Caught a fascinating email this morning on financial stress just released by Payoff.com.
In a nutshell, their research finds that nearly 1 in 4 Americans, and 1 in 3 millennials, suffer from PTSD-like symptoms caused from financially-induced stress.
Something they’re labeling as “Acute Financial Stress” or “AFS“.
Here’s what that means in the real world (taken from their press release):
People suffering from this condition have behavior grounded in denial and avoidance that isn’t rational or by choice, and results in an increased inability to plan, organize and manage one’s financial life, while simultaneously experiencing a full range of symptoms associated with PTSD. These include agitation, irritability, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior and isolation that can lead to an inability to have loving feelings towards others.
Now none of this sounds all that surprising unfortunately (how many people do we know in such situations? Maybe even ourselves?), but what I find to be the fascinating part is that these scientific studies are being done by a financial institution! One that’s actually gone out and hired an entire in-house team of clinical and research psychologists, neuroscientists, psychometricians and data scientists. Who does that in our industry??
You probably heard of Payoff before when we did that Financial Personality quiz last year (check it out, if not – I’m The Storyteller*, you?), and it all ties together in their mission to fully understand how, and why, we deal with our finances the way we do. Because at the end of the day the more we can understand how we relate to our money, the more we can improve our relationship with it and become healthier, wealthier and wiser in the process. “Financial Wellness” as they call it.
And I love that their team is led by eHarmony’s lead scientist who helped invest the “Love” patent, haha… Who’s now apparently responsible for 4% of marriages in the United States! :)
Now obviously I’m not a doctor or scientist in the least so I can’t tell you whether this is PTSD-like or AFS or what, but I can say that us financial bloggers get deluged by emails from people desperately seeking help all day every day, and the ruining of lives is certainly real – whether our own faults or not. And debt bloggers see the worst of it. My friend Melanie from DearDebt.com literally gets emails every other week from people considering taking their own life, and unfortunately there are thousands (millions?) more out there doing so behind closed doors. It’s horrible :(
The internet’s making it easier to seek out help and support, especially with the explosion of blogs, but we’ve still got a ways to go. And I actually gotta stop for a sec and give Melanie some love here for not only talking these guys off the ledge every month, but for also deciding to divert a portion of her blog income to helping people pay off some of their debts too! How amazing is that? Words and encouragement are nice, but some straight up cash money to help ease the burden is quite impactful too. So good on ya, Mel!
So yeah – labels or not, the struggle is real. And I give Payoff respect for jumping in and trying to do something about it – even though yeah, at the end of the day they’re a business and the marketing certainly helps (I do genuinely think they care though fwiw, or else I wouldn’t be writing about this). We need as much help as we can get, so I hope other institutions follow their lead!
To learn more about their findings, as well as to assess your own financial stress levels, check out: payoff.com/stress. And PLEASE, no matter what, know you’re not alone with this stuff! There’s light at the end of the tunnel if you keep on pushing!
PS: Here’s a list of some of the best debt bloggers around too – hit ’em up.