CNBC make it 2024-03-25 02:00:50

The best- and worst-paying college majors, 5 years after graduation

If you want to make the most money possible right after college, study to be an engineer.

As a major, it’s the safest bet in terms of earning power. Engineering degrees occupy nine of the top 16 college majors with the highest incomes five years after graduation, a recent New York Federal Reserve study reveals. 

Computer engineering majors ranked first with an annual median salary of $80,000, followed by chemical engineering and computer science — the only two other majors that earn more than $75,000 annually.

They make roughly double that of the lowest-paid majors, which tend to be degrees in the liberal arts or humanities.

Here are the 16 highest-paying college majors, five years after graduation:

The technical knowledge, mathematical proficiency and problem-solving abilities required in engineering are valuable across many industries. As such, the profession tends to have higher salaries compared with other occupations.

In contrast, students who major in liberal arts, performing arts and theology earn the lowest salaries within five years of graduating from college, according to the study of full-time workers.

Graduates of all three majors earned a median annual income of $38,000, the lowest out of the 75 majors in the study. Other low-paying majors include leisure and hospitality, history, fine arts and psychology, all of which garnered median salaries of $40,000 or less per year.

For context, that’s slightly less than the U.S. personal income median of $40,480 as of 2022, per the latest data available from the U.S. Census.

Here’s a look at the 16 lowest-paying majors, five years after graduation:

With liberal arts degrees, graduates tend to be paid less overall for various reasons. For one, their skills may not be directly related to generating revenue, even if their vocation is a benefit to society.

Or, it can be a case of too few well-paying jobs compared with the number of graduates each year, as is the case for fine arts degrees. As such, the lack of demand can drive down wages.

Education majors tend to be paid less as well. While teachers have good job security, summers off and pensions, they’re usually paid by state governments, which have lagged in keeping wages commensurate with inflation. In recent years, the “teacher pay penalty” has gotten worse, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Data for this annual study was compiled from U.S. Census data from 2022, the most recent available. The study excludes students currently enrolled in school and is limited to a working population of those ages 25 to 65, with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

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Venting won’t help, new study shows—this is the No. 1 way to manage your anger

After a frustrating day at work or fight with your significant other, calling a friend to complain might seem like a good idea. 

Venting won’t help you manage your anger, though, according to a recent paper published in Clinical Psychology Review

Researchers studied how effective arousal-increasing activities, like venting or running, and arousal-decreasing activities, like meditation or yoga, are at calming a person down. 

They analyzed 154 studies involving more than 10,000 participants and found that arousal-decreasing activities were better at helping a person manage their anger. 

Next time you want to unload your problems on a friend, take a beat and consider meditating instead. 

Where am I placing my attention?

If you’ve never meditated before, it can be hard to know if you’re practicing in a way that will prove beneficial.

Jade Weston, a senior meditation producer at Ten Percent Happier who has been meditating for 15 years, offered CNBC Make It three guiding questions you can ask yourself while practicing:

  • Where am I placing my attention? Take note of where your mind wanders and try to refocus it on your breath. 
  • How am I feeling right now? Think about what mood you’re in. Don’t try to change it, just take stock of how you’re feeling.
  • What is my intention? Remind yourself why you wanted to pursue meditation. This can motivate you to continue.

Answering these questions can help you feel more present in the moment. 

’15 to 20 minutes will give you just the changes that you need’

You don’t have to meditate for a long time in order to see positive results, Vishen Lakhiani, a meditation expert and CEO of Mindvalley told CNBC Make It

Lakhiani recommends meditating for no more than 20 minutes a day. But, sometimes, you only need one minute to reset. 

“For most people, 15 to 20 minutes will give you just the changes that you need,” he said. “You can take a one- to three-minute dip into peacefulness, and you can see remarkable results.”

A few minutes of silence could help lower your frustration levels, more so than ranting to a relative.

