Money Stress & Stress Management

Watching TV for more than two hours a day is one of the ways Americans manage stress.

Americans are stressed about money. The latest report from the American Psychological Association (APA) on stress finds that money is the most frequently reported stress factor, followed by work, the economy, family responsibilities, and personal health. The report indicates that 72% of Americans feel stressed about money some of the time, and over a quarter (26%) of Americans feel stressed about money most or all of the time.

According to the study, the most frequently reported ways Americans manage stress include:

– Listening to music (44%)
– Exercising/walking (43%)
– Watching TV for more than 2 hours/day (40%)

Based on the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, we know that, on average, Americans spend over two hours a day watching TV (12% of the day), while they spend 0.5% of their day on household management–a category that includes financial management. Our research supports the conclusion that those who spend time planning for their financial future worry less about money and finance issues, even when holding factors such as age, income, and net worth constant. Behavior can change, but the APA study reveals that approximately one-third of Americans feel they cannot make behavior changes because of willpower:

Willpower is the most commonly cited barrier to making lifestyle changes (32 percent of Americans say that a lack of willpower prevented them from making a change).

The APA provides advice on willpower and making financial lifestyle changes, as well. If even a small portion of the time currently allocated to watching TV, for example, could be allocated instead to financial planning and management, the change could pay significant dividends (psychological and otherwise) in the long run.

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