We all have regrets. Perhaps you wish you wouldn’t have dropped out of college, or that you would have been more on top of your financial planning when you were younger. It’s easy to look back and point out the things we could have done better. That’s why they say that hindsight is 20/20 — when you’re in the moment, you don’t generally have a bird’s-eye view of what’s going on.
This holds true when it comes to personal finance as well. You never know if you should invest in this, or refrain from spending on that. What if you had spent all your money on Beanie Babies, expecting a big return? That may have seemed like a good idea a the time. But what about now?
Naturally, those chances we didn’t take, or the gambles we did, turn to regret. With time, these regrets can gnaw at us. Keep us up at night. Or, we might just consider them sunk costs of sorts, and move on with our lives. Still, we all have regrets.
But what are the most common regrets Americans cite, particularly when it comes to money? A new survey gives us some insight.
That survey, conducted by Claris Financial, asked more than 2,000 people about their personal finance training and education. It also asked what those people considered to be their biggest financial successes and regrets. The resulting list isn’t all that surprising, but does give us a glimpse as to what people truly hold dear when they look back at their financial decisions.
Here are the 12 specific money regrets Claris Financial was able to dig up as a result of its survey.
12. Not being able to support their kids
For most people, the ability to take care of their family is a top priority. But if you can’t manage to make ends meet? That’s as big of a failure as it comes, and 6% of respondents said that not being able to fully financially support their kids was their biggest financial planning failure.
11. Not being able to put their kids through college
Springboarding right into the next item, having the inability to pay for their children’s college education came in next. With college costs rising sharply over the past couple of decades, this one probably hits home for many families. About 7% of respondents said this was their biggest financial regret.
10. Not having enough to retire on time
We generally peg retirement age as 65 or so. But for a lot of people, especially these days, it’s simply unachievable. Around 11% of those polled said not being able to retire on time was their biggest personal finance shortcoming.
9. Not investing in business
We all wish we would have bought some Amazon stock back in the ’90s. Or some Google stock in the early 2000s. But we didn’t, and we have to live with it. Evidently, a lot of people regret not having invested in businesses — 12% of poll respondents named it as one of their top regrets.
8. Not being able to purchase a second home
About 12% of respondents said they regret not being able to buy a second home. Those folks must be doing fairly well if buying a second home was even an option on their radar.
7. Not being able to support aging parents
We know that people struggle with not being able to support their kids. But what about not being able to support your parents? That’s a top personal finance regret as well, with 16% of those polled naming it in survey.
6. Not investing in the stock market
We know that people regret not investing in businesses directly. But that also goes for not throwing some money into the stock market. Even some modest investments in index funds would have paid off handsomely over the years. Around 17% of people list this among their top regrets.
5. Not being able to retire early
Forget retiring on time. What about retiring early? Roughly 19% of people surveyed said this was one of their top personal finance regrets.
4. Not having enough money for college
This one is for the (relative) youngsters out there. Not having the funds to pay for college means tapping credit lines and taking out loans. That can bury you if you’re not careful. An estimated 20% of respondents said not having money for school was one of their top regrets.
3. Never starting a business
Starting a business is a huge undertaking. It requires capital, time, and patience. There’s a high barrier to entry, and for that reason, a lot of people never take the leap. But a lot of people also regret never doing it, and 23% of respondents said never starting a business is one of their top regrets.
2. Never taking a big trip
Always wanted to take the trip of a lifetime? We all think about it, but many of us never actually do it. Even if our financial planning was on point, we forgo taking that big trip. And 29% of us regret it — that’s tied for the top spot.
1. Not being able to buy a house
Along with never taking a big vacation, not being able to purchase a house is the biggest financial regret Americans named, according to this survey. Though owning a home builds equity and has numerous advantages, but some people never manage to pull it off. According to the Claris survey, this is America’s top financial regret.