Depending on which expert you listen to, the total consumer debt in America is anywhere from $14-$16 trillion dollars with more than 75 percent of the US population owing some form of debt.
According to an article in Money Geek the average American entered 2023 with an additional $3,000 in debt and, not counting mortgage debt, this brought the individual debt average up to $17,000.
Debt is defined as any person or group owing any other person or group money for whatever reason. The concept of good debt such as mortgage or education versus bad debt like consumer credit is debatable as both fall under the same definition of debt.
The Financial Health Network defines financial health as the total composite of a person’s financial life. This includes everything from debt-to-income ratios to future financial goals. Another definition of financial health is the state of an individual’s personal money affairs. Having debt does not necessarily mean a person is financially unhealthy.
Financial health, like physical health, is not static. It also fluctuates depending on life’s circumstances.
Financial gurus have developed criteria for measuring financial health. These include having a steady income source, having resources set aside for the future, and being debt free — or in the process of becoming debt free. Other criteria include having a workable budget and being in control of one’s own finances.
A simple way to define financial health is to spend less money than comes in and to pay bills on time and in full.
One other definition of financial health is how a person’s financial and economic resources impact that person’s state of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Researchers in several fields believe money has a significant influence on how a person thinks, acts, and behaves. High levels of financial stress shows up through different physical symptoms. These symptoms can include sleep loss, anxiety, and migraines, along with compromised immune systems, digestive issues, and high blood pressure. These are in addition to feeling overwhelmed and depressed.
According to a 2019 Bankrate survey, 78 percent of American adults lose sleep over financial concerns.
Financial stress is a unique stress, and it can lead some individuals to adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating, smoking, and using alcohol or recreational drugs. These behaviors lead to even more money-related stress, creating more negative effects on the body and mind.
The bottom line is our financial health affects our physical and mental health which in turn affects our quality of life. Our quality of life in turn affects our longevity.
Fortunately, for all of us, there are many excellent resources for improving our financial health including online sites, books, and consultants. As we continue to improve our physical and mental health we can also continue to improve our financial health ensuring we can live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
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Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.