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Half of Americans say their financial situations scare them.

Americans are insecure with their finances and it’s beating up on their mental health.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans say that anxiety from money problems makes them feel depressed at least monthly, says a study from investment firm Northwestern Mutual. And 17 percent say as often as hourly.

Here’s a look at the kind of money problems making Americans so anxious…

  • 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

And we feel the burden of financial stress in our personal lives. Forty-one percent say it negatively impacts their relationships with their significant others. In fact, 19 percent say they argue at least monthly. But go figure, 9 in 10 of us feel happy when our finances are in order.

Thirty percent of Americans feel stress over money all the time, according to a separate survey from mobile banking app Varo Money. And 85 percent are stressed sometimes. That means the majority of Americans feel they can’t possibly have their finances in order as often as they’d like to. Especially not with the kind of debt Americans have.

How debt affects health

Americans collectively hold $1.023 trillion in credit card debt and $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. All that debt has to get paid back. But when we can’t — we feel the pressure.

A study on how debt affects our health from Northwestern University says: “high debt could be hazardous to your health.” Debt is connected to higher diastolic blood pressure and poorer self-reported general and mental health in young adults (24-32-year-olds). When you have your blood pressure taken, diastolic is the bottom number or the measure of your resting heartbeat.

“We now live in a debt-fueled economy,” says Elizabeth Sweet, lead author of the study. “Since the 1980s American household debt has tripled. It’s important to understand the health consequences associated with debt.”

Higher debt holders had a 1.3 percent increase in their diastolic blood pressure — a clinically significant rise, according to the study. A two-point increase in that type of blood pressure is associated with a 17 percent higher risk of hypertension, and a 15 percent higher risk of stroke.

“You wouldn’t necessarily expect to see associations between debt and physical health in people who are so young,” Sweet says. “We need to be aware of this association and understand it better.”

How can we avoid the stress?

Less than half of Americans have $1,000 socked away in an emergency fund, according to a survey from Bankrate. This could explain why our top 3 money problems are unexpected scenarios.

Starting, and sticking to a budget can help Americans put more toward their debt, and start an emergency fund. The overwhelming majority (92 percent) of Americans see the importance in a budget, but most aren’t doing it right, according to a recent poll. Only 70 percent are actually budgeting. And what’s worse, is how hard they make it on themselves.

Sixty-six percent still map out their budget with a pen and paper. Only 16 percent are using convenient and secure apps, that make the process less time consuming and more accurate. You can learn how to build an effective budgeting plan yourself.

“Given that credit card debt in this country has topped $1 trillion, and that student loan debt is approaching $1.5 trillion, I’m both surprised and pleased by these results,” says Howard Dvorkin, CPA and’s chairman. “The only way to climb out of that oppressive debt is to know what you earn and what you spend. Without that knowledge, you have no power.”


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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of

Credit & Debt, News

health, money management

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