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New Mexico Near Bottom of Financial Literacy Rankings

A recent survey ranks New Mexico residents 43rd in the country in terms of their financial literacy. (andresr/iStock)
A recent survey ranks New Mexico residents 43rd in the country in terms of their financial literacy. (andresr/iStock)
March 31, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. - A survey of financial literacy shows New Mexico residents rank poorly in understanding how to manage their money.

The state ranks 43rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia for its residents' money management skills, according to information from the online survey company WalletHub.

Jill Gonzales, an analyst with WalletHub, says they looked at a variety of financial literacy indicators and found New Mexico lacking.

"The percentage of people with a 'rainy day' fund is one of the lowest in the country," says Gonzales. "Thirty-three percent of all residents, so basically a third, have those type of funds. Eleven percent of the residents there have unbanked households and about 40 percent pay only the minimum on their credit card."

Gonzalez says other categories in which New Mexicans scored poorly was the rate of high school graduations and the rate of residents with bachelor's degrees.

She says April is National Financial Literacy Month, adding research shows a financially illiterate population can negatively affect a state's overall economy.

"Usually, the higher financial literacy we see someplace, it means the less foreclosures, the less unbanked homes, the less people borrowing from non-bank lenders, like payday loans, et cetera," she says. "So, typically the higher the score there, the better the economy of a state, in general."

Gonzales says, as a whole, Americans are doing poorly when it comes to their finances.

She says Americans have collectively racked up more than $150 billion in new credit card debt since 2012, and more than half do not have any type of emergency savings.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - NM