26 Percent Of Adults Stressed About Money Most Of The Time

An annual survey by the American Psychological Association shows that stress levels are generally down from where they were when the study started in 2007. That's the good news. The bad? Worry about money continues to take a toll, particularly among those who are female, young, make less, or are parents.

"Regardless of the economic climate, money and finances have remained the top stressor since our survey began in 2007," said APA CEO and Executive Vice President Norman B. Anderson, PhD, in a statement. "Furthermore, this year's survey shows that stress related to financial issues could have a significant impact on Americans' health and well-being."

A survey of 3,068 adults in August 2014 found that 72 percent felt stressed about money at least part of the time. Another 22 percent felt extreme stress (a score of 8 or higher on a ten-point scale). When asked about significant sources of stress, money topped the charts, rising above jobs, family responsibilities, or health concerns, as the chart below shows.

Over the last year, stress about money only decreased for 12 percent of the adults who participated in the survey. For 59 percent, it stayed the same. Twenty-nine percent said that stress about money actually increased.

Twenty-six percent of the people said that they feel stressed about money most or all of the time, while 54 percent said they had "just enough" or not enough money at the end of the month to make ends meet.

The study found a growing gap by income level in money-related stress. In 2007 and 2008, there was no differentiation. In 2009 and 2010, households with an income of $50,000 or more reported feeling more stress than those with incomes of less than $50,000. But since 2010 there has been an increasing gap, with poorer families feeling an increased financial burden.

Twenty percent of lower-income families have skipped necessary doctors' visits because of finances. Twice as many people in lower-income households as upper-income are likely to say that their financial situations prevent them from living a healthy lifestyle. For 45 percent of lower-income Americans, out-of-pocket healthcare costs are a somewhat or very significant source of stress. For higher-income Americans, the rate is 34 percent.

Parents of children under the age of 18 report an overall stress level of 5.7, higher than the average levels for even lower-income Americans and significantly higher than the 4.7 for all adults. More than a third (34 percent) report their stress levels have increased. Parents reported an average 5.8 stress level specifically about money, compared to 4.4 for Americans without minor children.

Millennials and Gen Xers reported overall stress levels of 5.5 and 5.4, with 36 percent and 30 percent, respectively, reporting increased stress in the past year. Their levels of stress over money are also higher than average Americans: 5.4 for Millennials and 5.5 for Gen Xers. Although, at 64 percent, money is a somewhat or very significant source of stress for adults, 77 percent of parents, 75 percent of Millennials, and 76 percent of Gen Xers find it to be so.

Women continue to experience more stress than men, at 5.0 versus 4.3, and 30 percent say they feel stress all or most of the time about money, whereas only 21 percent of men report that. Almost half of all women say paying for essentials is a somewhat or very significant source of stress.

Symptoms of stress can include irritability and anger, nervousness and anxiety, lack of interest or motivation, fatigue, a feeling of being overwhelmed, and depression or sadness.
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