How money stress affects women

According to a study by Allianz, 67% of women worry about covering their current financial expenses compared to 57% of men.

Money is a tricky subject. It touches every single part of our lives, be it our relationships, our careers, our health, and beyond. This can put stress on us beyond just the literal money concerns. But it also carries with it a societal taboo and a healthy dose of shame, which makes it even harder to deal with. Combine these facts and stress is inevitable.

To make things worse, women are more worried about money than men are. According to a study by Allianz, 67% of women worry about covering their current financial expenses compared to 57% of men. It doesn’t get much better when it comes to future planning. Eighty-one percent of women stress about planning for their future financial needs compared to 72% of men.


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Why is this?

  • Roughly 75% of Americans don’t have any savings to fall back and many live paycheck to paycheck.
  • More than half of all workers admit to feeling financially stressed, costing business an estimated $250 billion a year in lost productivity and absenteeism, according to a Mercer study.
  • Women make up 57% of the workforce in the United States, but they are paid a median salary that is 81% of what their male colleagues are paid.
  • Women have less household debt than their male counterparts, but only 42% reported being comfortable with their debt level compared to 56% of men.
  • Women are less prepared for retirement, saving an average of only $165,200 compared to their male counterparts, who have an average $243,300 saved. However, both men and women expect to retire around the same age.
  • 81% of women stress about planning for their future financial needs compared to 72% of men.

So what does all this stress lead to?

Unhealthy behaviors

We all have some unhealthy coping behaviors that we gravitate towards when we’re overwhelmed by stress. For me, it’s eating too much candy and watching lots of tv. In moderation, these things feel great, but with too much, I feel like crap and I regret it afterwards. Money stress is no different; it can lead to behavior that isn’t good for us. Other unhealthy behaviors can be excess drinking, drug use, overeating, overspending, and more. These behaviors can negatively impact our physical and mental health, which then in turn makes us more stressed.

Lack of self care

When people are stressed, we also tend to readily abandon the things that make us feel better. This can be healthy eating, exercising, or getting enough rest. Not only does stress make us veer towards negative behavior mentioned above, but money stress can also mean we can’t necessarily afford self care activities. After all, the gym membership is one of the first things financial experts recommend that you drop if you’re having money trouble. Plus, healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food. It’s difficult to continue to take care of yourself when you’re having money trouble.

Depression and Low Self Esteem

Money issues, but debt in particular, can impact your mental health and self esteem. Many of my clients are struggling with self worth and self esteem issues stemming from their financial problems. It’s hard not to feel like a failure when you’re in debt or have made poor financial decisions. These emotional issues can also exacerbate financial problems by leading to more overspending.

Melanie Lockert, founder of Dear Debt, has written about this a lot. She started her blog to tell her story about paying off her own mountain of debt. After time, she realized that many people were finding her blog by Googling phrases like “I want to kill myself because of debt.” She realized that mental health and debt were linked and inspired her to spread mental health awareness through her work.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and depressed due to your money situation, you’re not alone. If you’re struggling, please seek help through your doctor or by calling 1-800-273-8255.

Insomnia

There’s a reason the saying “losing sleep” exists. When we are stressed out, we have more trouble sleeping. There’s too much on our minds to slow down, calm down and get some rest. Lack of sleep makes us more stressed and can lead to illness.

Illness

Stress can cause or exacerbate many different illnesses. The human stress response causes excess cortisol to be released in our bodies. When that happens rarely, it’s not a problem. In fact, it was designed as a way for us to react properly and keep ourselves alive. However, when stress is a constant, cortisol is being released nonstop. This can make you more susceptible to things like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

Not only does illness negatively affect our lives, but it can cause added financial problems in the form of doctors bills and missing work.

Relationship troubles

Money problems and stress can lead to relationship problems. In fact, money is one of the top causes of relationship discord. This can happen both in romantic and platonic relationships, depending on the situation. According to a 2017 MagnifyMoney survey, 21 percent of divorced respondents claimed that money was the cause for their divorce. And it’s not just a problem among those who weren’t making enough money. In those who earned over $100,000 a year, 33 percent of them said money was the cause of their divorce! (More money, more problems?) To make matters worse, divorce is an expensive thing to go through. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that they went into debt because of their divorce.

As you probably could guess, all of these consequences of stress can lead to more financial trouble! It can become a vicious cycle: financial problems > stress > health and relationship troubles + negative coping behaviors > financial problems > repeat.

This article originally appeared on Maggie Germano.


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