Nearly 80 Percent of Americans Admit to Committing Money Mistakes

Lack of Retirement Savings Savvy and Inadequate Tracking of Finances Top the List

Mar 19, 2013, 09:00 ET from Edward Jones

ST. LOUIS, March 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a recent survey by financial services firm Edward Jones, 79 percent of Americans have committed a mistake with regard to their finances. Not saving enough for retirement topped the list of money mistakes (26 percent) followed by inadequate tracking of spending (20 percent) and taking on too much debt (13 percent).

The survey of 1,008 Americans was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation and asked respondents to identify their biggest money mistake.

"When it comes to long-term savings goals like retirement or education expenses, we cannot stress enough that taking an early and managed approach is the best way to tackle the process," said Scott Thoma, Investment Strategist for Edward Jones. "Getting started with an investing program can be a daunting step for many people. For the one-fifth of Americans who admit to not paying enough attention to their expenses, a very simple step could be to skip that $3 coffee in the morning or think twice about that second night of takeout and instead allocate that money to a long-term savings platform. Every little bit really does count when you're talking about investing for future financial goals."

Retirement Challenges
With a constant focus on how to meet retirement goals, it's no surprise that more than one-quarter (26 percent) of respondents report not saving enough as their top money mistake.

  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents ages 35 to 44 were the most likely to point to retirement as their top money mistake.
  • Only 24 percent of individuals 65 years or older and 15 percent ages 18 to 34 expressed concerns regarding retirement savings.

Attention, Attention!
Overwhelmingly, respondents in the 18 to 35-year-old bracket identified that they do not pay enough attention to their spending and overall finances (35 percent).

  • Twenty-five percent of Midwestern respondents pointed towards lack of spending awareness, the highest percentage compared to other regions of the country.
  • Just 10 percent of respondents 65 years or older identified unaccounted spending habits as their top money mistake. In fact, almost 20 percent of respondents in the oldest age group said they have not made any money mistakes.

Investing Confidence
Just 8 percent of respondents indicated that making "bad investments" was their biggest money mistake.

  • Men and women differed, with 12 percent of males and 5 percent of females pointing to bad investments.
  • There was little variation across regions, though respondents in the Western part of the country were slightly more likely than other regions to point to bad investments as their biggest money mistake (10 percent).

"We find that clients who have made the commitment to an investment program quickly gain confidence in their ability to meet their future financial goals," continued Thoma. "While every investor will experience some bumps in the road, we remind them that keeping a long-term view is essential – a sentiment that seems to be reflected in this data."

Editor's Note

Survey was based on 1,008 telephone and cell phone interviews of U.S. adults conducted from February 21-24, 2013. The margin of error was +/-3%. 

About Edward Jones

Edward Jones provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the types of investment options offered to the location of branch offices, is designed to cater to individual investors in the communities in which they live and work. The firm's 12,000 financial advisors work directly with nearly 7 million clients to understand their personal goals – from college savings to retirement – and create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy. Edward Jones embraces the importance of building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients, helping them to understand and make sense of the investment options available today. Edward Jones, which ranked No. 11 on FORTUNE magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For 2011," is headquartered in St. Louis. The Edward Jones Web site is located at, and its recruiting Web site is Member SIPC.

SOURCE Edward Jones