Many Americans are leaving 2019 in debt. In fact, almost one in four people (24.1%) say "credit card debt" is their biggest financial regret of the past decade, according to a survey from Policygenius, the nation's leading online insurance marketplace.
An even bigger percentage (32.4%) of Americans say "paying down debt" is their biggest financial goal for next year, ahead of other important money milestones like saving for retirement (14.2%), buying a house (8.4%) or having enough insurance (5.5%).
Despite the red ink, nearly half of all Americans (47%) say their finances have improved over the last decade. Twenty-nine percent say their finances are the same while 24% say their finances were worse.
"We're currently in a period of prolonged economic growth so it's not surprising many Americans are experiencing financial gains," Patrick Hanzel, a CFP® and advanced planning specialist at Policygenius, said. "But many people took on too much debt during the recovery, particularly young people who borrowed to pay for tuition."
Policygenius' Americans & money survey: 2010, 2020 & beyond also found:
- Americans were more likely to buy life insurance in 2019 than 2010 (25.2% vs. 21.2%); the same was true of streaming services (28.4% vs. 21.6%)
- Only 6% of people name "tech giants replacing banks" as the money innovation they hope to see in 2030 vs. the clear winner — "one-click taxes" — which received 36.8% of the vote.
- Paying down debt was also the leading financial goal among Americans for the next decade, though people whose finances improved since 2010 were more likely to prioritize saving for retirement over the next 10 years.
"The most cost-effective way of paying down debt is to focus on highest-interest loans first, also known as the avalanche method," Hanzel said.
Policygenius' survey is based on responses from a nationally representative group of 1,514 Americans ages 18 and older. It was conducted through Google Consumer Surveys from Dec. 7 to Dec. 9, 2019. You can read the full report here.
About Policygenius: Policygenius is the nation's leading online insurance marketplace, with headquarters in New York City and Durham, North Carolina. We've helped more than 30 million people shop for all types of insurance like they shop for everything else — online. We launched in 2014 and are one of the early insurtech pioneers. We were named one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces for 2018 and 2019.