4 important money questions you should never be afraid to ask


Money makes the world go round but often renders a room completely silent.

We need money but who really likes talking about it? And when we have to, it’s usually begrudgingly and with the kind of panic that’s tempered by not wanting people to know just how badly we could use with some financial advice.

I remember a few years ago I was in a bit of a bind and needed to apply for a loan.

I know that if there wasn’t an urgent need for financial help, I probably wouldn’t have gathered up the courage to go to the bank.

And then recently, I read a thread on Twitter about people who shame others who are low income earners or perceived to indulge in irresponsible spending and seem to manage their money poorly.READ MORE: 7 things I learnt when I applied for a personal loan

And it’s the money management shaming aspect that I feel often gets to people. We assume that the experts who are meant to help us will judge us (they might be, but they’re not paid to make that known). 

This really got me thinking about how when talking about money (at work, from the bank, with friends and partners) or managing it, we really need to step up if we want more clarity and help to be more finacially savvy.

READ MORE: Loans: Who should South African consumers go to first?

These are some of the questions we really need to stop being scared to ask:

1. I’ve made a mess of my finances and think I my debt is too much. What can I do?

The biggest thing here is to accept that you’re struggling and to admit that you need help. According to an article on Time.com’s money hub, the worst thing you can do is hide and avoid the creditors you owe money to. Drawing up a budget is never fun but it’s definitely a good way to help you track everything you need to take care of – from your living costs to your debts.Be honest about your debts and after proper calculation, find out what you can pay immediately and what you perhaps may need some help with or can wait to pay at a later stage. Do you have a savings account or emergency fun you can dip into?Also try and pay off the account with the highest interest rate. It will hurt for now but will help you in the long term.WATCH: 5 money questions you were too afraid to ask

READ MORE: Is your cash crashing? Here are 11 tips to help you set financial goalsCommunication is key here too. Discussing payment of your account with whomever you owe will be a difficult conversation to have if you've been avoiding it for too long. What I've learned is that creditors usually just want you to provide them with updates and to come up with a payment plan.

Creditors aren’t always unreasonable.

2. Can I skip one or two payments?

Short answer: If you don’t want to damage your credit score it’s probably not a good idea. The record of the instalments you pay, how regularly you pay them as well as the fact that you’re adhering to the amount agreed on will stand you in good stead for future loans you may want to take out.We spoke to Carla Oberholzer, spokesperson for Zeeva, a debt management programme for women created by women, agrees.She says, "You can BUT this is not advisable. If you skip a payment (say for example a clothing account), your account may ten to one be listed as in arrears on your credit report. Which will negatively impact your credit score.

If you cannot keep up with your payments, rather get a professional in the financial field, like a debt counsellor, to assist.

Most profiles keep a two year record, which will reflect any missed payments for the duration thereof.

The creditor will demand payment and you will have to catch up with the amount in arrears or legal action might be instituted against you by the creditor.Rather be safe than sorry – stick to your agreement and instalments. If you cannot keep up with your payments, rather get a professional in the financial field, like a debt counsellor, to assist."READ MORE: 4 types of people you should never lend money to

3. The person I lent money to has shown no signs of paying it back. How do I ask for what’s owed to me?

This one never gets any easier, does it? Usually the first point of advice is to avoid lending money to family members unless you a) really trust them and b) see them often enough that you they know won’t go awol.Here’s the thing about lending to and borrowing from family members

  • Pros: you don’t pay any interest on the money you owe, there’s more leeway around when you pay them back and your family members or friends will most likely not report you to any credit collectors.
  • Cons: unless you set boundaries and make agreements about how you’re paying the money back, there is a chance that “forgetfulness” will set in or that the person will just assume that because you’re not asking for the money back, you simply don’t need it.

So what do you do?Time.com suggests providing a deadline but allowing for a bit of flexibility in terms of offering instalments. If it’s a good friend or family member that you trust and who you know is going through a difficult time, offering that as an option could ensure less embarrassment for the person in question and help you to get the money back, even though it may take you a bit longer.Moneycrashers.com offers advice that’s a little more drastic but could prove effective in the event that all your polite cajoling fails. Get collateral i.e. take something valuable of theirs and keep it with you until they can pay you back.

Yoh. Personally I think that’s a bit brutal, but in instances where some tough love is required when all else fails, it certainly could be something to consider. Bottom line here is to stay in contact, offer gentle reminders (at first), and resort to tougher tactics when all your efforts are being ignored.WATCH: Know your worth and then ask for it

4. When can I ask for a raise?

We asked Elizabeth Mamacos, head of content for Careers24.com, about the best time to ask for an increase and what you should and shouldn’t ask when you’re trying to negotiate a new salary.

She says:  

  • While there is no 'right' time to ask for an increase, you can improve your chances by asking at a time when the business is more able to afford the increased spend. For example, in South Africa, the financial year ends on 31 March, so be sure to get your request in long before this, at the time when managers are planning budgets for the upcoming year. This is one way to ensure your increased fee is included in the plans for the year ahead.
  • Don't ask for a raise if you haven't been at the company for more than a year, unless an increase was specifically discussed as an option after your probation period.
  • No matter how much you feel you deserve an increase, you need to be polite and to be open to accepting a no.
  • Don't be afraid of aiming high but be open to negotiating.
Don't explain how your auntie said your cousin gets paid more for the same job so you deserve the same salary.
  • Most importantly, come armed with as much backup as possible.
  • Prove that you have earned and will continue to earn every cent of your salary by being a fantastic employee.
  • Keep it professional (don't explain how your auntie said your cousin gets paid more for the same job so you deserve the same salary).
  • Don't threaten to leave if your request is not granted - if you really do have a solid job offer you can use it to justify the new salary, but again, be prepared for a no.
  • Meeting expectations is usually a requirement and doesn't merit an increase - show your manager how you go above and beyond, with real results, and you may be granted the raise you deserve.

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can 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. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Do you think it's important to get married in this day and age?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
22% - 531 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
10% - 230 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
49% - 1171 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
1% - 36 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 438 votes