Ask Carrie: Stressed About Money? You're Not Alone
Dear readers: The recent market plunge has a lot of people feeling more anxious than usual. Not surprising. Feeling out of control of your finances -- and your future -- takes both a financial and emotional toll. And it's not only during times like these that money causes stress. Everyday money management -- or lack of it -- can cause problems in seemingly unrelated parts of your life, from your relationships to your job to your health.
With May designated as Mental Health Month, it seems timely to focus on the important part finances play in your sense of well-being. This year's theme is "Tools 2 Thrive" and offers practical tips on things like finding the positive, eliminating toxic influences and creating healthy routines. To me this positive, practical theme is a perfect segue into not only understanding how money management skills affect your happiness but also reinforcing the practical steps you can take to help yourself stay healthy financially and emotionally. Because even when external events are seemingly out of control, there are a number of things you can do to keep yourself on an even keel.
The Emotional Side of Money
Think you're the only one who sometimes feels overwhelmed by money worries? Absolutely not. According to a 2019 survey by CompareCards.com, 7 in 10 Americans say they've cried over something related to their finances. And money was an emotional trigger regardless of age or gender.
A 2018 Harris Poll found that money was a major source of stress for 44% of respondents. The specific causes included low income, the rising cost of health care, too much debt and lack of retirement savings. A Schwab Retirement Survey found that 42% of people surveyed who aren't contributing to their company-provided 401(k) plan said keeping up with monthly bills was the biggest challenge.
These findings are troubling not just because a significant percentage of Americans are struggling with money concerns but because of what those concerns can do to the rest of your life.
Financial Anxiety Affects More Than Your Bottom Line
A number of studies show how financial insecurity leads to a host of other problems. Financial issues are linked to stress and anxiety in general and lead to poor physical health and reduced job performance.
As we all know, worries about the cost of health care are high. There's even an expression in the medical world for the problems a patient has paying medical bills -- "financial toxicity." In other words, worrying about large bills and debt can actually make you sick and even increase the amount of pain you feel!
When financial stress hits close to home, it can cause relationship problems between spouses, parents and kids, and even friends. Childhood poverty has been shown to have far-reaching effects on kids' physical and mental health.