Financial stress is hurting our home life, 94% of SA participants in new poll say

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Some 70% of the 14 000 respondents who took part in DebtBusters' Money-Stress Tracker survey were experiencing financial stress.
Some 70% of the 14 000 respondents who took part in DebtBusters' Money-Stress Tracker survey were experiencing financial stress.
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  • DebtBusters published its first Money-Stress Tracker survey on Tuesday.
  • It gauged the financial stress of more than 14 000 people who are not part of any debt management programme.
  • More than 90% of the respondents fell that rising financial stress was impacting their home life.
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As analysts forecast another interest rate hike at the South African Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on Thursday, almost all of the respondents (94%) in a survey of 14 000 South Africans already felt that rising financial stress was impacting their home life.

More than half (52%) of people polled by DebtBusters indicated they feel stressed and anxious about running out of money before the end of the month.

Unlike DebtBusters' other surveys that usually gauge South African consumers' financial stress through the lens of those considering debt counselling, the latest research – called the Money-Stress Tracker – was based on 14 000 people who are not part of any debt management programme.

Some 77% felt financial stress was affected their work life, and another 76% believed even their health started to suffer. Women were more financially stressed.

Some 36% of respondents were already struggling to pay off all their debt each month, and 15% battled to pay school fees. Another big part of the cohort was concerned about inflation (27%), unexpected expenses (23%) and whether they will have enough money to retire (12%). But many have not done anything about their stressful financial situations because they "feel stuck" or need time to think.

Benay Sager, the head of DebtBusters, believes the pressure consumers feel on the ground is much worse than the official reported inflation numbers because prices of electricity, petrol and other essentials have risen by double digits. He said a significant number of people who recently enquired about debt counselling are consumers who took asset debt over the past two years.

"We have the rising two twin towers, as I call them – inflation and interest rates," said Sager. "Every interest rate hike means we have less money to buy food, less money for petrol. And we can already see that consumers who come to us are spending more and more of their earnings on necessities," he added.

More interest rate pain ahead

The monetary policy committee is expected to hike interest rates again this week. The only unanswered question is by how much.

READ | 'Room for surprises': economists see chance of higher than expected interest rate hike

BNP Paribas South Africa's senior economist, Jeff Schultz, thinks a 75-basis point hike is more likely than 50 basis points this Thursday.

On a new home loan of R2 million, that means an increase of almost R900 in monthly payments.  

Sanlam Investments' chief economist, Arthur Kamp, expects continued interest rate hikes into next year. The current repo rate of 4.75% could rise to 6.5% by the first half of next year, Kamp says.

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