In which states are residents the most financially capable?

In California, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Finra Foundation Financial Capability Survey. Residents of Mississippi came in last, and Arkansas and Kansas were next.

National and state-by-state data can be found at

The Financial Capability Survey was conducted among 25,000 residents spread across the 50 states and the District of Columbia and released Wednesday. The Finra survey allows the public and policy makers to compare the financial capability of residents state by state and in the United States as a whole.

Richard G. Ketchum, Finra chairman and CEO, in remarks at the George Washington University School of Business, said the survey shows that “financial capability in the United States has improved in important areas. Nearly a quarter told us they are satisfied with their personal finances – up from 16 percent in 2009,” when the survey was first taken.

“But debt continues to be a problem,” Ketchum added. “More than 40 percent of the respondents believe they have too much debt. Although the percentage of credit card holders carrying debt on their cards has declined from 56 percent to 49 percent, nearly half still carry debt and pay interest on their balances.”

“When asked if they would be able to come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose in the next month, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they probably or certainly could not,” Ketchum noted. "And among low- to moderate-income respondents, the number rose to nearly 70 percent. This finding sheds light on the precarious financial condition of many U.S. households.”

Respondents were judged on the basis of criteria such as whether they spend less than their income, if they have unpaid medical bills, if they have a rainy day fund and whether they have credit card debt.

According to the survey, 58 percent of Americans find it very or somewhat difficult to cover expenses and pay their bills. At the same time, 19 percent spend more than their income.

Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to have unpaid medical bills. Of those surveyed, 31 percent of Americans age 18 to 34 reported unpaid medical bills, while 17 percent of those 55 and older have unpaid medical bills.