Is a Warehouse Store (Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s) Membership Worth It? – Costs, Pros & Cons

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Smart-shopping blogs and magazines teem with stories about the great deals you can get at warehouse stores. Shopping experts say joining a warehouse club can save you money on nearly everything — groceries, tires, even vacations. 

But there’s one obvious snag. Before you can fill up your cart with these bargains, you have to pay an annual fee of around $50 just to get in the door. How can you tell if your annual savings will be enough to offset this membership fee? 

To answer that question, you need to delve into the murky depths of warehouse store shopping. That means getting the details on how warehouse clubs work, what they cost, and how good the prices are on the items you buy most.

How Warehouse Stores Work

Warehouse stores use a different pricing model from other retail stores. Regular retailers, such as Walmart, make their money from the markup they charge. That’s the difference between the wholesale price they pay to their suppliers and the retail price they charge to customers.

According to Entrepreneur, the markup at a typical retail store is around 50%. In other words, the price you pay is twice what the store paid.

By contrast, warehouse stores charge a much lower markup. For instance, Costco’s markup is only 14% to 15%, according to Forbes. They make up for the lost profits by charging a fixed yearly fee to each customer. 

That’s why these stores sometimes refer to themselves as buying clubs. You pay upfront to become a member, and in return, you get to buy products at rock-bottom prices. In addition, you gain access to various other special deals on everything from health care to travel.

Top Warehouse Store Chains

There are three major warehouse chains in the United States. The biggest is Sam’s Club. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, started this store in 1983 as a supplier for small businesses.

Today, Sam’s Club is a nationwide chain with nearly 600 stores in the U.S. and millions of members. Its products range from groceries and office supplies to big-ticket items like jewelry and furniture.

The closest competitor to Sam’s Club is Costco. This chain started in Seattle in 1983. Ten years later, it merged with another club store called Price Club, which had been catering to business owners since 1976. 

Today, Costco boasts over 100 million members and has hundreds of stores stretching across the United States and beyond. The chain sets itself apart from other warehouse stores with its focus on high-end goods, such as organic food and designer jeans.

The third major chain is BJ’s Wholesale Club. BJ’s is a smaller chain than its competitors, with 200-plus stores in the eastern U.S., Michigan, and Ohio. But like Sam’s Club and Costco, it offers a wide range of goods and services, from groceries to vacation packages.

Warehouse Stores Work

People who love warehouse stores really love them. Forbes reports that Costco members are extremely loyal, with more than 9 out of 10 choosing to renew their membership each year.

And they have many good reasons to feel this way. Warehouse stores offer a plethora of benefits, including the following:

1. Low Prices — At Least on Certain Items

The main reason shoppers love warehouse stores is their low prices. Independent studies have found that warehouse clubs really do offer great bargains in certain areas, such as:

  • Groceries. In 2018, Consumers’ Checkbook went grocery shopping at warehouse clubs and supermarkets. It found that prices at both Sam’s Club and Costco beat major supermarket chains by 17% to 41%. (However, BJ’s prices failed to beat Walmart’s.)
  • Gasoline. A 2020 analysis by CSP compared prices across gas stations around the country. Costco was the winner, beating the national average price by nearly $0.25 per gallon.
  • Prescription Drugs. In 2018, Consumer Reports checked retail prices on five drugs at over 150 U.S. pharmacies. The complete set cost over $900 at CVS, but only $153 at Sam’s Club and $105 at Costco. And some generic drugs at Sam’s Club are only $4.
  • Car Tires. In a 2021 analysis by Clark Howard, Sam’s Club was second only to Walmart for the lowest average price on car tires. All three warehouse clubs were in the top six.
  • Booze. According to Spoon University, Costco offers the lowest unit prices on all types of alcohol. For those willing to buy in bulk, the club charges significantly less for Skyy vodka and Blue Moon beer than other retailers.
  • Pet Food. In a 2019 analysis of name-brand pet food prices by Consumers’ Checkbook, Sam’s Club and BJ’s topped the list for lowest average prices. (Costco, which mainly sells its own Kirkland Signature brand, was not covered.)

2. Access to Services

When you join a warehouse club, you don’t just get access to its products. These stores also offer a variety of services exclusively for members.

For instance, a Costco membership gives you access to Costco’s car-buying service. It provides haggle-free low prices on new and used cars and RVs from approved dealers. It also gives you 15% off car parts and services from participating providers.

Costco members can also save on vacations with Costco Travel. It provides special deals on airfare, hotels, auto rentals, cruises, and travel packages. The store also offers photo printing, banking services, insurance, home renovation, eye care, and bottled water delivery.

Other warehouse clubs offer a similar menu of services. Sam’s Club doesn’t provide banking or insurance services, but it gives members discounts on concert and theater tickets, theme parks, and attractions. 

Sam’s Club also offers discounts on various subscription services. Members can get lower prices on music streaming, video streaming, educational apps for kids, and fitness apps.

Likewise, BJ’s offers travel, vision care, home improvement, and photo services for members. One special perk it provides is free technical support for all its electronics.

3. High-Quality Store Brands

Shoppers are impressed with the quality of warehouse stores’ house brands — especially at Costco. In a 2019 Consumer Reports survey, Costco was one of only three out of 96 grocery chains to earn top marks for the quality of its store brands. 

The magazine’s editors get more specific in a 2017 article. They call several Kirkland products  as good as or better than name-brand competitors. These include laundry and dishwasher detergent, batteries, toilet paper, bacon, mayonnaise, and organic chicken stock. 

Another product that gets high marks from reviewers is Kirkland Signature dog food. According to DogFood.Guide, this brand has “surprisingly high quality” for a store brand. It’s made by Diamond Pet Foods, a leading manufacturer of high-end foods like Taste of the Wild.

Both Kirkland and Member’s Mark, the house brand from Sam’s Club, get good reviews for some wines and liquors. The Beverage Tasting Institute gives ratings of at least 90 points out of 100 to several Kirkland wines and to Member’s Mark tequila, vodka, and gin.

4. One-Stop Shopping

Warehouse stores allow you to condense many errands into one. You can pick up your glasses, shop for shoes, get new tires, book a vacation, and buy groceries all in one trip.

5. Free Samples

On weekends, shoppers at warehouse stores can stroll through the aisles noshing on samples of assorted food items. Naturally, the stores hope that trying the products will inspire you to buy them, but there’s no obligation. You’re perfectly free to chow down and walk away.

6. A Pleasant Shopping Experience

On the whole, warehouse club members are satisfied shoppers. In a survey by Consumer Reports, Costco shoppers reported being more satisfied with their experience than shoppers at nine other major retail chains. 

A 2021 report by the American Customer Service Index found similar results. Costco topped a list of 20 retailers, with 81% customer satisfaction. Sam’s Club and BJ’s came in a bit lower down the rankings, with a respectable 79% and 77% respectively.

7. Good Returns Policies

One likely reason why warehouse store shoppers are so satisfied is that if they’re ever unhappy with a purchase, it’s easy to return. Both Costco and Sam’s Club offer an absolute 100% money-back guarantee on virtually everything they sell.

If you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can return it with your receipt at any time. One exception is electronic items, which can’t be returned after 90 days. BJ’s policy is a bit more restrictive, allowing returns only up to one year.

Costco Warehouse Good Returns Policies

Although warehouse stores have undeniable benefits, they have their drawbacks too. Here are a few good reasons not to do your shopping at a warehouse store:

1. Membership Fees

The most obvious downside of warehouse club membership is the membership cost. The standard annual membership fee for a household or a business is $45 per year at Sam’s Club, $55 per year at BJ’s, and $60 per year at Costco. 

In addition, all three of the major warehouse chains offer higher-tier memberships. They’re called Executive Membership at Costco, Plus at Sam’s Club, and Perks Rewards at BJ’s.

These tiers cost roughly twice as much as a regular club membership. In exchange, they give you 2% back on nearly everything in the store. That means you have to spend between $2,750 and $3,000 per year before the higher-level membership will pay for itself.

2. Oversized Packages and Quantities

Warehouse stores are known for their jumbo-size packages. Buying in bulk to save money makes perfect sense with nonperishable goods, such as soap or paper towels. You can safely stock up on these bulk items as long as you have the space to store them. 

