Popular money worries, regrets and wishesFocusing first on the present, when asked about their biggest current financial worry, the most common answers were split pretty evenly between trying to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and just trying to meet essential expenses. Each of those responses garnered about 31 percent of the total. In contrast, less than 18 percent were focused on saving for the future. It seems that while some Americans are able to live more comfortably than others, what most have in common is that they are more focused on today than on the years ahead.
It's interesting that such a relatively small percentage is focused on saving, because when the survey asked what people's biggest financial regret was, by far the most common response was not saving enough. Forty percent of respondents gave this answer, which was roughly twice as many as those citing the next most common regret, accumulating too much debt. It seems that people find it easier to look back and realize they should have saved more than to look ahead and recognize the importance of building a healthy savings account for the future.
People are pretty practical about what they would do if a financial windfall came their way. When asked what they would do if they received $10,000, nearly 39 percent said they would use it to pay down debt, and 38 percent said they would put it into savings. In contrast, 11 percent said they would use it to buy things for themselves or a loved one, and just less than 10 percent said they would give some or all of it to charity.
Absent such a windfall, what would people like to change most about their financial behavior? The most common response, at about 40 percent, was to reduce spending and increase savings. Nineteen percent said they would like to make wiser investment decisions, and 16 percent wished they could make wiser purchasing decisions. Only 10 percent felt they needed to spend more freely and enjoy their money more.