Columns 24.4.2014 08:00 am

O, for the woes of debt

News reports that 76% of South Africans’ income goes to debt repayments are saddening.

It is true for many of us who smiled and used every credit card and clothing account offered upon securing our first job.

Many people get paid and less than a week later have nothing in their bank account. It would be easy to say people in debt cannot plan well – but the truth is that many people are underpaid and live in cities such as Johannesburg, where renting a townhouses costs between R4 000 and R7 000.

Young people spend years living from hand to mouth and dodging paying accounts.

The smart thing is, of course, to pay what you owe and the road to financial recovery becomes wider and wider.

The only way to survive being in debt is to not give in to accounts being offered and just cultivate a culture of buying things cash.

If you do not have the money, stay away from living the good life using a credit card.

I know that the credit limit offers can be quite sweet – and for shopaholics like me, it is a great temptation.

The government must introduce a standard basic salary that companies must abide by so that every person in South Africa can at least earn a decent living.

People get into debt through banking institutions and loan sharks – all because they see it as the only way to manage to spend.

I admire young people who are paying off their debts; paying off cars and properties at an early age. It means when they turn 40 they will be debt-free and own property.

Others will get to 40 debt-ridden and always looking for a loan shark to loan them money to live from month to month.

Financial institutions that continue to give loans to people who are debt-ridden are further worsening the situation.

Yes, all they care about is making interest off clients, but that will not build a financially healthy South Africa.

Imagine if the National Credit Regulator could issue a pardon to every South African who owes less than R100 000?

A lot of people would get a chance to start over and hopefully learn from their financial mistakes.

 

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