Move to This State and Improve Your Financial Health

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If you’re looking to improve the health of your finances, try moving to North Dakota. Or at least avoid Georgia.

Three North Dakota cities made it into the top five slots in NerdWallet’s rankings of cities based on the financial health of residents, which was released today.

By contrast, three Georgia cities were ranked in the bottom five out of 265 cities analyzed.

Based on data from credit bureau Experian and the U.S. Census Bureau, NerdWallet’s rankings reflect residents’:

  • Debt (as measured by average consumer debt as a percentage of per capita income; average credit card debt; and percentage of homes with a second mortgage, home equity loan or both) — 50 percent of the score
  • Financial management (average number of credit cards; average credit score) — 30 percent
  • Spending (percentage of household income spent on housing and related costs by homeowners) — 20 percent

Midwestern cities in general fared well, “likely due to strong economies paired with lower costs of living,” NerdWallet reports.

The relatively low rankings of Southern cities — they comprise a large percentage of the bottom 20 — is perhaps less easily explained. Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of public education, tells NerdWallet:

“Unfortunately Southern cities tend to have lower [credit] scores than Northern cities, particularly the Midwest.”

The 10 cities whose residents’ finances are in the best shape are:

  • Dickinson, North Dakota
  • Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Sioux City, Iowa
  • Minot, North Dakota
  • Moline, Illinois
  • Helena, Montana
  • Appleton, Wisconsin
  • Bloomington, Illinois
  • Rochester, Minnesota
  • Richland, Washington

Residents’ finances are in the worst shape in:

  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Fresno, California
  • Greenville, North Carolina
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Macon, Georgia
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • San Bernardino, California
  • Albany, Georgia
  • Riverside, California

The average American carries more than $26,000 in nonmortgage debt, including about $3,800 in credit card debt, according to Experian.

If you are struggling with debt, including credit card debt, or need help with a mortgage, be sure to visit the Money Talks News Solutions Center.

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