- New survey reveals how debt is taking a harmful toll on the mental health of millions of Americans.
- Most people feel like they can’t continue their current lifestyle because of inflation.
- Half of Americans worry about the burden from inheriting their parents’ debt struggles.
NEW YORK — The average American loses over 200 hours of sleep each year thinking about the money they owe and has three “debt nightmares” a week.
A survey of 2,000 adults looked at how debt affects their daily lives and found that people reported an increase in anxiety (38%), stress (33%) and moodiness (32%) because of their debt problems. More than two-thirds of respondents who have been in debt say it’s made them withdraw from the things they love (69%).
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Still, three in five respondents also admit feeling pressure to spend money they don’t have so they can hide their financial situation. Three in four respondents would sacrifice doing and buying things they want, since 71 percent constantly think about the debt they’re in.
If in debt, people would also sacrifice going on vacation (49%), date nights (38%), or attending a wedding (36%) because of their debt woes. A third of respondents would even say “no” to a night out with their friends.
When it comes to the most worrisome bills, many agree that credit card debt is the worst to have (45%), with medical loans (34%) and owing money on a mortgage (32%) following closely behind. Above all, most agree that getting out of debt feels like they’re retaking control of their lives (87%).
People worry about debt so much that nearly three in five have even considered putting off marriage to avoid inheriting their partner’s debt. Another 54 percent believe having a partner who’s in debt is a major reason to consider divorce. Meanwhile, 70 percent fear they can no longer afford their lifestyle due to inflation, and 77 percent say having debt would impact their retirement plans.
Debt feels like a permanent ‘black cloud’ for most people
Looking at the future, three in four want to pay off all debt so their children would not have to suffer. Half of respondents are also afraid of eventually inheriting their parents’ debt. Nearly three-quarters of those polled wish there were tools and resources available to help them when they were deep in financial debt (73%).
“For those struggling with what feels like insurmountable debt, you don’t need to face it alone,” says Natalia Brown, National Debt Relief’s chief client operations officer, in a statement. “Don’t hide your financial situation, have honest conversations with your family as a means of emotional support and consider debt relief options to help you tackle your debt.”
Most of those who have been in debt agree that their experience has permanently affected their perspective on finances (78%). Seven in 10 feel like a “black cloud” hangs over them when they have to pay a bill or loan and the same percentage of people feel debt has permanently affected them mentally (71%).
“Unfortunately, the findings from this survey do not surprise me,” Brown adds. “I see the emotional and physical impact debt has on people first hand every day. It’s important for people not only to get out of debt but also learn how to live financially confident while instilling healthy practices to remain financially free.”