State by State: Where Americans Are Best and Worst at Managing Debt

Data from more than half a million borrowers shows that people lower-income states often manage their debt better than those where incomes are higher.

US map with Ben Franklin printed on it.esfera / Shutterstock.com

Guess what: Borrowers in poorer states sometimes do better at managing debt than those who live in more affluent areas. That’s according to a new study from Credible.com that analyzed data from 540,000 borrowers.

The site weighed figures for student and consumer debt plus housing expenses against average monthly incomes. The study found that on average, Americans spend $207 a month on credit card payments, $370 on student loan payments, and $906 on housing, while earning an average of $60,671 per year.

But the state-by-state breakdown reveal that higher salaries don’t necessarily equate to good debt handling, and a smaller paychecks don’t automatically suggest poor debt handling.

Credible calculated a “monthly debt-to-income ratio” for each state, and from that created a ranking. The top spot (with the lowest monthly debt-to-income ratio) might surprise you. Read on to find out what it is, and where your state ranks.

1. Michigan

susan-montgomery / Shutterstock.com

Yes, Michigan is the state where residents spend the smallest portion of their monthly income making payments on their debt and housing costs — just over 25 percent. In part, the study explains, the state’s low housing costs relative to incomes plays a role, helping residents hang on to more of their paychecks. Here are the numbers that went into that calculation.

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 25.27 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $198
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $354
  • Average monthly housing payment: $725
  • Average annual income: $60,642

2. Arkansas

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 25.62 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $174
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $319
  • Average monthly housing payment: $666
  • Average annual income: $54,284

3. Delaware

Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 26.74 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $213
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $364
  • Average monthly housing payment: $853
  • Average annual income: $64,174

4. Kentucky

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 26.82 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $184
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $323
  • Average monthly housing payment: $696
  • Average annual income: $53,821

5. Missouri

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 27.34 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $203
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $340
  • Average monthly housing payment: $738
  • Average annual income: $56,234

6. Mississippi

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 27.66 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $154
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $263
  • Average monthly housing payment: $574
  • Average annual income: $42,993

7. Ohio

Doug Lemke / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.19 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $211
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $370
  • Average monthly housing payment: $729
  • Average annual income: $55,763

8. Indiana

Semmick Photo / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.20 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $197
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $343
  • Average monthly housing payment: $699
  • Average annual income: $52,717

9. Pennsylvania

Kilmer Media / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.21 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $215
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $394
  • Average monthly housing payment: $746
  • Average annual income: $57,636

10. Georgia

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.24 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $186
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $328
  • Average monthly housing payment: $812
  • Average annual income: $56,344

11. West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West VirginiaJon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.25 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $193
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $337
  • Average monthly housing payment: $624
  • Average annual income: $49,017

12. North Carolina

Kevin M. McCarthy / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.30 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $193
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $338
  • Average monthly housing payment: $810
  • Average annual income: $56,867

13. New Jersey

Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.36 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $231
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $435
  • Average monthly housing payment: $997
  • Average annual income: $70,378

14. Rhode Island

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.58 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $210
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $418
  • Average monthly housing payment: $842
  • Average annual income: $61,727

15. Iowa

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.68 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $202
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $367
  • Average monthly housing payment: $751
  • Average annual income: $55,226

16. New Mexico

noina / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.71 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $184
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $336
  • Average monthly housing payment: $787
  • Average annual income: $54,636

17. Nevada

Las Vegas street sceneTupungato / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.77 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $234
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $430
  • Average monthly housing payment: $966
  • Average annual income: $67,993

18. Wisconsin

Wisconsin farmers market.Steven Liveoak / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.97 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $215
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $393
  • Average monthly housing payment: $771
  • Average annual income: $57,126

19. Texas

John Pesina / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 28.99 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $203
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $339
  • Average monthly housing payment: $926
  • Average annual income: $60,765

20. Utah

My Good Images / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.07 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $187
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $322
  • Average monthly housing payment: $947
  • Average annual income: $60,108

21. Connecticut

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.09 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $231
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $415
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,006
  • Average annual income: $68,145

22. New York

Nighttime in Times Square, New York City.Valerii Iavtushenko / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.34 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $207
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $394
  • Average monthly housing payment: $979
  • Average annual income: $64,613

