Stressing over money

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New research says more than 1 in 4 Americans underestimate their wealth.

Half of us struggle to manage our money both now and into the future — but many of us also don’t really get where we stand.

That’s according to new research from financial services provider Prudential. It surveyed more than 3,000 people and found more than a quarter of Americans have a skewed understanding of their money…

  • 17 percent are “falling behind,” but think they’re fine
  • And 12 percent of people “have a high level of financial health,” but are pessimistic about it

“Our relationship with money can affect our physical health, stress levels and state of mind, family dynamics and even our performance at work,” says Prudential COO Stephen Pelletier. The study adds that pessimistic people “could subject themselves to unnecessary and unhealthy stress — and rob themselves of experiences and comforts that could improve their quality of life.”

If you’re stressing over money problems, first make sure you have them.

Need help managing your finances? can provide you with the tools to relieve your financial stress.

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Stressing over money strains your relationships

If you’re trying to separate your money problems from your personal problems, you’ll probably fail.

Recent research from investment firm Northwestern Mutual found 28 percent of Americans say financial anxiety depressed them “at least” monthly…

  • 41 percent of people say it negatively impacts relationships with significant others.
  • And 19 percent said they argued over money at least monthly.

In the realm of money problems, Northwestern asked respondents to rate the types of issues causing them the most stress:

  • Rising healthcare: 59 percent
  • Unplanned financial emergency: 55 percent
  • Unplanned health emergency: 53 percent
  • Income: 48 percent
  • Level of savings: 48 percent
  • Debt: 42 percent
  • Retirement planning: 41 percent

There are ways to deal with financial stress and outlines them in its Education Center on the topic — more importantly, remember: You’re not alone.

Women stress more than men

Since women around the world earn less than men, it’s not surprising they stress over money more — and more often.

Recent research from employer benefits company Unum found 54 percent of working women experience stress daily compared to 47 percent of men. In fact, as reported before, women are seven percent more likely to say they experience stress “daily to weekly.” Why? Here are some of the biggest reasons…

  • Financial: 49 percent
  • Home life and family relationships: 43 percent
  • Personal health: 35 percent
  • Job responsibilities: 33 percent
  • Family members’ health:33 percent

Prudential’s research backs up the gender divide.

“Women uniformly see themselves as being less on track to meet their financial goals than men,” it reads. The “biggest gaps” between men and women really came through when Prudential asked them how prepared their families would be to cope in different situations. For example, if something happens to them, only 37 percent of women thought their families could keep their standard of living, as opposed to 55 percent of men. Here are other ways men and women differed in their financial confidence…

  • Ability to help children with home down payment: 28 percent of women versus 45 percent of men
  • Having enough savings to last through retirement: 36 percent of women versus 51 percent of men
  • Ability to choose how to spend retirement: 40 percent of women versus 54 percent of men

You can relieve some of your money stress for free

There are many ways to get rid of the stresses debt causes — especially getting rid of the debt itself.

But before doing that — and even if you can’t do that right now — it helps to get your ducks in a row. Building a budgeting plan is a good starting point. Here are four basic steps to doing just that:

  • Total up your monthly income
  • Divide your expenses into categories
  • Fixed needs like rent or a mortgage payment
  • Flexible needs like food or an electric bill
  • Discretionary wants like going to the movies
  • Check that you’re making more than spending
  • Set priorities to repay debt, with specific goals

To learn more, check out’s interactive budgeting tool.

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Meet the Author

Gideon Grudo

Gideon Grudo

Writer for

Grudo is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist based in Brooklyn, NY. Previously he was the digital editor of Air Force Magazine and the managing editor of South Florida Gay News.

Budgeting & Saving, News

money management

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