Many U.S. adults wish they had done things differently with their finances. That’s the key take-away from a new national survey from the personal finance site, NerdWallet. Specifically, 71% said they have financial regrets.

If they could have a do-over:

  • 48% would have started thinking about money management earlier
  • 39% wouldn’t have spent so much on non-essential items
  • 33% wouldn’t have taken on debt for unnecessary purchases
  • 32% would have used a budget

Asked about financial goals they hope to achieve over the next 10 years, the top answers were:

  • 58%: Paying down debt
  • 53%: Saving more in general
  • 42%: Not accumulating any/more debt
  • 31%: Saving for vacation
  • 28%: Starting/increasing retirement contributions

Can you relate to any of the above? If so, we’ve written about many of these topics before. Reviewing the following articles may be helpful.

If getting out of debt is a goal of yours, read Two Simple Steps Toward Getting Out Of Debt ASAP.

If you’re trying to save more, read How Much Emergency Savings Do You Really Need? and At Long Last, Rates for Savers Begin to Rise.

If you’ve decided it’s time to start using a budget, read Budgeting is About Having More, Where Does All Your Money Go?, and ‘Managing to’ the Numbers in Your Budget.

Since it’s impossible to make perfect financial decisions all the time, the only surprise in this study is that more people didn’t acknowledge having financial regrets. Then again, maybe some people see past mistakes as catalysts for learning some of their greatest financial lessons.

I can certainly relate. At first glance, it would have been easy to regret my unintended reenactment of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. But since so much good came from that experience, I'm now thankful for it.

What about you? What’s your most significant financial regret and most important financial goal?