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

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

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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.

StateMost Common ChallengeStateMost Common Challenge
AlabamaPlanning for retirementMontanaTie: Planning for retirement and sticking to a budget
AlaskaPaying off credit cardsNebraskaSticking to a budget
ArizonaTie: Planning for retirement and sticking to a budgetNevadaSticking to a budget
ArkansasPaying for higher educationNew HampshirePaying off credit cards
CaliforniaPaying for higher educationNew JerseyPlanning for retirement
ColoradoSticking to a budgetNew MexicoSticking to a budget
ConnecticutPlanning for retirementNew YorkSticking to a budget
D.C.Paying for higher educationNorth CarolinaSticking to a budget
DelawarePlanning for retirementNorth DakotaPlanning for retirement
FloridaPlanning for retirementOhioSticking to a budget
GeorgiaPlanning for retirementOklahomaPlanning for retirement
HawaiiPaying for higher educationOregonSticking to a budget
IdahoSticking to a budgetPennsylvaniaPlanning for retirement
IllinoisSticking to a budgetRhode IslandSticking to a budget
IndianaPlanning for retirementSouth CarolinaSticking to a budget
IowaPlanning for retirementSouth DakotaSaving up an emergency fund
KansasPlanning for retirementTennesseeSticking to a budget
KentuckySticking to a budgetTexasSticking to a budget
LouisianaPlanning for retirementUtahPaying for higher education
MainePaying off credit cardsVermontPlanning for retirement
MarylandPlanning for retirementVirginiaPlanning for retirement
MassachussettsPlanning for retirementWashingtonPlanning for retirement
MichiganPlanning for retirementWest VirginiaPlanning for retirement
MinnesotaPlanning for retirementWisconsinPlanning for retirement
MississippiSticking to a budgetWyomingTie: Planning for retirement and sticking to a budget
MissouriPlanning for retirementSource: 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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About the Author

As a finance journalist and editor with GOBankingRates, Elyssa Kirkham covers finance news, consumer savings and deals, and banking. Kirkham’s work has appeared on major sites like Huffington Post, MSN, Investopedia, CU and CB Insight, The Motley Fool and a range of major local newspapers.