'I acted like I was rich but I was not – this was my downfall' - Joburg woman tells of the tough lesson she learnt about money


Actually I made myself poorer by making bad life decisions. I’m sure my story isn’t new and there’s someone out there who has also gone through the same situation.


I’m from Cosmo City in Gauteng and when I got my first job, everyone in my area thought I had made it in life. Little did they know that by the time debit orders were done with my salary, I had only R1,40 left in my bank account. But I had no one else to blame but myself for this.

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I pretended to be rich and blew around R60 000 in just three months on food, drinks and travelling around the country. At the time, I was earning R8 500 a month and staying at my parents’ house, so I managed to save some money. I don’t know why, but I just decided to blow it all by acting rich and living a fake life.


My mistake was to try and compete with the rich people. I started buying expensive clothes, went to eat out at the most expensive restaurants with my friends who were already successful with businesses.

I was the only one earning a salary with no additional income. I recklessly spent R4 800 in one of the night clubs in Johannesburg with my boyfriend, Joe, and my friends.

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One night, I bought Joe an bottle of whisky for almost R2 500 and had no money for taxi fare to go to work the next morning. That is how bad I was at making decisions about finances.  


As if that wasn’t enough, I then decided to take a personal loan of R100 000 to buy a car and got a red Kia Picanto. After two years I lost my job and struggled to repay my loan and also had four store accounts which I owed.

I was deeply indebted to stores like Spitz, Nine West, Levi’s and Guess, because I wanted to compete with friends and wear the best clothing brands. I was drowning in debt, had no job, no backup plan and had cleaned out all my savings and emergency funds.

All this to impress my friends, who were living their own lives, and Joe. To this very day I’m still paying off accounts from two years ago, and my friends continue to outclass me. My boyfriend has also left me. My biggest lesson in all this was “act your wage”.

It doesn’t help trying to impress people with money you don’t have. At the end of the day, I’m the one left drowning in debt and they are all continuing with their lives.

* Not her real name

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