There are three topics you’re not supposed to discuss in polite conversation: religion, politics, and money. Luckily, this isn’t a conversation, and we’re not super strict on politeness either. So while there’s plenty to be said about all three topics, we’re particularly interested in money—more specifically, what people are googling about money.
After all, if you can just google your questions about money (or lack thereof), why would you need a financial advisor?
OK, there are a lot of reasons to use a financial advisor (more on that below). For now, have fun learning which financial questions people who live near you are googling most often.
We turned to Google Trends and gathered all the financial topics people are googling. Then we looked at their search popularity based on geography. What we discovered are the most googled financial topics by state during the past year.
Interesting correlations and key findings
- Income tax was the most googled term in 23 states. That’s a very high percentage, but perhaps not as surprising when you remember that new tax laws took effect this year.
- New York’s most googled term was estate planning. That’s probably partly because the state ranks among the top ten worst for estate tax laws. It’s also likely because New York City is home to more millionaires than any other place in the world.1
- Retirement was the most googled term in Wyoming, the state with the fastest growing senior population in the United States.
- DC (not technically a state, but included like it is for our purposes) had a five-way tie for the most googled terms. Those top contenders were beneficiaries, long-term care, emergency fund, debt, and retirement.
- Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Washington all googled “mortgage” the most, possibly because they’re among the top 10 fastest growing states in the US.
In addition to googling financial terms, we found people are searching for answers to many of the same questions on Google. Here are a few of the most-asked financial questions, along with their answers:
Why do I need mortgage insurance?
Mortgage insurance protects your home lender in case you default on the loan—basically, if you can’t make payments, they can recoup their losses through the insurance policy. Most lenders require you to have mortgage insurance if they lend you more than 80% of the home’s value.
Here’s where saving comes in handy: If you can put at least a 20% down payment on the home, you won’t typically need mortgage insurance. And, even if you can’t get the full 20% right away, once you reach it through payments, you can apply and usually are allowed to drop the mortgage insurance, as long as you have been making your payments on time.
How do income taxes work?
Oh, it’s super simple. Well, the principle is simple. The federal income tax is a percentage of money that the government takes out of (“withholds” from) each paycheck you get from your employer. Come every April 15, you settle accounts to make sure you paid enough. If you paid too much throughout the year, you get a refund. If you paid too little, you owe Uncle Sam some dough.
Can college students get Medicaid?
It’s not impossible, but it’s uncommon for a college student to get Medicaid. Eligibility depends on income and varies by state, so if your family is at a lower income level, you’re more likely to qualify for Medicaid. To learn about your eligibility for Medicaid, you can check here.
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is created to make sure all your possessions and money are handed out the way you want when you die. Estate planning can be complicated, involving all sorts of moving pieces like trusts, or it can be relatively simple, including a will and a life insurance policy for your family.
Are childcare expenses tax deductible?
They can be, as long as the child is 12 or under (older if they have a disability). Expenses like babysitters, daycare centers, or even housekeepers that care for your child can all apply toward a tax credit.
Google is a fantastic tool, but when it comes to finances, it can’t tell you everything. That’s why a financial advisor comes in handy. Whether it’s taxes, getting out of debt, investing, estate planning, or all of the above, a financial advisor can help get your money and your life on track. If nothing else, they’ll have better advice than “buy low, sell high” or “buy term, invest the rest.”
Are you surprised by our results? Have you typed some of these questions into Google yourself when you were looking for answers? Let us know in the comments!
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