Financial stress worse for health than losing a loved one


Financial stress could be costing us our health, and loud budgeting has arrived. Here are five money stories you may have missed this week.

The true cost of financial stress

Financial stress is worse for your health than divorce or losing a loved one, researchers from the University College London have found.

cost of financial stress

The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, found prolonged stress can disrupt the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems and how they communicate.

Chronic stress "can disrupt this biological exchange and lead to disease", says the report's lead author, Odessa S. Hamilton of UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care.

"When the immune and neuroendocrine systems function well together, homeostasis is maintained and health is preserved.

"We found that financial stress was most detrimental to biological health, although more research is needed to establish this for certain.

"This may be because this form of stress can invade many aspects of our lives, leading to family conflict, social exclusion, and even hunger or homelessness."

Changes to financial adviser exam

Future financial advisers will only have to answer multiple-choice questions to pass their exam.

ASIC this week confirmed it has done away with short answer questions in the exam after a consultation period concluded earlier this month.

Among other changes, the exam will no longer be limited to new financial advisers who have attained an approved degree.

The changes will be reflected when the exam is next held, on March 26.

"Exams based on multiple choice questions create efficiencies by enabling computer marking to replace manual marking," the government said in recommending changes to the exam.

"This reduces the cost of administering exams and improves response times for exam candidates to receive their results."

"The government is committed to ensuring the exam remains a pillar of the financial adviser professional standards."

Forex services back at CBA branches

Stocking up on foreign currency before your next overseas trip should prove easier, with Travelex resuming foreign exchange cash services at CBA branches.

The bank says the move will allow CBA customers to order more than 30 different currencies online and collect it any branch.

More than half of Aussies who travel overseas take cash as their main payment method, research from Travelex shows, with under-25s using cash more than any other age group.

"When venturing overseas it's important to have a mix of payment options to ensure you're adequately covered," says David Tenaglia, CBA's general manager of everyday products.

"Alongside your bank cards, having some local currency can be very handy and is simple to arrange online before you head away on holidays."

Who needs financial advice?

93% of Australians believe people need financial advice and almost two in three are interested in using their superannuation balance to pay for it, according to new research from Colonial First State.

The CFS Empowered Australian report found that one in two Aussies believe financial advice is most needed by those who are struggling financially, while only 15% of Australians believe advice is most needed by the wealthy.

61% of Australians say they would be interested in using money in their super fund to pay for financial advice.

"Many Australians still don't know that the cost of advice can be deducted from their super account," says Colonial First State Superannuation CEO Kelly Powe.

"At a time when many Australians are struggling with the cost of living yet are in need of advice, having a clear list of advice topics that can be paid for with super represents an important development."

TikTok budgeting trend hits home

Forget quiet quitting - loud budgeting is the trend of 2024.

Forced to slash spending to cope with the cost-of-living crisis, younger Aussies are embracing TikTok budgeting trends, opting for "loud budgeting" and "no-spend months".

Eating out at restaurants, coffees, entertainment, car trips, food delivery and streaming services are the most common expenses to be cut, saving budget-conscious Aussies an average $450 a month.

"'Loud budgeting' is all about unapologetically prioritising your own financial goals, setting smart boundaries on spending, and feeling comfortable to talk about it openly and authentically," says NAB personal banking executive Paul Riley.

"Rather than going out for an expensive dinner with friends, younger Australians are confidently opting to stay in and choose to put that amount into a high interest savings account or pay down debt.

"The other hot budgeting trend is 'no or low spending months' which involve giving up alcohol, takeaway food or shopping for clothes or beauty for the month, not booking holidays, food prepping or bringing your lunch to work or finally asking mates to repay cash you're owed," he said.

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Sharyn McCowen is Money's digital editor. She has a degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University, and was a newspaper reporter for 10 years before moving to magazines and finance.