Finances Have Stress Levels on the Rise
Mutual of Omaha Survey Explores Link Between Money and Mental Well-Being
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” While that may be mostly true, a recent Mutual of Omaha survey shows, for many people, financial security and mental well-being go hand in hand.
With 39% of the respondents saying they’re frequently or always stressed and 40% claiming to be equally anxious, it’s clear many Americans’ nerves are frayed — particularly among Gen Z, millennials, women and low-income households.
All it takes is a quick glance at the daily headlines to reveal a long list of issues that have people worried, but chief among them is financial security.
Living Paycheck to Paycheck
While most survey respondents say they can pay their monthly expenses, 57% admit they don’t have enough in savings to cover a significant unexpected expense. And 51% reveal they have little money left at end of each month.
The cycle of worry that stems from living paycheck to paycheck coupled with rising costs is causing many sleepless nights. Among respondents whose financial status is considered low due to their spending and savings habits, 56% say they always or frequently feel stressed and 53% say they regularly feel anxious.
Mindi Schmidt, manager of Mutual of Omaha’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), said approximately 20% of the clients her team has helped thus far in 2023 are experiencing some sort of money-related anxiety or stress — an 11.78% increase from this time last year. In addition, nearly 25% of clients confirm personal finance issues are a distraction at work and 39% say they spend three hours or more each week dealing with personal finance issues.
Mutual of Omaha’s EAP works with 17,000 employers nationwide and offers services to 2.5 million individuals and their dependents.
A costly combination of inflation and the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are fueling the growing angst, Schmidt said.
“The individuals we hear from are experiencing the impact of increased rent prices, groceries and child care expenses,” she said. “We speak with numerous people who are recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic and have been out of work for several months resulting in a negative impact on their financial situation.”
Gaining Peace of Mind
From eating healthier to exercising more and practicing mindfulness and meditation, survey respondents recognize many habits they can adopt to help ease their worried minds. But, hands down, respondents agreed getting their finances under control would have the most positive impact on their overall mental well-being.
If money-related issues have you feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to take steps — even small ones — toward resolving the problem. This could mean writing down and sticking to a budget, talking with a financial advisor or reaching out to your employer’s EAP for help.
“It can be tempting to avoid the issue. But that will only exacerbate the challenges and result in delaying an improvement to your financial health,” Schmidt said.
Where to Turn for Help
There are many free and low-cost resources available to anyone feeling stressed or anxious about their finances. Operation Hope offers a range of services for help with credit, money management, home ownership and small business management. Consumer Education Services is a nonprofit organization that offers credit counseling and education and help with debt consolidation and student loan management.
For affordable help with mental health issues, Schmidt recommends Open Path Collective, a nonprofit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office and online mental health care — at a steeply reduced rate — to anyone in need.
Mutual of Omaha surveyed 400 U.S. consumers ages 18–77 from April 13-25, 2023, via the quantilope survey platform.
Respondents rated their financial well-being, including their ability to pay monthly bills, withstand a major unexpected expense and having money left over at the end of the month. They then rated their emotional well-being based on frequency of feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, fearful and burned out.
Additionally, they rated activities that could help alleviate emotional stress.