However, bulk buying can be a problem with products that don’t keep well. A five-pound bag of shredded cheese is no bargain unless you can (and actually want to) eat that much cheese before it goes bad.

3. Limited Selection

Warehouse clubs are good for grocery shopping, but you can’t always buy everything on your shopping list there. In the 2018 Consumers’ Checkbook study, the three warehouse stores only carried about half the items in a standard basket of groceries.

BJ’s was the best of the lot, with about 57% of the items available. Sam’s Club had 52% of them, and Costco had only 44%. Moreover, most of the items at all three stores were only available in bulk containers, not standard sizes.

4. Impulse Buys

Warehouse stores are huge and crammed with an incredible variety of goods. Even if all you need is cereal, milk, and toothpaste, you’ll probably have to walk past jewelry, clothes, and toys to get to those three staples. 

This makes it very easy to fall victim to the temptation of impulse buys. You could easily go in with your three-item shopping list and walk out with a whole cart full of unplanned purchases. Worse, some of these could be big-ticket items like a TV set.

5. Restrictions on Coupons

If you’re in the habit of using coupons to save money on groceries, the warehouse store isn’t the place to do it. Neither Costco nor Sam’s Club accepts manufacturer’s coupons at all. BJ’s takes them, but it only accepts select coupons in digital form.

5. Deals That Aren’t So Great

With such a vast assortment of goods gathered together in one store, warehouse stores seem ideal for one-stop shopping. However, if you buy everything on your list there, you’ll probably spend more than you need to.

My local Costco has great prices on a few staple foods, such as nuts. But its fresh foods, such as produce and eggs, are nearly always more expensive than the ones at nearby supermarkets.

Even paper goods like paper towels and toilet paper aren’t such great deals. Two dozen rolls of toilet paper at Costco cost more per roll than one dozen of the store brand from Trader Joe’s.

Warehouse stores also tempt buyers with big-ticket items like appliances, furniture, and electronics. But these products are almost never bargains. 

For instance, the current Costco savings brochure advertises LED TV sets for $700 to $3,000. But the top-rated LED TV in the same size range at Best Buy costs just $600. And a laptop Costco advertises for $700 is similar to one Lenovo sells for $565.

Deals That Arent Great

Deciding Whether It’s Worth It

The best way to figure out whether a warehouse club membership is worth it for you is to check it out in person. Scout up and down the aisles, check prices on the items you buy regularly, and  compare them to the prices at your local supermarket.

There’s just one problem with this plan. Most warehouse stores won’t even let you in the door to check prices without a membership card. One way to get around this problem is to ask a friend who’s a member to let you tag along on their next trip. 

Also, nonmembers are allowed to shop at Costco with a store gift card. However, only Costco members can buy these cards. To get around that rule, ask a friend to buy one for you or buy one secondhand through a gift card exchange site.

Two Real-Life Examples

Back in 2006, my husband and I took advantage of a free day pass to check out the prices at our local BJ’s Wholesale Club. We found that for most items we buy, BJ’s didn’t have lower prices than other stores. 

For instance, the $18 DVDs and $700 laptops in the electronics section couldn’t beat online deals. A 12-pound bag of baking soda cost more per pound than a supermarket store brand. And 24-roll packs of toilet paper cost nearly twice what we paid per roll at Trader Joe’s.

We still found good deals on a few items, like cereal, rice, and chocolate chips. But crunching the numbers, we found that we wouldn’t save enough on these items in a year to pay for the club membership.

But in 2017, we decided to give Costco a try. My husband needed new glasses, and we found the savings on those would more than pay for the $60 membership cost. 

Once we were inside the store, we started finding deals on all sorts of other things we buy regularly. Organic sugar, raisins, nuts, oatmeal, milk, and olive oil were all cheaper at Costco than at local supermarkets.

Here’s a sample of our savings from a single Costco trip. For each item, I’ve listed the amount we bought, the price, and what the same amount would have cost at the next cheapest store.

Product Costco Price Competitor’s Price Savings

Raisin Bran (14.34 pounds) $21.87 $24.38 (Aldi) $2.51

Brussels Sprouts (2 pounds) $4.99 $4.99 (Trader Joe’s) $0

Clementines (5 pounds) $5.49 $5.49 (supermarket sale) $0

Birdseed (80 pounds) $27.98 $31.96 (Lowe’s) $3.98

Organic Raisins (4 pounds) $10.79 $11.96 (Trader Joe’s) $1.17

Walnuts (3 pounds) $10.89 $14.97 (Aldi) $4.08

Canola Oil (6 quarts) $7.69 $9.00 (Shop-Rite) $1.31

Organic Sugar (10 pounds) $7.99 $17.45 (Trader Joe’s) $9.46 (less packaging waste as well)

On this one trip, we saved a total of $22.51 on a bill of $99.54. That means we saved about 22% off our entire bill. According to our credit card statement, we spent a total of $723.50 at Costco in 2018. If we saved 22% on everything we bought there, that’s a savings of $159.17.

In addition, by becoming members, we qualified for a Costco credit card. It offered 4% cash back on gas, 3% on restaurants and travel, and 2% on everything at Costco. Those rewards save us another $34 per year or so.

So, all told, our Costco membership is saving us over $193 per year. That’s more than three times the cost of the membership card. 

Factors That Affect Your Choice

As you can see from our experience, warehouse stores aren’t all the same. BJ’s Wholesale Club definitely wasn’t a money-saver for us, but Costco definitely was.

However, what works for our family isn’t necessarily what will work for yours. It depends largely on what you buy and how much you pay for it.

Based on our experience, these are the factors most likely to make a warehouse club membership a good deal for you.

Bulk Buying

On our initial trip to BJ’s, we had to pass up a lot of deals because the containers were too big. A 30-pound sack of rice cost less per pound than a 10-pound bag, but it would have taken us years to go through it all.

However, if you have a large family or a small business, you probably go through supplies faster. That makes these jumbo-sized packages a more reasonable deal for you. All you need is enough storage space to hold them and keep them fresh.

Brand Loyalty

My husband and I usually prefer to buy store brands rather than name brands. For most products, we find their quality is just as good and their price is much lower. Most of the products we buy at Costco are the ones that come in the Kirkland store brand. 

That’s one reason we didn’t have much luck at BJ’s on our first trip. Most of its products, at least at the time, were name brands. The store’s price for Star-Kist tuna was cheaper than the price for Star-Kist at our local Stop & Shop, but no cheaper than the Stop & Shop store brand.

However, many people are loyal to specific brands. For instance, your family may insist on Heinz ketchup or Downy fabric softener. If so, there’s a good chance that a warehouse store can offer you a better price on it than your regular supermarket. 

But before you sign up for a membership, make sure the warehouse store actually stocks the specific brands you want. If you shelled out $50 for a membership card and then find out the store doesn’t carry Heinz ketchup, you’re out of luck.

Few Local Supermarkets

Nearly all our food savings from Costco come from just a few items. On most foods, especially fresh foods, the warehouse can’t beat the prices at our area supermarkets. Even if their regular prices are higher than Costco’s, we can always wait for a sale.

However, in some areas — especially rural areas — there are no big supermarkets. The main food sellers are local grocery stores and convenience stores with high prices and few great sales. If you live in an area like this, the regular prices at warehouse stores look a lot more appealing. 

A Convenient Location

Finally, location matters. If the nearest warehouse store is 50 miles away, it isn’t practical to shop there more than once or twice per year. That hardly gives you a chance to get your money’s worth out of your membership. Plus, the cost of gas will eat into your savings. 

But if the distance to the store is less than 10 miles, regular trips become practical. You can visit every few weeks to stock up on everything you need. 

Factors Affect Choice

Avoiding the Pitfalls

If you decide to invest in a warehouse club membership — or you already have one — use it wisely. To get the most for your money, maximize the benefits of warehouse shopping and minimize the drawbacks.

Don’t Give In to Temptation

Impulse buys are one of the biggest hazards of the warehouse store. This can happen at the supermarket too, but Costco and Sam’s Club have a much wider array of shiny toys to tempt you. 

However, you can avoid them the same way you would in any other store. Make a shopping list and stick to it. If you see something that looks irresistible, don’t stick it right in your cart. Instead,  jot down the item and the price and walk away. 

