Did you know that financial stress significantly affects your physical health?

Find out how financial stress is negatively impacting your health and use our four easy steps to manage this stress and improve your health during this Health Awareness Month.

Are your finances healthy?

– Do you constantly think about money – or the lack of it?
– Do you lie awake at night worrying about an unexpected bill or large medical
expense that will put you in financial distress?
– Are you feeling overwhelmed by bills and debts?
– Do you feel discouraged or hopeless about your finances?

If you have answered yes to any of the questions, you are likely suffering from financial stress.

You are not alone. According to the 2017 Sanlam Benchmark Survey, almost 73%of professional, middle class South Africans experience financial stress. Of these, 25% said they were stressed about financial issues all the time.

What causes financial stress?

The survey described financial stress as emotions associated with the difficulty an individual or household may have in meeting financial commitments due to a shortage and/or misuse of money. It also highlighted these biggest financial stressors:

  1. Short-term debt obligations (car payments, credit cards and personal loans)
  2. Not being able to save for the future
  3. Not having enough for unanticipated emergencies, extended family financial obligations or ad hoc requests for financial support
  4. Paying for school or university fees

It is not surprising that so many South Africans share these worries, given that recent Stats SA data shows that the household debt-to-disposable income ratio stands at74%. This means that South Africans are spending 74% of their income just paying off debt, leaving only 26% to live on.

What financial stress does to your health

Financial stress will affect nearly every facet of your life and can lead to problems in relationships, while negatively affecting concentration and focus, your work performance and family responsibilities.

It could also lead to one of several stress-related health conditions which, if untreated, could result in very serious, sometimes life-threatening illnesses, as well as psychiatric and cognitive problems. In fact, two of the most common effects of financial stress are depression and anxiety.

Four easy steps to manage financial stress

The good news is that financial stress can be managed, and in doing so, you will not only improve your physical and mental health, but also your finances.

  1. Realise that you CAN do something about your financial situation. There are solutions for every financial issue you are facing. One small step at a time, you can move towards healthier finances.
  2. Define your financial issues in actual numbers. Create a table in which you set out the current situation: your income; your expenses; and all your credit agreements, with the amount outstanding, the interest rate, the monthly instalment and the number of payments still due. Now, instead of worrying about ‘so much’ debt or ‘not enough money’ you can act to address concrete issues, for example, ‘R40,000 in outstanding debt’ or a ‘R1500 a month shortfall’.
  3. Describe what ‘healthy finances’ means to you. What financial situation will provide you with peace of mind? More money every month? Fewer expenses? Being debt-free? An emergency fund? Insurance to cover unexpected bills or medical expenses? A savings plan for the kids’ education or for retirement?
  4. Get help from a qualified financial coach – it is just a click away! Your financial coach can assist you to manage your immediate financial stress and to attain healthy finances quicker than you thought possible.

Health is wealth. Take control of your financial health today and protect and improve your physical health at the same time.