Not Feeling Financially "Well?" Believe it or Not, it Could Make You Physically Sick
Even high earners face financial setbacks. Constant financial problems could lead to mental and physical problems. Here's how to fight against it all.
Feeling kind of sick these days? (And it has nothing to do with airborne viruses?) It might have everything to do with how well you feel financially.
According to research conducted by Personal Capital, "financial wellness" can affect your overall health. Personal Capital's research found that 77% of Americans say that their financial health in fact, does affect their physical and mental health. In addition, 57% of Americans connect their overall happiness to their finances!
Even high earners aren't immune, and that data goes back to 2014. More than 25% of respondents through a New York Life survey reported that even with annual incomes greater than $100,000, people considered themselves highly stressed.
How Financial Health Affects Mental Health
According to HelpGuide, studies have demonstrated a cyclical link between financial worries and mental health problems. Financial worries often link to depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Similarly, poor finances often lead to stress and anxiety that can further impact finances, according to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.
A Harris Poll showed that 90% of Americans felt financial stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Financial Health Affects Physical Health
Debt stress or other financial issues, in addition to making you feel depressed or anxious, can also affect your overall physical health — not just your mental health.
Paul J. Lavrakas, a research psychologist who analyzed the results of the survey, and colleagues from the Ohio State University, developed the "Debt Stress Index” to track the impact of worry about financial debt on health and well-being. Among people who reported high debt stress, 27% had ulcers or digestive tract problems.
Wellmark goes as far to say that the number one cause of stress in America is money, even among those employed. The reasons for financial stress include saving for retirement, paying the bills and buying day-to-day necessities.
Financial stress can cause acute-phase inflammation across all socioeconomic classes. It can result in the following afflictions:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
In addition, Wellmark stated that all of these combined can make their way into your work environment and impact your organization.
How to Beat Financial Stress
Personal Capital's report says that American's believe there’s no “one size fits all” state of financial well-being. Many (72%) believe that financial health is a journey instead of culminating into one specific milestone.
Let's look at some tips to help you avoid financial stress, no matter how much you earn.
Tip 1: Develop a budget.
If you're groaning inwardly about the thought of developing a budget, remember that the cause of your financial stress could be related to the fact that you don't have a budget.
Start by tracking your expenses for a week to see where you're spending extra cash. Next, learn how much you earn and figure out how much flows out of your budget. Get a budget app to help you determine how to spend your money and to track it. Once you put together your budget, you may even find extra money to put toward debt.
A budget could take care of a lot of stress you feel about your finances. Why not cut out more sleepless nights by utilizing this simple solution?
Tip 2: Start an emergency fund.
You might wonder how in the world you'll start an emergency fund if you're already having financial problems. However, it doesn't take much to kick $1,000 into a low-risk fund like a money market account. Adding just $100 into a savings account means you'll have $1,000 in no time.
The key: Make it automatic so you don't have to make a conscious decision to save the money.
Add up all the money you make in a given month and aim to save at least six months' worth of expenses.
Tip 3: Examine the root of your financial stress.
Be honest with yourself. Why do you feel financial stress?
Personal Capital's report said that Americans feel that achieving financial well-being can be elusive. In fact, many of those surveyed (60%) feel confident in their ability to achieve financial health. However, only 48% feel financially healthy today.
Ask yourself: What will make you feel the most financially able? Being able to save beyond paying bills? Having enough money to send your child to college?
Also ask yourself where you're spending unnecessarily. Do you spend too much on cars? Toys like boats and ATVs? Do you have a spending problem?
Get to the root of your issues so you can tackle them head-on.
Tip 4: Get a financial advisor on your side.
The Personal Capital survey says that 76% of Americans responded that receiving helpful financial advice makes them feel more confident in their ability to achieve financial wellness. Are you like the 69% of Americans that believe that financial services companies need to make achieving financial wellness more accessible and easier to understand?
A financial advisor can help you create a long-term saving and investing strategy. It'll make you really feel great about your long-term financial plan. In fact, one session with a financial advisor can change the trajectory of your life!
Tip 5: Get help through credit counseling.
You may be in major debt to "afford" your lifestyle. Many high earners find themselves in that situation. Tap into a credit counseling service to help you restructure your debt and negotiate with creditors.
Remember that it's okay to get help. Most people need assistance on their journey to financial well-being.
Achieve Financial Well-Being (and Physical and Mental Well-Being as Well)
If you're not feeling great (financially, mentally and/or physically), you're not alone. Many Americans report feeling under the weather, and their financial health could be the culprit.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%), regardless of income, face at least one roadblock, including lack of income (27%) and constant expenses (23%).
According to Personal Capital, financial wellbeing is rooted in “freedom and independence.” The vast majority (81%) say they'll feel financially free only when they have the freedom and ability to use their money how they want.
Do you feel the same way?