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Not saving enough for retirement is a bigger regret than taking on too much debt

Hindsight is 20/20, especially if you’re a retiree running out of money.

Close to half of Americans are wishing they saved more, according to a survey by financial advice website Bankrate. On the flip side, only 20 percent of people say they have no financial regrets.

The biggest regret, with 22 percent feeling it, is not saving more for retirement. That number is up from 18 percent last year. The next biggest regret was not saving enough for emergency expenses.

“The burden of saving for retirement has shifted in recent years from employers to individuals. As a result, many Americans have either been unable or unwilling to save sufficiently for retirement,” says Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s senior economic analyst.

That inability to save sufficiently has to do with people putting off saving for retirement altogether. Of adults between the age of 50 to 64, more than a third said they regretted not saving for retirement earlier. More than a quarter of those over 64 agreed.

Those most concerned about retirement savings are baby boomers, ages 53 to 71, at 39 percent. Millennials (18 to 36) and Generation X (37 to 52) are much less worried at 11 and 18 percent respectively. Those 72 and older were still concerned, but less so than baby boomers at 23 percent.

A change in income doesn’t mean retirement saving gets easier. It’s common for people across all income levels to feel strapped for cash, retirement expert Bill Losey told Bankrate.

“In my mind, it doesn’t matter what your income is. It doesn’t matter what your portfolio size is,” Losey says. “It really all boils down to habits: having a plan, being frugal, making sure that you have a debt reduction plan.”

Too much debt

Another relatively big financial regret among Americans was accumulating debt.

Fewer Americans — nine percent — said their biggest regret was taking on too much credit card debt. The same amount said they regret taking on too much student loan debt.

The groups who said they regretted taking on too much student loan debt, also said they feel that their savings account is pretty stagnant.

More than half of people 18 to 29 years old feel the same about their savings as they did 12 years ago.

“I think a lot of us are so stressed and frustrated by our financial situation that we ignore it,” financial planner Autumn Campbell told Bankrate. “Facing our uncertainty or our fears on that I think is the first step and realizing, OK, I need to change and this is what I need to change to be able to be where I want.”

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Meet the Author

Gregory Cox

Gregory Cox


Cox is a freelance writer for


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