Do You Pay More Than the Minimum on Credit Card Bills? How NJ Stacks Up
New Jersey ranks 7th on Wallethub's report on 2017's Most and Least Financially Literate States — a report that analyzes financial-education programs and consumer habits in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
In the study, the free credit-score website uses a data set of 15 key metrics ranging from the number of adults with a rainy day fund to those who only pay minimum on their credit cards.
Wallethub analyst Jill Gonzalez says New Jersey scored well across all the key categories of financial literacy and habits, financial knowledge and education, which also seems to be where New Jersey excelled the most.
But New Jersey can improve in a couple of areas.
About 7.5 percent of household have no bank accounts — neither checking nor savings.
The lower that number is, the more financially literate a state is, as more people are earning interest on their money, she said.
Only 30 percent of New Jerseyans are comparing credit cards before applying. That number should be at 50 percent, she says, because comparing your options will really help you get more bang for your buck.
New Jersey is in the top 10 when it comes to having a rainy day fund. Right now it is about 50/50 for those who have one and those who do not, she says. The national average is more like 40 percent of people having emergency funds to cover expenses related to sickness or job loss.
New Jersey was in the middle of the pack for the percentage of people who spend more money than they make, at 18 percent. That puts the Garden State 22nd on the list for that metric.
Gonzalez says New Jersey ranks fifth on the list for the percentage of adults who pay only the minimum amount on their credit cards monthly.
"Most people are paying more than the minimum on their credit cards from month to month. Only 28 percent of New Jerseyans pay only the minimum amount."
New Jersey also ranks 6th best when it comes to high school financial literacy grading of all states. That means some high schools do incorporate a financial literacy course into their curriculum.
The most financially literate state, according to the Wallethub survey, is New Hampshire, followed by Minnesota and North Dakota. The least financially literate states are Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi.