The increase in payroll taxes this year has led to financial stress for many Americans, while taking a toll on their waistlines, sleep patterns and friendships, according to a new survey.

The telephone survey, conducted in mid-March by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs, asked 1,011 U.S. adults to name all the ways financial stress is affecting their lives. Of those who rated their financial stress as “very” or “somewhat high,” nearly half (47 percent) said they are sleeping less, while 43 percent said they have less patience with friends or are seeing them less often; and 31 percent are eating more junk food or gaining weight.

Approximately a fifth of the survey respondents (21 percent) are arguing more with their spouse or significant other. One in six of the respondents (17 percent) said they are getting sick more often.

An increase in payroll taxes that took effect in January intensified financial concerns for many Americans, effectively cutting the take-home pay for most Americans. The payroll tax increase also prompted more than two-thirds of those employed (68 percent) to cut spending, reduce savings or make other sacrifices, the survey found. Forty-four percent of U.S. adults currently register a high level of financial stress, according to the survey, with women nearly twice as likely as men to say it is “very high.” Only 28 percent of the adults who responded to the survey said they see a reduction in financial stress over the next six months.

“Mounting money pressures are making Americans cranky, tired and unhealthy,” said AICPA National CPA Financial Literacy Commission chairman Ernie Almonte in a statement. “This can lead to a double whammy, with ensuing physical and emotional stress potentially leading to higher long-term costs. Americans must find ways to cope with money stress even when financial challenges seem daunting.”

The CPA profession has a comprehensive financial education program—360 Degrees of Financial Literacy—to help Americans achieve long-term financial success. Earlier this year, the AICPA published its first consumer-oriented book, "Save Wisely, Spend Happily," offering expert advice on various topics from CPAs across the country.

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