Health and Wellness

42% of Americans say money negatively impacts their mental health. Here's what an advisor suggests for financial security

Kschong | E+ | Getty Images

October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and the 2022 World Mental Health Day theme is, "Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority."

Finances are a huge stressor for many, and if you want to make mental health a priority, alleviating some of the anxiety surrounding money management is a good place to start.

42% of U.S adults say money is negatively impacting their mental health, according to a recent survey from Bankrate and Psych Central.

The survey polled 2,457 adults about how finances affect their mental state. Feeling stressed is the top response to finances, according to 70% of survey respondents.

Other emotions people associate with money include worry, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and insecurity.

These are the money-related activities that triggered negative feelings, from most to least common:

  • Looking at their bank accounts (49%)
  • Paying a bill (41%)
  • Making a purchase (34%)
  • Having to discuss money (32%)
  • Getting paid (21%)
  • Looking at their investment accounts (16%)
  • Looking at social media (11%)

These groups are most affected by money-related stress

Of all age groups, millennials, aged 26 to 41 years old, experienced the most financial anxiety, at 48%. 

"That's when we're first having children, first starting out or are insecure around our jobs because we haven't done it long enough. We haven't built up savings," says T.J. Williams, a regional president and financial advisor at Wealth Enhancement Group, an independent wealth management firm.

"Those are normal experiences that we've had for generations, but society's put a different spin on it. Social media's put a lot of pressure that's undue."

Gen X, ages 42 to 57, doesn't lag far behind at 46%, and 40% of those aged 18 to 25 in Gen Z say money problems cause mental health concerns for them, too.

Women, more than men, indicate that money significantly impacts their mental state, "with 46 percent selecting it compared to 38 percent of men."

When income is factored in, low earners experience more emotional distress due to finances than higher earners. 

Just 30% of people who make at least $100,000 annually say money negatively affects their mental health, compared to 48% of earners making less than $50,000 a year.

3 ways to feel financially secure, maintain positive mental health

To feel more secure in your finances, Williams suggests following these three steps:

  1. Build a cash reserve: save enough money to fall back on for whatever curveballs life throws your way
  2. Have a stated or written plan for paying down debt, and make it achievable
  3. Check your M.U.G. monthly (or weekly) which means taking into account how much money you'll need for mortgage (or rent), utilities and groceries. For some, you may also need to consider gas expenses and insurances.

Following this step-by-step process can decrease how often you need to look at your bank account throughout the week, Williams notes. He only recommends checking the status of your finances once every week to monitor fraudulent activity.

You can also consider getting an accountability partner who you can share your finance goals with, he adds. This person should be non-judgmental and supportive, Williams emphasizes.

Also, keep in mind that everything you see on social media isn't always what it seems, says Williams.

Comparing your financial situation to others because they post images of themselves traveling or purchasing a new car will only make you feel worse, he says.

"Their financial situation could have been different from the start," says Williams. "You [also] don't know if they're actually living above their means. There's a lot of that, just for show."

Above all else, "give yourself grace," says Williams. Financial challenges are normal, especially when you're just beginning to manage your own money, he notes.

"When we talk about planning and budgeting, you can't account for everything. Life happens," he says. "There's things that are outside of our control, and we need to be okay with that."

Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter

Don't miss:

What to do if you feel underpaid at your job according to Lauren Simmons
What to do if you feel underpaid according to Lauren Simmons