How stressed are you about money?
About one in five Americans would forgo sex for six months in exchange for having someone pay their bills. With Valentine's Day having just passed, worrying about rent and calculating your credit utilization rate certainly can kill the mood.
A recent survey asked Americans what they were willing to give up in exchange for having their bills paid. One in four Americans would turn off the TV for a month, one in five would sacrifice sex for six months and another one in five would kill their cell phone service. Only about one in seven Americans were willing to give up Internet access. We are more willing to give up sex for six months than cut off access to email -- is this really what money stress has come to?
While experts report sex can be a stress reliever, stress is oftentimes the elephant in your bedroom.
For example, one out of two married women report that stress reduces their desire to have sex. Money is also one of the most common reasons couples fight, and one of the top three issues that eventually leads couples to divorce court.
While unemployment rates are slowly declining and income is increasing, we are still far from recession recovery. Which explains why money is still the number one concern among stressed-out Americans, reports the American Psychological Association.
How do you keep stress from debilitating your love life? Here are some strategies for dealing with money stress to take the burden off of your life and your mojo.
- Let your employer help. Inquire with your human resources department if your company offers any wellness programs, such as gym reimbursements, yoga classes and even stress management sessions. Your health insurance may also cover counseling or therapy sessions; instead of expensive regular sessions, just a few visits could provide effective coping techniques. Check your HR department or health insurance to see what you qualify for.
- Do a little positive thinking. Instead of stressing about money, think about money positively. A great way to do that is to start a savings account for a long-term goal. Open a fee-free online account at Ally or INGDirect, and name the account something you want to save up for, such as a Tahitian vacation or the newest iPad. If you can only put $20 a month towards your savings, it can still help adjust your mindset about money to associate it with something motivating. While paying down debts and juggling bills, you can be proud of your savings and look forward to a future reward.
- Target your pain points and make a plan. This is the most effective strategy, because it gets at the source of your stress. What about your finances is stressing you out, and how can you finally bite the bullet and address it? If you are in over your head in debt, check out ReadyForZero or SavvyMoney, which creates free and easy personalized debt repayment plans. If you have a sneaking suspicion you spend too much on dining, balance your budget with free tools Mint or Adaptu. If you are worried your credit score has hit rock bottom, check and manage your free credit score at CreditKarma.com to get a handle on your credit health.
Remember that money, while important, shouldn't impede you from enjoying the pleasures of life. Whether it's your sex life or your hobbies, dialing down money stress can help you focus on the positive aspects of life while still prioritizing financial responsibility.
Now pay down those debts, build that credit score and turn on the Barry White.
Justine Rivero is the Credit Advisor for CreditKarma.com, a free credit management website that helps over four million consumers access their truly free credit score and free credit monitoring.