Financial education leads to significantly reduced financial strain and stress, which ultimately improves overall health.
According to a new study, learning about personal finance subjects, such as credit cards, saving, and overall money management, is associated to better health results.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, looked at low-income single mothers and found that those who completed a financial success programme (FSP) had less financial stress, avoided medical treatment less, and had a higher incidence of smoking cessation.
“By reducing financial stress, individuals who complete the FSP improve their capacity to plan ahead and think more clearly about financial decisions, resulting in improved economic stability, reduced financial stress, and improved overall health,” said Nicole White, PharmD, CDE, the study’s primary investigator and associate professor of pharmacy at Creighton University.
Here’s a closer look at the study’s methodology and the implications for the public.
How Financial Education Can Improve Health
Creighton University researchers wanted to see how low-income single mothers in Omaha, Nebraska fared after participating in a financial education and coaching programme.
Between April 2017 and August 2020, 345 employed, low-income single moms between the ages of 19 and 55 with an income of no more than 200 percent of the 2017 Federal Poverty Level took part in the study. The participants were split into two groups: those who completed a nine-week financial achievement course and those who did not receive any help.
White and her colleagues kept track of the participants’ health markers such blood pressure, cholesterol levels, weight, and reported quality of life as part of the study. Participants who finished the financial education course engaged in a variety of healthier behaviours than those who did not, according to the study. They demonstrated:
- Writing down and prioritising financial objectives, using a written budget, saving money on a regular basis, and paying bills on time have all seen significant increases in positive financial habits.
- Borrowing money, maxing out credit cards, paying bills with late fees, and overdrawing bank accounts have all decreased significantly.
- Salary rises and job promotions that are significant
- Financial stress is significantly reduced.
- A 5% decrease in the number of people who use tobacco
- Cost-cutting measures have resulted in significant decreases in the avoidance of necessary medical care.
Despite the fact that the study focused on a single group of women who participated in a specific financial education programme, White believes the findings show that a programme aimed at resolving financial instability or literacy can have a good influence on health. Education and coaching programmes may also have similar effects on other low- and moderate-income groups.
She did point out, however, that the study had several flaws. “I don’t believe the FSP’s outcomes are ubiquitous across all financial education and coaching programmes,” White explained. “However, I believe that the effects indicated by involvement in the FSP may be attained by groups of people other than low-income single mothers.”
Other experts see far-reaching implications for the study’s conclusions, pointing out that the study’s findings are unlikely to be isolated.
Lois Ritter, Ed. D., MS, MA, teaching associate professor for the Masters of Public Health Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, told Health, “There is abundant data that shows socioeconomic class is associated to health.” “Financial education equips people with the resources they need to live a healthy lifestyle. They can afford to eat healthier meals, live in nicer neighbourhoods, join a gym, receive massages, and get medical and dental treatment.”
Indeed, while some programmes may not have the same curriculum, structure, or benefits as the FSP, Kortney Ziegler, PhD, Stanford University CCSRE Race & Technology Practitioner Fellow and CEO of WellMoney, told Health that having access to any financial education is better than having no education and can still have health benefits.
“Even if some programmes may not have the same added benefits as this particular programme,” Ziegler said, “I believe it still highlights how [much] a financial education can improve someone’s entire health and financial well-being.”
Other Ways Finances and Money Can Affect Health Outcomes
According to the current Stress in America poll, finances and money are among the top sources of stress among Americans. Stress, according to White, not only raises the risk of chronic disease, but it can also create psychological, immunological, and inflammatory dysregulation, all of which are fundamental causes of many chronic disease states.
A 2015 study backs this up, emphasising the link between diseases, stress, and inflammation. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and mental ailments like depression and anxiety disorders were among the diseases addressed.
“People who are under a lot of financial stress are also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, eat unhealthy foods, and live sedentary lifestyles,” White added. “These habits increase the chance of chronic disease.”
According to Emily Koochel, PhD, AFC, CFT-I, senior financial planning education consultant at Fidelity’s eMoney Advisor, “higher levels of stress over extended periods can cause general feelings of uncertainty and financial anxiety, which can result in difficulty controlling worry, sleeping, or even physically through muscle tension and fatigue.”
“Stress has a lot of power. Other illnesses such as weight gain or loss, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and more have been reported to be aggravated or even caused by financial stress “According to Koochel.
However, financial education, mentorship, and coaching, such as the Financial Success Program, can provide money management skills, support, encouragement, and accountability, as well as other resources to assist raise savings and minimise financial stress, according to White.
She claims that a reduction in cumulative financial stress has a positive influence on those with low incomes’ health, but that when they achieve financial stability, the stress from finances lessens, and the “consequent wear and strain on the body” is reduced.
“As financial security grows, less time and energy is devoted to resolving financial requirements, allowing emphasis to be diverted to other areas such as healthy lifestyles,” White explained. “These actions, when combined, may help manage weight, lower blood pressure, and glucose levels, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
People might look for training or information online, which is typically free, to obtain financial resources or education, according to Ziegler. Local universities, community colleges, and health departments may also provide financial education and counselling, according to him.