The Most and Least Financially Literate States

How does your state compare with others on the financial literacy scale?
Amanda Carrozza
Published: April 07, 2018
Financial Literacy SurveyWe’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.

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.  

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