Top 3 money struggles hurting your mental health

Did you know that struggling with your finances can negatively impact your work performance, relationships and mental health? The physical body can also suffer, with trouble sleeping, headaches and high blood pressure being the main symptoms of undue stress from debt and other financial problems.

According to the Sun Life Canadian Health Index, financial stress ranks as the highest stress of the big four stresses – even higher than relationship stress, work stress, and health stress. In fact, a recent study showed that Canadians feared debt almost as much as they feared death.

Those who have financial stress are more likely to report poor overall health and experience its negative effects at work and in personal relationships. Arguably even more serious is the spiralling effects created when mental health challenges and financial stress compound together.

In honour of Mental Health Week, which runs May 3 – 9, 2021, here are some of the most common financial struggles, and what you can do to improve your health and well-being.

Credit card debt

Living beyond your means and using credit cards to pay for things can quickly spiral out of control. In fact, almost a quarter of Canadians carry over credit card debt to the following month. Of those, 39 per cent admit that they may be at risk of keeping up with mortgage and other debt payments if there was a significant rise in interest rates. Having the financial literacy skills to understand the difference between a need and a want can substantially reduce credit card debt.

Being unable to save

Many people are just trying to make ends meet today. But being able to save money makes it much easier to afford large investments such as a car, a home, post-secondary studies and retirement. Not being able to save for these short- and long-term life goals can be stressful.

However, you don’t need to save large amounts of money to make saving worth it. Many people find it easier to save if they do it regularly. Try having your bank automatically take money – even a small amount – out of your chequing account each month and deposit it into a savings account. 

Lack of confidence and knowledge 

Although understanding how to budget and manage money is always important, it’s even more crucial during times of unemployment or reduced work hours, like with the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial literacy can help you reduce stress during difficult times by giving you the confidence and knowledge you need to make smart, effective financial decisions that stretch your dollars further and keep you from taking on huge amounts of debt.

Fortunately, with the proper resources, anyone can become financially literate. ABC Life Literacy Canada’s Money Matters program is a free, introductory financial literacy program for adult learners that offers online courses and workshops. Written in clear language, the learning resources are designed for everyone.

Learn more and access free workbooks and activities at abcmoneymatters.ca.