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Top 10 Smartest States for Financial Literacy: 2016

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The Great Recession left millions of Americans reeling, with many buried under a mountain of debt when the housing bubble burst and credit card charges piled up.

With the economy continuing its slow recovery, it might have been expected that Americans would get their financial houses in order. But according to’s latest state rankings of financial literacy, too many have not learned the hard lessons.

The rankings, which included the District of Columbia, show a woeful lack of knowledge about managing finances.

Since 2012, credit card debt has risen by $153 billion, a sign that the bitter taste of 2008 might have been forgotten. As for making a family budget, half of those in the U.S. don’t bother. In addition, 54% don’t have any money saved for emergencies and, as was the case last year, 20% outspend their incomes.

The site used three criteria to rate states: its own literacy survey; planning & daily habits; and knowledge & education. Components of the second category included the high school dropout rate, results of a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority literacy survey and the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree, among other things. The third category included looking at the percentage of people who spend more than they earn, how many have a rainy-day fund and those paying just the minimum due on credit cards.

(Related: Top 10 Smartest States for Financial Literacy: 2015 and Top 10 Dumbest States for Financial Literacy: 2015)

Taking everything into account led to the site’s U.S. rankings with the literacy test counting for half a state’s score.

It’s notable that even the smartest states fall well short of a perfect 100 in the scoring.

Check out the 10 Smartest States for Financial Literacy, and watch next week for the 10 Dumbest States for Financial Literacy:

Battlefield Park and Richmond Skyline. (Photo: AP)


Overall Score: 65.86

Literacy: 44 out of 51

Planning & Daily Habits: 25 out of 51

Knowledge & Education: 2 out of 51

Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan in background.


Overall Score: 66.11

Literacy: 44

Planning & Daily Habits: 25

Knowledge & Education: 2

Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. (Photo: AP)


Overall Score: 66.46

Literacy: 46

Planning & Daily Habits: 6

Knowledge & Education: 1

Disney World in Orlando. (Photo: AP)


Overall Score: 66.69

Literacy: 2

Planning & Daily Habits: 14

Knowledge & Education: 27

Lobster boats in Portland.


Overall Score: 66.79

Literacy: 17

Planning & Daily Habits: 7

Knowledge & Education: 11

Baltimore Inner Harbor.


Overall Score: 66.95

Literacy: 35

Planning & Daily Habits: 4

Knowledge & Education: 4

Atlantic City Beach.


Overall Score: 67.11

Literacy: 22

Planning & Daily Habits: 5

Knowledge & Education: 8

Millennium Monument at Chicago's Millennium Park. (Photo: AP)3.


Overall Score: 67.24

Literacy: 6

Planning & Daily Habits: 12

Knowledge & Education: 13

University of Minnesota marching band. (Photo: AP)


Overall Score: 68.12

Literacy: 12

Planning & Daily Habits: 16

Knowledge & Education: 5

The Corbin Covered Bridge in Newport. (Photo: AP)


Overall Score: 69.93

Literacy: 16

Planning & Daily Habits: 1

Knowledge & Education: 6

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