The financial press is full of articles about the “average” amount of savings that Americans have, but the truth is that the amount of savings Americans actually have can vary greatly from state to state. Thanks primarily to large differences in the cost of living, Americans in some states find it much easier to save than those in others.
Forbes Advisor analyzed data from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, to determine which states were the best and worst for money savers. Here are the top five in each category.
Best States for Money Savers
The best states for money savers are generally located in the Midwest, where costs of living are much lower than the pricey coasts. Here are the best five states for money savers, according to the Forbes Advisor data.
North Dakota’s cost of living is actually near the U.S. average, but other costs are among the lowest in the country, making it the easiest state in which to save. Debt-to-income ratios are the third-lowest in the nation, and housing costs and rent rank second-lowest in the country. The state’s effective income tax rate is also quite low.
Like its cousin to the north, South Dakota is a great place for savers to live, thanks primarily to low housing costs and a low effective tax rate.
West Virginia doesn’t have a high average income, but it enjoys a low cost of living, low income taxes and low property tax rates, averaging just 0.59%. Residents spend just 15.10% of their income on housing costs, the lowest percentage in the nation.
Missouri has the sixth-lowest cost of living in the country, making it a good place for savers. Housing costs are quite low, with residents spending just 17.75% of their income on housing.
Ohio residents have the sixth-lowest debt-to-income ratio in the country, at just 1.162. Residents also spend just 17.62% of their income on housing, among the lowest in the nation. Toss in a low overall cost of living and Ohio residents are well-positioned when it comes to saving more of their money.
Worst States for Money Savers
On the plus side, most of the worst states for money savers generally pay the highest incomes. But costs of living can be even higher, and high debt levels also make saving more difficult. Here are the five worst states for money savers, according to the Forbes Advisor data.
Hawaii is well-known for being an expensive state, but it packs a double-whammy when it comes to those wishing to save. While Hawaii does have the highest cost of living of any state in the country, its residents also tend to outspend their income, at least statistically.
According to the data from Forbes Advisor, Hawaiians had a debt-to-income ratio of 2.25 in Q3 2022, which also ranked the highest in the country. This high debt level is no doubt tied to the high cost of living in the state, but regardless of the reason, high costs and high debt levels are both huge impediments when it comes to saving money.
Like Hawaii, California is one of the toughest states in which to save. However, the reasons are a bit different.
The main obstacle to saving in California is the high price of real estate. Both homeowners and renters pay a high proportion of their income in housing costs, and this alone is enough to make it harder to save in California.
Maryland residents have to bear a number of high costs that make saving difficult. In addition to high housing expenses and a high income tax rate of 12.83%, Maryland residents have the third-highest debt-to-income ratio.
New Yorkers suffer from a combination of high housing costs and slowly rising income. According to Forbes Advisor, a whopping 27.66% of residents spend at least half of their income on rent, one of the highest percentages in the country. Incomes rose less than 10% from 2018 to 2021, making it harder for residents to keep up with the generally high cost of living in the state.
New Jersey suffers from many of the same woes of New York when it comes to saving, with slowly rising incomes and a high cost of housing. New Jersey carries the extra burden of having the highest property taxes in the country, at an effective rate of 2.26%.
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