Using In-School Deferment as a Student

Undergraduate and graduate students in school at least half-time can put off making federal student loan payments, and possibly private student loan payments, with in-school deferment. The catch? Interest usually accrues.

Loans are a fact of life for many students. In fact, a majority of them — about 70% — graduate with student loan debt.

While some students choose to start paying off their loans while they’re still in college, many take advantage of in-school deferment.

What Is In-School Deferment?

In-school deferment allows an undergraduate or graduate student, or parent borrower, to postpone making payments on:

•   Direct Loans, which include PLUS loans for graduate and professional students, or parents of dependent undergrads; subsidized and unsubsidized loans; and consolidation loans.

•   Perkins Loans

•   Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans.

Parents with PLUS loans may qualify for deferment if their student is enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college or career school.

What about private student loans? Many lenders allow students to defer payments while they’re in school and for six months after graduation. Sallie Mae lets you defer payments for 48 months as long as you are enrolled at least half-time.

But each private lender has its own rules.

Recommended: How Does Student Loan Deferment in Grad School Work?

How In-School Deferment Works

Federal student loan borrowers in school at least half-time are to be automatically placed into in-school deferment. You should receive a notice from your loan servicer.

If your loans don’t go into automatic in-school deferment or you don’t receive a notice, get in touch with the financial aid office at your school. You may need to fill out an In-School Deferment Request .

If you have private student loans, it’s a good idea to reach out to your loan servicer to request in-school deferment. If you’re seeking a new private student loan, you can review the lender’s deferment rules.

Most federal student loans also have a six-month grace period after a student graduates, drops below half-time enrollment, or leaves school before payments must begin. This applies to graduate students with PLUS loans as well.

Parent borrowers who took out a PLUS loan can request a six-month deferment after their student graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment.

Requirements for In-School Deferment

Students with federal student loans must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible school, defined by the Federal Student Aid office as one that has been approved by the Department of Education to participate in federal student aid programs, even if the school does not participate in those programs.

That includes most accredited American colleges and universities and some institutions outside the United States.

In-school deferment is primarily for students with existing loans or those who are returning to school after time away.

The definition of “half-time” can be tricky. Make sure you understand the definition your school uses, as not all schools define half-time status the same way. It’s usually based on a certain number of hours and/or credits.

Do I Need to Pay Interest During In-School Deferment?

For federal student loans and many private student loans, no.

If you have a federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, interest will accrue during the deferment and be added to the principal loan balance.

If you have a Direct Subsidized Loan or a Perkins Loan, the government pays the interest while you’re in school and during grace periods. That’s also true of the subsidized portion of a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Interest will almost always accrue on deferred private student loans.

Although postponement of payments takes the pressure off, the interest that you’re responsible for that accrues on any loan will be capitalized, or added to your balance, after deferments and grace periods. You’ll then be charged interest on the increased principal balance. Capitalization of the unpaid interest may also increase your monthly payment, depending on your repayment plan.

If you’re able to pay the interest before it capitalizes, that can help keep your total loan cost down.

Alternatives to In-School Deferment

There are different types of deferment aside from in-school deferment.

•   Economic Hardship Deferment. You may receive an economic hardship deferment for up to three years if you receive a means-tested benefit, such as welfare, you are serving in the Peace Corps, or you work full time but your earnings are below 150% of the poverty guideline for your state and family size.

•   Graduate Fellowship Deferment. If you are in an approved graduate fellowship program, you could be eligible for this deferment.

•   Military Service and Post-Active Duty Student Deferment. You could qualify for this deferment if you are on active duty military service in connection with a military operation, war, or a national emergency, or you have completed active duty service and any applicable grace period. The deferment will end once you are enrolled in school at least half-time, or 13 months after completion of active duty service and any grace period, whichever comes first.

•   Rehabilitation Training Deferment. This deferment is for students who are in an approved program that offers drug or alcohol, vocational, or mental health rehabilitation.

•   Unemployment Deferment. You can receive this deferment for up to three years if you receive unemployment benefits or you’re unable to find full-time employment.

For most deferments, you’ll need to provide your student loan servicer with documentation to show that you’re eligible.

Then there’s federal student loan forbearance, which temporarily suspends or reduces your principal monthly payments, but interest always continues to accrue.

Some private student loan lenders offer forbearance as well.

If your federal student loan type does not charge interest during deferment, that’s probably the way to go. If you’ve reached the maximum time for a deferment or your situation doesn’t fit the eligibility criteria, applying for forbearance is an option.

If your ability to afford your federal student loan payments is unlikely to change any time soon, you may want to consider an income-based repayment plan or student loan refinancing.

The goal of refinancing with a private lender is to change your rate or term. If you qualify, all loans can be refinanced into one new private loan. Playing with the numbers can be helpful.

Just know that if you refinance federal student loans, they will no longer be eligible for federal deferment or forbearance, loan forgiveness programs, or income-driven repayment.

Recommended: Student Loan Refinancing Calculator

The Takeaway

What is in-school deferment? It allows undergraduates and graduate students to buy time before student loan payments begin, but interest usually accrues and is added to the balance.

If trying to lower your student loan rates is something that’s of interest, look into refinancing with SoFi.

Students are eligible to refinance a parent’s PLUS loan along with their own student loans.

There are absolutely no fees.

It’s easy to check your rate.

We’ve Got You Covered

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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.


These Healthcare Stocks Should Thrive in 2022

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, routine doctor and hospital visits, along with deferred medical procedures such as cataract surgery and heart valve replacements, are returning to normal.

The pandemic has been a global tragedy, but if there is one silver lining it is that the miraculous development of effective COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year is helping to usher in a golden age for the pharmaceutical and health sciences industries.

“We’re seeing a revolution today in vaccine development,” says Andy Acker, manager of Janus Henderson Global Life Sciences.

Before COVID arrived, the fastest vaccine approval had been four years, and the average was 10 years; with COVID, two vaccines were approved in about 10 months. Validation of the mRNA technology used by Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna (MRNA) in their vaccines means that it will now be adopted to treat other medical indications. (The mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response.)

In truth, the COVID-19 medical challenge and the dramatic success of the vaccines have only served to accelerate a powerful trend of innovation in medicine. For instance, the sharply declining cost of gene sequencing is pushing forward the growing field of precision medicine, which aims to tailor treatments to specific diseases, such as cancer.

“The science is exponentially improving for better outcomes,” says Neal Kaufman, manager of Baron Health Care fund.

Of course, the healthcare sector is also riding the (global) demographic wave of aging populations. At CVS Health drugstores, the number of prescription medicines purchased by people age 65 or older is three to four times that of 20- to 40-year-old people, says Jason Kritzer, co­manager of Eaton Vance Worldwide Health Sciences.

In rapidly developing countries with expanding middle classes, such as China, quality healthcare is likely to be one of the first things people rising out of poverty will spend money on.

With innovation and some of these secular trends in mind, we identified six intriguing healthcare stocks that literally span the alphabet, from letter A to letter Z. We particularly like companies that address large and growing end markets, especially global ones. We give extra points to businesses that have less exposure to pricing pressure from insurance com­panies or the government. Returns and other data are through Nov. 5.

healthcare stockshealthcare stocks

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Align Technology

Share price: $687

Market cap: $54 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 50

Maker of the Invisalign brand of clear, plastic braces for teeth, Align Technology (symbol ALGN) is a disruptive force in the global teeth-correction market, rapidly gobbling market share from traditional wires and brackets. Jeff Mueller, comanager of Polen Global Growth, credits the “Zoom effect” for accelerating the adoption of the aesthetically pleasing aligners: Workers stuck at home during the pandemic were staring at their own teeth every day on Zoom. “Vanity is increasing around the world,” Mueller says, adding that, due to the rise of smartphones, the internet and social media, “more people are taking pictures of themselves than ever before in the history of mankind.”

A lot of technology is used in the Invisalign process. It employs intra-oral scanners and modeling software, plus mass-customization manufacturing using 3D printing at several plants around the globe (each set of teeth is unique, and individuals change their aligners every two weeks). Because braces are generally for cosmetic purposes, they are not subject to pricing pressure from insurance companies or the government.

Align Technology’s revenues are currently growing by 25% to 30% a year as its market penetration rises, and Mueller expects earnings to continue to compound at double digits for quite a while.

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Share price: $82

Market cap: $206 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 11

Dividend yield: 3.2%

CFRA analyst Sel Hardy thinks that Merck’s (MRK) COVID-19 antiviral pill, molnupiravir, is “a game changer.” The drug maker has applied for emergency-authorization use from the government; approval was expected before the end of 2021. Merck projects that global sales of the oral medication, which has demonstrated strong efficacy against multiple variants of COVID, could be $5 billion to $7 billion by the end of 2022.

Apart from this breakthrough drug, Hardy likes the way Merck is positioned. Sales of Keytruda, its versatile oncology drug, topped $14 billion in 2020 and continue to grow; its animal health division is expanding; and the firm’s $12 billion acquisition of Acceleron Pharma, a biotech firm with strengths in blood and cardiovascular treatments, will augment Merck’s product pipeline.

