More Than Half of Young Investors Have Regrets From the Last Year

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Many Millennials and Gen Zers who invested in the stock market over the last year wish they had done things differently.

Some 57% of Gen Z investors and 50% of millennials regret how they invested in the last 12 months, outpacing their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts, according to a recent study from MagnifyMoney. The online survey of 1,295 U.S. consumers was conducted from Feb. 15 to 21.

The most common regret among younger investors was not investing more money, with 23% of millennials and 15% of Gen Zers saying they wish they'd socked away larger amounts, the survey found. Investors also regretted some of their specific decisions, such as when they bought and sold certain assets.

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The increased regret could be due to different goals. Younger investors were more likely to say their primary investing goal is to get rich, while older investors said they're focused on saving for a comfortable retirement.

"If they're thinking, 'I can really get rich off of investing,' then they're going to regret things like not investing sooner or more," said Ismat Mangla, MagnifyMoney's executive editor.

Different goals yield opposite investing styles

Because of these different goals, younger investors are often more aggressive in their strategies, the survey found. While some of this is fine as they have more time in the market to build savings and recoup possible losses, it may also lead to them making riskier choices that they come to regret, said Mangla.

For example, the third-most-likely regret for Gen Z investors was putting too much money in cryptocurrency, the study found.

On the flip side, those closer to retirement are in a very different stage of investing. They're looking to protect their portfolios during market volatility to ensure that they have sufficient income and savings for retirement.

This is also reflected in popular assets by age — older investors are more likely than their youthful counterparts to have mutual funds and annuities, while younger investors are more likely to invest in cryptocurrencies.

How to avoid regret

To shield yourself from too much investing regret, experts generally recommend starting as soon as possible and coming up with a plan for your money to grow it over time.

"You want to start as soon as you can," said Shelly-Ann Eweka, senior director of financial planning strategy at TIAA. This is because with more time, you'll reap greater benefits from compounding, which is the interest earned on your invested money.

Some people may put off investing to prioritize other financial goals, which Eweka cautions against.  

"You really should be trying to manage all of your financial goals at once," she said, adding that if you put off investing, you're missing out on years of compounding growth. "That's why it's important to work with someone."

Enlisting the help of a financial professional can make this process a lot easier, said Eweka.

Mangla agrees. "There is value to having a financial advisor to help you out," she said, adding that younger investors can also look to professional for advice, not just asset management.

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