Tips for Investing in Retirement

6 Investing Tips and Strategies for Retirees

A lot of personal finance advice is about saving for retirement. But the need for saving and investing doesn’t stop once you’re done working; seniors also need to maintain a sound investment strategy during retirement.

Retirees face several challenges that make investing after 65 necessary, including maintaining safe income streams, outpacing inflation, and avoiding the risk of running out of money. Here are some tips seniors may consider as they choose the right path for investing after retirement.

1. Assess Income Sources and Budget

Once in retirement, seniors likely don’t have an income stream from a steady paycheck. Instead, retirees utilize a mix of sources to pay the bills, such as Social Security, withdrawals from retirement and savings accounts, and perhaps passive sources of income such as rental properties. This change, going from relying on a regular salary to relying on savings and investments to fund a particular lifestyle, can be daunting.

Retirees should first understand where their income is coming from and how much is coming in to help navigate this financial change. This initial step can help establish a budget that allows them to comfortably cover typical retirement expenses and map out discretionary spending or new investments in their golden years.


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2. Track Down Forgotten 401(k)s and Other Lost Money

If you changed jobs during your career, it’s possible that you left an old 401(k) behind. As of May 2023, there were 29.2 million forgotten or left-behind 401(k) accounts, according to estimates by Capitalize, a company that helps with 401(k) rollovers. These forgotten accounts hold about $1.65 trillion in assets.

To determine if you have a forgotten 401(k), make a list of every company you worked for and where you participated in a 401(k) plan. Contact them to see if they still have an account in your name. If a company no longer exists, or if it merged with another company, check with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Visit the DOL website, where you can track down your former company’s Form 5500, which is required to be filed annually for employee benefit plans. That should give you contact information you can reach out to or at least tell you who your 401(k) plan’s administrator was.

If you still can’t find a forgotten 401(k), you could try the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. Be aware that you’ll need to supply your Social Security number to search on their website. Another option is to check the website for the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which may be able to help you find unclaimed funds, including an old 401(k). Check under every state that you’ve lived and worked in.

If and when you find an old 401(k), you can roll it over into an IRA. If you don’t yet have an IRA, you can set one up. From there, you can invest the money as you see fit.

3. Understand Time Horizon and Risk

Retirees must consider time horizon and risk in post-retirement investment plans. Time horizon is the amount of time an individual has to invest before reaching a financial goal or needing the investment earnings for living expenses.

Time horizon significantly affects risk tolerance, which is the balance an individual is willing to strike between risk and reward. Generally speaking, seniors with a time horizon of a decade or more might choose to invest in riskier assets, such as stocks, because they feel they may have time to ride out any short-term downturns in the market. Individuals with a short time horizon of just a few years may stick to more conservative investments, such as bonds, where they can benefit from capital preservation and interest income.

4. Consider Diversification

Diversification involves spreading out investment across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and cash. Diversification also involves spreading investments out among factors such as sector, size, and geography within each asset class.

It is important to consider diversification when investing after retirement. Diversification may help investors protect their portfolios from the risk and volatility unique to a specific type of investment, although there is still risk involved. Retirees do not want to concentrate a portfolio with any one asset, which may increase volatility during a period when they want a low risk tolerance.

5. Rebalance Regularly

A retiree’s financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon generally affect the desired asset allocation in an investment portfolio. However, those initial goals and risk considerations can change during a retiree’s golden years.

Additionally, the market is constantly in flux, shifting the proportions of assets a person holds. It may make sense to rebalance the assets inside a portfolio regularly.

Rebalancing a portfolio can be thought of like the routine upkeep of your investments. For example, if a portfolio has an asset allocation of 70% bonds and 30% stocks and the stocks do well during a year, they might make up a higher percentage of a portfolio than planned. By the end of the year, the asset allocation may be 65% bonds and 35% stocks. The investor may want to rebalance by selling stock and buying more conservative assets, such as bonds, to ensure the portfolio’s asset allocation is in line with their goals. Alternatively, they may use other income to make new bond investments.

6. Keep an Eye on Inflation

Retirees living on a fixed income may be negatively affected by rising inflation. As prices increase, the fixed income that an individual relies on will be worth less the following year. For example, if an individual receives $1,000 a month in a fixed income and inflation rises by a 4% annual rate, then that $1,000 monthly income will be worth $960 in today’s money.

Investments that pay out a fixed interest rate, such as bonds, are most vulnerable to inflation risk as inflation may outpace the earned interest rate. Some other assets may outpace inflation, such as stocks, real estate investment trusts (REITs), or inflation-protected securities.


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Smart, Safer Investment Options for Retirees

Retirees have a lot of choices when it comes to making new investments. But their financial goals, age, and risk tolerance can impact which investments they choose to make. Here are a few investments for seniors in retirement with those factors in mind.

Cash

Cash is the most stable way to hold money, and it is a necessary part of a retiree’s financial portfolio. Keeping cash on hand can help cover necessities like housing, utilities, food, and clothes.

