In our culture, debt is often seen as no big deal. Who isn’t familiar with the ol’ charge card? If I can’t afford it today, that’s okay, I’ll just swipe this card and voila — I get what I want right now!
In America alone, we have an estimated collective credit card debt of $856 billion as of March 2022!
Ouch! That’s a staggering amount of debt. Sadly, a lot of it is owned by responsible people trying to live within their means but struggling with outrageously rising costs.
But, on the flip side of the coin, how many of us have had buyer’s remorse at some point in our lives after the initial excitement of a purchase wore off and the bill came due for something we really didn’t need?
It might come as no surprise then that financial debt affects your health and well-being in ways we don’t always think about in the moment of our wanting.
This post is not meant to shame you for poor financial decisions in your past or add more stress to your already overwhelmed mind.
Instead, I want to offer hope, solutions, and ideas to help you climb out of that hole.
The reality is that debt can happen for a variety of reasons, even for things outside of our control.
Unfortunately, the cost of debt is much greater than just a monthly bill. In this post, we will focus on a few ways financial debt affects your health and steps we can take today to turn it around.
Financial debt can take a real toll on your health but there is help available! Could these resources help you move toward freedom today? #debt #financesTweet
How does worrying about money affect your health?
There are a few aspects of our health where we tend to feel the crushing weight of debt most.
- Our mental health suffers with crippling conditions like anxiety, fear, depression, isolation, shame, and even an increased risk of suicide.
- Our physical health then begins to crack under the pressure of this constant stress and worry.
- Our relational health responds to our failing mental and physical health as all the stress takes its toll on our friendships, work partnerships, and intimate relationships.
Mental health and debt
When you have ever-increasing bad debt, no matter the source, it’s easy to feel anxious, alone, and afraid.
Several years back, I was going through some health crises to the point of actual death. During that time, I was denied medical tests by my local hospital because I owed too much from the tests they had already done trying to figure out what was killing me.
At that time, there was no legitimate insurance policy in the United States that covered people who suffered from pre-existing conditions. You either had the money to cover your medical expenses, or you didn’t, and lost everything because of it.
I didn’t. That’s why I can say that I understand what it feels like to have money make your decisions for you and the mental health misery that brings with it.
The effects of financial debt on your mental health can worsen feelings of:
- Anxiety and depression
- Anger and denial
- Frustration and resentment
- Shame and regret
- Hopelessness and low self-esteem
Making good decisions, financial or otherwise, while we are in a poor frame of mind, is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s almost impossible to do.
MentalHealth.org recommends asking yourself these questions:
- Do I often feel anxious when thinking about how I will manage my repayments?
- Am I struggling to make or do I routinely miss the minimum payments towards utility bills, credit cards or rent?
- Do I ignore letters from creditors?
- Do I avoid calls from unknown numbers in case it’s a creditor calling?
- Am I unable to set aside money for an unplanned financial emergency such as redundancy, car expenses or emergency repairs?
If your answer was yes to any of those questions, it is important that you reach out for help sooner rather than later.
Take a look at the resources listed in this post or find a financial advisor in your area who can help you identify what’s keeping you in this unhealthy pattern of debt.
Your body and financial stress
One of the most damaging ways financial debt affects your health is in your body. When you feel bad, digging out of debt can feel all the more impossible.
Chronic stress raises cortisol levels and that weakens your immune system. The combination of a stressed immune system response and high levels of stress hormones (like adrenaline and cortisol) for extended periods of time can really make us sick!
When someone is struggling to get out of debt, there is a sharp rise in several long-lasting health conditions:
- Chronic and often severe headaches
- Chronic back and neck pain caused by tension and depression
- Poor quality of sleep or too little of it – this weakens our immune system even more and has a severe impact on our mental health
- Digestive distress – our gut health is critical for a happy mood, a strong immune system, and quality of life overall.
- Elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol – each of these dramatically increase your risk for heart or brain disease
- Uncontrolled weight gain/obesity – stress by itself can pack on the pounds but when stressed, we also tend to make unhealthy eating choices
- Feeling exhausted all the time even when you have slept – it’s hard to think clearly and make good decisions when your brain is under a constant haze of fog
The effects of debt on our health aren’t just direct, though. Poverty and financial hardship also reduces the likelihood someone will receive wellness checks with their doctor or dentist.
Who wants another bill when you can’t afford the ones you already have now?
As you can see, the financial debt affects on your health are not only serious but they are felt across our lives in many different ways.
Debt and relationships
“The larger a couple’s debt, the more likely they were to say money is one of the top issues they fight about,” says leading financial advisor, Ramsey Solutions.
More debt usually equals more fights.
According to that same research, 41% of couples agree; stating that money matters are indeed their #1 argument. In fact, 36% of couples report money woes as the reason for divorce.
In comparison, couples who live debt-free report that money doesn’t even make their top 5 list of things to argue about. If you grew up in a home where money issues were the norm, like I did, these statistics will feel very real to you.
That’s one of the reasons I love teaching kids about responsible money management early on so those healthy principles can guide them well in their later years.
