The Carr Report: Money-related stress weighing you down?

Worried because your bills are piling up? Scared because you don’t have enough saved for emergencies, college, or retirement? Confused when it comes to taxes, mortgages, investments, insurance and estate planning?

The aforementioned questions are questions I asked when marketing my financial planning and tax preparation service. It’s me appealing to what I already know. Most Americans are struggling financially. They’re worried and scared out of their minds. Consider these statistics:

According to a 2023 survey conducted by, 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. This means that most Americans can’t realistically afford the house they live in or the car they’re driving.

CNN recently reported a 2024 Capital One Survey stating that 73  percent of Americans rank finance as their number 1 stress—more than politics (59 percent), work (49 percent) and family (46 percent).

A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association indicates that as many as 8 of 10 Americans are stressed because of money concerns. In addition:

  • 50 percent are stressed about their ability to provide for their family’s basic needs
  • 56 percent are concerned about job stability and workload
  • 60 percent feel angry and irritable
  • 53 percent feel fatigued
  • 53 percent say they lie awake at night with worry
  • 47 percent report having headaches
  • 35 percent report an upset stomach
  • 34 percent report increased muscle tension

Financial stress is a common experience for many individuals and occurs when there is a perceived imbalance between financial resources and financial demands. People become overwhelmed with their financial obligations and responsibilities. In other words, there’s more outgo than income. There’s more debt than assets. There’s a high utilization rate on credit cards. There’s an upside down balance on car loans.  There’s an underwater situation with the house value relative to the mortgage balance.

Financial stress can stem from job loss, too much debt, insufficient income, unexpected expenses, or an unstable financial situation. Financial stress can also be triggered by one of the “Dreadful Ds:” Divorce, Disability, or Death.

Symptoms of financial stress may include difficulty sleeping, irritability, feelings of overwhelm, and an inability to focus on tasks. Prolonged exposure to financial stress can lead to anxiety and chronic health issues, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension and a weakened immune system.

When you’re dealing with financial stress, it feels like you’re treading water. You can’t seem to get forward traction and momentum. It feels like the walls are caving in.  All you can think about are the burdensome circumstances you’re dealing with. The solution is oftentimes obvious. You’re so mired in the problem you can’t see the solution. Below are a couple of examples:

I recall receiving an inbox question. How can you save money when you have bad spending habits? My response. Fix the bad spending habits. Problem solved.

I had another inbox question. The person stated, “I can’t get out of credit card debt no matter how hard I try.” I asked, “When was the last time you used your credit card?” They responded, “yesterday.” I replied, “You’ll never get out of credit card debt if you keep using your credit card. First thing you need to do is stop using your credit card.” Problem solved.

I had a client who was having a hard time making ends meet. When I looked at the numbers, she was relatively frugal with her spending on herself. Her issue was that she was paying for living expenses for her adult child who was living in a nice luxury home in a warm sunny state with her boyfriend. Neither her daughter, nor the boyfriend worked. When I inquired about the arrangement, she replied, “She’s a sweet child. She can’t afford the place. I’m helping her out until she gets on her feet.” I replied, “That’s sweet of you. I wish my mom did that for me. Has it occurred to you that you can’t afford the place either?” I went into greater detail stating that it sounds like you’re enabling your daughter. “In addition, you’re jeopardizing your own financial well-being.” I could see her eyes tear up. She excused herself and went to the bathroom. She collected herself and came back. She said, “You’re right. I’m enabling her. I can’t afford it.”  I need to make some changes. Problem solved.

I share those stories to prove a point.  Financial stress is often temporary and may be the result of specific financial challenges that can be addressed through practical solutions.

Financial stress can have a profound impact on physical health, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. Addressing financial stress involves a combination of practical financial management strategies and psychological coping mechanisms. Here are several effective ways to combat financial stress.

Assess Your Financial Situation:  The first step in combating financial stress is to thoroughly assess your financial situation.

Create a Budget: Budgeting is a fundamental tool in managing financial stress. A well-planned budget helps ensure that your spending aligns with your financial goals.

Build an Emergency Fund: An emergency fund acts as a financial safety net, providing peace of mind and reducing stress.

Manage Debt Effectively: Debt is a major source of financial stress. Managing and eliminating debt will turn stress into peace.

Increase Financial Literacy: Improving your financial literacy can empower you to make informed decisions and reduce financial stress.

Adopt Healthy Financial Habits: Developing healthy financial habits can help you stay on track and reduce stress.

Address the Psychological Aspect: Financial stress isn’t just about numbers. It also has significant psychological components because it involves people and things you’re emotionally connected to.

Explore Additional Income Sources: Increasing your income can significantly alleviate financial stress.

Practice Gratitude and Contentment: Cultivating a sense of gratitude and contentment can help shift your focus from what you lack to what you have.

Seek Professional Help When Necessary: If financial stress becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Combating financial stress requires a comprehensive approach that combines practical financial management with psychological resilience. By taking proactive steps to manage your finances, increasing your financial literacy, and addressing the emotional aspects of financial stress, you can achieve greater financial stability and peace of mind.

(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached @ 412-216-1013 or visit his website @



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