The most-Googled personal finance terms

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Google's Most Popular Search Terms of 2015

Google search traffic has been shown to be a useful tool for measuring the interests and concerns of the general public. For example, it has been used to predict both unemployment claims and retail sales. Recently it has also been used to forecast election results with greater accuracy than many electoral prognosticators.

At a less scientific level, entering a query such as, "why am I so..." and scanning the suggested searches can give you an interesting, if sometimes troubling, window into the human psyche.

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At SmartAsset our mission is to help people navigate difficult financial decisions by providing accurate and personalized advice on issues such as life insurance, taxes and retirement. These are among the most important and complex questions that we face. They are also among the most-googled.1

So which financial matters are receiving the most interest across the country? We looked at Google trends (which tracks the relative search volume across regions and time periods) to find personal finance terms that receive disproportionate interest in each state. We queried over 300 terms, looking specifically at 2015 search traffic. The map below shows terms that residents of each state searched for the most, relative to other states.2

google terms map final x1.5 The Most Googled Personal Finance Terms (Map)

Key Trends

We'll break this down by region below, highlighting some of the more interesting findings. In some cases, search traffic for a particular term in a particular state is high because of specific current events. A tax hike in Illinois, for example, likely led to search traffic for the phrase "tax increases."

In other cases, the demographic and economic conditions of a state may explain the term it searches for. Examples of this are "marriage license" in Nevada and "flood insurance" in Louisiana. Many of the phrases we dug up don't lend themselves to an easy explanation, however. Why, for example, does North Carolina google funeral cost more than any other state?

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West Coast

  • California has some of the country's most expensive real estate markets. In some areas, the median home value is more than $1 million. This is likely why the state searches for "jumbo loan" more than any other.
  • Is there still gold in Alaska? Apparently there are still people searching for it.
  • Utah has a high concentration of multi-million dollar startup companies. It seems everyone in the Beehive State wants to be an entrepreneur. (Indeed, the very nickname stems from the industriousness of the state's residents.)
  • Washington State has one of the highest state minimum wages in the country. Cities such as SeaTac and Seattle have passed their own minimum wage laws.
  • Along with searches for "marriage license," Nevada also rated number one for searches of the topic "prenuptial agreement."

Midwest

  • A recent tax hike in Illinois is meant to help fill a multi-billion dollar budget gap. It also has the people of Illinois wondering about (and googling) their tax increase.
  • Does Indiana know something the rest of us don't? Why are they googling "recession"?
  • Michigan is the automobile capital of the world. Automobiles need insurance. (Note: Michigan also leads the country in searches for "free beer.")
  • Property taxes in Minnesota are slightly lower than the national average. Their system of calculating taxes is fairly complicated, however, which may explain their inordinate googling of "property taxes."

East Coast

iStock 000074739849 Medium The Most Googled Personal Finance Terms (Map)

  • The northeast is home to some of the country's wealthiest states. It seems that people with more money do more googling of financial topics. Many of the states below lead the nation for multiple searches.
  • Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has been a leading proponent of making college free for anyone who wants to attend, as it is in a number of European countries. That may explain why his state led the U.S. in googling "free college" in 2015.
  • Pet insurance is like health insurance, but for pets. Apparently the people of Connecticut love their animals more than the rest of us.
  • In addition to Roth IRA, Delaware leads the nation in searches for at least 13 other personal finance terms. These include savings account, refinance, rewards card, savings account and audit.
  • Washington, D.C. leads the country in searches for "money laundering" and New York is number one in searches for "tax shelter."
  • The good people of Massachusetts are thinking about an early retirement. They may want to check out one of these states.

South

  • Florida was one of the states most severely affected by the foreclosure crisis last decade. Foreclosure remains a major concern for the state's residents.
  • Texas is known for its low taxes but the state's property taxes are among the highest in the country. This may explain why Texans are concerned about their appraisals, which affect how much homeowners owe.
  • Along with credit score, top Mississippi searches include student aid, student loan forgiveness and community college. The state has one of the most extensive community college systems in the U.S.
  • As a region, the south leads the country in searches for life insurance. Alabama ranks first for that term, followed by Mississippi and Louisiana.

Kansas and Oregon

These two states didn't rank first for any of the more than 300 terms that we queried. Likewise, while Nebraska does rank first in searches for the billionaire investment genius Warren Buffett, it didn't rank for anything other than the long-time resident of Omaha. What gives? If you find a term on google trends that one of these states leads for, send us an email at blog@smartasset.com and we'll add it here. (Note: make sure to set your time range to 2015 only.)

