As our lifestyles and budgets have drastically changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have found ourselves spending less and saving more. With the personal savings rate in the US hitting a record high of 33 percent, it’s clear that consumers’ priorities have shifted. We decided to dive into Google search data to figure out which long-term savings goals were most important to people in different states across America.
To find out, we compiled some of the top Google searches from the SEO analysis tool Ahrefs related to saving money. Then, we picked five of the top savings-related terms over the last 12 months to analyze using the tool Google Trends, allowing us to determine Americans’ savings goals in different states. These top goals included saving for a car, college, house, retirement, and an emergency fund. We showcased our findings in the illustrations below.
Our high-level findings include:
Searches around saving for retirement topped the list, followed by saving for a house.
States in the Midwest and the Northeast were most concerned with saving for retirement, with New York, Iowa, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Nebraska in the top five.
Midwestern states are searching for how to save for a house more than states in any other region, with Colorado, Utah, and Idaho ranking in the top three.
What Savings Topics are States Searching for the Most?
Google search data shows that people searching for information related to retirement savings and saving for a house significantly outnumber people searching about other savings goals.
Could Americans be having a change in heart when it comes to retirement savings? Could increased interest in saving for a house in the Midwest be a byproduct of the mass exodus from coastal cities post-COVID-19? Take a look at the various search volumes of savings-related Google searches to gauge how collective interest in saving overpowers the desire to spend on non-essentials.
States Most Concerned With Retirement Savings
Although the Midwest and the Northeast have quite different costs of living, states in these two regions are considered most concerned with saving for retirement according to Google. Regardless of their current living expenses, Internet search interest in long-term savings goals trumps interest in discretionary spending.
With increased concern regarding health and security in the wake of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that people across the country are reevaluating their saving habits. After all, the US doesn’t have the strongest track record when it comes to saving for retirement.
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), most American families — including those approaching the age of retirement — have minimal retirement savings. In fact, the EPI’s 2016 study found that nearly half of all working-age families have zero retirement account savings, while the median (50th percentile) family had only $7,800 saved in these accounts.
Even most workers in the top 10 percentile do not have enough in savings to maintain their standard of living in retirement — the median balance nationwide for this group is $200,000. Hopefully, Americans will keep up the momentum with prioritizing saving post-pandemic. One major challenge will be not dipping into their retirement funds during periods of financial stress.
States Where Saving for a House is the Priority
We found that people from Midwestern states had the highest intent of saving for a home, with the top three most interested states being Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.
With lower mortgage interest rates due to the ongoing pandemic, the Midwest is a real estate hotspot thanks to the spaciousness and lower cost of living compared to coastal states. In fact, prospective home buyers are getting into bidding wars over high demand and low supply. According to a report from the Colorado Association of Realtors, buyers have been quickly jumping on limited inventory now since strict stay-at-home orders were lifted.
However, with home prices on the rise nationwide, it makes sense that people would be fervently saving in order to afford the house of their choice. When you consider how expensive home prices are, it’s unsurprising that saving for a downpayment must be a financial priority.
This is especially true for residents of Hawaii and California, states that ranked #4 and #9 respectively for the highest volume of searches related to saving to buy a house. Hawaii and California are two of the states where saving for a down payment takes the longest. Not only are the houses pricey, but also renting in these states often won’t save you a considerable amount compared to getting a mortgage.
Median Down Payment Required*
Although different states are prioritizing different types of savings and investments, it’s clear that there has been an increased collective interest in saving over the past year. It’s interesting to consider the role of the pandemic in contributing to “forced savings”. As a result of nationwide shutdowns, there are fewer natural opportunities to spend money and Americans are honing in on saving to be more prepared for their futures.
There’s no question that Americans are refocusing on the importance of having a financial safety net in preparation for crises like COVID-19. As the pandemic wears on, it gives people opportunities to develop budgeting habits and prioritize their financial health. With the right mindset and budget, reaching a huge savings goal is feasible for anyone.
First, we gathered some of the top Google searches from Ahrefs related to saving money. Next, we analyzed the search volumes of these savings-related terms in different states using Google Trends. This allowed us to determine which savings goals are the most important to people in different states, according to their Google searches. These goals included saving for a car, college, house, retirement, and an emergency fund.