Digital Spaces for Personal Finance Advice

Monday, March 28 2022 Joicee Lu Categories:

Taking a deep dive at r/PersonalFinance on Reddit

With recent financial pressures from the pandemic and inflation, personal finance has become an increasingly important topic in our lives. Financial topics can be confusing and daunting, from retirement planning, to insurance, to taxes and more. So, we’re always looking for personal finance advice, whether it is from our peers, family members or now, in an increasingly digital age, online communities.

Because personal finance is so complex, it’s no wonder the online conversation is robust and engaging. On Reddit—a popular anonymous social network and forum destination—there are ‘subreddits’ or specific forums for various niches, allowing members to answer questions, create anonymous posts and generally discuss the topic. r/PersonalFinance is one of the largest subreddits on the platform boasting over 15 million members worldwide. It serves as a large digital space providing personal finance advice. Members ask personal finance related questions and anonymously crowdsource answers from peers. This large community holds rich, unprompted data on the trends and needs of personal finance consumers. We looked into this rich discussion to discover the main topics people are interested in and how they feel about those issues.

A Myriad of Finance Topics

Averaging thousands of posts a month, the Personal Finance subreddit is one of the most engaged forums on Reddit. We pulled all the data and analyzed the top issues discussed in early 2022.

Topic prominence for the Personal Finance subreddit on Reddit with data from January 1st to February 28th, 2022.

As seen in the visual above, Investing, Taxes and Retirement topics constitute the majority of the conversation. Even though the GameStop and AMC retail investing craze happened a full year ago, Investing continues to be the most discussed issue in the forum. Closely related to Investing, Retirement also occupies much of the discussion, indicating that people are asking about long-term planning as well as short-term gains. As we approach April 15, we expect the Tax topic will increase in prominence. 

We’re All Over Debt

After identifying the prominent topics, we turned our attention to how people feel about each topic. Understanding which topics are troubling consumers can help organizations provide valuable products, develop useful content and create messaging that resonates. 

Sentiment of the different Personal Finance topics in the r/personalfinance subreddit on Reddit with data from January 1st to February 28th, 2022.

Given recent financial pressures, it’s not surprising that the personal finance conversation is overwhelmingly negative. In early 2022, Insurance was the single most negative topic, as many experienced frustration with the complexity of insurance offerings and struggled to understand medical coverage under the heavy financial and health-related problems heightened by the pandemic. When we took a closer look, it was clear that another issue was driving even more stress. People are overwhelmingly concerned about Debt, as shown in that topic’s prominence and sentiment, as well as the size and negativity of the related topics, Credit, Auto and Housing. It’s clear that people are concerned about their debt loads, their ability to make payments, and the need to lock in loans before interest rates rise. And from their sentiment, it’s also clear most are viewing these debt-related issues as burdens, not opportunities.

Thousands of questions and posts are submitted to the Personal Finance subreddit every week, adding to the ever-changing landscape and conversation. Continuing to monitor this large forum will provide rich insights into how people manage their personal finances and, in turn, how companies can build strategies, products and services to connect with consumers.