You May Be Ignoring This Important Aspect of Your Health

By Melanie Lockert
July 27, 2017

Do you ever feel kind of down and stressed about your money sitch? If you nodded along, you’re not alone. In fact, the American Psychological Association stated in its recent report that 61 percent of people consider money a significant source of stress in their life.

While it’s normal to have some money stress from time to time, those who experience significant stress from money may be putting their mental health at risk.

A look at financial wellness

When it comes to health, many of you probably think about your physical health. For instance, if you’re sick, you go see a doctor. To a lesser extent, you might also think that your overall health means your mental health as well, especially if stress is taking a toll on your daily life.

But one area you may not consider or talk about when it comes to health is your financial health — also called financial wellness. Financial wellness is all about having your money in balance. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines financial well-being as:

  • Being in control of your day-to-day and monthly expenses
  • Being able to handle unexpected financial situations (such as your car breaking down)
  • Being on a path to meet your financial goals
  • Being able to use money as a tool in order to make choices and get the most out of life

As it turns out, many people aren’t doing too hot in the financial wellness department. According to the Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2016, three out of 10 adults are struggling just to get by financially. And, only 29 percent of adults surveyed stated that they are living comfortably.

The link between financial wellness and mental health

As noted above, many people already experience significant stress from money. Long-term stress, in turn, can have a big impact on your mental health (and of course, your physical health too).

In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health notes that long-term stress can lead to depression, anxiety, anger, and irritability. What’s more concerning is the effect of debt on mental health – even leading some to commit suicide. Studies show that people who commit suicide are more likely to be in debt — eight times more likely, actually. 

As you can see, a lack of financial wellness can directly affect your mental health. While many suffer in silence. all is not lost. If you’re not financially fit at the moment, there are ways to work toward financial wellness. There are also places to go for help.

Pursuing financial wellness

If you’re unsure where to start and need some help pursuing financial wellness, consider contacting a National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) accredited counselor. They have free resources to help you get back on track financially.

You can also help yourself by first recognizing what areas of your financial life are out of balance and causing you stress. Is it a debt issue? An income issue? Or are there underlying spending issues?

Once you identify what areas of your financial life are causing you stress, you can take steps toward financial wellness. The keys to financial wellness are:

  • Living within your means (not spending more than you make)
  • Having a savings plan in place (pro tip: you can save automatically with Chime’s Automatic Savings program)
  • Working toward debt payoff
  • Setting realistic short-term and long-term financial goals and working toward them
  • Using credit responsibly (paying off credit cards, making payments on time, keeping balances low)
  • Having a healthy relationship with money

Financial wellness is all about getting your financial life in order and taking a balanced approach with your money. After all, you want to control your money. You don’t want your money to control you.

Financial wellness = less stress

Pursuing financial wellness can improve other areas of your life, too. Just think about the weight that will be lifted off your shoulders when you get a handle on your finances. Although money technically can’t buy happiness — it comes pretty close when you change your spending habits, pay all your bills and live the life you want.

Melanie Lockert is the founder of the blog and author of the book, Dear Debt. Her work has appeared on Business Insider, Time, Huffington Post and more. She is also the co-founder of the Lola Retreat, which helps bold women face their fears, own their dreams and figure out a plan to be in control of their finances.

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