Many Americans have been battling financial anxiety as a result of persistent unemployment, credit card debt, mortgage problems and living paycheck-to-paycheck. Significant money-related stress can make it more challenging for individuals to seek out solutions and remain optimistic about their situations. However, a new report shows that more people are overcoming their anxiety and seeing their stress levels decline.
The findings of Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey reveal that the number of Americans who are highly or moderately worried about their finances declined to 53 percent in 2013, down from a peak of 61 percent in 2012. The reading is the lowest since 2007. While the results represent positive news and suggest that more individuals are seeing their overall financial picture improve, consumers remain concerned about several issues.
For example, 61 percent of respondents said they are very or moderately worried about their ability to save enough money for retirement and another 58 percent said their biggest concern is being able to cover the costs of a serious illness or medical emergency. Thirty-nine percent of individuals said their ability to pay their normal monthly bills was their biggest source of financial stress, while 35 percent cited housing and rental costs as their biggest financial obstacle. Nearly one-fifth of respondents also said their greatest concern was being able to make minimum payments on credit card debt.
"Americans are becoming less worried about a range of financial matters and, in a broad sense, are less worried about their personal finances now than at any time since the 2008-2009 recession," the report read. "Still, the level of financial worry remains elevated to pre-recession levels, even as the economy is improving in many respects, including home values and stock values."
Taking action to combat financial anxiety
Worrying about money can not only have an impact on individuals’ abilities to formulate clear solutions, but also take a toll on their mental and physical health. For these reasons, consumers may benefit from leaning on professional assistance to discuss their options and learn more about how to take control of their situation. A credit counselor is trained to guide individuals through a range of issues, including debt, budgeting, savings, mortgage issues, retirement planning and even planning ahead for the future. Speaking with a professional and learning about the resources available to them may help consumers feel more empowered and allow them to develop a customized plan to meet their needs.