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Worrying About Debt Ages You

Alan McQuarrie

One of the little known attractions at the Canadian National Exhibition is the Professional Guesser.  For the reasonable price of five dollars, you can be given an estimate of your age, weight or birth month.  Last year, the “Guesser” was slapped in the face after he estimated a woman’s age at 31 when she was only 26.  What age would the Professional Guesser give you?   According to recent studies, Canadians, especially Canadian Women are at high risk for chronic stress related to finance, including debt problems.  Chronic stress is one of the causes of premature aging and even premature death.

The following quiz can help you determine your risk for premature aging caused, in part, by financial stress.  

  1. Do you regularly lose sleep over financial stress?
  2. Does anxiety over debt negatively affect your relationship?
  3. Are you unable to engage in your usual routines due to financial stress?
  4. Do thoughts about financial problems constantly occupy your mind?
  5. Do you feel guilty for not saving more/getting a better education, etc.?
  6. Are you taking sick days from work related to financial stress?
  7. Do you engage in unhealthy eating or drinking behaviours due to financial stress?
  8. Do you express or feel anger over financial stress?
  9. Do hopeless, depressed or remorseful thoughts occur when you think about your finances?
  10. Do you experience loss of appetite or a sick feeling when you think about finances?
  11. Do you avoid talking about your finances with your partner?   

Chronic stress overtime can lead to health problems.

If you answered “Yes” to four or more of the questions, you are experiencing a high level of financial stress.   A recent study from the Financial Standards Planning Council lists financial stress as the greatest factor causing stress for Canadians.  Financial stress ranks much higher than work related stress, relationship stress and even health related stress.  What’s more, over half of the women studied reported experiencing financial stress.


Chronic stress overtime can lead to health problems.  Studies have linked heart disease, insomnia, weight gain, digestive problems, impaired immune system function, increased blood pressure, diabetes, to name a few, to chronic stress.  Also, constant stress gives us wrinkles leading to premature aging.

We all go through times in our lives when we experience stress and experiencing financial stress due to debt is no different. But it does not mean your demise is imminent.  Chronic stress is rarely caused by a single factor.  The good news is that you can take steps to reduce your stress and the side effects that lead to premature aging.

Here are a few ideas.  
  • Develop healthy habits: Eat right. Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Build and maintain relationships:  Healthy supportive relationships can counter and reverse the perverse side effects of stress.
  • Take time to “smell the roses”: Mindfulness with a focus on the joy of living.
  • Finally, tackle that debt: Change your lifestyle to avoid debt and contact our credit counsellors to get there.
Why let chronic debt take a toll on your health and risk of premature aging?  If you have found a great way to handle your financial stress, send me a comment.  

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