding Whether to Share Groceries

Even if you have different tastes in food and purchase the most of your groceries separately, you may find that sharing basics, like gallons of milk, coffee, and juice, even bags of rice or quinoa, may be more economical. If you cook meals together, you may want to go in on even more weekly groceries to help save money on food.

10. Keeping Some Purchases Separate

Just because you plan to share a couch doesn’t mean you need to share the bill. While it may seem sensible to split the cost of furnishings and electronics for your rental, you may also want to consider what will happen when your lease is up.

Unless you and your roommates plan on selling everything when the time comes to move out (and splitting the proceeds), paying for things separately can make things simpler in the end.

11. Establishing a Budget

If you and your roommate have agreed to buy groceries or other items together, you may also want to discuss a monthly budget before you start making household purchases.

You might be fine with generic toilet paper, while your roommate wants to spring for the expensive name-brand stuff. Getting on the same page about how much you’ll spend each month on communal items can help avoid money squabbles later.

12. Finding an Easy Way to Track Expenses

You might give one roommate the responsibility for keeping track of your expenses and how much each roommate owes, as well as logging who paid what and when. They could do this on a spreadsheet or through an app. That way, each person will know exactly how much they owe, as well as what they’ve already paid.

13. Deciding How You Will Pay Each Other

Gone are the days of writing checks or going to the ATM to reimburse roommates for rent and other expenses. With all the peer-to-peer money transfer options now available, you can quickly and easily pay each other without cash.

You may want to sit down with your roommates and decide which app you’re going to utilize, make sure everyone has it downloaded to their phones, and then use it to reimburse each other.

14. Drafting a Roommate Agreement

When you first move in with a roommate, or when another roommate is moving in, you might want to create a roommate agreement that is separate from the rental contract you have with your landlord.

The agreement could spell all the financials, such as how you will split costs, as well as some basic ground rules, such as parking and having guests over.

15. Setting Consequences for Failure to Pay Your Share

Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but if a roommate isn’t paying their share of expenses, you may want to make sure that there are some consequences.

For instance, you could agree (and even include this in your “roommate agreement”) that if a roommate doesn’t pay the bills on time once, they would take on all the household chores until they can pay, and if they fail to pay a second time, they would need to to leave the rental.

16. Making Late Payers Cover Late Fees

You may want to make it clear that If one roommate is late with their payment and, as a result, triggers a late fee or penalty, then that person would be responsible for paying those additional charges. (You may also want to make this rule clear in your “roommate agreement.”)

17. Discussing Responsibility for Damage

It can be a good idea to also discuss who will be responsible for covering the cost of any unexpected expenses, such as damage to your rental.

You might agree (and put in your agreement), for example, that whoever is responsible for any damages must pay for them. That way, if your roommate’s dog chews up the door frame, it would be up to them to pay for the repairs.

18. Splitting the Security Deposit

It often makes sense to have all the roommates contribute to the security deposit. That way, they will all be equally invested in keeping the place nice so that they get their portion of it back upon moving out.

19. Sharing Expenses for Get-Togethers

Get-togethers like BBQs and Super Bowl parties can be great bonding experiences for roommates and their friends. When having one of these events, all the roommates can chip in so that the celebration is fun, as well as affordable.

20. Having Monthly Meetings

Roommates that don’t communicate effectively can become resentful and end up disliking each other. By having monthly meetings to discuss finances and other issues, everyone has a chance to air their grievances and figure out solutions for problems going forward.

21. Avoiding Passive-Aggressive Notes

It can be tough to live with roommates and deal with all their quirks, especially when it comes to money. But even if someone is late paying a bill or otherwise not doing their fair share, posting notes can end up creating hostility.

You may be able to resolve the situation more effectively by being direct and honest with each other either in a one-on-one or monthly roommate meeting.

