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FINRA's State-by-State Financial Capability Survey

Earlier this month, FINRA's Investor Education Council published the results of its state-by-state survey of the financial capabilities of American investors.  The survey consisted of three linked surveys:

  1. National Survey: A nationally-projectable telephone survey of 1,488 American adults
  2. State-By-State Survey: A state-by-state online survey of more than 28,000 American adults
  3. Military Survey: An online survey of 800 military servicemembers and spouses

The state-by-state survey identified a significant disparity in financial capability across state lines and demographic groups:

  • Citizens of New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire are the most financially capable. Those states ranked in the top five among all states in at least three of five measures of financial capability.
  • Kentucky and Montana stood out as having lower financial capability when compared to other states. Citizens of both states were among the least financially capable in at least three of five measures of financial capability.
  • Young Americans nationally were more likely to be less financially capable than older Americans, and they were significantly more likely to engage in non-bank borrowing.

In addition, the survey echoed several of the findings of a smaller-scale national survey released in 2009, finding:

  • Over half of all Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. 55 percent of Americans report spending more than or about equal to their household income.
  • A significant majority of Americans (60 percent) do not have a "rainy day" fund to cover three months of unanticipated financial emergencies.
  • More than one in five Americans (24 percent) have engaged in some form of higher cost non-bank borrowing during the last five years, including taking out a payday loan or getting an advance on a tax refund.
  • Americans, on average, were able to correctly answer just three of five questions about fundamental financial concepts.

FINRA has created an interactive web portal featuring a clickable US map that permits comparison of the the survey's findings on financial capabilities of Americans in every state and across geographic regions.

The survey's interactive portal is available at:

More information about the survey, including methodology, the survey questions, and raw data is available at: