Financial Stresses Taking a Toll on Health

Americans are looking at smaller paychecks as a result of increased payroll taxes and it's really affecting their health. Those feeling financial stress report sleeping less, eating more junk food and getting sick more often.

Americans are looking at smaller paychecks as a result of increased payroll taxes and it’s really affecting their waistlines, according to a survey by the American Institute of CPAs

Of the 1,000-plus U.S. adults surveyed, 44% registered a high level of financial stress. Women were twice as likely as men to rate the stress as “very high” and only 28% say that their stress will be reduced over the next six months.

"Mounting money pressures are making Americans cranky, tired and unhealthy," Ernie Almonte, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said in a statement. "This can lead to a double whammy, with ensuing physical and emotional stress potentially leading to higher long-term costs.”

The payroll tax increase from January reduced take-home pay by 2% for most workers. Of those who said their financial stress was “very” or “somewhat” high, almost half are sleeping less; 43% have less patience with friends or are seeing them less often; a third are eating more junk food or gaining weight; and 21% are arguing more with significant others. Furthermore, 17% report that they are getting sick more often.

As a result of the reduced take-home pay, 68% of those respondents who were employed said that they have cut their spending, reduced their savings or had to make other sacrifices.

“Americans must find ways to cope with money stress even when financial challenges seem daunting," Almonte said.

To help you get a handle on financial stress and reduced income, the AICPA has offered the following four tips:

Pause

Actually take the time to look at your financial situation and where your money is going. See if there is any way to generate extra income.

Plan and prioritize

Not all expenses were created equal. Pay the necessary ones first (food, shelter, transportation, etc.) and pay off any debt with higher interest rates first.

Play

Take a break from financial concerns. Go for a jog or a picnic in the park with family. You’ll be healthier and both activities will help you relax.

Call a professional

If you feel like you’re in over your head and the stress is just too much, a financial professional can help sort through mess and identify ways you can improve your finances.