The next day, take another look at your note. If you still want the item, you can go back to the store and get it. But chances are, by the time you’ve had 24 hours to cool off, the new toy will have lost a lot of its appeal.

Check Unit Prices

Warehouse stores don’t always beat the supermarket on price. However, comparing prices is tricky because the containers at the warehouse store tend to be so much larger. 

To be sure you’re getting a good deal, compare unit prices. That’s the cost per ounce, quart, or whatever unit the product is measured in. 

Some stores have the unit prices of different products marked on the shelf. However, if your warehouse store doesn’t, it’s easy to calculate. Just whip out your phone and divide the total price by the container size. 

Then compare this number to the price you’re used to paying at your regular store. It helps to keep a grocery price book that lists each store’s unit prices for items you buy often. That way you don’t have to try to remember one number while staring at another.

Don’t Overbuy

When you compare unit prices, the biggest container often looks like the best deal. However, a five-gallon tub of mayonnaise is no bargain if it goes bad before you use it up. 

If you’re buying something with an unlimited shelf life, such as shampoo, then buying by the case is no problem. But when you’re shopping in the food department, try to be realistic. Go for a size you can handle, even if the unit price is a bit higher.

Focus on the Best Deals

It’s tempting to take advantage of the warehouse’s store’s variety and do all your shopping in one trip. But if you do this, you’re almost sure to overpay for something. To get the most bang for your buck, focus on the items that are great deals at your particular store. 

This goes double when you’re shopping for a big-ticket item, such as jewelry or electronics. Don’t assume the warehouse store’s prices are lowest. Take the time to shop around and look for the best deal.

Focus Best Deals

Final Word

A single visit may not be enough to figure out whether a warehouse club membership is a good deal for you. If you’re still on the fence, try signing up on a trial basis. 

From time to time, BJ’s Wholesale Club offers a free 90-day membership to give shoppers a chance to get to know the store. Keep your eyes out for these offers in your mailbox and in coupon circulars.

If you don’t want to wait, try BJ’s discounted membership offer. It gives you all the benefits of membership for $25 — less than half the regular price. It’s not free, but it’s a chance to try the store without risking the full $55.

Moreover, all three warehouse chains — BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club — promise a full refund of your membership fees at any time if you’re not satisfied. You can give any of these stores a try for a month or two, then cancel if you decide it’s not for you.

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Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Best West Elm-Style Home Decor From Walmart – Us Weekly

Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.

Decorating a home can feel daunting, but nothing feels as rewarding as seeing a space come together. Once we complete a new room, we feel like we’re an expert on HGTV. But don’t worry, Chip and Joanna Gaines, we’re not at your level quite yet. Our biggest challenge is achieving an elevated aesthetic at an affordable price.

If you’re trying to furnish your place without breaking the bank, we’ve got you covered. We rounded up our favorite finds that give you the West Elm look on a Walmart budget. Think rustic yet classic — these polished pieces will serve as the focal points of your foundation.

This Kitchen Cart and TV Stand

rolling kitchen cart, TV stand
Walmart

This rolling kitchen cart is so versatile! Part island, part bar cart and part TV stand, this multi-purpose portable product features wood and metal construction, shelves and drawers for added storage and locking wheels. “Beautiful!” one shopper declared. “My favorite new piece of furniture.”

See It!

Get the Whalen Santa Fe Kitchen Cart with Metal Shelves and TV Stand Feature for $169 (originally $229) at Walmart!

This Tufted Push Back Recliner

tufted arm chair, recliner
Walmart

Sit back and relax in this push back recliner, available in beige and grey. With bronze nail-head trims and button-tufted details, this armchair looks straight out of West Elm! “They are beautiful and so comfortable,” one customer commented. “Surprised such an amazing product came from Walmart.”

See It!

Get the Better Homes and Garden Tufted Push Back Recliner for just $259 (originally $299) at Walmart!

This Media Fireplace

media fireplace, entertainment system
Walmart

For an all-in-one entertainment experience, check out this multi-functional media console — complete with a working fireplace! If you plan on spending all winter bundled up binging TV, then this is the storage system for you. “I am in love with this beautiful fireplace!” one shopper gushed. “It is going to be so useful during the holidays it makes everything look more festive and my living room has not ever been more cozy looking.”

See It!

Get the Whalen Barston Media Fireplace for TV’s up to 55 inches for just $224 (originally $259) at Walmart!

These Table Lamps

steel table lamps
Walmart

These stunning steel table lamps are lit, as the kids say. Topped with bright white drum shades, this set of two works perfectly on matching nightstands or end tables. According to one review, “These lamps are very attractive and will go with pretty much any decor. Also, they use 100 watt bulbs which are hard to find.”

See It!

Get the Regency Hill Modern Table Lamps Set of 2 Brushed Steel Metal White Drum Shade for Living Room, Family, Bedroom for just $60 (originally $70) at Walmart!

This Bathroom Organizer Shelf

bathroom organizer, shelf
Walmart

If you’re searching for more storage space in your bathroom, look no further. This organizer shelf fits the bill! Made of durable wood, this bathroom rack features open shelving and drawers for additional organization. One customer called it “stylish, sturdy and easy to build.”

See It!

Get the Costway Over The Toilet Space Saver Bathroom Organizer Storage Shelf w/ 2 Drawers White for just $110 (originally $160) at Walmart!

This Console Table

console table, hallway
Walmart

Get you a table that does both — acts as an entryway table or a sofa table. “I absolutely love it,” shared one shopper. “Very sturdy and when you put your items on it, it looks so homey. Highly recommended.” This sleek console table comes in four different shades of rich dark wood.

See It!

Get the Mainstays Parsons Console Table, Multiple Colors Available for just $55 (originally $69) at Walmart!

This Woven Throw Pillow

woven throw pillow, boho
Walmart

Spice up your space with some modern boho decor. This woven throw pillow is a must-have! One review reported, “These pillows are great quality and so affordable! Very pleased with this purchase. They are definitely more decorative than for actual lounging, but perfect for bedroom throw pillows.”

See It!

Get the Lr Home Zanthia Alabaster Stripe Beige, Natural 20″ x 20″ Indoor Square Hand – Crafted Throw Pillow for just $36 (originally $73) at Walmart!

This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as face masks, self tanners, Lululemon-style leggings and all the best gifts for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.

The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at [email protected] Happy shopping!

Source: usmagazine.com

Discount Grocery Stores: Are They Worth the Savings?

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Like most people, I’d rather not spend any more at the grocery store than I have to. Over the years, I’ve tried every trick in the book to save money on groceries. And the single best way I’ve found to cut my grocery bill is to shop at discount grocery stores. 

Discount grocers like Aldi and Lidl offer much lower prices than big chains like Walmart and Kroger — not just on a few products, but on nearly everything they sell. When I hit my local store, I save money on every single item on my shopping list with no extra effort.

Admittedly, discount grocery stores have their limitations. They offer a smaller selection of products than a regular grocery store, and their quality can be uncertain in some cases. Hours are often limited, and the atmosphere isn’t fancy. But the savings make it well worth it.

Types of Discount Grocery Stores

The term “discount grocery store” can refer to two types of store: salvage stores and limited-assortment stores. Both types of discount grocers offer low prices. However, their selections and the strategies they use to keep their prices low are quite different.

Salvage Stores

Salvage stores sell goods rejected or discarded by other grocery stores. They’re also known as surplus grocery stores, closeout grocery stores, bent-and-dent stores, or grocery outlet stores. Like outlet fashion stores, they sell products other stores can’t at significantly reduced prices.

Salvage Store Inventory

Salvage and outlet stores can get goods at a discount for various reasons. Their merchandise includes: 

  • Overstock. Sometimes, supermarkets find themselves with more of a product than they can sell. They sell them to a salvage retailer at a steeply reduced price to clear their shelves. The salvage store passes the savings on to its customers. 
  • Discontinued Goods. Grocery stores often need to unload merchandise they no longer want to carry. Some of these are out-of-season goods, such as Halloween candy in November. Others simply didn’t sell well.
  • Damaged Goods. Supermarket shoppers prefer food in perfect condition. Slightly damaged food, such as dented cans or ugly-looking veggies, tends to get left on the shelf. Grocers sell them to salvage stores for less fussy customers to buy.
  • Late-Dated Goods. Some of the wares on a salvage store’s shelves are approaching or even past their expiration dates. However, that doesn’t mean they’re unsafe to eat. Their quality is no longer guaranteed, but they’re still safe and often still perfectly good.
  • Unsuccessful Products. Sometimes, a company like Kraft or General Mills tests a new product or new packaging for an existing one and finds it isn’t a hit. Rather than discard the unsuccessful products, they sell them to an outlet store.
  • Wreck Salvage. A few goods at salvage stores are literally salvaged. When a truck carrying groceries gets into an accident, goods often fall off. Salvage retailers reclaim the surviving items from these wrecks and put them on their shelves.

