The Physical Side Effects of Debt

worried about moneyAnyone who has carried a heavy load of debt is keenly aware of its ability to strain your budget and your relationships, but is it possible that being deep in debt has physical side effects as well? New research indicates that owing too much money causes physical stress that is detrimental to our overall health. Add this to the many reasons to make a plan to get out of debt.

Stating the Obvious

The number of families across America saddled with high levels of debt is both staggering, and troubling. Unfortunately, we’ve been part of that statistic since running up debt mostly attributed to my attempt to return to school and finish an undergraduate degree. Since that time getting out of debt has been our number one priority, but for others it hangs around as sort of reminder of past financial sins. Whatever the case, keeping debt around has many negative consequences, and not all of them are directly related to finances.

Limited Options, Missed Opportunities

One of the biggest reasons not to get into debt is because it has a way of limiting your options. At work, those deep in debt are many times forced to stay in a bad job because relocating is simply not an option when living paycheck to paycheck. At home, debt increases the incidents of money fights between couples, many times in front of their children, who ultimately suffer the most stress worrying about their parents’ relationship.

High levels of debt affect our ability to be givers, and many times forces us to pass on the opportunity to donate to a cause we believe in. Think back to when you were in debt, or maybe you are still struggling to climb out, as we are. How many times have you heard of a neighbor losing everything in a fire, or a local child struggling with a serious illness, and think – I sure would like to help them, financially, but I just can’t afford it. We can’t afford it because we are sending the money we would like to donate to banks and credit card companies.

Financial Peace

Now imagine for a moment that you are debt free, and you have that 6-month emergency fund in place, and you are saving for retirement and your kid’s college plans, and towards that next car you plan to buy with cash. You aren’t worried about paying the next utility bill, or insurance premium, or prescription refill. You are now able to quietly help those in your community when the time comes. Imagine if entire neighborhoods became debt free. Imagine an entire city. Dave Ramsey was right when he described debt freedom as “financial peace,” because it is this feeling of calm that enters your life that makes all the sacrifices to get there so worth it.

photo by pedrosimoes7


  1. There was a study that showed stress of debt, and the additional stress actually age you faster. I wasn’t grey at all three years ago, and now the side are getting a little silver to them. I can only imagine right now the peace of mid I will have when I am finally debt free. Thanks for another great post!

  2. Very scary to think of this. The present financial credit crunch our country is going through along with the equity evaporation most have seen in our homes could be the next epidemic for health.

    Your point on debt limiting your options is poetry. EVERYONE should adhere this advice. Debt can be useful or it could be death. This is why it is called leverage.

    Great post…

  3. I’ve always found something very satisfying in the ability to pay bills whenever I need, at any time of day. It’s not that I’m so much in love with writing checks to corporations, but it underscores the bedrock of financial security I have. I can only imagine how little sleep I’d get if I got a bill I couldn’t pay.

    The worst part about the physical effects of debt-related stress? The massive medical bills. Talk about a swift kick to the junk…

  4. You have described my life. Along with debt and the need to stay in a toxic job just to have a steady paycheck and health insurance came weight gain, high blood pressure, insomnia, migraines and a host of other ailments. In the days of a higher paying job, no debt, being able to pay bills on time, etc., I was healthy with only an occasional trip to the doctor for allergy/sinus problems.

    Not only do I worry about the bills and keeping a roof over my head, I get depressed over things like not being able to take my nephew to a movie or my niece out to lunch. Vacations are a thing of the past. The only thing I can do right now is to try not to go deeper into debt and keep looking for better opportunities. And, of course, reading all the good advice I can get online! Just looking forward to the day when (hopefully) all this will be behind me and I am once again solvent…

    Thanks for summing it all up so well.