Even wealthy Americans say financial worries hurt mental health

Lananh Nguyen
A Chinese investor monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Friday, May 31, 2019.

Even relatively wealthy Americans are so worried about their finances that it’s affecting their mental and physical health.

That’s one of the findings in a Bank of America Corp. survey of more than 1,000 people in the U.S. who have enough investable money to qualify as “mass affluent.” Financial concerns affected the mental health of 59% of respondents, while 56% said their physical health has been hurt. Younger people, in the millennial and Generation Z age brackets, reported a bigger impact from money matters than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts.

Financial awareness is rising among young people because of social media, and that can make them savvier about money matters – and more stressed out, said Aron Levine, head of consumer banking and investments at Bank of America.

“How do I pay off my debt, I really want to buy a home, I still want to take a vacation, I’ve got to deal with potentially aging parents – and then forget about retirement, I don’t even know how to think about that,” Levine said in an interview, citing some major financial concerns people face. “That’s a very daunting task.”

Despite the prevalence of money worries, 44% of Gen Zers and 48% of millennials say they believe they’ll be millionaires one day.

Gen Z respondents in the online survey, conducted from April 17 to May 9, had investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000, or investable assets of $20,000 to $50,000 and annual income of at least $50,000. For those 24 or older, respondents had investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000.

Here are some of the survey’s other findings:

Many Americans are trying to bolster their financial standing, with 45% of respondents saying they’re working to improve their credit score, 43% trying to pay down their credit-card debt and 35% establishing an emergency fund. They’re also holding off on big expenses to pay down debt, with 43% forgoing a vacation, 37% putting off a car purchase, 30% delaying homebuying and 19% waiting to have children.

Consumers report using apps to help save and manage money, with 71% of respondents using them for consumer banking, 65% for money transfers, 63% for managing personal finances and 57% for automated investment.