By some measures, the U.S. economy is doing great. Stocks are near all-time highs and unemployment has returned to pre-recession lows.
Even so, Americans have faced a volatile decade of financial ups and downs. Palm Beach Gardens-based Bankrate.com asked Americans to look in the rear-view mirror and report their biggest regrets about money.
The top 5:
- Not saving enough for retirement. Most families have no retirement savings, and those who have built a nest egg possess only tiny amounts, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The typical household headed by someone in his late 50s to early 60s has just $17,000 — and that’s the most well-heeled age group. “I’ve never met a person who regretted saving money,” says Bankrate analyst Mark Hamrick.
- Not having an emergency savings account. A separate study by Bankrate found more than a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings — leaving them with nothing for an unexpected car repair or medical bill.
- Too much credit card debt. The average household with credit card debt carries more than $16,000 on plastic, NerdWallet reports. Depending on the interest rates on your cards, that debt load could rack up $3,000 a year in interest charges.
- Too much student loan debt. With tuition inflation reaching runaway levels, student debt is at an all-time high — and some hapless borrowers are taking on six-figure loans. Tellingly, this regret ranks No. 4 among all age groups but No. 1 among those ages 27 to 36, Bankrate says.
- Not saving enough for children’s college costs. See No. 4.