Brief respite lies on the horizon for financially stressed-out consumers in South Africa, with all grades of petrol and diesel expected to drop by as much as 25 cents a litre in June.
There is also expected to be a decline in the prices of certain staples like maize meal by as much as 10% in the near future thanks to a bumper maize crop waiting to be harvested.
This in turn will have a beneficial effect on the price of chicken which is expected to drop marginally, while a drop in the price of beef can be expected throughout the year.
Neil Roets, CEO of one of debt counselling firms in South Africa, Debt Rescue, said more limited price reductions might also manifest themselves in other sectors that are affected by the cost of road transportation.
“All of this has to be seen against the background of another possible downgrade by Moody’s who are expected to drop their rating of South Africa’s sovereign credit by at least one notch and possibly even two.
“If they decide on one notch that will be bad but two notches will be something akin to a train smash whatever our new finance minister and his financial advisers may say.
“Two notches will effectively mean that there will be an immediate outflow of billions of rand as investment grade funds are compelled to sell their government bonds.
“This will result in an immediate and substantial drop in the value of the rand pushing up the prices of all imports including the price of crude oil.”
Roets said it was clearly evident from the substantial increase in clients they were assisting to get under debt review that consumers were fighting a losing battle against the rising cost of living.
“Wages and salaries are not keeping pace with the increase in cost of virtually all goods and services. When we do an audit of new clients who come for debt counselling, it is evident that many did not want to give up luxuries like DStv, a second motor vehicle and holidays at the coast.
Roets said there had been a higher rate of repossessions of both fixed property and other goods such as motor vehicles this past year than in previous years.
More than 250 families were losing their homes on a weekly basis to sales in execution because they fell into arrears with their bond repayments.
Sanlam meanwhile, released its annual retirement Benchmark Survey for 2017 on Friday, focusing on the financial wellness of employees in South Africa.
The survey covered 1,317 well-educated professionals, questioning their
coping mechanisms when it comes to financial stress.
Top 10 ways we cope with money stress in SA:
- Strict budgeting and household financial discipline – 58.21%
- Physical exercise (Gym, run, swim, cycle etc.) – 32.35%
- Obtain information by reading – 28.43%
- Prefer not to think about these issues – 20.22%
- Speak to others – 15.20%
- I use the services of a financial planner/adviser – 15.07%
- Extend credit and/or loans to cover existing debt obligations – 11.52%
- Purchased financial services to cover risks – 5.88%
- Medication – 3.80%
11.52% of respondents indicted that they were not coping at all.