23. Oklahoma

RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.35 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $202
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $317
  • Average monthly housing payment: $732
  • Average annual income: $51,147

24. Illinois

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.35 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $221
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $367
  • Average monthly housing payment: $889
  • Average annual income: $60,385

25. Massachusetts

Byelikova Oksana / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.37 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $195
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $449
  • Average monthly housing payment: $991
  • Average annual income: $66,813

26. Alabama

LMspencer / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.41 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $186
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $290
  • Average monthly housing payment: $630
  • Average annual income: $45,123

27. Louisiana

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.52 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $157
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $284
  • Average monthly housing payment: $706
  • Average annual income: $46,629

28. New Hampshire

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.55 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $209
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $418
  • Average monthly housing payment: $926
  • Average annual income: $63,071

29. Arizona

BCFC / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.58

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $197
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $340
  • Average monthly housing payment: $878
  • Average annual income: $57,412

30. South Carolina

Matt A. Claiborne / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.63 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $181
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $349
  • Average monthly housing payment: $732
  • Average annual income: $51,115

31. Minnesota

Oksana Tysovska / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.75 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $241
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $371
  • Average monthly housing payment: $899
  • Average annual income: $60,941

32. Nebraska

Nebraska farm.McElroy Art / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.80 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $213
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $364
  • Average monthly housing payment: $808
  • Average annual income: $55,773

33. Kansas

KSwinicki / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.85 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $204
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $338
  • Average monthly housing payment: $818
  • Average annual income: $54,677

34. Tennessee

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.90 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $196
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $349
  • Average monthly housing payment: $787
  • Average annual income: $53,464

35. Maryland

Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.92 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $227
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $405
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,084
  • Average annual income: $68,819

36. District of Columbia

Washington, D.C. traffic with Capitol Building in backgroundAtomazul / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.93 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $160
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $574
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,355
  • Average annual income: $83,769

37. California

sean-pavone / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 29.93 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $208
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $372
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,198
  • Average annual income: $71,277

38. South Dakota

robert cicchetti / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 30.30 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $201
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $351
  • Average monthly housing payment: $771
  • Average annual income: $52,390

39. Idaho

Wollertz / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 30.37 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $207
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $356
  • Average monthly housing payment: $858
  • Average annual income: $56,143

40. North Dakota

David Harmantas / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 30.50 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $190
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $312
  • Average monthly housing payment: $727
  • Average annual income: $48,351

41. Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyomingf11photo / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 30.71 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $195
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $308
  • Average monthly housing payment: $894
  • Average annual income: $54,594

42. Florida

Family playing on beach, silhouetteTom Wang / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 30.72 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $208
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $330
  • Average monthly housing payment: $893
  • Average annual income: $55,899

43. Maine

edella / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 30.78 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $194
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $451
  • Average monthly housing payment: $767
  • Average annual income: $55,047

44. Vermont

steve estvanik / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 31.03 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $184
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $412
  • Average monthly housing payment: $810
  • Average annual income: $54,377

45. Alaska

Claudiovidri / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 31.30 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $216
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $443
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,018
  • Average annual income: $64,304

46. Virginia

Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 31.35 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $216
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $369
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,031
  • Average annual income: $61,863

47. Montana

Karin Hildebrand Lau / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 32.06 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $188
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $354
  • Average monthly housing payment: $863
  • Average annual income: $52,587

48. Oregon

Joshua Rainey Photography / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 32.21 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $195
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $393
  • Average monthly housing payment: $973
  • Average annual income: $58,147

49. Colorado

Studio 1One / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 32.22 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $215
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $378
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,076
  • Average annual income: $62,161

50. Washington

Marina Poushkina / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 32.40 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $221
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $385
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,096
  • Average annual income: $63,028

51. Hawaii

travelMaridav / Shutterstock.com

Monthly debt-to-income ratio: 36.15 percent

  • Average monthly credit card payment: $238
  • Average monthly student loan payment: $385
  • Average monthly housing payment: $1,091
  • Average annual income: $56,889

How are you handling your debt? Share your ideas in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Need some help getting your debt in hand? Check out our Solutions Center.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman @DLFreedman
A former newspaper journalist, Donna Freedman has been a staff writer for MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly, and freelanced for a wide variety of online and print publications. She got a ... More

Comments

694 Active Deals

More Deals