People of NJ among the most financially literate in the United States
When it comes to financial literacy, a report by WalletHub ranks New Jersey fourth best in nation, only behind Illinois, Minnesota and New Hampshire, especially in the areas of planning and daily habits.
"Everything from balancing a budget to, of course, sticking to that budget, including things like high school financial literacy," according to WalletHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez.
New Jersey scored among the top five states in many of the categories, including the percentage of people borrowing from non-bank Lenders.
"Only 16 percent of people in New Jersey have those types of loans. Compare that to a place like Nevada, Mississippi, you're looking at 40 percent of the population, almost half, looking at non-bank lenders," Gonzalez said.
The Garden State also very well when it comes to the percentage of people with a rainy day fund for emergencies, which in New Jersey is 45 percent.
Gonzalez credited education with playing a big factor, pointing out a high percentage of New Jersey residents have a bachelor's degree or higher.
One area that needs improvement: New Jersey ranks 19th in the nation when it come to the percentage of residents who spend more than they earn, but Gonzalez notes the issue is common in a lot of northeastern states.
"I think there's this sense of kind of keeping up with the Joneses that tends to wash over that part of the country. About 18 percent of New Jerseyans spend more than they make, so we do want to see that number decrease a little bit," Gonzalez said. She added the best number the WalletHub report saw was 14 percent.
Gonzalez pointed out that a number of northeastern states and northern states really know how to rein in their spending compared to southern states in the bottom half of the rankings for overall financial literacy.
"We see places like Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nevada is down there as well," said Gonzalez.
For New Jersey to maintain its fourth-in-the-nation ranking, and possibly improve to number one, Gonzalez noted there is always room for improvement.
"I think here we really need to focus on the high school level. New Jersey is one state that does not have sort of a financial literacy component that is absolutely required to graduate high school. Not many states do, only about 15 or so, but if New Jersey became one of them, I'm sure they could see the top spot soon," Gonzalez said.