22. Not Laying Out Money for Bills Until Everyone Has Given Their Portion

If you are responsible for paying the bills, you may find that it’s easier to pay them with your money and then collect from your roommates later. However, this can put you in a bad position if your roommates take their time in paying you back.

Instead, you might want to set a rule that you will only pay the bills once your roommates have given you their share.

23. Discussing Ways to Save Money

If utility bills or other shared expenses are on the high side, you may want to sit down with your roommates and talk about some ways to save money. You might decide, for example, to invest in energy-saving light bulbs you can turn off using an app or get rid of one or two streaming services.

24. Finding Coupons Together

You can make saving money a group activity with your roommates. Every week, before you go shopping, you can all look for coupons to use at the store on sites like Coupons.com and SmartSource .

25. Choosing Responsible Roommates

When vetting potential roommates, it can be helpful to discuss some of the expense-sharing ideas listed here. If they are open and amenable to sharing expenses equitably, you should have very few issues when it comes to splitting costs.

You may also want to make sure any potential roomies have a steady income, good referrals, and a solid credit score, as this can indicate they tend to be responsible with money.

The Takeaway

While roommates come with many benefits, sharing a space–and expenses–with other people isn’t always easy.

Being open about finances and setting some ground rules from the get-go, however, can help ensure that everyone contributes their fair share and all your bills get paid on time.

Using technology and smart money management resources can also make it easier to track and share expenses with your roommates.

SoFi Money® is a mobile first cash management account that allows you to track weekly spending right in your dashboard on the app.

You can also use the app to transfer and receive funds. And, if your roommates are also SoFi Money members, they’ll get access to the money immediately.

Make splitting costs with your roommates easier with SoFi Money.

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.
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.
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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9 Tips For Buying A Used Car_780x440

9 Tips for Buying a Used Car

Opting to buy a used vehicle rather than the newest model on the lot can be a great way to save some money.

Used cars often cost significantly less than new cars. In addition, older cars are generally cheaper to insure (since they are worth less than new cars).

The process of shopping for, and financing, a used car, however, can feel intimidating. To demystify the process, we’ve got nine simple strategies that can help you find a reliable used car that fits your lifestyle and budget.

1. Setting a Budget for a Used Car

Before you start researching used cars, you may want to first think about how much you can afford to spend on a car and how you will pay for it.

If you will be paying cash, you may want to consider how much of your savings you can realistically put towards a car. If you don’t have quite enough, or the purchase would completely gouge your savings, you may want to spend a few more months saving up for a car.

If you will be getting a loan for the car, you’ll want to think about what would be a comfortable monthly payment.

One rule of thumb is to put at least 10% down and finance the car for three years. You may also want to try to keep your total monthly auto expenses no higher than 20% of your monthly take home pay.

You can use an online auto loan calculator to get a rough idea of how much you might need to spend each month on financing.

2. Getting Financing Before You Start Shopping

If you plan to get a loan to buy the car, it can be a good idea to get a pre-approved car loan from a bank, credit union, or another lender before you start shopping.

While you may opt to go with financing offered by a car dealership, having a pre-approved car loan offer in your back pocket can give you a great negotiating tool.

Dealers tend to mark up the interest rate to make a profit, but if you already have a deal in place, they will know they need to beat it in order to get your business.

Even if you’re going to buy a car through a private sale, having a pre-approved loan in place will allow you to jump on a great deal as soon as you find it.

Recommended: Buying a Car with a Personal Loan

3. Choosing Your Ideal Car

Now that you have a car buying budget in mind, you may want to look into what types of cars you can get for that money.

Do you need a truck, SUV, or sedan? You can save money outright by buying a smaller car and also down the line if it’s good on gas mileage.

If safety is a top priority, you may want to check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings to see which cars perform the best in crash tests.

You can also narrow the field by making a list of must-have features, and then searching for cars that have them using a search tool like Edmunds Car Finder .

