Updated: Apr 14, 2023

How Does Your State Conduct Its Personal Finances?

Where one lives can affect a number of everyday choices, from one's choice in food, clothing and even mode of transportation. But, where you live can also speak volumes about how you conduct your p...
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Where one lives can affect a number of everyday choices, from one's choice in food, clothing and even mode of transportation. But, where you live can also speak volumes about how you conduct your personal finances.

In 2009, the FINRA Financial Investor Education Foundation conducted a survey of more than 28,000 American consumers with the aim of determining how Americans across the United States conducted their personal finances and how knowledgeable they were about certain financial topics. The study took five months to complete, and painted a very clear picture about the state of America's finances.

Below is a table showing exactly how Americans across ten different regions fared in five categories:

American Spending Habits by Region

Percent of Households that spent more than income No "rainy day" funds Non-Bank Borrowing # of questions answered correctly in financial literacy quiz Comparison Shopping
Pacific 21% 58% 19% 3.1 63%
Mountain 21% 63% 29% 3.1 62%
West North Central 20% 62% 24% 3.1 65%
West South Central 18% 63% 32% 2.9 65%
East South Central 20% 65% 30% 2.9 62%
East North Central 18% 62% 21% 3.0 62%
Middle Atlantic 17% 51% 17% 2.9 61%
South Atlantic 20% 60% 24% 3.0 63%
New England 21% 58% 18% 3.1 60%
National Average 20% 60% 24% 3.0 62%

Differences were also apparent on a state-by-state basis. For example, residents of Delaware topped the list of American consumers who'd said they spent more than they made, with 26% of those in the state admitting to doing. In comparison, the national average stood at 20% while the average for the entire mid-Atlantic region of the United States was 17%.

If that wasn't enough, nearly three in four people living in the state of Oklahoma said don't have a "rainy day" fund to tie them over in the event of an emergency.  More than one in three people living in the state of Montana indicated they'd engaged in a form of "non-bank" borrowing and do so more frequently then residents in any other U.S. state.

Where to Go for Help with Your Personal Finances:

Regardless of where you live, it's always good to know where you can turn with questions, comments and concerns related to your personal finances. Whether you're an investor, in the military or are simply interested in obtaining grant funds to help financial education causes, here's a short list of financial education resources available through FINRA that you can use today:

1. For Members of the Military: 

Members of the U.S. military also have somewhere to turn when seeking advice of information related to their personal finances. In fact, results from the FINRA Foundation Military Financial Capability Survey showed that 25 percent of individuals serving in the military had more than $10,000 in credit card debt, and suffered from a number of other financial obstacles when compared to their civilian counterparts.

If you're a member of the military and are interested in finding out more about how to manage your personal finances then check out FINRA's military section for information about how to invest your military benefits and other specific financial rights you may have as a result of your service in the military.

2. For Older Investors: 

While anyone can become the victim of investor fraud, investors over the age of 55 are much more likely to fall prey to these sort of schemes. FINRA sponsors a great online resource for older investors, which includes financial tools that can help you determine whether or not the seller of securities is licensed, whether their specific products are registered, if there product is a scam or if you may be vulnerable to investors fraud.

3. For Teens: 

Educating teenagers about personal finances is becoming increasingly more important, especially when you begin to consider the rising costs of higher education and other factors that have changed America's economic landscape over the past ten, 20 or even 30 or more years. Generation Money—created through a partnership between FINRA, Channel One News and AmericaSaves.org—young adults have access to a wealth of personal finance advice about credit cards and scores, student loan, common types of investments and other information to prep for the future.

Visit FINRA for more information about the state-by-state study and for additional links to financial tools and guides to help you improve your own personal finance situation.

Carolyn Okomo is a personal finance writer and the Tuesday columnist for MyBankTracker. You can follow her tweets @CarolynMyBankTracker..