Men & Money: Facing The Pressure To Provide

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated August 2, 2022

While everyone may experience the issues mentioned in this article, please note that as part of our initiative responding to the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men (2018), these articles will focus on how these topics affect men and boys as well as the mental health of men and boys. We use “men” to refer to people who identify as men.

What Is Financial Stress?

Money can be a touchy subject. One thing is for sure, though: financial struggles are common. Men often shoulder this burden and take it upon themselves to provide due to traditional masculinity standards. Understanding the effects of financial stress, a heavy workload, and the pressure to provide is important to help men through this stressor. 

According to the Financial Health Institute, financial stress can be defined as a condition or state that stems from financial or economic events that create anxiety, worry, or a sense of scarcity. In honor of Men's Health Month, this article addresses the impact of financial stress on men's health.

How Does Financial Stress Affect Physical And Mental Health?

Financial stress can have a negative and harmful impact on nearly every area of your life. Stress, in general, can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. What are some of the specific side effects of financial stress?

The Mental Side Effects Of Financial Stress

Financial stress can lead to two main mental health difficulties: anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Your worries can lead you to feel down and out, which then exasperates the concern.

Anxiety is often characterized by intense feelings of stress or worry. Anxiety can also manifest in physical symptoms or irrational actions, like engaging in risk seeking behaviors. You may experience your heart and head racing. You can also feel a tightness in your chest or difficulty breathing.

Depression often goes undiagnosed or unnoticed in men. You may think you’re bummed out when in reality, you could have some severe symptoms. Depression goes beyond feeling down and out and can lead to severe physical and lifestyle symptoms. You may find it hard to get out of bed, or may have difficulty sleeping. Depression can lead you to neglect hygiene, diet, and exercise. You may also have a sense of hopelessness and think your situation will never change.

Are You Carrying The Weight Of Financial Stress?

Physical Symptoms Of Financial Stress

Like all stress-related ailments, there are a variety of physical symptoms that can take place. These symptoms can include:

  • Substance use
  • Heart disease/attack
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Diabetes
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal issues

How Can Financial Stress Affect Your Relationships?

Although financial stress can cause a series of physical and mental symptoms, it can also take its toll on your relationships. These relationships include family, friends, partners, and coworkers.


Financial stress and difficulties are the number one cause of divorce. With loved ones and partners, this stress can lead to more arguments.

Due to the stress and pressure that you’re experiencing, you may find yourself more irritable. This irritation can cause you to lash out at your partner. Hard and heavy talks of finance can lead you to feel more pressure. This side effect can make it challenging to be open and solve the issue.

Spending Less Time With Loved Ones

Because of all the worry and stress, it can be hard to make time for friends. You may not have enough supplemental income to go out to events and dates. Not being able to go out can create a disconnect between you and your loved ones.

Pressure To Provide

Due to the pressure to provide, you can start to grow angry or resentful toward the people around you and your situation. You may begin to withdraw from your family or resent your career. This pressure will take its toll not only on you but your relationships as well.

How Does Financial Stress Impact Men And Women Differently?

All genders can be affected by financial stress. However, the effects can differ between people who identify as men and those who identify as women comparatively.

When it comes to financial stress, men are much more likely to make risky decisions compared to women. High-stress and high-pressure situations tend to increase the overall attractiveness of risky choices in men, as they can provide a quick distraction and boost from the stress that they’re feeling.

The risky decisions a man could make will vary. It could be an innocent and potentially healthy decision like starting a business, taking out a loan, or seeking new career opportunities. On the flip side, some men could turn to gambling, substance use, and other risk-taking activities.

It’s also been shown that men are in general more likely to take financial risks than women. The increase in financial risk-taking could be due to biology, social reasons, and identity. Men can often be confident in their decision-making skills. This confidence can become overconfidence, causing men to make errors or mistakes, potentially leading to increased financial stress.

Women are more likely to manage their stress by connecting with friends and family than men. Additionally, women are also more likely to report and experience physical and mental symptoms of stress to their social circles compared to men. It’s also important to note that men report using less stress management techniques than women.

What’s more, men are generally less likely than women to believe that stress can have an impact on their health due to societal pressures and stigmas.

These reports imply that men can be unaware of their stress levels. Men may not notice or be concerned with their physical and mental symptoms. Make sure you’re checking in with your physical body; you may be experiencing signs of stress.

Why Are Men More Likely To Feel Financial Burdens In Relationships?

Studies have shown that men are twice as likely to feel the financial burden in a relationship compared to women. Men are also twice as likely to report feeling the need to be “emotionally strong” than women. Men also reported feeling they must take “practical charge” in a crisis, compared to women.

There are many arguments for why men should usually be considered the breadwinners. Although times have changed, this still seems to be the case. In a recent study, nearly 7 out of 10 adults claimed it’s very important for a man to support his family financially to be considered a good partner. Why is this?

Traditional Masculine Stereotypes Add To The Pressure

Although it can be hard to gauge where this burden stems from, one way to look at it is through a social lens. Traditionally, men were the sole defenders of their families and tribe. They have watched and learned from the men before them throughout generations, entrenching this concept in their identities.

This concept and identity have also become a traditional masculinity norm in society. In different ways, society tells men they aren’t valuable if they can’t provide or achieve results. This stereotype creates expectations and burdens surrounding men, their sense of self, and their values.

This identity may not entirely be wrong or bad; the concept can lead some men to have a greater sense of purpose and confidence. But it’s crucial to recognize the downsides and harmful side effects.

Tips For Dealing With Financial Stress

As a man, it is essential to remember you are in control of your destiny and actions. Through thoughtful and practical messages, you can lead yourself out of stress and burden.

Track Your Spending

Through tracking your spending, you can see the bigger picture regarding your income and expenses. Tracking your expenses will show you exactly where your money is going and allow you to start taking control and responsibility.

Create A Budget

After tracking your spending, you’ll then be able to create a budget. A budget will allow you to take complete control of your expenses and cause you to be more thoughtful with your money. There are many free apps and programs you can try out.

Identify Financial Stressors

Being able to identify financial stressors will allow you to get to the root of the problem. These financial stressors could be bills, debts, or other expenses. In the short term, identifying these stressors can be challenging, but it will pay off in the long term.

Consult A Pro

Men often feel alone in this world. You may shoulder many burdens and pressure and feel you are the only way out. Speaking with a professional can give you a boost of confidence and the support you deserve. Here’s an example of someone who checked in with BetterHelp.

“Absolutely brilliant! He helped me out of a pretty dark place and was nothing but helpful! For men who are looking for a counselor who understands what it is like to be a man in today’s world with a family, with kids and responsibilities, job, etc., I was extremely impressed with his ability to get down to it and understand what I was talking about. He’s great at getting to the root of the issue too. No need to slog through 8,000 words to find out what point he’s trying to make. He has a knack for asking exactly the right question in about 2-3 sentences. If you’re looking for a counselor who isn’t the typical counselor, he’s your guy!”

Are You Carrying The Weight Of Financial Stress?

Other Commonly Asked Questions:

  1. Is money a reason to break up?
  2. What are financial red flags in a relationship?
  3. Can money affect relationships?
  4. What do you do when your boyfriend is struggling financially?
  5. Are men more frugal?
  6. Why do couples argue about money?
  7. Does financial status matter in a relationship?
  8. How do you tell if someone is using you for your money?
  9. What do men spend most of their money on?
  10. How can money issues ruin relationships?
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