Because salvage stores sell items recovered from larger chains, most of their offerings are name-brand products. However, these rejected products sell at much lower prices than usual. 

The selections at salvage stores aren’t limited to food, either. You can also find wine and beer, health and beauty products, cleaning supplies, and pet food. There are even some non-grocery products like garden supplies, office supplies, or clothing.

But the selection at these stores is a bit haphazard. It varies weekly based on what other retailers happen to discard. And a few products at salvage stores are unfit for consumption, such as half-rotted produce or severely dented cans.

In short, shopping at salvage stores is a bit like a treasure hunt. You can pick up some real gems, but you might have to dig through a lot of doubtful bargains to find them.

Examples of Salvage Stores

One sizable chain of salvage stores is Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. It has over 400 locations, mostly in the northwestern part of the United States. 

This chain’s offerings include fresh meat, produce, frozen foods, health and beauty products, and wines. These goods can be as much as 70% off their retail price. Items marked as “WOW deals” are particular bargains.

There are also many independent salvage stores located across the U.S. They’re especially common in Amish country. 

You can find stores near you by consulting the directory at Extreme Bargains or searching online for “discount grocer near me,” “outlet grocer near me,” or “salvage grocer near me.” 

There are also chain stores known as job-lot or liquidation stores that sell salvaged and overstock goods. They don’t specialize in groceries, but they usually have some food products for sale. One example is the Ocean State Job Lot in the Northeast.

While not identical to salvage stores, dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General are similar. Their pricing model sets these stores apart, with most inventory priced at $1.

Dollar stores don’t focus on food, although most carry some grocery items. However, they often use the same methods as salvage grocery stores to score bargains on overstock and discontinued goods.

Limited-Assortment Grocery Stores

Limited-assortment grocers are just like regular grocery stores but with a smaller selection of products. Many of them offer just one brand and size for each product they sell. The stores are smaller and need fewer employees to stock the shelves. That helps keep prices down. 

Limited-assortment stores also keep prices low by cutting out extras. For example, they typically don’t have fresh bakery, deli, or floral sections. These no-frills stores often display products right in their shipping cartons so employees spend less time stocking shelves. 

If you shop at a limited-assortment store, expect to bag your own groceries. You must also bring your own bags or pay extra for bags at some stores.

Some chains even require customers to pay a $0.25 deposit to use a grocery cart. This small fee encourages shoppers to bring the carts back rather than leaving them in the parking lot. That way, the store doesn’t have to pay employees to collect them.

Limited-Assortment Store Inventory

Limited-assortment grocery stores tend to focus heavily on their own private-label store brands. At some stores, that’s practically every product on the shelf. 

In fact, some limited-assortment stores, such as Trader Joe’s, have built a bit of a cult following around their store brands. Devoted customers regularly visit these stores for products they can’t find anywhere else.

If you’re loyal to any name brands, you probably can’t do all your grocery shopping at limited-assortment stores. But it’s worth visiting them for staple foods that are often similar regardless of brand. Examples include flour, sugar, salt, vinegar, and cooking oil.

Examples of Limited-Assortment Stores

There are many limited-assortment grocery chains in the U.S. Major ones include:

  • Aldi. This German chain has more than 2,000 stores across the U.S. Its stores are small — about one-third the size of a traditional grocery store. It sells primarily store brands, including organic, gluten-free, and European specialty food items. 
  • Dollar General. This chain has over 17,000 stores in 46 states. Many of them are in small towns and rural areas with few other stores. Its fresh food options are limited, but it has great prices on staple foods, household goods, and non-food items like clothing.
  • Food4Less. Part of the Kroger family, this chain includes about 50 stores in Southern California, Illinois, Indiana, and Nevada. Its deeply discounted selections include produce, bakery, dairy, meat, and foreign foods.
  • Lidl. This European chain entered the U.S. in 2017. It now has over 150 stores along the East Coast, from New Jersey to South Carolina. It has higher-end goods than many discount grocers, including organic products, fresh-baked goods, and affordable wines.  
  • Save A Lot. There are over 1,000 Save A Lot locations in over 30 states, many in areas with few or no other stores. Its small, no-frills locations carry primarily store brands. But it gets high marks for its inexpensive meats and fresh produce.
  • Trader Joe’s. Loyal fans flock to Trader Joe’s for its high-quality store brands. Its specialties include wine, cheese, organic foods, and goodies like cookies and frozen dumplings. The chain has over 500 locations in 43 states.
  • WinCo. This employee-owned discount chain has over 100 bare-bones stores concentrated in the western U.S. Most stores are open 24/7. One notable feature of WinCo is its use of bulk bins like the ones at Whole Foods to cut down on packaging.

How to Save Money at Discount Grocery Stores

To get the most for your grocery dollar at discount stores, you have to shop strategically. Some grocery shopping strategies are the same for both salvage and limited-assortment stores. Others are more useful for one type of store or the other.

Check the Store Hours

Many salvage stores have limited store hours, which helps keep costs down. They’re only open on certain days or hours each day.

But it’s seriously annoying — and a big waste of gas and time if the store’s far away — to plan a special trip to a closed salvage store. So always check the store hours before you go.

Confirm Coupon Policies

One of the most popular ways to save money on groceries is clipping coupons. Unfortunately, that trick doesn’t always work at discount grocery stores. Most salvage stores and many limited-assortment stores refuse manufacturer coupons.

But at the few stores that take them, such as WinCo, the savings can be significant. 

For example, suppose you have a coupon for $1.50 off a 12-ounce bag of ground coffee. At a regular grocery store, that coffee might cost $8.49. That means your price with the coupon would be $6.99.

But at a discount grocery store, you might find that same bag of coffee for as little as $3.99. With your coupon, you’d pay only $2.49. That’s less than one-third the regular retail price.

To find out whether you can score bargains like this at your local discount store, check the store’s coupon policy. If you can’t find it on the store’s website, ask a cashier.

Even if a discount store doesn’t take manufacturer coupons, it may issue its own store coupons. For instance, you can sign up for the mailing list at Grocery Outlet to get deals such as $5 off any $25 purchase. Most limited-assortment stores also offer special deals to subscribers, though Aldi and Trader Joe’s do not.

Bring Cash

Few salvage stores accept credit cards, and some limited-assortment stores follow suit. That’s because credit card issuers charge merchants a fee to use their cards. 

Most stores pass these fees on to customers through higher prices. By refusing credit cards, discount stores can keep prices lower. 

Some stores are starting to relax their no-credit policies. For instance, on my most recent trip to Aldi, I was able to pay with my credit card instead of having to use cash. But to be on the safe side, bring cash or a debit card on your first visit to any new store.

Examine Containers Carefully

At salvage stores, it’s common to encounter food in damaged packaging, such as dented cans. In most cases, the food is still safe to eat. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s not dangerous to eat canned food if the dents are slight.

However, if a can has a deep dent — big enough to lay your finger in — leave it on the shelf. Deep dents can compromise the seal, letting bacteria in.

The same guidelines apply to rust. A little rust on the surface that rubs right off is no problem. However, heavy rust can create tiny holes that admit bacteria.

Food in torn or dented boxes is also safe as long as the plastic bag inside the box is intact. Boxed foods with no inner liner, such as pasta, are OK if the box is only dented. But if a box is torn open to expose the food, it’s best to leave it.

Examine Fresh Produce

Fresh produce at discount grocery stores is a mixed bag. On some trips to Aldi, I’ve failed to find a single bag of potatoes without at least one that was visibly rotten. On the other hand, the bagged Brussels sprouts and miniature avocados at Trader Joe’s have never let me down.

