Saving for retirement can be really tough—as evidenced by the number of people who have exactly $0 saved toward that goal.

While the ability to put money away varies from person to person, it can also change from region to region.

Lots of factors go into a worker’s ability to set money aside: everything from the unemployment rate in his or her home state and the business climate—whether companies feel that a retirement plan is an important part of an employee’s benefits package—to how many full-time, permanent jobs, complete with benefits, can be had.

If workers are stuck with part-time employment that probably doesn’t even pay enough to meet basic needs, they’ll have a tough time trying to fund an IRA if they don’t have access to a 401(k) at work.

Next-generation financial advisor Personal Capital did the heavy lifting in calculating which states’ residents did the best at saving for retirement, and which did the worst.

Last week we took a look at the 10 best states for retirement saving, and this week we’re checking out the other end of the spectrum. Here are the 10 states where the average savings for retirement is the lowest.


 Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (photo: AP)

1. Wyoming: $153,182

Wyoming has a low cost of living, which may have made residents believe that they won’t need all that much to get by in retirement.

But if unexpected medical bills or some other financial emergency intrudes on their rosy picture, that could change pretty quickly.

No matter how you look at it, Wyoming is at the bottom when it comes to putting aside money for retirement.


 Cattle and wind turbines in Oklahoma (photo: AP)

2. Oklahoma: $158,139

Oklahoma’s residents just aren’t putting enough away either.

The state’s economy is feeling the downward trend of the oil industry, with energy sector layoffs boosting unemployment in the state—doubtless a contributing factor to the low retirement savings rate.


Montana fire (photo: AP) 

3. Montana: $168,755

The folks in Big Sky Country aren’t doing quite as badly as Wyoming and Oklahoma, but they still haven’t been putting away anywhere near enough money to see them through retirement.

Low income, coupled with an income tax on what they make, gained Montanans the dubious distinction of winning a spot on’s list of the 10 worst states in the country to make a living.

So it’s probably not too surprising that they’re not saving for retirement—they’re having a hard enough time getting through today.


Washington, D.C. (photo: AP) 

4. Washington, D.C.: $177,865

A high cost of living, high taxes, and cutbacks in both military and federal civilian spending have all conspired to cause Washington’s economic growth to stall.

Still, you’d think that being so close to the government, with all its loud ballyhoo about concerns for retirement savings, might have induced area residents to put away more money for the day when they can leave the workplace.



5. North Dakota: $178,005

North Dakota’s economy thought it was in for a real boom, thanks to the demand for Bakken crude oil.

But the influx of workers and businesses in shale drilling hasn’t been good for the folks at the heart of it, with demand for services such as roadbuilding and maintenance, as well as those needed by the influx of workers, driving up the bills for local and state governments—as well as the cost of housing and office space.

Crime’s up, too—but retirement savings? Not so much, with North Dakotans finishing not just in the bottom 10 but in the bottom 5 in the country.

And it’s likely not to improve much as long as oil prices are at the bottom, too.



6. Hawaii: $180,360

Well, it’s kind of understandable that people wouldn’t be saving all that much in Hawaii toward retirement.

The cost of living is high, while salaries aren’t. Housing is really, really expensive (Location! Location! Location!).

So are taxes–so there’s not a whole heck of a lot left of an average salary once the bills are paid to put away for that day when you’ll actually be able to relax on the beach during prime time, so to speak.



7. South Dakota: $183,224

Here’s another state that found itself on the list of the 10 worst states in which to make a living.

The state has low unemployment, but that doesn’t seem to be translating into people saving part of their wages to fund future retirement.

Of course, the fact that it also has low pay could have a lot to do with that.


8. Utah: $183,925

Utah’s economy is doing fairly well, but the folks who live here aren’t saving all that much toward retirement.

Part of the reason could be the cost of housing, which, though not as bad as in other states, is not exactly cheap.

Ironically, the state got an A+ in a study from Champlain College that ranked it top in the nation for teaching financial literacy in school.

Somewhere that knowledge is getting lost, or the average retirement savings rate would be higher…



9. Nevada: $183,946

Nevada’s economy may be doing well, but its people don’t seem to have a lot left over at the end of the paycheck to put aside for the day when the paycheck stops.

Tourism and gaming, of course, contribute a lot to the state’s economy, but to its employees’ bank accounts? Not so much.

Wages in the field are relatively low, so saving can be tough.



10. Tennessee: $188,817

Tennesseans may be doing marginally better at saving for retirement than their cohorts in the bottom 10, but they won’t have an easy time of it in retirement if they make it that far on what they’ve saved.

The state not only ranks in the bottom 10 for retirement preparedness, but also in the 10 worst states for retirement. The state has a high crime rate and a poor ranking for senior life expectancy.

Of course, that means there won’t be so much life left at the end of the money…