Americans List Their Most 'Foolish' Financial Mistakes . / Credit: Dreamstime

Despite the known negative consequences of bad financial decisions, a new poll shows Americans are making a wide variety of foolish choices with their money.

The purchase of unnecessary items tops the list of financial flubs made by U.S. adults, according to a survey conducted by CouponCabin.com to mark April Fools' Day.

While more than 50 percent admitted to buying things they didn’t need, an assortment of other money missteps also made the list:

  • Not using coupons as much as possible — 26 percent
  • Making only minimum payments on a credit card each month — 22 percent
  • Overdrawing bank/checking account — 21 percent
  • Lending large sums of money to a friend or family member that wasn't paid back — 18 percent
  • Making late payments on credit cards — 17 percent
  • Making late payments on basic bills like insurance, utilities and rent — 15 percent
  • Not having adequate insurance coverage— 10 percent
  • Not knowing their credit score — 10 percent
  • Borrowing large sums of money from a friend or family member that couldn't be repaid — 6 percent
  • Co-signing on a loan that was defaulted — 7 percent

"Financial mistakes are inevitable from time to time, but it's important to educate yourself on how to avoid hiccups that could hurt in the long run," said Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer at CouponCabin.com. "Many people are taking charge of their financial situations by seeking out advice from online resources, family and friends, and financial experts."

 

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Warrick offers several tips for avoiding foolish financial mistakes:

  • Create reminders — Set up alerts on an online calendar or mobile device when bills are due, or set up automatic bill paying through an online banking service.
  • Start clipping and clicking — Stay up-to-date on the latest coupons by checking the Internet for online coupon codes, grocery coupons and much more.
  • Keep emotions out of it — Be honest with yourself, and your loved ones who ask for monetary help, about what you can logically afford to do without hurting your financial future.

The research was based on surveys of more than 2,200 U.S. adults.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.