Fix your finances, fix your health

Wellness. It’s not just about your waistline any more.

Researchers have long known that financial stress can take a toll on physical health. The American Psychological Association says that “for people coping with existing health problems, financial and interpersonal stress can exacerbate their conditions.”

Read MoreComing soon to a workplace near you: ‘Wellness – or else’

Now a new survey finds that sticking to financial resolutions helps people stick to fitness goals.

Physical health, financial health

Xavier Arnau | Getty Images

Xavier Arnau | Getty Images

TD Bank surveyed 1,444 American adults about their New Year’s resolutions and found that 80 percent made health-related resolutions and 69 percent set financial goals. The respondents who were satisfied with their current financial condition were more likely to stick to their health resolutions, with 66 percent saying they had begun working on them compared with 55 percent overall.

Just 36 percent of all the survey respondents reported being satisfied with their financial health. But among the respondents who reported satisfaction with their physical condition and wellness, 65 percent said they were also satisfied with the state of their finances.

Read More US health report card: Less smoking, more overeating

“I was surprised how correlated financial and physical health are,” said Ryan Bailey, head of retail deposit products at TD Bank.

Millennials keeping resolutions

Millennials reported faring better with their financial resolutions than older generations, with 51 percent saying they were succeeding, compared with 40 percent of Generation X respondents and 47 percent of boomers.

Read More Americans need a financial wake–up call

“People have an impression of millennials flying by the seat of their pants a lot,” Bailey said. But “they saw first hand that their parents lived through the financial crisis. They are coming up with financial plans more than some older generations.”

Millennials need to have that resolve: They are in the center of the student loan crisis, and the average student graduating with loans has to pay back $33,000, according to Edvisors, an education marketing company.

Read More Student loan debt dragging on young households

Not only that, researchers from Northwestern University and McGill University examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and found that young adults with high levels of debt were more likely to report poor physical and mental health, and more likely to have high diastolic blood pressure.

Women lag in confidence, satisfaction

Men in the study reported feeling more satisfied with both their physical and financial condition, and they were also more confident that they could achieve their financial goals, with 52 percent saying they were “coming along great” compared with 40 percent of the women.

Those findings jibe with other research on women and money, like a 2014 study by Prudential of women’s financial experiences and behavior, which found that just 33 percent of women gave themselves an “A” on their ability to manage day-to-day household finances and just 14 percent reporting confidence that they can maintain their lifestyle in retirement.

If women do build their financial confidence and stick to their resolutions, it could have a big effect. TD Bank also found that 81 percent of the survey respondents believed that once their finances are in order, other goals are easier to accomplish.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the source of the survey, and Ryan Bailey’s work affiliation. Both are associated with TD Bank.

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