These States Have the Biggest Financial Literacy Problems

Many parts of the U.S. lag on financial literacy.

Jun 8, 2014 at 1:13PM

The issue of widespread financial illiteracy -- not just in this country, but around the world -- has rightfully garnered significant attention in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The housing market collapse and ensuing financial crisis served as a stark reminder of our societal obsession with debt as well as the dangers of fingertip financial access in the hands of consumers who are marked by a hope-for-the-best, figure-it-out-later attitude and an obvious lack of financial aptitude. But how much did we really learn, and what are we doing to help future generations avoid repeating our mistakes?

Not enough, it would seem. We've collectively racked up more than $73 billion in new credit card debt since the beginning of 2012, and it's little surprise given that only two in five adults actually have a budget. There's really no shortage of statistics that one can quote to illustrate our money management shortcomings -- from the 19% of Americans who spend more than they make to the 60% of folks who don't have a rainy day fund.

Where are the problems most and least pronounced, and which areas of the country are taking the necessary measures to foster a financially prosperous future? That's what WalletHub sought to discover by analyzing financial education programs and consumer habits in each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, using 12 key metrics ranging from Champlain University's High School Financial Literacy Grades to the percentage of residents with a rainy day fund. More information about our methodology, as well a complete breakdown of our findings and expert commentary, can be found here.

Source: WalletHub.

Overall Rank

State Name

Knowledge and Education Sub-Rank

Planning and Daily Habits Sub-Rank

1 New Hampshire 1 1
2 Utah 3 8
3 Virginia 3 19
4 New Jersey 7 9
5 Minnesota 6 10
6 South Dakota 5 11
7 North Dakota 14 3
8 Maryland 11 4
9 Idaho 2 30
10 Massachusetts 24 2
11 Pennsylvania 19 6
12 Illinois 16 12
13 Wisconsin 13 16
14 Nebraska 18 13
T-15 Colorado 9 21
T-15 Iowa 20 13
17 Maine 34 5
18 New York 22 18
19 Montana 23 20
20 Vermont 12 27
21 Washington 29 16
22 California 42 7
23 Florida 31 15
24 South Carolina 26 28
25 Indiana 27 29
26 Oregon 28 25
27 Kansas 8 47
28 Hawaii 39 22
29 West Virginia 36 23
30 District of Columbia 30 33
31 Wyoming 35 26
32 Missouri 10 44
33 Tennessee 15 42
34 Ohio 33 31
35 Connecticut 37 32
36 Georgia 17 43
37 North Carolina 32 36
38 Delaware 47 24
39 Texas 21 45
40 Oklahoma 25 46
41 Alaska 45 34
42 Michigan 46 35
43 Arizona 38 41
44 Kentucky 44 38
45 Alabama 43 39
46 Rhode Island 48 40
47 New Mexico 49 37
48 Louisiana 40 49
49 Nevada 41 50
50 Arkansas 50 48
51 Mississippi 51 51

Take advantage of this little-known tax "loophole"
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers