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Fiscally Fit Cities - Methodology

Fiscally Fit Cities - Methodology

To determine America’s most fiscally fit cities, Sterling’s BestPlaces in partnership with State Farm Life Insurance analyzed key factors that contribute to overall family preparedness including quality of life, life insurance coverage and investments. The data was collected and evaluated for each of the top 50 U.S. MSA’s (markets of statistical analysis) by demographic specialist, Bert Sperling.

A large amount of existing data from a variety of databases was used to create the report. The data for each category was converted into points on a common scale, allowing each metro area to be measured against the others. Each criterion was then weighted to emphasize those with primary importance. Lastly, all points were totaled to determine a final ranking.

To measure the Fiscal Fitness of the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, Sperling’s BestPlaces used the following criteria, divided into three overarching categories of investment, life insurance coverage and quality of life:


The amount of savings as a portion of median household income, including bonds, certificates of deposit, stocks, mutual funds, and retirement accounts

The ratio of median home value to the median household income

The percent of the households with retirement-specific assets, including money-market accounts, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, annuities, IRA’s and 401(k)

Life Insurance Coverage

The percent of households with life insurance

Quality of Life

The BMI (body mass index), marital status, smoking and physical activity habits of each area

Sources and Credits

Life Insurance and Investment data is derived from MRI Household Consumption & Preferences. This consumer behavior database consists of over seventeen hundred individual variables from the latest Mediamark (MRI) double-base survey. Linked using MOSAIC, this database provides a wealth of information on the preferences and activities of U.S. households.

Median values of investments are derived from a statistical and geographic analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances from the Census Bureau

Quality of life data including BMI, smoking and physical activity habits comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System annual telephone survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Median home values are compiled from statistics reported by the Home Price Index from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the National Association of Realtors, county deed records, and state real estate associations

Martial Status is reported by the Census Bureau

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