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Financial Planning > College Planning

10 Dumbest States for Financial Literacy: 2017

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Fifty percent of Americans don’t have a rainy-day fund, according to WalletHub.

This – and many other statistics – is indicative that many financial-education programs and consumer habits are still falling short after the recession.

WalletHub released its report on 2017’s Most & Least Financially Literate States, which examines a data set of 15 key metrics ranging from high-school financial literacy grade to share of adults with rainy-day funds.

According to Michael Kitces, partner and director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group, there’s a growing base of research that suggests the most effective financial literacy education is done at the time people need to use it.

“I think the biggest issue to recognize when it comes to financial literacy is that, just like most types of “book education” learning in school, it’s hard for people to internalize the knowledge and really retain it when it’s not actually useful and relevant to them at the time,” Kitces said. “Most people who don’t regularly use advanced math don’t remember what they learned in calculus, most people who don’t regularly engage on historical issues don’t remember the details of what they learning in history – and most people who learn financial literacy in school aren’t realistically likely to remember much of the details either.”  

In order to distinguish the most financially literate states from the least, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: WalletHub’s WalletLiteracy Survey Score, Financial Planning & Habits, and Financial Knowledge & Education.

— (Check out the 10 Smartest States for Financial Literacy: 2017 on ThinkAdvisor.)

The WalletLiteracy score was calculated based on the grades earned by 8,740 responses nationally to WalletHub’s WalletLiteracy Survey. The Financial Planning & Habits score was based on things like the share of adults who spend more than they earn, save for their children’s college education, and pay only the minimum on their credit cards.

The Financial Knowledge & Education score was based on metrics, such as high-school financial literacy grade, public high-school graduation rate, and the share of adults who scored at least 80 percent on FINRA’s financial capability study.

Based on theses scores, WalletHub ranked the states with the worst financial literacy scores:

Fremont Street in Las Vegas. (Photo: AP) 

42. Nevada

Total Score: 59.54

WalletLiteracy Rank: 43

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 36

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 37

Graceland in Memphis. (Photo: AP)

43. Tennessee

Total Score: 59.49

WalletLiteracy Rank: 51

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 44

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 8

Church of San Felipe in Albuquerque. 

44. New Mexico

Total Score: 59.45

WalletLiteracyRank: 23

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 47

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 42

 Crabbers on the fishing grounds in southeast Alaska. (Photo: AP)

45. Alaska

Total Score: 59.20

WalletLiteracy Rank: 38

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 27

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 48

A boat moves along the canal in the Bricktown area of Oklahoma City. (Photo: AP) 

46. Oklahoma

Total Score: 59.13

WalletLiteracy Rank: 37

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 49

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 36

Mississippi flags at State Capitol in Jackson. (Photo: AP) 

47. Mississippi

Total Score: 59.00

WalletLiteracy Rank: 17

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 50

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 45

Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Photo: AP) 

48. Kentucky

Total Score: 58.63

WalletLiteracy Rank: 48

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 40

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 33

Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport. 

49. Rhode Island

Total Score: 58.42

WalletLiteracy Rank: 49

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 13

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 47

Washington, D.C. Skyline. 

50. District of Columbia

Total Score: 58.25

WalletLiteracy Rank: 40

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 29

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 50

Mardi Gras in New Orleans. (Photo: AP) 

51. Louisiana

Total Score: 57.10

WalletLiteracy Rank: 47

Financial Planning & Habits Rank: 51

Financial Knowledge & Education Rank: 31

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