Hardy thinks Merck, which yields 3.2%, can compound earnings by at least 10% a year for the next three years.

3 of 7

Novo Nordisk

Share price: $113

Market cap: $259 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 31

Dividend yield: 1.3%

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk (NVO) focuses on two global pandemics: diabetes and obesity. The World Health Organization projects that the number of diabetics will expand from 460 million to 580 million by 2030, and it estimates that there are nearly 800 million obese people around the world. Novo pioneered insulin injections a century ago and has remained a global leader in diabetes care ever since. Multibillion-dollar drugs include Ozempic, a once-weekly prescription for adults with Type 2 diabetes to lower blood sugar, and NovoRapid, a fast-acting insulin treatment. Novo’s sales are evenly split between North America and the rest of the world.

Investors such as Samantha Pandolfi, comanager of Eaton Vance Worldwide Health Sciences, are also excited about rapid growth in Novo’s newer weight-management business. Wegovy, prescribed for obese people with another disease, such as diabetes, was approved by the FDA in June 2021. Tests show Wegovy typically delivers a weight loss of 15% to 17%, and Pandolfi says sales are off to a blazing start. The century-old firm plows an impressive 12% of sales back into research and development, which helps it stay ahead of the competition and generate earnings growth in the low double digits.

4 of 7

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Share price: $617

Market cap: $243 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 29

Dividend yield: 0.2%

Eddie Yoon, manager of Fidelity Select Health Care Portfolio, calls Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) “the Walmart of life sciences.” Whether it’s a big pharma, biotech or university lab, customers come to this health sciences supermarket for analytical tools, lab equipment and services, and diagnostic kits and consumables. “They are the partner of choice for any pharma or biotech company of any size,” says Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds. Thermo has benefited from increased demand for its products and services due to COVID-19, and now the firm is poised to benefit from the rise in research and development spending among drug companies around the world.

One thing that distinguishes Thermo, according to health care stock analysts, is the quality of its management. The firm has successfully integrated several strategic acquisitions that helped broaden its menu of products and services. Tommy Sternberg, an analyst at William Blair, notes that Thermo is particularly adroit at staying close to customers and understanding what their scientists are working on. “They do a fantastic job of getting to know customers and their needs, and learning from customers to come up with more solutions more quickly,” says Sternberg.

5 of 7

UnitedHealth Group

Share price: $456

Market cap: $429 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 21

Dividend yield: 1.3%

The U.S. spends a staggering $4 trillion a year on health care. UnitedHealth (UNH)—with annual revenues of nearly $300 billion, a market value of $430 billion and 330,000 employees—is the industry’s largest player. As the top private health care insurance provider, it leads in managed care. Its OptumHealth unit offers pharmacy benefits and owns physician’s practices and surgical centers. Eaton Vance’s Kritzer calls Optum, an industry leader in the digitization of services, “a very large health IT company inside an insurance giant.” United helps the federal government manage costs through its Medicare Advantage plan (the most popular private plan). Plus, it enjoys high customer satisfaction, and it is counting a growing number of seniors as customers (about 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day). Despite United’s massive size, William Blair’s Sternberg thinks it can sustain earnings-per-share growth of about 15% annually.

6 of 7


Share price: $217

Market cap: $103 billion

Price-earnings ratio: 42

Dividend yield: 0.5%

Like Align Tech­nology’s Invisalign, Zoetis’s (ZTS) main business—companion-animal health—was already riding a tailwind that picked up force thanks to lifestyle changes during the pandemic. Pet-ownership rates spiked as people grew more isolated and sought the companionship of dogs and cats, according to David Kalis, comanager of The Future Fund Active ETF. Zoetis markets vaccines, prescription drugs and diagnostic equipment directly to veterinarians. The industry is regulated, with FDA approval required for the drugs, but Zoetis benefits from the lack of insurance company price pressures and the fragmented nature of the firm’s customer base, notes Eaton Vance’s Pandolfi.

In fact, companion-animal ownership is growing globally, driven by aging populations and shrinking family sizes. Pet owners are treating their pets better, addressing ailments such as skin irritation and arthritis, and visiting the vet more frequently, says Pandolfi. Zoetis books about half of sales overseas; roughly 60% of revenues come from the companion-animal business and 40% from the less-profitable and slower-growing livestock animal division.

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Invest in a Fund

Given the complexity and diversity of the health care sector, investing in a fund makes a lot of sense for many investors. Here are our favorites (returns and other data are through November 5).

Baron Health Care (symbol BHCFX, expense ratio 1.10%) is a young fund off to a sizzling start. Over the past three years, it returned 29.2% annualized, or nearly twice the return of the S&P 1500 Health Care index. Manager Neal Kaufman and assistant manager Joshua Riegelhaupt look for innovative, fast-growing companies. The largest holding is Natera, a clinical genetic-testing outfit.

Fidelity Select Health Care (FSPHX, 0.69%) is a member of the Kiplinger 25, the list of our favorite no-load funds. The fund has a 19.8% three-year annualized return, ahead of the 17.0% average annual gain of its peers. Eddie Yoon, who has piloted the fund since 2008, says he’s light on large pharmaceutical companies in the portfolio, preferring makers of devices used to help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments. The fund’s top three holdings are UnitedHealth, Boston Scientific and Danaher.

Ziad Bakri, a former physician, runs T. Rowe Price Health Sciences (PRHSX, 0.76%), which has returned 21% annualized over the past three years. Nearly one-third of assets are invested in biotechnology, a high-risk, high-return segment of health care. Top positions include Thermo Fisher Scientific and Intuitive Surgical.

If you prefer investing through exchange-traded funds, Simplify Health Care (PINK, $26, 0.50%) is an intriguing, actively managed ETF that launched on October 7. Through November 5, just shy of one month, it returned 5.9%. Manager Michael Taylor, a virologist by training who spent 20 years investing in health care stocks at some prominent hedge funds, expresses his views by increasing or decreasing the fund’s weighting of stocks in relation to the MSCI US Health Care Index.


When Mother Nature Hands You a Catastrophic Insurance Claim

“These past two years, Mother Nature revealed her fury, resulting in property loses of terrifying, historic amounts,” observes a veteran of some of the most destructive fires in the Western United States, San Francisco attorney Dan Veroff, adding:

“And many insurance companies — trusted to help make families whole again — did the exact opposite, with adjusters massively underpaying valid claims.  Sadly, the lack of knowledge by business and homeowners of the claims process —and steps they needed to take before the loss — magnified the harm.”

 He outlined “the worst mistakes a claimant can make when facing what we call a CAT – catastrophic – insurance claim.”

1. You take whatever the first adjuster tells you as gospel

Consequences: They could misstate your rights under your insurance policy.

Insurance companies bring in an army of CAT “storm chasers” who are almost always from out of state. Rarely do these insurance adjusters have specialized knowledge or training in creating accurate estimates of repair costs, or state law as it applies to your loss.

They often tell claimants that they have less insurance coverage than what their policy provides.

Please, do not act on what they tell you without consulting with an attorney! (More on what kind of attorney in a moment, and to my readers, this is really important!)

2. You accept the first payment as being complete and comprehensive

Consequences: You will be underpaid!

In a typical case, a CAT adjuster comes out with an estimator who is in the insurance company’s pocket. They write up a “quick and dirty estimate,” in their car and cut you a check to cover rebuilding and temporary living expenses.

This is where things get sticky.

Usually, an insured will meet with a contractor who will prepare a bid for repairs, but it can take months for it to arrive and will almost always be much higher than what the adjuster has already paid.

If you had a rebuilding estimate available before the loss, you could have reviewed it with the adjuster. Now you are starting from square one, and your limited payment for temporary housing has run down further. Also, your claim has probably been reassigned to a second or third adjuster, because CAT adjusters are usually only deployed for a short period of time. 

You’ve got to learn what the claim is actually worth quickly. Never count on the insurance company to do this, and always expect the initial estimate to be well below what it should be. You have a duty to yourself to question what you are told at the scene by the CAT adjuster and those who follow.

Under extreme pressure and worry, accepting what the adjuster tells you can be a costly mistake.

3. You fail to get an estimate to rebuild your home as it was before a CAT loss

Consequences: You will be at the mercy of an adjuster who will likely under-value the claim.

After disasters, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to want to make some changes to their home’s original design during the rebuilding process. The carrier is obligated to pay the cost of rebuilding your home as it was before the loss and not a different home. Yes, you can rebuild something different, but the rebuilding cost sets your maximum insurance budget.  Only getting proof of the home you want to build now – with modifications and improvements and not what you had before – helps the adjuster stick with their low estimate, dispute your figures and thus underpay the claim.

So, you need to answer this question: “What will it cost to replace or rebuild the home we had, not the home we would like to build now?”               

If you get this estimate from a contractor in advance — before any potential loss may occur — you will be ahead. You can also use the estimate to ensure you have adequate insurance coverage.  After a disaster strikes, it’s important to get a good replacement cost estimate ASAP. At the same time as you get the replacement estimate, have the contractor prepare an estimate for the home you would like to build. As long as the cost comes in within the amount of your insurance coverage, you should be OK.

