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Americans are So Worried About Money That Their Mental Health is Suffering

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What’s the one thing that causes you the most stress in your life? We’ll bet it’s money. Turns out that, for the majority of us, worry about money is so pervasive that it affects our mental health.

One article we found in researching this story quoted the American Psychological Association who reported that the top cause of stress in the United States is – you guessed it – money. In an APA survey from a few years back, more than three-fourths of respondents reported feeling “considerable anxiety about finances,” which in turn triggers arguments with loved ones, fear about opening mail or answer the phone, guilt about spending money on non-essentials, and a general sense of worry.

With that in mind, we weren’t completely surprised by this 2023 NBC News report in which reporter Rob Wile reveals a disquieting piece of data: fears about money in the U.S. have risen to the point where financial anxiety is actually harming our mental health. This is bad at any age, but particularly destructive, we think, for baby boomers, many of whom are already retired, while the rest are on retirement’s doorstep. In fact, nearly half of all baby boomers complain that finances are harming their mental health – not a good sign for their future.

Let’s dive into the report and see what can be done to alleviate this corrosive source of mental distress.

Money and Mental Health: Recent Survey Reveals the Damage

Stress about money is keeping us up nights. According to a recent survey from the financial information resource Bankrate, Americans are increasingly worried about their financial health – and it’s taking a toll. Financial worries, data demonstrates, can be bad for your mental health.

“The survey found 52 percent of respondents listed money as the thing that takes the biggest toll on their mental health, compared with 42 percent who blamed worries about their own health and 41 percent who listed current events as their top concern,” Wile writes. “The latest finding compares with 42 percent of U.S. adults who said money was their top concern last year.”

Money and Mental Health: Anxiety, Depression Are Common

Poor mental health can find many outlets, including feelings of anxiety, stress, worried thoughts, difficulty sleeping, and depression, according to Bankrate. All these have the potential to trigger isolation and substance abuse, and even shorten our lives.

Wile explains, “The results come ahead of recent inflation reports, which showed year-on-year price increases stayed near 5 percent for the second consecutive month through April.” (Please note that this article first appeared in 2023. While inflation has dropped from 2023 levels, it still remains stubbornly high, particularly on food and other necessities.)

Inflation and rising prices aren’t the only triggers for money worries. It’s also notable that this stress is on the rise during a time when upticks in car repossessions and home foreclosures are causing more American adults to confront the prospect of financial disaster. 

Money and Mental Health: Everyday Expenses Worry Consumers

In the “money” category of the survey, Wile writes that “concerns about inflation ranked the most stress-inducing, with 68 percent naming high prices as their biggest worry. As many as 60 percent of the people who responded said they were concerned about paying for everyday expenses, while 56 percent said lacking emergency funds has them on edge.”

Ted Rossman, a senior analyst at Bankrate, explained in the survey’s write-up, “There are several sobering statistics in this report … with inflation at the center of many of these money worries. Despite a strong job market, wage growth has not kept pace with the rising cost of living. Debt has been rising and savings have been dwindling.”

What’s more, the frequency of these thoughts has also increased, with “56 percent of people with money concerns saying the worries happen at least once a week — up from 52 percent last year who said the same. And 29 percent of those who say money has a negative impact on their mental health say they worry about money daily,” Wile writes.

Women More Fearful, but All Age Groups Affected

Demographics also play a role in rates of concern. Wile reveals that “61 percent of women said inflation and rising prices had the biggest negative impact on their mental health, compared with 51 percent of men saying so. Overall, 73 percent of women named ‘economic factors’ as the top driver affecting their own mental health, compared with 66 percent of men.”

This also has an effect across generational lines, with 60 percent of Gen Xers (ages 43 to 58) saying that money worries negatively impacted their mental health, compared to 55 percent of millennials (ages 27 to 42), 52 percent of Gen Z (ages 18 to 26), and 45 percent of baby boomers (ages 59 to 77).

Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, a financial therapist, attributes this to Gen X being the “sandwich” generation, financially supporting multiple dependents.”

“They’re at this double whammy disadvantage of not just caring for themselves, but also often caring for children and their aging parents, and getting toward the later half of their earning years,” Bryan-Podvin says. “So of course, they’re experiencing higher rates of financial anxiety.”

A Powerful Financial Recommendation from Rajiv Nagaich

Is there a cure for debilitating financial fear? Rajiv Nagaich would say the answer is yes – that having the right information at your fingertips can help replace fear with a sense of clarity. This is one area where a financial dashboard will prove indispensable, he says.

“The sooner you get a financial dashboard in place, the better,” Rajiv advises. “That way, you’ll have a tool to guide all your decisions – saving, spending, investing, and so much more. If I could give one piece of advice to someone 20 or 30 years away from retirement, it would be to have a financial dashboard that lets you make decisions with the future in mind.”

Sometimes our chief fear lies in the unknown. But you can dispel the fog of confusion and gain a clearer financial vision. We urge you to contact us and ask about a financial dashboard – we’ll help you take the next step.

Also, for a helpful perspective, check out Rajiv’s article explaining why there’s much more to retirement security than saving money. It will change the way you think about retirement planning!

Breaking News: Rajiv’s New Book is Here!

We have big news! The long-awaited book by Rajiv Nagaich, called Your Retirement: Dream or Disaster, has been released and is now available to the public.  As a friend of AgingOptions, we know you’ll want to get your copy and spread the word.

You’ve heard Rajiv say it repeatedly: 70 percent of retirement plans will fail. If you know someone whose retirement turned into a nightmare when they were forced into a nursing home, went broke paying for care, or became a burden to their families – and you want to make sure it doesn’t happen to you – then this book is must-read.

Through stories, examples, and personal insights, Rajiv takes us along on his journey of expanding awareness about a problem that few are willing to talk about, yet it’s one that results in millions of Americans sleepwalking their way into their worst nightmares about aging. Rajiv lays bare the shortcomings of traditional retirement planning advice, exposes the biases many professionals have about what is best for older adults, and much more.

Rajiv then offers a solution: LifePlanning, his groundbreaking approach to retirement planning. Rajiv explains the essential planning steps and, most importantly, how to develop the framework for these elements to work in concert toward your most deeply held retirement goals.

Your retirement can be the exciting and fulfilling life you’ve always wanted it to be. Start by reading and sharing Rajiv’s important new book. And remember, Age On, everyone!

(originally reported at

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