It’s just another reason to get your finances in order. A study published in July in the journal Research on Aging found that stressing out about your finances isn’t just bad for your mental health, it can make you look older, too.
The study, which asked participants about their stress levels between 1995 and 1996 and again between 2004 and 2005, found that those who stressed about their financial well-being looked older than people who did not, over a nine year-period. Particularly troubling, the researchers found money-induced stress caused the effect more so than other forms of stress.
“Controlling for income, general stress, health, and attractiveness, participants who reported higher levels of financial stress were perceived as older than their actual age to a greater extent and showed larger increases in other-look age over time,” the report reads.
One of the study’s authors, Margie E. Lachman—a professor of psychology at Brandeis University and director of its Lifespan Developmental Psychology Laboratory—told the Wall Street Journal that study participants who had high financial stress looked like they had “aged two years more over the study period, on average, than those with low financial stress.”
Another author, Stefan Agrigoroaei—an assistant professor in the Psychological Sciences Research Institute at Université catholique de Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium—noted this could be because those who were stressed-out paid less attention to their appearance, exercise, and diet.
“I would like to infer that addressing money problems, which doesn’t have to mean solving them entirely but just finding healthy ways to cope with the financial stress, may also pay off in terms of looking younger and ultimately improving overall health and well-being,” Lachman said.