July 29, 2022
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Acute financial stress is taking a severe toll on the mental and physical health of many Americans. It also has lowered their productivity at work.
The reason is that personal finances impact directly on how you view what you are worth, says Dr. Erika Rasure, former professor of business and financial services at Maryville University and now financial therapist for Beyond Finance, a debt-resolution company based in Houston, Texas.
When you struggle with making ends meet it lowers your self-worth, she explains. That reduction in self-worth is reflected when you focus on what you earn or your degree of comfort in discussing your financial stresses with others.
Tools are available, however, to help those who are suffering from financial problems, she notes.
Rasure was commenting on the results of a survey of 2,000 adult Americans conducted by OnePoll for Beyond Finance. She calls the results of the survey “staggering.”
A leading cause of the financial stress facing Americans today is the rising cost of living, the survey found. In 2022 the average American household income was $74,099. The survey, however, found that people believe they should earn at least $86,000 in order never to feel stressed about their finances again.
Here’s a look at some of the findings in the survey that illustrate the degree of financial stress that Americans are facing today and how it is reflected in their daily lives.
Eight in every 10 people surveyed reported that they carry some kind of debt. Four in every 10 respondents said that the debt:
• Has lowered their self-esteem;
• Has affected their productivity at work;
• Has harmed their physical health.
Two-thirds of those polled had failed to attend social events because of embarrassment or shame about their financial situations.
Those functions included weddings, birthday parties, networking events, happy hours, dates, and even church. Each of those events registered about a third of the events that respondents said they avoided.
Here’s a look at how Americans with financial problems react to their situation:
• They go “stress shopping” when they feel overwhelmed financially (67%);
• They feel alone when they experience financial stress (58%);
• They are ashamed that they are struggling to manage their money or are struggling to pay their bills (58%);
• They blame themselves for their present money problems (35%);
• They avoid looking at their bills or believe they are doing too little to change their financial situation (35%).
Clients of Beyond Finance have said that it is hard to have awkward conversations about money with their partners, says Tom Blank, senior Vice President of clients at Beyond Finance. Issues fester until they feel they have become out of control, he explains.
He suggests that people facing this problem take advantage of tools to help them carry on productive discussions on money instead of turning them into arguments. Beyond Finance provides such tools, he says.
We can all be impacted by symptoms of acute financial stress, Rasure says. These include avoidance behavior that is related to money, feelings that we are isolated, and guilt that can affect anyone no matter how much money they earn.
Options are available to help reduce debt or to refinance it and provide people with greater peace of mind, Rasure explains.
It is time to praise those who are actively taking steps to deal with their debt, she adds.