A host of financial concerns have taken a toll on Americans’ wallets and their mental health, from high inflation and whiplashing markets to general economic uncertainty.
Some 42% of U.S. adults said that money has a negative impact on their mental health, according to a survey from Bankrate. The study included nearly 2,500 American adults and took place between April 6 and 8.
Of those who said money has affected their mental health, most cited feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. Nearly half said that looking at their bank account is a trigger, while others noted that paying a bill, making a purchase or having to talk about money makes them anxious.
“When individuals suffer money challenges or they’re working through money issues, there’s tremendous potential for stress,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. The study also found that 28% of those who said money has a negative impact on their mental health worry about it on a daily basis.
Here’s what financial experts say can help.
When faced with difficult financial environments, it’s important to consider what is within your control and what isn’t, according to Preston Cherry, a certified financial planner, certified financial therapist and founder of Concurrent Financial Planning in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“We can’t control things like inflation, war, market cycles or economic cycles — those things are going to happen,” he said. “Uncertainty is certain.”
Knowing that can help people take some of the blame and shame for financial strife off themselves and better process what’s happening in the environment, he said.
“That allows thinking about what we can do about it to make it through,” he said.
Where to adjust your budget
One of the issues people face with inflation currently hitting so many sectors is that it’s unavoidable, said Jason Steeno, president at CoreCap Advisors & CoreCap Investments in Southfield, Michigan.
“It’s almost a grin-and-bear-it type of situation,” he said.
To ensure you aren’t consistently overspending, however, now is a good time to check that your monthly budget is sufficient to meet your needs, according to Katie Nixon, executive vice president and chief investment officer for the wealth management business at Northern Trust.
“It’s always a healthy thing to do but more so given the inflationary pressures,” she said. “You have to make sure that your budget accommodates the fact that your needs have gotten more expensive.”
Keeping spending within your budget may mean you have to cut certain extra things such as entertainment, travel or dining out. Many Americans have already made such cuts.
Experts also recommend building up emergency savings, if you can, and paying down debt, especially from high-interest credit cards. Doing this will help better your financial situation for whatever comes next.
Generally, advisors suggest that your emergency fund should have somewhere between three and six months of living expenses.
“You want to have a cash cushion in order to have a guard rail against any large pendulum swings back,” Cherry said.
It’s also important for Americans to keep in mind that economic cycles are just that — cyclical. There may be better times ahead.
“Our view is that we have seen at or close to peak inflation, and that’s good news,” Nixon said. “There’s been a lot of damage done, but it may be coming to an end.”
Still, she suggests that people continue to watch their cash inflows and outflows over the coming months, as prices are likely to remain elevated even as inflation cools off.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re going back to 2% in the next year or so, but it does mean we’re coming off these high levels,” Nixon said.
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