Once, you’ve narrowed your list to three target models that you can research in more detail. You may also want to read reviews about the cars you’re interested in on sites like Kelley Blue Book and J.D. Power. .

Recommended: How to Save Up for a Car

4. Shopping for a Used Car

Once you know how much you can spend and what kind of car is going to be a good fit for you, you can actually begin shopping for a used car. There’s no need to start driving to car lots all over town–you can browse through tons of vehicles online.

Good places to look include: used car superstores like Carmax or Carvana, used car dealerships, as well as new car dealerships (which often also sell used cars, though not always at the lowest prices).

You may also want to look at listings from local private party sellers, which you can find on Craigslist, eBay Motors, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor.com.

5. Researching the Car

Once you’ve pinpointed a vehicle you might want to buy, it can be a good idea to find out as much as you can about the vehicle’s history.

You can get a vehicle history report from a company like Carfax or Autocheck , which can tell you if the car has any red flags, such reported accidents or flood damage, as well as information on the car’s maintenance and service history.

To get a report, you’ll need to get the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number from the seller. There is typically a fee for running a report (around $25) but many dealers will provide the report for free.

You may also want to run the VIN number through the United States Department of Transportation Recalls site to check for any safety recalls. If there have been any recalls, it’s a good idea to make sure that the issue has been fixed.

6. Going for a Test Drive

It can often be helpful to try before you buy, especially when it comes to buying a car. A car dealership will typically let you take a few cars for a drive so you can get a sense of how they feel.

You may want to call ahead before visiting a dealership to make sure they have the car on the lot that you’re interested in so you can see it that day.

A private seller will also likely allow you to take the car for a brief spin to see how you like it.

Some things to consider when going for a test drive:

•   How well the car accelerates and corners.
•   If the breaks are responsive.
•   If there are any unusual noises or vibrations that could indicate a mechanical issue.
•   How well the car fits you–is there enough leg room? Can you comfortably reach all of the controls?

7. Inspecting a Used Car

Even if you’re far from a car expert, it can be a good idea to do a visual inspection of the car. Is the car’s body and paint in good shape? Are the lights all working? Are there signs of cracks or water inside the lights?

You may also want to turn on the air conditioning and heating, radio, and navigation system and make sure they are all working properly.

When examining the interior, you’ll want to make sure it is in decent condition and there aren’t any unpleasant smells–a moldy smell can indicate flood damage and cigarette smells can be hard to get rid of.

8. Getting a Mechanic to Inspect the Car

Unless you are buying a certified used car with factory warranty coverage from a dealership, you may want to consider getting a car you are close to buying inspected by an independent auto mechanic.

While this does involve an investment of some cash (typically $100 to $200), it can potentially save you from dealing with a costly repair soon after you buy the car.

The inspection report may also give you some bargaining power when haggling over the price of the car.

9. Negotiating the Price of a Used Car

It’s rare that you’re going to come across a used car price where the seller is unwilling to budge, even a little.

Before you negotiate a car deal, however, you’ll want to have all your research ready, including how much the average make and model car for a particular year goes for, and any concerns or issues that came up during your personal and professional inspection.

If you’re negotiating with a dealer, it can be a good idea to keep the focus on total cost of the car, rather than bring a trade-in or financing into the mix.

Dealers may want to merge all of the numbers into one deal, which can be confusing–and also make a not-so-good deal look better.

When discussing price at a dealership, you may also want to make sure you are talking about the out-the-door price, including all fees (so there aren’t any surprises).

The Takeaway

Buying a used car can be a smart buying decision. To make sure you get a car that suits your needs and budget, however, you’ll want to research your options, come up with a target price range, and line up financing before you shop.

When shopping for used cars, it’s a good idea to learn a car’s history, test drive the car, and also have it professionally inspected.

Knowing the value of the car in the open marketplace can help you negotiate a good price. If you don’t like the deal, there’s nothing wrong with walking away.

Saving up for a new (to you) set of wheels? You may want to consider opening a SoFi Money® cash management account.

