A new research study looking at how debt affects daily lives reveals that the true cost of debt is more than making the minimum payments. Having debt can also be detrimental to mental and physical health, and impact life decisions.
Commissioned by National Debt Relief and conducted by OnePoll, the survey finds that the average American loses over 200 hours of sleep annually over their outstanding financial obligations and has three “debt nightmares” a week.
In fact, seven in 10 feel like a “black cloud” hangs over them when they have to pay a bill or loan, and 71% feel debt has permanently affected them mentally. Those surveyed report an increase in anxiety (38%), stress (33%) and moodiness (32%) because of their debt problems, and 69% of respondents who have been in debt say it’s made them withdraw from the things they love.
The survey also reveals a vicious cycle — while 77% of people would feel guilty spending money on leisure items knowing they’re in debt, three in five respondents also admit to feeling pressured to spend money they can’t afford to hide their financial situation.
Unfortunately, debt is not just personal. The survey suggests that debt can also place a burden on families and couples. In fact, people worry about debt so much that nearly three in five have even considered putting off marriage to avoid inheriting their partner’s debt and 54% believe having a partner in debt is a major reason to consider divorce. Half of respondents are also afraid of eventually inheriting their parents’ debt.
Experts say that when it comes to combating both debt, and the negative feelings it creates, it’s important to be open with loved ones.
“Hiding debt can lead to feelings of loneliness and embarrassment around friends and family, or pressure to buy things you can’t afford,” says Natalia Brown, National Debt Relief’s chief client operations officer. “Tell your loved ones your financial situation so they know your limits.”
Brown also recommends adopting practices that improve your financial outlook in the short- and long-term while helping you avoid future debt. This includes having smart spending habits that align with your budget, getting health insurance to avoid exorbitant out-of-pocket spending on medical care, and setting up automatic savings. With these practices, Brown hopes more people will be prepared to pay a surprise $400 bill, which the Federal Reserve reported 40% of Americans would struggle to pay.
Debt management can be complicated, particularly if you owe multiple creditors or if your debt feels overwhelming. It’s no surprise that nearly three-quarters of those polled wish there were tools and resources available to help them when they were at their worst in debt.
To help you pay off your debt faster or even lessen the amount you owe, Brown suggests enlisting the help of a service such as National Debt Relief, which negotiates with creditors on your behalf to significantly reduce your debt, so you can be debt-free in as little as 24-48 months. As a top-rated debt relief company, National Debt Relief has helped hundreds of thousands of clients over the past decade resolve over $9 billion in unsecured debt on everything from personal loans and medical bills to credit cards and student debt.
With the ability to adversely impact mental health and harm relationships, debt is clearly more than just a financial burden. But there’s good news — a majority of Americans agree that getting out of debt feels like they’re retaking control of their lives — and there are debt resources out there to help.