Money on Your Mind

Are you one of the 38 million Americans living paycheck to paycheck? Your health may suffer for it.

If it feels like everyone you know is struggling to make ends meet, you may not be far off. Over half of Americans have less than a month’s worth of income in savings, and 72 percent of us have been stressed about money in the past month. All that stress is bad for your body — and for your family.

“Depression, heart disease and gastrointestinal problems are all related to stress,” says Ramona Osburn, F.A.C.H.E., senior vice president of Behavioral Health at Texas Health. “Money problems can strain family relationships, and those with money issues are more likely to pass on poor money management skills to their children.”

According to the American Psychological Association, one in five Americans has skipped going to a physician when they needed to because of financial concerns.

Finding a Better Way

Osburn recommends three steps to reducing financial pressure on your life:

  1. Build a better budget. “Make a spending plan in advance,” Osburn says. “If you’re frequently going into debt at the end of the month, sit down and determine exactly what you should be spending and when.”
  2. Know your income. “Especially for nonsalaried workers, knowing exactly how much money you have coming in each month is vital,” Osburn says.
  3. Get help. “If you don’t have a financial education, look for an informal mentor who can teach you better habits,” Osburn says. “Whether it’s someone else in your family, a friend or an employee at a financial institution, a tutor in financial management can better inform your choices, making a huge difference in your stress levels.”

A Sign of Something More?

Certain money problems can be a sign of a more serious issue.

“Managing money well is difficult for many people, but spending habits can be symptoms of bipolar disorder or attention deficit disorder [ADHD],” Osburn says. “If you have manic spending problems that are out of control or you find yourself compulsively buying things you don’t really need, it may be a sign of a mental health problem.”

Getting evaluated and treated for an underlying condition can help you wrangle your money-related symptoms.

If this sounds like you, talk to your physician about mental health screening. Visit THPG.org to find a Texas Health Physicians Group primary care physician in your area.

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