4. You fail to prepare an inventory of the contents in your home

Consequences: Unless you do this well in advance of a potential loss, you will have to create it from memory, from photos that you might be able to find, receipts, talking with family members. Who can remember all the books, the dresses and suits, the details?  Lacking proof, you will not be paid.

Also, assembling this inventory in advance allows you to increase the amount of coverage for personal property so as to not be underinsured. Save the list to the cloud.

5. You hire a lawyer who is not experienced with insurance law

Consequences: Missing key deadlines and losing your rights. Getting involved in litigation for years when it could have taken months. Having the case turn out badly.

Insurance law is unique. If a lawyer tells you, “Oh, I know personal injury, divorce, tax – whatever – therefore I can handle your insurance claim,” RUN! Lawyers inexperienced with property insurance law lose cases because of their lack of knowledge.

So, look for a lawyer who primarily concentrates on property insurance work.

6. You exaggerate your loss or outright lie

Consequences: In some states, if the company can prove you have lied, they can deny the entire claim. Lie about a dollar and you lose the whole thing!

Attorney at Law, Author of “You and the Law”

After attending Loyola University School of Law, H. Dennis Beaver joined California’s Kern County District Attorney’s Office, where he established a Consumer Fraud section. He is in the general practice of law and writes a syndicated newspaper column, “You and the Law.” Through his column he offers readers in need of down-to-earth advice his help free of charge. “I know it sounds corny, but I just love to be able to use my education and experience to help, simply to help. When a reader contacts me, it is a gift.” 


9 Gifts That Will Be Impossible to Find Due to Supply Shortages

COVID-19 shuttered gyms last year and caused most people to shun public transportation. As a result, millions of non-cyclists rushed to buy new bicycles both for recreation and bike commuting. As demand has surged, the bicycle industry has struggled with factory closures in Asia, where most bicycles are produced, and shipping logjams.
As demand for print books has soared, the raw materials used to make books have been in short supply. Wood pulp, a key ingredient for paper making, and ink are both scarce. Many printing presses in the U.S. have also shuttered over the years as the publishing industry predicted the demise of print books and the rise of ebooks.
The 2021 holiday season is shaping up to be a disappointing one for gamers. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X remain hard to find nearly a year after their initial release. Now, Nintendo just announced it’s cutting production of its Nintendo Switch by 20% for its 2021 fiscal year.

9 Gifts That Will Be Ridiculously Hard to Find This Year

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1. Gaming Consoles

You probably won’t have trouble finding shoes this season, but the inventory you find may be older and less popular designs. Also be prepared to shell out more. According to Footwear News, shoe prices were up 6.5% in September compared to one year ago.
You don’t need to worry about empty shelves at your local bookstore. If the book you’re planning to gift is a widely anticipated bestseller, you should have no trouble finding it. It’s the surprise hits that are causing booksellers anxiety, because they may not be able to get new copies in time for the holidays to accommodate demand.

Pro Tip
If you’re able to add a console to your online shopping cart, don’t wait to complete additional shopping. Check out immediately, as bots have a way of being faster than humans.

2. Bicycles

Demand for toys has been consistently high throughout the pandemic as parents sought to keep bored kids entertained from home. But for several months, manufacturers have been warning that toys could be hard to find this season. Materials like plastic and resin that are used to produce many toys are in short supply. Exorbitant shipping prices and a lack of warehouse space and truck drivers could add to shortages.
Retail forecasters are mixed on how bad the toy shortage will be. It will probably be tougher than usual to find 2021’s most popular toys. But as long as you’re not set on buying the season’s hottest toys, you should have ample options.

3. iPhone 13

It’s unlikely that stores will run dry on wine this season. But if you have your heart set on buying a specific bottle as a gift or for your own celebrations, have some alternatives planned. Also, alcohol tends to be popular as a last-minute gift, so shopping early could help you avoid shortages.
As of this writing in early November, Apple’s website listed estimated delivery dates of less than a week for its cheaper standard iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. But for its pricier iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 ProMax, expected delivery dates extend into mid-December.
Shipping costs are expected to peak Dec. 20-Dec. 21, according to Adobe Analytics. Last-minute gift buying will cost shoppers an average of per order.

A man proposes to his girlfriend on Christmas. Their dog jumps up in the photo.
Getty Images

4. Engagement Rings

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]
You’ve probably heard that holiday shopping will be a nightmare even the Grinch himself couldn’t dream up. Supply-chain troubles, shipping bottlenecks, and worker shortages will make it harder to find big-ticket items.

5. Cars

Unfortunately, consoles will still be hard to find after the holidays. Shortages are expected to continue into fall 2022 or even 2023.
Here are a few solutions for beating supply chain troubles this holiday season:
Apple has fared better with supply-chain shortages than many of its rivals because of its huge buying power and long-term agreements with suppliers. But even the world’s most valuable company is feeling the pinch of the global chip shortage.
Ready to stop worrying about money?

A little girl rides a pink toy car on Christmas Day.
Getty Images

6. Toys

COVID-19 brought diamond mining, trading and cutting to a halt in spring 2020. Yet demand for jewelry stayed surprisingly high. Demand will likely keep surging as a sense of normalcy returns and couples can safely plan vacations (where proposals often happen) and weddings again. Investors are also increasingly seeking out diamonds, putting more pressure on demand.
As a result, the average price of a new car topped ,000 in September for the first time in history, a 7.7% year-over-year increase, according to Kelley Blue Book. Even prices for traditionally affordable brands like Hyundai, Kia (up 15.4% year over year) and Mitsubishi (up 23.8% year over year) are surging. Meanwhile, the latest Consumer Price Index survey showed that used car prices rose 26.4% in the past 12 months.

7. Sneakers

The global chip shortage and shipping woes have hit the auto industry hard. Meanwhile, the pandemic fueled demand for vehicles as people avoided public transportation.
If you haven’t started your shopping yet, don’t panic. As long as you’re flexible, you’ll surely be able to find plenty of gifts. But if you have your heart set on buying one of these nine items, it’s time to start your hunt ASAP.

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Pro Tip
Wine will be in short supply this holiday season, but COVID-19 doesn’t get all of the blame. Droughts in California and other Western states have lowered the grape yield at many vineyards. But much of the vino winemakers do have is sitting around in oak barrels. That’s because glass bottles are in short supply thanks to the pandemic.

8. Surprise Bestsellers

MarketWatch reported in October that it now takes more than 70 days from the time a manufacturing order is placed until the bicycle arrives at a warehouse. Pre-pandemic, it took just 45 days. Many in the bicycle industry expect shortages to persist into 2022.
Apple is now expected to ship 10 million fewer of its new iPhone 13 than originally projected through the end of 2021. New iPads, MacBook Pros and the Apple Watch Series 7 are also expected to be in short supply.
Dealerships have razor-thin inventories right now. Available vehicles are often less popular models, yet they’re selling well above the sticker price. If someone you love is hoping to find a new set of car keys in their stocking, now is a great time to remind them that there’s always next year.

A group of friends hold wine as they take a selfie together on Christmas.
Getty Images

9. Wine

Meanwhile, demand is up. Holiday shoppers expect to spend 5 on average this season, more than they planned on in both 2019 and 2020, according to market research company The NPD Group Inc.
Car company commercials would have you think that it’s totally normal to wake up to the gift of a shiny new set of wheels on Christmas morning. We’re guessing that this is pretty rare, though. Which is good news because the 2021 holiday season will be an awful time to buy a car.

What to Do if You Can’t Buy the Gift You Want

The global chip shortage is just one factor. Demand for gaming devices has surged since the beginning of the pandemic, as people sought ways to entertain themselves at home. Adding to the frustration is the fact that humans are increasingly competing with bots to buy in-demand consoles. Then the bot-purchased gaming systems pop up at unofficial retailers at an exorbitant markup.
If someone in your life has their heart set on a hard-to-find gift, now is a good time to temper expectations. Remind your loved one that these are unusual times. Too many customers are chasing after too few goods, which means a lot of people will be disappointed. But also remind yourself that it’s not worth blowing your budget or going into debt just to give someone the perfect gift.

  • Don’t hold out for a bargain. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that holiday deals are expected to be stingy this year. Decide how much you’re willing to pay, and stick to it. If you find a sought-after item that you’re determined to give, don’t wait around hoping for a last-minute deal.
  • Buy gently used. Look to thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for items like bikes and toys.
  • Give them an IOU. If someone has their heart set on something that’s back ordered, you could make them a certificate showing that it’s on its way. Granted, that won’t be as exciting as unwrapping a brand-new gaming console. On the flip side, though, you can extend the holiday magic into 2022.
  • Give cash or gift cards. If you’re over trying to hunt for the hottest gifts, there’s nothing wrong with gifting cash or a gift card instead.
  • Quit delaying. With many people doing holiday shopping in September and October this year, it’s a bit late to say “Shop early.” But if you’re procrastinating, consider this your warning: The longer you wait, the more painful shopping will be in 2021.

