Most people understand the financial implications of incurring too much debt. It can wreck your credit score, make it nearly impossible to get a traditional loan from a bank and severely limit your ability to save for emergencies. Besides having a negative impact on your fiscal affairs, debt can create problems for other areas, too.
Debt can indirectly make someone physically ill. Research shows that up to 50 percent of people in debt report having health problems. Stress related to debt can set the stage for someone to be worn down to the point of being sick. Stress creates a flow of hormones that increases heart rate, tenses muscles and speeds up breathing. If someone’s body is essentially on alert in response to debt-related stress, this can increase the chance of having high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and an irregular heartbeat.
Besides creating stress, debt can affect health in other ways. When medical concerns arise, people might choose not to see a doctor because they’re worried about healthcare costs pushing them deeper into debt. This leads them to gamble with their health and allow the possibility that their illness or condition will worsen over time. In addition, medications are expensive, so someone in debt might skip his or her pills rather than continue to pay for refills.
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Managing money is one of the biggest points of conflict for married couples. In one study, the majority of couples reported having few, if any, discussions about their joint finances prior to saying, “I do.” Disagreements over how to handle debt may create tension that spills over into the bedroom, interactions with the kids and discussions about non-financial issues.
Friendships can also suffer when someone is in debt. People sometimes discover they can’t afford to go out for drinks after work or afford a babysitter so they can go out with friends. When they do get the chance to have fun, it can be difficult to forget the cloud of debt hanging over their heads.
If a debt problem is significant, concentrating at work may be next to impossible. People may be distracted or waste time looking for the magic solution online instead of being productive.
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If you’re experiencing some of these problems or you’re looking to avoid them, there are steps you can take to alleviate or prevent these issues. You can organize a financial workshop through a local church or community center so you and others can learn how to get out of debt. You can educate yourself on how to use budgeting tools with the Reach Card, which allows you to limit your spending to money you have instead of paying with credit. You can also speak with a professional debt counselor who can help you identify your options. Finally, you should establish a budget and plan to get out of debt.
What strategies have worked to reduce your debt?