Debt happens to everyone. Consumers get into debt due to unforeseen circumstances such as disability, retrenchment, divorce or due to conspicuous consumption and poor money management. Most of the time however, consumers get into debt because of the latter. They fail to draw up a monthly budget and stick to it.
28 November 2012
It is not only important to become debt free but also to stay debt free in the long term. By developing better Debt Management skills and adjusting your spending habits in accordance with what you can afford you can get out of debt and avoid finding yourself right back in the same situation that you were in before.
Here are a few simple guidelines to remaining debt free:
1. Pay cash. Paying cash forces you to spend only the money you have. If you don’t have the money this simply means you can’t afford it. Don’t buy things you can’t afford. Use credit cards only if you are able to pay in full each month. Beware of credit cards. If you aren’t able to control credit cards, get rid of them!
2. Negotiate. South African consumers need to realise that they have the right to negotiate. What is stopping you from trying to get a better deal than what is on offer? You would be pleasantly surprised that the answer is nothing. Shop around for the best deal. Prices are competitive for a reason and instead of suppliers matching their competitors offers they can better them!
3. Obtain your free credit report today. Current legislation allows you one free credit report per credit bureau annually. Not only does this report answer questions like how often you have applied for credit? How much debt are you in? But by checking your credit report regularly, you will also know if anyone has used your identity to fraudulently open an account. Visit www.experian.co.za for this service.
4. Always keep up to date on your monthly payments to creditors. This includes credit cards, store cards, utility bills and any other financial obligations you may be under. If you start to fall behind – even once – it will be hard to catch up. It is wise and strongly recommended to always have at least three months of your salary tucked away should any unforeseen accident, loss of employment or emergency arise.
5. If you have uncontrollable debts do not stick your head in the sand in the hope they will disappear. Seek advice from official avenues of help through a registered Debt counsellor. Such institutions are designed to help people find the best way to clear their debts and they should not charge you for the initial advice they give.