Debt can make you sick!

A friend of mine, Ken Leamer, forwarded me a very interesting article.  It is based on an AP-AOL poll.  Basically they give stats that show that the stress of being in debt leads to a higher risk of health problems.

We are marketed debt on a daily basis.  It has become the status quo.  Debt is financially dangerous.  If you doubt this, look up the recent bankruptcy and foreclosure stats.  Debt is, evidently, physically dangerous as well.  Here is some of the stats from the article.

_27 percent had ulcers or digestive tract problems, compared with 8 percent of those with low levels of debt stress.

_44 percent had migraines or other headaches, compared with 15 percent.

_29 percent suffered severe anxiety, compared with 4 percent.

_23 percent had severe depression, compared with 4 percent.

_6 percent reported heart attacks, double the rate for those with low debt stress.

_More than half, 51 percent, had muscle tension, including pain in the lower back. That compared with 31 percent of those with low levels of debt stress.

People who reported high stress also were much more likely to have trouble concentrating and sleeping and were more prone to getting upset for no good reason.

Revolving consumer debt, almost all from credit cards, now totals $957 billion, compared with $800 billion in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve.

Average car loans are up, too, to $27,397, from $24,888 four years ago. Home mortgages total $10.5 trillion, compared with $7.8 trillion in 2004.

If that’s not enough to rattle you, consider this. The share of households’ after-tax income that goes to serving financial obligations was nearly 20 percent in 2007, up from 18.5 percent in 2004, said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody’s Economy.com.

These stats are staggering.  20% of your take-home pay going to debt management?  This doesn’t include your mortgage.  People are freaking out about gas prices, partly because they are living on the edge.  70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.  Why live like this?  Why don’t we get better control of our money?  Why don’t we live on a real budget?  Because it takes effort and we are all tired and stressed out.  It’s a vicious circle.

My recommendation as a finacial counselor and physician is GET HEALTHY, both financially and physically.  Fortunately, according to this poll, they partially go together.  How do you accomplish this? 

  1. Learn to live on less than you make.
  2. Live on a budget. (Spend every dollar on paper, on purpose, before the month begins)
  3. Cash envelopes (especially for those categories that you are prone to overspend on)
  4. Understand that everything we have belongs to God and we are His managers.
  5. Stop using debt as a tool.  It is too dangerous.  You can’t beat the banks at their own game.
  6. Become a giver.
  7. Read a book, take a class, or get help to implement these concepts.

Here some resources to help you get started.

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