The footwear industry is also dealing with the same issues virtually every manufacturer is grappling with, like port congestion, worker shortages and Asia factory closures. In fact, Nike’s chief financial officer said on a Sept. 23 earnings call that the company lost 10 weeks of production since mid-July in Vietnam, where much of its production takes place. <!–


Expect your choices to be limited if you’re buying someone a new pair of kicks this holiday season. Rubber and plastic are key materials for sneakers, and both are in short supply right now.

Stock Market Today: Inflation Fears Wreck Tech Again

Rising bond yields put heavy pressure on technology stocks Thursday, a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed 33,000 for the first time in history thanks to dovish comments from the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The see-saw trade is emblematic of a market trying to balance optimism about robust future economic growth and fears that rapid expansion could spark a profit-sapping wave of inflation.

The proximate cause for Thursday’s selloff was the yield on the benchmark Treasury note hitting a 14-month high. But the equity strategy team at Bank of America Global Research says the bond market’s inflation fears are both predictable and overwrought.

“There is always some reason or the other since the start of this bull market to complain or worry about,” the BofA analysts wrote in a note to clients. “That’s why bull markets climb a wall of worry. The latest worry is rising bond yields and inflation. Interestingly, we have gone from all that skepticism about no V-shaped recovery straight to the opposite end — inflation! All within a few months. Worriers are going to worry.”

Priced-to-perfection big tech stocks once again bore the brunt of the selling, with Apple (AAPL, -3.4%) and Microsoft (MSFT, -2.7%) among the Dow’s biggest laggards. (AMZN, -3.4%) and Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL, -2.9%) likewise took their lumps.

The blue-chip Dow slipped 0.5% to finish at 32,862, while the broader S&P 500 fell 1.5% to 3,915. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 3.0% to settle at 13,116.

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In economic news, weekly jobless claims rose to 770,000 from 725,000 a week ago.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 declined 2.9% to 2,267.
  • U.S. crude oil futures declined for a fifth consecutive session, off 8.2% to $59.28 per barrel.
  • Gold futures ticked up 0.4% to $1,734 an ounce.
  • The U.S. Dollar Index rose 0.5% to 91.86.
market chart 31821market chart 31821

Don’t just do something; stand there

When the federal government is pumping almost $2 trillion into the economy, it’s easy for investors to feel like they must act.

Rising borrowing costs, incipient margin pressure, higher inflation expectations or the perennial “fear of missing out” are just some of the anxieties gnawing on the market’s increasingly brittle psyche these days.

Partly that’s due to an overabundance of choices for how to profit in these pivotal times. For example, analysts have identified a load of stocks set to benefit from both an increase in revenue from stimulus spending and an influx of retail investors’ stimulus checks. Stockpickers are also full of ideas for how to play the reflation trade, or names set to take off thanks to a healthy general rise in prices. And then there are all the ways in which to take advantage of changes in federal spending priorities, such as stocks primed to outperform on a massive infrastructure push.

When confronted with an almost exhausting number of choices, it’s not a bad idea to remember first principles. Namely, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Rather than lose sleep trying to pick the winners from the losers, consider cheap, diversified investments that offer ample exposure to any upside, as well as a cushion against any downside. Take a deep breath, and consider senior investing editor Kyle Woodley’s 21 ETF picks for 2021 — there’s an ETF play for every investing objective.


8 Things You Should Not Do in Retirement

senior no no shake finger grandma
Andrii Iemelianenko /

You’ve done your homework, and now you’ve got this retirement stuff all figured out. Savings socked away. Debts paid off. A plan in place to transition from work to leisure. Let the good times roll!

However, some retirement mistakes operate under the radar.

Maybe they’re due to that heady rush of freedom in the first year of retirement. Perhaps you want to keep being generous, forgetting that you now have less money. And as we age, certain physical issues can make it harder to be frugal, and certain cognitive changes can lead to poor decision-making.

Here are some unwise decisions that could tank your golden years and how to avoid them.

1. Forgetting to create/update legal documents

racorn /

When was the last time you looked at your will and estate plan? Things change, and our legal paperwork needs to change along with them.

Maybe a grandchild was recently born, or your sibling died last year. Possibly the son who’d agreed to be your executor no longer feels up to the task.

Or perhaps during the pandemic, you had to sell some of the jewelry you’d planned to leave to your great-niece. If so, make sure those pieces aren’t included in the will, or whoever does end up as executor might pull their hair out trying to track down these mysterious baubles.

And if, heaven forbid, you don’t have a will or estate plan, get going on this yesterday. You’ll find help at “8 Documents That Are Essential to Planning Your Estate.”

2. Failing to budget

A Black man plans his finances on his laptop and with notes
Rido /

You’re on a fixed income now, remember? Some costs do go down in retirement; for example, that 40-mile commute will be a thing of the past, and you won’t need to buy and maintain a work wardrobe. But other costs might go up. For example:

  • Medical bills. Sorry to have to tell you this, but Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Among other things, you’ll have to pay for glasses, hearing aids and most dental work, depending on what Medicare coverage you choose.
  • Household help. If you can no longer do yard work or deep cleaning, you’ll need to ask for assistance. Your grown kids are pretty busy with their own lives, so you can’t expect them to use one of their precious days off each week doing outside chores plus your cleaning and laundry. That means this could be a new bill to add to your budget.
  • Food. If health issues require specialized diets, the ingredients could get pretty costly pretty quickly. And if those health issues make it tough to cook, you might wind up relying on takeout or meal delivery services — much more expensive than from-scratch meals in your own kitchen.
  • Home modifications. Illness or the cumulative aging process might create the need for things like grab-bars in the bathroom or a wheelchair ramp out front.

This doesn’t mean you’re doomed. It just means you need to live within a reasonable budget, just as you did when you were working. Keep an eye on monthly spending, either with paper and pen or a service like YNAB (You Need A Budget), which simplifies the process (and automates it, to boot). In addition, companies like Trim or Truebill make it easy to find and cancel memberships and subscriptions you’ve decide you can live without.

Spending creep could cause you to take too much out of your retirement accounts, or to go into debt because you’re afraid to tap those accounts. Neither one is a good look. If this might be a concern for you, check out “5 Ways to Stop Lifestyle Creep From Stealing Your Retirement.”

3. Sliding into debt

Broke man overwhelmed by bills
christinarosepix /

According to an Experian study, the average baby boomer owed $97,290 in 2020. That included mortgages and student loans along with consumer debt.

Ideally, you’ve planned to go into retirement with zero debt. But it’s all too easy to slide back in, especially if you haven’t created that budget — one that takes into consideration the fact that you’re now on a fixed income.

If you have more month than money, it’s time to identify the financial leaks. This likely means making some choices, such as cutting one of your streaming services or cooking more rather than ordering in.

Some overages are one-offs: wedding or graduation gifts, trips to see family, a car repair, an emergency loan to a relative. Others, such as insurance premiums or property tax hikes, are to be expected (but are never fun when they arrive). However, all these things should be factored into your spending plan, under categories such as “emergency fund,” “vacations” and “giving.”

If you’re carrying debt that is overwhelming you, however, consider talking to a reputable credit counselor.

4. Spending fixed income on grown kids

Woman in a wheelchair giving money to her adult child
CGN089 /

Naturally, we want our offspring to live their best lives. Sometimes, however, helping them could jeopardize our own long-term comfort and security.

For example, it’s increasingly common for young people to live in the family home well into their 20s and even their early 30s. Sure, some of them offer to pay rent — but some parents refuse to accept it.

And ask yourself this, parents: Do you regularly drive the “kids” around or let them use your car, pay for groceries, grab the tab at restaurants, carry the offspring on your phone plan for free or cover the cost of additional streaming services so everyone is happy?

Even when children are out on their own, parents often still help out. According to the Pew Research Center, parents are stepping in to cover both money emergencies and basic expenses such as utilities or even mortgages. Nearly 6 in 10 parents of children aged 18-29 report they’ve given their offspring financial help.

As the flight attendants say, you must put on your own oxygen mask first. Before you help your kids, or your grandkids, take a hard look at your own finances: Can you truly afford to subsidize everyone indefinitely?

Sound harsh? Here’s what’s harsher: Having to contact those adult kids a decade from now to say, “I can’t make my basic bills. Can you send me some money? Or can I come live with you?”

Harshest of all: The possibility that your offspring might not be able to help you, which means you could be facing extreme poverty in your last years.

5. Withdrawing too much money

Senior woman counting cash
Pixel-Shot /

Once you’re retired, you might want to do All The Things. After all, you no longer have to schedule time off for vacations, spa days and the like. Finally, you can buy season tickets to your favorite sports team or subscriptions to theater or dance companies. You can take riding lessons, splurge on fancy kitchen equipment, or beef up your collection of power tools.

But can you, really?

If you claimed Social Security before your full retirement age, you’ll have permanently reduced benefits — and the conventional wisdom is to take no more than 4% out of your accounts each year. Out-of-control spending may cause you to loot your retirement funds faster than you should.

Then there’s the possibility (likelihood, really) of a market downturn during your golden years. With your retirement funds worth less, withdrawing that 4% means the fund will diminish faster.

Having a decent-sized cash cushion can help, because it lessens the amount you’ll need to withdraw. Having a sensible budget that allows for some fun — but not All The Fun at once — helps, too.

