The Stressor in America That's Taking the Cake

by Kate Hynson

Financial Frequency. myWellness

August 28, 2019 .3 min read

You’ve probably heard of the “Sunday Scaries,” right?

You know, that looming feeling that comes over you on a Sunday night, knowing that just a quick night of sleep stands between you and sitting down at your desk Monday morning? Yeah, that feeling.

If you have ever encountered the feeling, you’re not alone. In fact, over 75 percent of Americans experience that very same feeling, often. Work has been noted as a leading cause of anxiety, along with health problems, family relationships and responsibilities. But when it comes to the number one stressor amongst Americans, we can all thank money.

Over 40 million Americans experience some sort of anxiety or anxiety disorder and it’s no surprise that finances are the leading cause. According to a 2018 Bankrate survey, 36 percent of survey respondents claimed that financial worries are keeping them up at night.

So, here's a loaded question, what exactly about our finances is causing anxiety? 

The Root of Our Financial Anxiety

Unfortunately, the struggle with money can become a cyclical process, especially from a young age. For millennials and early Gen Z adults, many will face one piece of debt that is at an all-time high in America: student loan debt.

Entering corporate America for the first time as a young adult can be hard enough. It's one thing to have to worry about funding basic necessities like monthly rent, groceries, and/or buying a car. But now, let's add a massive monthly student loan payment to the equation.

Talk about brutal.

And with a constant highlight reel of friends on social media “living their best life” from happy hours to a weekend away with friends, on display, the struggle to say "no” gets even harder, which can lead to unwise spending decisions and more debt.

For the older millennials and Gen X demographic, caring for elderly relatives and/or children, as well as debt from additional schooling are other expenses to factor in the equation. That said, an unexpected medical emergency or job loss can often lead to financial anxiety, especially when you’re supporting another or potentially several other people. 

Those Affected Most by Financial Anxiety

Financial anxiety can creep in at any age; however, it is more prevalent in certain age groups over others. A study completed in 2017 found that millennials were more engaged in their finances than both baby boomers and Generation X.

The study looked at the three generations and identified which was most likely to have a written financial plan. The results came in with millennials in the lead at 34 percent, compared to 21 percent of Generation X and 18 percent of baby boomers.

The study also found that as millennials are getting older, their financial behaviors are improving. As they get older, creating budgets are more habitual and leaving them in a financially better position.

The Hope Beneath the Anxiety

When you started reading this article, maybe you felt the familiar feeling of “money worries” on your shoulders. If so, thanks for sticking with me because there really is a silver lining of financial anxiety.

There is hope!

Millennials are our future leaders. If their proactive financial planning and awareness gives us a glimpse into the future, then let’s take a page out of the millennials’ book. 

Don’t forget that you have more control over your money than you might initially think. Remember to tackle the things within reach first. Focus on being able to pay your credit card in full, chip away at debt, and create a financial plan. Do what you can with what you have now and you’ll be making more progress than you would’ve ever thought was possible. Be encouraged by that!

The next time you start to feel the money worries nearby, take a deep breath. Remember that financial independence is possible and financial hope is alive now more than ever.