SoFi Money allows you to separate your savings from your spending, while still earning competitive interest on all your money.

And with SoFi Money’s “vaults” feature, you can create different vaults for different goals, including a “car savings” vault.

Start saving for your next sweet ride with SoFi Money.

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.
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.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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hands holding cash

31 Tips for Cutting Your Grocery Bill

You may think there’s not much you can do about the high cost of groceries. After all, we all have to eat!

But the truth is, there are a number of relatively easy ways to slash your weekly spending on groceries. And, saving at the supermarket doesn’t have to mean skimping on taste, quality, or nutrition.

What follows are 31 simple tricks that can help you shop smarter and spend less every time you hit the supermarket.

Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

1. Making–and Sticking to–a List

Impulse buys can quickly bust your budget. So before going to the supermarket it can be wise to plan out your meals and make a detailed list of all the things you will need, including any household supplies.

At the store, you’ll want to be strict about sticking to the list. Yes, those pineapples look great and they’re on sale, but are they on your list? No? Then you should probably keep walking.

Shopping with a list not only helps save money but can also cut down on food waste–the items that tend to sit idle in the fridge or on the countertop are often the ones that never had an assigned meal, to begin with.

Sticking to a shopping list can save money as well as food waste.

Recommended: Easy Ways To Save Money

2. Eating Before You Go

If you enter a supermarket hungry, there’s no telling what you’ll end up putting into your cart because, since just about everything is going to look good.

Walk into the grocery store with a full stomach, on the other hand, and you might be shocked by how much lower your grocery bill is.

3. Planning for Leftovers

According to a study by Bosch home appliances , the average American tosses $53.81 worth of spoiled food a week from their refrigerator, or $2,798 every year.

One reason that food goes to waste is that it can be difficult to buy the exact amount of food you need to make the meals we’ve planned. This can result in leftover ingredients languishing in the fridge or pantry, and then landing in the trash can.

You can help reduce wasted food (and money) by doubling your recipe and then having leftovers for lunch and/or putting some in the freezer so you’ll have a meal at the ready when you need it.

4. Grocery Shopping Online

Think you’ll be tempted to go off-script if you enter a grocery store? You might want to try online grocery shopping instead. Many local supermarkets offer online ordering, and allow you to choose either curbside pick-up or delivery.

Or, you may want to try one of the many online grocery services, such as Peapod, Instacart, or Amazon Fresh. You can often choose one-off delivery, as well as recurring delivery of staples (like toilet paper) so you never run out.

It can be easier to avoid the temptations when you can type everything you need into a search bar. Plus, shopping online makes it easy to compare brand prices, see what’s on sale, and watch the total tally up in real time.

5. Developing a Green Thumb

Even if you’re not much of a gardener, you might want to try growing one or two of your favorite vegetables in a container or a small garden area outdoors. You can then step outside and pick your tomato or bell pepper rather than buying them at the store.

If you don’t have any outdoor space, you might consider starting an indoor herb garden. If you have parsley, basil, or cilantro right on your windowsill, you can just pick what you need rather than buy a whole bunch at the market.

6. Sticking to Stores You Know

Having a tried and true grocery store may be good for your wallet. Walking into a store you’re familiar with means you already know where to get the items on your list.

Head into an unfamiliar store and you may be left wandering the aisles for what seems like an eternity trying to find your goods.

That’s because grocery stores are set up to be a little confusing and to drive consumers to have to do a bit of wandering, as that’s when you’re more likely to make random purchases.

7. Bringing Your Own Bags

One quick way to potentially drive down the cost of your grocery store run is to BYOB—bring your own bags. Many stores now reward customers who bring reusable bags by reimbursing them about 5 to 10 cents a bag at checkout.

It may feel like a small financial transaction, but it’ll add up over time–and it’s also kinder to the environment. Keeping some reusable bags in your car is a good way to avoid forgetting them at home.

