America’s Top Two Questions: Answered

The search engine Ask.com recently released Top Questions in 2009 from Ask.com – a list of the most popular queries over the past year. Care to take a peek into the mindset of America? Of course you do!

Without further ado, the two most pressing questions propelling Americans’ online research in 2009 were:

1. How much should I weigh?

2. How do I get out of debt fast?

The Answer: How much should you weigh?

While the Body Mass Index (BMI is not a fail proof system for determining how much you should weigh, it can offer you a pretty good indication of whether you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese based off a calculation of your current weight and height.

The Answer: How do you get out of debt fast?

You can’t. Sorry, sad but true.

You didn’t get into debt overnight, and you can’t snap your fingers and make debt disappear. Like a crash diet, taking radical measures to eliminate weight (or debt) only hurts you in the long run.

You can, however, get out of debt the smart way.

Getting out of debt is a matter of making more money than you spend and allocating the extra funds to paying off outstanding balances. This process isn’t necessarily fast, but it is possible by following these steps:

Stop using credit. Seriously, just stop. You can’t borrow your way out of financially difficulty and by charging up your credit card, you will only be digging a deeper hole. (And don’t even try using the holidays as an excuse to charge gifts. Regifting is in and you should try it!)

Create a budget. Tracking your spending and creating a personal budget is the best way to know exactly where your every cent is spent. Allocate funds for necessities like rent, food, and bills. Then, try to put what’s leftover into savings.

Assess your debt. Gather all of your statements and find out whom you owe, how much you owe, and what interest rates you are paying. Being well informed about your financial situation now will help you take control of your financial future.

Contact your creditors. Many creditors are willing to talk with consumers who are facing temporary setbacks to work out a plan for repayment. Being open, honest, and communicative with your creditors is the best way to find a solution that works for both of you.

Remember, you aren’t alone in your struggle to get out of debt. There are plenty of online financial resources for you to read and friendly credit counselors who are eager to discuss your options for getting out of debt.

Alexis Holloway is a former copywriter and e-Commerce Coordinator for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.