Money: escape the debt trap

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South Africans are in debt to the tune of R119 billion! Turn your situation around:

 

1. Own the problem. Assess your spending habits and  trigger points (do you shop when you're stressed?). Understanding your unhealthy patterns is the first step to changing them.

2. Understand the law. Read up on the National Credit Act.

3. Keep a spending diary. Record everything you spend on during the course of a week or a month - everything from petrol to that chocolate while doing your groceries to that dress you bought online. This will help you see where you can cut back. If you still have a hard time curbing how much you spend, get help from your friends, siblings and partner - and cut up that credit card!

4. List all the debt you have. Every credit card, clothing account, personal loan, car loan, etc. Assess which have the highest interest repayments and decide which accounts can be closed and what unnecessary stuff you can sell. Don't increase your debt, minimise it.

5. Create a budget. You don't need anything complicated, just a place (a ledger book or Word/ Excel document) where you can keep track of what you earn versus what you spend. By now, you should have cut out the unnecessary expenses and this is a more realistic picture of your financial situation.

6. Assess whether you need debt counselling. If the above tips haven't helped your situation, you might have to head to a debt counsellor. If you're buying food and basic necessities with an overdraft or credit card, skipping payments each month and racking up debt to pay off other debt, you might need a debt counsellor!

*This is an excerpt of an article by Liepollo Pheko, which first appeared in TRUE LOVE's October 2013 edition.

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