6. Becoming sedentary

Senior man eating cake
Africa Studio /

Plenty of people dream of taking it easy in retirement. But you don’t want to take it too easy. A lack of exercise can lead to all sorts of health issues. The National Institute on Aging, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, reports:

“Often, inactivity is more to blame than age when older people lose the ability to do things on their own. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.”

Being active improves energy, physical strength, balance and sleep. It can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve cognitive function, and manage or even prevent certain diseases. Taken together, all these improvements could make it possible to live independently for longer, or maybe for the rest of your life.

Vowing to stay active isn’t enough. You need an actual plan in place, such as a daily mall-walking date with friends or a YMCA or health-club membership. Recreation centers and colleges could also be sources for affordable exercise options.

Note: Silver Sneakers, a wellness program included free with many Medicare plans, can set you up with fitness videos, live online classes or in-person workouts at more than 15,000 locations nationwide.

7. Letting yourself become isolated

Lonely senior looking out a window
Mama Belle and the kids /

Some people do pretty well on their own, for a time. But prolonged isolation can lead to some serious physical and mental health issues, according to the National Institute on Aging. Among them: depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, obesity, weakened immune function and heart disease.

“Older adults are at higher risk for social isolation and loneliness due to changes in health and social connections that can come with growing older, hearing, vision, and memory loss, disability, trouble getting around, and/or the loss of family and friends,” reports the NIH.

A 2019 retirement survey from the Society of Actuaries notes that 26% of retirees have social engagements only once a month or less often. Some say that’s because they like staying home, but others cite lagging energy, disability or illness, lack of money, no longer living near friends or not having transportation as contributing factors.

What to do? Depends on what you like to do. The NIA suggests solutions like volunteering, auditing classes at a college or university, adopting a pet (if you’re physically able), joining an exercise class, restarting an old hobby or taking up a new one, visiting a senior center or the library regularly, staying in touch with family and friends via video chat or other technology options.

8. Giving too much

senior woman making donation on computer /

They say it’s more blessed to give than to receive. But suppose your giving gets out of hand?

Instead of wrecking your own finances, make “charitable giving” part of your budget. Maybe that’s a specific percentage, such as a 10% church tithe. Or maybe you’ll look at the numbers and decide, “I can afford to give away $100 a month.”

Once you’ve reached that amount, stop. Yes, it can be hard with so many emails, social media postings and relatives’ kids selling band candy.

Note: If you find it hard to say “no” in the moment — and who can resist a little tuba player with a box of chocolate? — then set aside part of your giving budget for these spur-of-the-moment requests.

And before you decide to give to a cause, check it out through websites like GuideStar or Charity Navigator. You’ll get an idea of how much of the money actually goes toward helping others. For a smaller or new charity, go to the websites to look for an IRS 990 Form, which spells out salaries and expenses.

It’s good that you want to give. But you need to take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


Do You Have to Pay FAFSA Back?

If you’re wondering “do you have to pay back FAFSA® loans?,” what you really want to know is whether you have to pay back your federal student loans that you may be eligible for after filling out your FAFSA. In short, you will have to pay back loans you get through completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), but other types of student aid you get through FAFSA likely don’t need to be repaid.

Aside from federal student loans, you can also use FAFSA to apply for grants and scholarships as well as work-study jobs, for which you’d get funds you usually wouldn’t need to pay back. If you have loans through FAFSA and need to pay them back though, read on for information on the three general types of federal student loans and your repayment options.

Direct Subsidized Loans

With Direct Subsidized Loans, the government (more specifically, the U.S. Department of Education) pays the interest while you are still in school at least half-time. That’s what makes them “subsidized.”

The maximum amount you can borrow depends on whether you are a dependent or an independent student, as well as what year of school you are in. However, it is ultimately up to your school how much you are eligible to receive each academic year.

Not everybody qualifies for a subsidized loan. You have to be an undergraduate (not a graduate student) demonstrating financial need and attending a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program. Additionally, the academic program in which you are enrolled must lead to a degree or certificate.

You also should check how your school defines the term “half-time,” as the meaning can vary from school to school. Contact your student aid office to make sure your definition and your school’s match completely. The status is usually based on the number of hours and/or credits in which you are enrolled.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

You will have to pay back all the interest that accrues with Direct Unsubsidized Loans, because these loans are “unsubsidized.” That means the government doesn’t cover your interest while you’re in school like they do with a subsidized loan.

You do not have to prove a financial need in order to qualify for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Additionally, these loans are available to graduate students as well as undergraduate students. Again, you need to be enrolled at least half-time in a school that will award a degree or certificate.

Direct PLUS Loans

There are two types of Direct PLUS Loans:

•   Grad PLUS Loans: These are for graduate or professional degree students

•   Parent PLUS Loans: Parent PLUS Loans can be taken out by parents for as long as their qualifying child is a dependent or undergraduate student

Unlike most other loans, PLUS loans require a credit check, and you cannot have an adverse credit history . If you or your parents have bad credit, a cosigner on the loan application may be an option.

With Direct PLUS Loans, you can borrow as much as you need (subtracting the other financial aid you’re getting). However, the interest rate for PLUS loans is generally higher than it is for the other types of federal student loans.

Do I Get a Grace Period on My Federal Student Loan Repayment?

Whether you get a grace period — time after you graduate (or drop below half-time enrollment) during which you do not have to make loan payments — depends on what type of federal student loan you have, as not all federal student loans offer one. Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans offer a grace period of six months, whereas Direct PLUS loans don’t offer a grace period at all.

Grace periods are meant to give you time to find a job and organize your finances before you have to start making loan payments. They are usually one-time deals; in most cases, you often can’t get a second grace period ​once the initial one ends.

Additionally, not all grace periods are exactly alike. Different loans may offer different grace periods. Policies vary. Check with your loan servicer so that you know for sure when your grace period begins and ends.

Keep in mind that grace periods are usually not interest-free. Some loans accrue interest during grace periods, which means that the interest will “capitalize,” or be added to the principal when the grace period ends. Many students subscribe to the strategy of making interest payments even during the grace period. Doing this can ultimately lower the amount you owe, and interest payments are generally more affordable to handle than principal payments.

Also remember that loan servicers are paid by the Department of Education to handle billing and other services for federal loans. The government gives you a loan servicer; you don’t get to choose one yourself. The loan servicer you get is the one you should contact if you have questions regarding your loan.

Federal Student Loan Standard Repayment Plan

Once you graduate, your repayment plan will depend on various factors, but most of the time the government will place you on its Standard Repayment Plan . The general rule here is that you’re expected to pay off your loan over the course of a decade, and your payments will remain the same for the duration.

Before you are placed on that Standard Repayment Plan, the government gives you a chance to choose a few other repayment options (which we’ll discuss below). If you don’t choose one of those, you’ll automatically be placed on the Standard Repayment Plan.

Additional Repayment Options

Here are a couple of your other repayment options beyond the Standard Repayment Plan:

•   The Extended Repayment Plan: The Extended Repayment Plan can extend your term from the standard 10 years to up to 25 years. To qualify, you must have at least $30,000 in outstanding Direct Loans. As a result, your monthly payments are reduced, but you could be paying way more interest.

•   The Graduated Repayment Plan: Another option, the Graduated Repayment Plan lets you pay off your loan within 10 years, but instead of a fixed payment, your payments start low and increase over time. This may be a good option if your income is currently low but you expect it to increase over time.

Keep in mind that although you can choose these repayment options, you cannot refinance a federal student loan with the government on your own (you can, however, consolidate them). That’s because those interest rates are set by federal law , and they can’t be changed or renegotiated.

Difference Between Refinancing & Consolidating Student Loans

While you can’t refinance your federal loans with the government, you can do so with a private loan company. Before you consider refinancing, be sure to know the difference between refinancing and consolidating student loans:

•   Refinancing means taking out a brand new loan so that you can pay off your existing loans. To refinance, you’ll choose the loan company you feel is best, with (hopefully) better interest rates and repayment terms. Refinancing can be done via a private lender and can be used for both federal and private loans. Keep in mind that when you refinance federal loans with a private lender, you lose access to federal benefits and protections like loan forgiveness programs and repayment plans.

•   Consolidation means placing all of your current loans into one big loan. Doing this typically extends your loan term so that your monthly payment is lowered. The problem with consolidating student loans is that it could mean you wind up paying additional interest. This is because when you consolidate multiple federal student loans, you’re given a new, fixed interest rate that’s the weighted average of the rates from the loans being consolidated.

Refinancing (as opposed to consolidating) your school loans may be a good option if you have high-interest, unsubsidized Direct Loans, Graduate PLUS loans, and/or private loans. Refinancing your existing loans with a longer term can reduce your monthly payments. Alternatively, you may be able to lower your interest rate or shorten your term.

Before you apply for that refinancing plan, it’s a good idea to check your credit score, as it is an important factor that lenders consider. Many lenders require a score of 650 or higher. If yours falls below that, you may consider a cosigner on the loan.

Lenders typically offer fixed and variable interest rates, as well as a variety of repayment terms (which is often based on your credit score and many other personal financial factors). The loan you choose should ultimately help you save money over the life of the loan or make your monthly payments more manageable.