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I spent 5 years interviewing 233 millionaires—here are 5 things they never waste money on

I spent five years studying 233 millionaires to learn about their habits and the way they think.

They came from different backgrounds and experiences, but all had at least $160,000 in annual gross income and $3.2 million in net assets.

I was particularly interested in what they spend their money on. But almost everyone told me that what contributed more to their wealth was that they stopped wasting money on certain things:

1. Processed and packaged food

To prioritize their health, they stopped buying low-quality, processed food and instead opted for organic or wholesome foods that did not have preservatives. 

They often sought out products that could be sourced to their place of origin, and frequented farmers’ markets and grocery stories that were known for high quality produce and meat.

2. Cheaply made products 

They refused to drop money on the latest fashion trends, or inexpensive and poorly constructed furniture. Instead, many preferred to invest in timeless quality pieces for their wardrobe and home that were built to last.

Often, the cost was two to three times more than the low quality clothing and furniture. But they were comfortable making bigger purchases, because it would still be less expensive than constantly replacing cheap craftsmanship.

3. Major home or car repairs

In the same vein, many of the millionaires told me that given the option, they preferred to spend money on completely replacing things like old roofs, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, furnaces, and even vehicles, rather than putting their hard-earned funds towards expensive repairs. 

While this was often more costly, they rationalized that something new would last far longer than something repaired, which gave them priceless peace of mind. 

4. Outdoor tools and equipment 

While some still enjoyed doing outdoor work, like mowing their lawn, weeding, landscaping and trimming, the vast majority — once they got wealthy — hired landscapers to take care of all outdoor upkeep. 

This meant they no longer spent money repairing or replacing old equipment. Many gave their tools away to family and friends. 

What they were buying was time. Since they no longer needed to carve out an hour of two every week or month to maintain their property, it gave them more time to rest, relax or engage in recreational activities. 

5. Lottery tickets 

Many of the millionaires eschewed gambling as they were building their wealth, and that common sense extended into their new financial lives.

They shared that after they got rich, they refused to spend money on lottery tickets, and would encourage their employees, family and friends to do the same.

Since the likelihood of winning any lottery is slim, they saw it as a waste of money. Instead, it was better to put those funds towards memorable experiences.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, “Effort-Less Wealth”, “Change Your Habits Change Your Life”, “Rich Habits Poor Habits” and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”

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Mega Millions jackpot is nearly $1 billion—these 8 states don’t tax your winnings

After weeks without a winner, the Mega Millions jackpot is now $977 million — the sixth largest in the 22-year history of the game.

But the winnings you’d take home could vary by as much as $106 million depending on where you bought your ticket, due to state taxes.

Federal taxes are the same for everyone. Winnings are taxed 24% upfront, although the total tax bill will almost certainly be 37% when you actually file, since you’ll likely be in the highest tax bracket.

In contrast, taxes on lottery winnings vary widely between U.S. states. They typically range from 3% to 6%, but go up to 10.9% in New York — the most charged by any state participating in the lottery.

However, eight states don’t levy taxes on lottery winnings at all:

  • California
  • Florida
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington 
  • Wyoming

If you live in any of these states, you will take home the highest payout possible. That means either $294,251,812 as a cash lump sum or a 30-year annuity totaling $616,764,360, according to

The lump sum payout in these states is $50.2 million more in than in New York, the most-taxed state.

Where you buy the ticket matters, too, as a winning ticket bought outside your home state could trigger taxes for the state in which the ticket was purchased. Generally speaking, your home state will require you to report out-of-state winnings, but will offer a credit or deduction for taxes already paid to a non-resident state.

That means if you live in California, but purchase a winning ticket in Oregon — which has state tax of 8% on jackpot winnings — your take-home amount would be worth about $46 million less than if you had purchased the ticket at home in California, which doesn’t charge state taxes on jackpots.

If you do happen to win the jackpot, consider hiring a tax professional. They can help you navigate the tax implications, including the best choice of payout and whether you owe out-of-state taxes.

