NEW YORK (MainStreet) On occasion, we all lose a little sleep. Whether we just went back for that last cup of coffee too late, we tossed and turned all night thinking about a big work deadline, or we were too excited to try the new Taco Bell breakfast monstrosity, it happens. But if you worry about money, your insomnia may be more than occasional.
A recent survey of more than 2,000 people commissioned by Lexington Law found worrying about money may lead to sleepless nights -- 25% of adults said they lost sleep over money worries. Of those, women were more likely to experience sleepless nights (25%) than men (20%).
And if you have some big money fears to contend with, a few sleepless nights could turn into a pattern with some serious ramifications. According to WebMD, losing sleep could result in weight gain, health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure, an increased risk of accidents and a lowered sex drive.
Best thing you can do to get a good night's rest is to face those fears head on. Here are some of the biggest worries found by Lexington Law:
Unpaid bills have a way of haunting you whether you're awake or asleep. According to the survey, 15% of adults have declined a phone call fearing a debt collector was on the other line and 13% said they've hesitated to open a bill, afraid they couldn't pay it.
The Solution: Ignoring a debt will only make things worse. Instead, answer the phone and ask for a payment plan. If you can pay a little bit each month, most debt collectors will back off. Once you've paid the debt (either in full or a settlement amount), the creditor will update your credit report showing your good standing, which brings us too...
When it comes to credit scores, we might be a bit conflicted. While 14% of survey respondents said they worry about their credit, 13% said they couldn't remember the last time they checked their credit report. Possibly more surprising, 10% thought there may be mistakes on their credit reports big enough to hurt their scores, but 7% thought they couldn't do anything about it.
The Solution: Order a copy of your three credit reports. By law, you're entitled one free copy from each bureau a year and you can get all three Equifax, TransUnion and Experian -- through AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you have the reports in hand, check for any mistakes and dispute them through the credit bureau's website. They have 30 days to investigate and correct or remove any errors.
According to the survey, 14% of 35- to 44-year-olds worry about identity theft. It's not surprising, TransUnion says about 19 people become a victim of identity theft every minute. And if it happens to you, it will take about $500 and 30 hours of your free time to resolve, but you can take steps to lower your risk.
The Solution: Start by protecting your personal information. Take anything but your ID and your debit or credit card out of your wallet and lock the documents in a safe place. Shred receipts, bank statements, credit card bills or anything else with your personal information on it. And take your outgoing mail to the post office rather than leaving it in the mailbox.
Once your information is secure, order your credit report regularly and look for any suspicious activity. If you do find something suspicious, call the credit bureau that reported the information and ask to place an Initial Fraud Alert, which will make it harder for anyone to open new accounts or make large purchases with your personal information.
--Written by Angela Colley for MainStreet