The Takeaway

If you only got grants, scholarships, or work-study funding through FAFSA, you don’t have to worry about paying FAFSA back, so to speak. But if you got federal student loans through filling out FAFSA, you will have to pay those loans back.

Luckily, you have a number of options to do so. If you have high-interest loans, consider looking into refinancing to see if you can reduce your monthly payments.

Whether you are looking to borrow for school or refinance your student loans, SoFi can help. See your interest rate in just a few minutes—with no pressure to sign up.

We’ve Got You Covered

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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


10 Dow Dividend Stocks Analysts Love the Most

If the past month of market action underscores anything, it’s that big, blue-chip dividend stocks never go out of style. And that’s particularly true for the bluest of blue-chip equity-income vehicles – the top Dow dividend stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, that elite bastion of 30 industry leading companies, is a haven for reliable dividend payers. Only one of its components – (CRM) – doesn’t pay a dividend at all.

And although long-time dividend machines Boeing (BA) and Walt Disney (DIS) have temporarily suspended their payouts in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Dow remains a fountain of reliable and growing dividends. Indeed, a number of Dow dividend stocks are members of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, a list of companies that have increased their payouts annually for at least 25 consecutive years.

The Dow’s dividend-heavy character helped it hold up better than the benchmark S&P 500 since the latter peaked out at a record close on Sept. 2. With uncertainty running high amid a return of volatility, the case for Dow dividend stocks is as strong as ever.

“Dividend strategies have gained a foothold with market participants seeking potential outperformance and attractive yields, especially in the even lower-rate environment we’ve seen since early 2020 as the world deals with the economic fallout from COVID-19,” notes Tianyin Cheng, senior director of Strategy Indices at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Stocks with a history of dividend growth could present a compelling investment opportunity in an uncertain environment.”

Given that reality, we screened the blue-chip average for analysts’ highest-rated Dow dividend stocks.

Here’s how the process works: S&P Global Market Intelligence surveys analysts’ stock ratings and scores them on a five-point scale, where 1.0 equals Strong Buy and 5.0 means Strong Sell. Any score of 2.5 or lower means that analysts, on average, rate the stock a Buy. The closer the score gets to 1.0, the stronger the Buy call.

We then limited ourselves to Dow dividend stocks with yields of at least 2%. (The yield on the blue-chip average is 1.86%, according to data from Birinyi Associates.) Lastly, we dug into research, fundamental factors and analysts’ estimates on the top-scoring names.

That led us to this list of the top 10 Dow dividend stocks, based on Wall Street’s consensus recommendations. Read on as we analyze what makes each one stand out.

Share prices and other data are as of Oct. 1, courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence and YCharts. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent payout and dividing by the share price. Companies are listed by strength of analysts’ consensus recommendation, from lowest to highest.  

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10. Procter & Gamble

Several bottles of Tide sit on a grocery-store shelfSeveral bottles of Tide sit on a grocery-store shelf
  • Market value: $338.9 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.5%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.29 (Buy)

Consumer staples stocks such as mega-cap Procter & Gamble (PG, $139.58) were early winners from the pandemic and rolling lockdowns. People will always need products such as P&G’s Charmin toilet paper, Head & Shoulders shampoo and Crest toothpaste.

But now some analysts worry about increasingly difficult year-over-year comparisons – not to mention higher costs for raw materials and other expense pressures.

The market is even more concerned than the Street. This Dow dividend stock is essentially unchanged for the year-to-date, trailing the S&P 500 by almost 16 percentage points.

Procter & Gamble has announced price increases to offset higher costs, notes UBS Global Research. But analyst Peter Grom maintains a Neutral (Hold) recommendation on shares, partly due to increased commodity and freight costs, as well as foreign exchange headwinds.

“Given volatility around year-over-year comparisons and inflation, at these PG share-price levels, we would look for a more attractive entry point or wait until we have more visibility into a scenario where PG can deliver above the high-end of its guidance range before becoming more constructive on shares,” Grom writes.

The Street’s consensus recommendation, however, still works out to Buy. Six analysts have this Dow dividend stock at Strong Buy, four say Buy, 10 call it a Hold and one says Sell. 

Happily for income investors, P&G is a dividend-growth machine. Indeed, it’s a member of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, a list of companies that have increased their payouts annually for at least 25 consecutive years.

In P&G’s case, the Cincinnati-based company’s dividend-growth streak stands at 65 years. The most recent hike – a 10% increase in the quarterly dividend to 86.98 cents per share – came in April.

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9. JPMorgan Chase

Chase BankChase Bank
  • Market value: $499.4 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.4%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.19 (Buy)

Analysts as a group have remained steadily bullish on JPMorgan Chase (JPM, $167.13) over the course of 2021, and their clients have been resoundingly rewarded as a result.

Shares in the nation’s largest bank by assets are up nearly 32% for the year-to-date, leading the broader market by almost 16 percentage points.

JPM’s strength across multiple business lines and an improving economic backdrop make it a standout, analysts say. It also helps that interest rates appear to be headed directionally higher. 

“We think JPM is well positioned for increased loan activity from the consumer and small business that, combined with investment banking, is 83% of total revenue,” writes CFRA Research analyst Kenneth Leon (Buy). “We think JPM is gaining wallet share in investment banking as a top-three firm.”

Over at Argus Research, analyst Stephen Biggar (Buy) notes that the bank’s most recent quarterly results “further demonstrated the benefits of JPM’s vast revenue diversification.” He points to expectations for continued improvement in loan growth, favorable credit quality and a cheap valuation as reasons to buy the stock.

Bullishness like Biggar’s is predominant on the Street. Of the 26 analysts issuing opinions on this Dow dividend stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 10 rate it at Strong Buy, six say Buy, seven have it at Hold, one calls it a Sell and two say Strong Sell.

JPM’s dividend yield might not wow investors, but they can’t quibble much with its growth streak and growth rate. As far as Dow dividend stocks go, this one has raised its payout for 11 consecutive years, good for a 10-year annualized growth rate of 1,700%.

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8. Cisco Systems

A Cisco building signA Cisco building sign
  • Market value: $232.6 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.7%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.13 (Buy)

Cisco Systems (CSCO, $55.14) stock is beating the S&P 500 by more than 7 percentage points so far this year and has nearly doubled the performance of the Dow Industrials. The Street expects more outperformance ahead.

Of the 30 analysts covering this Dow dividend stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 10 rate it at Strong Buy, six say Buy and 14 have it at Hold. That’s good for a consensus recommendation of Buy.

Although this Dow dividend stock’s rising price has put pressure on the dividend yield (a stock’s price and its dividend yield move in opposite directions), there’s no questioning management’s commitment to returning cash to shareholders.

Cisco has increased its dividend annually for 10 years. And at 2.7%, the yield is comparatively generous, too. After all, the tech sector sports an average dividend yield of just 1.4%.

Where the outlook gets tricky for investors is that Cisco is transitioning from being heavily dependent on hardware such as internet routers and switches to higher-growth software and cloud services. It’s been a challenge, to say the least.

“Cisco is seeing orders rebound as most companies, large and small, rebound IT spending,” writes Needham analyst Alex Henderson (Hold). “Offsetting these stronger orders, supply constraints are holding growth back, but providing visibility further out than normal.”

At Jefferies, analyst George Notter (Buy) says the global chip shortage is very much a current challenge, but focusing on that headwind misses the forest for the trees.

The “bigger picture” with CSCO, Notter argues, is “the business transformation/digitization trends that have been driving CSCO’s business aren’t going away.”

The analyst further contends that CSCO’s “below-market valuation and the dividend yield should help keep a floor on the stock price.”

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7. Goldman Sachs

Traders near a Goldman Sachs signTraders near a Goldman Sachs sign
  • Market value: $128.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.07 (Buy)

Goldman Sachs (GS, $380.0) is the top-performing Dow Jones stock so far this year ��� up more than 44% through Oct. 1. – and analysts remain bullish on the investment bank’s stock.

“We believe capital markets will remain very active in a low rate, risk-on environment from corporate issuers, M&A and investors,” writes CFRA Research analyst Kenneth Leon (Strong Buy). “We think GS can extend high growth in asset/wealth management and consumer banking, while investment banking benefits from record initial public offering and M&A pipeline.”

And investment banking strength really plays to Goldman Sachs’ hand, analysts note.

“The investment banking backlog increased to a new record level in Q2 ’21 despite headwinds from strong transaction closings that drove investment banking revenue to its second highest quarter on record,” writes Piper Sandler analyst Jeffery Harte (Overweight). 

Over at Jefferies, analyst Daniel Fannon initiated coverage of the Dow dividend stock at Buy in June, citing strength in investment banking and capital markets, among other positives expected to drive shares higher.

Fannon is in the majority on the Street, which has a consensus recommendation of Buy. Of the 27 analysts issuing opinions on GS tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 10 rate it at Strong Buy, seven say Buy, nine have it at Hold and one says Strong Sell. Meanwhile, they forecast the firm to generate average annual earnings per share (EPS) growth of 13.6% over the next three to five years.