Photo credits: ©iStock.com/Prykhodov, ©iStock.com/andykatz


1. How important are financial matters in the minds of the searching public? Phrases such as life insurance, retirement and taxes receive many times more searches on average than the "Yankees," the most-searched-for professional sports team.

2. These are not the terms that each state Googles most overall. For example, while Connecticut searches for "pet insurance" more than any other state, it does not search for "pet insurance" more than any other personal finance term.

The post The Most-Googled Personal Finance Terms (Map) appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

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The most-Googled personal finance terms

Dog-sitting, babysitting, or house-sitting

These jobs are always in high demand, and the best part: you can name your price and create your own schedule! Post an ad on craigslist, or use your friends' and family's connections to get your name out there. 

Photo via Getty

Rent out your space 

List your apartment on Airbnb or another rental site, and make some easy cash by staying at a friends and renting out your place for the weekend.

Photo via AOL

Share your space

Just as you can rent out your full apartment or house, you can also post a free room (or even just your couch!) on sites like Craigslist or Airbnb. This way you can split your living expenses -- and maybe even make a new friend!

Photo via Getty

Sell your body parts

Now here's a weird one: Donate your hair, breast milk, or even plasma for a profit. According to Grifols, if you're healthy and weigh above 110 pounds, you can earn up to $200 a month donating your plasma to life-saving medicine. 

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Sign up to participate in medical tests and clinical trials. 

Universities constantly need volunteers to test new medicines and treatments -- and because the pool of willing participants is limited, there is typically a large compensation for being a guinea pig. 

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Participate in a focus group

Companies and organizations will pay you to join a focus group. These can be conducted in person, online, or via phone. You will most likely be reimbursed in cash or gift cards -- plus, you often get to test out fun new products! 

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Take online surveys

Similar to focus groups, you can get paid to give your time and insights on an online questionairre. Plus, you can do this from the comfort of your couch. 

Photo via Getty

Bank on your sperm

Although we don't necessarily recommend this option, there is a very high demand for healthy sperm donors. Keep in mind some of the obvious drawbacks, but sperm donation is non-invasive and highly compensated. 

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Crowdfund your dreams

Crowdfunding allows you to raise monetary contributions from a large group of people who want to support your venture. Post your project or idea on a crowdfund site, like GoFundMe.com, and see the cash pile up.

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Become a tutor

If you're qualified, post an ad online or on a community board to tutor children on their school courses or for the upcoming SATs.

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Get a part-time job

Capitalize your free time (on the weekends or after work hours) by working a part-time job. A bartender, waiter, or Uber driver are all great options for an additional source of income -- and great tips! 

Photo via Getty

Resell tickets

Take this suggestion at your own risk: If you're staying within legal limits, buy tickets low and sell high as an effective way to source additional money. (Just make sure to check your state and local laws first!)

Photo via Getty

Rentafriend.com

You can sell anything on the internet these days... including your companionship! Get paid to go on a platonic outing for a few hours and enjoy your afternoon with a new friend. 

Photo via Getty

Rent out your parking spot

Make sure to check with your landlord first, but if you have the option to park your own car further away, lend or share your parking space or driveway for the hour, day, or even month! 

Photo via Getty

Keep a coin jar 

This one takes patience before a big pay out, but keep a spare jar or drawer for loose change that you usually toss anyway. It will keep it all in one place -- and those quarters do add up! 

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Make something to sell 

If you have a knack for arts & crafts, create jewelry or other handmade gifts to sell on sites filled with other thrifty vendors like Etsy

Photo via Getty

Sell items online

This effective strategy requires low effort with a high return. Post photos of your used or non-used items on sites like eBay or Craigslist, and let the bidding begin! 

Photo via Getty

Have a yard sale

Sell clutter you've been meaning to get rid of right in your front yard. This simple tactic is convenient, and guarantees a wad of cash right to your pocket.  

Photo via Getty

Return past purchases

This tip may seem obvious, but is often overlooked: Take your recently-purchased items that are laying around back to the store for either store credit or a full refund. 

Photo via AP

Recycle scrap metal and cans

Collect cans and scrap metal out your own garbage, basement, and street and bring to your local recycler to exchange your findings for money.  

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