A guest post by Joe Plemon, owner and writer at Personal Finance by the Book. Joe is a financial coach and great blog writer. He also deserves a tremendous amount of praise for successfully raising 4 kids! Please sign up for his RSS feed for more great articles from Joe.

4003446559_2326c2609eThink twice before you sign the papers on that new car loan.  It could kill you and I am not talking about a traffic accident.  An Associated Press survey links debt stress to such health issues as ulcers, headaches, anxiety, depression and heart attacks.  And the problem is growing: there is a 14 percent increase in debt stress in the past four years.

Of those reporting high stress from debt, 27% had ulcers or digestive tract problems, 44% had migraines, 29% suffered severe anxiety, 23% had severe depression and 6% reported heart attacks.  The heart attack rate is double those with low debt stress; the other illnesses are worse: 3-7 times those with low debt stress.

Although these statistics should not surprise us, many people do not see the connection: higher debt brings on higher stress. We somehow have fooled ourselves into believing that the “good life” consists of driving the newest car, wearing designer clothing, eating out at the chic restaurants and taking posh vacations.  And we do it all on credit,  telling ourselves it is OK if we can just make that monthly payment.  But this “good life” is a mirage: it is ruining our health.

A truly good life is always living on less than you make.  It is paying cash for your purchases and planning for your future.  It is a life of peace and contentment.  It is a life of low stress and solid relationships and great marriages.

Suppose you currently have $20,000 in consumer debt and you buy a shiny new car.  With that new car smell comes twice the debt and twice the stress.  If, instead, you applied that new car payment to your debt, you should be debt free in less than two years.

So here is the choice: sacrifice your lifestyle and save your health or save your lifestyle and sacrifice your health.  Your stuff or your health.  Which will you choose?

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photo by blw photography

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