These are the top 5 most — and least — financially literate states in the country

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Do you have money tucked away for a rainy day? Have you cultivated sustainable spending habits? Or do you find yourself borrowing money to make it to the next paycheck?

Those were among the metrics that the number crunchers at the financial literacy site WalletHub took into account as they put together their list of the most — and least — financially literate of these 50 states.

The bottom line, according to WalletHub: The United States “ended 2018 with $67 billion in new credit-card debt. That’s unsurprising, considering that only two in five adults actually have a budget,” the WalletHub wonks said. “Total American credit card debt passed $1 trillion for the first time ever in 2018, so it’s clear that better financial education is necessary to try to turn this trend around. But the problems aren’t as pronounced in every state; some are more responsible than others.”

Mouse over the map for full, nationwide results:

Source: WalletHub

To come up with its findings, WalletHub’s wonks said they “analyzed financial-education programs and consumer habits — combined with the results of WalletHub’s proprietary WalletLiteracy Survey — in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

“We evaluated those dimensions using 17 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the highest level of financial literacy,” the analysts continued. “We then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and combined those results with the responses to our WalletLiteracy Survey to rank-order our sample.”

If you’re looking at the map, Pennsylvania finished a pretty dismal 36th nationwide, notching a total score of 58.04. The Keystone State notched a 9 on the “wallet literacy” rank, 27th on the “financial planning and habits” rank, and 46th on “financial knowledge and education.”

Here, then, are the top 5 most financially literate states — and their scores on the WalletHub scale:

  1. Virginia, 68.03
  2. Utah, 67.97
  3. New Hampshire, 67.36
  4. New Jersey, 66.79
  5. Minnesota, 65.72

And the five least financially literate states — and their scores on the WalletHub scale:

  1. Louisiana, 51.01
  2. Alaska, 53.11
  3. Mississippi, 54.58
  4. Delaware, 54.83 — which is kind of ironic, given how many companies have Wilmington mailing addresses
  5. New Mexico, 54.98
An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.


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