Also, women seem more oriented toward saving then men. Men are more than twice as likely than women to regret not having spent more freely in the past, and roughly twice as likely to say they would buy things for themselves or others if given $10,000. Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to regret not having saved enough, to say they'd pay down debt if they received $10,000, and to cite reducing spending and increasing saving as the financial habits they'd most like to improve.

Debt regret

Concerns about money may be somewhat influenced by gender, but they seem particularly shaped by decisions people have made in the past. Among people whose biggest regret is accumulating too much debt, 47 percent say their biggest immediate concern is just meeting essential expenses, compared with 27 percent of the remaining respondents. Sixty-seven percent of those who regret accumulating debt say that a financial windfall would go to paying down debt, compared with about 32 percent of other respondents. Nearly 59 percent of people with debt regret wish they could spend less and save more, compared with 35 percent of other respondents.

The one problem people with debt regret don't have is feeling they are too cheap. Less than 3 percent of this group say they wish they could spend more freely, compared to 12 percent of other respondents.

The conclusion seems to be that people who are overly burdened with debt are scrambling to make up for the past, whereas people without that problem are more able to think about the present and the future.

So, do you lie awake thinking about money, or do you rest easily? And, when you do think about money, is it with hope for the future or regret about the past? In either case, it may be wisest to focus on the present. Controlling your money habits today is one of the surest paths to fewer regrets and a more hopeful financial outlook.

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