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Most Americans admit making big financial mistakes, poll finds

September 18, 2012|By Walter Hamilton
  • Most people say they've made at least one big financial mistake
Most people say they've made at least one big financial mistake (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Most Americans say they’ve made big financial mistakes, with many people costing themselves thousands of dollars, according to a new poll.

Two-thirds of people surveyed acknowledged making one “really bad financial decision,” with 47% admitting to more than one bone-headed move.

The $5,000 median loss — the point at which half the people lost less than that amount and half lost more — was bad enough.

But the average hit was far worse — a whopping $23,000 — because some people really screwed up.

Eleven percent of respondents lost more than $50,000 while 2% cost themselves more than $200,000.

Of course, many people consider themselves to be financial geniuses despite their flubs. Roughly four-fifths of people rated themselves "good" or "excellent" at family budgeting and handling credit card debt. About two-thirds of people gave themselves high marks for retirement savings and getting a mortgage loan.

The survey was conducted by the Consumer Federation of America and Primerica.

The pollsters, though, should admit to making a big mistake themselves: They don’t reveal any of the mistakes people made. How exactly do you lose $200,000?


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Follow Walter Hamilton on Twitter @LATwalter

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