Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

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Financial fitness has little or nothing to do with how much you spend on gym memberships each month. But there are plenty of ways to measure financial fitness, from monitoring personal bill-paying activity to tracking cost of living regionally.

LendingTree researchers devised financial fitness scores for the 100 largest U.S. metros, taking into account five individual factors (such as the percentage of income that goes toward owning or renting a home and the percentage of people with at least one maxed-out credit card) and four community factors (such as unemployment rates and real personal income).

Two Utah metros come out at the top, while the two largest metros in the U.S. come out at the bottom. Here’s what else researchers learned.

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Key findings

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Utah steals the show when it comes to financial fitness, with Ogden and Provo taking the first and second spots with final scores of 81.4 and 77.5, respectively. Salt Lake City makes a respectable showing at No. 8 with a final score of 70.2.
  • Madison, Wisconsin rounds out the top three, with a final score of 76.5. Madison has one of the lowest unemployment rates — 3.5% — across the 100 metros examined.
  • The two largest metros in the U.S. — New York and Los Angeles — finish at the bottom, with financial fitness scores of 32.5 and 34.6, respectively.
  • McAllen, Texas, comes in third to last with a final score of 36.3. Despite being the cheapest place to live, this Texas metro has the lowest real personal income and the highest unemployment rate, so it’s no surprise that personal struggles with bills and debt follow.

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Methodology

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

LendingTree analysts scored the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across two categories — community score and individual score — to determine the overall financial fitness of those MSAs.

These two scores were averaged to create a final score, upon which the MSAs were ranked from highest to lowest. The highest possible scores for each category and the final score was 100, and the lowest was zero.

Each metric was first scored according to its relation to the best value (100 points) and the worst value (0 points) among the metros. These metrics were then averaged according to the weights below to create the category score. The final score was equally weighted between the community and individual scores.

In addition to publicly available sources, researchers reviewed more than 300,000 anonymized credit reports of LendingTree app users. The composite metrics represent the latest data available.

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Tied- 49. Detroit

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 59
  • Community Score: 56.6
  • Individual Score: 61.4

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tied- 49. Baltimore

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 59
  • Community Score: 55.9
  • Individual Score: 62

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

48. Worcester, Maine

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 59.2
  • Community Score: 51.6
  • Individual Score: 66.8

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tied- 46. Richmond, Virginia

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 59.7
  • Community Score: 58.3
  • Individual Score: 61.1

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tied- 46. Deltona, Florida

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 59.7
  • Community Score: 59.6
  • Individual Score: 59.8

Image Credit: Arrangements-Photography/istockphoto.

45. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 60.7
  • Community Score: 61.4
  • Individual Score: 60

Image Credit: Kruck20 / iStock.

44. Tucson, Arizona

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 60.8
  • Community Score: 51
  • Individual Score: 70.6

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Tied- 42. Pittsburgh

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 60.9
  • Community Score: 49.5
  • Individual Score: 72.2

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tied- 42. Cleveland

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 60.9
  • Community Score: 50.2
  • Individual Score: 71.6

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

41. Phoenix

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 61
  • Community Score: 52.6
  • Individual Score: 69.3

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

40. Cape Coral, Florida

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 61.2
  • Community Score: 57
  • Individual Score: 65.4

Image Credit: felixmizioznikov /iStock.

39. Winston, North Carolina

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 61.9
  • Community Score: 56.2
  • Individual Score: 67.6

Image Credit: BSPollard/istockphoto.

38. Seattle

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 62.6
  • Community Score: 53
  • Individual Score: 72.2

Image Credit: aiisha5 / iStock.

37. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 62.7
  • Community Score: 61.7
  • Individual Score: 63.6

Image Credit: Johnny Warrior / iStock.

36. Milwaukee

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 62.9
  • Community Score: 59.3
  • Individual Score: 66.5

Image Credit: iStock.

Tied – 34. Oklahoma City

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 63.3
  • Community Score: 62.3
  • Individual Score: 64.3

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tied -34. Austin, Texas

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 63.3
  • Community Score: 60
  • Individual Score: 66.5

Image Credit: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / iStock.

Tied- 32. Nashville

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 63.4
  • Community Score: 64.8
  • Individual Score: 61.9

Image Credit: iStock/Vito Palmisano.

Tied – 32. Charlotte, North Carolina

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 63.4
  • Community Score: 55.8
  • Individual Score: 70.9

Image Credit: Kruck20 / iStock.

31. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 63.7
  • Community Score: 57.3
  • Individual Score: 70.1

Image Credit: Jacob Boomsma / iStock.

30. Palm Bay, Florida

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 64.1
  • Community Score: 63.3
  • Individual Score: 64.8

Image Credit: ©TripAdvisor.

