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I Tracked the Trending Topics for 5 Months and Realized Americans Are Obsessed with 2 Things: Money and Retirement

I Tracked the Trending Topics for 5 Months and Realized Americans Are Obsessed with 2 Things: Money and Retirement

Every time I turn on my laptop, I’m greeted with the Trending Topics. I usually pay little attention to the list. But several months ago, I noticed a trend. Maybe that’s why they call it Trending Topics. Duh!

This trend? Americans search about money and retirement. A lot.

To see how much Americans search about money and retirement, I decided to do an experiment. Not a full-blown scientific study. More of a laid-back scientific observation.

For the past 5 months, every time I turned on my computer, I took a screen shot of the Trending Topics of the moment. I did not necessarily turn on the computer at the same time every day. And there were some days I didn’t turn on my computer at all. Although there were NO days during the past 5 months that I didn’t check my phone. But that’s a whole other story.

Almost every time I checked, the topic AARP was on the list. Sometimes it was listed as number 1, sometimes as number 10. But it was there.

The other topics that made the list more than once: credit card debt, car lease, bankruptcy. Ouch!

The Trending Topics list is featured on Yahoo. Okay, maybe not the most reliable of sources, but I use Yahoo for my personal email. I’ve had the same email address for over 15 years and frankly, I’m just too lazy to switch. Plus, who doesn’t want to be an unwitting participant in a massive data breach?

According to Yahoo, the Trending Topics feature is a snapshot of the 10 most popular search terms at any given time. Each topic is a link, which leads to the most relevant search results on that topic.

Most Memorable Searches

During the past 5 months, there were a few Trending Topics that stood out among the rest:

A list that included searches for AARP and Luxury BMW Sedan simultaneously. Dave Ramsey would be flabbergasted. Hopefully this combination means that retirees are so well off that they are buying luxury vehicles (with cash). But I doubt it.
Another screen shot included AARP and Reverse Mortgage on the same list. Are retirees or near-retirees in such dire straits that a reverse mortgage is a popular option to have enough cash for retirement? I hope not.
It was especially disheartening to see topics such as Loan Cash Out trending during the holidays. It is sad to think that someone is contemplating going into debt to purchase holiday gifts.
Yet, the statistics support these trending topics.

Nearly half of families in America have no retirement account savings at all.

The median retirement savings for families is $5000.

Thirty five percent of all adults in the US have only several hundred dollars in their savings accounts.

Thirty four percent of all adults have zero savings.

It’s not that Americans aren’t thinking about retirement, it’s just that they are not doing anything about it.

There are things you can do now, regardless of your age or income, to make sure you don’t become a statistic.

Avoid debt at all cost (no pun intended)

Buy what thou hast no need of and ere long thou shalt sell thy necessities. – Benjamin Franklin

There are countless resources for those looking to become debt free. My favorites:

Master Your Debt by Jordan Goodman

Any podcast, radio show or YouTube video starring Dave Ramsey. He had me at “Y’all,” just because I’m a country girl at heart.

And for the Canadians, any TV show with Gail Vaz-Oxlade is must-see TV. Her shows include: Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess and Money Moron. I’ve missed Gail since she retired, but her tell it like it is, sharp-tongued advice is always good to hear. Warning: the theme song from Princess gets stuck in your head like the theme from It’s a Small World at Disney World. Yes, it’s that annoying.

Save, Save, Save

The only way to save money is to spend less than you make. Make a budget and stick to it.

If you wish to get rich, save what you get. A fool can earn money; but it takes a wise man to save and dispose of it to his own advantage. – Brigham Young

Invest Your Money

In this era of paltry savings rates from the banks, the only way to significantly increase wealth is to invest.

There are several rules to remember for investing:

Know what you own and know why you own it. – Peter Lynch

There are plenty of awesome websites dedicated to investment basics. These websites include tools to help people understand the different types of investments, their risks and their potential rewards.

The four most dangerous words in investing are: ‘this time it’s different.’ – Sir John Templeton

Stay the course. Stocks go down and stocks go up. But as history shows, they mostly go up.

Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas. – Paul Samuelson

Be patient. Sit back. Relax.

Investing doesn’t need to be scary or complex. If you are out of debt (or working to get there), saving wisely and investing for the long term, you have no reason to worry.

And you won’t find yourself ever googling Loan Cash Out.

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