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Managing debt in times of crisis: Lockdown Reality

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Managing debt in times of crisis: Lockdown Reality

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I have too much debt, So what?

It is sometimes difficult to go to bed and ignore the reality in which your financial life is being locked down, while unable to go out and enjoy the things you love the most because of an infection putting your financial life in a coma, the debt disease. This disease has brought separation in marriages, causing many children to live with anxiety and parents to commit suicide because they cannot cope with this depression.

Managing debt in times of crisis requires innovation, socializing, and communication. Let us unpack each of these words and apply them to our current lockdown life.

Innovation:

There are now many more smart ways to manage debts than there have been in the past 10 years. With tons of innovative apps and platforms now available, consumers can now access information related to their credit profile. It is important to make use of these applications or websites to gather as much information as you can to assess your personal situation.

Eventually, you might find out that your financial situation is not as bad as you thought it would be. One piece of information can change your whole perspective on your financial position and help you to handle the pressure of your debts. Think about new budgets app available, banking apps to track unnecessary debit orders and charges, as well as credit report websites reflecting the scale of your outstanding debts and credit history. This information can serve as the thermometer to test the pressure of your debts on your finances.

Develop cool ideas on how to approach your smallest debts. You can download free credit report and subscribe for a free credit report on different apps or website. Track your credit score, improve your behaviour if your score is reducing, maintain your paying behaviour if your credit score is increasing. This does not only give you an indication on your accessibility to further credits but also help you to understand how risky you are as a consumer to financial institutions. Instead of making unnecessary inquiries and constantly facing rejection.

Draw up a list for your outstanding debts and make it fun. How much debts do you need to settle within a specific period? Look into your balances, have a clear personal goal, and set up a tracker for your goal. This might imply selling unused items currently laying in your cupboard or garage to the second-hand market or online, use the proceed to make additional payment or settle the smallest balance.

Remember make this process fun, take pictures, or write a memory of how the item helped you reduce your debts. Your life is too short to die of anxiety when you could make a memory of each reality and come out stronger.

Socialising:

A study by UCD researchers funded by the health research board, shows that simply going out for a coffee or chatting to a friend can reduce the symptoms of depression experienced by people. The conventional treatments can be supplemented by social support from family, friends and the community facing or who have faced similar problem as you.

Many people find it difficult to share their financial secret and precisely when it comes to debt. Some are afraid and feel embarrassed; actually, others worry about the stigmatization that comes with being over-indebted. The reality is that there are 25 million credit active consumers in South Africa and 10 million are behind on their payments. No need to feel embarrassed – it is the current reality and the sooner you do something about it the better you can get out of it.

As much as the Covid-19 cases are increasing daily, many people are finding themselves in a financial coma. The ratio currently shows that 2 out 5 south Africans are struggling with debt or just have their heads above waters. Therefore, opening and discussing your financial situation with close friends and family can bring about a sense of relief and provide a way out to handle your debt. You might be surprised to see that you are not the only one going through this financial pandemic called debt.

Set a goal with some of your peers to establish a form of contribution to settle each other’s debts, make it fun and be purposeful.

Communication:

Communication is fundamental, 55% of divorce rate is due to financial problems. Debt is the last thing you want to keep as the skeleton in your closet. Disclose this to your partner even though it might be the toughest thing to do, and then draw up a plan together. Rather divulge the truth to your partner than have sleepless nights and a gloomy depressed future with no hope of coming out of your debt maelstrom.

A survey conducted by Social Finance Company (Sofi) found that millennials would rather disclose their STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) than their debts to a potential dating partner.

Unfortunately, this is a reality found in many marriages and the cause of many divorces. If you are unable to come up with a plan as a couple, contact a qualified credit expert/debt counselor to draw up a comprehensive budget for you and discuss your cost of borrowings. Debt counselors are well experienced in this area and will run through an affordable plan to save your financial future.

The support from your partner or financier will go a long way in providing a great relief to your financial burden.  Speak to a reputable debt counselor about your debt level and together work out an affordable plan and be happy about it.

It is true you have a financial virus and so what?

Your life is not defined by how much debt you have, but by how you make use of each opportunity you are presented with in your daily life. You reap the consequences of the choices you make.

Therefore, it is never too late to find a solution and get help. Your life is not all about debt and the right time to act is now and make it fun!

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PLUS, we'll send you our Zonotho Personal Finance Starter pack to help you take your financial prowess to the next level!


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Rabbi Kasongo

Rabbi Kasongo works as a Qualified Senior Debt Expert at South Africa's Largest Debt Management Company. Having obtained a Honours Degree in financial management with the University of Pretoria, he has a strong passion for empowering others and providing financial advice as well as educational tools to different communities on topics related to the credit industry.

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