Financial Stress And Health: They Are Related

By: Jasper Smith, Community Development Manager

Health And Wealth Are Related

Back in my early twenties, I was working at a financial advisory firm and I was logging hours as if my life depended on it. And, it actually did because I was working on 100% commission, so if I didn’t close business, I didn’t get paid. Needless to say, my financial struggles (not having a steady income) caused a few things to happen. For starters, I was losing weight without trying. Second, I caught an awful case of shingles. During my trip to the doctor, my practitioner did the normal routine questioning and within about 5 minutes of asking me questions about my lifestyle, she said one word: STRESS. My body was having physical manifestations of my financial stress. 

Because of my personal experience, I was not at all surprised to learn that 6 in 10 adults mentioned finances as a significant source of personal stress, according to results from an American Psychological Association (APA), 2019 “Stress in America” study.

Think about a time you stressed out about money. Maybe you lost your wallet or were late paying a bill? Perhaps you had an emergency medical bill crush your credit or you had more debt than you are comfortable carrying. Signs of financial stress can include feeling worried or anxious, arguing over money, feeling guilt and shame about money, and being afraid to deal with your money problems. 

Financial stress manifests itself in numerous physical conditions like mood disorders, migraines, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, and more. Being in a perpetual state of unease and anxiety about finances—like when a person is living paycheck to paycheck—increases the body’s cortisol levels and puts them at risk for anxiety and depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory issues.

BALANCE has been providing financial coaching for over 50 years. We are not doctors but we are convinced that physical health and financial health are correlated. We believe that improving people’s financial health will also lead to improved physical health. 

Connecting Financial Health To Healthcare Practitioners

We are seeking progressive healthcare practitioners to collaborate with BALANCE to explore this connection. What if we screened patients for financial health when they came in for a check-up? What if that screening led to a referral to a certified counselor that could lead them down the path of improving their credit score, creating a budget, starting a savings account, reducing debt, and planning for homeownership? Those outcomes lead to greater access to credit, better interest rates, and peace of mind.

COVID19 has made life harder for all of us; however, it has hit poor communities hardest. Some of the reasons noted for this was a higher household population and more people in the household being considered “essential workers” so there is more opportunity to be in contact with COVID19 and bring it home to their family. Data has shown that where you live, work, and play greater impact on your overall health than your genetic code! This pandemic has reinforced that health and wealth are connected.

We have helped so many families achieve their financial goals through debt reduction, credit score improvement, budgeting, and homeownership. The question that is keeping me up at night is this: How many more people can we help if the healthcare industry opened up their doors to us and we collaborated to improve financial and physical health simultaneously?

To learn more about partnering with BALANCE click here or email me at jsmith@balancepro.org.

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