Retirees can put a portion of their cash in a money market account or a high-yield savings account to earn interest while having easy access to their cash. However, the interest paid out in typical savings or checking accounts tends to be very low and may not beat the inflation rate. That means the money in these accounts may slowly lose its value over time.

By comparison, some high-yield savings accounts pay nearly 5% interest, compared to the 0.47% national average rate.

Bonds

Bonds generally don’t offer the same potential for high returns as stocks and other assets, but they may have advantages for investing after retirement. Bonds typically pay interest regularly, such as twice a year, which may provide investors with a predictable income desired in retirement. Also, if investors hold a bond to maturity, they typically get back their entire principal, which can help preserve their savings while investing.

However, it’s important to be aware that while bonds are considered by investors to be a less risky investment, it’s still possible to lose money investing in them. For instance, a bond issuer may fail to make interest payments and default on the bond. Retirees should be aware of the risks involved when considering bonds.

Various types of bonds may help investors preserve capital and realize interest income during retirement, including relatively safe U.S. Treasuries. Additionally, Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) are bonds that hedge against inflation, which can be helpful for retirees worried about rising prices.

Stocks

Stocks are considered a risky investment; they tend to be more volatile than more conservative assets like bonds or certificates of deposit. Though investing in stocks can potentially lead to significant returns, it also means there is the potential for big losses that many retirees may not be able to stomach. However, there may be value in investing in stocks for seniors.

Stock investments may help ensure a portfolio experiences capital gains that outpace inflation and have enough income in the later decades of their retirement. It may not make sense for older investors to chase returns from higher risk stocks like tech start-ups. Instead, retirees may look for proven companies whose stocks offer steady growth. Retirees may consider investing in companies that provide stable dividend payouts that generate a regular income source.

Certificates of Deposit

Certificates of deposit, otherwise known as CDs, are low-risk investments that may offer higher interest rates than typical savings accounts. Investors put their money in a CD and choose a term, or length of time, that the bank will hold their money. The term length is generally anywhere from one month to 20 years, and during this period, the investor can’t touch the money until the term is up. Once the term is over, the investor gets the principal back, plus interest. Typically, the longer the investor’s money is in the account, the more interest the bank will pay.

Fixed Annuities

Fixed annuities may provide retirees with a regular income, bolster the gains from other investments, and supplement savings. In short, an annuity is a contract with an insurance company. The buyer pays into the annuity for a certain number of years, and the insurance company pays back the money in monthly payments. Essentially, an individual is paying the insurance company to take on the risk of outliving their retirement savings.

The Takeaway

Investing for retirement should begin as soon as possible, ideally through a tax-advantaged retirement account. But the need for a sound investing strategy doesn’t stop once you hit retirement. You need to ensure that your savings and investments are working for you throughout your golden years.

Another step that can help you manage your retirement savings is doing a 401(k) rollover, where you move funds from an old account to a rollover IRA. You can even search for a lost or forgotten 401(k) to roll over into an IRA.

Ready to invest for your retirement? It’s easy to get started when you open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.


SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

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

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.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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Finding Your Old 401k: Here's What to Do

How to Find an Old 401(k)

Tracking down an old 401(k) may take some time, and perhaps the quickest way to find old 401(k) money is to contact your former employer to see where the account is now. It’s possible that your lost 401(k) isn’t lost at all; instead, it’s right where you left it.

In some cases, however, employers may cash out an old 401(k) or roll it over to an IRA on behalf of a former employee. In that case, you might have to do a little more digging to find lost 401(k) funds. If you ever wished you could click on an app called “Find my 401(k),” the following strategies may be of use.

4 Ways to Track Down Lost or Forgotten 401(k) Accounts

There’s no real secret to how to find old 401(k) accounts. But the process can be a little time consuming as it may require you to search online or make a phone call or two. But it can be well worth it if you’re able to locate your old 401(k).

There are several ways to find an old 401(k) account. Here are a handful that may prove fruitful.

Contact Former Employers

The first place to start when trying to find old 401(k) accounts is with your previous employer.

If you had more than $5,000 in your 401(k) at the time you left your job, it’s likely that your account may still be right where you left it. In that case, you have a few options for what to do with the money:

•   Leave it where it is

•   Transfer your 401(k) to your current employer’s qualified plan

•   Rollover the account into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

•   Cash it out

When your plan balance is less than $5,000 your employer might require you to do a 401(k) rollover or cash it out. If you’re comfortable with the investment options offered through the plan and the fees you’ll pay, you might decide to leave it alone until you get a little closer to retirement. On the other hand, if you’d like to consolidate all of your retirement money into a single account, you may want to roll it into your current plan or into an IRA.

Cashing out your 401(k) has some downsides. You would owe taxes on the money, and likely an early withdrawal penalty as well. So you may only want to consider this option if your account holds a smaller amount of money. If you had less than $5,000 in your old 401(k), it’s possible that your employer may have rolled the money over to an IRA for you or cashed it out and mailed a check to you.

