“Jingle Bells” are sounding more like alarm bells as South Africans reach their ‘debt-end’

19 November 2015
image showing increase in interest

Following the announcement today by South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) governor Lesetja Kganyago that the repo rate will increase from 6% to 6.25% is bound to leave South Africans high and dry this festive season.

Ian Wason, CEO of DebtBusters says, “The pleasant sounds of Jingle Bells playing in our favourite store is now an alarm bell for credit active consumers that get caught up in this year’s festive season shopping frenzy. Those that continue to fund their lifestyles on credit are on a slippery slope towards financial disaster!”

“We are already seeing how the heavy reliance on credit is impacting consumers with clients requiring 106% of their net income to service their debt, at the time of applying for debt counselling,” adds Wason.

Latest stats from DebtBusters Q2 Debtometer Report confirms that DebtBusters clients with unsecured bank loans has decreased from 64% to approximately 46%, alluding to the fact that banks are getting stricter when issuing credit. The latest Q2 Consumer Credit Market Report (CCMR) confirms this with the number of applications rejected having risen by 25% in the quarter.

Wendy Monkley, Head of Marketing at DebtBusters says, “Many South Africans are in a debt pressure pot that is about to blow. The cost of living is increasing, the cost of credit is increasing and credit providers are tightening their lending belts. Consumers that are accustomed to living off credit are now turning to more expensive unsecured ‘pay day’ type loans to keep their families afloat. Not only are they caught in a debt trap, but they will very soon be reaching a ‘debt end’.”

With the festive season just a couple of days away, DebtBusters expects the trend of borrowing to continue. “Typically, from January up until March, DebtBusters sees a spike in the number of debt counselling queries. This can only be attributed to large amounts of over-spending during the festive period.” says Monkley.

South Africans are warned that now is not the time for expensive holidays or splurging on unnecessary items. “Now is the time when consumers should communicate with their families and friends to agree not to purchase Christmas gifts this year. In addition, any bonuses or additional income should be paid into debt”, concludes Monkley.