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In the News: Americans are Feeling the Effects of Money Stress

Money-stressFor many Americans money stress brought on by lighter paychecks this year is affecting more than their wallets — it’s taking a toll on their waistlines, friendships and the amount of sleep they get. That’s according to results of a new survey fielded for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive in recognition of National Financial Capability Month.

The telephone survey, conducted between March 14 and March 17, asked 1,011 U.S. adults to name all the ways financial stress is affecting their lives. Of those who rate their financial stress “very” or “somewhat high,” almost half, 47 percent, said they are sleeping less; 43 percent said they have less patience with friends or are seeing them less often and 31 percent are eating more junk food or gaining weight.

“Mounting money pressures are making Americans cranky, tired and unhealthy,” said Ernie Almonte, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “This can lead to a double whammy, with ensuing physical and emotional stress potentially leading to higher long-term costs. Americans must find ways to cope with money stress even when financial challenges seem daunting.”

Even worse, financial stress is fairly common and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

As Plan Sponsor reports, the AICPA survey found 44 percent of U.S. adults currently register a high level of financial stress—with women almost twice as likely as men to say it is “very high.” Only 28 percent of adults see a reduction in financial stress over the next six months.  

AccountingWEB discussed the survey results, with Sharon Lechter, CPA, member of AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission financial literacy expert and author of the AICPA publication Save Wisely, Spend Happily, the CPA profession's first consumer book that offers expert advice from CPAs across the country on myriad topics. 

“The findings really underscore the tremendous effects of financial stress. The simple fact is this: It costs to live. We have to pay for shelter, food, clothes, transportation, child care, health care, and the list goes on, Lechter said.” “When you have a financial setback, the challenge confronts you constantly and can seem overwhelming. It will absolutely take a toll on other parts of your life. That's why it's so important to have a firm understanding of your financial situation and a plan to move forward. What's the old saying? 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.' A budget and a plan can help mute the ill effects of financial stress.”

You can read the interview, which includes additional insights on the survey results and tips on how Americans can alleviate money stress on AccountingWEB.com.

The CPA profession has a comprehensive financial education program—360 Degrees of Financial Literacy—to help Americans achieve long-term financial success. A robust website is the centerpiece of the program with tools, calculators and advice to help Americans understand and manage their financial needs during 10 life stages, from childhood to retirement.

, AICPA Staff.

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