Whether it’s overspending at the grocery store or racking up ridiculous bank fees, we’ve all made at least one financial decision that has come back to haunt us. But don’t beat yourself up too bad. Bankrate reports that four out of five adults also wish they had a reset button for some of the choices they’ve made. Keep reading to see which financial blunders American’s regret the most and how to avoid the same fate.
Regret #1: Getting a late start on retirement saving
Nobody wants to work until they croak but at the rate many people are going, they won’t have any other choice. GoBankingRates reports that 39% of people don’t know how they’ll support themselves in retirement. Even if it’s decades away, start saving for retirement as early as possible. With time on your side, you won’t have to contribute as much as someone getting a late start. To put it in perspective, let’s say the goal is to retire a millionaire at age 67. With a 7% rate of return, a 21-year-old only has to contribute $262/month to reach their goal. However, by waiting until age 30, they’ll need to contribute $501/month to hit their mark.
We know there are other things you rather spend your money on but if your job offers an employer-sponsored retirement plan with matching contributions, you can’t turn it down. That’s like saying no to free money. About $1,336 a year to be exact. Ideally, you want to contribute at least 15% your salary including your company match.
Regret #2: Not saving enough for emergencies
At some point, probably when you least expect it, life is going to throw you an expensive curve ball. Whether it’s an unexpected job loss, car repair or medical emergency, something’s bound to happen. That’s why you need to make a conscious decision to save for a rainy day. The best way to grow your wealth is to setup automatic transfers with your bank so you pay yourself first. This forces you to prioritize saving and teaches you to be consistent. Once you see the savings begin to add up, you’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner. The ultimate goal is to tuck away at least three to nine months’ worth of living expenses.
Regret #3: Racking up too much credit card debt
Do you often find yourself shopping to fix a bad mood? Well, you’re not alone. Many people are emotional spenders. We hate to break it to you but buying new goodies won’t fix your problems. You’re only adding to your debt load. Rather than throw money down the drain, pinpoint your spending triggers and look for alternative ways to cope. A few options include going for a walk, writing in a journal or talking to a friend. The next time you get the urge to shop, ask yourself if the item is a “need” or “want”. By taking some time to think things through, chances are you’ll end up putting the item back on the shelf. Remember, to keep your credit in good shape, you must pay all your bills by the due date. So, it’s important to only charge what you know you can afford to repay.
Regret #4: Taking on too much student loan debt
Growing up, it’s been drilled in our heads that going to college is the best way to secure a high paying job. Considering that the average student graduates $37,172 in debt, it can almost feel like it isn’t worth it. Fortunately, there are some ways to make attending college more affordable. You can apply for FAFSA, search for scholarships or attend a “work college”. Just as the name implies, you’ll be required to work on campus in exchange for a reduced tuition. If you must take out a student loan, do your research first. Experts caution against borrowing more than your expected starting salary. To get a ballpark figure of how much you’ll earn, simply search for the entry-level salary in your desired field. By applying 10% of your anticipated salary each year towards loan repayment, you’ll be debt-free in roughly 10 years.