Financial stress and health: Man working in the office

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More employees are missing work because of unpaid bills.

Your health has a long-lasting effect on your money, even when you might think you’re “well.”

A survey from Fidelity found that employees with mounting debt miss twice as much work than those with low debt. Moreso, 84 percent of workers miss an average of three days a year because of their unpaid medical bills.

Unpaid medical bills — and debt in general — can increase health issues. High debt leads to less sleep, more stress, and higher levels of anxiety. In the survey, 42 percent of respondents say they are “unwell” due to financial stress.

Lack of money impacts everything

Not having enough money to pay bills is problematic — even when we’re trying to earn more money. The Fidelity survey found that a lack of financial resources causes more stress than our jobs do. Job-related stress comes in second.

“When it comes to total well-being programs, employers have traditionally focused on health, but have recently expanded efforts to include financial wellness,” says Jeanne Thompson, head of Global Workplace Insights at Fidelity Investments. “The next step for employers is to account for their wellness at work and in life, as these are two critical dimensions of overall well-being that shouldn’t be overlooked.”

It’s hard for workers to be healthy in any aspect of their lives when they are struggling with money. Employees who are financially secure find themselves healthier, too. Sixty percent of people who are financially healthy report higher levels of wellness, the survey found.

Financial stress impacting physical health has long been a problem

Whether it’s poor money management or lack of enough income, not having enough money can derail your overall health. Which means you can get sick simply for being poor.

And being poor can lead to a shorter life. More debt can mean fewer years living, CPA and’s Chairman Howard Dvorkin says. As anxiety, fear, weight gain and sleep deprivation rise from high debt, we’re expected to live less.

Our lack of money might come from our lack of understanding about it. Our financial ignorance is causing chronic illness. If stress becomes chronic, it can damage our health, has previously reported.

Fighting illness with financial literacy

Basic money concepts can seem like a foreign language to most of us, but especially teens. Almost one-quarter can’t pass a basic financial literacy test. And it might not be their fault since schools don’t teach financial literacy basics to students.

It’s becoming expensive. A lack of basic financing knowledge is costing Americans $30,000 over their lifetimes. Many wish they knew more than they do now because they could’ve made better financial decisions throughout their lives.

But Americans want schools to be better at teaching the future of America about money. Parents want financial literacy taught in schools because they don’t believe they can teach their kids themselves. Parents admit they don’t know enough about money, which stems from their parents not knowing enough about money. Bad money habits and lack of knowledge gets passed down through generations. This causes ignorance to spread even further.

The less we know about money, the less likely we are to avoid big financial decisions. previously reported that 70 percent of Americans have put off making big money decisions because they weren’t confident in their ability to make the best choice.

Get your credit back in good health, so you can do the same for your body and mind.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.



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