Since quality is hard to predict, it’s best to examine all produce carefully for signs of spoilage before you put it in your cart. In fact, that’s a good policy at most grocery stores. Even at big supermarkets, I often find a couple of mushy strawberries in a quart container.

Understand Expiration Dates

Food at salvage stores is often close to or even past the expiration date on the package. But that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to eat. Dates on food are there to assure food quality, not food safety. 

There are several different types of expiration dates, each with its own meaning:

  • Best if Used By means the flavor or quality of the food is best before the given date. Past this date, crackers might be a bit stale, or powdered milk might have an off-taste.
  • Sell-By dates tell stores how long to keep the product on their shelves. Food is still good up to this date and for several days after. For example, milk doesn’t go sour until five to seven days past its sell-by date.
  • Use-By dates tell consumers when the product will be at peak quality. They’re not an indication of safety for most products. The only product it’s unsafe to buy or use after its use-by date is baby formula.

Most products, including canned and frozen foods, are still safe after any of these expiration dates. The only time frozen food might be unsafe is if it has been thawed and refrozen. If the freezers at the store have puddles around them or don’t feel cold everywhere, pass them by.

There’s one non-food product on which dates are important: over-the-counter drugs. According to the Food and Drug Administration, drugs degrade over time. Any medicine past its expiration date may be unsafe or ineffective.

Know How to Spot a Good Deal

Although discount grocery stores generally offer low prices, they’re not always the lowest possible. Sometimes, you can do better at a regular grocery store by buying store brands or stacking sales with coupons.

The best way to spot the true deals is to keep a grocery price book. It’s simply a record of the prices you typically pay for the grocery items you buy most often.

For instance, the page for peanut butter in my price book tells me that the best price I can usually get is $2.85 per pound at Costco. So if I go to a discount store and see peanut butter for only $2 per pound, I know it’s time to stock up.

Consider All Brands

Salvage stores have a wide variety of brands on the shelves. Some are familiar name brands you know and love, like Campbell’s or Coca-Cola. When you find these, you can take the opportunity to stock up on your favorites.

But these name brands aren’t always available. Often, they carry off-brands you’ve never heard of before, like Banquet mayonnaise or Finest refried beans.

Similarly, when you shop at limited-assortment stores, there are very few name-brand products for sale. Most of the offerings are store brands, though they don’t always have the store’s name.

For instance, Aldi calls its cereals Millville and its snack foods Clancy’s. Save A Lot names its store brands after former employees, like McDaniel’s coffee and Sunny’s cookies.

Don’t discount these brands just because they’re unfamiliar. Some of them are just as tasty as the name brands you’re used to. But you can’t be sure until you try them.

To be on the safe side, buy the smallest package the first time you try an unfamiliar brand. If you like it, you can stock up on it next time. And if not, you haven’t wasted much money.

Stock Up When Appropriate

Discount grocery stores are great places to stock up on goods you use a lot. Even if you can’t use something right away, it makes sense to buy plenty, especially at salvage stores. Their stock is ever-changing, so the product might not be there the next time you shop.

But stocking up only makes sense for nonperishable goods or those you know you can use before they go bad. There’s no point in buying six avocados if four of them are going to turn black before you eat them.

The best products to stock up on are canned foods, shelf-stable foods, and produce with a long shelf life. Potatoes, onions, and garlic can all last a long time if you store them in a cool, dry place. Frozen foods are also a good choice if you have a big enough freezer to store them all.


Final Word

If you don’t like the offerings at one local discount store, don’t let that put you off the idea altogether. Each discount grocery store is different. If you don’t like the store brands at Aldi, maybe you’ll prefer the ones at Save A Lot.

Also, remember that the selection at salvage stores changes frequently. If you didn’t find anything you liked at your local store the first time, it’s still worth going back to see if it has anything better next time.

Shopping at discount grocery stores requires an open mind. The brand names aren’t as familiar, and the packaging isn’t as pretty. But if you’re willing to take a little extra time, these stores offer a way to save money every time you grocery shop.

For more tips on saving at the grocery store, check out our shopping archive.

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Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

What Careers Make the Most Money: 75 Jobs for Fuller Pockets

Deciding what career to pursue can be difficult when you don’t know where to start or don’t have a passion for a particular field yet. However, planning early on and researching things such as potential salary can help you feel eager to get your future started.

Choosing to follow a career field that pays a lot can be a difficult but rewarding process. Whether you’re a recent grad or changing careers, learning more about jobs that can help you live a comfortable life is the first step. In this guide, you’ll find out what careers make the most money and what you need to get started.

See Average U.S. Salaries

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The Benefits of a High-Paying Job

Choosing a career that pays well can be very beneficial for your future. If you are looking to start a family, build retirement savings, or travel around the world, finding a high-paying career can get you a step closer to your goals.

Although some people may say that money doesn’t bring you happiness, knowing that you have enough money for all your necessities, such as rent, bills, and groceries, can bring you peace of mind. A recent study shows that larger incomes are associated with a greater well-being and a higher level of satisfaction with life overall​​. In addition to that, it can also make you more productive and help you succeed at work.

the benefits of a high-paying career

What Careers Make the Most Money?

If you’re ready to find a career that will bring you financial security and are willing to persevere and work hard, here are the 75 best-paying jobs in the U.S. according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics National Occupational and Wage Estimates:

1. Anesthesiologist

An anesthesiologist is a doctor that administers anesthetics and analgesics before, during, or after surgery. They are critical to surgery procedures since they allow the surgeon and other physicians to complete invasive procedures with no discomfort to the patient. In addition to administering general and regional anesthesia, they also closely monitor the patient’s vitals. Due to the risk involved, anesthesiology can be a stressful but rewarding career to follow.

  • Average Annual Salary: $271,440
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Internship (one year)
    • Residency (three years)
    • Obtain a state license

2. Surgeon

Working together with anesthesiologists, surgeons* operate on patients who have suffered from injuries or diseases. Surgeons are also leaders of the surgical team, so they have to make important decisions quickly, sometimes involving life or death. There are many different kinds of surgeons, and you can train to become a general surgeon or have a specialization such as neurology or cardiology. If you plan to become a surgeon, it’s necessary to understand the gravity of the job and have a passion for the STEM field.

  • Average Annual Salary: $251,650
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Residency (three to seven years)
    • Obtain a state license

See the Average Salary for Surgeons

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3. Obstetrician and Gynecologist

From providing reproductive system care to bringing a new life into the world, obstetricians and gynecologists play an important role in women’s health. They help prevent, diagnose, and treat conditions affecting the female reproductive system. As a gynecologist, you would primarily handle women’s reproductive health, and as an obstetrician, you would also deal with childbirth in the surgical field.

  • Average Annual Salary: $239,120
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Residency (four years)
    • Pass a written board exam
    • Practice (two years)
    • Pass an oral board exam

4. Orthodontist

If you’re amazed by how braces can help fix teeth irregularities, a career as an orthodontist may be for you. Orthodontists diagnose, examine, and treat imperfect positioning of teeth and oral cavity anomalies. By prescribing and installing braces, orthodontists help improve not only mouth and teeth function but also the appearance of patients’ smiles.

  • Average Annual Salary: $237,990
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Dental school (four years)
    • Pass a national board exam
    • Residency (two to three years)

5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

If you’ve ever seen yourself as a dentist but you’re also amazed by how surgery procedures can better someone’s life, becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is a great option for you. These surgeons are dentists with additional training who perform surgeries on the mouth, jaw, and face. They may also diagnose and treat problems in that area, as well as perform surgery to improve the function and appearance of the patient’s facial structure.

  • Average Annual Salary: $234,990
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Dental school (three to five years)
    • Residency (four to six years)
    • Board Certification

6. Physician

Just like surgeons, physicians* diagnose and treat illnesses or injuries and help maintain the patient’s overall health. There are two main types of physicians: doctors of osteopathy, who specialize in preventive medicine and holistic care, and doctors of medicine, who take a more scientific approach to diagnosis and treatment. However, within these types, you could choose to have a specialty such as urology, immunology, or radiology, to name a few.

