Most Americans have a financial regret but what’s most prevalent?

Financial regrets are commonplace, with almost three-quarters of Americans admitting in a recent poll that they have at least one.

With inflation and interest rates forcing millions across the U.S. to consider the state of their finances, the survey from discovered that not saving enough for retirement is the most prevalent financial regret, cited by 1 in 5.

Other common responses include taking on too much credit card debt, not having enough saved for an emergency, too much student debt, lack of savings for children’s education, and buying a home they can’t really afford.

The financial regrets people have are sources of stress with around half of those who have one saying that their stress level has increased since last year. That’s compared to just 12% who said their stress levels decreased, and 40% who said their stress levels stayed the same over the past year.


Although debt appears a few times in the list, the research reveals that overall what people owe is less of a concern than how little they have saved (24% vs. 39% respectively).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents were more regretful about their retirement savings in the older age groups. While just 5% are concerned about this among Gen Zs (18-26 years old) compared to 34% among baby boomers (59-77 years old).

While long-term savings are a bigger deal for older Americans, the reserve is true for emergency savings, with 21% of Gen Zs regretting that they haven’t saved more compared to 9% for Baby Boomers.

“The power of compounding has the potential to magnify regrets about foregone savings over time as a ‘what could have been’ realization becomes more stark,” said Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride. “At a modest 6.5% annual return, every dollar you put away in your 20s becomes $17 by the time you retire. Of course, every dollar not invested during your 20s is $17 you won’t have in retirement.”

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