With median credit card debt of $1,854, New Yorkers, statewide, ranked among the lowest in the country for outstanding balances.
Personal finance website WalletHub recently released its annual report on states with the highest and lowest credit card debts. New York clocked in as the fifth lowest state in the nation, behind Hawaii, Alabama, Mississippi and, with the lowest amount, South Dakota.
To reach a zero-balance, the average New York State resident would have to pay $131 in finance charges, according to the analysis. Researchers within the organization also estimate it would take the average New Yorker 10 months and 8 days to reach that point.
WalletHub’s study comes at a time when a growing number of Americans are amassing swelling credit card debt. At the beginning of the year, statistics pegged U.S. residents’ collective debts at $900 billion.
While the January figure represented a slight decline, year-over-year from the beginning of 2020, WalletHub analysts are anticipating total credit card debt at the end of the year to increase $60 billon, meaning a total balance of $960 billion.
In the study, Adam McCann, financial writer with WalletHub, said credit card debt is not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison from one corner of the country to the next.
“Americans aren’t all in the same boat when it comes to credit card debt,” McCann wrote. “People in some states charge less than others, whether because they have been less impacted by the pandemic, are more responsible about their finances or a number of other factors.”
In the study, WalletHub analysts asked a number of financial experts – including several in New Jersey and New York – to weigh in on the overall state of Americans’ credit card debts.
While there have been multiple rounds of government stimulus checks, ongoing enhanced unemployment benefits since the early days of the pandemic nearly a year-and-a-half ago and a strong labor market, reports of financial distress at the hands of COVID-19 have continued surfacing.
To that end, the importance of creating a cash reserve system is increasingly important, Lawrence White, a professor at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, said.
Speaking specifically to pandemic-related financial hardships, White said, “There need to be adjustments in spending that are commensurate with those setbacks. And having a ‘rainy day fund’ … is worthwhile. But, again, this means adjusting spending, to create and preserve – and replenish, when necessary – that fund.”
Anand Goel, an associate professor at Hoboken-based Stevens Institute of Technology’s School of Business, said COVID-19 shines renewed light on the continued need to prepare financially for unexpected circumstances.
“Automated paycheck deductions are one of the best ways to increase savings,” Goel said. “Financially responsible behavior does not mean giving up all discretionary spending, just prioritizing how you allocate your money to different expenses and saving accounts.”
Goel also suggested consumers consider harnessing the latest in technology, such as app-based programs that provide a big-picture look at personal finances, to assist with planning and pointing out savings opportunities.
The five locales with the highest levels of collective credit card debt, according to WalletHub, are Vermont, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Montana and, in the top spot, Alaska.
This article was originally posted on New Yorkers hold some of the lowest credit card debt in country, according to study