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These Are the Best and Worst States for Managing Money

Jan 14, 2016

If you live in Montana, chances are you're good with a buck.

The Big Sky State ranked No. 1 for managing money, according to a report released Thursday by credit card comparison site CreditCards.com. North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, and Vermont rounded out the top five. The worst? Maryland, joined at the bottom by Washington, D.C., Alaska, Virginia, and Texas.

To come up with the list, CreditCards.com compared consumers' average credit scores with median household income. The higher a state's credit scores relative to income, the better the rank.

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Montana's median household income of $44,938—below the national average of $51,849—makes it the 41st-ranked state in terms of income. However, its credit score of 686.5 is the 11th highest in the country.

And Montanans, perhaps owing to their rural lifestyle, don't carry a lot of credit card debt. The average credit card balance is $4,143—6% below the national average—and the credit utilization rate, or how much of a card's credit limit is in use, is one of the lowest in the nation at 27%.

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At the other end of the spectrum, Maryland's average household income of $69,071 is the second highest in the country, but its credit score ranks 31st, below the U.S. average of 669. And its credit utilization rate of 32% is high, a sign that even well-off Marylanders can have trouble making ends meet.

Effective money management also is helped by a state's strong economy; Montana, for instance, has an unemployment rate of 4%, a percentage point below the national average.

Check out this interactive map to see how your state stacks up.

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