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Debt, Health and Mortality

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Debt, Health and Mortality

August 18
16:14 2017

If you listen to most of the reports on the news and from the government, you will see that many believe the nation’s economy is improving over what it was during the days of Barack Obama. More Americans have jobs and are buying homes. Everything is looking rosy, or is it?

How many of you have no debt?

That may sound like an absurd question in today’s debt laden world, but believe it or not, it’s not only a fair question to ask, but it’s one that can affect your health and mortality rate.

Two years ago, in 2015, it was reported:

The vast majority of Americans are in debt, according to a report from Pew Charitable Trusts published in July. For the most part, that debt comes from what many people would call a good thing — homeownership. Of the 80% of Americans with debt, 44% have mortgage debt. Overall, the median debt load among Americans is $67,900, overwhelmingly driven by mortgages (the median home loan balance is $103,000).

Still, Americans have a lot of non-mortgage debt, too, particularly young Americans. Only 33% of millennials (people born between 1981 and 1997), have home loans. In fact, millennials are much more likely to have student loan debt (41% have it), car loans (41%) or credit card debt (39%) than they are to have a mortgage. Among all other generations, mortgages are the leading component of consumer debt.

Credit card debt is still incredibly common among American consumers — with 39% of Americans reporting unpaid credit card balances, it’s not far behind mortgages as a leading contributor to consumer debt. While those balances are much lower than those for student loans, the high interest rates and revolving nature of credit card debt can make it a serious threat to consumers’ financial health.

I was speaking with a good friend who happens to be an emergency room doctor, he shared with me that the average household with credit card debt owes around $16,000. Many households also owe around $27,000 in auto loans and $48,000 in student loans. Combined with the average of $169,000 in mortgage loans, many American families have about $260,000 worth of debt – that’s a quarter of a million dollars.

He also shared with me:

“People who struggle with debt are more than twice as likely to suffer depression, according to a study by the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.”

“A 2016 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta linked debt to higher death rates. Becoming seriously delinquent on a debt increased the mortality risk 5% in the first three months after the bill became delinquent, but a 100-point increase in a person’s credit score led to a 4.38% decline in the mortality risk.”

“Conversely, 72% of Americans said they felt stressed about money, according to an American Psychological Association study, and 22% said they felt ‘extreme’ stress over their finances.”

Another source reports:

“Chronic stress over finances is linked to greater risk for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease…”

“High financial stress levels and concerns over debt are associated with increased risk for ulcers, migraines, heart attacks, and sleep disturbances, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), and those conditions are just the beginning of how your money affects your body and mind.”

A recent survey revealed that money is the most common stressor affecting Americans today. Financial stress is followed by work stress, stressing over the economy, family responsibilities and then personal health.

There are many studies available that show that stress does have a severe impact on our health and mortality rate. The more you stress, you stand a chance of dying sooner. Ever hear the expression about worrying yourself into the grave? It’s based on fact.

Like many health issues facing us these days, financial stress is probably the hardest to deal with and hardest to cure. There is a cure, and it sounds simple, but it’s a lot harder than you think. Live within your means and stop charging things. Pay with cash or don’t buy. Then start paying off one debt after another. When one is paid off, add that payment to the payment of the next debt and over a few years, you may have everything paid off and be debt free.

If this seems impossible, then seek the help of a reliable credit counselor. Be careful. There are a number of sham credit counselors who take your money and fail to pay off your debts. Spend some time and check companies out before deciding to work with a reputable company. With their help, you could find yourself debt free in 5-7 years. Just think about what that would do to your stress level.

Don’t let financial debt put you in an early grave. Get help and stop stressing.

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