Americans Overly Stressed About Money

I won’t lie - when I saw my credit card bill last month, my heart started racing. Some unexpected expenditures had blown my bill beyond the point where I could pay it off, and for the first time in my life, I’m carrying a balance on my credit card - and it’s not a nice feeling.

Despite the economic recovery that’s adding jobs and improving the stock market, a new report from the American Psychological Association has found that money remains the biggest stressor in Americans’ lives. The study also found that children, young adults and those living in low-income households are more prone to stress than other Americans.

A survey of more than 3000 people was used to calculate the findings.

APA CEO and executive vice president, Norman B. Anderson PhD, said that regardless of the recovering economy, money has remained the top stressor since the APA’s survey began in 2007. He also noted that stress related to money and financial issues could have a significant impact on Americans’ health.

72% of the survey respondents said they’d felt stressed about money at some point during the previous month, while 22% said they had experienced “extreme stress.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study also found a gap in stress levels between lower-income and higher-income households. Lower income households rated a 5.2 on a 10-point scale of stress levels, while higher-income households rated 4.7 on the 10-point scale.

The APA says financial concerns were enough for some Americans to delay or skip visiting the doctor when they needed health care. Money was also a major source of conflict between partners.

Still, on average, Americans are less stressed than they were in 2007, at the peak of the financial crisis. Then they averaged a reported stress level of 6.2 out of 10, while the average stress level in the new study was just 4.9. This is still considered to be unhealthy (a rating of 3.7 is the threshold between healthy and unhealthy levels of stress.)

Fortunately, most respondents said they had someone they could turn to for support in times of stress. Only 26% of people with emotional support said their overall stress had gone up in the past year, compared to 43% of those who said they had no support.

Anderson says the results show Americans are still living with too much stress, and may be dealing with it in ineffective ways. He said women, younger adults and those with lower incomes needed to address the issue of stress before it affected their health and wellbeing.

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