Money Smart America

The most and least money-savvy states in the country.

No one wants to think they’re clueless when it comes to understand personal finance, but a new report and map from ranks consumers by state for who is the most smart when it comes to money – and who’s scraping the bottom of the financial-savvy barrel.

The study looked at three key factors:

  1. Use of traditional banking services like maintaining a healthy checking and savings account instead of being “unbanked
  2. Knowledge of saving and investing options that are necessary for long-term financial stability and building wealth
  3. A high level of financial literacy – basically how accessible financial education is and how widely it’s used by state residents

The Best and the Worst used those three factors to rate the savvy of residents in each state. Here’s what they found:
10 Most Moneywise States:

  1. North Dakota
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Utah
  4. Minnesota
  5. Virginia
  6. South Dakota
  7. New Jersey
  8. Idaho
  9. Michigan
  10. Wisconsin

10 Least Moneywise States:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Arkansas
  3. Nevada
  4. Kentucky
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Kansas
  7. Alabama
  8. District of Columbia
  9. South Carolina
  10. Ohio

There is some differentiation if you just look at one factor. For instance, although neither state makes the general top 10, Texas and Georgia tied for first place if you just look at financial literacy education. Massachusetts and Connecticut tied with Arkansas and Kansas for the worst in financial literacy even though they managed to stay out of the 10 worst overall.

What does it all mean?

Of course, every financial situation is unique. Just because you’re living in a state that’s not financially savvy it doesn’t mean you’re lacking knowledge and vice versa. On the other hand – particularly if you live in one of the least money-savvy states – you can take away the knowledge that you may not be as moneywise as you need to be.

Ask yourself some basic questions:


  1. Do you have the basic accounts you need to function in the traditional financial world, like checking and savings accounts?
  2. Are you avoiding traditional banks for any specific reason?
  3. If so, are your reasons costing you money? For instance, if you cash paychecks at a check cashing store and pay for everything in cash, you’re wasting money on fees.
  4. Is your savings account the best choice for your money? For instance, if your account only grows at 0.01% APY, you might be better off shopping around for a better account that at least gives you 1-2% APY.


  1. Is your basic savings account the only place where your money grows?
  2. Do you have a 401(k) through your employer and do you contribute the full amount your company is willing to match?
  3. Have you considered opening an IRA for private retirement investment?
  4. Have you reviewed the mutual funds /ETFs that you’re investing in on your retirement accounts in the past year?
  5. If you have kids, have you opened a 529 savings plan or Coverdell account to help them pay for college?
  6. Do you currently have any bonds or CDs that provide stable, long-term growth for your savings?
  7. Do you currently own any stocks? If not, why? If you’re avoiding stocks because you don’t understand the market, then this represents a knowledge gap you need to start to fill.


  1. When it comes to finance, what’s the area where you’re most knowledgeable? What’s the area where you’re the least knowledgeable?
  2. Do you know how your credit score is calculated and how lenders determine your credit worthiness as a borrower?
  3. Do you understand how your credit profile affects your insurance rates?
  4. How familiar are you with the deductions, credits and exemptions you can claim on your income taxes?
  5. If you took a financial literacy test, could you answer every question correctly?

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April Lewis-Parks
Director of Education and Public Relations

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