Biggest money worries keeping Americans up at night
If money worries had you tossing and turning last night, you’re in good company.
Even with the U.S. economy rounding into shape, 65 percent of Americans say they lose sleep over financial concerns, according to a survey by CreditCards.com. That’s just four percentage points fewer than the share of Americans who had money-related insomnia back in 2009, when the economy was a hot mess.
In 2007, just prior to the Great Recession, 56 percent of Americans were losing sleep over financial worries, with the figure shooting up to 69 percent in 2009.
This year’s survey, which polled a nationally representative sample of Americans, was taken in early April. Its findings stand in stark contrast to the surge in consumer and investor confidence that immediately followed the presidential election, otherwise known as the Trump bump.
Not only are more Americans fretting over money matters, but the issues we worry about most are changing. Health care bills and the cost of health insurance now top the list of money-related worries, CreditCards.com found. Some 38 percent of Americans lose sleep over health care bills and the cost of health insurance. That’s up a whopping 9 percentage points, from 29 percent last year.
It’s not surprising that health care expenses are top of mind for many Americans. President Trump’s so far, ill-fated attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which expanded coverage to millions of previously uninsured people, has prompted national debate.
Uncertainty over the direction of federal health care policy, combined with the high cost of insurance and health care, have led to a good deal of angst.
In fact, a survey released last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that more Americans with health insurance are having difficulty affording health care. Thirty-seven percent are having trouble affording premiums each month, up from 27 percent in 2015. More than 40 percent struggle to afford deductibles, up from 34 percent two years ago. Slightly more than 30 percent have trouble affording copays and prescription drugs, versus 24 percent in 2015.
Health care and insurance bills now outrank stashing away money for retirement in terms of insomnia-inducing worries, although not by much. According to CreditCards.com, 37 percent of Americans lie awake at night fretting about saving enough for retirement.
“Retirement has long been America’s main financial worry, but now it’s all about health care,” said Matt Schulz, a senior analyst at CreditCards.com, a credit-card comparison and information website.
Also ranking high on the list of sleep-depriving financial worries are educational expenses. In fact, worries over educational costs have become an even bigger source of anxiety than ordinary bills (including mortgage payments) and credit card debt.
While in 2007 just two of 10 Americans were losing sleep over paying for educational expenses for themselves or a family member, today that figure has jumped to 34 percent. The trend isn’t entirely surprising given the steep cost of college and rising levels of student loan debt in recent years.
Aside from self-medicating with coffee in the morning, what’s the best way to address money-related insomnia? Don’t ignore financial worries, as many people are prone to do, Schulz advised.
“People hate when things are out of their control. Too often, people will bury their head in the sand and ignore an issue,” he said.
Even taking small steps, like making a budget, selling something of value or trimming your expenses, can ease the kind of financial anxieties that might disrupt your peaceful slumber.
“Do something, even if it’s a small step,” Schulz said. “Small actions, added together, can help you feel more empowered and sleep better at night.”
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