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5 tips for avoiding financial regret

Most people say their greatest financial regret is habitually overspending, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

The foundation recently conducted an online poll and out of more than 2,200 respondents, 53 percent said habitual overspending was their biggest financial regret.

Overspending far outweighed other financial concerns. Of respondents, 18 percent regretted inadequately saving, 14 percent regretted insufficiently preparing for retirement, 10 percent regretted not having bought a house, and 5 percent regretted buying a house, according to a news release.

"Although most people have financial regrets, it is important to not dwell on past mistakes," said Gail Cunningham, foundation spokeswoman. "Instead, look forward and take action by constructing a plan that recognizes the realities of the situation, repairs financial damage, and moves in a positive direction toward financial security."

Financial counselors at The Village Family Service Center, a National Foundation for Credit Counseling member agency headquartered in Fargo, N.D., offer the following five tips for avoiding financial regret:

1. Create a budget:

A budget is the cornerstone that a sound financial future is built upon. Without it, danger signals are missed and spending can easily spiral out of control. For help getting started, use the Spending Plan Worksheet on The Village's website at

2. Become a track star:

Track your spending by writing down every cent you spend for 30 days and do this at least once every six months. The exercise will reveal any leaks in your budget and provide an opportunity to adjust your spending to best meet your goals.

3. Review your credit report:

A credit report is a reflection of a person's financial track record, and is the basis of the credit score, making it a must-read, particularly for those rebuilding credit. Consumers are allowed one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three bureaus. To access your free report, go to

4. Realize that life happens:

Life is filled with the unexpected, but you can guard against this by creating a financial safety net. Even small amounts of money consistently deposited into a rainy day savings account can create enough of a cushion to make it through most short-term emergencies.

5. Become a financial adult:

Be financially mature by understanding the nuts and bolts of personal finance, and acting on that knowledge. This may involve making hard choices or changing your attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle, but it is unlikely that financial decisions made on auto-pilot will result in a smooth landing.

To get help avoiding or recovering from financial missteps, contact financial counselors at The Village Family Service Center at (800) 450-4019 or