GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Do you know what’s in your wallet? WalletHub says more than likely you do.
Residents of North Carolina rank sixth nationally for their financial literacy, new data analysis has found.
That’s the determination about our habits and practices that WalletHub, the credit score site that assembles and analyzes data to help us know more about our lives, developed in celebration of April as Financial Literacy Month.
WalletHub’s analysts created a financial literacy grade for each state and the District of Columbia by assimilating 17 metrics about our habits, and North Carolina came up with a total score of 67.11, which was about 8.3 points behind Nebraska, the state whose residents the analysis determined to be the most financially literate.
Utah, Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire all ranked ahead of North Carolina – the latter three by decimal points – and Maine, Iowa, Minnesota and New Jersey rounded out the top 10.
The analysis is based on weighted scores under the general topics of financial planning and habits, which looked at credit scores, rainy-day savings accounts, budgeting and long-term goal-setting; financial knowledge and education, which looked at high school courses and graduation, participation in financial counseling and overall educational levels; and responses to WalletHub’s survey on literacy.
Although North Carolina’s requirement that all public high school students must pass a personal finance class before they can graduate has been in place for only one school year, the effects must be working. The state ranked first for its high school literacy grade, WalletHub found.
Cristian Tiu, chair of the Finance Department at the University of Buffalo, said in WalletHub’s release that policymakers should “encourage the introduction of personal finance classes early in school, and include those classes among those on which tests are administered. For example, we have statewide math exams – yet we rarely do the math on a standalone basis. By contrast, we file our taxes, take loans, etc., that is, we perform some financial calculations frequently.”
Overall North Carolinians ranked 20th for “wallet literacy,” fifth for financial planning and habits and 28th for financial knowledge and education.
But in drilling down our scores were boosted by the fact that most of us 18 and older have rainy-day funds (10th best) and few of our households don’t have bank accounts (11th). We also do better than most in not spending more than we earn and to WalletHub’s survey.
Overall the research found that financial literacy was slightly higher among highly educated white married men at least 55 years old and, predictably, for people with an annual income of $150,000 or more.
“Most people were caught by surprise by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Margaret Books, executive director of the Massachusetts Council for Economic Education, said in the release. “The sudden school closings and reduction in child care facilities in early 2020 had an immediate impact on labor markets, particularly women’s employment.
“If anything, the pandemic reinforced the need for families to have an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses and/or the loss of income that can occur without notice. Reducing expenses and adjusting the household’s operating budget also became essential for many families.”