Personal Finance Studies

To further our mission of empowering people to make smarter financial decisions, we regularly produce personal finance studies. Our data experts analyze the numbers on topics related to retirement, investing and wealth. We hope to get people thinking and talking about these topics so they are able to take action and meet their specific financial goals.

Best Places to Save for Retirement 2019

To find the places where people can best prepare to retire we considered four factors: paycheck friendliness, 401(k) plan performance, public pension plan performance and the number of financial advisors per capita. We reviewed this data for every county in the country. Read More...

Places with the Most Incoming Investments

There are several ways individuals, governments and businesses can invest money in a county or region. Our study aims to capture the places across the country that are receiving the most incoming investments in business, real estate, government and the local economy as a whole. To do this we looked at four factors: business establishment growth, GDP growth, new building permits and federal funding. Read More...

Places With the Best Budgeters by State

Where do the best budgeters live? To answer this question, we looked at three factors: how much people spend as a percent of personal income, average net wealth as a percent of personal income and bankruptcies per 1,000 people. Read More...

Most Generous Counties by State

Which counties have the most generous residents? To answer this question, we looked at two factors: how much people donate as a percentage of their net income, and the proportion of people in a given county who made charitable donations. Read More...

Places With the Highest Net Worth by State

Our study aims to find the places in the United States where residents have the highest net worth. To do this, we calculated the ratio of net worth to per capita income for every county. This number can serve as insight into how much people have saved or invested relative to their income level. Read More...

Best Places to Save for Retirement by State

To find the counties best prepared for retirement we looked at four factors: a paycheck friendliness score, a 401(k) plan performance score, a public pension plan performance score and a score for the number of financial advisors per capita. We reviewed this data for every county in the country. Read More...

Best Places for New Businesses - 2019 Edition

Starting a new business can be a daunting venture. It always carries risk, and no matter how prepared you think you are, success isn’t a guarantee. There are some places in the country, though, that are more hospitable to new businesses than others. To find the cities where entrepreneurs should think about starting their business ventures, SmartAsset analyzed the data and found the cities that are best for new businesses. Read More...

Most Affordable Cities for an Early Retirement – 2019 Edition

How much do you need to retire comfortably? How much more do you need if you want to retire comfortably and early? For people retiring in their mid-60s, AARP suggests that your savings should amount to 10 to 12 times your current income. However, retiring early means that your savings may need to be even higher. Read More...

The Best Cities for an Active Retirement – 2019 Edition

Retiring doesn’t have to mean slowing down from your usual pace. There are plenty of places in the U.S. where it’s easy to have an active retirement. Certain cities are more walkable than others, though, or offer more options in terms of recreation centers and gyms as well as golf courses. The more options available, the easier it is to stay active in your retirement. Read More...

Top 10 Cities for a Worktirement – 2019 Edition

When you imagine retirement, you might picture travel, cocktails by the pool and rounds of golf. For a lot of Americans, though, retirement doesn’t mean the complete end of work - it just means scaling back their hours or perhaps taking on a newer, less stressful job. Life as a retiree in America is expensive, and unless you were a prudent saver, you may need to keep earning some form of income to get by in your golden years. To that end, SmartAsset has once again ranked the best cities for worktirement in the country. Read More...

Investment Returns Needed to Meet Retirement Goals – 2019 Edition

Saving for retirement is an important goal no matter your age. But if you’re like most Americans, you probably haven’t saved much yet. Investing is a necessary part of building your retirement nest egg. The stock market usually offers better returns than standard savings accounts, which may leave you wondering how aggressively you should invest for your future and what returns you actually need to reach your goals. SmartAsset ran the numbers for a couple of different scenarios to help you answer these important questions. Read More...

Where Rich People Are Moving - 2019 Edition

Rich people are flocking to Florida. Of all U.S. states, the Sunshine State far and away has the greatest number of wealthy people moving there, particularly rich individuals over the age of 65. In general, states in the American South and West are popular destinations for the wealthy, as are tax-friendly states. On the other hand, states that aren't especially tax-friendly and that tend to have higher costs of living are losing more rich people than they're gaining. New York, the lowest-ranking state on our list, had a negative net inflow of wealthy individuals (-21,501), according to the latest IRS data. Read More...

Best Places to Become Wealthy

We all dream of building wealth, but not all places provide the same opportunities as others. If joining the highest earners is your goal, you’ll probably want to live in a location that offers access to high-paying jobs and affordable housing. To help you plan your financial rise, we looked at job- and housing-related metrics to determine the best places for you to join the wealthy residents at the top of the economic ladder. Read More...

Places With the Highest Life Expectancy

As of 2017, the average American who made it to the average retirement age of 65 could look forward to another 19.5 years of life. But being able to support oneself financially through that time is another question. After all, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average 65-and-older American household spends nearly $50,000 per year. If you live to 95 but only budget for living until 85, that is an extra $500,000 gap you’ll need to bridge. Below, we rank the counties with the longest life expectancy. Read More...

Places With the Most Passive Income

While you are likely spending the bulk of your waking hours at work actively earning your paycheck, you can also get a major boost by growing your net worth passively in interest-generating savings accounts and through capital gains from the market. But residents in cities across the U.S. are not taking advantage of passive income in equal measure. We analyzed IRS data to find the places where Americans are most reaping the rewards of passive income. Read More...

Cities Where Residents Need to Start Planning for Retirement the Most

Some two-thirds of Americans between 21 and 32 have not saved any money for retirement, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security. And given that Fidelity calculates the average couple retiring now will need $280,000 to cover healthcare costs alone, it’s important for workers earlier in their careers to start building their nest eggs. That’s harder to do if you’re housing-cost-burdened, which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines as paying more than 30% of income on housing. Of course, some cities with a younger average population and cheaper housing costs may more easily allow residents to become homeowners and sock away more money for their golden years. Whereas other cities, with an older population that’s more likely to be housing-cost-burdened, may present particular challenges to save for retirement with a shorter time horizon. Read More...