  • Average Annual Salary: $218,850
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Internship
    • Residency according to specialization (three to eight years)

See the Average Salary for Physicians

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7. Psychiatrist

Mental health is as important as physical health, so if you’re fascinated about how the mind works, becoming a psychiatrist* will help you understand the relationship between the mind and body. Psychiatrists diagnose, treat, and help prevent mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. They can also prescribe medications and recommend a patient be hospitalized.

  • Average Annual Salary: $217,100
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Obtain a license
    • Certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
    • Residency (four years)

See the Average Salary for Psychiatrists

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8. Prosthodontists

Prosthodontists specialize in improving the function of your mouth. They diagnose and treat complex issues, as well as design and rehabilitate prostheses for patients who have trouble with their bite, missing teeth, or who want to improve their appearance. If you have a passion for physics, medicine, and have great attention to detail and some artistic skills, prosthodontics may be a great fit for you.

  • Average Annual Salary: $214,870
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Dental school (four years)
    • Post-doctoral residency (three years)
    • Obtain a state license

9. Family Medicine Physician

If you don’t want to be tied to diagnosing and treating a particular health condition, becoming a family medicine physician can be a good career option. They diagnose, treat, and provide preventive care to families of all ages. As primary care providers, they are very versatile and can treat anything from a simple cough to a broken bone.

  • Average Annual Salary: $214,370
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Family medicine residency (four years)
    • Pass board exam

See the Average Salary for Physicians

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10. General Internal Medicine Physician

General internal medicine physicians diagnose and treat a variety of injuries and diseases relating to the internal organs. Commonly referred to as general internists, they primarily treat adults and adolescents and are trained to handle a broad spectrum of illnesses. If you enjoyed your anatomy science class in high school, this may be a good career path for you.

  • Average Annual Salary: $210,960
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Internal medicine residency (three years)
    • Obtain board certification

11. Chief Executive

If leadership is your forte and you thrive by helping others achieve their goals, becoming a CEO can help you put your skills into action. At the highest level of management of a company, chief executives decide and formulate company policies according to the guidelines set up by a board of directors. They are not only tied to planning, directing, and coordinating operational activities within the company, but also act as a leader to help the company meet its goals.

  • Average Annual Salary: $197,840
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Business and industry experience

12. Dentist

Similar to orthodontists, dentists* also diagnose and treat issues with the mouth, gums, and teeth. Dentists treat more than just cavities — they extract teeth, perform teeth cleaning, and fit dentures. Another benefit of being a dentist is being able to build relationships with patients and see improvement with their teeth over time.

  • Average Annual Salary: $194,930
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Dental school (four years)
    • Pass National Board Dental Examinations

See the Average Salary for Dentists

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13. Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists* administer anesthesia on patients as well as monitor their vital signs and their recovery. They are registered nurses who specialize in anesthesiology and assist surgeons and physicians to help them complete procedures. If you want to meet patients of all ages and from all walks of life and make them feel secure and calm before surgery, becoming a nurse anesthetist might be just right for you.

  • Average Annual Salary: $189,190
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Registered nurse licensure
    • Experience in critical care (one year)
    • Nurse anesthesia program
    • Pass the national certification exam

See the Average Salary for Nurse Anesthetists

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14. Pilot

Are you an adrenaline junkie with a head for heights? If so, becoming an airline pilot can be a great way to make a living off your passion. Pilots* operate and fly airplanes that transport passengers and cargo. As a pilot, you can fly aircraft regionally, nationally, and internationally or even become a flight instructor. In addition to flying, pilots also make sure the aircraft is functioning properly, checking for malfunctions and needed maintenance, as well as ensuring the weather conditions and routes are safe.

  • Average Annual Salary: $186,870
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Military, college, or civilian flight school
    • Federal Air Transport certificate
    • ATP license (1,000-1,500 hours of flying)
    • Pass a medical exam

See the Average Salary for Pilots

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15. Pediatrician

If seeing children develop their skills and grow strong sounds fascinating to you, you can be part of their journey as a pediatrician*. Pediatricians diagnose, treat, and help prevent injuries and diseases in children from infancy to adulthood. For more specific treatment, they might also refer them to a specialist. Pediatricians tend to love being around children and can also acquire a subspecialty, such as oncology or developmental-behavioral pediatrics.

  • Average Annual Salary: $184,570
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Medical school (four years)
    • Pass a licensure exam
    • Residency (three years)
    • Obtain American Board of Pediatrics certification

See the Average Salary for Pediatricians

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16. Computer and Information Systems Manager

Technology is a big part of our lives these days, and if you’re good with computers and data, you might find a passion for this career. Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities in electronic data processing, computer programming, information systems, and systems analysis. They are there to help companies and organizations navigate technology. In addition to supervising workers, they also help install and upgrade systems and protect them from potential threats.

  • Average Annual Salary: $161,730
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Graduate degree (recommended)
    • Industry certifications and experience

17. Architectural and Engineering Manager

From a small coffee shop to a huge skyscraper, do you ever wonder how buildings come to life? As an architectural and engineering manager, you would plan, direct, and coordinate architectural and engineering activities or work on research and development. Some managers work in offices designing and coordinating the creation of buildings that are safe and purposeful. Others may also work in research laboratories and construction sites.

  • Average Annual Salary: $158,100
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Graduate degree (recommended)
    • Industry certifications and experience

18. Natural Science Manager

If science was your favorite subject as a kid and you loved to do experiments, becoming a natural science manager might make your younger self very happy. Natural science managers supervise scientists such as chemists, physicists, and biologists by planning, directing, and coordinating activities in those fields. They may spend their time in labs or in the office coordinating production, testing, and quality control of research projects.

  • Average Annual Salary: $154,930
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Graduate degree (recommended)
    • Experience as a scientist

19. Marketing Manager

Are you a creative person with a love for problem-solving and communicating with others? If so, becoming a marketing manager* might be what you’re looking for. Marketing managers supervise the whole process of creating and implementing marketing campaigns. They determine the demands of products and services and identify potential customers and opportunities. In addition to developing strategies to maximize profits, they also provide help with hiring staff and team-building.

  • Average Annual Salary: $154,470
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Graduate degree (recommended)
    • Industry certifications and experience

20. Petroleum Engineer

Becoming a petroleum engineer* is the right path for you if you want to help provide the world with energy. Petroleum engineers design equipment to help extract oil and gas from the earth and determine the need for new tools and equipment. To do this, they spend a lot of time researching, studying, and analyzing data to find the safest and most cost-effective way to perform the extractions.

  • Average Annual Salary: $154,330
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Professional engineering license
    • Society of Petroleum Engineers certification (recommended)

21. Financial Manager

Financial managers* are responsible for the finances of a company by planning and directing accounting, insurance, securities, banking, and any other financial activities. Their tasks can range from creating financial reports, developing long-term financial goals, and directing investment activities. If you have a love for numbers and have great attention to detail and communication skills, this is the job for you.

  • Average Annual Salary: $151,510
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Master’s degree (recommended)
    • Obtain some certifications and licensures

See the Average Salary for Financial Managers

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22. Podiatrist

If you want to join a critical field and make an impact in people’s lives by relieving their pain, becoming a podiatrist* might be the right step for you. Podiatrists are physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and deformities of the human foot, ankle, and lower leg. They are able to perform surgeries and transplants, and can also prescribe medications and braces for less complex cases.

  • Average Annual Salary: $151,110
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Podiatric medical school (four years)
    • Residency (three years)
    • Pass American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam

See the Average Salary for Podiatrists

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23. Lawyer

Representing clients in civil and criminal legal issues and disputes, lawyers can also advise clients on legal transactions and prepare legal documents. As a lawyer, you may work in the private sector for big firms and even small businesses, or work in the public sector for the government as a district attorney or public defender. If you have a passion for helping people and solving conflicts, this might be the right path for you.

  • Average Annual Salary: $148,910
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (four years)
    • Law school (three years)
    • Pass a state-specific law exam
    • Internship experience

24. Sales Manager

Sales managers* direct an organization’s sales team by planning, directing, and coordinating the distribution of a product or service. Some duties may include establishing sales territories, setting quotas and goals, analyzing sales statistics, and training sales representatives. If you want to become a sales manager, you have to not only be great at selling but also making strategic decisions and motivating people.

