MONEY CLINIC | How can I improve my financial position while paying off R188k in debt?

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

A Fin24 reader under debt consolidation is left with less than R3 000 per month, finding it impossible to make ends meet. He writes:

I have consolidated all my debt. My debt consolidation started in Sep 2017 and I pay R18 294 every month, which includes bond, car, loans, and credit cards.

I currently owe around R188k on all credit and loans, excluding the bond and car. My salary at the time of going on to debt restructuring was around R27K (net) as I worked on commission for nine years. Back in May 2019 my company restructured and my salary was reduced to a fixed amount of R23K (net). My debt consolidation does not cover insurance or levies as I stay in a complex. My levy is R2 000 per month as I was working with a tight budget I had to cancel my insurance. After my levy is deducted I am left with less than R3 000 and I am finding it impossible to make ends meet on such a tight budget. 

I have sought advice from the debt consolidation company, but they are unable to help me due to the court order in place, which requires me to honour the payment amount of R18k. Due to the court order, every bank that I have approached is unable to offer me a consolidation based on my new earnings. I have even explored the option of selling my house and car, but neither of these avenues have yielded any results. 

Could you provide me with any kind of advice to help improve my financial situation? Or options I can explore to make it more manageable. I have tried to manage with what I have, but it is very difficult to live in the current economic climate. Please help.  

Elian Wiener, finance and investment expert, and founder of Wealthwoke, responds:

Making ends meet on such a small budget is extremely difficult. Here are a couple of options for you to explore.

• The Reserve Bank recently cut the repo rate by 1%. Approach your debt consolidation company or an alternative one to see whether this could entitle you to a reduction in your monthly payments. This could save you a few hundred rands per month.

• Start a side hustle. Take a look at your existing assets and skills - perhaps you can use them to make some extra money on the side. For example, you could rent out a room in your house on Airnbnb or become an Uber driver. Maybe you have others skills you can put to commercial use - every bit helps. 

• Re-skill yourself. There are some great affordable online courses you could do to learn new skills that might make it easier to find a new job or line of work that pays better. 

• Renegotiate your salary. It appears that you were earning more before the company restructure. Put together a compelling case why both the company and you would benefit from moving back to a commission structure, where you have the ability to influence your monthly salary through hard work and dedication.

• Go through your bank statements with a fine tooth comb each month. Interrogate each item to see if it was an unnecessary expense or if there is a cheaper alternative you can go for next time. 

Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

  • Have a money problem that needs solving? Fin24 can help! Send your question to

Disclaimer: Fin24 cannot be held liable for any investment decisions made based on the advice given by independent financial service providers. Under the ECT Act and to the fullest extent possible under the applicable law, Fin24 disclaims all responsibility or liability for any damages whatsoever resulting from the use of this site in any manner.

Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Fin24 front page.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
What potential restrictions on unvaccinated South Africans may make the biggest difference to public health, the economy?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Limited access to restaurants and bars
11% - 138 votes
Limited access to shopping centres
15% - 179 votes
Limited access to live events, including sport matches and festivals
26% - 326 votes
Workplace vaccine mandates
48% - 590 votes