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10 Trending Finance-Related Google Searches That Speak Volumes About The COVID Age

During this time of Covid-induced uncertainty, one thing is certain:  Many people are worried about their financial stability. More than usual, individuals are scouring the internet for money tips, recommendations for saving and investing, home buying guidance, credit card suggestions, and more.

Not surprisingly, these 10 trending finance-related web searches reflect heightened interest in a range of topics that span everything from mortgages and car loans, to minority-owned businesses and 401(k)’s, to ethical investing and money market accounts.

Photo: Flickr/401(K) 2012

Withdrawing From A 401(k) Early

If you’re looking to make an early 401(k) withdrawal, you may have to pay a 10% early withdrawal fee if you’re not at least 59 1/2 years old. This penalty can be waived, however, if you leave your job when you turn 55, or after, or if you make withdrawals under the substantially equal periodic payments rule.

In addition, the Coronavirus relief bill allows you to access up to $100,000 of your retirement funds without withdrawal penalties; you can also take advantage of an expanded window for paying income taxes on the withdrawal amounts.

Photo: ICIC

Starting An Investment Club

The SEC defines an investment club as a group of people who come together for the purpose of investing their collective funds. Club members decide who they want to invite to participate in the group, research investment opportunities, and determine how much each individual would like to contribute. Also spiking in popularity: real estate crowdfunding, which involves researching real estate investment opportunities on the internet or social media.

Photo: FreeIMG

Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

In order to support social equality for people of color, many individuals have increased their support of Black-owned companies and businesses. If a Black-owned business is public, you can look into buying stock in that company; additionally, you can purchase goods and services from Black-owned private companies and inquire about private funding opportunities.

Photo: Pixabay

Getting The Best Cash-Back Credit Card

It’s a simple premise: Cash-back credit cards reward you with a certain percentage of the money you spend in the form of cash in your account. Cash-back offers abound, and with a bit of research on your part, you can determine which card best suits your lifestyle and your needs. For example, look for cards that offer rewards in categories where you spend the most money on a regular basis, such as entertainment, groceries, travel, or gas.

Photo: Pixy.org

Checking On Mortgage Forbearance

What exactly is mortgage forbearance? It’s when a lender allows you to temporarily pause your mortgage payments, or agrees to payment reductions for a specific period of time. The coronavirus relief bill stipulates that borrowers with federally backed loans can ask for a 180-day mortgage forbearance as well as one 180-day extension. Borrowers might also be eligible for having late-payment reporting to credit bureaus suspended, and getting loan late fees waived.

Photo: Picserver

Securing A Car Loan With Bad Credit…

Finding a car loan with bad credit is possible, but know that predatory lending practices are out there, and that they can cost you significantly. Bad credit car loans can come with exceptionally high interest rates and penalties, so you might want to consider improving your credit in order to secure a better interest rate and more manageable loan terms. You can improve your credit score by paying down high-interest debt, making payments on time, and maintaining a credit utilization rate of 30% or lower.

Photo: Yahoo News

…And Securing A Car Insurance Discount For Low-Mileage Driving

Because more people are staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, cars are being used less, and drivers are looking to lower their car insurance premiums. Some companies offer a low mileage car insurance discount that could total 5% to 10% of the cost of the insurance.

Photo: University of Michigan Library

Investing Ethically

The Black Lives Matter movement, the climate crisis, and social justice causes have been much in the news during 2020, prompting people to seek out investing options that could help bring about positive change locally and in the world. Investors are looking not only at nonprofits but also companies and funds that reflect their ethical values, while voiding investment opportunities that are antithetical to those values. Many people also consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors before deciding to invest in a company, business, or politician.

Photo: Pxhere

Deciding Between A Money Market Account And A Savings Account

Because of the impact the coronavirus has had on the job market, and the subsequent instability in the workforce, more people are looking to save for that “rainy day.” Two avenues for safe saving: money markets and high-yield savings accounts. A money market allows you to write checks and withdraw cash, but be aware that this type of account usually requires a significant minimum balance to earn interest, while a savings account typically doesn’t require a minimum balance. Both money markets and savings accounts are FDIC insured.

Photo: Pikrepo

Putting A Minimum Down Payment On A Home

The arrival of COVID-19 at our doors has resulted in many people sheltering indoors — and thinking about where and how they want to live. Inquiries about home buying have increased, as have questions about how to secure a home loan with a down payment.

A minimum down payment is the amount of money you need to provide a lender in order to secure a mortgage loan. Most conventional loans require anywhere from 3% to 20% of the home’s purchase price; a government-backed loan requires 3.5%. Some loans, such as a VA loan or a USDA loan — which requires the home to be purchased in certain rural or suburban areas, might not require a minimum down payment.