  • Average Annual Salary: $147,580
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Master’s degree (recommended)
    • Industry experience and certifications

See the Average Salary for Sales Managers

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25. Advertising and Promotion Manager

As an advertising and promotion manager*, you would plan and coordinate advertising programs and policies. They build interest in purchasing products or services from their organization, as well as create marketing materials such as posters, giveaways, brochures, and coupons. If you want to have a job in which you can put your creativity to action, this is the right career for you.

  • Average Annual Salary: $147,560
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelor’s degree (recommended)
    • Master’s degree (recommended)
    • Industry experience and certifications

50 Additional High-Paying Careers

If the careers mentioned above are not a fit for you, there are plenty of other jobs that pay a lot of money. Here are 50 additional careers that make the most money, listed by average annual salary:

  • Physicist* – $137,700
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager – $137,160
  • Astronomer – $136,480
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Manager* – $135,580
  • Law Teacher – $134,760
  • Human Resources Manager* – $134,580
  • Purchasing Manager* – $132,660
  • Judge* – $131,850
  • Computer and Information Research Scientist – $130,890
  • Air Traffic Controller* – $127,440
  • Computer Hardware Engineer – $126,140
  • Training and Development Manager* – $125,920
  • General and Operations Manager* – $125,740
  • Pharmacist* – $125,460
  • Optometrist* – $125,440
  • Nuclear Engineer – $125,130
  • Health Specialties Teacher – $124,890
  • Political Scientist – $124,100
  • Personal Service Manager – $123,980
  • Economics Teacher – $123,720
  • Actuary* – $123,180
  • Personal Financial Advisor* – $122,490
  • Aerospace Engineer* – $121,110
  • Economist* – $120,880
  • Computer Network Architect – $119,230
  • Medical and Health Services Manager – $118,800
  • Industrial Production Manager – $118,190
  • Sales Engineer* – $117,270
  • Physician Assistant* – $116,390
  • Nurse Midwife* – $115,540
  • Education Administrator* – $115,200
  • Chemical Engineer* – $114,820
  • Nurse Practitioner* – $114,510
  • Art Director* – $114,490
  • Software Developer* – $114,270
  • Engineering Teacher – $114,130
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist – $112,690
  • Mathematician – $112,530
  • Electronics Engineer* – $112,320
  • Geoscientist – $112,110
  • Air Transportation Worker – $111,420
  • Physical Scientist – $110,100
  • Veterinarian* – $108,120
  • Administrative Services and Facilities Manager – $108,120
  • Information Security Analyst* – $107,580
  • Business Teacher – $107,270
  • Construction Manager* – $107,260
  • Electrical Engineer* – $105,990
  • Biochemist – $104,810
  • Microbiologist* – $91,840

Deciding your future is never easy, but planning in advance can not only give you peace of mind but help you achieve your goals faster. If having financial freedom and emotional well-being is a priority to you, having a high-paying job can help you achieve that. It’s not always easy to do, and having a job with a high salary will be demanding. Now that you went through the list of careers that make the most money, you can feel inspired to begin following your dreams.

How to Land a High-Paying Career

Methodology

In order to find out the top 75 careers that make the most money, we used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics National Occupational and Wage Estimates from May 2020. The average annual salary is the data provided under annual mean age and sorted from highest to lowest. To calculate the average of what Americans spend their yearly salary on, we used the average expenditure per consumer unit research. To achieve the percentages, we added up the income quintiles percentages provided in Table C for each category and divided them by 5, which resulted in the average percentage spend.

*The salaries in Mint’s Salary tool have a different source and might differ from the ones listed from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics | Indeed | Monster | BLS Expenditures | PNAS | AmeriTrade

The post What Careers Make the Most Money: 75 Jobs for Fuller Pockets appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Understanding Economic Indicators

An economic indicator is a statistic or piece of data that offers insight into an economy. Analysts use economic indicators to gauge where an economic system is in the present moment, and where it might head next.

Governments use economic indicators as guideposts when assessing monetary or fiscal policies, and corporations use them to make business decisions. Individual investors can also look to these indicators as they shape their portfolios.

There are different types of economic indicators and understanding how they work can make it easier to interpret them.

What Is an Economic Indicator?

An economic indicator is typically a macroeconomic data point, statistic, or metric used to analyze the health of an individual economy or the global economy at large. Government agencies, universities, and independent organizations can collect and organize economic indicator data. In the United States, the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are some of the entities that aggregate economic indicator data.

Some of the most recognizable economic indicators examples include:

•   Gross domestic product (GDP)

•   Personal income and real earnings

•   International trade in goods and services

•   U.S. import and expert prices

•   Consumer prices (as measured by the Consumer Price Index or CPI)

•   New residential home sales

•   New home construction

•   Rental vacancy rates

•   Home ownership rates

•   Business inventories

•   Unemployment rates

•   Consumer confidence

Private organizations also regularly collect and share economic data investors and economists may use as indicators. Examples of these indicators include the Fear and Greed Index, existing home sales, and the index of leading economic indicators.

Together, these indicators can provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the economy and shine light on potential opportunities for investors.

How Economic Indicators Work

Economic indicators work by measuring a specific component of the economy over a set time period. An indicator may tell you what patterns are emerging in the economy — or confirm the presence of patterns already believed to be established. In that sense, these indicators can serve as a thermometer of sorts for gauging the temperature of the economic environment or where an economy is in a given economic cycle.

Economic indicators can not predict future economic or market movements with 100% accuracy. But they can be useful when attempting to identify signals about which way the economy (and the markets) might head next.

For example, an investor may study an economic indicator like consumer prices when gauging whether inflation is increasing or decreasing. If the signs point to a steady rise in prices, the investor might then adjust their portfolio to account for higher inflation. As prices rise, purchasing power declines but investors who are conscious of this economic indicator could take action to minimize negative side effects.

Recommended: How to Invest and Profit During Inflation

Types of Economic Indicators

Economic indicators are not all alike in terms of what they measure and how they do it. Different types of economic indicators can provide valuable information about the state of an economy. Broadly speaking, they can be grouped into one of three categories: Leading, lagging, or coincident.

Leading Indicators

Leading indicators are the closest thing you might get to a crystal ball when studying the markets. These indicators pinpoint changes in economic factors that may precede specific trends.

Examples of leading indicators include:

•   Consumer confidence and sentiment

•   Jobless claims

•   Movements in the yield curve

•   Stock market volatility

A leading indicator doesn’t guarantee that a particular trend will take shape, but it does suggest that conditions are ripe for it to do so.

Lagging Indicators

Lagging indicators are the opposite of leading indicators. These economic indicators are backward-looking and highlight economic movements after the fact.

Examples of lagging indicators include:

•   Gross national product (GNP)

•   Unemployment rates

•   Consumer prices

•   Corporate profits

Analysts look at lagging indicators to determine whether an economic pattern has been established, though not whether that pattern is likely to continue.

Coincident Indicators

Coincident indicators measure economic activity for a particular area or region. Examples of coincident indicators include:

•   Retail sales

•   Employment rates

•   Real earnings

•   Gross domestic product

These indicators reflect economic changes at the same time that they occur. So they can be useful for studying real-time trends or patterns.

Popular Economic Indicators

There are numerous economic indicators the economists, analysts, institutional and retail investors use to better understand the market and the direction in which the economy may move. The Census Bureau, for example, aggregates data for more than a dozen indicators. But investors tend to study some indicators more closely than others. Here are some of the most popular economic indicators and what they can tell you as an investor.

Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product represents the inflation-adjusted value of goods and services produced in the United States. This economic indicator offers a comprehensive view of the country’s economic activity and output. Specifically, gross domestic product can tell you:

•   How fast an economy is growing

•   Which industries are growing (or declining)

•   How the economic activity of individual states compares

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates GDP for the country, individual states and for U.S. territories. The government uses GDP numbers to establish spending and tax policy, as well as monetary policy, at the federal levels. States also use gross domestic product numbers in financial decision-making.

Consumer Price Index

The Consumer Price Index or CPI measures the change in price of goods and services consumed by urban households. The types of goods and services the CPI tracks include:

•   Food and beverages

•   Housing

•   Apparel

•   Transportation

•   Medical care

•   Recreation

•   Education

•   Communications

CPI data comes from 75 urban areas throughout the country and approximately 23,000 retailers and service providers. This economic indicator is the most widely used tool for measuring inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles the consumer price index, it’s a way to measure a government’s effectiveness in managing economic policy.

