When it comes to investing, many New Jerseyans are feeling guilty for not having put away enough money in 2014.

(ryasick, ThinkStock)

In fact, Bank of America's latest Merrill Edge report found that feelings of financial guilt outpaced common regrets like poor eating and drinking choices. The bi-annual survey counted over 1,000 mass affluent Americans, defined as those with $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets.

New Jersey residents felt more guilty than the national average, 41 to 33 percent. Looking ahead, though, people are optimistic about 2015. Nearly half, 48 percent, plan to make saving for retirement a goal for themselves next year.

"People are looking at the decisions they made this year and they want to make adjustments for next year," said Raymond Tenpenny, regional sales manager with Merrill Edge. "When you look at investing, it can be very emotional and there is somewhat of a fear factor coming off of the recession we just had. Typically, what you will find is investors may have too much in their checking accounts and they don't really want to put it to work. So, with the S&P 500 up 6.25 percent, maybe they are looking back and realizing they didn't put enough to work or save enough this year."

Among the key findings:

  • Thinking Long-Term Finances: Almost eight in 10 New Jersey residents, 79 percent, think about their long-term finances when they pay bills, but more than half, 52 percent, don't have this in mind when making daily purchases; a majority don't believe what they spend on entertainment, eating out or gas could have an impact on their finances in the long run.
  • Best Decisions: New Jersey respondents believe that some of the best decisions they're making today are in the areas of avoiding debt and budgeting. On the other hand, when it comes to their worst decisions, New Jersey residents are at their worst when it comes to saving for the future.
  • Retirement is a Top Goal: Despite their choices this year, close to half, 48 percent of New Jersey respondents are making saving for retirement a goal for themselves in 2015.

According to the report, less than one in four, or 23 percent, felt proud about how they handled their money this year and only half said they are content with the financial decisions they made in 2014. In comparison to older generations, millennials are the most focused on their investments. One third admit that they spend the most time each week, among common tasks, on their investments. Twenty percent of Gen Xers and 17 percent of baby boomers reported the same.

"The good news is that many are rethinking their priorities and making savings and retirement goals for themselves in 2015," Tenpenny said. "The bottom line is for all individuals to have plans for their goals in the short term, midterm and long term and stay disciplined in achieving those goals."

Tenpenny also recommends borrowing as little as possible, rebalancing your portfolio, using an online tool and making financial planning a family affair. For more information, click here.