USA financial ignorance hurting our health

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What we don’t know about money leads to chronic illness.

When tested on our financial knowledge, most of us can’t earn a passing grade. But what we don’t know about money is a silent killer.

Stress from debt increases our chances of diabetes and heart disease, says a recent study from workplace wellness program company Financial Finesse.

Another study from financial service technology company Raddon concluded that 44 percent of Americans feel they have a firm understanding of managing money. However, when quizzed on what they know, fewer than half passed, and only 6 percent scored a 90 or higher. Showing most of us also may not know the risks our health is at. has previously reported that not having money and having debt will make you sick from stress.

How money affects your health

The mind has a powerful influence over the body, and stress from having little money takes its toll on both. A study from investment firm Fidelity says stress from money and debt leads to weight gain and lack of sleep.

On top of that, the American Psychology Association’s (APA) “This year’s stress in America” study tells us that even as the economy improves, finances are still our top stressor. Seventy-two percent of adults stress about money some times, and 26 percent say they’re stress over money all of the time.

“If stress becomes chronic, it can lead to significant health consequences,” says APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr.”It’s important to remember that there are steps that people can take to manage their stress in healthy and productive ways, like exercising, spending time with friends and family, and finding ways to get involved in your community, including making your concerns known to policymakers.”

And if financial stress didn’t do enough damage to our health, Americans avoid the doctor when they’re sick. Why? Because they can’t afford the medical bills. Twelve percent say so to APA, and 36 percent say they lack enough money to live a healthy lifestyle.

Americans want to learn about money

Eighty-four percent of Americans have never been involved in a financial program. This could be a reason why so many Americans struggle with money and health. Americans only seem to learn about finances when they have to.

Fifty-one percent feel understanding financial concepts and products are required only on a need-to-know basis. Thirty-eight percent say they want to learn more about money management, investments and retirement saving. Of course these types of programs charge money to attend.

Another study from Samsung says most Americans would like to simply get financial advice from their bank — but from a person, not a computer. Seventy-seven percent just want to talk to someone at the branch about how they can better plan their finances, and 55 percent want to call up and ask a quick question. Those willing to invest the cash to learn more, say it’s worth their while.

“Financial institutions have a powerful role to play in developing financial literacy today,” says Raddon president David Irwin. “A majority of customers who participate in a financial education program find value, and in a market that is intensely experience- and relationship-driven, providing financial education can help institutions to stand out and build depth with their customers. Closing the gap between customer perceptions of their own financial literacy and reality will help them develop the skills to build financial health.”

And as Americans build their financial health, hopefully, what they learn will help improve their physical and mental health.

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of


financial literacy

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