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A state of good budgeters: Minnesota ranks high for 'financial well-being'

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Healthy finances equals healthy living, according to a national survey, and Minnesota households are among the most thriving in the country.

Minnesota came in sixth in the Gallup Heathways "Financial Well-Being Rankings" for 2014 – it looks at how happy people are with their finances and if can afford everything they need.

Based on responses to more than 170,000 phone interviews carried out across the country last year, Minnesota scored high in all five categories: residents' ability to buy food, pay for healthcare, have money to "do everything they want to do," how much they worry about money, and how satisfied they are with their standard of living compared to their friends.

According to the results, Minnesotans are least concerned about having enough money to pay for food – with the state ranking second in that category. They also worry less about money compared to all but those living in Alaska and North Dakota.

Speaking of North Dakota, the oil-rich state finished 3rd overall in the rankings, behind only Hawaii (1st) and Alaska (2nd).

Here's how Minnesota shaped up in each category:

  • Residents have enough money to eat: 2nd
  • Enough money to pay for healthcare: 4th
  • Enough money to do what they want: 5th
  • In the last 7 days, have they worried about money: 3rd
  • Compared to people they spend time with, are they satisfied with their standard of living: 8th

Much of Minnesota's good performance could be down to its ability to budget. The Washington Post reports on a survey by GoBankingRates which found that Minnesota was the fourth most financially-savvy state.

This survey looked at how good residents were at saving for emergencies, keeping up with debt payments, how often they used sources of credit like payday loans, and what policies it had in place to teach children health financial habits.

High salaries don't guarantee financial well-being

Gallup Heathways contends that financial well-being is "an often overlooked determinant of overall health, medical costs and workplace performance."

In other words, if you're happy with your finances, you are less likely to be depressed, obese, or have high blood pressure – as well as being more likely to eat fresh produce and exercise, and less likely to smoke.

The thing is, just because Minnesota ranked sixth overall, it doesn't necessarily mean that the state is in good health financially.

That's because on average nationally, most Americans aren't doing well. The poll found just 39 percent of Americans "are thriving in financial well-being," meaning potentially 61 percent of us are struggling.

The poll points out that it isn't about whether they think people earn enough money, it's whether the money they do earn is managed in a way that reduces stress and boosts security.

And it points out that even higher earners are liable to struggle, with 43 percent of those nationally earning more than $120,000 a year admitting to struggling with their financial well-being.

This could be because they have high levels of debt, or no financial plan, which means they are more stressed and less secure than good budgeters on lower salaries.

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