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The Effects of Debt on Families

by
author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
The Effects of Debt on Families
Dealing with debt can increase a family's stress. Photo Credit altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The negative effects of debt may be increasing due to the rise in overall household debt, according to "The Washington Post." Rising debt levels for families have been attributed to the economic recession. Americans are receiving only modest wage hikes, stock prices are falling and debt is rising due to the inability to pay for housing loans granted in the early 2000s -- which led to high housing prices and increasing difficulty in securing a loan.

Significance

An estimated 46 percent of Americans surveyed in an Associated Press-GfK poll said they experienced a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of stress related to their debt, according to Fox News. While families whose household income is $50,000 or less have not increased their debt level significantly on average, their reported stress level is much higher.

Medical Implications

Families struggling to keep up with or pay off debt may experience an impact on their health, according to Laura Choi, an analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. This chiefly affects the adults in the family who are employed. Families who reported high levels of stress related to debt reported greater incidences of ulcers and stomach problems than those who reported experiencing little to no stress. Anxiety also was a factor in those who experienced high levels of debt.

Workplace Implications

Although Americans are reportedly more productive in terms of output, their compensation is not rising at a significant rate, according to the Washington Post. Financial concerns can impact family members who may begin to worry over these concerns at work, according to Choi. These thoughts and negative mindset have been linked to missed days of work and diminished performance over time for those who are in emotional stress related to debt.

Family Concerns

Arguments about finances represent one of the greatest sources of contention between couples. Not only are the adults impacted by debt, but children can be as well. Children often are aware of their parents’ financial hardships and concerns, according to Choi. While children may not fully understand the implications of debt, they may experience stress as a result. To support this claim, Choi points to an Iowa State University Institute for Social and Behavioral Research that found that those who experience financial-related stress as children are more likely to have mental-health challenges as they mature.

Solution

If your debt is impacting your family, many free services are available to help you establish a firm plan to repay it. Call your city or community outreach center to find organizations that offer free debt counseling. You should not pay for this service. Create a budget and stick with it. Refrain from using credit cards, which can only increase your debt. Don’t put off working to repay your debt; begin immediately and you will reap the rewards for yourself and your family.

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