This is Americans' No. 1 financial regret—and it could be costing them thousands

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Lack of savings does appear to be a serious, ongoing problem in the U.S. Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study found that 21 percent of Americans have nothing saved at all for their golden years, and a third of Americans have less than $5,000.

Forgoing contributions to a retirement fund could be costing Americans hundreds of thousands of dollars each. If you put $5,500 per year, the maximum annual amount, into a Roth IRA starting at age 25, it would be worth around $900,000 by the time you’re ready for retirement, assuming a 6 percent rate of return. Contributing just $200 per month, or about half the IRA max, would still yield nearly $400,000 by age 65.

Americans aren’t just lacking in retirement savings. Many don’t have rainy day funds in place, either.

“In the here and now, most adults do not have enough stowed away in a savings account to adequately protect them from going into debt, should disaster (lost job, health scare) occur,” the survey says.

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