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With 2021’s wild ride now mostly in the books, it’s clear in hindsight that the year’s biggest headlines dealt with money, finance and the economy. In fact, four of the five most-searched stories of the year were about money in some way. Using data from Google’s annual Year in Search report, GOBankingRates identified the financial buzzwords that defined the year. You don’t have to look far to see that the fears, hopes, worries, and dreams of money weren’t far from most people’s minds in 2021.
See: Stimulus checks, inflation and more of the year’s biggest financial news
Read more: Here’s how much you need to earn to be ‘rich’ in each state
For insight into America’s financial mindset in 2021, the most searched phrase in the entire news category for the entire year was “Mega Millions.” For those not in the know, that’s when you’re instantly catapulted into the top 1% by correctly guessing an impossible sequence of numbers or having a cash register guess it for you – and 2021 was definitely a good year to win this.
The year saw three of the 10 biggest lottery jackpots in history:
- $731.1 million Powerball on January 20
- $1.05 billion Mega Millions on January 22
- $699.8 million Powerball on October 4
See: $1 Million Is No Longer the Standard Nest Egg – Here’s How Much Most Americans Think You Really Need to Retire
The most famous meme store of 2021 — and in history so far — was GameStop. But it was “AMC stock” that turned out to be the second most searched phrase of the year in the entire Google news category. AMC made headlines when Reddit users fired up a GameStop-inspired short squeeze to launch the title to 2,500% first-half earnings.
The second half of the year, however, was not so kind. The honeymoon was over in the winter, and by mid-December AMC was down more than 60% from its spring highs. Investors seem to be abandoning risky meme stocks, in general, according to CNBC, as 2021 draws to a close – GameStop has also had a brutal winter.
Discover: Crypto, Meme Stocks and Other Top Investing Trends in 2021
Unlike Reddit’s darling meme stocks and Mega Millions jackpots, the #3 most searched financial term of the year was for the one thing that made nearly everyone a little richer in 2021 – “stimulus check”. .
A centerpiece of the Biden administration’s US bailout, the checks started arriving in March and gave most Americans $1,400 – $2,800 for couples depositing jointly – plus an additional $1,400 for each eligible dependent.
Keep Reading: Stimulus Checks Totaled Over $850 Billion: See How That Money Was Divided
Number 5 of the most searched stories of the year – “Georgia Senate Election” was number 4 – adds yet another stock of memes to the list. “GME stock” refers to the stock symbol for GameStop, the video game retail chain that made headlines and history earlier this year when amateur day traders on Reddit managed to pull a short game of some of Wall Street’s most powerful tycoons.
The move revealed the power of democratized investing in a world where even the smallest investors could trade for free without paying fees or brokerage commissions. The moment captured the attention of the public – which, of course, loves an underdog – shook the confidence of the financial industry and enriched many GameStop investors.
The meme stock craze proved to be unstable, however, and the year ended with a painful sell-off that sent GameStock and AMC down around 30% in December alone.
See: The Biggest Problems Facing Social Security
A $1,000 investment in Dogecoin on Jan. 1 would have turned into more than $121,000 during its springtime peak, according to CNBC, thanks to a 12,000% gain between January and May. The world’s first meme coin, Dogecoin, became a crypto superstar earlier this year, thanks in large part to big celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Gene Simmons, Mark Cuban and most notably and with more than persistence, Elon Musk.
The name of the play, which started as a joke in 2013, was the #6 most searched keyword in the entire news category in 2021.
Check Out: Americans Don’t Understand These Facts About Social Security
How to start a business
While not exactly a financial term or news, one Google search trend spoke louder than all the others. In the secondary hustle year, it’s no surprise that people are more interested in becoming entrepreneurs than employees. In 2021, more people searched for ‘how to start a business’ than ‘how to find a job’ – although it’s also true that searches for ‘job interview’ have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
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