Are Americans Getting Smarter with their Personal Finances?

It depends on your income, education and where you live, a new study says.

Americans are getting better at handling their finances, but most consumers remain behind an economic eight ball when it comes to setting aside money for emergencies and being able to pay off their consumer debt, according to a study released May 29.

The Financial Capability study, which examined economic health on a state-by-state basis by surveying more than 25,000 Americans last fall, found that just 41% of Americans spend less than they earn, and 56% have not set aside even three months’ worth of income to handle financial emergencies.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To continue reading this article
please register for free

This is different from signing in to your print subscription

Why am I seeing this? Find out more here

Kathy Kristof
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Kristof, editor of, is an award-winning financial journalist, who writes regularly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and CBS MoneyWatch. She's the author of Investing 101, Taming the Tuition Tiger and Kathy Kristof's Complete Book of Dollars and Sense. But perhaps her biggest claim to fame is that she was once a Jeopardy question: Kathy Kristof replaced what famous personal finance columnist, who died in 1991? Answer: Sylvia Porter.