Where you live can reveal a lot about your finances. If you live in one of the 10 most money-savvy states as ranked in GOBankingRates’ Money-Savvy-States Survey, for instance, it’s more likely that you make smart use of financial services like retirement accounts and bank products, and you’re less likely to have debt in delinquency or collection.
To find the most financially savvy states, GOBankingRates collected state data in three categories: use of banking services, strong saving and investing behavior, and strong financial education policies. Each state was scored and ranked based on these three financial health indicators. Click through to see if you live in one of the 10 most money-savvy states.
Related: See the 10 Least Money-Savvy States
Wisconsin residents are smart about banking, with 80.7 percent of households fully banked and 91.1 percent having at least a checking account.
The state scores highly for its high percentage of households enrolled in a retirement plan (83 percent) and low debt delinquency. When it comes to saving and investing, however, Wisconsin is just average.
While Wisconsin falls below average on financial education, the state’s residents demonstrate enough fiscal responsibility to put this state at No. 10 on the list of the most money-savvy states.
Michigan lands in the top 10 due in part to strong financial education policies. Michigan requires that all high school students take an economics course and tests students on both personal finance and economics. Michigan also scores better than average in the use of banking services, as close to nine in 10 (87.9 percent) Michigan residents have at least a checking account.
Michigan falls a bit behind in saving and investing. A high 19 percent of the state’s households spend more than they make each month, and 60 percent report having no emergency fund. Despite its residents’ less-than-ideal saving and investing habits, however, Michigan’s strong financial education and use of banking accounts put it at No. 9 on this list.
Idaho scores better than average in all three ranking categories, which helps put it at No. 8 among the most money-savvy states. Idaho’s 24.4 percent of unbanked and underbanked households falls around the median (25.8 percent), and the number of residents with a savings account is higher than average.
Idaho also pulls ahead of most states in the saving and investing category due to lower-than-average debt delinquency (32.7 percent) and a lower rate of residents who spend more than they earn (18 percent). Idaho also requires its high school students to take both an economics and a personal finance course, which gives it a strong score in the financial education category.
7. New Jersey
Lower rates of debt in collections or delinquency (33.1 percent) and the fourth-highest rate of households with an emergency fund (45 percent) help give New Jersey a favorable ranking in the saving and investing category. At No. 7 overall, New Jersey also has the fourth-highest rate of enrollment in retirement plans (86 percent) and the third-highest portion of households with investments in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds (44 percent).
With stronger financial education policies than most states, New Jersey requires high school students to take both an economics and a personal finance course. However, only about two-thirds (67.9 percent) of New Jersey households are fully banked, putting this state below average in the use of banking services.
6. South Dakota
South Dakota’s big strength is its residents’ solid saving and investing habits, which helps it rank at No. 6 in this survey. As the third-best state in the saving and investing category, South Dakota has one of the lowest rates of debt delinquency (25.1 percent) and overspending (17 percent). South Dakota also has a higher portion of households investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds (38 percent), as well as a bankruptcy rate in the bottom 10.
South Dakota’s score for use of banking services is better than average, with a rate of unbanked and underbanked households (24.1 percent) below the national median. South Dakota’s financial education requirements are average, requiring only that both economics and personal finance courses be offered in the state’s high schools but not requiring students to take them and not requiring testing.
Virginia’s financial education policies are the strongest of any state in the Money-Savvy States top 10 rankings. Virginia requires that its high school students take both a personal finance and economics course as well as complete testing on the subject of economics.
Virginia also scores better than most states in the saving and investing category due to higher-than-average rates of emergency savings (40 percent), retirement account ownership (80 percent), and residents who live within their means (78 percent). Virginia’s score for use of banking services is about average. Overall, these factors put Virginia at No. 5.
Minnesota ranks third for best use of banking services and fifth in saving and investing, which puts the state at No. 4 overall among the most money-savvy states. Minnesota has the highest rate of fully banked households, at 81.9 percent, and one of the lowest numbers of households that used alternative financial services (14.9 percent).
In the category of saving and investing, Minnesota boasts the lowest rate of debt delinquency of any state (23.9 percent) and a high rate of enrollment in retirement savings plans. Minnesota lacks strong policies on financial education, but its residents’ strong banking, saving and investing behaviors make it one of the top states for smart money management.
Utah is a standout in the use of banking services, with the top ranking in this category. Utah has the second-highest portion of households that are fully banked (81.5 percent), the third-lowest rate of using alternative financial services (15 percent) and the second-highest rate of savings account ownership (84.7 percent).
This strong use of banking services is supported by the state’s financial education policies, which require Utah high school students to take a course in personal finance. Utah scores close to the median for saving and investing, though it has some better-than-average scores within this category, like lower debt delinquency (32.4 percent) and higher enrollment in retirement savings plans (80 percent). Altogether, these scores put Utah at No. 3 on this list.
2. New Hampshire
New Hampshire ranks among the top five states in the use of banking services, with a high portion of fully banked households (78.1 percent) and low use of alternative financial services (15.9 percent). The state also has a strong ranking in the saving and investing category due largely to its high rate of enrollment in retirement plans (84 percent) and a larger portion of households that live within their means (81 percent).
New Hampshire also boasts better-than-average financial education policies, requiring high school students to take both an economics and a personal finance course. The state’s high rankings across all three categories in this survey make New Hampshire the second-most financially savvy state.
1. North Dakota
North Dakota ranks as the No. 1 most money-savvy state in the U.S. by scoring in the top of all three categories considered in this study. It is the top state for saving and investing due to several factors, like low rates of personal bankruptcy (0.86 per 1,000) and debt delinquency (24.2 percent), as well as a higher-than-average number of households with emergency funds (46 percent).
North Dakota also scores better than average in the use of banking services, with fewer underbanked households (22.8 percent) than most states and a higher portion of households with a savings account (74.7 percent). North Dakota’s financial education measures also beat out most other states by requiring high school students to complete both an economics course and a personal finance course.
The smart saving and investing behaviors of North Dakotans along with their use of banking services and strong financial education standards make it the state with the nation’s most money-savvy residents.
Methodology: GOBankingRates scored all 50 states and D.C. in three categories: (1) use of banking services, (2) saving and investing behaviors, and (3) financial education policies within the state, which was given half the weight of the first two categories. GOBankingRates sourced the most recent data, reports and surveys currently available.
For the use of banking services category, GOBankingRates sourced state-level data from the FDIC’s 2013 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households and evaluated states on three factors: (1) the portion of fully banked households versus unbanked or underbanked households, (2) the portion of households that reported using alternative financial services, and (3) the portion of households that reported owning a savings account. These factors contributed equally to each state’s score in this category.
For the saving and investing behaviors category, GOBankingRates considered six factors, which were weighted equally, to evaluate the financial habits of residents in each state. The first factor considered was (1) data from the 2014 Urban Institutes’ Delinquent Debt in America report, which measured rates of delinquent debt and debt in collection for each state. GOBankingRates used data from FINRA’s 2012 National Financial Capability Study to evaluate states on several factors: (2) households reporting on spending below, at, or above their earnings; (3) portion of households that reported owning a retirement savings account; (4) portion of households that reported investments in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds; and (5) portion of households that reported having an emergency fund versus those that did not. Lastly, GOBankingRates looked at (6) the rate of personal bankruptcies in each state in the second quarter of 2015, as reported by the FDIC, favoring states with lower bankruptcy rates.
For the financial education category, states were evaluated based on scores provided in the Council for Economic Education’s 2014 Survey of the States, favoring those with stronger financial education policies.