Americans' biggest financial regrets: survey

Young casual businessman wearing glasses is sitting in front of his notebook holding his head pondering over his work. Office equipment and another computer is in front of him.

Regrets — everyone’s got ‘em but some have more than others, especially when it comes to their finances. A new survey by Student Loan Hero reveals that 83% of Americans (up 7% from last year’s survey) wished they’d handled their money differently in 2018. Top laments: not saving enough and conspicuous consumption.

Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance

As far as specific spending items go, 48% of those surveyed think they need to cut back on eating out, and 17% of people who bought a car last year now regret that purchase.

Purchases big and small

The saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” does not apply to savings and overspending, according to co-researcher Rebecca Safier. However, that’s precisely what many Americans seem to be doing when it comes to their cash.

“Most people seem to blame small purchases for their lack of savings, but they don’t have as much regret around major purchases like cars or vacations. That’s not to say they should regret big purchases. However, they might not realize that these major expenses could be eating into their savings even more than their restaurant habits.”

Little white piggy banks standing on top of 7 stacks of coins in ascending order on white surface, green background

Surprisingly, there was a seemingly low level of regret for incurring student debt. “With the huge student debt burden, Americans are carrying — $1.56 trillion among 45 million borrowers — we might expect to see even more people regretting their student loans. However, it seems the majority of people still think their education was worth the debt they had to take on to get it.”

The folks at Student Loan Hero told Yahoo Finance that the goal of this study was to show people that they’re not alone in having financial regrets. “If you reflect on what went right in the past year — and areas where you could have done better – you can use this awareness to make better decisions in the year to come."


Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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