One of the leading causes of stress among Americans is finances, and we have found that many of our clients, whether they were involved in a car accident, suffered an on-the-job injury, or are dealing with a disability, are also suffering from financial stress.
According to the American Psychological Association, 72% of Americans report feeling stressed over money at least part of the time, and nearly one-quarter of Americans experience extreme stress over their finances.
In this article, we will look at stress caused by finances, including:
- What causes financial stress,
- How financial stress is affecting your health,
- Methods of coping with financial stress, and
- The importance of overcoming financial stress.
What is Financial Stress?
Financial stress can happen to anyone, but it is more common in low-income households. It most often comes in one or both of two forms – 1) not having enough money to meet your needs and 2) employment-related stress.
We can’t understate the stress that many people feel when they are unable to meet their basic needs, especially when the person is trying to provide for a family, and they cannot pay for things like:
- The rent or mortgage,
- Their vehicles,
- Their utility bills,
- Medical services,
- Christmas presents or toys for the kids, or
- Groceries to put dinner on the table.
A person’s job can be another source of financial stress. For example, if there are no employee benefits, no flexibility in taking time off, no maternity or paternity leave, and insufficient sick leave, the fear of losing your job when a personal crisis hits can be overwhelming.
And what if you work in an unsafe or abusive environment at your job, but you cannot leave the job because you are already living paycheck to paycheck?
How Does Financial Stress Affect Your Health?
Everyone stresses over money, right?
For some of us, however, financial stress can have a profound impact on our daily lives and our relationship with our family and friends.
Money-related stress also has negative health effects like:
- Behavioral changes,
- Physical symptoms,
- Delayed health care due to insufficient finances,
- Poor mental health – with no “excess” funds for counseling or mental health care, mental health issues are not treated and worsen over time, and
- Unhealthy coping methods like overeating, alcohol use, and drug use.
For many people, financial stress is more than just a bad day – it can lead to chronic and serious health issues.
How Can You Cope with Financial Stress?
Stress is your body’s way of signaling to you that something is wrong, and that action needs to be taken to correct it – it’s a call to action, intended to motivate you to make the necessary changes.
If you find yourself withdrawing into a downward spiral of feelings of hopelessness over your financial situation, consider some coping mechanisms that may reduce your stress and help you to get back control of your life.
For example, verywellmind.com suggests:
- Create extra sources of income – this can be an additional source of stress in itself, but it may be the answer. Consider methods by which you can increase your income with a side business or a low-stress second job, to 1) create an additional income stream 2) without significantly increasing your stress level,
- Reduce your budget – take control of your finances, list all your income and expenses, prioritize your expenses, and find the expenditures that are not essential that you can cut while you are getting back on track,
- Stress management – actively work to reduce the amount of stress you feel by recognizing your triggers, eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep each night, practicing mindfulness techniques like meditation or yoga, and getting some form of physical exercise each day, and
- Learn how debt works – research and learn how to reduce your debt, for example by paying off your debts one at a time beginning with the lowest amounts, consolidating your debt, or paying off the debt with the largest interest rates.
Follow Through and Overcome Your Financial Stress
Once you recognize that you are suffering from excessive financial stress, take the time to plan for long-term success and follow through with your plan, adjusting as needed as you go.
For example, you may want to consider:
- Making a budget plan that accounts for the necessities but cuts out all spending on entertainment or luxuries for certain times,
- Get professional help with your finances – this could mean debt counseling, debt consolidation, filing for bankruptcy, or finding any type of professional who specializes in helping people in your situation,
- Look at the available student-loan forgiveness programs, income-based repayment plans, or forbearance programs if you have student loan debt,
- Contact the bank, utility company, credit card companies, or other creditors to explain your situation and see if there is an alternate payment plan that can be arranged,
- Ask for help – talk to family and friends about your situation. Even if they cannot help you to pay your bills, they can help to provide you emotional support when you are feeling overwhelmed, and
- Take the time to relax and enjoy life and your family. Take a walk, go on a camping trip, go fishing, go hiking, engage in a hobby, spend time with friends and family, and, no matter how bad your finances are, make time to forget about money and live your best life.
Law Office of Nicholas G. Callas, P.A.
If you need legal help filing for social security disability, workers’ compensation, or a personal injury claim in SC or NC, call the Law Office of Nicholas G. Callas, P.A. at 803-369-3968 or contact us through our website for a free consultation.
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