Here’s the No. 1 Financial Challenge of Americans in Every State

financial challenges u.s. map

What’s your biggest money worry? Your answer might depend on where you live, finds the 2015 Life + Money Survey from GOBankingRates. This survey asked Americans, “What’s your biggest financial challenge?” and collected responses from residents of all 50 states and the District of Columbia to find the most common money struggle in each state.

Read: Survey Shows How Your Salary Influences Your Financial Focus

biggest financial challenge in every state

More than half of all U.S. states name retirement planning as their biggest financial challenge, followed by over a third of states saying they struggle most with sticking to a budget. About 10 percent of states have residents that say paying for higher education is their biggest challenge, followed by paying off credit cards (6 percent) and saving for an emergency (2 percent). Though saving for a home and building an investment portfolio were included as two other possible answers in the survey, neither was the top answer in any state.

When it comes to sticking to a budget, states in the West are most likely to be focused on this challenge — it’s the top financial concern of about 60 percent (eight of 13) of states in this region. Planning for retirement is the top challenge of states in the South, Midwest and Northeast regions. Two-thirds of Midwest states say retirement planning is their biggest challenge, making this the region most focused on this financial concern.

Only five states and the District named paying for higher education as their top concern, and half of those states are in the West (California, Hawaii and Utah). Of the three states that name paying off credit cards as their top challenge, two are in the Northeast — Maine and New Hampshire. South Dakota is the only state for which saving an emergency fund is the top concern.

Are You Retirement Ready?
State Most Common Challenge State Most Common Challenge
Alabama Planning for retirement Montana Tie: Planning for retirement and sticking to a budget
Alaska Paying off credit cards Nebraska Sticking to a budget
Arizona Tie: Planning for retirement and sticking to a budget Nevada Sticking to a budget
Arkansas Paying for higher education New Hampshire Paying off credit cards
California Paying for higher education New Jersey Planning for retirement
Colorado Sticking to a budget New Mexico Sticking to a budget
Connecticut Planning for retirement New York Sticking to a budget
D.C. Paying for higher education North Carolina Sticking to a budget
Delaware Planning for retirement North Dakota Planning for retirement
Florida Planning for retirement Ohio Sticking to a budget
Georgia Planning for retirement Oklahoma Planning for retirement
Hawaii Paying for higher education Oregon Sticking to a budget
Idaho Sticking to a budget Pennsylvania Planning for retirement
Illinois Sticking to a budget Rhode Island Sticking to a budget
Indiana Planning for retirement South Carolina Sticking to a budget
Iowa Planning for retirement South Dakota Saving up an emergency fund
Kansas Planning for retirement Tennessee Sticking to a budget
Kentucky Sticking to a budget Texas Sticking to a budget
Louisiana Planning for retirement Utah Paying for higher education
Maine Paying off credit cards Vermont Planning for retirement
Maryland Planning for retirement Virginia Planning for retirement
Massachussetts Planning for retirement Washington Planning for retirement
Michigan Planning for retirement West Virginia Planning for retirement
Minnesota Planning for retirement Wisconsin Planning for retirement
Mississippi Sticking to a budget Wyoming Tie: Planning for retirement and sticking to a budget
Missouri Planning for retirement Source: GOBankingRates 2015 Life + Money Survey

“What’s Next” for Americans’ Finances?

The 2015 Life + Money Survey highlights how people across the U.S. think about money. When facing any of the financial challenges covered in the survey, people can benefit from professional advice. GOBankingRates’ “What’s Next?” section offers assistance with understanding how to create smart financial plans. In this section, you can request free financial services to help address your biggest money challenges.


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