Debt Rescue CEO Neil Roets says South Africans will need to cut their expenses and adopt a more affordable lifestyle as the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be felt.
Already-indebted South Africans are notoriously big spenders over the festive season and will now have to face drawing up a budget in January as they return to work and school.
Roets says many people are drowning in debt with companies cutting salaries in 2020 due to the troubled economy.
“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on consumers, the reason being that consumers in South Africa were already not in a good space with regard to their finances, and already a huge percentage of people were already indebted, so the lockdown cost a lot of people to lose their jobs. We are finding that more and more people are seeking help because of these financial difficulties that they are experiencing.
“There are a lot of people who had to take salary cuts and they still had to survive. A lot of people, unfortunately, opted for loans and they feel like a loan is the way to go to manage their expenses and that is not the case.
“People must remember that these loans need to be paid back and we see that a lot of people are failing to make proper calculations to make sure that they can be able to afford to pay back loans.”
Although several banks were offering payment holidays at the beginning of lockdown, Roets says many have begun collecting on their debts.
“We have now seen an increase in the number of banks that are collecting money from consumers and in 2021 we are going to see aggressive collection from credit providers and banks.
“This will have a negative effect on consumers because they are not even in a good space to pay the money, so people must make use of services that are available to offer help.”
He encouraged people to draw up a strict budget that will allow them to save some money.
“It is very important that people are honest with themselves when they draw up a budget and make sure that they don’t budget for things they don’t need, like a luxury. First, cover living expenses and avoid loans. Remember that you cannot lend your way out of debts rather draw up a budget that is working.
“But if you draw up a budget and still find that you are still over-indebted and cannot be able to pay out with the money you are making rather contact debt counsellor sooner rather than later and also make sure that you can save money later.”
Roets believes a lifestyle downgrade is an effective way to rid yourself of debt.
“People must be creative to ensure that they save money, try cutting on grocery spending and buy food in affordable retailers people must start exploring cheaper options and also cut on travelling expenses. The reality is we are still going through a pandemic and we have to adapt new affordable lifestyle.”
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