8. Joining Loyalty Programs

Many stores now offer discounts for regular shoppers and even secret sale items only for those who’ve signed up.

It’s typically quick, easy, and free to join, though some stores like Whole Foods require customers to be part of its Amazon Prime membership service (which comes with a yearly fee). Still, it may be worth it as discounts at the register can add up to real savings.

9. Embracing Meatless Mondays

Reducing meat consumption and eating more plant-based meals has benefits for the environment, your waistline, and your wallet.

Chickpeas, black beans, peas, brussel sprouts, quinoa, tofu, along with many other beans, whole grains, and vegetables are all excellent (and inexpensive) sources of protein without the added saturated fat that comes with animal products.

You may want to consider going meatless at least one day a week, and then building up to a few meat-free meals per week.

10. Buying Larger Containers

Buying the largest size of packaged, canned, and frozen foods can sometimes help you save money on food. That’s becuase some of the cost of every grocery item is in the packaging.

If your grocery store has a “bulk foods” section you might save even more by buying the amount of food you need to place into plastic bags.

11. Thinking Beyond Fresh Produce

Another way to save money at the grocery store is to buy fruits and vegetables in the frozen or canned foods aisle. The savings can add up, especially when the food is out of season.

If you’re looking to add pineapple to a recipe in the winter, you can save money by opting for canned pineapple over a fresh one that’s not in season. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables also don’t go bad as quickly as fresh, so they may be less likely to get wasted.

12. Trying a CSA

A Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program can help you save money on fresh produce, eggs, and herbs. You can look for one using the USDA’s CSA directory and see if they’ll deliver to your front door.

Not only will you be saving money but you’ll be supporting local farmers and eating food that’s close by helps ensure it’s fresher.

13. Clipping Coupons

While it’s not rocket science, this tried-and-true technique is still one of the best ways to cut your grocery bill. You may want to consider scanning the local circulars that come in the mail to see which stores are having deals on the food items you need that week.

You can also look for manufacturers’ coupons (often in circulars inserted into Sunday newspapers), clip them, and store them in your wallet.

When it comes to couponing, however, it’s wise to make sure that you’re only buying items you need and usually buy–otherwise you could end up adding to, not shrinking, your grocery bill.

Recommended: How to Coupon for Beginners

14. Shopping in Season

It’s typically cheaper to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season than ones that have been shipped to the store from a far-away place where it can be grown year-round.

Also, since in-season produce is in large supply, it tends to be sold at affordable prices to maintain demand. In-season produce also tends to be tastier.

15. Using Apps

There are a number of rebate apps you can download onto your phone for free that allow you to get cashback on items you purchased. Options include Ibotta, SnipSnap, Saving Star, Coupon Sherpa, and Checkout 51, and Fetch Rewards.

While rebates don’t give you a discount upfront (like a traditional coupon), you should see savings in the long run.

If you frequently shop at large chains like Walmart or Target for groceries, getting their apps may help you earn rewards and get discounts for being a loyal shopper. You just need to scan your mobile app when you check out.

16. Stocking up on Shelf-Stable Items

When your grocery store is having a sale on canned goods, dried goods, or other pantry items, you may want to consider buying multiples. Items like beans, sauces, soups, nuts, peanut butter, pretzels, shelf-stable snacks like unpopped popcorn won’t expire for a long time.

You’ll be able to enjoy the cost savings and will likely appreciate having them on hand when preparing meals.

17. Buying Store-Brand or Generic

You don’t have to sacrifice flavor and taste in order to save money while grocery shopping. While It’s easy to overlook no-name or store brands, in many cases these items are actually made by the brand name companies, just with a different label.

And the savings can be real. Preparing dinner using generic (rather than brand name) products can save as much as $20 a week–or $80 a month.

18. Shopping the Outside Aisles

The inside aisles of the grocery store are where pricier processed foods are typically stocked, The outer edges, on the other hand, is where you tend to find fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and beans.

