Published in: Banks | Nov. 5, 2019

Americans Are (Literally) Sick of Managing Their Money

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More than half of Americans are stressed out by managing money. Here's how you can ease the stress of handling your finances. 

Do you find that handling your finances is taking a toll on your physical or mental health? If you find that money management is impacting your well being, you aren't alone. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Merrill Edge found that the majority of Americans experienced stress about financial issues to the point that their health is affected. 

Becoming physically or mentally sick because of your financial situation is definitely a bad thing. Not only can making yourself ill have lifelong consequences, but worrying won't fix your finances.


A woman sitting on a couch under a blanket and blowing her nose.

Image source: Getty Images

The good news is, there are steps you can take to make financial management easier. Read on to find out about how you can join the minority of Americans for whom handling money issues isn't such a major source of concern. 

Money management is making Americans sick

According to the Merrill Edge survey, 59% of Americans report that handling their finances impacts their mental health while 56% say their physical health is affected. 

Women were far more likely than men to report these problems, with 64% of women saying money issues affect their mental health compared with 52% of men, and 60% of women reporting physical consequences compared with 51% of men. 

Unfortunately, stressing about money isn't good for anyone. Yet, the same Merrill survey revealed that Americans are concerned about a lot of different financial issues. Among the 51% of Americans who are worried about their financial lives over the next five years, 55% worry they're saving too little, 53% worry about political instability, 47% worry about the possibility of an impending recession, and 45% worry about volatile markets. 

What can you do to become less stressed about managing money?

While financial concerns may be justified, worrying isn't a solution -- and it's imperative that you find ways to make managing money less stressful if handling your finances is making you physically or mentally ill. 

The good news is, there are steps you can take to reduce the stress of financial planning and to get on a firmer financial footing so you don't have to be as concerned about how external forces -- such as a recession -- could damage your finances.

Some of the steps you should consider taking to help alleviate your money worries and protect your health include:

  • Saving up an emergency fund: If you have three to six months of living expenses saved in an emergency fund, you won't have to worry about how you'll cover an unexpected expense or cope with a job loss. A big emergency fund provides tremendous peace of mind and can all but eliminate financial stress for many people. 
  • Setting financial goals and tracking progress: Not knowing if you're on track to accomplish big things -- such as saving for the future -- is a major source of stress. If you have concrete goals, you can track your progress and immediately see if you're on target to achieve your objectives. Whether your goals center around credit card debt repayment, saving for retirement, or other money matters, you'll feel far more empowered if you can track your progress and quickly make adjustments if things get off track. 
  • Automating your financial life: Automating as much of the money management process as possible can reduce any concerns about whether you're doing the right things with your money. Set a budget so you'll know how much you can save and how much you can spend in different areas. Then automate payments for your savings and as many bills as you can. If money goes where it needs to without any input from you, there's less room for error -- and less stress since you won't constantly have to make financial decisions. 
  • Allocating assets appropriately: If you have a diversified portfolio with safe investments, you won't have to worry as much about a recession or political upheaval. Your portfolio will be designed to weather the ups and downs and perform well over the long haul. If you aren't sure how to allocate assets appropriately, it could be worth getting help from a financial advisor to set up your portfolio.

Your financial life doesn't have to make you sick

It's imperative you take the right steps with your money to avoid credit card debt and ensure you're saving sufficiently for the future. But stressing about financial management to the point of illness won't make any of these things easier. Instead, be proactive and follow some of the steps outlined here. Hopefully you can alleviate the stress of money management and protect your physical and mental health.

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