When it comes to assessing your debt payments, it may be difficult to recognise when you’re managing and when it’s time to reach out for help.
Debt management firms such as DebtBusters have assisted thousands of consumers who were not even aware that they were in financial trouble.
“There are over 25 million consumers in South Africa who are credit active. Thirteen million of them have impaired records, which means they will have difficulty getting another loan. But there are even more who also struggle to make ends meet in paying back their debt,” said Benay Sager the Chief Operating Officer at DebtBusters.
She added, “Our team manages thousands of enquiries per month where many of these consumers try and find a solution. In our engagement with these consumers, we often find that the term ‘over-indebtedness’ is not something that many have an understanding of, or know how to calculate themselves.”
Although there are mathematical ways to determine if you are over-indebted, a good starting point is to see if you relate to any of the following sentiments below.
‘I have difficulty sleeping at night thinking about how I am going to make ends meet’
If you are dreading the thought of upcoming payments, or how you are going to pay the next installment of your child’s school, then it may be time to speak to an expert.
If the thought of payday is a bunch of SMSes alerting you that payment has been deducted from your bank account, then you are not alone – seek help.
‘After paying my installments, I don’t have enough left for my living expenses’
Consumers often battle to balance their income and expenses. If you find that you can’t afford food, rent, or electricity after settling your monthly installments, you may need help.
This kind of imbalance is the first sign that you may need help to rearrange your finances in a way that allows you breathing room.
‘I rely on payday loans to make ends meet’
This is a dangerous trap to fall into. If you think a payday loan will relieve the burden of debt, you’re wrong. It is only a matter of time before your debt will be completely unmanageable.
Consumers often believe that by borrowing R5000 to help them through the month, they will manage to get back onto their feet. However, this will only cement and increase their debt in the long-run. By the end of the next month, they will have additional debt to pay off. And before they know it, the debt will become a snowball.
‘I have a lot of debt, but it will be under control next month’
You may believe that you need just one more month to get over the debt hump. In reality, being in denial about your growing debt burden can lead to a debt spiral, where you play catch-up each month until you hit rock bottom.
‘I feel overwhelmed by the pressure of my debt when the end of the month arrives.’
As your debt closes in on you, you might feel as though you’re suffocating. The tighter your finances are being pulled each month, the more strain it will put on you emotionally. If you feel overwhelmed by your debt, chances are you’re already over-indebted and you need to seek professional help.
‘I am struggling to meet my monthly installments for my smaller accounts’
If you have larger debts, such as a student or home loan, you will likely focus on paying these off at the end of each month before taking care of your smaller accounts.
As a result, once you start struggling with your debt, you’re likely to default on the small payments first. Then you lost the psychological game against debt, and you might be over-indebted.
If you can relate to one of more of these scenarios, you could benefit from a free debt assessment which will show whether or not you should consider a debt management solution such as debt counselling, which is a process regulated and legislated by the National Credit Act and allows consumers to pay off their debt at lower interest rates and extended payment periods. For more information visit debtbusters website.