The Most and Least Financially Literate States

April 7, 2018
Amanda Carrozza

Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.

How does your state compare with others on the financial literacy scale?

We’re a decade beyond the Great Recession, but the question remains: Have Americans learned anything about becoming more financially sound? Based on the fact that the total American credit card debt has passed $1 trillion and only two in five adults say they keep close track of their spending, some analysts say the answer is a hearty “no.”

WalletHub reports that 40 percent of U.S. adults give their personal finance knowledge a grade of C or worse. The credit score and reporting company sought to delve into that observation a bit further by analyzing the financial-education programs and consumer habits in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. to determine which states were the most and least financially literate.

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The study used a data set of 15 key metrics — including financial planning habits, education level, credit scores and budgets — each graded on a 100-point scale. The company then determined each state’s weighted average to calculate its overall score. Those results were combined with results from the company’s WalletLiteracy Survey, which asked questions about investments, car insurance, how credit scores are calculated and interest rates, to rank-order the sample.

Here’s what the researchers found.

Most Financially Literate States

Least Financially Literate States

1.

New Hampshire

42.

Rhode Island

2.

Virginia

43.

Delaware

3.

Minnesota

44.

Kentucky

4.

Maryland

45.

South Dakota

5.

Utah

46.

New Mexico

6.

New Jersey

47.

Washington, D.C.

7.

Maine

48.

Oklahoma

8.

Colorado

49.

Mississippi

9.

North Dakota

50.

Alaska

10.

Illinois

51.

Louisiana

Source: WalletHub

Other notable findings from the study included:

  • The average score for men on the WalletLiteracy survey was 72.45, while women averaged a slightly lower score of 66.67.
  • Average survey scores were higher among people from higher-income households as well as those with higher education levels.
  • Married people received the highest survey score, on average, while single people who’d never been married received the lowest average score.
  • Maine achieved the best WalletLiteracy score; Tennessee scored the lowest.
  • Iowa has the highest public high school graduation rate; Washington, D.C. has the lowest.
  • North Dakota has the highest share of adults with “rainy-day” funds; West Virginia has the lowest share.
  • Vermont has the lowest share of unbanked households; Louisiana has the highest.
  • Massachusetts has the lowest share of adults borrowing from nonbank lenders; Mississippi has the highest.