Does Your Credit Pass The Stress Test?

Since April is National Stress Awareness Month - and Financial Literacy Month too - now is the perfect time to identify the personal finance issues that could cause stress for you and your loved ones.

Money problems of all kinds are a major source of anxiety and stress for many Americans. Anxiety and stress can lead to headaches, depression, ulcers, high blood pressure, panic attacks, distracted driving accidents and more. And such financial stress affects everyone - single people, married couples, the elderly, even children and teens.

Sometimes the convenience of credit cards can cause financial stress to build up without your being aware of it.

When it comes to your finances, watch out for these six common indicators of credit stress:

1. Operating too close to your credit limit

Are any of your credit cards maxed out or near their limits? If so, you're likely operating on the edge - financially and physically.

"Not feeling in control of your financial destiny takes an emotional toll," says Eric Tyson, the author of "Personal Finance for Dummies." "When you don't have a handle on your finances, you experience increased stress and anxiety."

Tyson's solution: cut back on your spending and credit card usage. Whether it's clothes, vacations or meals out, Tyson says if you can't afford something with cash, you can't afford it at all and should curb such spending.

"Credit cards offer temptation for overspending and carrying debt from month to month," he notes. "If you absolutely must use credit, replace your credit card with a charge card. A charge card, like the American Express Card, requires you to pay your balance in full each billing period."

2. Using credit to bridge the gap between paychecks

If you don't have the resources to get by from week to week, and find yourself constantly whipping out a credit card to make ends meet, you're on shaky ground - and so is your credit.