Producer Price Index

The Producer Price Index or PPI measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers of goods and services. In simpler terms, this metric measures wholesale prices for the sectors of the economy that produce goods, including:

•   Mining

•   Manufacturing

•   Agriculture

•   Fishing

•   Forestry

•   Construction

•   Natural gas and electricity

The Producer Price Index can help analysts estimate inflation, as higher prices will show up on the wholesale level first before they get passed on to consumers at the retail level.

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is an economic indicator that tells you the number of people currently unemployed and looking for work. The BLS provides monthly updates on the unemployment rate and nonfarm payroll jobs. Together, the unemployment rate and the number of jobs added or lost each month can indicate the state of the economy.

Higher unemployment, for example, generally means that the economy isn’t creating enough jobs to meet the demand by job seekers. When the number of nonfarm payroll jobs added for the month exceeds expectations, on the other hand, that can send a positive signal that the economy is growing.

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index can provide insight into future economic developments, based on how households are spending and saving money today. This indicator measures how households perceive the economy as a whole and how they view their own personal financial situations, based on the answers they provide to specific questions.

When the indicator is above 100, this suggests consumers have a confident economic outlook, which may make them more inclined to spend and less inclined to save. When the indicator is below 100, the mood is more pessimistic and consumers may begin to curb spending in favor of saving.

The Consumer Confidence Index is separate from the Consumer Sentiment Index, which is also used to gauge how Americans feel about the economy. This index also uses a survey format and can tell you how optimistic or pessimistic households are and what they perceive to be the biggest economic challenges at the moment.

Retail Sales

Retail sales are one of the most popular economic indicators for judging consumer activity. This indicator measures retail trade from month to month. When retail sales are higher, consumers are spending more money. If more spending improves company profits, that could translate to greater investor confidence in those companies, which may drive higher stock prices.

On the other hand, when retail sales lag behind expectations the opposite can happen. When a holiday shopping season proves underwhelming, for example, that can shrink company profits and potentially cause stock prices to drop.

Housing Starts

Census Bureau compiles data on housing starts. This economic indicator can tell you at a glance how many new home construction projects in a given month. This data is collected for single-family homes and multi-family units.

Housing starts can be useful as an economic indicator because they give you a sense of whether the economy is growing or shrinking. In an economic boom, it’s not uncommon to see high figures for new construction. If the boom goes bust, however, new home start activity may dry up.

It’s important to remember that housing starts strongly correlate to mortgage interest rates. If mortgage rates rise in reaction to a change in monetary policy, housing starts may falter, which makes this economic indicator more volatile than others.

Interest Rates

Federal interest rates are an important economic indicator because of the way they’re used to shape monetary policy. The Federal Reserve makes adjustments to the federal funds rate — which is the rate at which commercial banks borrow from one another overnight–based on what’s happening with the economy overall. These adjustments then trickle down to the interest rates banks charge for loans or pay to savers.

For example, when inflation is rising or the economy is growing too quickly, the Fed may choose to raise interest rates. This can have a cooling effect, since borrowing automatically becomes more expensive. Savers can benefit, however, from earning higher rates on deposits.

On the other hand, the Fed may lower rates when the economy is sluggish to encourage borrowing and spending. Low rates make loans less expensive, potentially encouraging consumers to borrow for big-ticket items like homes, vehicles, or home improvements. Consumer spending and borrowing can help to stimulate the economy.

Stock Market

The stock market and the economy are not the same. But some analysts view stock price and trading volume as a leading indicator of economic activity. For example, investors look forward to earnings reports as an indicator of a company’s financial strength and health. They use this information about both individual companies and the markets as a whole to make strategic investment decisions.

If a single company’s earnings report is above or below expectations, that alone doesn’t necessarily suggest where the economy might be headed. But if numerous companies produce earnings reports that are similar, in terms of meeting or beating expectations, that could indicate an economic trend.

If multiple companies come in below earnings expectations, for example, that could hint at not only lower market returns but also a coming recession. On the other hand, if the majority of companies are beating earnings expectations by a mile, that could signal a thriving economy.

The Takeaway

Economic indicators can provide a significant amount of insight into the economy and the trends that shape the markets. Having a basic understanding of the different types of economic indicators could give you an edge if you’re better able to anticipate market movements when you start investing.

You can use these indicators to help shape your investing strategy. One way to get started building a portfolio is by opening an online brokerage account on the SoFi Invest trading platform, which you can use to trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), cryptocurrency and even IPOs.

Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade


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

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

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

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
SOIN1221540

Source: sofi.com

Stock Market Today: Health Insurers Lead Another Slide in Stocks

Investors didn’t get a full reprieve from yesterday’s heavy selling, but they were at least allowed to catch their breath in a calmer Thursday session that saw the major indexes finish modestly lower.

The first unemployment-benefits data of the new year was a tad disappointing, with the Labor Department reporting 207,000 initial claims for the week ending Jan. 1, higher than estimates for 195,000.

Treasury yields also continued to rise, with the 10-year touching 1.75% from 1.68% yesterday; that helped lift the financial sector (+1.5%), primarily regional bank companies such as Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB, +4.2%) and PNC Financial Services (PNC, +3.9%).

Heading in the other direction were health insurers, which tumbled as a group after Humana (HUM, -19.4%) drastically lowered its membership-growth expectations for Medicare Advantage products, to 150,000 to 200,000 members from 325,000 to 375,000 previously. Names including UnitedHealth Group (UNH, -4.1%), Cigna (CI, -3.8%) and Anthem (ANTM, -4.1%) fell in sympathy.

The indexes were far less rowdy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average led the decline, off 0.5% to 36,236, while the S&P 500 (-0.1% to 4,696) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.1% to 15,080) also slipped again.

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stock chart for 010622stock chart for 010622

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 was up 0.6% to 2,206.
  • Gold futures plunged 2% to end at $1,789.20 an ounce after Wednesday’s minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting suggested the central bank could hike interest rates sooner than anticipated.
  • Bitcoin dropped yet again, by 1.8% to $43,217.10, amid unrest in Kazakhstan, which is actually the world’s second-largest source of bitcoin mining. That mining was disrupted as Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered the national telecom provider to shut down internet service, taking numerous miners offline. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
  • Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) stock jumped 8.0%, even after the home goods retailer reported dismal fiscal third-quarter results. Over the three-month period, BBBY recorded an adjusted per-share loss of 25 cents versus analysts’ consensus estimate for the company to breakeven on a per-share basis. On the top line, Bed Bath & Beyond brought in $1.88 billion, falling short of the $1.95 billion analysts’ were expecting. Pouring salt on the proverbial wound, same-store sales fell 10% year-over-year and the retailer lowered its full-year forecast to account for continued supply-chain headwinds.
  • MGM Resorts International (MGM) improved by 3.0% after Credit Suisse analysts Benjamin Chaiken and Sarah Murray named the casino stock a “top pick” for 2022. “We see upside to MGM based on accelerating trends in Vegas, a more simplified operating structure that should aid valuation, an attractive capital structure (net cash position), upside to 2023 estimates and improving investor sentiment,” they wrote in a note. With today’s pop, MGM stock is now up more than 46% on a 12-month basis.

A Big Year for Energy Ahead?

Tops today, though, were energy stocks (+2.2%), which were the best S&P sector in 2021 with 53% total returns (price plus dividends) and are again leading the way with a 9.0% gain this year.

Thursday’s gains came on the back of crude oil futures’ 2.1% gain to $79.46 per barrel amid the aforementioned turmoil in major oil producer Kazakhstan, where protests over fuel prices have turned into broader anti-government riots.

It’s a temporary tailwind for a sector most of Wall Street was bullish about heading into 2022 – though the pros had their own, longer-term reason. Specifically, an eventual full reopening of the global economy whenever COVID finally fades is expected to bolster energy demand, which should keep prices on the upward trajectory they traveled throughout 2021.

Today, we provide the last of our 11 annual sector look-aheads – our best energy stocks to buy for 2022. The energy sector often moves in unified fashion, with a rising tide of high commodity prices typically lifting most boats. But a few stocks seem better positioned than others to leverage those prices into shareholder gains in 2022.

Source: kiplinger.com