How Your Finances Affect Your Health and Ways You Can Support Both
From eating well to getting a good night’s sleep, taking steps to support your physical and mental well-being are key to enjoying a long, happy life. But many people pay too little attention to a key factor that impacts their health: their money.
In study after study, researchers have found a clear link between a lack of financial security and a variety of health issues, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety and depression. Additionally, financial problems can cause stress and relationship issues as well as make it harder for some people to access the things that keep them in the best health, like quality healthcare and nutritious food.
This guide offers tips to help you increase your financial security, so you can support what matters most: good health and a great quality of life.
Strong Finances Are Good for Your Health
Minimizing money-related stress can make a difference for your physical health. According to the American Psychological Association, stressors (often money-related) can release inflammatory hormones that are linked to serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
While the consequences of financial unmanageability can be serious, the good news is that getting better control of your financial situation can greatly support your health, mood, and sense of personal well-being.
There are many different factors that contribute to your overall financial security. These include using credit wisely, minimizing debt, contributing to your savings, having a plan to build a comfortable retirement, and having the right insurance to help reduce financial risk for yourself and your loved ones.
When these essentials are addressed, you may feel less stressed and more financially secure, enjoy higher self-esteem, and have more confidence about the future – particularly if you’ve struggled with financial issues in the past.
Money & Health: By the Numbers
- 72% of Americans feel stressed about money. (American Psychological Association)
- Men who earn income in the top 1% outlive those in the bottom 1% by nearly 15 years. (American Psychological Association)
- 44% of people experiencing debt-related stress report frequent migraines or other headaches, compared to 15% among those who don’t. (Associated Press/AOL Health Poll)
- Nearly 1 in 4 Americans skip medical care due to financial concerns, based on a 2020 online survey by Bankrate.com.
7 Financial Moves That Support Mind & Body
Follow these tips. The benefits go well beyond your finances.
1. Create an Emergency Fund
Unfortunately, many Americans have no savings available to cover surprise expenses such as car repairs. Experts recommend setting aside savings of at least three to six months’ income (the more, the better) in case of emergencies. If your current income makes it hard to save, try setting aside just a little bit each month by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to savings.
2. Have the Right Health Coverage
Don’t let medical bills drag down your finances, or your peace of mind. Review your existing insurance to ensure it’s adequate. If you need insurance, talk to your employer or sign up through your state’s healthcare marketplace during the open enrollment period (learn more at HealthCare.gov). If available at your workplace or with your type of insurance plan, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) can help you manage out-of-pocket medical expenses.
3. Pay Down Debt
Make a plan to pay off credit card and other high-interest debt as soon as possible. If you still have decent credit, you may be able to reduce the time and expense of paying off unsecured debt like credit cards by consolidating them with a low-rate personal loan, which can lower your interest and simplify your bills. If you have bigger debt problems, consider turning to a reputable credit counseling agency.
4. Build & Protect Your Credit
Having the ability to borrow money, and do so affordably, supports a better quality of life. If you need to build or repair credit, getting a secured credit card is a great first step.
If you rely on credit cards for day-to-day purchases, keep your credit utilization ratio – that is, how much of your available credit you use – below 30%, and pay your bills on time and in full. Keep an eye on your credit by requesting your free credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you’re an American Heritage member, you can check your FICO® Score for free in our Online Teller.
5. Make a Budget
In addition to building an emergency fund, be sure you’re setting aside money for long-term needs like retirement. To increase your savings, create and follow a budget designed to reduce your monthly spending.
By helping you avoid lavish spending and impulse purchases, a practical budget can keep you on track to reach your savings goals. For an easy way to budget and track expenses, use an online tool such as My Money Manager in our Online Teller.
6. Automate Your Banking
Want to reduce stress? Simplify your to-do list.
- Use direct deposit and eDeposit to get paid and make deposits without visiting a branch.
- Keep an eye on account balances and activity by setting up automatic alerts.
- Pay bills online with Bill Payer in our Online Teller.
- Link your savings account to checking to protect against overdrafts.
7. Make Healthy Choices
Just as good financial decisions support your health, healthy lifestyle choices support your finances. Exercise regularly, schedule wellness visits with your doctor, cook healthy meals at home rather than dining out, and cut out unhealthy, expensive habits like smoking.
A healthy lifestyle can help keep your spending under control right now – and can help prevent higher medical expenses related to health problems.
Committed to Your Financial Well-being
As a not-for-profit financial institution, American Heritage Credit Union is here to help you bank better, so you can live better. Along with offering a full range of affordable banking and lending options, we provide our members with financial education through AmericanHeritageU and free financial counseling through our partnership with Money Management International.