The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Friday, March 22 at 11 p.m. ET.

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23-year-old’s dorm room side hustle brings in $124,000 a year: ‘You can start with as little as $5’

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Six-Figure Side Hustle series, where people with lucrative side hustles break down the routines and habits they’ve used to make money on top of their full-time jobs. Got a story to tell? Let us know! Email us at

Technically, Sophie Riegel didn’t spend a penny starting her side hustle.

She began with items she already had, searching through her closet for old clothing to sell online. After making $200 off her own used clothes, she turned to some of her favorite places to shop: thrift stores.

“I’ve been a thrifter my entire life, because I don’t like spending money,” says Riegel, 23. “I’d much rather spend $5 than $100 on a pair of pants.”

Since April 2020, she’s turned that habit into a lucrative side hustle. Riegel brought in nearly $123,800 in revenue last year reselling items she bought from thrift stores on online marketplaces like eBay, Mercari and Poshmark, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

She’s made more than $192,000 in net profit over the past four years, because her costs are minimal: Riegel estimates she’s spent just over $50,000 on the thrifted clothing she’s sold. Other expenses include shipping costs and gas money for driving from thrift store to thrift store. Online marketplaces keep between 10% and 20% of her sales.

Much of her business’ growth came from her dorm room at Duke University, where she graduated last year with a degree in psychology. She’s pursuing a full-time career as a professional writer, speaker and life coach —  and expects her side hustle to comprise roughly 50% of her income this year, she says.

“I started buying things for $5 to $10, flipping them for $50 to $100,” says Riegel. “That seemed to work really well. I had maybe 200 or so items in my dorm room my sophomore year, and now I have 1,300 items [in a storage unit].”

Here, Riegel discusses the work she put in to turn her love of thrifting into a six-figure annual business, along with tips for anyone else to follow in her footsteps.

CNBC Make It: You’re already coaching clients to start their own thrifting side hustles. What are some of your best tips for people who want to replicate your success?

Riegel: The biggest thing is you’ve got to have fun with it. If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it.

Start with what you know the most about. If you know a lot about clothing, start with that. It can be really easy to just buy a lot — that’s the fun part — but it doesn’t sell if you don’t list it. So even if your listing is imperfect, get it up, get it out there, because there’s a market for everything.

Keep learning. If you go in with a mindset of “I already know this stuff, I don’t need any resources,” it’s likely that you won’t do as well as if you went in with the mindset of “This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about myself, about brands, and all of that.”

I followed tons and tons and tons of other resellers on YouTube. I spent hours and hours learning brands, learning how to use all of the platforms. I’ve learned the strategies of each of the stores I go to, and figured out when they put out the new shoes when they do X, Y and Z.

The Goodwills in my area put a new color out every week. So, when I go to those stores, I only look for that color.

How much cash do you need to start a thrifting side hustle?

Factoring in shipping and all of that stuff — obviously, you need to pay for gas — $100 makes sense.

[In terms of the thrifting], you can start with as little as $5. You get one good thing for $5 and you’ve got more money already: $5 turns into $20, turns into $100.

If you start with your own stuff, you need $0.

What are the most important traits someone needs to succeed at this?

You’ve got to be consistent and persistent. Right now, I list 10 to 20 items a day. And because I list every day, things are selling constantly.

You’ve got to be organized. You have to be patient — I’m not very good at that, but I’m working on it.

The biggest thing is: You’ve got to be willing to ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to do this all alone. When I first started, my dad helped me with all of my shipping. He helped me move everything from different storage units. I didn’t have to do it alone because I asked for help.

Do you see yourself expanding your side hustle in the future? What would that look like?

I’m pretty happy with where I am. I do see, in the future, potentially having employees do all of the stuff that I know I don’t want to do — like the shipping, listing and photographing. That would be great. It is a lot of work for one person.

But right now, I wouldn’t change it because I love what I do.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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