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Five Ways Your Debt May Be Making You Sick


3. Diet and Debt

When the finances are tight and/or stress is high, diet often goes out the window. Sound familiar? You turn to comfort foods (often known as “junk food”) to try to boost feel-good brain chemicals. You order out because you are too tired or unmotivated to cook. The healthier foods you want to buy are too expensive on your limited food budget. Or you can’t afford to stock up on cheaper bulk items. Whatever the reasons, you start eating poorly and then feel even worse. 

4. Unhealthy Coping

Whether it is smoking, alcohol, gambling, or drug abuse, some of the ways we deal with stress not only hurt our health but are dangerous to our financial futures as well. In fact, addiction and money problems are linked more often than most people realize, warns addiction expert and author Doug Thorburn. Family members or co-workers may be unaware of (or ignore) the signs of addiction until it’s too late.

5. Cost of Health Care

When money is tight, you can find yourself in a vicious circle, unable to get the care you need, and then paying more when your health problems turn into a crisis. Consumers with poor health and no financial cushion are likely to:

  • Pay more for health insurance, even if they have a group plan through their employer. Employers are raising co-pays and deductibles, and some employer programs are financially penalizing workers who are overweight, don’t exercise, smoke, etc.
  • Pay more for life insurance -- if you can get it and afford to keep it.
  • Put off getting important medical care like dental care, physicals, or annual screenings.
  • Be unable to pay for needed health care due to unpaid medical bills.

While there may be no simply solution to the healthcare or credit crises, there are things you can do to help restore your financial and physical health:

  • See your doctor about medical problems that are interfering with your ability to work or cope. If you think you may be depressed, are suffering anxiety or headaches, or are not sleeping well, ask for help. If you are short on funds or don’t have good health insurance, let your doctor’s office know when you schedule the appointment. Ask what the office visit fee will be and find out whether they will be willing to work with you on a reduced fee basis or a payment plan. If you need prescription medications, ask about less expensive generic medications. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to programs that will help pay for your medications and/or to community resources that will allow you to get the treatment you need to start feeling better.
  • Talk with an expert about your options for solving your financial crisis. Research shows that consumers who seek out help often feel better after finding and implementing a solution. For some it may be a simple budget, while others may need credit counseling, debt settlement, or bankruptcy. 
  • Commit to making small, positive changes toward a healthier, wealthier life. For example, you may decide to take a healthier lunch to work instead of grabbing fast food, walking around the block after dinner, or renting movies instead of going to the movie theater. Even small changes can make you feel better. But don’t try to give yourself an extreme makeover or you’ll probably end up more miserable than before.