How credit scores compare by stateCredit scores are a curious thing. On the one hand, they say a great deal about us; they indicate, at least to a certain extent, our fiscal responsibility. They’re used by banks, credit card companies, car dealerships, and many other institutions to determine our “creditworthiness.”

What’s strange, then, is how difficult it can be to know just what your credit score is – and how to find it. I’ll give you some suggestions in a moment for how you can get your credit score for free.

For right now, though, let’s put things in perspective.

I want to pull back the curtain just a little bit on the world of credit scores and show you how the rest of the country stacks up and how your credit score compare – even if you don’t know what your own credit score is right at this moment.

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How does your score stack up?

The map above provides a bird’s eye view of America, along with its range of credit scores.

What’s immediately striking is just how small that range really is. The lowest credit scores hover around 668, while the highest scores are around 718. That’s a range of only 50 points.

In other words, 50 points is all that separates America’s best credit scores from its worst.

Also of note is the rather subtle shift from the lower credit scores of the south to the higher scores farther north. In fact, the Midwest is home to some of the best credit scores in the country. The shades of green and red you see on the map are only averages, but it still paints a fairly clear picture of our country’s socioeconomic climate – even if may not be precisely what we expected.

What goes into a credit score?

Knowing your credit score is definitely important, but it’s even more important to know what that number means.

The most common credit measurement system is known as the FICO score. It’s a proprietary system, which means the Fair Isaac Corporation – the company that created the metric – has, historically, been rather tight-lipped about the criteria they use to measure it.
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Save with coupons on your groceriesI don’t mean to throw away coupons. It just happens. I stick them in my pocket, wait in line, go to the register and forget to use them. I also don’t return to the store and ask for my missed discount.

You might think that it’s not such a big deal. What’s a dollar here or there? But, like most small things, these missing savings can add up over time. Have you ever looked at the savings printed on the bottom of your grocery receipt? What if you forget your loyalty card and coupons more often than not? We’re talking about some serious money if this keeps happening for a year.

Most stores offer to give you the difference if you bring your receipt in with your loyalty card or coupons at a later date. But I’m too lazy to go back to the store and get the credits I deserve.

I think to myself that I’ll go home, get the coupon, and come back. Or I tell myself that I’ll bring it and my receipt back with me next time I visit this store. But I’m just fooling myself. I’m just telling my subconscious that to make me feel better about wasting the money.

I Forget to Ask for Discounts I Qualify For

I constantly leave my loyalty cards at home. I join one or two new ones a month depending on which retailers I’m shopping at for deals, and cards fill up my wallet. Keychain cards can also get cumbersome. So, what are you supposed to do? How can I stop forgetting my loyalty cards?

One way is to clean out your wallet. Do you have loyalty cards for stores that you’ll never visit again? I’ve lived in a lot of states over the past few years. In a recent sterilization of my wallet, I found loyalty cards for grocery stores that don’t even have locations in the state where I live now.

I forget to ask for a military discount almost everywhere I go. Many wonderful businesses give discounts to active duty service members — plus veterans, teachers, senior citizens, emergency responders and others. These discounts won’t do any good if you don’t remember to ask for them.

A Few Tricks for Handling Coupons, Loyalty Cards

Have you seen the customers who carry Ziploc bags, Tupperware containers or large envelopes of coupons around the store? You can usually spot them in the front seat of the grocery cart. They have a system to help them remember to use their coupons. That’s what you need — a system.
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