A debt free life is a stress free life.
This statement was put to test recently by social scientists.
Almost all of us have accrued some level of debt in our lives, be it a car loan, a mortgage, student loans, or credit cards. Debt can consume our finances leading to not just fiscal woes – but stress evoked from debt can cause detrimental mental and physical repercussions.
Those drowning in debt aren’t just seeing an impact on their wallets anymore. The average debt in the US has tripled over the last 20 years and the effects on the health of these young Americans is detrimental. New research done on young adults between ages 24 to 32 shows that high financial debt is directly correlated with an increased blood pressure and decreased mental wellbeing.
The results are incredibly eye opening: Twenty percent of participants reported that they would still be in debt if they liquidated all of their assets. Those in this predicament showed higher perceived stress and depression, worse self-reported general health and substantially higher blood pressure.
As it turns out, the brief euphoria brought on by the shopper’s high will always be trumped by the disheartening remorse that comes along with the painful reality check that is your burgeoning debt.
In a culture encouraged to “buy, buy, buy,” it’s often hard to remember that optimal budgeting can have a big, wonderful impact on your life and the lives of your family. Liberating yourself from the chains of debt far outweighs the short-lived instant gratification experienced from treating all of your income as disposable.
Here are a few ways to help to reduce or eliminate debt:
1. Come to terms with your reality: Often times, we are in denial. We don’t want to admit or look at our personal balance statements. The first step to debt-free living is to admit the gravity of your financial circumstances and assess the whether the debt was accrued through necessary expenses or if it is simply the result of over consumption.
2. Then, take steps to restrict your debt from growing. This includes talking to the debtors, developing more frugal habits, and better prioritizing your expenses. The most important thing to realize here is that you are not painfully sacrificing things, but consciously determining what’s important and what’s not.
3. Write down your expenses: When first beginning your road to a less-debt life, start small. Track all of your expenditures, from the menial to the essential. What habits could you break? What luxuries could you do without (even if for just a short time)?
4. Leave the credit cards at home: Remove temptation whenever possible. When traveling out to shop, consider bringing just the amount of cash you budgeted to spend. This way, you can spend guilt-free and not risk the unintended splurge.
5. Plan ahead: Being fiscally responsible doesn’t mean giving up all luxuries and getaways. Anticipate trips a year or two in advance and start saving a small sum each week. This will lessen the burden when it comes time to travel. Also, save change and small bills throughout the year for a raining day fund. Then at the end of the year, treat yourself without the added guilt.
6. Readjust your perspective: Digging yourself from the pit of debt involves an overhaul of your thought processes. It will force you to evaluate and prioritize the things and people in your life. The exercise of self-evaluation and self-control to alleviate debt can be therapeutic in and of itself.
A debt free life can be a stress free, and thus substantially healthier, happier life.
Photo Credit: jpstjohn