Money

This is the No. 1 source of financial stress in California—and it's not debt or the high cost of housing

A distraught man holding his head standing in front of the modern city on a fresh early morning.
 Yiu Yu Hoi | Getty
A distraught man holding his head standing in front of the modern city on a fresh early morning.

It's no secret: California is expensive. The median price for a home there is more than $540,000. The median rent is nearly $3,000. That's about twice the national average of $218,000 and $1,695, respectively.

And in some of the state's most popular cities, like San Francisco, home and rent prices increase dramatically: It can cost more than $1.3 million to buy and $4,500 to rent.

Still, though they must contend with some of the most expensive real-estate prices in the country, Californians say their top financial stressor isn't housing. It's the cost of living overall.

Financial site GOBankingRates conducted a study of more than 2,000 people from every state and Washington, D.C., "to pinpoint what's causing the worst financial fears and stress among Americans." Respondents could choose one of the following options: "debt," "education," including things like college expenses, "everyday costs," including groceries and utilities, "family," including child care and divorce, "health care," "housing," or "taxes."

Californians chose everyday costs.

"California is one of the states with the highest cost of living," according to the study, "so it makes sense that 26 percent of those who live there said everyday costs of living are their biggest financial stress."

And Californians are in good company. The No. 1 cause of financial stress in the country overall is also everyday living costs, the study notes, chosen by 32 percent of all respondents. Nearly 30 percent chose debt, followed by 13 percent who chose housing, 9 percent who chose health care, 7 percent who chose education, 6 percent who chose family and only 4 percent who chose taxes.

Of course, housing prices and the cost of living vary widely based on where you live. But despite where you fall on the map, living within your means and employing common-sense budgeting tactics can help you save in the long run. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Don't miss: This is the most expensive ZIP code in California—and it's not in San Francisco or LA

Video by John Fazio