The Impacts of Financial Stress

Have you ever thought how chronic financial stress contributes to your waistline or lack of sleep? A 2016 study shows that financial stress can lead to overeating, failed attempts to quit smoking, higher risk for heart attack, and increased levels of depression and anxiety. Personal finances are such an important part of our daily life and overall well-being, yet we often forget about the toll this stress can take on our physical bodies.

The effects can even sneak into our social and professional lives. Extreme financial stress is a predictor for divorce and can lead to more than 11 lost days of productivity each year. Additionally, a study from the Employee Financial Education Division says employees experiencing financial stress spend 13% of their work day dealing with money. This distraction isn’t good news for you or your employer.

While the debt you carry or the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck may seem out of your control, here are five real steps you can take to help ease the burden of financial stress:

  1. Find small ways each day to save money. Simply having your morning cup of Joe at home instead of the coffee shop or ordering water instead of other drinks at restaurants will keep your financial goals top of mind.
  2. Explore areas where you could save money on a regular basis. For example, ask around for suggestions on affordable car insurance or internet providers.
  3. Find a free activity that allows you time to unwind. Go on a walk, read a book, or take five minutes to breathe in a quiet space. Practice this daily.
  4. Use free financial resources. Check out newsletters, blogs, and podcasts from financial advisors like Pete the Planner and Dave Ramsey.
  5. Talk about it! Nobody needs to struggle alone, even when it comes to personal finance. Set informal household budget meetings with family members or roommates. Call your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you need additional resources in your area or would find counseling valuable.

Many employers are taking steps to help employees achieve greater financial wellness. Ask if there are learning opportunities around your company’s retirement plan provider or even general educational seminars on topics like budgeting or credit protection.

Just like with physical health, financial health is a journey. Achieving financial health doesn’t happen overnight, but persistent efforts combined with efficient use of resources will result in positive progress faster than you think.

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