Geography isn’t necessarily destiny, but where you live can certainly have an influence on your financial well-being. Living costs vary tremendously from place to place, and creditors often use geographical information to tailor their products and services.
To make matters even more confusing, the laws that govern the use and provision of credit vary widely from state to state. The laws that govern the sorts of debt relief services that National Debt Relief provides are subject to considerable variation as well. We’ll discuss many of these considerations in the following paragraphs.
Most Expensive States for Consumers
Although the exact lineup and order changes by year, certain states consistently find themselves cited as particularly expensive places to live and work. According to a recent study by CNBC and Yahoo Finance, these are the 10 most expensive places to live in the United States:
- New Hampshire: In recent years, New Hampshire has developed into a suburban haven for residents who wish to escape high taxes and expensive real estate prices in the Boston area. Unfortunately, the influx of new arrivals has put strain on the state’s economy and caused its living costs to skyrocket. As these newcomers take out mortgages and use credit cards to finance their moves, personal debt has become a problem as well.
- Massachusetts: From scarce, expensive land to long, expensive commutes, the Bay State shares many of New Hampshire’s problems. With a larger population and higher taxes, Massachusetts puts even more strain on its residents.
- Hawaii: It’s no surprise that Hawaii routinely makes these “most expensive states” lists. Since it’s thousands of miles from the U.S. mainland, local companies must pay a pretty penny to ship fuel, food and other items here. Land is also expensive.
- Alaska: The Last Frontier suffers from many of the same strains as Hawaii. As we’ll discuss, Alaskans have the country’s highest rates of personal debt.
- New Jersey: Although New Jersey is one of the most affluent and dynamic states in the country, it’s beset by sky-high land prices, high taxes and unusually costly medical services.
- California: Due to scarce land and tight environmental regulations, California has some of the nation’s highest real estate costs and gas prices.
- Maryland: Maryland’s densely packed cities and proximity to the national capital make it a magnet for affluent consumers. However, the state’s strong economy has resulted in price increases for many basic goods.
- Connecticut: Strict zoning laws and long commute times put financial strain on the state’s homeowners.
- New York: For residents of the New York City area, it seems like everything is more expensive than it should be. Upstate residents enjoy lower living costs, but energy costs remain high throughout the state.
- Illinois: With high property, sales and income taxes, Illinois puts financial strain on homeowners and renters alike.
No matter how well their residents manage their finances, the above-mentioned states are expensive. Residents who wish to maintain their living standards and provide top-notch opportunities for their children often have to take out onerous personal credit lines and rack up high-interest credit card bills. Through no fault of their own, many such folks find themselves in dire financial straits.
Credit Card Debt by State
Surprisingly, not all of these states are known for high credit usage. Since there are many factors that lead to financial over-extension, it’s crucial for consumers to take a balanced approach to their finances. The following states are known for having particularly high rates of personal credit card debt:
- Alaska: This state’s high living costs and relatively undeveloped banking system encourage residents to lean on their credit cards for support with basic purchases.
- Georgia: Although Georgia has low land prices, long commutes and high personal consumption rates encourage residents to depend on their credit cards.
- Illinois: Unsurprisingly, expensive Illinois has one of the highest rates of credit card debt in the country.
- Texas: A booming economy has encouraged optimistic residents to use their credit cards for basic purchases.
- Arizona: Although this state’s economy is driven by real estate and services, its high rate of personal consumption has made credit card debt a fact of life here.
By contrast, Midwestern states like Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas tend to have lower rates of credit card usage than the above-mentioned states. However, debt can strike anyone at any time.
Here is a complete list of average credit card debt by state. Take a look to see how your state ranks.
- Alaska $6,910
- Colorado $5,625
- Connecticut $5,617
- North Carolina $5,548
- District of Columbia $5,499
- New Jersey $5,484
- South Carolina $5,389
- Maryland $5,345
- Georgia $5,343
- Virginia $5,329
- New Hampshire $5,327
- Washington $5,269
- Delaware $5,234
- Texas $5,173
- Illinois $5,166
- Massachusetts $5,142
- Hawaii $5,141
- Rhode Island $5,102
- Arizona $5,011
- New York $4,952
- California $4,937
- New Mexico $4,920
- Florida $4,861
- Oklahoma $4,854
- Nevada $4,851
- Kansas $4,830
- Ohio $4,817
- Alabama $4,817
- Maine $4,797
- Missouri $4,796
- Wyoming $4,789
- Louisiana $4,773
- Oregon $4,773
- Vermont $4,693
- Tennessee $4,669
- Pennsylvania $4,629
- Mississippi $4,594
- Indiana $4,577
- Montana $4,565
- Utah $4,559
- Michigan $4,558
- Idaho $4,549
- Minnesota $4,541
- Arkansas $4,535
- Kentucky $4,436
- Wisconsin $4,327
- West Virginia $4,315
- Nebraska $4,298
- South Dakota $4,236
- North Dakota $4,011
- Iowa $3,885
Can credit card debt ever be a good thing?
