A surprising connection: Financial wellness and your overall health

The connection between financial health and personal health are more connected than you may think. We’ve all probably experienced some sort of stress in our lives at one point or another, but did you know -- according to Forbes -- that stress resulting from financial challenges is often chronic?

Worries about finances came in as the number-one stressor across all age groups, according to the 2018 Everyday Health United States of Stress survey. And, 2019 was no different. A 2019 Bankrate survey showed that more than half of Americans lose sleep over money troubles. According to the Bankrate survey, money worries are the biggest cause of sleep loss, and it’s getting worse. Seventy-eight percent of U.S. adults are losing sleep worrying about everyday expenses, saving for retirement and healthcare costs. Add in those unexpected expenses and wanting to save for a vacation or new house, and the amount of stress felt can reach a dangerous level.

High levels of financial stress manifest through physical symptoms like sleep loss, anxiety, headaches/migraines, compromised immune systems, digestive issues, high blood pressure, muscle tension, heart arrhythmia, depression and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

It's a vicious cycle where one causes an overflow of other issues that in turn result in even more problems. Individuals with high financial stress are twice as likely to report poor health overall and are four times more likely to complain of ailments, according to Forbes.

“The increased medical expenses that present themselves, as a result, then worsen money challenges,” explained Nancy Cook, employee assistance counselor at the CHL. “Which then, of course, increases their financial stress level. Those caught in this ever-revolving loop of monetary worries and physical and mental issues are in dire need of a support system to help them navigate through and hopefully break the cycle, or at least find a slight detour off of its path.”

Financial stress and unhealthy coping behaviors

 “Financial stress is a very unique and difficult type of stress,” added Cook. “Financial stress can and does lead to individuals adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms; examples would be overeating, smoking and using alcohol/ recreational drugs. As you can imagine, those behaviors then lead to even more money-related stress and negative effects on the body and mind. Since mental and physical health can directly benefit from healthy finances, why not try to incorporate some steps to help improve our financial well-being?”

Cook’s initial steps to improve financial health include:

  • Take a close look at your current situation; determine if there is a pattern to how much and when you spend.
  • Ask for help. For starters, the Purdue community has valuable resources in place to assist.
  • Create a realistic budget and stick to it.

University resources

  • Providers at the CHL can assist benefits-eligible employees and their covered dependents with all of these worries – physical, mental and financial. From physicians and nurse practitioners (NPs) to employee assistance counselors, health coaches and pharmacists, the CHL has you covered. Schedule an appointment with one or more of the CHL team members to help you come up with a plan to address your financial stress and the ways it’s affecting your health.
    • Physicians and NPs can review and help you address any physical and / or mental/behavioral issues you are experiencing
    • Employee assistance counselors provide you a resource to share and discuss any issues you are having
    • RN health coaches are on hand as partners for you to help effectively motive and encourage changes to help you meet your goals
    • Pharmacists can offer guidance and review of any medications you are taking or might begin taking

To schedule an appointment, call the CHL at 765-494-0111 or schedule via the portal. The CHL is open for medical appointments 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Telephonic wellness offerings from the health coaches and pharmacists are available. Regional employees should contact their campus human resource office for campus-specific resources.

  • Healthy Boiler Program
    Today’s Healthy Boiler Program is a multi-faceted approach to overall well-being composed of five pillars -- behavioral health, financial wellness, physical health, social wellness and work-life integration. The Healthy Boiler Program provides care in each area by offering cost-controlled benefits and easily accessible resources that help Purdue employees (and their families) across all campuses.
    • Additionally, Healthy Boiler rewards you extra HSA/HRA dollars each year through the Healthy Boiler wellness incentive. The 2020 Healthy Boiler Program runs from Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020. Physicals and biometric screenings must be completed and submitted in the portal within this timeframe to receive incentives.
  • Additional financial wellness benefits
    As with health and wellness benefits, many employers -- including Purdue -- also offer a wide array of financial wellness benefits. Purdue’s offerings include:
    • Paid family leave
    • Life insurance
    • Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Reimbursement Accounts
    • Disability income insurance
    • Long-term care insurance
    • Accident insurance
    • Retirement planning assistance
    • Rx Savings Solutions – new in 2020
    • HealthSync – new in 2020
    • Tuition assistance

Also, take a look at the “Smart Healthcare” web page and see the “Financial Wellness Month” article in this newsletter for additional resources. Information on all of these benefits can be found on the Benefits website.


Contact the Human Resources office at your campus for any benefits-related questions you may have.