More Americans wish they'd saved for retirement earlier

More Americans are understanding why they should have begun saving for retirement when they were younger.

The newly septuagenarian songstress Cher once crooned about what she would do if she could turn back time. If Americans could do the same thing, they'd start saving for retirement earlier in life, a new poll reveals.

Three-quarters of Americans say that they have made financial decisions in their lives that they shouldn't have, according to a survey conducted by financial information and advice website Bankrate.com. Chief among their regrets is not adequately preparing for paying for the cost of living in the post-working world. Nearly 1 in 5 said that the wish they had stowed away more money for retirement, with the second-most common regret being insufficient emergency savings.

1 in 3 plan on working after retirement age

"Nearly 40 percent plan on retiring between 62 and 67."

Retirement worries are nothing new, as the cost of living always seems to be on the rise, regardless of how the economy is functioning at any given time. What is different today than it was as recently as 10 years ago, though, is more people are living longer. This, in part, is playing a role in when Americans are deciding to call it a career. For example, nearly 33 percent of U.S. adults who have yet to reach retirement age say they'll remain employed after turning 67, based on a recent poll from Gallup. Sixty-seven is the age at which individuals are eligible to receive all of their Social Security income.

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, said that because most people expect to retire when they get older, finding out that the cost may be too much can be cause for anxiety.

"Inadequate savings looms large among Americans' financial distress," McBride explained. "Whether it's saving for emergencies or retirement, Americans' biggest financial regret is not saving enough."

Regrets increase as people grow older

"Almost 30 percent of seniors wish they started saving for retirement earlier."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, individuals more fully appreciate their savings snafus with age. For example, the poll found that among senior citizens, nearly 30 percent said they wished they had begun the savings process when they were younger. Meanwhile, only 17 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds felt similarly.

Retirement savings remorse isn't the only issue Americans wish they didn't have. Others include racking up too much debt on their credit cards and not establishing an education fund to pay for their children's tuition and college loans of their own.

On the plus side, personal financial wellness sentiment has made inroads since the recession. Today, 50 percent of Americans rank their financial situation as good or excellent, according to a separate survey done by Gallup. That's up from 46 percent who felt this way in 2008-09, which economists point to as the beginning of the Great Recession.

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