Shopping on the edge–and filling your cart with nutrient-dense items and fresh, seasonal food–can help your wallet, as well as your waistline.

19. Portioning Food Out Yourself

It can be tempting to buy convenience items where food is pre-portioned into single servings so you can just grab-and-go. Smaller items can also help you keep from overeating. But all of that packaging tends to increase the cost of the item.

If your kids love crackers, you may want to buy a full-size box and portion them out in zip-top bags or reusable containers. You can do the same with other favorite snacks so you won’t be tempted to eat the whole bag in one sitting. You can also spoon yogurt into small containers for school and cut cheese into slices from a block for easy snacks.

20. Drinking Tap Water

To avoid spending money on bottled water, you may want to get a filtered pitcher and switch to drinking tap water. By drinking from a reusable water bottle or a glass throughout the day, you’ll also reduce the amount of plastic waste you’re putting into the environment

Getting your kids used to drinking water instead of juice or soda can also reduce your supermarket bills.

21. Using a Smaller Cart

If you’re not shopping for a full week’s worth of groceries, consider grabbing a small cart or, even better, a hand-held basket. This will automatically limit how much you can buy because only so much will fit.

When you have a smaller cart–or a basket that will get heavy quickly–you’re forcing yourself to ask, “Do I really need this?” every time you pick up something to buy in the store.

22. Minimizing Trips to the Store

One way you can save money on your grocery bill is to only shop when you need to and to minimize the frequency that you set foot in the supermarket door.

The reason is that the less often you’re physically in the store, the less likely you’ll be tempted to buy something you don’t absolutely need. It can be all too common to go to the grocery store for “one thing” and come out with a few items.

23. Shopping Off-Peak

Most of us don’t want to spend our weekends grocery shopping, right? Unfortunately, Saturdays and Sundays are the days when many of us have the time to go to the supermarket–along with everyone else in our town.

Shopping during peak times can hurt your budget in a few ways. You might try to speed through the supermarket and be more likely to buy an item at the end of the aisle because it’s convenient, rather than grab a similar product on the shelf a few feet away. This could mean they are buying a more expensive version of what they need.

You might also run into trouble shopping during peak times because you’re more likely to get stuck in a long line–and become tempted by miscellaneous items stocked near and along the checkout line.

24. Calculating the Bill While you Shop

Shopping with a calculator or getting out your phone and adding things up as you put them in your cart can help you stick to your spending plan. (If you’re shopping with kids, you can give them the job to tally what’s in the cart.)

By keeping a running tally of how much money is in your cart, you can save yourself from any unpleasant surprises during check-out. Plus, it can make you think twice before putting any extras in your cart.

25. Shopping Your Pantry First

It’s easy to accidentally buy an extra item at the supermarket that you didn’t realize you already had stored at home. That’s why after you write your grocery list, it can be a good idea to double-check pantry shelves, spice racks, the fridge, and the freezer to make sure you truly need what’s on your list.

You may even want to shop your pantry and fridge before making your meal plan and shopping list to see if you can think of meals that incorporate foods you already have on hand.

26. Paying with Cash

A simple trick for lowering your grocery bill is to set your budget and then only bring that much money in cash, leaving the plastic at home.

This will help ensure that you stick to your list and avoid grabbing any tempting extras. You can only spend what you have in your wallet. Full stop.

27. Making Breakfast for Dinner

Eggs are one of the most affordable protein sources out there. By making simple breakfast-style food for dinner, you’re offering your family a fun meal and using up some of your (affordable) breakfast foods.

You might consider making an omelet or frittata with eggs, cheese, and leftover vegetables, whipping up blueberry pancakes, or creating a bacon, egg, and cheese burrito. Not only are many breakfast recipes a delicious dinner option, but they’re affordable and often quick to prepare.

