Credit cards can potentially have an impact on an individual’s mental health, although the extent of this impact can vary depending on various factors.
Collectively, Americans owe nearly $1 trillion on credit cards and Debt.com Survey shows their plastic makes them feel “stressed,” “sad,” and even “hopeless.”
The results this year (2023) were markedly worse than last year:
In 2022, more than 21% of respondents admitted feeling “stressed” after using credit cards. This year, that jumped to almost 34%.
That stress continued when they looked at their credit card bill. In 2022, just looking at their credit card statements stressed out 39%. This year, it rose to 43%.
Last year, just over 3% admitted, “My significant other and I argue over my credit card spending.” This year, it rose to over 11%.
Overall, 74% of respondents last year agreed that “the convenience of credit cards can negatively impact mental health.” This year, it rose to 78%.
One obvious explanation for these increases is the stubborn and long-lasting inflation that’s eating into Americans’ income. But there’s a more subtle and complex reason, says Howard Dvorkin, CPA and chairman of Debt.com.
“Inflation is just a symptom of a widespread disease,” Dvorkin says. “Americans have faced one economic crisis after another, and their financial immune system has been so weakened, they’re using credit cards as a temporary remedy.”
CPA and chairman of Debt.com
They’re also using credit cards to mask social problems. Just over 11% of respondents say they hide credit card spending from their significant other. Another 4% avoid dating entirely due to debt.
Many said “retail therapy” (impulse shopping to feel better) is their go-to coping mechanism. Nearly 12% buy items they later regret with a credit card every week. For most, it resulted in an average debt of $1,000 or less. However, the numbers over that amount were concerning:
16% incurred debts over $1,000 and up to $5,000
Nearly 15% had debts over $5,000 up to $15,000
2% had debts over $15,000 up to $20,000
Nearly 3% incurred debts of over $20,000
Along with mental health, physical health can also deteriorate due to credit card debt. More than 6% of people say they experienced either loss of sleep, appetite, or have low self-esteem due to their credit card bills.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Debt.com president Don Silvestri is urging Americans to consider their credit cards as a factor in their mental health.
“Credit card balances are up almost 20% from a year ago, according to TransUnion and they have proven to be not only a financial convenience but an emotional crutch,” he says. “When I tell people that their credit cards can be affecting their mental health, they don’t believe me – until I pose some of the questions Debt.com does in its annual survey.”
Both Dvorkin and Silvestri say the easiest way to restore your mental health is by eliminating your credit card debt – and they both say it’s relatively easy to do.
“Thankfully, getting out of credit card debt doesn’t require years of expensive psychotherapy,” Dvorkin says. “It starts with a free debt analysis from a certified counselor.”
Debt.com is a resource that offers consumers education, self-help guides, professional solutions, and more. On Debt.com, consumers can find expert money advice–how to make it, how to save it, and how to spend it. They also assist consumers by matching them with the perfect debt-solution company for their situation and making sure they are happy with the results. Debt.com has been featured in the Washington Post, Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, and more, making them a pillar of the debt relief industry.
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