Recommended: How Does a 401(k) Rollover Work?

Track Down Old Statements

If you have an old account statement, you can contact your 401(k) provider directly to find out what’s happened to your lost 401(k). This might be necessary if your former employer has gone out of business and your old 401(k) plan was terminated.

When a company terminates a 401(k), the IRS requires a rollover notice to be sent to plan participants. If you’ve moved since leaving the company, the plan administrator may have outdated address information for you on file. So you may not be aware that the money was rolled over.

Either way, your plan administrator should be able to tell you which custodian now holds your lost 401(k) funds. Once you have that information, you could reach out to the custodian to determine how much money is in the account. You can then decide if you want to leave it where it is, roll it over to another retirement account, or cash it out.

Check With Government Agencies

Different types of retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, are required to keep certain information on file with the IRS and the Department of Labor (DOL). One key piece of information is DOL Form 5500. This form is used to collect data for employee benefit plans that are subject to federal ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) guidelines.

How does that help you find your 401(k)? The Department of Labor offers a Form 5500 search tool online that you can use to locate lost 401(k) plans. You can search by plan name or plan sponsor. If you know either one, you can look up the plan’s Form 5500, which should include contact information. From there, you can reach out to the plan sponsor to track down your lost 401(k).

Search National Registries

Another place to try is the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. This is an online database you can use to search for an unclaimed 401(k) that you may have left with a previous employer. You’ll need to enter your Social Security number to search for lost retirement account benefits.

In order for your name to come up in the search results, your former employer must have entered your name and personal information in that database. If they haven’t done so, it’s possible you may not find your account this way.


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What Should I Do With Recovered Funds?

If you do manage to recover an old 401(k) account and its assets, you’ll have some options as to what to do with it. In many cases, it might be a good idea to roll it over into another retirement account to try and stay on track with your retirement savings.

Another important point to consider: If you’ve changed jobs multiple times, it’s possible that you could have more than one “lost” 401(k) — and taken together, that money could make a surprising difference to your nest egg.

Last, if you were lucky to have an employer that offered a matching 401(k) contribution, your missing account (or accounts) may have more money in them than you think. For example, a common employer match is 50%, up to the first 6% of your salary. If you don’t make an effort to find old 401(k) accounts, you’re missing out on that “free money” as well.

But if you’re unsure of what to do, it may be worth speaking with a financial professional for guidance.

Further, if you’re not able to find lost 401(k) accounts you still have plenty of options for retirement savings. Contributing to your current employer’s 401(k) allows you to set aside money on a tax-deferred basis. And you might be able to grow your money faster with an employer matching contribution.

What if you’re self-employed? In that case, you could choose to open a solo or individual 401(k). This type of 401(k) plan is designed for business owners who have no employees or only employ their spouses. These plans follow the same contribution and withdrawal rules as traditional employer-sponsored 401(k) plans, though special contribution rules apply if you’re self-employed.


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The Takeaway

There are several ways to try and find an old 401(k) account, but for most people, the best place to start is by contacting your old employers to see if they can help you. From there, you can also try reaching out to government agencies, tracking down old statements, or even searching through databases to see what you can find.

Saving for retirement is important for most people who are trying to reach their financial goals – as such, if you have money or assets in a retirement account, it may be worthwhile to try and track it down. Again, it may be worth consulting with a financial professional if you need help.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

Is it possible to lose your 401(k)?

It’s possible to lose money from your 401(k) if you’re cashing it out and taking a big tax hit or your investments suffer losses. But simply changing jobs doesn’t mean your old 401(k) is gone for good. It does, however, mean that you may need to spend time locating it if it’s been a while since you changed jobs.

Do I need my social security number to find an old 401(k)?

Generally, yes, you’ll need your Social Security number to find a lost 401(k) account. This is because your Social Security number is used to verify your identity and ensure that the plan you’re inquiring about actually belongs to you.

What happens to an unclaimed 401(k)?

Unclaimed 401(k) accounts may be liquidated or converted to cash if enough time passes, and that cash could be transferred to a state government, where it will be held as unclaimed property.

Can a financial advisor find old 401(k) accounts?

A financial advisor may be able to help, but the simplest way to find old 401(k) accounts is contacting your former employer. It’s possible your money may still be in your old plan and if not, your previous employer or plan administrator may be able to tell you where it’s been moved to.


Photo credit: iStock/svetikd

SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit 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.

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.

Claw Promotion: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

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What Is a W-2?

A W-2 can be a vital component to your tax return every April. But what exactly is a W-2? It’s a form filed by an employer that shows compensation paid and amounts withheld from an employee’s paycheck. Compensation includes wages, tips, and other forms of money paid. Withholding can include taxes and other amounts deducted from an employee’s pay. If you have more than one employer, you may receive multiple W-2 forms. These forms are essential documents in filing your taxes for the previous year.

Knowing how to read your W-2 can be helpful in understanding your overall tax liability. Here, you’ll learn more about these documents, including:

•   What are the parts of a W-2?