Marriages aren’t the only relationships to suffer, either. 41% of people in debt report difficulty concentrating while at work. When work performance suffers, there is risk for job loss or a lack of advancement. Both only make your financial stress worse.
Friendships suffer too. Maybe you can’t afford the things you used to do and you’re embarrassed to admit your struggles which can cause you to isolate yourself.
Isolation often leads to depression because of the deep shame we feel but don’t feel free to express.
Please remember this: More people understand what you’re going through than you realize. Many of us have faced financial hardships in our lives.
“By talking about your situation, you could help others to open up about their money worries too,” says StepChange, and I wholeheartedly agree.
So, where do you go from here?
I love the quote from Jim Rohn above because it serves as a reminder that debt wasn’t created overnight, and short of a miracle, it won’t be solved overnight either!
What this doesn’t mean is that it’s too late to take a first step in the right direction. One good decision often leads into another, and before you know it, you’ve made real progress toward your goals.
Each debt situation is different so it’s a good idea to check multiple resources before deciding on which plan of action will work best for you.
Here are a few wise choices that’ll get you moving toward freedom and away from financial failure:
Is debt consolidation right for you?
This option is not for everyone but could be a good fit for people who are struggling to pay off multiple credit cards with high interest rates.
What debt consolidation does is lump your debt together into one manageable payment by securing a single new loan or card that will pay off your others.
Ideally this card or loan will be lower interest than what you are currently paying, saving you money in the long run. It could also mean that you are able to pay off your debt at a faster rate.
Who is a good candidate for debt consolidation?
- Your FICO score is 690 or higher
- Your unsecured debt (credit cards and personal loans) totals to less than 50% of your annual income
- You currently pay high interest rates and would like lower rates
- You would not be able to pay off your current debt within 6 months to 1 year at your current payment schedule
- You would like one payment each month instead of several
Sound like a good fit? Click here to learn more from a trusted name in the business, DebtConsolidation.com. Consolidation of debt isn’t all they offer. You’ll also find helpful articles about getting rid of debt, managing your money well, and thinking ahead for your future financial wellness.
Be smart about your budget
Budget is a dirty word for so many people but it shouldn’t be! Isn’t it better to deny yourself that extra spending right now for more freedom and peace of mind later?
Budgeting also helps us recognize needs versus wants. You need food to survive but you don’t need the latest hairstyle or newest car to keep breathing.
There are so many simple and effective ways to save money in your daily life that really add up to a much higher quality of life. Best of all? If we’re being honest with ourselves, the sacrifices are something we can do!
Know the difference between your short term vs long term financial goals as well. It’s easier to be smart with your money when you know when to invest and in what.
💰 If you don’t currently have a budget and need some tips on how to create one, here are some great resources you might find helpful:
Having a reasonable budgeting plan not only helps us get out of debt but it helps us stay that way!
Give whenever and whatever you can
A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.Proverbs 11:25
As a Christian woman, I live my life based on the principles Jesus taught us for successful living; financially, relationally, spiritually, and physically.
Even science has confirmed that generous people are more wealthy.
In my own life, time and time again, I have found that when I do what I can to meet the needs of others, my needs are taken care of.
This doesn’t always have to be money, either. It could also be your time. I encourage you; do what you can to be a blessing to others. Not only will you feel happier and healthier, but you’ll also find that your own needs are taken care of too.
The promise of God is true, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, (Luke 6:38).”
My prayer for you is that Holy Spirit would guide you in every financial decision you make, including your giving and investing, so that you can experience the abundant life He wants you to have! (John 10:10)
Other helpful debt relief resources
Still not finding what you need in the list above? Here are some additional charities and organizations that want to see you break free from financial stress.
Debt assistance and financial planning resources
Ramsey Solutions: Real solutions for real results to get out of debt, make wise financial decisions and plan your future.
Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS): Non-profit resources that will help you find real help with financial education, budgeting, and debt management.
Debtors Anonymous – Debtors Anonymous offers hope for people whose use of unsecured debt causes problems and suffering in their lives and the lives of others.
Debt.org (USA) – Debt.org offers help for everything from student loan debt to bankruptcy.
National Debtline (England) – Free charity offering online and over the phone advice for financial management and debt relief
Mental Health & Money Advice (United Kingdom) – Clear, practical advice and support for people experiencing issues with mental health and money.
National Debt Relief (Canada) – Personalized plans for debt relief with free consultation
Wisebread.com blog – “Live large on a small budget.”
This post reminded us of how financial debt affects your health because stress kills but there is hope for a better tomorrow!
Even if you have made some bad financial decisions that have led you to this moment right now, know you are not alone. All is not lost and your situation is never hopeless.
There is help available. Quick fixes may not exist but day by day, we can make good decisions that help us move out of the ‘stuck places’ we’ve been in.
Whether you choose a structured program that helps you pay down debt or join a group that keeps you accountable with your budget, financial freedom is possible.
You never have too much or too little to be wise with your money. Smart money is when you take what you have, even if it’s a little, and make it work for you.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
- Do you have a budget? Please feel free to share your tips!
- How has debt (or the lack of it) affected your life?
If you have found this post helpful or know someone it will bless – please share it! Thank you! ❤️
Blessings To You,