29. Portland, Oregon

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 64.3
  • Community Score: 55.3
  • Individual Score: 73.2

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

28. Toledo, Ohio

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 64.4
  • Community Score: 56.6
  • Individual Score: 72.2

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

27. Knoxville, Tennessee

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 64.5
  • Community Score: 61
  • Individual Score: 68

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

26. Durham, North Carolina

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 64.7
  • Community Score: 56.8
  • Individual Score: 72.5

Image Credit: Sean Pavone / iStock.

25. Louisville

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 64.8
  • Community Score: 62.2
  • Individual Score: 67.3

Image Credit: iStock/alexeys.

24. Dayton, Ohio

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 65.2
  • Community Score: 60.9
  • Individual Score: 69.4

Image Credit: Nicholas Smith / iStock.

23. Denver

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 65.5
  • Community Score: 55
  • Individual Score: 75.9

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

22. Albany, New York

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 65.8
  • Community Score: 61.7
  • Individual Score: 69.8

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

21. Wichita, Kansas

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 66
  • Community Score: 61.1
  • Individual Score: 70.8

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

20. Akron, Ohio

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 66.1
  • Community Score: 57.1
  • Individual Score: 75

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19. Greenville, South Carolina

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 66.9
  • Community Score: 60.7
  • Individual Score: 73

Image Credit: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock.

18. Columbus, Ohio

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 67
  • Community Score: 62.1
  • Individual Score: 71.8

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

17. North Port, Florida

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 67.6
  • Community Score: 58.4
  • Individual Score: 76.7

Image Credit: KarolinaBorkowski/istockphoto.

16. San Jose, California

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 67.7
  • Community Score: 54.4
  • Individual Score: 81

Image Credit: iStock/StellaMc.

15. St. Louis

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 68.1
  • Community Score: 61.4
  • Individual Score: 74.8

Image Credit: iStock.

14. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 68.2
  • Community Score: 64
  • Individual Score: 72.3

Image Credit: Davel5957/istockphoto.

13. Indianapolis

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 69.1
  • Community Score: 63
  • Individual Score: 75.2

Image Credit: f11photo / iStock.

12. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 69.2
  • Community Score: 59.8
  • Individual Score: 78.5

Image Credit: Sean Pavone / iStock.

11. Kansas City, Missouri

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 69.4
  • Community Score: 63.5
  • Individual Score: 75.3

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tied – 9. Minneapolis

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 69.9
  • Community Score: 64.4
  • Individual Score: 75.4

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Tied- 9. Cincinnati

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 69.9
  • Community Score: 61.9
  • Individual Score: 77.9

Image Credit: aceshot / iStock.

8. Salt Lake City

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 70.2
  • Community Score: 72.3
  • Individual Score: 68

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

7- Des Moines, Iowa

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 70.8
  • Community Score: 69.8
  • Individual Score: 71.7

Image Credit: dangarneau / iStock.

6- Omaha, Nebraska

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 71.6
  • Community Score: 72.5
  • Individual Score: 70.6

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

5. Raleigh, North Carolina

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 72
  • Community Score: 65.1
  • Individual Score: 78.8

Image Credit: traveler1116/istockphoto.

4. Boise, Idaho

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 73.2
  • Community Score: 64.7
  • Individual Score: 81.6

Image Credit: Sean Pavone/iStock.

3- Madison, Wisconsin

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 76.5
  • Community Score: 73.1
  • Individual Score: 79.8

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

2- Provo, Utah

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 77.5
  • Community Score: 75.6
  • Individual Score: 79.3

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto.

1- Ogden, Utah

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

  • Final Score: 81.4
  • Community Score: 81.8
  • Individual Score: 80.9

Image Credit: Scott Catron from Sandy, Utah, USA .

4 financial fitness tips

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

Location can certainly help you maintain financial fitness, but your personal habits will follow wherever you go, so make sure yours are helping you meet your financial goals.

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1. Identify your goals

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

Achieving overall financial fitness often means addressing several different problem areas. Maybe you don’t have credit card debt but you struggle to keep a solid emergency savings.

“Knowing what you want most from your money is the vital first step,” LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz said. “You have to know where you want to go before you can figure out how to get there.”

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2. Make a plan

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

Once you’ve identified your goals, you’ll want to lay out a plan of how to achieve them.

“If you don’t know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your household each month, it’s really tough to make a meaningful plan for your financial future,” he said.

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3. Stay the course

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

Life can often impede on your budget, whether that means a sudden loss of income or another major unexpected expense. Financial fitness won’t stop those things from happening, but it can help mitigate the effects if you’re consistently working to improve your situation.

“Financial fitness is about good habits done over a long stretch of time,” Schulz said. “It is absolutely a marathon rather than a sprint.”

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4. Use financial tools to your advantage

Financial fitness in America: How do you stack up?

You might not think taking out a personal loan can help you get out of debt, but Schulz said debt consolidation loans can work for people juggling multiple payments.

“Not only can it knock down your interest rate, it can streamline your payments,” he said. “Instead of dealing with three or four different creditors, you can consolidate them into one loan, make one single payment and simplify your financial life tremendously.”

Related:

This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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