•   Who receives a W-2?

•   When should your W-2 arrive?

•   What’s the connection between a W-2 and a W-4?

Parts of a W-2

All W-2 forms require the same information, regardless of the employer and employee. This information includes key employer information, such as business address and employer identification number (EIN). It also includes the employee’s information, such as social security number and mailing address. It’s a good idea to assess the form for any errors; if you see an error, contact your employer for a corrected form.

The W-2 has boxes that display various information. On the left side of the form, you’ll see the following:

•   Box A displays the employee’s Social Security number.

•   Box B shows the employer’s identification number, or EIN.

•   Box C contains the employer’s name, address and zip code.

•   Box D is a control number (something some employers use).

•   Box E is the employee’s name.

•   Box F is the employee’s address.

To the right and below the information above, you’ll see these areas:

•   Box 1 reflects earnings: wages, tips and other compensation.

•   Box 2 is federal income tax withheld.

•   Box 3 shows Social Security tax-eligible wages.

•   Box 4 contains Social Security withheld.

•   Box 5 is Medicare tax-eligible wages and tips.

•   Box 6 shows Medicare tax withheld.

•   Box 7 is Social Security tips (meaning discretionary earnings, such as tips, that are subject to Social Security taxation).

•   Box 8 is allocated tips (tips your employer assigned to you beyond those you have reported).

•   Box 9 is blank, a remnant of its previous use for any advance of the Earned Income Credit, which ended in 2010.

•   Box 10 reflects dependent care benefits.

•   Box 11 contains nonqualified plans, meaning money put in a tax-deferred retirement plan sponsored by your employer, which can reduce your taxable income.

•   Boxes 12 may be blank or may be filled in with codes A through HH, which identify miscellaneous forms of income that need to be reported to the IRS.

•   Box 13 shows statutory employee, retirement plans, and third-party sick pay. These will be checked off if you are a statutory employee, meaning an individual contractor who is treated like an employee; if you participate in a qualifying retirement plan; and/or if payments were made by a third party (such as an insurance plan) for disability pay or the like.

•   Box 14 reflects other deductions.

•   Box 15 shows the state and the employer’s state ID.

•   Box 16 contains state wages.

•   Box 17 shows state income tax, if withheld.

•   Box 18 reflects local tax-eligible wages, tips, etc.

•   Box 19 shows any local taxes withheld.

•   Box 20 contains the name of the locality.

Employees receive multiple copies of the same W-2 from each employer, to be filed with a federal tax return, a state tax return, and to be kept for the employee’s records. The IRS recommends keeping copies of W-2s for anywhere from three to seven years, depending on your situation.

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Who Receives a W-2?

Now that you know what a W-2 tax form is, you may wonder, who gets one? If you are an employee of a business, you should receive a W-2. If, however, you are a freelancer (aka an independent contractor), you should receive a Form 1099, showing freelance income subject to self-employment taxation, and not a W-2.

Recommended: How Do I Know What Tax Bracket I Am In?

When to Expect a W-2

The IRS requires employers to send out W-2s by January 31st for the prior tax year. This allows employees to prepare for tax season and get their returns in by mid-April. It might take a few days for the mail service to deliver it to you.

The Connection Between a W-2 and a W-4

The forms W-2 and W-4 may sound alike, but they work quite differently. You’ve just learned the answer to “What is a W-2 tax form?” Now, here’s what a W-4 is.

A new employee will be asked by their employer to fill out a W-4 form, which is used to assess how much tax to withhold from the employee’s wages. Withholding depends on the employee’s circumstances, including whether they have dependents and what their tax-filing status is, among other things. Employees who do not fill out a W-4 will be taxed as if they were single.

Employees won’t be asked to complete a W-4 form again unless they switch employers. But you should take the initiative to update your W-4 if your tax circumstances change, such as you get married, have a child, get divorced, or receive taxable income not subject to withholding, such as earning money from a contract or freelance job.

Each allowance an employee claims on their W-4 will minimize withholding throughout the year. An employee can also request additional amounts be withheld from their paycheck. When taxes are filed, the goal for employees is to avoid a tax bill or a large refund, both of which can indicate that your tax payments during the year were off the mark.

While “tax time” is in April each year, taxes are essentially pay-as-you-go, according to the IRS. That means that, in an ideal world, April shouldn’t bring a large tax bill or a large refund. Worth noting:

•   For a single person who has only one employer, filling out a W-4 should be relatively straightforward.

•   Those with multiple income streams, including rental income, investment income, or income from side gigs, may need to take some time and thought when completing their W-4 to ensure they’re withholding an appropriate amount, as well as paying quarterly estimated taxes, if necessary.

How do you know that your W-4 is accurate? You can assess that based on the refund or bill you receive at tax time. While a refund can feel like a windfall — and people often earmark it to pay off bills or fund a vacation, home improvement project, or other big-ticket purchase — the money represents an overpayment to the IRS.

