Fin24 reader Khuselwa Ncwana wrote to share her journey of becoming more money wise and the role Fin24 played in helping her to get there.
She writes: In 2015, while surfing the internet, I came across Fin24's special debt issue, Money Clinic section and savings issue.
I religiously read the articles and was motivated to stop defaulting on my debt payments. I built up the courage to request my credit report from all four credit bureaus and studied them. I disputed information I wasn't happy with and all cases were ruled in my favour.
My remaining debt was R39 000.
I made contact with my creditors and made payment arrangements. I drew up a payment plan and stuck to it. I made drastic changes to my lifestyle, more especially my social life.
I changed my DSTV Premium to the R99 package; I completely stopped buying takeaways and internet data; and the biggest risk I took was cancelling my medical aid in order to use the money to service my debt. After eight months my debt was paid up and in February 2016 my credit score was an outstanding 778.
In 2017, however, I fell off the debt-free wagon. This is how it happened: in 2017 I approached a bank for a home loan, but the bank would not even consider me as I had no credit history. Silly me, I had paid up and closed all my accounts.
So, the consultant at the bank advised me to open a revolving account or take a cell phone contract just so I could get back into the active consumer market.
I did as I was advised and even more. Before I knew it, I had a maxed out my brand-new credit card, because, let's be honest, when one has been frugal, it becomes easy to over-indulge and over-spend. Once again armed with information obtained on Fin24, I knew not to make any mistakes and get behind on payments as that would lead to where I had been before in my financial journey.
I needed to take control of the situation and to get myself off the direction I was headed. So, again I went back to the drawing board. My credit card is again paid up, but this time I'm keeping the account open and not cutting up my card, because in South Africa replacing a card costs money.
If, and when I use a credit card, I will not go over board and I will make sure I use from it what I can pay back in full within the interest free period. It has been a long path of learning and unlearning, but it was worth it. A word of advice to other people who are dealing with debt: Knowledge is power. Learn and learn and learn.
And here is my tip for tackling credit card debt: Put as much money you can into the card. I paid my interest and monthly fees separately from the actual instalment. Thank you Fin24 for all the inspiring articles, columns and guidance. You may not know it, but you have been silently walking this path with me.
Thank you and keep up the good work.
PS: I'm back on a medical aid scheme.