Although this Dow dividend stock’s yield is paltry compared to the financial sector average of 3.2%, the investment bank has at least increased its payout annually for 10 consecutive years. 

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6. Chevron

A Chevron gas stationA Chevron gas station
  • Market value: $201.8 billion
  • Dividend yield: 5.1%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.07 (Buy)

Chevron (CVX, $104.33) is the lone energy-sector component among the 30 Dow Jones stocks. Shares are up almost 24% so far this year, besting the broader market by nearly 7 percentage points.

Wall Street has remained steadfast in its bullish view of this Dow dividend stock for more than 18 months. Ten analysts rate the energy stock at Strong Buy, six say Buy and 12 rate it at Hold, per S&P Global Market Intelligence.

There is indeed a compelling Buy case to be made for the second-largest integrated oil major in the U.S. after Exxon Mobil (XOM), and plenty of analysts contend investors will be rewarded for their patience. 

“In the current volatile energy environment, a company’s balance sheet strength and place on the cost curve are critical, and favor integrated oil companies that are well positioned to manage a potentially long period of volatile oil prices,” writes Argus Research analyst Bill Selesky (Buy). “CVX is one of these companies as it benefits from best-in-class production growth, industry-low operating costs and a strong balance sheet.”

The analyst further notes that Chevron plans to resume stock buybacks in the third quarter at a rate of $2 billion to $3 billion annually, calling it a “solid starting point” that could eventually return buybacks to their pre-pandemic level of $5 billion per year.

Raymond James analyst Justin Jenkins (Outperform) makes a similar case. 

“With the strongest financial base of the majors, coupled with an attractive relative asset portfolio, Chevron offers the most straightforwardly positive risk/reward,” Jenkins writes. 

Meanwhile, there’s no questioning CVX’s commitment to its dividend, having lifted the payout annually for more than three decades. It’s a comparatively generous dividend too, yielding 5.1% vs. the energy sector average of 4.5%.

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5. Johnson & Johnson

A bottle of Tylenol sitting next to a box of TylenolA bottle of Tylenol sitting next to a box of Tylenol
  • Market value: $422.4 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.6%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 2.00 (Buy)

Analysts have a consensus recommendation of Buy on Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, $160.47), citing its strong pipeline, a rebound in demand for medical devices and acquisitions, among other positives.

“The company’s current growth opportunities, pharmaceutical pipeline strength, and success in integrating acquisitions support our $200 target,” writes Argus Research analyst David Toung (Buy). “J&J is also benefiting from a growing consumer business, boosted by newly acquired brands.”

Toung’s 12-month target price gives this Dow dividend stock implied upside of almost 25%. The Street’s average target of $185.83 is less optimistic, giving shares implied upside of about 16% over the next year or so.

Whether Toung’s target price is achievable depends in part on JNJ’s success in integrating Momenta Pharmaceuticals, which it acquired in 2020 in a $6.5 billion deal. 

At Stifel, analyst Rick Wise agrees that JNJ has multiple growth drivers and is a classic buy-and-hold name. He simply doesn’t like the stock at current levels. 

“We view Johnson & Johnson as a core healthcare holding and total-return vehicle in any market environment for investors looking for relative safety and stability,” writes Wise, who rates JNJ at Hold because “there could be more opportune entry points.”

As for being a total-return vehicle, few companies have shown a greater commitment to dividend growth. This Dividend Aristocrat has raised its payout annually for 59 consecutive years. 

Those payouts really do add up. Over the past five years, JNJ gained almost 36% on a price basis. Including dividends, however, its total return comes to more than 55%.

Of the 18 analysts issuing opinions on this Dow dividend stock, eight rate it at Strong Buy, two say Buy and eight have it at Hold.

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4. Coca-Cola

Various Coca-Cola and Coke Zero cans sitting in iceVarious Coca-Cola and Coke Zero cans sitting in ice
  • Market value: $228.9 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.2%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.92 (Buy)

The pandemic put a crimp on sales at restaurants, bars, cinemas, live sports and other events, all of which took a toll on Coca-Cola (KO, $53.02). But now that the global economy is back on the move, analysts increasingly like KO as a recovery play among the Dow dividend stocks.

“We expect increased consumer mobility, market-share gains and a focus on innovations (Coke Zero reformulation, Topo Chico, Costa) to continue to drive top-line growth,” writes UBS Global Research analyst Sean King (Buy). “Net, we remain confident in KO’s sequential improvement story and believe it will deliver double-digit percent EPS growth over the next two years.”

Credit Suisse analyst Kaumil Gajrawala (Outperform) takes a similar view of the beverage giant’s prospects. 

“Fundamentals were solid pre-pandemic and Coke is set to emerge stronger from the COVID crisis given strategic initiatives and organizational changes,” Gajrawala says. “We believe this sets Coke up for a period of high-single to low double-digit earnings growth.”

With shares off 3.3% for the year-to-date, bulls can point to a reasonable valuation when making their Buy calls. Of the 26 analysts covering this Dow dividend stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 11 rate it at Strong Buy, six say Buy and nine call it a Hold. 

Meanwhile, equity income investors shouldn’t forget Coca-Cola’s status as a Dividend King. The beverage giant has lifted its payout annually for almost 60 years. In addition to being reliable with its dividend, Coke is also generous. This Dow dividend stock’s current yield of 3.2% easily tops the consumer staples sector’s average of 1.9%.

Lasty, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Coca-Cola is one of Warren Buffett’s favorite stocks. 

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3. Home Depot

A Home Depot storeA Home Depot store
  • Market value: $348.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.0%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.88 (Buy)

Home Depot (HD, $329.86) has long been one of the Street’s favorite ways to play the housing market. Turns out, HD also was a profitable way to play COVID-19. A country basically cooped up at home was great for business at the nation’s largest home improvement chain.

Analysts expect the good times to keep rolling, but the end of the pandemic era does add a layer of uncertainty.

“HD has likely generated strong third-quarter sales trends in its Pro segment even as Do-It-Yourself trends have likely slowed,” writes UBS Global Research strategist Ajit Agrawal (Buy). “This trend is likely to continue over the rest of fiscal 2021. Plus, a decline in COVID costs should drive nicely positive EPS growth for HD, despite tough year-over-year comparisons.”

Although shares in HD are beating the broader market by about 8 percentage points in 2021, they remain below their 52-week high notched in May. Overly high expectations may be partly to blame, says Raymond James analyst Bobby Griffin, who advises investors to focus on the big picture and maintain long horizons. 

“While the prior comparisons are tough, the industry backdrop for Home Depot remains favorable, driven by the consumer gaining confidence to take on more complex projects, low interest rates and higher equity values in homes,” writes Griffin (Outperform). “We advise long-term focused investors to buy the dip given the solid industry fundamentals, strong execution and favorable long-term growth outlook.”

As for the dividend, Home Depot has raised it annually for 12 straight years – and at a compound annual rate of 19% over the past five years.

Of the 33 analysts covering this Dow dividend stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 16 rate it at Strong Buy, seven say Buy, nine call it a Hold and one says Strong Sell. 

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2. McDonald’s

McDonald's logo on the side of a buildingMcDonald's logo on the side of a building
  • Market value: $181.4 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.3%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.78 (Buy)

McDonald’s (MCD, $242.93) is bouncing back from the pandemic, which caused a steep drop in in-store traffic. Naturally, analysts see it as a golden way to bet on the post-COVID-19 recovery.

The fast-food giant also happens to be a Dividend Aristocrat, with a 45-year streak of annual increases. Most recently, MCD raised its quarterly dividend by 7% to $1.38 per share, payable on Dec. 15. 

Although this Dow dividend stock is lagging the broader market by about 3 percentage points for the year-to-date, the Street expects MCD to deliver market-beating returns once its international segment catches up to a rebounding U.S.

“We continue to identify drivers for upside,” writes Oppenheimer analyst Brian Bittner (Outperform). “The reliable and dominant U.S. business is armed with upgraded sales strategies to drive outperformance, while there is an under-appreciation for an offensive recovery in the hard-hit international business (60% of profits pre-COVID-19).”

Indeed, an accelerating recovery both at home and especially abroad remains a powerful catalyst for the fast-food giant heading into next year, the pros say. 

“With durable sales momentum, opportunities to gain share in international markets, and margin progress, we continue to see upside to MCD shares,” writes BMO Capital Markets analyst Andrew Strelzik (Outperform).

True, not every analyst is bullish on the stock. Raymond James analyst Brian Vaccaro (Market Perform), for one, takes issue with MCD’s valuation. 

“We believe the stock is fairly valued at current levels and would be patient for a better entry point to materialize,” he says. 

The bottom line? Eighteen analysts rate this Dow dividend stock at Strong Buy, eight say Buy and 10 call it a Hold, per S&P Global Market Intelligence. That works out to a consensus recommendation of Buy, with high conviction. 

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1. Merck

Merck buildingMerck building
  • Market value: $206.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.2%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.77 (Buy)

With a consensus recommendation of Buy with high conviction, Merck (MRK, $81.40) earns the top spot among the Street’s favorite Dow dividend stocks. 

Analysts’ bull case rests partly on the fact that a prolonged period of underperformance has made MRK stock too cheap to ignore. It also helps that Merck kicked off the fourth quarter with a huge catalyst.

