The festive season is upon us and like previous years, many people will fall into a debt trap by succumbing to the urge of spending money they don’t have.
Brian Joss – This year, we want to warn and educate consumers to be moneywise and be different so that they can enjoy a happy new year, says Mpho Ramapala, Manager: Education and Communication at the National Credit Regulator (NCR).
She says the festive season is aptly named the “silly season” because of a spending frenzy that appears to afflict people over this period. History has shown us that bonuses present a great temptation to continue buying things that they didn’t plan for. We strongly encourage people to stop, do a budget and plan their spending very carefully, especially over this period including a note that January is just around the corner with its expenses.”
NCR’s credit bureau monitor shows there are 24.08 million credit active consumers; 14.41 million (59.8%) are in good standing and 9.67 million (40.2%) have impaired records. An impaired record is a record on which a consumer and / or any of the accounts, are either classified as three or more payments or months in arrears, or which has an “adverse listing”, or that reflects a judgment or administration order.
Should consumers find that they are battling to pay their debts, Ramapala advises such consumers to contact their credit providers to negotiate lower repayments or to contact a debt counsellor for assistance. Debt counselling is meant for over-indebted consumers and it is not a free service, there are fees to be paid.
Ramapala shares tips of spending wisely during and after the festive season:
Do a budget for the festive season and include all debt, rent, electricity, water, insurance, transport, gifts, entertainment etc;
Request a pre-agreement statement and quotation when applying for credit. This will enable you to shop around and do a comparison on the cost of credit; read and understand your pre-agreement statement and quotation – if they offer you credit life insurance, seek clarity on what it actually covers; seek loans with NCR-registered credit providers only. You can identify them by a window decal (an orange sticker with the NCR logo) and a registration certificate that will also state the NCR credit provider registration number; do not leave your identity documents, bank cards / pins and SASSA cards with credit providers when applying for credit. This is a criminal offence. Report cases where your bank / SASSA cards and identity documents were taken by credit providers to the police. Be wary of “buy now, pay after three months deals” and then incurring additional credit during those three months. When going shopping, have a shopping list to avoid buying unnecessary items.
Be proactive and double-up on your regular payments such as mortgage or rent, lights and water (arrange with your credit providers). That way you will be able to afford costs such as school fees and uniform which will hit you at the start of the New Year. Prioritise your home loan and rent.
Entertain at home. Ask guests to bring something for the meal so you share the costs of your festive entertainment;
Each year, set up a separate fund for birthday and Christmas presents as well as holidays. Keeping this money separate will enable you to save for special occasions, while at the same time fund your day-to-day living expenses without going into debt;
Use your bonus to reduce your debt burden by paying off existing loans.
Don’t forget to get a copy of your credit report from any credit bureau. This will assist you to know your financial standing. Should you require an additional copy of your credit report within the same year, there will be a fee that credit bureaus will charge.
Visit: www.ncr.org.za for more information.