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A ‘tough love’ approach

In each episode, Hammer delves into his guest’s finances in great detail. Guests sometimes get defensive or make justifications, but Hammer has no patience for that.

In one episode of Financial Audit, his guest, Brent, reveals that he has no steady job and no savings. He even relies on his parents to pay rent — and he’s 41 years old. Yet, he refuses to accept work that’s “beneath him.”

Hammer’s response? “You’re being a baby.”

In another episode, his guest, Aleena, says she needs her Toyota RAV4 — at $718 a month — because driving in the snow makes her anxious.

Hammer responds with: “Justification, justification, justification!” (The episode itself is titled “31-Year-Old Immature Woman Refuses To Take Responsibility.”)

Despite this often entertaining (and uncomfortable) banter, Hammer tells Business Insider that he’s doing it so people understand just how much trouble they could be in. But he also acknowledges the fact that it takes courage for guests to air their dirty (financial) laundry on air, especially because those conversations can get deeply personal.

“When people get locked in that situation, it’s not even the debt necessarily that’s completely holding them back. It’s just that mental state.”

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Debt and mental health

Hammer himself has acknowledged on his podcast before that he suffers from anxiety and panic disorders, so he understands — at least from an anecdotal perspective — the impacts of mental health.

A recent Forbes Advisor survey found that 54% of U.S. adults with debt say they “always or often feel stressed because of their debt.” This debt-related stress caused sleep problems (for 48% of respondents), higher anxiety (40%), diminished social lives (38%) and depression (34%). Notably, 72% of respondents stated they “were very or somewhat likely to accumulate more debt when experiencing stress.”

People with “problem debt” are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems, according to research by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.

While Hammer isn’t a psychologist (nor a professional financial adviser), his approach seems to jolt many of his guests out of denial. But ultimately, those guests are responsible for the hard work that follows to get their finances back on track.

Not everyone will be brave enough to publicly discuss their financial problems on Hammer’s podcast. But for anyone experiencing stress, anxiety or other mental health impacts from financial difficulties, there are options available, such as credit counseling from qualified experts, some of which are free of charge, or financial therapy to address concerns that even money can’t fix.

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Vawn Himmelsbach Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is a journalist who has been covering tech, business and travel for more than two decades. Her work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC News, ITbusiness, CAA Magazine, Zoomer, BOLD Magazine and Travelweek, among others.

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