While getting a big check can be exciting, it may make more sense to have that money available for budgeting purposes throughout the year. Or you could be putting it into a high-yield savings account. Similarly, a large tax bill can throw your budget off track and may subject you to penalties from the IRS for not having enough taxes withheld from your paycheck or not paying quarterly taxes.

Recommended: What Are the Different Kinds of Taxes?

Are You an Employer?

If you pay someone wages of $600 or more in a calendar year, even if that person is a relative, you’re technically an employer in the eyes of the IRS. This means that a person who employs a regular babysitter or housecleaner may need to withhold and pay certain taxes, including Medicare, federal unemployment, and social security.

This is an example of paying someone “on the books” and can be protection against fines and penalties that may come from paying an employee “under the table” or “off the books.” Having a clear understanding of what forms need to be filled out and what steps you need to take as an employer can help avoid a potentially complicated tax situation down the line.

It’s also important to issue W-2s in a timely manner. This helps your employees avoid the stress and potential penalties which can happen if you miss a tax deadline.

Having Your Paperwork in Order

Because things can change from year to year, it can be a good idea for an employee to regularly check their withholding on their W-4 annually. Another wise move is to make sure a new one is filed if there is a life change (as mentioned above), such as having a baby or getting married.

Workers should also keep an eye out for tax-related paperwork, since taxes are due regardless of whether paperwork has made its way to an employee’s mailbox. Missing tax forms can throw a wrench in the most organized person’s plans.

Checking in with an HR department can help make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Having paperwork ready and available can make filing taxes as seamless as possible when the time comes. This may also help you maximize your time if you work with a tax prep professional.

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Tips for Filling Out a W-2

If you’re an employee, you don’t need to do anything to your W-2 beyond checking that the information on it is correct.

If, however, you are an employer, you may fill the form out W-2s yourself, via a tax preparer, or by using payroll software to automate this task. You will be responsible for adding your company’s details properly, as well as information specific to each employee. For instance, when reporting an employee’s compensation, you would include only the amount that is subject to federal taxation. You would not include things like contributions to a pre-tax retirement plan, health-insurance costs, or similar benefits.

The Takeaway

While tax time may be met with eye-rolling and stress, it can also be a moment to set up financial intentions and systems for the year. This can include submitting a new W-4 to your employer, estimating quarterly taxes, and developing a strategy to ensure that your money works for you in the year ahead. Keeping on top of your finances throughout the year can make tax time more manageable, as can visiting the SoFi Tax Center for more tips.

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FAQ

What happens if the W-2 that I received is wrong?

If you believe your W-2 is incorrect, contact your employer to discuss. They may be able to explain why you sense a discrepancy and, if necessary, reissue the document. If you cannot resolve things quickly and satisfactorily with your employer and believe there’s false information circulating, you may want to reach out directly to the IRS, which can be contacted at its toll-free number, 800-829-1040, or at Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

How much money do I need to make in order to get a W-2?

If you are an employee who earned $600 or more in a given year, you should receive a W-2, which is usually sent out by January 31st of the following year.

What is the difference between a 1099 and a W-2?

A W-2 is a form that shares information about an employee’s earnings and withholding. A 1099-NEC is a form that independent contractors may receive. Workers who get 1099 forms are responsible for paying their own employment taxes, unlike W-2 employees.

What should I do if I have not received my W-2 yet?

January 31st is the day by which W-2s must be sent out for the previous tax year. If you haven’t received yours by that date and the form was mailed, you may want to give it another couple of days to allow for it to arrive. Other steps to deal with this situation include checking online to see if you have a downloadable version and contacting your employer to see what the status is. If it’s late February and you still don’t have it, it can be wise to contact the IRS directly for guidance. You might be able to use an IRS Form 4852 as a substitute for a W-2, for example.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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.

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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I Make $50,000 a Year, How Much House Can I Afford?

On a salary of $50,000 per year, you can afford a house priced at around $128,000 with a monthly payment of $1,200 — that is, as long as you have relatively little debt already on your plate. However, not everyone earning $50,000 will see this number in response to a loan application. There are many more factors besides income and debt to take into account, such as:

•   Your down payment

•   The cost of taxes and insurance for the home you want

•   The interest rate

•   The type of loan you’re applying for

•   Your lender’s tolerance for debt levels

Each of these factors affects how much home you can afford on any salary, including one at $50,000.

What Kind of House Can I Afford With $50K a Year?

$50,000 is a solid salary, but there’s no denying today’s real estate market is tough. You’ll need to know the full picture of home affordability to get you into the house you want, starting with your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Understanding Debt-to-income Ratio

Your DTI ratio may be one of your biggest challenges to home affordability. Each debt that you have a monthly payment for takes away from what you could be paying on a mortgage, lowering the mortgage amount that you can qualify for.

To calculate your DTI ratio, combine your monthly debt payments such as credit card debts, student loan payments, and car payments and then divide the total by your monthly income. This will give you a percentage (or ratio) of how much you’re spending on debt each month. Lenders look for 36% or less for most home mortgage loans.

