South Africans should avoid the effects of over-indebtedness, such as legal action and bad credit records due to non-payment, by keeping a close on the amount of debt that they take on.
In 2022, consumers in the country owed R2.8 billion collectively, which they failed to honour, according to Stats SA.
“You may not have legal action taken for non-payment, but that does not mean it’s less serious. You don’t have to wait for it to result in an adverse credit record to take action because it might be too late,” Manyike said.
Here are tips to help you avoid legal action or come out of the sliding slope of spiralling debt:
Learn to budget
Have a budget that takes care of your expenses and allows you to tame your desires by living within your means.
“When you budget, you know exactly where all your money goes, where you can make adjustments to save even small amounts, and also how to effectively save and leave enough money for unexpected expenses and emergencies,” Sebastian Alexanderson, founder and debt counsellor, National Debt Advisors.
Start saving up to at least 3 to 6 months of your monthly salary to deal with unplanned emergency expenses instead of taking on extra debt to pay off unforeseen expenses.
Janine Horn, a financial adviser at Momentum, said that building up an emergency fund will allow people to be prepared for all of life’s major pitfalls.
A financial adviser can help people craft a financial plan to take control of their finances. Make sure you ask your adviser about a life cover, disability cover and long-term investments.
If you find yourself in the debt trap, think about downsizing your house or car, if need be.
Talk to your creditors
Manyike said that people should speak to their creditors as soon as they start struggling with paying their instalments to negotiate payment terms.
Start a side hustle
If your debt is more than your income, then you need to explore multiple streams of income, including starting your own side hustle.
Janine Jacobs, head of Financial Reporting at Glacier by Sanlam, said: “Creating another income stream requires sacrifice and hard work and needs to be managed so that it doesn’t impact negatively on your active income or create a conflict of interest.”