Financial stress is a small monster carving away at the pit of your stomach. It starts churning when bills are due. It’s in constant debate with the voice of reason, because it doesn’t care about how much money is coming in, or the fact pay day is only a few days away. It tries its best to shout down the voice of “things aren’t that bad, let’s go out for dinner, I’ll make it up next week. Next week I won’t go out at all’.
It wakes you up at night. Starts hammering away with the alarm clock in the morning. Sometimes it’s quiet. Only to come back more viciously, more angry than ever before. It can make you feel panicked, sick, out-of-control. Your productivity declines. You don’t listen in the same way. You can hear the words, make the connections, but your brain is busy doing calculations. Wondering how you’ll be able to afford the car repayments. Holding your breath that Optus will wait till next week to start calling for the phone bill.
Most of all. More than anything. It makes you feel stupid. Constantly asking: How did you get here?
One in four working Australians live like this, in a state of “financial stress”.
And, yes, you read that right; we’re talking about working Australians.
A national study of more than 2000 Australian employees, conducted by Kantar TNS for AMP, has found fewer than half (48 per cent) of us feel confident about our finances. Two years ago this figure was six per cent higher.
It also discovered that one in four working Australians are “financially stressed”.
This stress is not only affecting our respective stomachs and internal conversations. It’s also affecting our work.
Financial stress is costing Australian businesses $47 billion in revenue each year, the report found.
Why? Employees that are stressed about money are more likely to take sick days – up to four extra sick days each year. They also spend an average of 6.9 hours each week daydreaming and stressing about their financial situation at work. (Remember what I said about “hearing the words, but the brain is like a calculator”?)
The reason for this stress is mostly bad debt. Half of those living in financial stress are worried about personal debt. 35 per cent are concerned about saving for retirement. 34 per cent are worried about providing for their family.