The most-Googled personal finance questions reveal so much about our money anxieties
When it comes to getting advice on personal finance, you might seek out a good book or a trusted friend, but more likely than not, you probably use a resource that’s in front of you all day: the internet. Plenty of people turn to search engines to find answers on life's biggest questions — especially when it comes to money, as shown by the most-Googled personal finance questions from the past year.
Through Google's search data, analysts discovered the top searches for finance queries in the U.S. from March 2018-March 2019, using the search terms of “how to save for” and “how to invest,” as well as retirement-related questions. Hopefully, Google helped these users find the answers they needed. “When people come to Google searching about personal finance, our goal is to help them find the most relevant and useful resources available on the Web, whether that’s an answer to a simple question or information that lead them to an expert or help them plan their financial future,” a Google spokesperson tells Mic via email.
Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert, agrees that finding answers to your finance questions can be as easy as doing an online search. “Whether you’re looking for tips on how to pay down debt or need guidance on choosing the best retirement fund, Google can help you find the information you need quickly to make better financial decisions,” she tells Mic via email.
However, while Googling your money questions is totally fine, make sure you're doing additional research so you don't miss any essential info. Notes Woroch, "Keep in mind that [when Googling,] you may only find information specific to the question or topic you search for, which means you could potentially overlook other important financial tips or tricks.”
That said, there are clearly a lot of people getting their personal finance from Google, as shown by the most frequently-asked questions below.
The top 10 “how to save” questions
1. How to save for a house
2. How to save for retirement
3. How to save for a car
4. How to save for college
5. How to save for a wedding
6. How to save for a down payment
7. How to save for an apartment
8. How to save for a vacation
9. How to save for kids college
10. How to save for retirement at 40
Many people want to save more money, so it makes sense that this term is widely searched on Google. And as the answers likely show, from reducing your weekly coffee consumption to taking on a side hustle, there are many ways you can make (more) bank for your savings goals. “Saving money is crucial to your financial well-being and will give you peace of mind that you can get through any difficult times, now and in the future,” says Woroch. “Establishing different savings goals is also important so you can afford to do the things that you want to do without relying on high-interest credit cards and going into debt.”
She adds that even if you have a tight budget and can’t afford to save much money, every little bit counts. “Start somewhere — even if it’s small — and increase your savings over time,” advises Woroch. “You may not think it’s not possible to live on less, but if you put your money into savings first before paying all your bills and spending on other things, you’ll quickly adjust.”
The top 10 “how to invest” questions
1. How to invest in stocks
2. How to invest money
3. How to invest in real estate
4. How to invest in bitcoin
5. How to invest in mutual funds
6. How to invest in gold
7. How to invest in penny stocks
8. How to invest in index funds
9. How to invest in marijuana
10. How to invest in cryptocurrency
If you’re not experienced with investing, it can seem confusing — should you have a Roth IRA in addition to your 401(k)? How much should you actually be investing, anyway? — but that's normal. “You may feel intimidated and not take any investing actions to start,” says Woroch. “However, investing your savings is essential to growing your wealth over time.”
She adds that starting out is easier than you may think, especially with all the micro-investing apps and Robo investors available for first-time investors. “By using them, you don’t need a lot of money to get started or a lot of expertise,” she explains, noting that the first step is to educate yourself through research and speak to people with experience. “Remember, starting anywhere — even with just a few dollars — is taking a step in the right financial direction," says Woroch.
The top 10 retirement questions
1. How much do i need to retire?
2. How to retire early?
3. When can I retire?
4. What is the retirement age?
5. How much to save for retirement?
6. How to save for retirement
7. How to retire at 50
8. How to retire
9. What is full retirement age for social security?
10. Where to retire
Retirement may see very far away, but people often say it creeps up on them sooner than they think. Make sure you're setting aside money for your future, as long as your budget allows. “The money you start putting away toward retirement will grow exponentially, meaning you have to put less money away later on,” says Woroch. “This will give you more flexibility in your lifestyle while also ensuring your financial health when you’re older.”
By reading the above, perhaps you'll see that you’re not alone in your money-centric questions. And the good news is that in addition to Google, there are plenty of other resources out there to help you along on your finance journey, from how-to books to financial advisors.