For example, on a $50,000 annual salary and a $4,166 monthly income, your maximum DTI ratio of 36% would be $1,500. This is the maximum amount of debt lenders want to see on a $50,000 salary.


💡 Quick Tip: Lowering your monthly payments with a mortgage refinance from SoFi can help you find money to pay down other debt, build your rainy-day fund, or put more into your 401(k).

How to Factor in Your Down Payment

A down payment increases how much home you’ll be able to qualify for. The more you’re able to put down, the more home you’ll be able to afford. Borrowers who put down more than 20% also avoid having to buy mortgage insurance. When you don’t have to pay mortgage insurance every month, you can qualify for a higher mortgage — but you do need to consider if putting down 20% is worth it to you. A mortgage calculator can help you see how much your down payment affects the mortgage you can qualify for.

Factors That Affect Home Affordability

In addition to the debt-to-income ratio and down payment, there are a handful of other variables that affect home affordability. These are:

•   Interest rates When your interest rate is lower, you’ll either have a lower monthly mortgage payment or qualify for a higher mortgage. With higher interest rates, you’ll have a higher monthly mortgage payment and/or qualify for a lower home purchase amount.

•   Credit history and score Your credit score affects what interest rate you’ll be able to get, which is a huge factor in determining your monthly mortgage payment and home affordability.

•   Taxes and insurance Higher taxes, insurance, or homeowners association dues can bite into your house budget. Each of these factors has to be accounted for by your lender.

•   Loan type Different loan types have varying interest rates, down payments, credit requirements, and mortgage insurance requirements which can affect how much house you can afford.

•   Lender You may be able to find a lender that allows for a DTI ratio that is higher than the standard 36%. (Some lenders allow a DTI as high as 50%.)

•   Location Where you buy affects how much house you can afford. This is one area that you can’t control, unless you move. If you are considering this option, take a look at the best affordable places to live in the U.S.

Recommended: The Cost of Living by State

How to Afford More House With Down Payment Assistance

If you want to be able to afford a more costly house, you may want to look into a down payment assistance (DPA) program. These programs can help you with funding for a down payment on a mortgage. You can look for DPA programs with your state or local housing authority. Preference may be given to first-time homebuyers or lower-income families, but there are programs available for a wide variety of situations and incomes.

How to Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

If you want to know how much mortgage you’ll likely be able to qualify for, you’ll want to take a look at these guidelines.

The 28/36 Rule: Lenders look for home payments to be at or below 28% of your income. Total debt payments should be less than 36% of your income. These are the front-end and back-end ratios you may hear your mortgage lender talking about.

Front-end ratio (28%): At 28% or your income, a monthly housing payment from a monthly income of $4,166 should be no more than $1,166.

Back-end ratio (36%): To calculate the back-end, or debt-to-income ratio, add your debt together and divide it by your income. This includes the new mortgage payment. With monthly income at $4,166, your debts should be no more than $1,500 ($4,166*.36).

The 35/45 Rule: The 35/45 rule is a higher debt level your lender can elect to follow. It’s riskier for them and may come at a higher interest rate for you. This rule allows you housing payment to be 35% of your monthly income and 45% of your total debt-to-income ratio. With a monthly income of $4,166, the housing allowance (35% of your income) increases to $1,458 and the total monthly debt (45% of your income) increases to $1,875.

An easier way to calculate how much home you can afford is with a home affordability calculator.

Home Affordability Examples

Making $50,000 a year gives you around $4,166 to work with each month. Using the 36% debt-to-income ratio, you can have a maximum debt payments of $1,500 ($4,166 * .36). In the examples below, taxes ($2,500), insurance ($1,000), and interest rate (6%) remain the same for a 30-year loan term.

Example #1: High-debt Borrower
Monthly credit card debt: $200
Monthly car payment: $400
Student loan payment: $200
Total debt = $800

Down payment = $20,000

Maximum DTI ratio = $4,166 * .36 = $1,500
Maximum mortgage payment = $700 ($1,500 – $800)

Home budget = $88,107

Example #2: The Super Saver
Monthly credit card debt: $0
Monthly car payment: $200
Student loan payment: $0
Total debt = $200

Down payment: $20,000

Maximum DTI ratio = $4,166 * .36 = $1,500
Maximum mortgage payment = $1,300 ($1,500 – $200)

Home budget = $171,925

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

How Your Monthly Payment Affects Your Price Range

Your monthly payment directly affects the mortgage you’re able to qualify for. The more monthly debts you have, the lower the mortgage you’ll be able to qualify for. That’s why it’s so important to take care of debts as soon as you can.

That’s also why it’s important to get the best interest rate you can. Shopping around for lenders and improving your credit score can both save you money and improve home affordability. A home loan help center is a good place to start the process of looking for a mortgage.

Types of Home Loans Available to $50K Households

How much home you can afford also comes down to the different types of mortgage loans. Here are some common options:

•   FHA loans If your credit isn’t ideal, you may be able to secure a Federal Housing Administration mortgage. Though FHA loans are costlier, you can still be considered with a credit score as low as 500. FHA mortgage insurance, however, makes them more expensive than their alternatives.

