With everything Americans have to be stressed about, money is the number one source of stress for the average American. It beats out stress related to employment, family responsibilities, and health concerns. In fact, about 3/4 of adults report feeling stressed about money. And to make matters worse, studies have shown that financial struggles may lead to impaired financial judgment, increased spending, and decreased self-control. It’s the cycle of financial stress. And it can be difficult to break free.
What Is Financial Stress?
Financial stress is the emotional, physical or social pain you may feel because of your financial situation. Financial stress can come from many places, but the most common sources of financial stress include:
Lack of money to cover personal expenses
Mounting medical expenses
Saving for retirement
Credit card debt
Home mortgage payments
How Financial Stress Can Affect Your Health
Stress is your body’s response to a demand for change. As it relates to finances, that means excessive worry about money and a lingering demand to change your financial situation can make your body respond in unexpected and often unpleasant ways. It can lead to physical and mental health problems.
In fact, worrying about money may reduce your resilience to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. And it can lead to serious physical health problems like heart attack and stroke. Any one (or a combination) of these conditions can have serious consequences on your home life, career, and your ability to properly manage your money.
How Financial Stress Can Affect Your Career
In a survey of human resource managers, 83% said financial problems have a large impact on employees’ performance at work. Financial troubles affect a person’s ability to focus at work and the overall quality of their work. Worrying about money reduces productivity and morale. And it increases tardiness rates and missed work days. The cycle of financial stress becomes evident when poor performance leads to fear of being fired, which can lead to even more financial stress and performance problems at work.
How Financial Stress Can Affect Your Relationships
Financial stress strains relationships. Couples with financial stress tend to become more hostile, irritable, and uncommunicative toward each other. In fact, disagreements over money are the second leading cause of divorce. And when a person feels his/her spouse spends money foolishly, that couple’s likelihood of divorce increases by 45%.
Healthy Financial Practices Can Benefit You
The strain of financial stress can have negative effects on your well-being. But your personal and professional self can benefit greatly by incorporating a few healthy financial practices. Try these 3 to reduce your financial stress.
- Create a Budget - Financial stress isn’t about what you earn. It’s about what you spend. And learning to live on less is the key to reducing your financial stress. Have a plan in place to pay for all your expenses, including unexpected emergency expenses. With a well-thought-out budget, you can reduce your debt, save for retirement, and avoid many of the negative effects of financial stress.
- Communicate your goals. Whether you sit down with your significant other to work on a budget together or you seek a little positive peer pressure to get you moving in the right direction, communicating your goals can reduce your financial stress.
- Recognize the financial stress cycle. If you see yourself slipping into bad money management habits as a result of financial stress, recognize the problem right away and work to fix it. Understand your areas of weakness and discipline yourself to live more simply and break free from repeating money mistakes.
Since finances are the biggest cause of stress, finding ways to improve your financial health is extremely important. Be aware of the warning signs of financial stress and take control of your personal well-being for a healthier, happier financial future.