Can the fact that credit card debt is holding relatively steady be a good thing? When consumers spend more this puts the economy on a positive track. More spending leads to more jobs and higher incomes. In turn, this can lead to higher spending levels. But if employment and wages are improving sluggishly as they currently are this could be a signal that people are borrowing to make ends meet and not because consumer confidence is increasing. But whether or not this is true may be irrelevant so far as you’re concerned. If you’re seeing your debt increase, especially credit card debt, this can only be a bad signal. The average American household now carries $15,611 in credit card debt. How do you stack up against this number? If your household is carrying this much credit card debt or even more it’s important that you get to work to reduce it. On the other hand, if your household is carrying substantially less then $15,611, give yourself a pat on the back.
Worst Cities For Debt
Debt is much like the air around us. It knows no boundaries. It openly embraces customers and only has one weakness. It’s that there must be demand for debt for it to exist. Debt reduction became a top priority for American households during the recent financial crisis. Unfortunately cities across the nation are increasing their debt liability once again. In fact, one recent study revealed that in 19 of the top 20 major US metropolitan markets debt levels rose over the past four years. This might surprise you but Detroit showed the least amount of household debt with an average of $23,604 and was the only city showing a decline in debt.
Here are the 10 worst cities for debt based on personal loans, credit card debt, auto loans and student loans.
- Dallas, Texas: Average debt per consumer: $28,240
- Houston, Texas: Average debt per consumer: $28,105
- Washington DC: Average debt per consumer: $27,668
- Seattle, Washington: Average debt per consumer: $27,279
- Baltimore, Maryland: Average debt per consumer: $27,27
- Phoenix, Arizona: Average debt per consumer: $27,267
- Denver, Colorado: Average debt per consumer: $27,090
- Atlanta Georgia: Average debt per consumer: $26,940
- St. Louis, Missouri: Average debt per consumer: $26,721
- Chicago, Illinois: Average debt per consumer: $26,429
There have been other reports showing that debt is definitely making a comeback. As an example of this, the Federal Reserve reported earlier this year that total household that, including student loans, credit cards, auto loans and mortgages, reached 11.5 2 trillion of the end of 2013. This was up $180 trillion from the previous year.
Household Debt by State
Credit card debt isn’t the only type of obligation that can set consumers back. Broader measures of household debt tend to include obligations like personal credit lines, auto loans, mortgages, medical bills, judgments and other credit vehicles. States with the highest rates of total household debt include:
- Wyoming: Although Wyoming’s economy is booming, its remote location and poor transportation network make cars, doctors, groceries and homes more expensive.
- Texas: The average outstanding auto loan in Texas totals more than $20,000, and additional consumer debts push its total household debt rate past $26,000.
- Oklahoma: A variety of factors contribute to Oklahoma’s high personal debt rates, including low per-capita incomes and scarce staples.
- Colorado: Coloradans are especially prone to mortgage-related debt.
- South Dakota: Although it generally has low living costs, South Dakota has very high rates of credit card usage.
Fortunately, debt-burdened consumers have plenty of options at their fingertips.
What Comes Next?
National Debt Relief is committed to improving the financial literacy and well-being of Americans from coast to coast. We offer powerful debt relief solutions that can be custom-tailored to the needs of our clients. Since reducing debt is an important step on the road to financial stability and prosperity, the entire National Debt Relief team is proud to provide meaningful help that can produce lasting results.
While every case is different, we’ve already helped thousands of Americans manage their debts and begin their journeys back to financial health. The debt counselors and customer-contact professionals at National Debt Relief stand ready to assist our clients at every step of the debt relief process and can answer any questions that arise during its course.
It’s important to note that National Debt Relief doesn’t operate in every U.S. state. However, we do provide our services in the vast majority of the country’s jurisdictions.
For folks who live in the states that we haven’t yet reached, we’re happy to provide information about alternative debt relief methods as well as general financial guidance that has proven useful for past and present clients.
In fact, our main site contains a wealth of relevant information about frugal living, long-term financial planning, self-managed debt reduction strategies and other important topics. Before you make a decision about how to manage your personal debt issues, take some time to peruse our ever-growing library of help topics.