•   USDA loans If you’re in a rural area that is covered by United States Department of Agriculture loans, you’ll want to consider whether the low interest, no-down-loan will make sense for you.

•   Conventional loans Conventional financing offers the most competitive interest rates and terms for mortgage applicants who qualify.

•   VA loans If you have the option of financing with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loan, with few exceptions, you’ll generally want to take it. It offers some of the most competitive rates, even for zero-down-payment loans. It also comes with no minimum credit score requirement, though the final say on whether or not you can get a loan with a low credit score is up to the individual lender.


💡 Quick Tip: Don’t have a lot of cash on hand for a down payment? The minimum down payment for an FHA mortgage loan is as low as 3.5%.1

The Takeaway

Your $50,000 salary is the first step in qualifying for the home mortgage loan you need to buy a house. To position yourself for the best possible borrowing scenario, consider paying down debt, working on your credit score, applying for down payment assistance, adding a co-borrower, or some combination of the above. With these moves, home affordability improves a great deal.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is $50K a good salary for a single person?

A $50,000 salary is good in terms of covering the cost of living in many parts of the U.S. and with proper budgeting it can even put you on the path to affording to purchase your own home.

What is a comfortable income for a single person?

A comfortable income for a single person could be at or above the median income for a single person, which is $56,929 according to data from the U.S. Census.

What is a liveable wage in 2024?

Your living wage depends on your local region, number of working household members, and children. For a single person living in Arizona, the average living wage is about $37,000. If the same person moved to California, an average of more than $44,000 would be needed, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator.

What salary is considered rich for a single person?

A salary of $234,342 would put you in the top 5% of wage earners in the United States.


Photo credit: iStock/Tirachard

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies 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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I Make $36,000 a Year, How Much House Can I Afford?

On a salary of $36,000 per year, you can afford a house priced around $100,000-$110,000 with a monthly payment of just over $1,000. This assumes you have no other debts you’re paying off, but also that you haven’t been able to save much for a down payment.

Of course, you’ll want to talk to a lender for your individual situation, which could qualify you for more (or less). If it sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through what it takes to qualify for a home, no matter what your income level is.

What Kind of House Can I Afford With $36K a Year?

At a $36,000 annual income, you may need some help affording a home in today’s market. You’ll need to eliminate debt and make sure you have a good credit score, as well as find programs and lenders that can help. In addition to income and debt, your lender will take into account:

•   Your down payment savings

•   What taxes and insurance will cost

•   What interest rate you qualify for

•   The type of loan you’re applying for

•   Whether or not they can let your debt run up to 50% of your income

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Understanding Debt-to-income Ratio

Beyond interest rates, debt is your biggest enemy to home affordability. The more debt you have to pay on a monthly basis, the less you’re able to pay toward a mortgage. In other words, your $200 monthly credit card payment could cost you thousands on the purchase price of a home.

To understand the debt-to-income ratio (DTI), add all of your debts together, and then divide that number by your monthly income. Your lender calculates your DTI ratio to determine how much you can afford as a monthly payment on a mortgage. The guideline is 36%, but some lenders can go higher on a home mortgage loan.


💡 Quick Tip: To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show the real estate agent proof that you’re preapproved for a mortgage. SoFi’s online application makes the process simple.

How to Factor in Your Down Payment

A down payment increases how much home you’ll be able to qualify for. The more you’re able to put down, the more home you’ll be able to afford.

You’ll also want to consider whether you can put down a deposit of more than 20% so you don’t have to buy mortgage insurance. This may help you qualify for a higher mortgage. Use a mortgage calculator to see how a down payment affects home affordability.

Factors That Affect Home Affordability

Home affordability goes beyond your down payment and DTI ratio. You also want to look at:

•   Interest rates When interest rates are high, borrowers qualify for a lower mortgage. When they’re low, it may be possible to qualify for a higher mortgage.

•   Credit history and score Your credit score is a reflection of your credit habits, and with a higher credit score, you’ll qualify for the best interest rates, giving you more buying power.

•   Taxes and insurance If you live in an area with higher taxes, insurance, or homeowners association dues, these will be taken into account by your lender. You’ll qualify for a lower mortgage amount when these numbers are high.

•   Loan type Depending on the type of loan you get, your interest rate, credit score, and down payment amount can affect how much house you can afford.

•   Lender Lenders have the final say when it comes to approving you for a mortgage. In special circumstances, you may be able to qualify for more than a 36% DTI ratio. Some lenders approve borrowers with a DTI ratio around 50%.

•   Location If you’re shopping in a state with a high cost of living, you’ll have a hard time qualifying for a mortgage no matter what your income level is. If you’re considering other areas, you may want to look at the best affordable places to live in the U.S.

