Money experts often bemoan America’s collective lack of financial literacy. But it turns out there’s a lot of variation around the country when it comes to how savvy we are with our dollars, and not everyone is hopeless. A new study highlights which states have the best — and the worst — grasp of money management.
In the rankings by WalletHub.com of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., New Hampshire has the highest financial literacy in the country.
To determine rankings, WalletHub looked at the financial education programs available in each state and Washington, D.C., along with details about consumer spending habits and knowledge of financial concepts. Researchers looked at metrics including credit scores and payday loan usage to determine how money-savvy people are across the U.S.
The Granite State came out tops when it came to daily spending habits and planning, and it also has the lowest high school dropout rate (a marker that correlates to higher financial literacy). Overall, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic fared pretty well in WalletHub’s ranking: In addition to New Hampshire, the top 10 most-literate states include New Jersey, Maryland, Maine, New York and Virginia.
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By contrast, the bottom of the rankings are scattered across the South and West — although Washington, D.C. is the exception, coming in dead last. After the nation’s capital, the next-lowest score went to Alaska, followed by Nevada, Arkansas, Mississippi and New Mexico. Mississippi has the most residents who don’t have a bank account, and Nevada tied with Hawaii for having the worst spending habits. Mississippi and New Mexico tied for the dubious distinction of having the fewest residents with emergency savings.