Americans’ Greatest Financial Regret: Not Saving Earlier for Retirement

That is followed by not saving for an emergency, and taking on too much credit card and too much student loan debt.

Eighteen percent of Americans regret not starting to save for retirement earlier, found in a survey. Other financial contritions? Not saving enough for emergency expenses, cited by 14%, taking on too much credit card debt (10%), taking on too much student loan debt (8%), not saving enough for their children’s education (7%) and buying more houses than they can afford (2%).

Citing data from the Federal Reserve, says that half of middle-income Americans have a retirement account, with a median balance of $25,000. Among those between the ages of 55 and 64, 60% are saving for retirement, with a median balance of $120,000.

Additionally, says an emergency fund should be six months’ worth of essential expenses and estimates that for a household in a major metropolitan area, that’s $23,000. Federal Reserve data shows that the average emergency fund that Americans have is less than $4,000.

The survey found that among those who have a financial regret, 49% are doing something about it. However, 25% have no plans to address their worries, 10% plan to do something within the next six months, 9% say they are taking action in the next six to 12 months, and 6% say that after a year, they will address the issue.

“Time is your greatest ally when saving for the future,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at “To workers of all ages, there is no better time than the present to increase your 401(k) contribution or fund an IRA [individual retirement account].”