Debt stress isn’t good for your mental or physical health
Debt is one of the few stressors in life that doesn’t go away, according to Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University. “What’s dangerous about debt is how pervasive and chronic it is. Most things in life that stress us out—a car accident, a divorce, a death in the family—happen, and then they’re over. Our bodies are designed to respond to these ‘emergencies’ and bounce back, whereas owing money can become completely inescapable.” Studies have shown that people who have mortgages generally require more health care. “Debt is just bad in general for our health: the amount we worry about it, but also the feeling we have that we can do nothing about it,” says McGonigal. But key emotional, psychological and behavioral studies about our financial decisions show there are healthier ways to manage and spend our money, which ultimately reduce the stress we feel. Here are some suggestions. Don’t miss the 13 things debt collectors won’t tell you.
Give money the right value in your life
David Krueger, a financial coach and former psychiatrist in Houston, Texas, says we all use money to “say” things about us. “We give it meaning in our lives, and use it every day to tell stories [such as how it] communicates freedom, embodies power, is proof of worth or is alicence for opportunity.” Identify your surface relationship with money, and then dig a little deeper to examine what other values you attribute to money. Ask yourself questions such as: Why are expensive brand names important to my image? Why is having more money so important that it keeps me up at night? Carefully consider your answers (writing them down is useful). This will help you to create the right state of mind about money, which is the first step toward gaining control over how you use it, says Krueger. “When you’ve got the right state of mind, then you can develop a strategy to fix the problem.” Check to see if your state is the worst U.S. state for student debt.