This is No. 1 Financial Regret of Older Americans
By Catey Hill
Most Americans are filled with regrets — financial regrets.
Fully three in four, in fact, admit they harbor financial regrets, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults by Bankrate.com.
Their biggest regret: not saving for retirement early enough (nearly one in five Americans put this in the No. 1 spot). What’s more, among those 65 and up, 27% said this was the biggest regret, compared with 17% of those aged 30 to 49.
America’s biggest financial regrets
Percentage who say this is their most significant financial regret
Not saving for retirement early enough 18%
Not saving enough for emergency expenses 13%
Taking on too much student loan debt 9%
Taking on too much credit card debt 9%
Not saving enough for your children’s education 8%
Buying a bigger house than you could afford 3%
Indeed, it is costly to wait. A person who starts saving $300 a month for retirement at age 25 (assuming a 5% return on investment) will have about $450,000 saved by age 65, despite only contributing $144,000 into his retirement account. Meanwhile, if that person waits until 35 to save the same amount each month, he will contribute a total of $108,000 toward retirement but only have about $250,000 saved at age 65. “If you don’t start saving early enough, you will start to notice that later,” says Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com.
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What’s more, waiting to save only exacerbates the problem of our already paltry nest eggs: According to 2015 data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, fully 28% of workers say they have less than $1,000 saved and 17% have between $1,000 and $9,999; meanwhile, just 14% of workers have $250,000 or more saved.
That’s far too little, according to many financial advisers: Guidelines from Fidelity, for example, state that by the age of 30, you should have your entire salary saved; by 40, three times your salary saved; and, by 50, six times your salary saved.
Other financial regrets that Americans have include not having enough saved for emergencies (13%) and taking on too much student loan debt. Indeed, fully 62% of Americans have no emergency savings, according to a survey released last year by Bankrate.com; experts recommend that you have at least three months of living expenses in savings for emergencies. Furthermore, the amount of debt that students graduate with has risen rapidly: In 1993, it was less than $10,000 per student, in 2012, it was nearly $30,000, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.