28. Avoiding Eye-Level Items

Grocery stores are designed to get you to spend more money, which is why the most expensive products tend to be stocked at eye level. Brands often pay more money for their products to be displayed prominently so you’re more likely to buy them.

Searching high and low when you’re shopping may yield significant savings. Once you start looking, you may even notice a price differential between the eye-level item cost and the one at your feet.

29. Baking Your Own Treats

Many impulse buys happen in the bakery and snack sections of the supermarket. Before you succumb, you may want to ask yourself if you could bake it at home. You may already have the baking basics on your pantry shelves and could whip up some muffin or cookies fairly quickly. Or, you might want to buy a mix to save time (you’ll still save money).

Before buying chips and snacks, you may also want to consider if there is a more affordable DIY option, like buying popcorn kernels to cook on the stove.

Asking yourself, “Can I make this?” will likely result in saving money and getting the freshest item possible.

30. Hitting the Store on a Wednesday

When it comes to snagging good deals, shopping on a Wednesday may be beneficial. That’s because grocery stores tend to restock their shelves and make new mark-downs in the middle of the week. Since they’re in the process of changing the discounts, they may still honor the price cuts from last week’s sale as well as the new ones.

31. Doing the Prep Work Yourself

Those packaged baby carrots and bagged pre-washed salads make it easier to eat healthier, but if you’re willing to do the cleaning, prepping and chopping of fresh produce, and even meats and poultry, you can save money.

A boneless, skinless chicken breast package will cost more than buying a whole chicken. You’re paying for the convenience. By setting aside time to prep and chop your foods after you get home from grocery shopping, you’ll likely reap savings.

Recommended: How Much Should I Spend on Food a Month?

The Takeaway

A little planning and knowing some money-saving tricks can help you lower your monthly grocery bill and stick to your budget.

By following these budget shopping tips, you may find that you have more money left over each month to pay down debt, invest for the future, or save for something fun.

Looking for a good place to put your newfound savings? You might want to consider SoFi Money®. SoFi Money is a cash management account that allows you to separate your spending from your savings while earning competitive interest on all your money.

Check out everything SoFi Money has to offer today.

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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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.


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Savings Goals by Age: Smart Financial Targets by Age Group

Mapping out your financial future can be daunting, especially if you only have a vague sense of what you want to accomplish.

It can be useful to consider financial milestones to help you chart out your journey from college graduation through retirement. Here’s a look at some common savings goals by age to help you orient yourself and build a plan.

Savings Goals for Your 20s

In your 20s, people are often just out of school, starting a career, and getting their life in order. As if that wasn’t enough, challenges like student loan debt or credit debt may face them. Now is the time to set financial goals, consider an investment strategy, and start building healthy financial habits.

Paying off high interest debt

If you have any high-interest debt—debts of 7% or more—you might focus on paying it off. High-interest payments can cost you a lot over the life of a loan.

Credit cards, which often allow minimum payments that are much less than the total balance due, can be particularly costly as interest on the balance accrues. The more money going toward high-interest debt, the less you can focus on your savings goals.

Building emergency savings

At this age, people are often just getting on their own feet and might not have a lot of extra cash to stock away. Establishing a rainy day fund can be a useful savings goal. Generally, emergency funds are about three to six months worth of expenses. This fund can help cover emergencies like unexpectedly replacing a car transmission.

Your emergency fund provides a cushion of cash should an unexpected bill come up or should you lose your job. Since you never know when you’ll need to access your emergency fund, consider saving it in an easily accessible vehicle, a cash management account. SoFi Money® is one option, where account holders can save and spend in a single place.

Saving for retirement

The earlier you start investing for retirement, the longer you can take advantage of the powers of compounding interest—the returns you earn on your investment returns.

Compounding interest helps your investments grow exponentially. Consider taking advantage of any retirement accounts your employers offer, such as a 401(k). If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k), there are other options, such as an IRA, where you can save for retirement in a tax-efficient fashion on your own.

