It turns out high income isn’t the best predictor of how people save.
In a lot of ways, Kansas is pretty middle-of-the-road. It’s literally in the middle of the country, and its median income is a little below average — but one thing that stands out are its savers.
The state is proof you don’t need to make a ton of money to start building up your savings. Its median income, per household, is $53,571, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Which State Saves Best in America?It turns out high income isn’t the best predictor of how people save. Using GoBankingRates.com survey data and U.S. Census figures for median income, we can see there isn't a big relationship between what people make and what they save — many people just haven't developed healthy financial habits like budgeting for an emergency fund.
1. Massachusetts (No. 50)
2. Wyoming (No. 49)
3. Hawaii (No. 48)
4. New Mexico (No. 47)
5. Virginia (No. 46)
6. Washington (No. 5)
7. North Dakota (No. 4)
8. Iowa (No. 3)
9. Nebraska (No. 2)
10. Kansas (No. 1)
That’s a few thousand less than the national average, but even with that working against them, Kansas has the lowest percentage of residents with zero dollars saved, says a new survey from GoBankingRates.
Kansas isn’t even the best state to keep your money in savings, based on which states’ banks are offering the highest interest rates, says GoBankingRates. The best state to save your money in is Alabama, but 40 percent of their residents don’t have a dollar saved.
The middle of America grades average in financial literacy
There must be some correlation between middle-America states and landing smack dab in the middle of financial surveys.
Maybe the people living in the region just know how to get by within their means and put money away better than others. Nebraska and Iowa both tied for second, with each state having 30 percent of their residents with at least $1,000 in savings.
They even rank in the middle of best states to save your money. Iowa made No. 26 and Nebraska No. 22 in that survey.
Kansas residents may have made No. 1 on the top list of “best savers,” but they couldn’t make it to even the halfway point of WalletHub’s most financially savvy list, ranking number 28 in the nation. But to be fair, they did place No. 2 in financial literacy, according to the survey. And WalletHub’s definition of “financially savvy” is a little ambiguous: “what differentiates the comfortable from the truly stable,” whatever that means.
Only average grades though
Forty-two percent of adults in the U.S. scored a C or worse on their knowledge of finances, says the 2017 Consumer Financial Literacy survey from The National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
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Nebraska came in at No. 12 for financially savvy and No. 27 for financial literacy. Iowa made No. 11 for financial savvy and No. 24 for financial literacy.
Folks from Kansas must be learning about finances after high school, because they scored an average C in Champlain College’s 2017 National Report Card, a report card the university puts out to judge high school students’ financial literacy in each state.
“Americans need to know how to use credit, save for retirement, invest wisely, and understand the many complicated financial decisions made in the average person’s lifetime,” says John Pelletier, director of the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College. “We know that financial illiteracy was one of the causes of the Great Recession.”
Both Iowa and Nebraska scored C, too.
Kansas holds its own when it comes to financial stability
Kansas also made the top 10 list of MoneyRate’s “Best States to Make a Living in 2017.” They based their list on states’ cost of living, workplace safety, state tax, median income and unemployment rates.
The state is an affordable one to live in — with the eighth lowest cost of living in the U.S. Unemployment is almost four percent (3.8) below the national average, MoneyRate says.
Again not far behind was Nebraska and Iowa at Nos. 11 and 17, respectively.
All around, Kansas is a pretty comfortable place to live. It’s inexpensive, the economy’s not half-bad, and people seem to know a thing or two about saving their money. All while only scoring an average grade on their financial knowledge.