The 10 States With the Most Money Stress

Among the many reasons Hawaii would be a pleasant place to live, people there are pretty content with their financial situations. Living on the Hawaiian islands is by no means cheap — it costs a lot to import all the essentials — but in spite of that, Hawaiian residents feel the best about their ability to manage their finances to “reduce stress and increase security,” according to the 2014 Gallup-Healthways State of Well-Being rankings.

The same cannot be said of many other warm-weather states, particularly those in the South. The 10 states with the lowest financial well-being rankings are in that region, though many rank well in other well-being categories studied in the report. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is based on interviews with 176,702 people between Jan. 2 and Dec. 30, 2014, about how they regard their daily lives. Each state receives a ranking in five categories — purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being — which determine the overall ranking. As far as financial well-being is concerned, Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming residents are feeling great. People living in these 10 states aren’t as content.

North Carolina

Financial Well-Being Rank: 41
Overall Well-Being Rank: 19

It seems financial well-being is the great downfall of people living in North Carolina. It ranked in the top half of the other well-being categories, most notably at No. 8 for social well-being, which gave it the No. 19 spot overall. That’s the highest composite rank of the rest of the states in the bottom 10 of the financial well-being list.


Financial Well-Being Rank: 42
Overall Well-Being Rank: 43

Despite being home to Wal-Mart, the country’s largest company and employer, Arkansas’ ranking doesn’t reflect the company’s slogan, “Save Money. Live Better.” Its residents reported seemingly average feelings about their purpose, social and community well-being, but with a low level of financial satisfaction and the third-worst assessment of their physical well-being, Arkansans fall pretty low on the well-being index.

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West Virginia

Financial Well-Being Rank: 43
Overall Well-Being Rank: 50

Financial well-being is actually one of the better aspects of West Virginians’ lives — they reported better feelings only about their community (ranked 38th). West Virginia’s residents reported the worst feelings of any state about their purpose (“Liking what you do each day and being motivated to reach your goals”) and physical well-being (“Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily”).

South Carolina

Financial Well-Being Rank: 44
Overall Well-Being Rank: 22

South Carolina residents ranked in the top 10 for purpose (8th) and social (3rd) well-being, and feelings about community and physical well-being were pretty decent (23rd and 28th, respectively). The lack of confidence in managing their finances really dragged them down in the overall well-being rankings.


Financial Well-Being Rank: 45
Overall Well-Being Rank: 45

When compared to other states, Alabama didn’t shine in any category. Its best showing came in community well-being, ranking 31st among the 50 states.


Financial Well-Being Rank: 46
Overall Well-Being Rank: 49

Kentucky is the northernmost state on this list. More notable, perhaps, is that its residents feel bad about their purpose, worse about their social well-being and just as bad about their physical well-being. Community is the clear winner in Kentucky — it ranked 26th.


Financial Well-Being Rank: 47
Overall Well-Being Rank: 30

In addition to negative feelings about their finances, Georgians aren’t feeling great about their community (37th). The other three areas are average or a little better.


Financial Well-Being Rank: 48
Overall Well-Being Rank: 40

People in Louisiana do not lack a sense of purpose — they took the No. 9 slot on that scale — but everything else lags behind, particularly the financial well-being of its residents.

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Financial Well-Being Rank: 49
Overall Well-Being Rank: 44

People in Tennessee seem to feel best about their communities (28th), though that’s not saying a lot, considering the three areas in which it’s among the bottom 10 states: physical (42), social (44) and financial (49).

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Financial Well-Being Rank: 50
Overall Well-Being Rank: 46

At first glance of the overall Well-Being index, it was nice to see Mississippi wasn’t at the bottom. Mississippi tends to end up at the bottom of a lot of state rankings lists, much to the chagrin of its citizens. Of course, looking at the individual well-being areas, there was bound to be one. Mississippi residents seemed to be the most stressed about their economic conditions, though the state ranked 22nd in the purpose category. (It was in the bottom 10 in the remaining categories.)

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