Shares popped as much as 12.3% at one point during the Oct. 1 session on news that Merck’s experimental COVID-19 pill proved to be highly successful in a pivotal clinical study.

The rally lifted the pharmaceutical giant’s shares to within less than a percentage point of breakeven for the year-to-date. However, as promising as that move may be, MRK still lags the S&P 500 by more than 16 points in 2021. 

The sliding share price has MRK trading at just 13.6 times the Street’s forward EPS estimate. That offers a 10% discount to its own five-year average of 15.1 times forward earnings, per Refinitiv Stock Reports Plus. Additionally, MRK trades at a 34% discount to the S&P 500, which goes for 20.7 times expected earnings, per Yardeni Research. 

MRK’s depressed valuation is partially attributable to concerns about growth following Merck’s June spinoff of its women’s health business to shareholders. 

“We are maintaining our Hold rating on Merck, reflecting the company’s uncertain growth and margin profile after the Organon (OGN) spinoff,” write Argus Research analysts David Toung and Caleigh McGough. “The spinoff should help Merck to achieve higher revenue and EPS growth over time; however, the company has also lost a range of mature, higher-margin products.”

Argus’ caution may be warranted, but it’s the minority view. Eleven analysts rate this Dow dividend stock at Strong Buy, five say Buy and six call it a Hold.

And in addition to MRK’s potential for share-price appreciation, the Street applauds the reliability and generosity of its dividend. Not only has the firm raised its payout annually for 11 consecutive years, but the current yield is double the health-care sector average of 1.6%.


10 Great Sites to Buy Cheap Eyeglasses Online

In addition to accepting most major insurance plans, the company offers a hybrid shopping experience that allows you to order your lenses online, then get them fitted and adjusted at one of their 1,000+ locations.
Roka accepts most major insurance plans including Aetna, BCBS, Humana, and United Healthcare, among others.
Glasses USA is another online eyewear retailer offering a huge selection (as in over 7,000 frames) of cheap glasses. Unlike some of the competition, Glasses USA also offers free shipping and returns, as well as a 365-day warranty.
Prices start at and purchases are backed by a one-year warranty. There are hundreds of styles for you (or your kiddos) to choose from.

Buying Cheap Eyeglasses Online

Basic Warby lenses include a scratch-resistant treatment, a moisture-repelling coating, and UV protection. Progressive lenses (those that function as both reading and distance glasses) start at 5, while tinted prescription lenses cost an additional 0 from the base model.
In addition to the sheer convenience of being able to try frames on at home, there’s also the fact that shopping online for prescription glasses usually means more choice — and a lot more savings.
But whether you like pinching tiny plastic orbs into your eyes or not— chances are you’ll still want an attractive pair of frames that you actually enjoy wearing. The idea of discount glasses might imply that you’ll be wearing tacky, cheap frames. Not so, and the beauty of affordable glasses is that you can buy multiple pairs when you shop online.
By combining the best of both in-person and online shopping experiences, Lenscrafters is changing the way people shop for eyewear. This even if they don’t have the corner on cheap prescription eyeglasses on the market.
This certainly makes shopping for online glasses worth it.

1. Warby Parker

Since you can expect to replace your eyeglasses every one to three years, it’s worthwhile to find affordable glasses by buying online, especially if you’re the kind of person who likes to switch up your style every few years.
Contributor Larissa Runkle specializes in finance, real estate and lifestyle topics. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.  
This online vendor offers a little bit of everything when you’re ready to buy glasses online, including its own ultra-affordable, in-house-designed prescription lenses and some of your favorite brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley.

2. Zenni Optical

The company is considered an “out-of-network” provider by several major vision insurance plans, including Davis Vision, EyeMed, Spectra/United Healthcare, and VSP, meaning you can collect reimbursement for your frames if working with one of these insurance companies.
Once you decide to find that stylish set of frames, get ready for a lot of options as you shop online.
If you’re looking for a lot of choice (and the modern convenience of trying on eyeglass frames at home), you might just want to start your search at Warby Parker. With prescription eyeglasses starting at just , and a variety of insurance providers accepted (including Cigna, Aetna, and Anthem, among others), Warby makes it easy to find great frames at any budget. Plus, you might need a pair of prescription sunglasses for driving and reading at the beach.

They also have a huge inventory of clearance frames starting at just .95.

3. Glasses USA

The company also offers fast delivery (two-day delivery for ) and a one-year warranty, which will replace your lenses for free if they break. They also allow you to purchase any of their prescription glasses using an FSA or HSA account.
Don’t want to try on frames with their at-home program? Not to worry, as the company also has a virtual try-on program.
Many of their fashionable lenses start at just .94, and you can find frames for even less in the “Under ” category.

4. EyeBuyDirect

While many of the glasses here start at around (including progressive lenses), you can find clearance pairs for as low as .
Warby usually takes five to 10 business days to ship your order, with home try-ons arriving in about five days.
If you lead a super active lifestyle, you might be tempted to try Roka.
In a recent survey from Consumer Reports, people buying glasses online paid a median of , while those shopping in-store spent 4.

A woman laughs while wearing black framed eyeglasses.
Getty Images

5. Lenscrafters

This company is taking the at-home trial to the next level by encouraging would-be customers to pick four frames and actually wear them while exercising — before ordering their favorite pair.
The company offers a variety of popular brands including Ray-Ban, Versace, Michael Kors and Coach, among others. Because many of their glasses tend to be high-end brands, the prices are also higher — often running anywhere between 0 and 0 a pair.
Some highlights of Roka frames include a lightweight frame with no pressure points and a design that won’t fall off during all your favorite activities.
When you sign up with your email, you’ll automatically get 15% off. The company had a fall promo for 50% off your second pair of glasses.

6. Roka

Besides being crazy-affordable from the get-go, we spotted some amazing promo codes when we visited, such as a buy-one, get-one deal and a 50% off (plus free shipping) code for first-time customers.
With virtual try-ons, a huge selection, and frames starting at , EyeBuyDirect makes it easy to find stylish and affordable lenses.
Probably one of the cheapest online eyewear stores out there, Zenni sells single-prescription glasses starting at just .95.
Zenni also offers a virtual try-on tool to help you pick which frames best fit your face.
You can use your FSA or HSA card to purchase your next pair of glasses with Liingo, and if you like them — don’t forget to tell a friend. You’ll get off every successful referral and your friends will get off their first order of or more.
Looking for more options? They also sell affordable prescription sunglasses (starting at ), blue-light-blocking glasses (starting at ) and tinted glasses (starting at ).

7. Ambr

Another eyeglass company offering an at-home try-on program, Liingo Eyewear features stylish prescription and blue light glasses (and sunglasses), starting at just .
The good news is that buying online eyeglasses from Lenscrafters might just save you money on contacts if you catch one of their promotions, such as a recent promo for 40% off contact lenses with any frame order. Despite the crazy-low affordable prices, Zenni lenses are actually still good quality according to customer reviews, and all come with UV protection and an initial 30-day protection plan that replaces broken frames for free.
You can make purchases using an FSA or HSA account, and the company also partners directly with a number of popular vision insurance providers. The company was running some pretty sweet promos recently, including a 30% off student discount and a Amazon gift card when you refer a friend.

8. Discount Glasses

Ambr also has a small line of blue-light, non-prescription kids’ glasses starting at .
Like most things, buying prescription eyeglasses online has become the new norm.
These specialized frames start at a slightly higher price point (5 per pair), but with their comprehensive at-home trial, it’s also way more likely you walk away with something you really love.
You can even buy your frames using your HSA or FSA account.
Eyecare in general has become a lot more affordable in recent years. There’s even a website offering online eye exams that take 10 minutes or less and only cost .

9. Glasses Shop

Here are 10 affordable places to buy your next pair of cheap prescription glasses online.
If you’re new to online shopping for eyeglasses, keep in mind that most prices you’ll see are for both frames and lenses (assuming you have a relatively low prescription that doesn’t require thicker lenses). But you might be charged extra for special coatings, progressive lenses (those that function as both reading and distance glasses), or other add-ons for your lenses.
Coming in hot with gorgeous lenses handcrafted in Ireland, Ambr is a company focused on creating affordable prescription (and non-prescription) blue-light glasses. Meant to protect your eyes from extensive screen time, these frames start at for non-prescription lenses and 2 for prescriptions within the ​​+4.00/-4.00 range.
Discount Glasses is pretty much everything it sounds like — affordable eyewear.
If you’re looking for cheap lenses with a pop of color, you’re going to like the selection at Glasses Shop.

10. Liingo Eyewear

Glasses Shop accepts payment from HSA and FSA accounts.
This company offers prescription glasses and sunglasses as well as blue light and progressive frames, with free shipping on orders over .
While the company doesn’t partner with any insurance providers directly, their lenses are accepted by most FSA and HSA accounts.
In addition to a great selection of affordable frames, the company also offers free shipping and returns and an extensive line of reading glasses and sunglasses.
Glasses from Ambr typically take three days to dispatch. The company offers free worldwide shipping and returns and 24/7 customer support.