Enter a search term.
line drawing document and pencil

File a claim

Need to file an insurance claim? We’ll make the process as supportive, simple and swift as possible.

Action Teams

If you want to make an impact in your community but aren't sure where to begin, we're here to help.
Illustration of stairs and arrow pointing upward

Contact support

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Need to discuss a complex question? Let us know—we’re happy to help.
Use the search bar above to find information throughout our website. Or choose a topic you want to learn more about.

These are Americans’ top 3 financial regrets—and how to avoid them

Illustration of woman looking in a mirror

You’ve probably heard of buyer’s remorse, where you second-guess the necessity and implications of a new purchase. But a recent Family Financial Foundations survey conducted by Thrivent and Morning Consult* shows that for many U.S. adults, the guilt can run much deeper than a single transaction. In fact, over three quarters of respondents acknowledged having a financial regret. Here’s what they said they’d take back and how you can avoid making the same (potentially costly) mistakes.

Regret #1: Living in the moment & not saving enough for the future

Looking back at their lives, 24% of U.S. adults surveyed said not saving enough for the future is their biggest financial regret. That means roughly one in four of us has been caught up in the moment with vacations, splurges and other short-term spending. And while those indulgences can provide immediate gratification, a pattern of them can threaten long-term goals like paying off debt, saving for education and retirement.

How to avoid an in-the-moment purchase you may regret later

  • Wait a while. Try to put time between wanting something and making the decision to buy it. (In other words, try to limit impulse purchases by waiting a few minutes, hours or days.) Step back and ask: Would you be willing to buy this item at full price—or are you simply purchasing it because it is on sale? The answer to this question may help you decide if the item is worthwhile.
  • Remember your goals. Social media has made it easier than ever to compare and desire what everyone else has. Don’t forget that your goals are unique to your life and your values. Avoid “grass-is-greener” thinking by double-checking that your spending matches what's important to you in your life. Keep sight of what you truly want to accomplish.
  • Consider your future self. You owe it to your future self to keep your long-term goals in mind. Even if your lived experience includes the stories of family or friends who didn’t get to use their savings later in life, your future self may thank you for mindfully balancing today’s needs with tomorrow’s.
  • Dream big. Then, filter down into what you can reasonably do. Sketch out how you will chip away at goals like buying a house, taking a big vacation each year or affording a babysitter for monthly date nights, instead of dismissing ideas because they will “never happen.” You can save small amounts that add up to big results over time.

Regret #2: Overspending & not living within your means

Overspending was the biggest financial regret for 21% of adults. To avoid this financial regret, consider these tips to avoid spending too much.

How to avoid overspending

  • Prioritize. Take care of your higher, more immediate-priority financial goals first. But don’t forget to allot leftover money to your long-term goals. When you understand what is important to you, it can help you spot tradeoffs. Instead of an expensive dinner with cocktails, for example, you and a friend might meet for coffee. Your friend may even be glad to learn that your coffee date is helping you progress toward your goals.
  • Track due dates. Pay bills on time to avoid interest payments that make it harder to catch up. If you knew the $100 handbag you bought using a credit card was going to cost $200 by the time your credit card interest payments were complete, would you still want it?
  • Avoid lifestyle inflation. As you make more money, you may want to spend more. This is referred to as lifestyle inflation. Consider a more balanced approach that emphasizes saving some of your money for long-term goals. Instead of jumping into higher car payments, housing and restaurant prices—pause and ask if those activities support your long-term goals. You may want to prepare for the future as you find yourself with extra income. For example, consider building up enough savings to make it through the inevitable downturns in life.
  • Remember: You have options. Focus on why you need something. For example, if you need transportation so you can spend time with your family or in nature, consider your options. You can walk, bike, bus, buy a new or used car, take rideshare or lease a vehicle. The prices vary significantly.

Regret #3: Taking on too much debt to reach your financial goals

It’s wise to think carefully before signing up for a new financial obligation. Taking on too much debt was the most-regretted financial pitfall for 14% of surveyed adults. Here’s what to do if you have debt on your mind—and on your balance sheet.

How to avoid high levels of debt you regret later

  • Know what you owe. Understand your current debts and where they come from. Focus on building new habits that prevent taking on new debt, instead of dwelling on past actions. If you feel overwhelmed by debt, there are seven actions you can take.
  • Pay attention to interest rates. Consider your loan provisions—not just payments, but interest rates and payment periods. How are you making the payments? Can you afford to pile on more to pay down those debts faster?
  • Keep a healthy debt-to-income ratio. Aim to maintain a healthy amount of debt. A debt-to-income ratio of 35% or less is a solid goal for most people.
  • Stick to what you can afford. If it’s not in your household budget, you may not have the money to buy it right now. Consider saving up instead. Be intentional about what you buy and when you buy it. Ignore the time pressure of limited-time financing and sales offers. Ask what you can truly afford.

Get professional guidance on your financial plan

Everyone deserves a financial plan. Whether you’re just getting started or well on your way, a financial advisor can help you develop a strategy to move toward your goals. Get support bringing your financial future into focus with personalized advice by from a financial advisor near you.

*This poll was conducted in August 2023 among a national sample of 2,214 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, educational attainment, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/- 2%.