As the old saying goes, “at least you have your health.” But do you? Do you really? With all the craziness happening in the world today, it is almost impossible to stay, keep, and/or get healthy. There are many stressors in our daily lives that impact, to some degree, our health and well-being. Money and finance issues rank among the biggest when it comes to causes of stress and anxiety in our lives. Why is that? What are the numbers? Just how much does carrying personal debt impact our mental and physical health? Is it really a huge issue or is it more a matter of individual perspective? Let’s find out together.
What is the average debt average people carry?
In June of 2020, it was reported by the Federal Reserve that the total consumer debt was slightly under $4.1 trillion, with revolving debt coming in at just under $1 trillion and nonrevolving debt being just over $3.1 trillion. So just to be clear, let me define those terms starting with consumer debt. Consumer debt has been defined by Investopedia as, “… personal debts that are owed as a result of purchasing goods that are used for individual or household consumption. Credit card debt, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and payday loans are all examples of consumer debt.” Revolving debt, also known as revolving credit has been defined by Investopedia as, “… a situation where credit replenishes up to the agreed upon threshold, known as the credit limit, as the customer pays off debt.” And finally, nonrevolving debt “is also known as installment debt because you typically repay it in regular monthly installments featuring a fixed amount,” per the folks over at The Nest.
What are some of the health issues linked to carrying excessive debt?
The human body is a wonderous and mysterious creation. It really is a remarkable piece of work; however, it is not without its flaws. The body can succumb to a wide array and variety of maladies but physically and mentally. The human body is susceptible to attacks physically and emotionally; what I mean is that the stressors that affect can come in the form of something tangible (like a fall or punch to the face) or intangible (like worry or verbal abuse). For our purposes here, we are dealing with almost exclusively the intangible and their effects on health.
So, what are some of the more common types of health issues that are related to debt or carrying debt. One study conducted by Sturgeon et al. published in 2016 determined that financial issues can elevate psychological stress, play a factor in lower self-esteem, increase strained interpersonal relationships and increase difficulty being productive and focused at work.
A study conducted by Gunasinghe et al. published in 2018 concluded that there was evidence supporting a link between exposure to debt and common mental disorders. Clearly there is no shortage of evidence linking your health with the state of your finances.
How does your personal debt affect your personal health?
According to a study conducted by The American Psychological Association (APA) in 2017, it was concluded that money came in one percentage point below the number one stressor, which was concern for the future of the nation, as the most common source of stress among Americans. Money ranked higher, in order, than “work, current political climate, and violence and crime”!
So how does this impact people’s health and lives? Believe it or not, according to the survey, the reported levels of stress has remained about the same across 2016 and 2017, averaging 4.8 on a scale of 1 to 10. However, those that reported feeling the effects of stress did increase, 40% in 2016 to 45% in 2017. “Around one-third of adults reported experiencing feeling nervous or anxious (36 percent), irritability or anger (35 percent), and fatigue (34 percent) due to their stress,” as recorded in the study.
Statistics on health and debt.
Quite obviously stress affects many of us daily. Let’s delve into the numbers for a bit. What are the numbers and how do they look for who? According to the APA’s 2017 study, women, more so than men, reported experiencing higher levels of stress. In the same vein, Hispanic and Black men reported higher levels of stress than their White counterparts. Even older adults have reported an increase in their stress levels. The group with the highest across the board stress levels are Millennials. And the effects of stress, according to the data, knew no boundaries as the reported levels were fairly consistent no matter what part of the country the data came from.
What are some of the ways to deal with debt related health issues?
As with any issue or problem there are usually many different ways to deal with or overcome the circumstances that you are facing. And fortunately dealing with the effects of debt on your mental and physical well-being is no different. Although some of these options may be hard to see or implement due to debt induced stress or anxiety; nevertheless, they are still viable options. You might just need an objective by-stander to help you realize them. So, what are some commonsense options to dealing with debt induced health issues.
The first step is to create a budget. This a straightforward, relatively simple task that helps organize your income and expenditures in a concrete fashion. There are plenty of online resources to help you get your budget up and running. Check out this Debt Elimination Blueprint from the team at Debt Reset US. It comes in a downloadable pdf and even has a couple of downloadable Excel budget sheets. Once you have a budget, then you can attack your debt by reallocating resources currently going to unnecessary expenditures and apply those resources to paying down your debt.
Another option is putting together some type of emergency savings. For example, I like to keep around $1500 in a separate savings account just for emergencies. This is in addition to my regular checking, savings, and investment accounts. In my situation, I know that I have at least 2 months’ rent in reserve. And speaking of reserves, a goal of six months’ rent, and essential bills should be in place.
Thirdly, try and avoid plopping down the plastic. Again, having one or maybe two credit cards for emergencies is not a bad thing. But try not to rely on using credit cards when money is tight. Credit cards are certainly a fickle master and getting into the habit of using them instead of working within your budget can lead to problems down the road.
Lastly, asking for help and working with a company, like Debt Reset US, can be and is a viable option. Legitimate debt relief companies can help eliminate your debt and even help you repair your credit. But be sure to do your due diligence before signing up to work with any company.
As we can clearly see, whether we like to admit it or not, stress impacts a large swath of people living in America. It, being stress, knows no boundaries; it does not discriminate between locations, socioeconomic levels, race, age, or gender. It is an equal opportunity annoyance. The sad fact is the current societal conditions, including how to handle personal debt, have a negative impact on the health and well-being of each of us to some degree. But there is hope!
There are plenty of ways to help relieve the stress; things like exercise, meeting with friends, and connecting with family. The biggest way to eliminate stress is to admit that you feel stressed! Like with any other issue, once you acknowledge that it is an issue, you can start the process of dealing with it appropriately. Don’t let the blues cast a dark hue over your life. Get out that and get the appropriate help if you need it. The world is filled with beautiful colors even during our darkest times.