This is America’s #1 Financial Regret — and It’s Totally Avoidable

Money mistakes
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

We all make mistakes when it comes to money. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try to learn from them.

Which is why this survey from Bankrate caught my eye. It asked more than 1,000 Americans a simple question: What’s your biggest financial regret?  

The results should serve as a lesson to us all…  

The Money Mistakes We Regret Most

So, what topped the list?

At 18%, “not saving for retirement early enough.”

As age increases, that number does, too: 27% of respondents over the age of 65 cited this as the biggest of their money mistakes.

I’m not surprised, since a record number of retirement-age Americans are working — mostly because they can’t afford to retire.

Gah! When are we going to realize that few things are more important than investing in the future?

The money you spend on that pair of jeans or that round of drinks could grow into a small fortune by the time you retire.

So, learn from these people, and start saving for retirement now.

If your company offers a 401(k), sign up; if it doesn’t, create an automatic withdrawal into a Roth IRA.

Even $1 a day or $25 a week could make a HUGE difference in the end.

As for the other responses, here’s the survey in full:

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Two other regrets that stood out to me?

1. Not Saving Enough for Emergencies

Just like with saving for retirement, this is hard but essential.

I finally created an emergency fund with Digit, and I feel so much more secure with it in my back pocket.

2. Taking on Too Much Student Loan Debt

First off, if you’re still in high school, make sure college is the right decision for you.

You might want to consider a year of service, apprenticeship or high-paying career without a degree.

If you do decide to go, choose your college carefully.

Look into scholarships or international universities, and pick the one with the best value or ROI — rather than the one with the cutest co-eds.  

And, if you’ve already graduated and are suffocating under a mountain of debt, consider refinancing your student loans.

Life is too short to live with regrets — but too long to ignore what’s ahead.

Invest in your future self today; I guarantee that’s one thing you’ll never regret.

Your Turn: What’s YOUR biggest financial regret?

Susan Shain is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain..