Is Debt Making You Sick?
The stress associated with financial worries can do more than keep you up at night – it can also make you ill.
Symptoms of stress include the obvious: headaches, stomach pain, stiff neck, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Constant worry can also cause back pain, muscle spasms, dizziness, dry mouth, skin irritations, mood swings, chronic exhaustion, a compromised immune system, even dental problems.
Seventy-three percent of the people surveyed recently by the American Psychological Association (APA) said lack of funds was the most significant source of anxiety in their lives. The APA says that “chronic stress — stress that interferes with your ability to function normally over an extended period — is becoming a public health crisis.” And financial stress is particularly problematic from a health standpoint because money problems tend to linger longer than other sorts of stressful situations.
Stress is caused by our body’s built-in response to danger. The physical response to danger enabled us to become very aware of our surroundings so that we could more effectively fight a threat or run away from it very fast. Unfortunately ignoring your financial problems doesn’t provide the same release from stress as physically running away does. Hiding the unopened letters from creditors, refusing to look at bank balances, and avoiding sitting down and making a budget just adds to the stress.
Confronting Your Financial Problems
Confronting the situation is the essential first step in regaining control over your finances and life. Review your bank account statements and your bills, then make a plan to address your essential needs and pay your debts.
You may need to call your creditors and ask for a payment plan. Most would rather work with you than run the risk that you’ll default. Making that call can be hard, but remember you are not the only person who is struggling to pay their bills these days. You can also call companies that you’ve been a customer of for a long time – such as your cable company, phone and internet service provider, and tell them you need to lower your monthly bill by a specific amount. Typically companies will work will you to find a way to reduce your rates as it’s far less expensive for them to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones.
Selling Your Structured Settlement
Obviously, the faster you can pay down your debt the more you’ll save on interest payments and overdue fees and the faster your stress levels will drop. If you have an annuity or structured settlement, it may make better financial sense to sell payments for cash rather than slowly paying down your debt. You can learn more about selling structured settlements and annuities in our FAQ section.