If you don’t have enough of the first, you won’t have enough of the second.

In both of my careers – running a successful insurance firm and starring in a successful reality TV series – I’ve learned the answer to the age-old question, “Can money buy happiness?”

The answer is no. In both careers, I’ve met many people who are financially well off but not mentally well off. Then again, not being able to pay your bills is so stressful, it can trigger mental health problems.

That’s not just my opinion. It’s the result of Debt.com’s annual survey on credit cards and mental health. Credit cards are the nation’s go-to source of unsecured debt.

“Secured” debt is your mortgage or your auto loan, because if you don’t make your payments, the bank can take your home and the repo man can take your car. Credit cards are “unsecured” because no one comes looking for your credit cards.

Credit cards are a wonderful convenience, but unfortunately, they’ve become an awful addiction. Debt.com recently asked 1,000 Americans, “How do your credit card bills affect you?” The top answer – more than 4 in 10 – was “makes me feel stressed.”

Other answers were…

  • Hopeless (just over 8%)
  • Sad (almost 7%)
  • Loss of sleep (2.75%)
  • Low self-esteem (2.5%)
  • Loss of appetite (1%)

None of the answers were, “I feel great!” Even worse, credit card balances compel people to do things that damage not only their mental health, but also their loved ones’. For example, Debt.com asked, “ How does credit card debt affect you socially?”

More than 11% replied, “My significant other and I argue over my credit card spending.” Another 11% said, “I hide my credit card spending from my significant other.”

That’s not how healthy relationships last. It’s also not how healthy finances are built. Another shocking stat: More than a fifth told Debt.com they missed a credit card payment because they “couldn’t bring myself to look at the balance.”  So, they paid a hefty late fee and ran up more interest charges simply because they couldn’t bear to see the bill.

That’s not healthy in so many ways. And it’s getting worse. This is the second year Debt.com has asked these same questions. For example, in 2022, more than 21% admitted feeling “stressed” after using credit cards. This year, it jumped to almost 34%.

Sometimes, fans ask me why I’ve continued to run my own business, Coto Insurance & Financial Services. Isn’t that boring? Isn’t it stressful? The answers are No and Yes.

It’s not boring because I love what I do, which is helping people navigate complicated financial details so they can live a full life. But yes, it’s stressful because I often see first-time clients who are stressed out themselves, and as an empathetic person, I pick up that energy and internalize some of it. Helping them out financially so they feel better mentally is fulfilling, but until we get down that road, it’s painful for me as well as them.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to address this very important topic. If you think your mental health is suffering because your financial health is suffering, I urge you to get financial counseling before you seek psychological counseling. For starters, financial counseling is FREE through Debt.com. With one phone call, you’ll get a free in-depth debt analysis and no-pressure advice on how to get out from under your stubborn bills.

If all goes right, your mental health might start improving immediately. I’ve seen it happen with people I’ve sent to Debt.com and with my own clients. In a weird way, financial causes of mental health problems are easier to fix than other causes, even though they seem like the most daunting at first.

As I usually say to folks in these situations, you don’t have to do what I recommend. But do something – just don’t do nothing.

Call Debt.com at (844) 844-2543 for a free debt analysis from a certified credit counselor and for more information, check out: debt.com/vicki

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About the Author

Vicki Gunvalson

Vicki Gunvalson

Before Vicki Gunvalson starred on Bravo TV’s hit series “Real Housewives of Orange County” – which launched the franchise in 2006 – she was already a financial expert. Gunvalson has owned and operated Coto Insurance for three decades. Based in Irvine, California, Coto has been ranked among the top 1 percent of insurance companies nationwide, with more than 10,000 clients in those 30 years. Coto’s success helped Gunvalson become a member of the Million Dollar Round Table – which represents the top life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 70 countries. She continued to grow Coto during 16 salacious years on the hit show and subsequent celebrity projects. But it wasn’t just Coto that has earned Gunvalson praise and awards for her financial acumen. Licensed in every state not just as an insurance agent but also a retirement specialist, she has made it her mission to help people – especially women – become financially independent. She has partnered with Debt.com to help even more of them. “I’ve counseled thousands of Americans who experienced their own melodrama – over money,” Gunvalson says. “Debt.com is in some ways exactly like me – and in other ways, unlike me. We both care deeply about getting good people in better financial shape. But unlike me, they do it quietly!”

Published by Debt.com, LLC