Savings Goals for Your 30s

In your 30s, people are often more settled into a career path and may be thinking about other goals such as purchasing a house or having kids.

More saving for retirement

As your income grows and retirement gets closer, consider increasing the amount you’re setting aside for retirement. If your employer offers a match to your 410(k) contributions, taking advantage of the match is a wise move.

After all, this is essentially free money. And these matching funds could be worth as much as 6% or your income.

Buying a home

If you’re thinking about buying a home, focus on saving for a down payment. The amount you will need to save will depend on housing prices in the area in which you’re looking to buy.

A larger down payment can make it easier to secure a mortgage loan and can also mean that you pay less interest, which will save you money over the life of the loan.

Also, lenders may require borrowers to have mortgage insurance if they’re making a down payment smaller than 20% , which is an added expense to the home buying process.

Setting up college funds

For those with children, another consideration is saving for their college education. One possible way you could do this is with a 529 college savings plan that can help you save for your child’s tuition and other education related expenses. Try not to neglect other long-term goals, such as retirement, while saving for this. It is possible to do both!

Savings Goals for Your 40s

As you enter your forties, you are likely entering your highest earning years. If you have your high interest debts behind you, you can devote your attention to building your net worth.

Keeping an eye on your emergency fund

The amount of money you needed to cover six months worth of expenses in your 20s is likely far less than what you need if you have a mortgage to pay and children to support. Make sure that your emergency fund grows with you.

Make sure that your emergency fund grows with you.

Protecting your savings

One way to do this is by making sure that your assets and your person are properly insured. Home and auto insurance protect you in the event that something happens to your house or you get in a car accident.

If you don’t already have life insurance, this type of insurance can provide a cash cushion to help your family replace your income or cover other expenses should you die. But, it is important to know that waiting until your 40s to take out life insurance could be more expensive than taking it out when you are younger.

Savings Goals for Your 50s

In your 50s you’re still in your top earning years. You may still be paying off your mortgage, and your kids may now be out of the house.

Taking a closer look at retirement savings

As retirement age approaches, continue contributing as much as you can to your retirement account. When you turn 50, you are eligible to catch-up contributions to your 401(k) and IRAs.

These contributions provide an opportunity to boost your retirement savings if you haven’t been able to save as much as you hoped up to this point.

But even if you have been meeting your savings goals, the contributions allow you to throw some weight behind your savings and make use of tax-advantaged accounts in the decade before you retire.

Continuing to pay off a mortgage

If you think your monthly mortgage payments may be too high to manage on a fixed income, consider paying off or refinancing your mortgage before you retire.

Goals for Your 60s

As you enter your 60s, you may be nearing retirement age. But when it comes to saving, you don’t have to slow down. As long as you have earned income, you might want to keep funding your retirement accounts.

Thinking long-term

Consider long-term care insurance (Just a note: The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance recommends getting LTC in your mid-50s). But if you haven’t already done so, your 60s may be a sensible time to secure long term care insurance.

Health insurance doesn’t generally cover in-home care or the cost of a nursing home facility if you get sick and can no longer perform day-to-day tasks, such as dressing yourself or bathing alone.

The cost of long-term care can be thousands of dollars per month, which can quickly eat away even the most robust nest eggs. Long-term care insurance can help cover these costs, protecting the retirement savings you worked so hard to build.

The Takeaway

Everyone’s personal timeline is different. The milestones you hit and when you hit them, may vary depending on your personal situation. For example, someone graduating from college with $50,000 in student loan debt is at a very different starting point than someone who graduates with no debt.

Or, though someone might be able to buy a house in their early 30s, others may live in a more expensive city and need more time to save. No matter your starting point and your situation, the important thing is to have a plan and stick to it. Having a plan can set you on track to meet your goals at each decade in your life.

Learn more about how SoFi Money® can help you save to meet your financial milestones.

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.
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.
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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