Where Seniors Are Most Prepared for Retirement

More than a fifth of Americans have nothing saved for retirement, according to a Northwestern Mutual survey. What’s more, analysis from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows that families with money parked in retirement accounts only have $1,100 saved up, on average. But in some locales, retirees are bucking the trend and living a life full of the pleasures that come with careful retirement planning and financial security. Read More...

States Most Dependent on the Federal Government – 2019 Edition

Whether directly or indirectly, the federal government plays an impactful role in every state’s economy. Federal employees can make up anywhere from 1% to 10% of a state’s workforce, and a significant portion of a state’s revenue comes from the federal government. In light of the 2019 government shutdown, we decided to look at which states have more of a reliance on the federal government than others. Read More...

Seniors Rely on Social Security the Most – 2019 Edition

According to a 2018 Northwestern Mutual survey, 78% of Americans say they are concerned about not having enough saved for retirement. What’s more, 66% believe they will run out of their retirement funds while they are still alive. Those statistics suggest that many Americans will increasingly find themselves relying on Social Security into their old age. Not all seniors, though, are uniformly reliant on Social Security. Below, we look at where seniors are most dependent on Social Security. Read More...

Income Needed to Be Wealthy in America's Largest Cities

These days, if you want to be included among the ranks of wealthy Americans, you need to live in a household earning at least $121,116, according to the latest Census Bureau figures. In other words, your household must earn twice the nation’s median household income. But that figure is just the national estimate. Income disparities are so vast across the country that earning that amount makes you middle class in some cities but upper class in others. Below, we dig into data to find the income needed to be considered wealthy in the largest cities in America. Read More...

Places Where Residents Invest in IRAs the Most

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are attractive long-term savings vehicles, especially given that 35% of private sector workers aged 22 and older don’t have access to 401(k) plans, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. By paying into an IRA, you are not only making a smart, long-term investment, but you are also benefiting from tax-deferred contributions, meaning you don’t pay taxes on those funds until you make withdrawals in retirement. While investing in IRAs is a financially savvy move, not everyone across the U.S. takes advantage of this strategy in equal measure. Read More...

Places Where Residents Invest the Most

Studies show that more and more Americans, whether because of their own financial literacy or through the urging of financial advisors, are investing. Data from the Survey of Consumer Finances shows that 52% of families in the U.S. have assets in retirement accounts as of 2016, up from 37% in 1989. But not all Americans across the country invest at the same rate. Read More...

States Using Trusts the Most

Trusts are a smart way to pass on assets. First off, they allow the settlor, or trust creator, to ensure that the desired people and institutions inherit the right money and property when he or she has passed away. And as many financial advisors will tell you, trusts can also be a great way to lower the burden of estate and gift taxes. But thanks in part to laws surrounding trusts, some states are more popular places to set up trusts than others. Below, we look at data on trusts to find the states using trusts the most. Read More...

States With the Healthiest Pension Funds

For a long time, American workers typically relied on pensions to make ends meet in retirement. That scenario, of course, has grown less common with the disappearance of corporate pension plans and the rise of employee-funded 401(k) plans. Nevertheless, a good pension is still the gold standard of retirement plans, with guaranteed income for life. Governments have typically used pensions and other benefits to attract workers who may otherwise have taken higher paying private sector jobs. But many states now find themselves struggling to meet obligations they made years ago to workers, as some pensions lack long-term funding. Workers who find themselves out of a full pension may end up struggling to pay for their retirement without the help of a savvy financial advisor. In light of all of this, we wanted to discover which states have pensions that are in the best shape. Read More...

Best States for an Early Retirement

Retiring early is a dream many Americans have. But given all the complications of planning any retirement, let alone an early one, retiring early rarely becomes a reality for most Americans. One way to increase the probability that you can afford to retire a few years early is to settle in a state with a low cost of living. If you combine that with a savvy investment plan that a financial advisor designs for you, you can give yourself a pretty good shot at retiring ahead of schedule. Below, we look at these and other factors to rank the best states for an early retirement. Read More...

Places With the Most Six-Figure Earners

Earning $100,000 a year is something of a milestone in American society. Not many Americans manage it, but those who do stand a good chance of leading a financially secure life. They can take that robust income and sock away cash in a high-yield savings account and invest money with a financial advisor. Read More...

Best Cities for Retirees Who Want to Travel

Retirees love to travel. In fact, many workers spend their entire professional lives anticipating the dream vacations they'll take in their golden years. After all, to travel the world, you need time, something retirees have in abundance. But jet-setting can be an expensive hobby. Of course, with the right budgeting and financial management help from a financial advisor, you can still travel widely without depleting your retirement savings. In addition, being based in the right place can make travel cheaper and easier as you set off to far-flung locales in your post-work life. So below, we looked at data on access to travel, affordability and other metrics to rank the best cities for retirees who want to globe-trot. Read More...

Where It's Most Expensive to Fund Your Retirement Without Social Security

Social Security benefits go a long way in securing the livelihoods of American retirees. The number of retired workers and dependents receiving Social Security benefits has climbed to 46.1 million in 2018, up from 41.6 million in 2008. On average, these retired beneficiaries receive more than $1,400 in Social Security income per month. According to the Social Security Administration, 48% of elderly married couples and 69% of elderly unmarried persons receive at least 50% of their income from Social Security. But looking to the future, the retirees of tomorrow may be forced to rely on themselves and their financial advisors. After all, the Social Security Trust Fund is expected to run out by 2034. Then, Social Security will be able to provide about 77% of benefits from ongoing contributions. Read More...