As the old saying goes, “you don’t regret the things you do, you regret the things you don’t do”. According to a Bankrate survey, the same goes for financial regrets, with 76 percent of respondents stating that they have a minimum of one major financial regret; of these, 56 percent noted they were not happy with the choices they made around savings. More specifically, 10 percent said they did not save enough for their kid’s education; 19 percent regretted not having a nice emergency savings fund; while 27 percent relayed they had regrets about not starting to save early enough for retirement.
On the other side of financial regret was living beyond your means and racking up that debt. Sixteen percent were regretful around credit card debt; 11 percent regretted their student loan debt; while seven percent felt they bought too much house that they simply could not afford in the end.
Sadly, the survey also revealed that while there are financial regrets American have, a mere 50 percent of those out there were trying to take steps towards rectifying this remorse. Only seven percent planned on addressing this saving and debt issue within the next year to six months, while 12 percent were going to take action within the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, a whopping 21 percent have zero plans to take care of or try and better those financial regrets, equally out to potential disaster.
While you can’t rewrite the past, USA Today revealed that you can start addressing your financial situation. First thing’s first: create a detailed monthly budget. Should you find a surplus after all your core expenses are accounted for, put in place some action items for savings and debt repayment. In fact, no matter the surplus amount, take that money and divide it according to whatever you prioritize, financially: whether that be a general savings, emergency fund, retirement, kid’s education, paying off your debt; or placing an equal amount of that surplus money to all of the above.
If you find there is no surplus to your monthly budget, it may be time to scale down your spending. Think about packing your lunch for work, refraining from that trendy morning coffee drink by preparing one at home, as well as eliminating some of that take-out spending, entertainment expenses, or monthly shopping trips you take; until you find that extra money to help with savings and paying down debt.
Derek Lebert is a CPA and entrepreneur. Derek has worked in various senior roles in finance.