From the Star Ledger:
New Jersey residents are in better financial shape than most others across the country, according to a new study by one of Wall Street’s regulators.
But the results still show Garden Staters need to do more to make themselves secure financially.
The nationwide survey, conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s investor education arm, has found that New Jerseyans are more likely than most to spend less than what they earn, set aside money for rainy days and save for their children’s education.
About 46 percent of New Jerseyans said they don’t spend above their paycheck, while 45 percent have an emergency fund. Meanwhile, 40 percent of those with dependent children have a college fund for their kids. By comparison, 41 percent of people across the country said they spend less than what they earn, while 40 percent have a rainy day fund. Just 34 percent said they are saving for college for their kids.
Similarly, New Jerseyans are more likely to pay off debts than the rest of the country: 55 percent say they pay off their credit card each month, compared with 49 percent nationwide. Additionally, 19 percent of New Jerseyans said they have overdue medical bills, compared with the 26 percent nationwide.
Gerri Walsh, president of FINRA’s Investor Education Foundation, said the current survey data do not say why New Jersey leads the pack. But factors such as higher levels of income and education tend to be tied to stronger financial capabilities, she said.
“That may well be the case in New Jersey,” she said.
One surprising result was that New Jersey — hard-hit as it was by the housing crisis — scored a slightly better-than-average result when it came to homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage. Just 13 percent said they owe more on their home than what it was worth, compared with 14 percent nationally.
Still, there’s work to be done, Walsh said. About 31 percent New Jersey respondents said they underwent “a large unexpected drop” in income over the prior year. Yet Walsh noted that half of the state’s respondents said they did not have an emergency fund for hard times.