December 16, 2009 08:06 ET

Top Five Financial Questions of 2009 Show Consumers in Full Retreat From Economic Forces Beyond Their Control Year-End Usage Data Shows That While Consumers' Money IQ Remains High, the Recession Forced Many to Seek Help With Mounting Bills and Debt

SAN MATEO, CA--(Marketwire - December 16, 2009) -, the only online resource for free and personalized money help, today released its 2009 aggregated usage data. The data is culled from the company's Ask Bill and Bills IQ tools. Taken together, the data shows that overall consumers remain savvy about their finances, but they were largely unable to outrun the impact of the recession.

"While questions posed to our experts overwhelmingly show that many Americans are facing dire economic consequences, our Bills IQ results demonstrate a solid understanding of money issues," said Ethan Ewing, president of "It seems that while most Americans are comfortable with basic money and savings concepts, this last year saw them buffeted by forces beyond their control."

Bills IQ is a tool that assesses basic consumer knowledge and competence levels across five core money categories: credit, debt, budget, wealth and life plan. The 2009 data aggregates the performance of more than 10,000 consumers who took the financial acumen test. Overall, consumers earned a "B" average or 84.8 average ranking for their basic understanding of everyday money management principles.

Ask Bill is a free service that allows consumers to ask any money related question of a team of experts at who will then respond with personalized financial advice. Previous questions are also available on the site as a resource for future visitors. The company shared the top five most frequently asked questions of 2009 out of the more than 3,600 new queries that were asked this year. They include:

    1.  What are my debt consolidation options?
    2.  I can't afford my car payments. What is voluntary repossession?
    3.  Looking for more information about mortgage lenders and servicers.
    4.  What do I need to know to refinance my home?
    5.  What are the penalties for an early withdrawal from a 401(k)?

"It's revealing that almost all of the top five questions of 2009 deal with issues of financial distress or how to raise additional funds," continued Mr. Ewing. "In addition to the standard how-to questions, there are obviously a large number of people in search of a life preserver."

It is interesting to note that of those inquiring about home finance options, more than half were interested in rate and term refinances from Lender Matching services. This means that many of those seeking information were likely financially aware homeowners seeking better deals in a low rate environment. This supports the findings from the Bills IQ national average that documents a financially savvy group of consumers.

In addition to a composite nationwide score, the data from Bills IQ can also be used to understand how different groups of Americans performed against their counterparts. For example, men ranked slightly higher than women in terms of money awareness. At the same time, those who completed a higher level of education and those who earned more than their peers scored better. Furthermore, test takers from Arkansas scored highest, while South Dakota residents scored lowest. Additional observations include:

--  Males (85.1) outscored females (84.3) by less than one point
--  The top five scoring states (Arkansas 92.8, Louisiana 87.7, Idaho
    87.3, Kansas 87.0, and Iowa 86.6) -- were separated by just over six points
--  All age groups scored between 85 and 90 points, with those older than
    74 scoring the highest and 35-54 year-olds scoring the lowest
--  Education has an impact on financial awareness with each successful
    level of completed schooling leading to a higher score -- those with a
    graduate degree topped the list at 88.4
--  Those earning over $100,000 only scored nine points higher on average
    than those earning less than $25,000

"Consumers continue to demonstrate sound financial awareness and reasoning," said Mr. Ewing. "As the impact of the recession begins to fade, we expect this basic knowledge will serve them well in terms of balancing both saving and spending in 2010."

A complete list of results from the 2009 Bills IQ test is available by contacting To learn more about and its unique set of financial tools, please visit

About is the leading resource for free and personalized money help. Founded by a group of financial experts intent on helping consumers save time, money and stress, is designed to give consumers confidence in making money decisions. The site offers useful information, powerful tools, and real money experts to give consumers the information they need in the way they want it.

Contact Information