Americans Regret Money Moves They Didn’t Make During the Pandemic
June 22, 2022
More than half of Americans (56%) regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic.
Gen Z (71%) and Millennials (77%) are more likely than Gen X (54%) and Boomers (35%) to say they regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic.
Among Americans who regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic, 40% of those who have credit card debt regret not paying this debt down during the pandemic.
Following not paying down credit card debt, among Americans who regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic the second most regretted financial decision was not investing in cryptocurrency and not investing in the stock market (both 19%).
Millennials are more likely to regret not buying a home (14%) than Gen Xers (9%) and Baby Boomers (4%). Regardless of demographic however, 24% of renters who regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic regret not buying a home during this time.
Regrets? We’ve had a few, or when it comes to our money, a whole lot. According to a recent Tally survey, many Americans have felt the sting of financial remorse at some point, particularly as it relates to the pandemic.
The economic impact of the pandemic has been an on-going wildcard. Recent influences like inflation and Federal Reserve rate hikes have impacted spending habits, causing many to re-evaluate their past and present financial decisions. In fact, among Americans who regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic, 40% of those who have credit card debt regret not paying this debt down during the pandemic.
A Tally survey of 2,068 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, conducted online by The Harris Poll, found more than half of Americans (56%) regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic. For the purposes of this survey, the pandemic’s time frame is defined as March 2020 to present day.
Top financial regrets during the pandemic - credit card debt tops the list
COVID-19 caused upheaval across all facets of life. Things we normally took for granted such as kids going to school, having a night out at your favorite restaurant or going on vacation were curtailed. Many households were also negatively affected financially. Many lost their jobs, and many others had their incomes cut.
With drastic changes in circumstances, many Americans found themselves regretting financial choices they didn’t make during the pandemic. Among those that regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic, 26% say they regret not paying down their credit card debt. Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) say they regret not investing in cryptocurrency and the same proportion (19%) regret not investing in the stock market.
Financial inaction continued to be top of mind with 17% regretting not starting their own business. The proportion of those regretting not buying a fuel-efficient car (16%), not doing a home improvement project (16%) and not buying a home (16%) was the same, pointing to economic realities that have increasingly made these types of purchases difficult or more expensive over the course of the pandemic. In fact, 24% of renters regret not buying a home during the pandemic.
Generational priorities: looking towards the future vs. managing the present
Millennials (ages 26-41) (77%) and Gen Z (ages 18-25) (71%) are more likely than Gen X (54%) and Boomers (35%) to say they regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic.
When it comes to the types of financial regrets, the results varied across demographics, hinting at what each group might be prioritizing more. The most notable variation among those who regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic was for those that say they regret not investing in cryptocurrency, where the leading group was Gen Zers (28%) compared to Millennials (20%), Gen Xers (18%) and Baby Boomers (9%). Tellingly, among those who regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic, Gen Zers are more likely than Baby Boomers to regret not investing in the stock market (25% vs. 14%). Younger generations looking ahead, suggests a desire to focus on growing their wealth.
Among those that had financial regrets during the pandemic, not paying down their credit card debt was the top financial decision regretted by Millennials (24%), Gen Xers (29%) and Baby Boomers (30%). However, this was not the case for Gen Zers, with only 19% feeling regret in not paying down their credit card debt during the pandemic. One factor that may explain this trend is older adults likely carrying more credit card debt than younger generations are facing the numbers in an increasingly high-interest environment that is making their debt more expensive.
3 ways to clean-up your financial regrets
Between the cost of inflation and the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, these pandemic financial regrets may be hitting Americans harder than usual. Regardless of regrets and a tough economy, there are steps people can take to take control over their finances in a situation that feels out of control.
Tally’s personal finance expert, Bobbi Rebell CFP® offers the following advice to help Americans clean up their financial mistakes and get back on track.
Reorganize Your Budget.
With inflation costing Americans hundreds more per month, your budget needs to adjust for that. Budget your money in order of priority:
The things you need to live and work come first- food, housing, transportation, wifi, etc. These are your top priorities and where your money goes first.
Debt and improving your savings safety net come second, and spending discretionary money comes last. Right now, it’s important to get honest about what you can live without. Cancel subscriptions, food delivery service apps and even cable for the time being. You can always add them back later. Remember, these are short-term financial sacrifices to weather a storm.
Learn From the Past.
It’s no surprise that among Americans who regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic, 40% of those who have credit card debt regret not paying this debt down during the pandemic.
The Fed increased interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point, so the regret is real. Debt is getting expensive! Don’t shame yourself for your past mistakes and don’t panic. It’s important to learn from your regrets, and work to change the future.
Consider using the debt avalanche method to pay down your debt.
List all of your debts in order of highest to lowest interest rates.
Make minimum payments on everything and throw as much as you can toward the debt with the highest interest rate. Credit cards are usually at the top of the list. Use an app like the Tally app to consolidate your debt to a lower interest rate and free up cash. On average people pay down their debt twice as fast.
Once you’ve paid off the debt with the highest interest rate, roll that payment toward the next highest interest rate debt. Repeat until you’re debt free.
Find Your Financial Equilibrium.
You have money coming in (your income) and money going out (your expenses/spending). The goal is to have an equilibrium.
If that is out of balance (you’re spending more than you make), the first step to fixing it is to cut expenses. But many Americans are already doing that and still struggling.
If you’ve scaled back your spending as much as possible, you need more money coming in.
Rent your car out on Turo. It’s like AirBnB for cars.
Consider listing your home on AirBnB and staying with friends and family for extra cash. Share some of the earnings.
If you have a spare room, rent it out. People are struggling to pay rent. You can provide them with a solution that also supports you financially.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Tally from May 19-23, 2022 among 2,068 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,185 regret financial decisions they made during the pandemic. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.