How to Afford More House With Down Payment Assistance

Down payment assistance programs can help you qualify for a larger mortgage. These types of programs have money to help with down payment or closing costs. They are usually offered at the state or local level with both grant and second mortgage programs. They may limit participation to first-time homebuyers or borrowers with lower incomes, but you should still look into these programs and see if you can qualify.

Examples include CalHFA MyHome Assistance Program and the “Home Sweet Texas” Home Loan Program. You can look for programs in your own state, county, and city.

Recommended: Tips to Qualify for a Mortgage

How to Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

Knowing how much home you are likely to qualify for doesn’t have to be a mystery. While your lender may have flexibility, they generally follow these guidelines:

The 28/36 Rule: Lenders will look for housing payments (including mortgage, taxes, and insurance) to be more more than 28% of your income and total debt payments (including mortgage, car loan, student loan, etc.) to be less than 36% of your income.

The 35/45 Rule: Some lenders allow for higher debt levels. This rule says the housing payment can be up to 35% of your income and total debt to be 45%.

An easy way to calculate how much home you can afford is with a home affordability calculator.

Home Affordability Examples

On a $36,000 annual salary, you’ll have $3,000 each month for expenses. Using the 36% debt-to-income ratio, you can have a maximum debt payments of $1,080 ($3,000 * .36). In the two examples below, taxes ($2,500), insurance ($1,000), and interest (6%) are the same for a 30-year loan term.

Example #1: Debt limits home affordability, even with large down payment

Monthly credit card debt: $100
Monthly car payment: $500
Student loan payment: $100
Total debt = $700

Down payment = $20,000

Maximum DTI ratio = $3,000 * .36 = $1,080
Maximum mortgage payment = $380 ($1,080 – $700)

Home budget on $36,000 salary = $34,733

Example #2: No down payment, but little debt

Monthly credit card debt: $0
Monthly car payment: $0
Student loan payment: $100
Total debt = $100

Down payment: $0

Maximum DTI ratio = $3,000 * .36 = $1,080
Maximum mortgage payment = $980 ($1,080 – $100)

Home budget on $36,000 salary = $96,314

How Your Monthly Payment Affects Your Price Range

The amount you’re able to pay toward a mortgage each month determines how much home you’ll be able to afford. Any monthly payments you have, such as debt, can take away from how much you’re able to pay for a mortgage. Conversely, how much income you earn in a month can improve how much mortgage you can qualify for.

Interest rates also play a huge role in your monthly payment. Higher interest rates mean you’ll qualify for a lower mortgage while lower interest rates improve home affordability. That’s why homeowners get a mortgage refinance when interest rates drop.

Recommended: Home Loan Help Center

Types of Home Loans Available to $36K Households

The different types of mortgage loans also affect home affordability. Some have a zero down payment option, flexible credit requirements, less expensive mortgage insurance, and varying interest rates. You’ll want to consult with your lender to determine what loan type of right for you.

•   FHA loans: Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration are great for buyers with unique credit situations that can’t get approved for conventional financing. It can be more expensive to go with an FHA loan, but there are low down payment options and flexible credit requirements for those with a score as low as 500.

•   USDA loans: United States Department of Agriculture mortgages, available in rural areas, offer great interest rates, zero down payment options, and competitive mortgage insurance rates. Some USDA mortgages are directly serviced by USDA, and have a subsidized interest rate.

•   Conventional loans: Many borrowers opt for conventional financing if they qualify. Over the course of a mortgage, this is one of the least expensive types due to competitive interest rates and mortgage insurance premiums that drop off after you pay down the loan past 80%.

•   VA loans: A loan from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is hard to beat for service members, veterans, and others who qualify. You may be able to qualify for a home purchase price with no down payment. VA loans may have great interest rates and flexible credit requirements (depending on the lender).


💡 Quick Tip: Active duty service members who have served for at least 90 consecutive days are eligible for a VA loan. But so are many veterans, surviving spouses, and National Guard and Reserves members. It’s worth exploring with an online VA loan application because the low interest rates and other advantages of this loan can’t be beat.†

The Takeaway

Purchasing a home on a $36,000 salary is a feat you’ll need help with in a market where the U.S. median sale price tops $342,000. Whether it’s down payment assistance, paying down debt, nurturing your credit score, or adding income, there are a lot of moves you can make to bolster your home budget. In the end, when you move into a place that’s all yours, the hard work will be worth it.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is $36K a good salary for a single person?

A single person can afford to live on $36,000 a year in more affordable places in the U.S., but it could still be difficult to afford to buy a home in today’s real estate market.

What is a comfortable income for a single person?

The median income for a single person is $56,929, according to data from the U.S. Census, but a comfortable income for a single person depends on your lifestyle.

What is a liveable wage in 2024?

What is livable varies greatly by location. For a single person living in San Francisco, a living wage is equivalent to $26.63 per hour. In other cities, it’s considerably less.

What salary is considered rich for a single person?

If you make more than $234,342 per year, you would make more than 95% of earners in the United States. But what feels “rich” is going to depend on your lifestyle and where you live.


Photo credit: iStock/mapodile

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
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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